“Buddhist Responses to Globalization” (Kalmanson & Shields, eds.)

In August, Lexington Books is releasing Buddhist Responses to Globalization, edited by Leah Kalmanson (Drake University) and James Mark Shields (Bucknell University). The publisher’s description follows:

This interdisciplinary collection of essays highlights the relevance of 0739180541Buddhist doctrine and practice to issues of globalization. From various philosophical, religious, historical, and political perspectives, the authors show that Buddhism—arguably the world’s first transnational religion—is a rich resource for navigating today’s interconnected world. Buddhist Responses to Globalization addresses globalization as a contemporary phenomenon, marked by economic, cultural, and political deterritorialization, and also proposes concrete strategies for improving global conditions in light of these facts. Topics include Buddhist analyses of both capitalist and materialist economies; Buddhist religious syncretism in highly multicultural areas such as Honolulu; the changing face of Buddhism through the work of public intellectuals such as Alice Walker; and Buddhist responses to a range of issues including reparations and restorative justice, economic inequality, spirituality and political activism, cultural homogenization and nihilism, and feminist critique. In short, the book looks to bring Buddhist ideas and practices into direct and meaningful, yet critical, engagement with both the facts and theories of globalization.

Roudometof, “Globalization and Orthodox Christianity”

9780415843737This month, Routledge will publish Globalization and Orthodox Christianity: The Transformations of a Religious Tradition by Victor Roudometof (University of Cyrpus). The publisher’s description follows.

With approximately 200 to 300 million adherents worldwide, Orthodox Christianity is among the largest branches of Christianity, yet it remains relatively understudied. This book examines the rich and complex entanglements between Orthodox Christianity and globalization, offering a substantive contribution to the relationship between religion and globalization, as well as the relationship between Orthodox Christianity and the sociology of religion – and more broadly, the interdisciplinary field of Religious Studies.

While deeply engaged with history, this book does not simply narrate the history of Orthodox Christianity as a world religion, nor does it address theological issues or cover all the individual trajectories of each subgroup or subdivision of the faith. Orthodox Christianity is the object of the analysis, but author Victor Roudometof speaks to a broader audience interested in culture, religion, and globalization. Roudometof argues in favor of using globalization instead of modernization as the main theoretical vehicle for analyzing religion, displacing secularization in order to argue for multiple hybridizations of religion as a suitable strategy for analyzing religious phenomena. It offers Orthodox Christianity as a test case that illustrates the presence of historically specific but theoretically distinct glocalizations, applicable to all faiths.

Crimm on Globalization and Domestic Islamic-Socio-Political Activism

Nina J. Crimm’s (St. John’s U.) newest article, What Could Globalization Mean for Domestic Islamic-Socio-Political Activism?, has been published  in the most recent issue of the Fordham International Law Journal. The Article’s Introduction is reprinted below.

In this post-modern era, religion has been experiencing a worldwide transformation. Some see a resurgence of traditional religion, including Islam, evidenced by an increase in renewed religious rituals and practices in countries of varying levels of economic development, political structures, and religious traditions including those of North America, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. Others do not agree entirely. An emphasis on conservative religious beliefs and practices has declined in many industrialized, rich countries, with the United States as one prominent exception. Yet, most analysts appear to agree that developing countries in the Southern regions of the world are increasingly populated by individuals holding conservative religious beliefs. Moreover, “there are more people alive today with traditional religious beliefs than ever before in history, and they’re a larger percentage of the world’s population than they were 20 years ago.” Many think that morality-based values, if not religious precepts (Islamic, Catholic, Protestant), in all parts of the world have become more relevant to, if not a significant influence on, ideological, social, economic, and political issues.

These alterations are tied directly to globalization by which the world is experiencing a “‘historically unique increase of scale to a global interdependency among people and nations’ . . .  Continue reading


I’ve always been mystified by ICANN (the “Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers”), the US non-profit corporation that manages the internet. Somehow, and without governmental authority, ICANN has gotten users around the world to accept as authoritative its decisions on internet protocols and, in particular, “generic Top Level Domains,” or “gTLDs” — the familiar .com, .org, and .edu designations at the end of internet addresses. A good example of spontaneous ordering, I guess.

Anyway, this spring, ICANN invited proposals for new gTLDs. The organization is now taking public comments. Given the importance of religion on the web, it’s not surprising that many of the proposed new gTLDs involve religion, and that some of them are causing controversy. For example, the Vatican has requested that it receive a new gTLD, “.catholic.” Among the objectors to this proposal is Saudi Arabia, which points out that other Christian communions, for example, Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, also refer to themselves as “Catholic”; the designation would thus create confusion. Actually,  Saudi Arabia has objected generally to new gTLDs that name particular religions – for example, “.islam,” – on the ground that no one entity should be able to claim the internet identity for an entire religion. It’s an interesting point. ICANN will accept comments on proposed gTLDs until September 26. (H/t: Christianity Today).

Bradley (ed.), “Challenges to Religious Liberty in the Twenty-First Century”

Here is a terrific collection of essays edited by Gerard V. Bradley (Notre Dame), Challenges to Religious Liberty in the Twenty-First Century (CUP 2012).  The contributors are CLR Forum guest Steve Smith and our friend Rick Garnett, as well as José Casanova, Tom Farr, Daniel Philpott, Christopher Tollefsen, William Inboden, Professor Bradley, and my old mentor and dear friend, Kent Greenawalt.  The publisher’s description follows.

Almost everyone today affirms the importance and merit of religious liberty. But religious liberty is being challenged by new questions (for example, use of the niqab or church adoption services for same-sex couples) and new forces (such as globalization and Islamism). Combined, these make the meaning of religious liberty in the twenty-first century uncertain. This collection of essays by ten of the world’s leading scholars on religious liberty takes aim at these issues. The book is arranged around five specific challenges to religious liberty today: the state’s responsibility to prevent coercion and intimidation of believers by others within the same faith community; the U.S.’s basic moral responsibilities to promote religious liberty abroad; how to understand and apply the traditional right of conscientious objection in today’s circumstances; the distinctive problems presented by globalization; and the viability today of an ‘originalist’ interpretation of the First Amendment religion clauses.

Brekke, “Fundamentalism”

A new book about the nature of religious fundamentalism and, in part, its connection to law, Fundamentalism: Prophecy and Protest in an Age of Globalization (Cambridge University Press 2011), by Torkel Brekke (University of Oslo).  The publisher’s description follows.

This book investigates the origins of fundamentalism, outlining its characteristics and the history of key fundamentalist movements around the world, considering examples from Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism. The book argues that fundamentalism develops when modern lay religious leaders challenge the authority of secular states and traditional religious establishments. These new leaders and their followers seek to infuse religious values and practices into all spheres, especially law, politics, education, and science. The patterns of religious authority and leadership that characterize fundamentalism have their roots in a Christian context but were globalized through intense intercultural contacts after the mid-nineteenth century. Fundamentalism is a thoroughly modern and global phenomenon because it presupposes the globalization of ideas and practices concerning religious leadership and organization, as well as universal changes in the relationship of religion to modern societies and states.

Pew Report on Global Christianity

Yesterday, the Pew Forum released a fascinating demographic study of Christianity around the world. Christians make up the largest religious group in the world today, about two billion people, roughly one-third of the world’s population. By comparison, Muslims, the next largest group, make up less than a quarter. Geographically, Christians are quite dispersed. Although 100 years ago the vast majority lived in Europe, today only 26% of Christians are there. Roughly 37% live in the Americas, 13% in Asia and the Pacific, and 24% in sub-Saharan Africa. These numbers reflect the much-noted shift of Christianity to the “Global South” over the last century. With regard to church traditions, the study finds that roughly half of the world’s Christians are Catholic, about 40% Protestant, about 12% Orthodox, and about one percent members of new traditions like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons. The report contains helpful interactive maps that illustrate the global distribution of Christians.

Delahunty on Trade and Islamist Terrorism

In attempting to come to grips with Islamist terrorism, some observers, particularly in the West, have suggested that poverty provides the ultimate explanation. Islamist terrorism thrives, the argument goes, because Muslim societies are poor; if Muslim societies experienced economic growth – through trade with the outside world, for example – terrorism would be much less a problem. In an excellent new paper, Terrorism and Trade: A Reply to Professor Bhala, Robert Delahunty (St. Thomas – Minnesota) debunks this argument. He notes that studies repeatedly fail to show a significant empirical link between terrorism and poverty, particularly the poverty which results from a lack of trade with the outside world. In fact, Islamist terrorism in the twenty-first century, like communist terrorism in the nineteenth century, is principally a middle-class phenomenon. Both the leadership and ranks of jihadist movements are made up of educated, upwardly-mobile professionals with ties to the global economy. Like other economic explanations, Delahunty suggests at the end of his paper, the “counter-terrorism through trade” argument may be a way for secular-minded Westerners to avoid coming to terms with the ultimate explanation for religious and ideological terrorism, namely, that its motivations are primarily religious and ideological. There is much more in the paper which, as usual with Delahunty, is remarkably erudite and lucid.

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