“Pathways for Interreligious Dialogue in the Twenty-First Century” (Latinovic et al., eds.)

In November, Palgrave Macmillan will release “Pathways for Interreligious Dialogue in the Twenty-First Century” edited by Vladimir Latinovic (University of Tübingen, Germany), Gerard Mannion (Georgetown University), Peter C. Phan (Georgetown University). The publisher’s description follows:

Without question, inter-religious relations are crucial in the contemporary 9781137507297age. While most dialogue works on past and contemporary matters, this volume takes on the relations among the Abrahamic religions and looks forward, toward the possibility of real and lasting dialogue. The book centers upon inter-faith issues. It identifies problems that stand in the way of fostering healthy dialogues both within particular religious traditions and between faiths. The volume’s contributors strive for a realization of already existing common ground between religions. They engagingly explore how inter-religious dialogue can be re-energized for a new century.

Mukherji, “Gandhi and Tagore: Politics, Truth and Conscience”

In November, Routledge will release “Gandhi and Tagore: Politics, Truth and Conscience” by Gangeya Mukherji (Mahamati Prannath Mahavidyalaya, India). The publisher’s description follows:

This book brings together the political thought of Gandhi and Tagore to examine the relationship between politics, truth and conscience. It explores truth and conscience as viable public virtues with regard to two exemplars of ethical politics, addressing in turn the concerns of an evolving modern Indian political community.

The comprehensive and textually argued discussion frames the subject of the validity of ethical politics in inhospitable contexts such as the fanatically despotic state and energised nationalism. The book studies in nuanced detail Tagore’s opposition to political violence in colonial Bengal, the scope of non-violence and satyagraha as recommended by Gandhi to Jews in Nazi Germany, his response to the complexity of protest against the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, and the differently constituted nationalism of Gandhi and Tagore. It presents their famous debate in a new light, embedded within the dynamics of cultural identification, political praxis and the capacity of a community to imbibe the principles of ethical politics.

Comprehensive and perceptive in analysis, this book will be a valuable addition for scholars and researchers of political science with specialisation in Indian political thought, philosophy and history.

You’ve Been HADD

Thanks again to Marc and Mark for letting me bog here for the past few weeks. It has been great fun.  Just another couple of items before I go.

I wrote a piece recently in The National Catholic Register on the upcoming Court term. The article focuses mostly on decisions that affect religious liberty.

Also, this piece purports to explain to us the real origins of religion. It is not supernatural or transcendent at all of course; scientists are here to make us recognize what we think of as divine reality are only misfired genetic cues. We want to attribute agency to things, so for things that don’t have a clear agent (the weather, natural disasters), we invent one: God. The scientists have even come up with a name for our disorder: HADD, the hypersensitive agency detecting device.

Not to worry if you don’t like that explanation, however: the folks in white lab coats tell us religion could simply be an adaptation of “normal” evolutionary drives like cooperation. People who were religious were better playing with others, and so had a better chance of surviving.

Of course, all this is quite beside the point, and very old hat. Historian Christopher Dawson was complaining in 1931 that “[a] theory is not regarded as ‘scientific’ unless it explains religion in terms of something else – as an artificial construction from non-religious elements.” But as he also explained in his work, religion is something else entirely, a mode of being and experience that cannot be reduced to a byproduct of something else.  One would have thought these points would be retired by now.  As Russell Saltzman explains in First Things, one thing the scientist don’t consider as a spur to religious thought is our common experience of death. The sense of existential loss of ourselves and others opens a potential meeting space for the divine, and may be the true precursor to religious experience.

Besides, arguments like this always seemed to beg the question. Even if religious feelings “evolved,” why wouldn’t that also be consistent with them being true? I tend to think a God would use our natural development and capabilities to bring us to Him, at least in part.