Brodie, “German Catholicism at War, 1939-1945”

A very interesting looking new history of the relationship between German Catholics and War Catholicismthe Nazi regime, focusing on the War period: German Catholicism at War, 1939-1945 (OUP) by Thomas Brodie.

German Catholicism at War explores the mentalities and experiences of German Catholics during the Second World War. Taking the German Home Front, and most specifically, the Rhineland and Westphalia, as its core focus German Catholicism at War examines Catholics’ responses to developments in the war, their complex relationships with the Nazi regime, and their religious practices. Drawing on a wide range of source materials stretching from personal letters and diaries to pastoral letters and Gestapo reports, Thomas Brodie breaks new ground in our understanding of the Catholic community in Germany during the Second World War.

“Foundational Texts in Modern Criminal Law” (Dubber, ed.)

Another point of personal privilege, though not right down the law and religion fairway.Dubber.jpeg Oxford University Press has published a new paperback version of this collection of essays on foundational figures in the intellectual history of criminal law: Foundational Texts in Modern Criminal Law, edited by Markus D. Dubber. I have a chapter in the book on the thought of Sir James Fitzjames Stephen and his view of the ends of criminal punishment. Stephen, as it happens, was extremely interested in “offenses against religion” in his magnificent “History of the Criminal Law of England.” So, you see, law and religion is truly ubiquitous. The book contains very fine work on more familiar figures (e.g., Mill, Kant, Blackstone) as well as less well-known writers like Gustav Radbruch and Gunther Jakobs. And there is an accompanying volume where one can see some of the lesser known, and not widely available, texts discussed.

Foundational Texts in Modern Criminal Law presents essays in which scholars from various countries and legal systems engage critically with formative texts in criminal legal thought since Hobbes. It examines the emergence of a transnational canon of criminal law by documenting its intellectual and disciplinary history and provides a snapshot of contemporary work on criminal law within that historical and comparative context.

Criminal law discourse has become, and will continue to become, more international and comparative, and in this sense global: the long-standing parochialism of criminal law scholarship and doctrine is giving way to a broad exploration of the foundations of modern criminal law. The present book advances this promising scholarly and doctrinal project by making available key texts, including several not previously available in English translation, from the common law and civil law traditions, accompanied by contributions from leading representatives of both systems.

Professor Robert Louis Wilken at the Center for Law and Religion today

We are delighted to host Professor Robert Louis Wilken (the author of one of my favorite books on the history of the early Church) today to discuss his forthcoming book, “Liberty in the Things of God.”

Professor Wilken’s presentation is the first at our Colloquium in Law and Religion this fall. More soon on the substance of Professor Wilken’s very interesting new book concerning the intellectual origins of the idea of religious freedom.

“Religious Freedom, LGBT Rights, and the Prospects for Common Ground” (Wilson & Eskridge, eds.)

I’m pleased to announce the publication of this new volume of essays, Religious Freedom, LGBT Rights, and the Prospects for Common Ground (CUP), edited by Professors RobinReligious Freedom LGBT.jpg Fretwell Wilson and William N. Eskridge, Jr. The book contains an admirably broad range of perspectives on the sundry conflicts ahead and behind involving these often clashing civil rights. I’m biased in the book’s favor, since the authors generously included me as one of the contributors. My chapter, On the Uses of Anti-Christian Identity Politics, can be read in draft here.

The rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons (LGBT) are strongly contested by certain faith communities, and this confrontation has become increasingly pronounced following the adjudication of a number of legal cases. As the strident arguments of both sides enter a heated political arena, it brings forward the deeply contested question of whether there is any possibility of both communities’ contested positions being reconciled under the same law. This volume assembles impactful voices from the faith, LGBT advocacy, legal, and academic communities – from the Human Rights Campaign and ACLU to the National Association of Evangelicals and Catholic and LDS churches. The contributors offer a 360-degree view of culture-war conflicts around faith and sexuality – from Obergefell to Masterpiece Cakeshop – and explore whether communities with such profound differences in belief are able to reach mutually acceptable solutions in order to both live with integrity.

Around the Web

Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:

Sahoo, “Pentecostalism and Politics of Conversion India”

9781108416122In yesterday’s book post, I spoke about how Evangelical Christianity is not a “white” or even “American” phenomenon, but a growing worldwide movement that has experienced great success in the global South. For today’s post, here is a new book from Cambridge that discusses the growth of Evangelical Christianity in India and the resulting political conflicts: Pentecostalism and Politics of Conversion in India, by Sarbeswar Sahoo (Indian Institute of Technology, Dehli). The publisher’s description follows:

This book studies the politics of Pentecostal conversion and anti-Christian violence in India. It asks: why has India been experiencing increasing incidents of anti-Christian violence since the 1990s? Why are the Bhil Adivasis increasingly converting to Pentecostalism? And, what are the implications of conversion for religion within indigenous communities on the one hand and broader issues of secularism, religious freedom and democratic rights on the other? Drawing on extended ethnographic fieldwork amongst the Bhils of Northern India since 2006, this book asserts that ideological incompatibility and antagonism between Christian missionaries and Hindu nationalists provide only a partial explanation for anti-Christian violence in India. It unravels the complex interactions between different actors/ agents in the production of anti-Christian violence and provides detailed ethnographic narratives on Pentecostal conversion, Hindu nationalist politics and anti-Christian violence in the largest state of India that has hitherto been dominated by upper caste Rajput Hindu(tva) ideology.

Around the Web

Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:

McAlister, “The Kingdom of God Has No Borders”

9780190213428I recently heard a scholar present a paper that discussed American Christianity as a racial phenomenon. As I understand it, the critical race school maintains that American Christianity, particularly American Evangelical Christianity, is best seen as a mark of white American status. There is something to this, I guess, but it seems to me to ignore some facts. Evangelical Christianity in America attracts many followers from racial minority communities and is increasingly popular outside America, in the Global South. Also, American Evangelical Christians have done significant mission work in the Global South and contributed substantially to the growth of the Evangelical movement there. In fact, on the occasions that I’ve visited Evangelical churches, I have been struck with how diverse they are in terms of race, culture, national origin, and socioeconomic status. The churches are, if anything, more multicultural and egalitarian than other social groups of which I am aware.

A new book from Oxford University Press, The Kingdom of God Has No Borders: A Global History of American Evangelicals, addresses the racial and national diversity that characterizes contemporary Evangelicalism. The author is Melani McAlister of George Washington University. Here’s the description from the Oxford website:

More than forty years ago, conservative Christianity emerged as a major force in American political life. Since then the movement has been analyzed and over-analyzed, declared triumphant and, more than once, given up for dead. But because outside observers have maintained a near-relentless focus on domestic politics, the most transformative development over the last several decades–the explosive growth of Christianity in the global south–has gone unrecognized by the wider public, even as it has transformed evangelical life, both in the US and abroad.

The Kingdom of God Has No Borders offers a daring new perspective on conservative Christianity by shifting the lens to focus on the world outside US borders. Melani McAlister offers a sweeping narrative of the last fifty years of evangelical history, weaving a fascinating tale that upends much of what we know–or think we know–about American evangelicals. She takes us to the Congo in the 1960s, where Christians were enmeshed in a complicated interplay of missionary zeal, Cold War politics, racial hierarchy, and anti-colonial struggle. She shows us how evangelical efforts to convert non-Christians have placed them in direct conflict with Islam at flash points across the globe. And she examines how Christian leaders have fought to stem the tide of HIV/AIDS in Africa while at the same time supporting harsh repression of LGBTQ communities.

Through these and other stories, McAlister focuses on the many ways in which looking at evangelicals abroad complicates conventional ideas about evangelicalism. We can’t truly understand how conservative Christians see themselves and their place in the world unless we look beyond our shores.

Saiman, “Halakhah”

9780691152110_0Ever since we started this center in 2010, one of our primary areas of focus has been comparative religious jurisprudence. It’s a fascinating subject, and one that draws little attention in the American legal academy, even in jurisprudence classes. Several years ago, a group of scholars tried to spark a Religious Legal Theory movement. Our center hosted one of the early conferences, in fact, which produced a number of excellent papers. But the movement seems to have fizzled out, sadly. The academy is a very secular place.

Still, comparative religious jurisprudence is an important object of study. Law figures, in some form, in every religion. But it plays very different roles. In Judaism and Islam, for example, law is the primary means for believers to interact with God–to learn and apply His will for humanity. In these religions, law plays the role that theology, properly understood, does in Christianity. Law is a vehicle for meditating on the divine.

I’m speaking in very broad terms; the subject is quite a bit more complicated. But I’m sure that the new book by our friend and colleague, Chaim Saiman (Villanova), will be a great and helpful addition to the literature in comparative religious jurisprudence. The book is Halakhah: The Rabbinic Idea of Law, from Princeton University Press. Here’s the description from the publisher’s website:

How the rabbis of the Talmud transformed everything into a legal question—and Jewish law into a way of thinking and talking about everything.

Though typically translated as “Jewish law,” the term halakhah is not an easy match for what is usually thought of as law. This is because the rabbinic legal system has rarely wielded the political power to enforce its many detailed rules, nor has it ever been the law of any state. Even more idiosyncratically, the talmudic rabbis claim that the study of halakhah is a holy endeavor that brings a person closer to God—a claim no country makes of its law.

In this panoramic book, Chaim Saiman traces how generations of rabbis have used concepts forged in talmudic disputation to do the work that other societies assign not only to philosophy, political theory, theology, and ethics but also to art, drama, and literature. In the multifaceted world of halakhah where everything is law, law is also everything, and even laws that serve no practical purpose can, when properly studied, provide surprising insights into timeless questions about the very nature of human existence.

What does it mean for legal analysis to connect humans to God? Can spiritual teachings remain meaningful and at the same time rigidly codified? Can a modern state be governed by such law? Guiding readers across two millennia of richly illuminating perspectives, this book shows how halakhah is not just “law” but an entire way of thinking, being, and knowing.

Winterer, “American Enlightenments”

f91c0ad896d2f4ffe39f2cfa7861d6ddIn yesterday’s book post, I noted that the American Revolution was more complicated and contingent an event than commonly understood. If one or two battles had gone differently, the Crown might well have prevailed, with all that implies for, among other things, church and state in America. And conventional wisdom errs in assuming that the Revolution was a straightforward project of the Enlightenment, and that the Enlightenment itself was a unified movement. A book released by Yale University Press last month, American Enlightenments: Pursuing Happiness in the Age of Reason, by Caroline Winterer (Stanford), argues that the Enlightenment had many different, competing, not always consistent streams. The author apparently thinks the Cold War is responsible for our exaggerated sense of the unity of our Revolution and its Enlightened character, which seems doubtful. But the main theme of the book looks very interesting. Here’s the description from the publisher’s website:

A provocative reassessment of the concept of an American golden age of European-born reason and intellectual curiosity in the years following the Revolutionary War

The accepted myth of the “American Enlightenment” suggests that the rejection of monarchy and establishment of a new republic in the United States in the eighteenth century was the realization of utopian philosophies born in the intellectual salons of Europe and radiating outward to the New World. In this revelatory work, Stanford historian Caroline Winterer argues that a national mythology of a unitary, patriotic era of enlightenment in America was created during the Cold War to act as a shield against the threat of totalitarianism, and that Americans followed many paths toward political, religious, scientific, and artistic enlightenment in the 1700s that were influenced by European models in more complex ways than commonly thought. Winterer’s book strips away our modern inventions of the American national past, exploring which of our ideas and ideals are truly rooted in the eighteenth century and which are inventions and mystifications of more recent times.

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