At Mirror of Justice, my friend Rick Garnett has an interesting post about Guy Fawkes Day, which, for those of you who don’t know, was yesterday. The day commemorates the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, a conspiracy by British Catholics to blow up Parliament and end the Protestant Stuart dynasty. (Amusing, in its way, because the Protestantism of the Stuarts was always a little suspect). Guy Fawkes was one of the conspirators–the one in charge of the explosives–and for centuries Britons commemorated the day by burning effigies of Guy and the Pope. Nowadays, the holiday has morphed into Bonfire Night, in which Britons across the country light huge fires and set off fireworks. Probably the whole thing will morph into Halloween one of these days.
As an American, I’ve always thought knowing about Guy Fawkes Day was a mark of anglophile eccentricity, rather like reading P.D. James or renting Elizabeth R on Netflix. But here comes Rick, who writes that his public school celebrated Guy Fawkes Day as a holiday. And Rick comes from Alaska! Obviously, this great country is more than I know.
Next Monday, I will be discussing The Tragedy of Religious Freedom at Stanford Law School’s Center for Constitutional Law, which is headed by the eminent Michael McConnell and directed by Jud Campbell. The format of discussion is a conversation, and I’m confident that we will have a very good and interesting one.
The details: Monday, November 11, 5:30-7:30, Student Law Lounge. Registration instructions may be found here.
Next month, Westview Press will publish a new edition of Religion and Politics in America: Faith, Culture, and Strategic Choices by Robert Fowler (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Allen Hertzke (University of Oklahoma), Laura Olson (Clemson University), and Kevin Dulk (Calvin College). The publisher’s description follows.
Religion and politics are never far from the headlines, but their relationship remains complex and often confusing. In this fifth edition of Religion and Politics in America, the authors offer a lively, accessible, and balanced treatment of religion in American politics. They explore the historical, cultural, and legal contexts that underlie religious political engagement while also highlighting the pragmatic and strategic political realities that religious organizations and people face. Incorporating the best and most up-to-date scholarship, the authors assess the politics of Roman Catholics; evangelical, mainline, and African American Protestants; Jews; Muslims and other conventional and not-so-conventional American religious movements. The author team also examines important subjects concerning religion and its relationship to gender, race/ethnicity, and class. The fifth edition has been revised to include the 2012 elections, in particular Mitt Romney’s candidacy and Mormonism, as well as a fuller assessment of the role of religion in President Obama’s first term. In-depth treatment of core topics, contemporary case studies, and useful focus-study boxes, provides students with a real understanding of how religion and politics relate in practice and makes this fifth edition essential reading for courses in political science, religion, and sociology departments.
Next month, the University of Michigan Press will publish For the Civic Good: The Liberal Case for Teaching Religion in the Public Schools by Walter Feinberg (University of Illinois) and Richard Layton (University of Illinois). The publisher’s description follows.
Why teach about religion in public schools? What educational value can such courses potentially have for students?
In For the Civic Good, Walter Feinberg and Richard A. Layton offer an argument for the contribution of Bible and world religion electives. The authors argue that such courses can, if taught properly, promote an essential aim of public education: the construction of a civic public, where strangers engage with one another in building a common future. The humanities serve to awaken students to the significance of interpretive and analytic skills, and religion and Bible courses have the potential to add a reflective element to these skills. In so doing, students awaken to the fact of their own interpretive framework and how it influences their understanding of texts and practices. The argument of the book is developed by reports on the authors’ field research, a two-year period in which they observed religion courses taught in various public high schools throughout the country, from the “Bible Belt” to the suburban parkway. They document the problems in teaching religion courses in an educationally appropriate way, but also illustrate the argument for a humanities-based approach to religion by providing real classroom models of religion courses that advance the skills critical to the development of a civic public.