Banack, “God’s Province”

In June, the McGill-Queens University Press will release “God’s Province: Evangelical Christianity, Political Thought, and Conservatism in Alberta,” by Clark Banack (York University).  The publisher’s description follows:

Compared to the United States, it is assumed that religion has not been a significant factor in Canada’s political development. In God’s Province, Clark9780773547148 Banack challenges this assumption, showing that, in Alberta, religious motivation has played a vital role in shaping its political trajectory.

For Henry Wise Wood, president of the United Farmers of Alberta from 1916 until 1931, William “Bible Bill” Aberhart, founder of the Alberta Social Credit Party and premier from 1935 until 1943, Aberhart’s protégé Ernest Manning, Alberta’s longest serving premier (1943-1968), and Manning’s son Preston, founder of the Alberta-based federal Reform Party of Canada, religion was central to their thinking about human agency, the purpose of politics, the role of the state, the nature of the economy, and the proper duties of citizens. Drawing on substantial archival research and in-depth interviews, God’s Province highlights the strong link that exists between the religiously inspired political thought and action of these formative leaders, the US evangelical Protestant tradition from which they drew, and the emergence of an individualistic, populist, and anti-statist sentiment in Alberta that is largely unfamiliar to the rest of Canada.

Covering nearly a century of Alberta’s history, Banack offers an illuminating reconsideration of the political thought of these leaders, the goals of the movements they led, and the roots of Alberta’s distinctiveness within Canada. A fusion of religious history, intellectual history, and political thought, God’s Province exposes the ways in which individual politicians have shaped one province’s political culture.

“The Jesuits and Globalization” (Banchoff & Casanova, eds.)

In May, Georgetown University Press will release “The Jesuits and Globalization: Historical Legacies and Contemporary Challenges,” edited by Thomas Banchoff (Georgetown University) and José Casanova (Georgetown University). The publisher’s description follows:

The Society of Jesus, commonly known as the Jesuits, is the most successful and enduring global missionary enterprise in history. Founded by Ignatius Loyola in 513z6-vo0dl1540, the Jesuit order has preached the Gospel, managed a vast educational network, and shaped the Catholic Church, society, and politics in all corners of the earth. Rather than offering a a global history of the Jesuits or a linear narrative of globalization, Thomas Banchoff and José Casanova have assembled a multidisciplinary group of leading experts to explore what we can learn from the historical and contemporary experience of the Society of Jesus—what do the Jesuits tell us about globalization and what can globalization tell us about the Jesuits?

Contributors include comparative theologian Francis X. Clooney, SJ, historian John W. O’Malley, SJ, Brazilian theologian Maria Clara Lucchetti Bingemer, and ethicist David Hollenbach, SJ. They focus on three critical themes—global mission, education, and justice—to examine the historical legacies and contemporary challenges. Their insights contribute to a more critical and reflexive understanding of both the Jesuits’ history and of our contemporary human global condition.

Mirola, “Redeeming Time”

In January, the University of Illinois Press will release “Redeeming Time: Protestantism and Chicago’s Eight-Hour Movement, 1866-1912,” by William A. Mirola (Marian University).  The publisher’s description follows:

During the struggle for the eight-hour workday and a shorter workweek, Chicago emerged as an important battleground for workers9780252038839 in “the entire civilized world” to redeem time from the workplace in order to devote it to education, civic duty, health, family, and leisure.

William A. Mirola explores how the city’s eight-hour movement intersected with a Protestant religious culture that supported long hours to keep workers from idleness, intemperance, and secular leisure activities. Analyzing how both workers and clergy rewove working-class religious cultures and ideologies into strategic and rhetorical frames, Mirola shows how every faith-based appeal contested whose religious meanings would define labor conditions and conflicts. As he notes, the ongoing worker-employer tension transformed both how clergy spoke about the eight-hour movement and what they were willing to do, until intensified worker protest and employer intransigence spurred Protestant clergy to support the eight-hour movement even as political and economic arguments eclipsed religious framing.

A revealing study of an era and a cause, Redeeming Time illustrates the potential–and the limitations–of religious culture and religious leaders as forces in industrial reform.

“The Pew and the Picket Line” (eds. Cantwell et al)

In March, the University of Illinois Press will release “The Pew and the Picket Line: Christianity and the American Working Class,” edited by Christopher D. Cantwell (University of Missouri-Kansas City), Heath W. Carter (Valparaiso University), Janine Giordano Drake (University of Great Falls). The publisher’s description follows:

The Pew and the Picket Line collects works from a new generation of scholars working at the nexus where religious history and working-9780252081484class history converge. Focusing on Christianity and its unique purchase in America, the contributors use in-depth local histories to illustrate how Americans male and female, rural and urban, and from a range of ethnic backgrounds dwelt in a space between the church and the shop floor. Their vivid essays show Pentecostal miners preaching prosperity while seeking miracles in the depths of the earth, while aboveground black sharecroppers and white Protestants established credit unions to pursue a joint vision of cooperative capitalism.

Innovative and essential, The Pew and the Picket Line reframes venerable debates as it maps the dynamic contours of a landscape sculpted by the powerful forces of Christianity and capitalism.

Grzymała-Busse, “Nations under God: How Churches Use Moral Authority to Influence Policy”

In April, Princeton University Press will release “Nations under God: How Churches Use Moral Authority to Influence Policy” by Anna Grzymała-Busse (University of Michigan). The publisher’s description follows:

In some religious countries, churches have drafted constitutions, restricted abortion, and controlled education. In others, church influence on public policy is far weaker. Why? Nations under God argues that where religious and national identities have historically fused, churches gain enormous moral authority—and covert institutional access. These powerful churches then shape policy in backrooms and secret meetings instead of through open democratic channels such as political parties or the ballot box.

Through an in-depth historical analysis of six Christian democracies that share similar religious profiles yet differ in their policy outcomes—Ireland and Italy, Poland and Croatia, and the United States and Canada—Anna Grzymała-Busse examines how churches influenced education, abortion, divorce, stem cell research, and same-sex marriage. She argues that churches gain the greatest political advantage when they appear to be above politics. Because institutional access is covert, they retain their moral authority and their reputation as defenders of the national interest and the common good.

Nations under God shows how powerful church officials in Ireland, Canada, and Poland have directly written legislation, vetoed policies, and vetted high-ranking officials. It demonstrates that religiosity itself is not enough for churches to influence politics—churches in Italy and Croatia, for example, are not as influential as we might think—and that churches allied to political parties, such as in the United States, have less influence than their notoriety suggests.

Dawson, “The Gods of Revolution”

This is a new edition of a work by the brilliant historian, Christopher Dawson,Dawson final sketch.indd first published in 1972. The book (Dawson’s last monograph, a short work published posthumously with an introduction by Arnold Toynbee) is The Gods of Revolution, reissued by CUA Press and with a new introduction by Joseph Stuart. In a college course in the intellectual history of western civilization many years ago, one of the required readings was the last chapter of Dawson’s book. I went back and looked at it, and have the following line highlighted: “And a free society requires a higher degree of spiritual unity than a totalitarian one, hence the spiritual integration of western culture is essential to its temporal survival.” The publisher’s description follows.

In The Gods of Revolution, Christopher Dawson brought to bear, as Glanmor Williams said, “his brilliantly perceptive powers of analysis on the French Revolution. . . . In so doing he reversed the trends of recent historiography which has concentrated primarily on examining the social and economic context of that great upheaval.”

Dawson underlines the fact that the Revolution was not animated by democratic ideals but rather reflected an authoritarian liberalism often marked by a fundamental contempt for the populace, described by Voltaire as “the ‘canaille’ that is not worthy of enlightenment and which deserves its yoke.” The old Christian order had stressed a common faith and common service shared by nobles and peasants alike but Rousseau “pleads the cause of the individual against society, the poor against the rich, and the people against the privileged classes.” It is Rousseau whom Dawson describes as the spiritual father of the new age in disclosing a new spirit of revolutionary idealism expressed in liberalism, socialism and anarchism. But the old unity was not replaced by a new form. Dawson insists the whole period following the Revolution is “characterized by a continual struggle between conflicting ideologies,” and the periods of relative stabilization such as the Napoleonic restoration, Victorian liberalism in England, and capitalist imperialism in the second German empire “have been compromises or temporary truces between two periods of conquest.” This leads to his assertion that “the survival of western culture demands unity as well as freedom, and the great problem of our time is how these two essentials are to be reconciled.”

This reconciliation will require more than technological efficiency for “a free society requires a higher degree of spiritual unity than a totalitarian one. Hence the spiritual integration of western culture is essential to its temporal survival.” It is to Christianity alone that western culture “must look for leadership and help in restoring the moral and spiritual unity of our civilization,” for it alone has the influence, “in ethics, in education, in literature, and in social action” sufficiently strong to achieve this end.

Classic Revisited: Hamburger, John Stuart Mill on Liberty and Control

The historian of political ideas, Joseph Hamburger, who spent nearly all of his long and distinguished professional career in the Yale Department of Political Science, was an expert in 18th, but particularly 19th, century British intellectual history.  My little essays on Sir James Fitzjames Stephen as well as some book-related research on Edmund Burke have brought with them the great good luck of an introduction to the writing of this immensely thoughtful and erudite scholar.  Fairly recently, I picked up Professor Hamburger’s book on John Stuart Mill: John Stuart Mill on Liberty and Control (1999).

The thesis of the book is that the strong and unqualified libertarian understanding of Mill — the view that Mill was an unadulterated champion of freedom for its own sake — is very much mistaken.  Relying on the major works (the Logic, On Liberty, Utilitarianism, The Subjection of Women, etc.) as well as on many less well-known writings and letters, Hamburger argues that what interested Mill was liberty and control, and fairly substantial and intrusive types of state and social control at that:

[A]n explanation of Mill’s overarching argument in On Liberty must explain the coexistence of these two apparently opposite positions.  This is made necessary because the provisions for controls were not small exceptions to a general presumption that in most circumstances an expansive liberty ought to prevail . . . . [T]he range of cases in which [Mill] would punish, his approval of punishments for mere dispositions toward conduct that would injure others, and above all, his explanation of his purposes to [his friend] George Grote indicate that his rationale for liberty in combination with control  requires a different explanation.  It is also necessary to explain how, for Mill, the provisions for both control and liberty were not contradictory, but in fact were compatible means of implementing a coherent plan of moral reform.  (18-19)

Professor Hamburger proceeds in the following chapter to discuss the movement of Mill away from an interest in institutional reform (something which always greatly interested Bentham) toward a more ambitious plan for cultural and moral reform (in tandem with and inspired by his wife, Harriet).  He then spends several very interesting chapters discussing Mill’s aim to vanquish Christianity as the de facto social morality and replace it with a “religion of humanity” — the new moral system which would strike the balance between liberty and control properly:

The real task of religion was to direct emotions and desires away from low objects and to be “paramount over all selfish objects of desire.”  Moreover, it ought to make us disinterested: “It carries the thoughts and feelings out of self, and fixes them on an unselfish object, loved and pursued as an end for its own sake.”  Christianity, however, in Mill’s view, did anything but this:

The religions which deal in promises and threats regarding a future life, do exactly the contrary: they fasten down the thoughts to the person’s own posthumous interests; they tempt him to regard the performance of his duties to others mainly as  a means to his personal salvation; and are one of the most serious obstacles to the great purpose of moral culture, the strengthening of the unselfish and the weakening of the selfish element in our nature.  (43, quoting “Utility of Religion”)

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