Carron, “Disarming Beauty”

P03345My friend, Professor Andrea Pin of the University of Padua, notes this new collection of essays by Fr. Julián Carrón, the leader of the Catholic lay movement, “Communion and Liberation”: Disarming Beauty: Essays on Faith, Truth, and Freedom (Notre Dame Press). Here’s the description from the publisher’s website:

In 2005, Father Julián Carrón became the leader of the global ecclesial movement Communion and Liberation, following the death of the movement’s founder, Father Luigi Giussani. Disarming Beauty is the English translation of an engaging and thought-provoking collection of essays by one of the principal Catholic leaders and intellectuals in the world today. Adapted from talks given by Fr. Carrón, these essays have been thoroughly reworked by the author to offer an organic presentation of a decade-long journey. They present the content of his elaboration of the gospel message in light of the tradition of Fr. Giussani, the teachings of the popes, and the urgent needs of contemporary people.

Carrón offers a broad diagnosis of challenges in society and then introduces their implications in contexts such as families, schools, workplaces, and political communities. In a dialogue with his listeners, he inspires and encourages them to lay out a new path for the Catholic Church and the world. Throughout his essays, Carrón addresses the most pressing questions facing theologians today and provides insights that will interest everyone, from the most devout to the firm nonbeliever. Grappling with the interaction of Christian faith and modern culture, Carrón treats in very real and concrete ways what is essential to maintaining and developing Christian faith, and he invites an ongoing conversation about the meaning of faith, truth, and freedom.

Manne, “The Rise of the Islamic State”

9781633883710From Prometheus, here is a new study of ISIS’s motivating ideology by Australian scholar Robert Manne (La Trobe University): The Mind of the Islamic State: ISIS and the Ideology of the Caliphate. Manne, a political scientist at La Trobe University in Melbourne, traces the roots of ISIS to earlier Islamic groups like al-Qaeda. Here’s the description from the Penguin Random House, the distributor:

In the ongoing conflict with ISIS, military observers and regional experts have noted that it is just as important to understand its motivating ideology as to win battles on the ground. This book traces the evolution of this ideology from its origins in the prison writings of the revolutionary jihadist Sayyid Qutb, through the thinking of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, who planned the 9/11 terrorist attack, to today’s incendiary screeds that motivate terrorism via the Internet.

Chief among these recent texts are two documents that provide the foundation for ISIS terrorism. One is called The Management of Savagery, essentially a handbook for creating mayhem through acts of violence. The other is the online magazine of horror called Dabiq, which combines theological justifications with ultraviolent means, apocalyptic dreams, and genocidal ambitions. Professor Manne provides close, original, and lucid readings of these important documents. He introduces readers to a strange, cruel, but internally coherent and consistent political ideology, which has now entered the minds of very large numbers of radicalized Muslims in the Middle East, North Africa, and the West.

However disturbing and unsettling, this book is essential reading for anyone concerned about terrorist violence.

 

Crane, “The Meaning of Belief”

9780674088832-lgAmerican progressives increasingly argue that religion is simply a type of ideology, and that, as a result, it should receive no more respect in our law than other sorts of ideological commitments. But religion, as the West traditionally has understood it, is something more than ideology, especially in its corporate, identitarian aspects. The law traditionally has given special protection to religion exactly because it is not an ideology like any other. A new book from Harvard University Press, The Meaning of Belief: Religion from an Atheist’s Point of View, by Tim Crane (Central European University) attempts to explain the unique aspects of religion to atheists, who otherwise might fail to understand the force of the worldview they reject. Here’s the description from the Harvard website:

Contemporary debate about religion seems to be going nowhere. Atheists persist with their arguments, many plausible and some unanswerable, but these make no impact on religious believers. Defenders of religion find atheists equally unwilling to cede ground. The Meaning of Belief offers a way out of this stalemate.

An atheist himself, Tim Crane writes that there is a fundamental flaw with most atheists’ basic approach: religion is not what they think it is. Atheists tend to treat religion as a kind of primitive cosmology, as the sort of explanation of the universe that science offers. They conclude that religious believers are irrational, superstitious, and bigoted. But this view of religion is almost entirely inaccurate. Crane offers an alternative account based on two ideas. The first is the idea of a religious impulse: the sense people have of something transcending the world of ordinary experience, even if it cannot be explicitly articulated. The second is the idea of identification: the fact that religion involves belonging to a specific social group and participating in practices that reinforce the bonds of belonging. Once these ideas are properly understood, the inadequacy of atheists’ conventional conception of religion emerges.

The Meaning of Belief does not assess the truth or falsehood of religion. Rather, it looks at the meaning of religious belief and offers a way of understanding it that both makes sense of current debate and also suggests what more intellectually responsible and practically effective attitudes atheists might take to the phenomenon of religion.

Happy Labor Day

ora

Hope everyone’s enjoying the day off.

Metaxas, “Martin Luther”

9781101980019As my colleague Marc pointed out last week, 2017 is a very important anniversary for law and religion scholars, and a number of new works on Luther and the Protestant Reformation have appeared throughout the year. Not least of these is Eric Metaxas’s much awaited biography of Luther, Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World (Penguin Random House), which appears next month. OK, the title is a bit over the top. But Metaxas’s biography of Bonhoeffer was very well received, and this book promises to be an important one as well. Here’s the description from the publisher’s website:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Eric Metaxas comes a brilliant and inspiring biography of the most influential man in modern history, Martin Luther, in time for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation

On All Hallow’s Eve in 1517, a young monk named Martin Luther posted a document he hoped would spark an academic debate, but that instead ignited a conflagration that would forever destroy the world he knew. Five hundred years after Luther’s now famous Ninety-five Theses appeared, Eric Metaxas, acclaimed biographer of the bestselling Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy and Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery, paints a startling portrait of the wild figure whose adamantine faith cracked the edifice of Western Christendom and dragged medieval Europe into the future. Written in riveting prose and impeccably researched, Martin Luther tells the searing tale of a humble man who, by bringing ugly truths to the highest seats of power, caused the explosion whose sound is still ringing in our ears. Luther’s monumental faith and courage gave birth to the ideals of liberty, equality, and individualism that today lie at the heart of all modern life.

 

Murray, “The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam”

Sure to be provocative and insightful, this book by Douglas Murray is a study of the Death of Europevarious demographic and identitarian problems that Western Europe is now facing. Note in particular his travels to Lampedusa in Sicily, the site of the famous novel, Il Gattopardo. The publisher is Bloomsbury and the description is below.

The Strange Death of Europe is a highly personal account of a continent and culture caught in the act of suicide. Declining birth-rates, mass immigration and cultivated self-distrust and self-hatred have come together to make Europeans unable to argue for themselves and incapable of resisting their own comprehensive change as a society. This book is not only an analysis of demographic and political realities, but also an eyewitness account of a continent in self-destruct mode. It includes reporting from across the entire continent, from the places where migrants land to the places they end up, from the people who appear to welcome them in to the places which cannot accept them.

Told from this first-hand perspective, and backed with impressive research and evidence, the book addresses the disappointing failure of multiculturalism, Angela Merkel’s U-turn on migration, the lack of repatriation and the Western fixation on guilt. Murray travels to Berlin, Paris, Scandinavia, Lampedusa and Greece to uncover the malaise at the very heart of the European culture, and to hear the stories of those who have arrived in Europe from far away. In each chapter he also takes a step back to look at the bigger issues which lie behind a continent’s death-wish, answering the question of why anyone, let alone an entire civilisation, would do this to themselves? He ends with two visions of Europe – one hopeful, one pessimistic – which paint a picture of Europe in crisis and offer a choice as to what, if anything, we can do next.

Bray & Hobbins, “Genesis 1-11”

One of the first conferences that Mark and I put together several years ago concerned Genesis“religious legal theory”–the nature of religious law and comparative approaches within and among religious traditions. The study of religious law remains a focus of our Center. Here’s a wonderful new translation of Genesis 1-11 authored in part by UCLA law professor Samuel Bray (a participant in the first leg of our Tradition Project last year) and Hebrew scholar John F. Hobbins, whose subtitle is “A New Old Translation for Readers, Scholars, and Translators.”

How does this new translation relate to law? Principally because law is all about words and their uses to convey meaning. But for more, you should check out Sam’s wonderfully interesting posts at the Volokh Conspiracy, which cover issues ranging from the Tower of Babel to those of “double translation” and its pitfalls. And the translation itself has something that should appeal to textualists–great faithfulness to the original. The publisher’s description is below.

This translation of Genesis 1-11 follows the Hebrew text closely and leaves in what many translations leave out: physicality, ambiguity, repetition, even puns. Bray and Hobbins also draw deeply from the long history of Jewish and Christian interpretation. Their translation and notes offer the reader wisdom and delight.

Bennett, “Defending Faith: The Politics of the Christian Conservative Legal Movement”

Conservative Christianity has been and continues to be an important movement in Defending FaithAmerican law. But it is difficult to read an even-handed account of it, since academic treatments tend to view it as a force of evil that must be identified, guarded against, and hopefully obliterated, and non-academic treatments are too often hagiographic in nature. Here’s an effort that appears to do better–political scientist Daniel Bennett’s new “Defending Faith: The Politics of the Christian Conservative Legal Movement,” which will be released by U. Kansas Press next month. Here’s the description.

When, in Obergefell v. Hodges, the US Supreme Court held that bans on same-sex marriage violate the Constitution, Christian conservative legal organizations (CCLOs) decried the ruling. Foreseeing an “assault against Christians,” Liberty Counsel president Mat Staver declared, “We are entering a cultural civil war.” Many would argue that a cultural war was already well underway; and yet, as this timely book makes clear, the stakes, the forces engaged, and the strategies employed have undergone profound changes in recent years.

In Defending Faith, Daniel Bennett shows how the Christian legal movement (CLM) and its affiliated organizations arrived at this moment in time. He explains how CCLOs advocate for issues central to Christian conservatives, highlights the influence of religious liberty on the CLM’s broader agenda, and reveals how the Christian Right has become accustomed to the courts as a field of battle in today’s culture wars. On one level a book about how the Christian Right mobilized and organized an effective presence on an unavoidable front in battles over social policy, the courtroom, Defending Faith is also a case study of interest groups pursuing common goals while maintaining unique identities. As different as these proliferating groups might be, they are alike in increasingly construing their efforts as a defense of religious freedom against hostile forces throughout American society—and thus as benefitting society as a whole rather than limiting the rights of certain groups. The first holistic, wide-angle picture of the Christian legal movement in the United States, Bennett’s work tells the story of the growth of a powerful legal community and of the development of legal advocacy as a tool of social and political engagement.

Mullins, “Father of Liberty: Jonathan Mayhew and the Principles of the American Revolution”

Here’s an interesting new book by Marquette scholar J. Patrick Mullins on a figure of the MayhewAmerican founding that was not known to me: Jonathan Mayhew. Typical of the founding period, note the association of the natural rights thinking so foundational to the early Republic and the Congregationalism of that period. The publisher, University of Kansas Press, has the following description.

Dr. Jonathan Mayhew (1720–1766) was, according to John Adams, a “transcendental genius . . . who threw all the weight of his great fame into the scale of the country in 1761, and maintained it there with zeal and ardor till his death.” He was also, J. Patrick Mullins contends, the most politically influential clergyman in eighteenth-century America and the intellectual progenitor of the American Revolution in New England. Father of Liberty is the first book to fully explore Mayhew’s political thought and activism, understood within the context of his personal experiences and intellectual influences, and of the cultural developments and political events of his time. Analyzing and assessing his contributions to eighteenth-century New England political culture, the book demonstrates Mayhew’s critical contribution to the intellectual origins of the American Revolution.

As pastor of the Congregationalist West Church in Boston, Mayhew championed the principles of natural rights, constitutionalism, and resistance to tyranny in press and pulpit from 1750 to 1766. He did more than any other clergyman to prepare New England for disobedience to British authority in the 1760s—and should, Mullins argues, be counted alongside such framers and fomenters of revolutionary thought as James Otis, Patrick Henry, and Samuel Adams. Though many commentators from John Adams on down have acknowledged his importance as a popularizer of Whig political principles, Father of Liberty is the first extended, in-depth examination of Mayhew’s political writings, as well as the cultural process by which he engaged with the public and disseminated those principles. As such, even as the book restores a key figure to his place in American intellectual and political history, it illuminates the meaning of the Revolution as a political and constitutional conflict informed by the religious and political ideas of the British Enlightenment.

Call for Papers: Oxford Symposium on Religious Studies

The Oxford Symposium on Religious Studies has issued a call for papers for two symposia later this year:

The Oxford Symposium on Religious Studies is a forum for discourse and presentation of papers by scholars who have a particular interest in the study of religion. Canon Brian Mountford MBE, former Vicar of St Mary’s Church and Fellow of St Hilda’s College in the University of Oxford, will host the meeting.

You are invited to make a presentation and lead a discussion of a relevant aspect of religious studies, or you may wish to participate as a panel member or as an observer. Your disquisition must adhere to an abstract of about 300 words approved by the Programme Committee of the Symposium. You are, also, encouraged to submit a paper, in keeping with your abstract, which may be published in an appropriate journal, book of conference proceedings. All papers presented for publication or inclusion in books or sponsored journals will be subject to peer review by external readers.

Suggested topics include “Religion, Politics, and Public Discourse,” Separation of Church and State,” and “State Funding of Church Schools.” Further details can be found here.

%d bloggers like this: