Video of Sir Roger Scruton’s Tradition Project Lecture Now Available

Last month in New York, Sir Roger Scruton gave the keynote speech at our second Tradition Project conference, “Tradition, Culture, and Citizenship.” A video of Sir Roger’s speech is now available below:

“The Altars Where We Worship” (Floyd-Thomas et al.)

Defining “religion” presents an enduring problem in American law. One doesn’t want to define it so narrowly that it would fail to protect many bona fide believers, nor so broadly that it would become meaningless. At some basic level, the legal definition of religion should track the understanding of religion in the wider culture. But what happens when the culture changes rapidly, and new conceptions of religion appear?

Here is an interesting-looking new book from Westminster John Knox Press, The Altars Where We Worship: The Religious Significance of Popular CultureThe authors, scholars at Vanderbilt and the University of Toronto, argue that Americans now draw religious meaning from a variety of non-traditionally religious sources in contemporary culture. Whether that fact should change the legal definition of religion is a different question, of course. But it’s worth looking at the evidence of cultural change.

Here’s the publisher’s description:

the-altars-where-we-worshipWhile a large percentage of Americans claim religious identity, the number of Americans attending traditional worship services has significantly declined in recent decades. Where, then, are Americans finding meaning in their lives, if not in the context of traditional religion? In this provocative study, the authors argue that the objects of our attention have become our god and fulfilling our desires has become our religion. They examine the religious dimensions of six specific aspects of American culture—body and sex, big business, entertainment, politics, sports, and science and technology—that function as “altars” where Americans gather to worship and produce meaning for their lives. The Altars Where We Worship shows how these secular altars provide resources for understanding the self, others, and the world itself. “For better or worse,” the authors write, “we are faced with the reality that human experiences before these altars contain religious characteristics in common with experiences before more traditional altars.” Readers will come away with a clearer understanding of what religion is after exploring the thoroughly religious aspects of popular culture in the United States.

Esolen, “Out of the Ashes”

Next month, Regnery Publishing releases Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture, by Anthony Esolen (Providence College). The publisher’s description follows:

9781621575146-frontcover-202x306It’s not your imagination: civilized human society is collapsing. Communities no longer work towards a common good; children are no longer our first priority; businesses no longer value “hard work”; arts and skills have been lost; and gender is decided by the individual, not biology.

We cannot reverse national and global trends, says professor Anthony Esolen; but we can build communities that live up to humanity’s promise and responsibility. In Out of the Ashes, Esolen identifies the gaping problems in our society and lays out a blueprint for reconstruction that puts our future in the hands of individuals focused on the good of the local community.

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