Around the Web

Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:

Watt, “Antifundamentalism in Modern America”

In May, Cornell University Press will release Antifundamentalism in Modern America by David Harrington Watt (Temple University). The publisher’s description follows:

antifundamentalism-in-modern-americaDavid Harrington Watt’s Antifundamentalism in Modern America gives us a pathbreaking account of the role that the fear of fundamentalism has played—and continues to play—in American culture. Fundamentalism has never been a neutral category of analysis, and Watt scrutinizes the various political purposes that the concept has been made to serve. In 1920, the conservative Baptist writer Curtis Lee Laws coined the word “fundamentalists.” Watt examines the antifundamentalist polemics of Harry Emerson Fosdick, Talcott Parsons, Stanley Kramer, and Richard Hofstadter, which convinced many Americans that religious fundamentalists were almost by definition backward, intolerant, and anti-intellectual and that fundamentalism was a dangerous form of religion that had no legitimate place in the modern world.

For almost fifty years, the concept of fundamentalism was linked almost exclusively to Protestant Christians. The overthrow of the Shah of Iran and the establishment of an Islamic republic led to a more elastic understanding of the nature of fundamentalism. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Americans became accustomed to using fundamentalism as a way of talking about Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, and Buddhists, as well as Christians. Many Americans came to see Protestant fundamentalism as an expression of a larger phenomenon that was wreaking havoc all over the world. Antifundamentalism in Modern America is the first book to provide an overview of the way that the fear of fundamentalism has shaped U.S. culture, and it will lead readers to rethink their understanding of what fundamentalism is and what it does.

McSkimming, “Leaving Christian Fundamentalism and the Reconstruction of Identity”

In September, Routledge will release Leaving Christian Fundamentalism and the Reconstruction of Identity by Josie McSkimming (University of New South Wales). The publisher’s description follows:

Leaving Christian Fundamentalsim

There is an increasing interest in the influence of religious fundamentalism upon people’s motivation, identity and decision-making. Leaving Christian Fundamentalism and the Re-construction of Identity details the stories of those who have left Christian fundamentalist churches and how they change after they have left. It considers how the previous fundamentalist identity is shaped by aspects of church teaching and discipline that are less authoritarian and coercive, and more subtle and widely spread throughout the church body. That is, individuals are understood as not only subject to a form of judgment, but also exercise it, with everyone seemingly complicit in maintaining the stability of the church organization. This book provocatively illustrates that the reasons for leaving an evangelical Christian church may be less about what happens outside the church in terms of the lures and attractions of the secular world, and more about the experience within the community itself.

 

Conference: Tradition, Secularization, and Fundamentalism

Fordham University’s Orthodox Christian Studies Center will hold a conference on “Tradition, Secularization, Fundamentalism” from Thursday, June 23rd through Saturday, June 25th, 2016. Here is the conference description, from the event’s website:

While the very meaning of the “secular” remains contested, Christians globally are self-identifying in different ways in relation to an imagined secularization, all the while discerning how to live as a tradition.  This intersection between tradition, secularization and fundamentalism is especially evident in both post-Communist Catholic/Orthodox countries and the American context, where fundamentalist-like responses have emerged against the perceived threat of the secular.

Additional information and the event schedule can be found here.

“The Transformation of Politicised Religion: From Zealots into Leaders” (Elsenhans et al., eds.)

Last month, Ashgate Publishing released “The Transformation of Politicised Religion: From Zealots into Leaders” edited by Harmut Elsenhans (University of Leipzig, Germany), Rachid Ouaissa (Philipps-Universität Marburg, Germany), Sebastian Schwecke (University of Göttingen, Germany), and Mary Ann Tétreault (Trinity University, USA). The publisher’s description follows:

Including contributions from leading scholars from Algeria, France, Germany, India and the United States this book traces the rise and turn to moderation of the New Cultural Identitarian Political Movements, often labelled in the West as fundamentalists. Arguing that culturally based ideologies are often the instruments, rather than the motivating force though which segments of a rising middle strata challenge entrenched elites the expert contributors trace the rise of these movements to changes in their respective countries’ political economy and class structures. This approach explains why, as a result of an ongoing contestation and recreation of bourgeois values, the more powerful of these movements then tend towards moderation. As Western countries realise the need to engage with the more moderate wings of fundamentalist political groups their rationale and aims become of increasing importance and so academics, decision-makers and business people interested in South Asia and the Muslim world will find this an invaluable account.

Eagleton, “Culture and the Death of God”

Next month, Yale University Press will publish Culture and the Death of 9780300203998God, by Terry Eagleton (University of Lancaster). This book should spark thoughtful and intriguing dialogue. The publisher’s description follows.

How to live in a supposedly faithless world threatened by religious fundamentalism? Terry Eagleton, formidable thinker and renowned cultural critic, investigates in this thought-provoking book the contradictions, difficulties, and significance of the modern search for a replacement for God. Engaging with a phenomenally wide range of ideas, issues, and thinkers from the Enlightenment to today, Eagleton discusses the state of religion before and after 9/11, the ironies surrounding Western capitalism’s part in spawning not only secularism but also fundamentalism, and the unsatisfactory surrogates for the Almighty invented in the post-Enlightenment era.

The author reflects on the unique capacities of religion, the possibilities of culture and art as modern paths to salvation, the so-called war on terror’s impact on atheism, and a host of other topics of concern to those who envision a future in which just and compassionate communities thrive. Lucid, stylish, and entertaining in his usual manner, Eagleton presents a brilliant survey of modern thought that also serves as a timely, urgently needed intervention into our perilous political present.

“Current Issues in Law and Religion” (Ferrari & Cristofori, eds.)

This September, Ashgate will publish Current Issues in Law and Religion by Silvio Ferrari (University of Milan) and Rinaldo Christofori (Emory University), a collection of essays that is part of Ashgate’s “Library of Essays on Law and Religion” series. The publisher’s description follows:

This volume focuses on issues that have only recently come to the forefront of the discipline such as freedom from religion, ordination of homosexuals, apostasy, security and fundamentalism, issues that are linked to the common themes of secularism and globalization. Although these subjects are not new to the academic debate, they have become prominent in law and religion circles as a result of recent and rapid changes in society. The essays in this volume present multiple points of view, facilitate scholars in understanding this evolving discipline and act as a stimulus for further research.This collection gives the reader a sense of the key topics and current debates in law and religion and is of interest to law, politics, human rights, and religion scholars.

Mootz on Fundamentalist Rhetoric

Francis Joseph Mootz III has posted Right Rhetoric: What Lawyers May Learn from the Study of Rhetoric, on SSRN. The abstract follows.

This paper was written for a Festschrift honoring Guy Haarscher of the Free University of Brussels. It addresses Haarscher’s analysis of the rhetorical efforts by religious fundamentalists to limit the scope of rhetorical exchanges, and particularly their use of psuedo-argument. I commend Haarscher’s analysis, but question his conclusions about the famous Scopes trial. William Jennings Bryan was justifiably offended by the racist eugenics in the biology book being used by Scopes, and so we should not be too quick to brand the Christian perspective as unsuitable to contemporary rhetorical exchange. Haarscher is correct that rhetorical argumentation must have integrity and rise above sophism, a thesis that he demonstrates clearly in challenging the politically correct rhetoric of some on the left. I conclude that Haarscher’s balanced and thoughtful approach to public discourse is precisely what contemporary society requires.

%d bloggers like this: