I first taught this graduate seminar in 2008 as a “Topics in Political Thought” course, and called it “Political Theologies” – a political theory seminar, cross-listed with Study of Religion. Part of the motivation for teaching it was finding a set of themes and readings that would work well in a cross disciplinary way, as I’m jointly appointed to both Political Science and Study of Religion.Read More
All posts tagged Democracy
Writing in May, 1670, the German theologian Jacob Thomasius fulminated against a recent, anonymously published book. It is, he claimed, “a godless document” that should be immediately banned in all countries. His Dutch colleague, Regnier Mansveld, a professor at the University of Utrecht, insisted that the new publication was harmful to all religions and “ought to be buried forever in an eternal oblivion.” Willem van Blijenburgh, a philosophically inclined Dutch merchant, wrote that “this atheistic book is full of abominations … which every reasonable person should find abhorrent.” One disturbed critic went so far as to call it “a book forged in hell”, written by the devil himself.Read More
Democracy is in crisis. Or, or more significantly, liberal democracy is in crisis. So writes Philip Coggan recently in The Economist, the Western world’s foremost punditocratic commentary on the shifting social, cultural, and political terrain that goes by the slippery name of “globalization”.Read More
Apparently, nonviolence and democracy are strongly connected. Recent research suggests that nonviolent resistance campaigns are much more likely than violent ones to pave the way for “democratic regimes.” . . . But what, in the world, is democracy? The term resides in a restless spectrum, so perhaps the adjective democratic should be employed more than the noun.Read More
The United States is comprised of a religiously diverse citizenry, which leaves officials to balance the tension upheld by a constitution that simultaneously prevents the establishment of a national creed and yet preserves one’s right to freedom of religion. In practice, officials in the United States cannot legislate theology, but they can, and do, use theology to legislate.
As a result, the United States is not a secular democracy where laws guarantee freedom from religion and dismiss theological rhetoric in the political process; neither is it a theocracy, where a single religion prescribes all laws. Whether we like it or not the United States is a theolegal democracy.Read More
Political Theology and Islamic Studies Symposium: Contemporary Islamism and the Sacralization of Democracy
I join this conversation as a student of comparative politics, writing a project that explores how islamiyun, often dubbed Islamists, imagine and enact democracy. Specifically, I use insights derived from ordinary language philosophy to apprehend insights from interviews and focus groups with over 100 interlocutors, gleaned in nearly two years of fieldwork in Morocco (2009-2011), to understand what democracy means to Moroccan islamiyun. I find that there are two broad usages of dimuqratiyyah [democracy] in the language and practices of Moroccan islamiyun.Read More
Luther, Lacan, and the Heart of Human Destiny – What Psychoanalysis Can Tell Us About Our Own Political Theology (A Review)
Herman Westerink. The Heart of Man’s Destiny: Lacanian Psychoanalysis and Early Reformation Thought. New York: Routledge, 2012. 161 pages. The question of the modern has always been a political one. We cannot understand its genesis, of course, apart from the revolution of the subject made possible by Descartes’ “hyperbolic doubt.” […]Read More
[Michael Farrell, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, previews his new book, Modern Just War Theory: A Guide to Research (Scarecrow Press, 2013).] The just war tradition is one of several approaches to the ethics of war. It has its origins in Western civilizations, but is not unique to the West. It […]Read More
[Anthony Paul Smith, La Salle University, previews his new book, A Non-Philosophical Theory of Nature: Ecologies of Thought (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).] I have a bad habit of making intellectual work personal. I don’t mean that I lose my temper when my work is criticised, though like too many other academics I […]Read More
Political Theology and Islamic Studies Symposium: A potential collaboration or a foregone conclusion?
In the coming weeks, the Political Theology blog will be hosting a symposium on Political Theology and Islamic Studies, bringing together reflections from a number of leading scholars at the intersection of these fields. The editors are very grateful to our Contributing Editor, M. Owais Khan, and to Abbas Barzeger, for their long labors in putting together and editing this symposium. This first post introduces the questions to be discussed and the contributors who will be participating.Read More
As the Fourth of July, the 237th anniversary of America’s famous epoch-staging revolution against Britain arrives, the world is gripped by the strangest of ironies in this strangest of times. The “sweet land of liberty” is increasingly viewed by those who after centuries of world wars and collapsed despotisms finally […]Read More