Alzate on Religion and Self-Interest in Locke

A tension exists at the heart of liberal political theory: a society that encourages individual rights is not so good at motivating citizens to make necessary sacrifices for the community as a whole. In a recent article, Beyond Rights: Religion Offsets Self-Interest in the Lockean State, Elissa Alzate (College of Wooster/UC-Davis) examines the thought of John Locke and argues that, for him, religion provides the solution: religious groups foster the social bonds that make cohesion possible in the liberal state. An abstract follows.  — MLM

 Liberal political thought embodies a tension between the citizen and the community. The liberal state is based on principles of individual rights and appeals to self-interest. Conversely, the political society created out of the liberal social contract must transcend the self-interest guiding independent individuals; the contract creates something greater than the aggregate individuals – a community, whose interest is greater than the interest of Read more

Conference: Is Islamic Sharia Law Coming to America?

The New York Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society is sponsoring a panel discussion, “Is Islamic Law Coming to America? And Should We Care?” in New York City on Monday, September 26. Panelists include David Forte (Cleveland-Marshall), Daniel Mach (ACLU), and Hon. Richard Sullivan (SDNY). Details are here.  — MLM

Excluding Clergy from NYC’s 9/11 Commemoration

Next week, New York City will hold its annual commemoration of the 9/11 attacks. As in past years, families of victims and responders will attend, along with local and national politicians. There will be moments of silence and readings of a “spiritual and personal” nature.  But clergy will not participate. The city maintains that this is a quasi-private event for families of victims and responders, not outsiders (except those politicians, of course); that the city cannot invite everyone who wishes to attend; and that clergy have not participated in past years’ ceremonies.

One should respect the families’ wishes, and it’s true that families’ groups, like Families of September 11, apparently do not object to excluding clergy. But this is a public event, the city’s official commemoration. And some people suspect that the real reason New York has excluded clergy is to avoid “divisiveness,” particularly the divisiveness that would ensue if the city invited Muslim clergy to participate.

There are two problems with this. First, notwithstanding the controversy over the “Ground Zero” mosque, it is not at all clear that many New Read more

DuBois’s “Religion and the Making of Modern East Asia”

Religion and the Making of Modern East Asia (CUP 2011) by Thomas David DuBois (National University of Singapore) looks like a wonderful book about religion’s contributions to the history, politics, and law of China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and other East Asian nations.  The publisher’s description follows.  — MOD

Religious ideas and actors have shaped Asian cultural practices for millennia, and have played a decisive role in charting the course of its history. In this engaging and informative book, Thomas David DuBois sets out to explain how religion has influenced the political, social, and economic transformation of Asia from the fourteenth century to the present day. Crossing a broad terrain from Tokyo to Tibet, the book highlights long-term trends and key moments, such as the expulsion of Catholic missionaries from Japan, or the Taiping Rebellion in China, when religion dramatically transformed the political fate of a nation. Contemporary chapters reflect on the wartime deification of the Japanese emperor, Marxism as religion, the persecution of the Dalai Lama, and the fate of Asian religion in a globalized world.