On Monday, April 3, the Hudson Institute will host a conference entitled “U.S.-Egyptian Relations in the Age of ISIS.” Among the speakers will be Nina Shea (Center for Religious Freedom), Alberto Fernandez (Middle East Media Research Institute), and Samuel Tadros (Center for Religious Freedom). The conference will take place at the Institute’s Stern Policy Center in Washington, D.C. from 11:45 AM to 1:00 PM. The Institute’s description of the event follows; more information can be found here.
Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi’s visit to Washington in early April presents an opportunity to renew the American-Egyptian alliance. Over the past three and half years, a wide gulf in policy approaches has led to disagreements on a range of issues, from democracy and human rights, to Islamist extremism and the Libyan Civil War. Will the diplomatic visit mark a new chapter in U.S.-Egyptian relations?
President Sisi’s visit comes at a critical moment for his country. In the Sinai, the Islamic State’s local affiliate is inflicting daily casualties on security forces. Its genocidal campaign against Egyptian Copts has led to a mass flight of Copts from north Sinai. This followed the bombing of the St. Mark Cathedral compound in Cairo that left 29 people dead.
As the new Trump administration refines its strategy towards the Arabic world’s most populous country, Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom will host a discussion on the security, political, and religious freedom challenges facing Egypt. On April 3, Ambassador Alberto Fernandez, Vice President of the Middle East Media Research Institute, will join Hudson Senior Fellows Nina Shea and Samuel Tadros to assess the situation in Egypt and discuss effective U.S. policy options toward the country.
This month, Oxford University Press released The Reception of Vatican II edited by Matthew L. Lamb (Ave Maria University) and Matthew Levering (Mundelein Seminary). The publisher’s description follows:
From 1962 to 1965, in perhaps the most important religious event of the twentieth century, the Second Vatican Council met to plot a course for the future of the Roman Catholic Church. After thousands of speeches, resolutions, and votes, the Council issued sixteen official documents on topics ranging from divine revelation to relations with non-Christians. But the meaning of the Second Vatican Council has been fiercely contested since before it was even over, and the years since its completion have seen a battle for the soul of the Church waged through the interpretation of Council documents. The Reception of Vatican II looks at the sixteen conciliar documents through the lens of those battles. Paying close attention to reforms and new developments, the essays in this volume show how the Council has been received and interpreted over the course of the more than fifty years since it concluded.
The contributors to this volume represent various schools of thought but are united by a commitment to restoring the view that Vatican II should be interpreted and implemented in line with Church Tradition. The central problem facing Catholic theology today, these essays argue, is a misreading of the Council that posits a sharp break with previous Church teaching. In order to combat this reductive way of interpreting the Council, these essays provide a thorough, instructive overview of the debates it inspired.
In February, Routledge released Identity Crises and Indigenous Religious Traditions: Exploring Nigerian-African Christian Societies by Elijah Obinna (Corsock and Kirkpatrick-Durham Church). The publisher’s description follows:
This book highlights the complex identity crises among many Christians as they negotiate their new identities, religious ideas and convictions as both Christians and members of Nigerian-African societies of indigenous religious traditions and identities. Through an interdisciplinary interpretation of religious practices and educational issues in teaching and ritual training, the author provides tools to help analyse empirical cases. These include the negotiation processes among Christians, with focus on the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria (PCN) and members of the Ogo society within the Amasiri, Afikpo North Local Government Area, Ebonyi state, in South-eastern Nigeria.
Identifying the power dynamic, identity, role and influence of indigenous religions on Christians and the Ogo society, this book reveals the limited interactions between many Christians and members of the Ogo society. Questions explored include: what makes the Ogo society an integral part of the socio-religious life of Amasiri and what powers and identity does it confer on the initiates; how is the PCN within Amasiri responding to the Ogo society through its religious practices such as baptism, confirmation, local auxiliary ministries and organisational structure; and how does the understanding and application of conversion within the PCN impact on its members’ response to the Ogo society? Demonstrating how complex religious identities and practices of Nigerian-African Christians can balance mission-influenced Christianity with indigenous religious traditions and identities, this book recognises the importance of appropriating the powers of indigenous cultures, ingenuity and creativity in the construction and preservation of community identities. As such, it will be of keen interest to scholars of Christian theology, indigenous religious practice and African lived religion.
Next month, Cambridge University Press will release Muslims Against the Muslim League: Critiques of the Idea of Pakistan edited by Ali Usman Qasmi (Lahore University) and Megan Eaton Robb (Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies). The publisher’s description follows:
The popularity of the Muslim League and its idea of Pakistan has been measured in terms of its success in achieving the goal of a sovereign state in the Muslim majority regions of North West and North East India. It led to an oversight of Muslim leaders and organizations which were opposed to this demand, predicating their opposition to the League on its understanding of the history and ideological content of the Muslim nation. This volume takes stock of multiple narratives about Muslim identity formation in the context of debates about partition, historicises those narratives, and reads them in the light of the larger political milieu of the period. Focusing on the critiques of the Muslim League, its concept of the Muslim nation, and the political settlement demanded on its behalf, it studies how the movement of Pakistan inspired a contentious, influential conversation on the definition of the Muslim nation.
Next month, Notre Dame Press will release Beyond the Inquisition: Ambrogio Catarino Politi and the Origins of the Counter-Reformation by Giorgio Caravale (University of Roma Tre) and translated by the late Donald Weinstein. The publisher’s description follows:
In Beyond the Inquisition, originally published in an Italian edition in 2007, Giorgio Caravale offers a fresh perspective on sixteenth-century Italian religious history and the religious crisis that swept across Europe during that period. Through an intellectual biography of Ambrogio Catarino Politi (1484–1553), Caravale rethinks the problems resulting from the diffusion of Protestant doctrines in Renaissance Italy and the Catholic opposition to their advance. At the same time, Caravale calls for a new conception of the Counter-Reformation, demonstrating that during the first half of the sixteenth century there were many alternatives to the inquisitorial model that ultimately prevailed.
Lancellotto Politi, the jurist from Siena who entered the Dominican order in 1517 under the name of Ambrogio Catarino, started his career as an anti-Lutheran controversialist, shared friendships with the Italian Spirituals, and was frequently in conflict with his own order. The main stages of his career are all illustrated with a rich array of previously published and unpublished documentation. Caravale’s thorough analysis of Politi’s works, actions, and relationships significantly alters the traditional image of an intransigent heretic hunter and an author of fierce anti-Lutheran tirades. In the same way, the reconstruction of his role as a papal theologian and as a bishop in the first phase of the Council of Trent and the reinterpretation of his battle against the Spanish theologian Domingo de Soto and scholasticism reestablish the image of a Counter-Reformation that was different from the one that triumphed in Trent, the image of an alternative that was viable but never came close to being implemented.
In February, Oxford University Press released Fridays of Rage: Al Jazeera, the Arab Spring, and Political Islam by Sam Cherribi (Emory University). The publisher’s description follows:
Fridays of Rage reveals Al Jazeera’s rise to that most respected of all Western media positions: the watchdog of democracy. Al Jazeera served as the nursery for the Arab world’s democratic revolutions, promoting Friday as a “day of rage” and popular protest. This book provides a glimpse into how Al Jazeera strategically cast its journalists as martyrs in the struggle for Arab freedom while promoting itself as the mouthpiece and advocate of the Arab public.
In addition to heralding a new era of Arab democracy, Al Jazeera has become a major influence over Arab perceptions of American involvement in the Arab World, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the rise of global Islamic fundamentalism, and the expansion of the political far right. Al Jazeera’s blueprint for “Muslim-democracy” was part of a vision announced by the network during its earliest broadcasts. The network embarked upon a mission to reconstruct the Arab mindset and psyche. Al Jazeera introduced exiled Islamist leaders to the larger Arab public while also providing Muslim feminists a platform.
The inclusion and consideration of Westerners, Israelis, Hamas, secularists and others earned the network a reputation for pluralism and inclusiveness. Al Jazeera presented a mirror to an Arab world afraid to examine itself and its democratic deficiencies. But rather than assuming that Al Jazeera is a monolithic force for positive transformation in Arab society, Fridays of Rage examines the potentially dark implications of Al Jazeera’s radical re-conceptualization of media as a strategic tool or weapon.
As a powerful and rapidly evolving source of global influence, Al Jazeera embodies many paradoxes-the manifestations and effects of which we are likely only now becoming apparent. Fridays of Rage guides readers through this murky territory, where journalists are martyrs, words are weapons, and facts are bullets.
This month, Chatto & Windus released The Catholics: The Church and its People in Britain and Ireland, from the Reformation to the Present Day by Roy Hattersley (The Guardian). The publisher’s description follows:
This month, Routledge released Scientific and Political Freedom in Islam: A Critical Reading of the Modernist-Apologetic School by Uriya Shavit (Tel Aviv University). The publisher’s description follows:
The modernist-apologetic approach to the relation between revelation and science and politics has been a central part of Arab discourses on the future of Muslim societies for over a century. This approach introduced historical and theological narratives and interpretative mechanisms that contextualize reason and freedom in Islamic terms to argue that, unlike with Christianity, it is possible for Muslim societies to be technologically and politically advanced without forfeiting revelation as an all-encompassing, legally-binding guide.
Scientific and Political Freedom in Islam critically examines the coherence and consistency of modernist-apologetic scholars. This is done through a discussion of their general theorizing on reason and freedom, which is then followed by discussions of their commentaries on specific scientific and political issues in light of their general theorizing. Regarding the former, the focus is Darwin’s theory of evolution, while the universality of the “Biblical flood,” the heliocentric model, the Big Bang model and Freudianism are also discussed. Regarding the latter, the focus is Islam’s desired structure of government and concept of participatory politics, while individual freedoms are also discussed. The book argues that the modernist-apologetic approach has great potential to be a force for liberalization, but also possesses inherent limitations that render its theory on the relation between revelation and freedom self-contradictory.
Introducing a significant body of new information on the reasons for the failure of secularism and democracy and the attitudes towards Darwinism in the Arab world, this book is a valuable resource for students and scholars of Islamic Studies, comparative religion, democracy studies and evolution studies.
This month, Bloomsbury Publishing released Religion, NGOs, and the United Nations: Visible and Invisible Actors in Power edited by Jeremy Carrette (University of Kent) and Hugh Miall (University of Kent). The publisher’s description follows:
How do religious groups, operating as NGOs, engage in the most important global institution for world peace? What processes do they adopt? Is there a “spiritual” UN today? This book is the first interdisciplinary study to present extensive fieldwork results from an examination of the activity of religious groups at the United Nations in New York and Geneva. Based on a three and half-year study of activities in the United Nations system, it seeks to show how “religion” operates in both visible and invisible ways.
Jeremy Carrette, Hugh Miall, Verena Beittinger-Lee, Evelyn Bush and Sophie-Hélène Trigeaud, explore the way “religion” becomes a “chameleon” idea, appearing and disappearing, according to the diplomatic aims and ambitions. Part 1 documents the challenges of examining religion inside the UN, Part 2 explores the processes and actions of religious NGOs – from diplomacy to prayer – and the specific platforms of intervention – from committees to networks – and Part 3 provides a series of case studies of religious NGOs, including discussion of Islam, Catholicism and Hindu and Buddhist NGOs. The study concludes by examining the place of diplomats and their views of religious NGOs and reflects on the place of “religion” in the UN today. The study shows the complexity of “religion” inside one of the most fascinating global institutions of the world today.