Western liberal societies are characterized by two stories: a positive story of freedom of conscience and the recognition of community and human rights, and a negative story of unrestrained freedom that leads to self-centeredness, vacuity, and the destructive compromise of human values. Can the Catholic Church play a more meaningful role in assisting liberal societies in telling their better story?
Australian ethicist Robert Gascoigne thinks it can. In The Church and Secularity he considers the meaning of secularity as a shared space for all citizens and asks how the Church can contribute to a sensitivity to—and respect for—human dignity and human rights. Drawing on Augustine’s City of God and Vatican II’s Gaudium et spes, Gascoigne interprets the meaning of freedom in liberal societies through the lens of Augustine’s “two loves,” the love of God and neighbor and the love of self, and reveals how the two are connected to our contemporary experience.
The Church and Secularity argues that the Church can serve liberal societies in a positive way and that its own social identity, rooted in Eucharistic communities, must be bound up with the struggle for human rights and resistance to the commodification of the human in all its forms.
Recent critical theory is curiously preoccupied with the metaphors and ideas of early Christianity, especially the religion of Paul. The haunting of secular thought by the very religion it seeks to overcome may seem surprising at first, but Ward Blanton argues that this recent return by theorists to the resources of early Christianity has precedent in modern and ostensibly secularizing philosophy, from Kant to Heidegger.
Displacing Christian Origins traces the current critical engagement of Agamben, Derrida, and Žižek, among others, back into nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century philosophers of early Christianity. By comparing these crucial moments in the modern history of philosophy with exemplars of modern biblical scholarship—David Friedrich Strauss, Adolf Deissmann, and Albert Schweitzer—Blanton offers a new way for critical theory to construe the relationship between the modern past and the biblical traditions to which we seem to be drawn once again.
An innovative contribution to the intellectual history of biblical exegesis, Displacing Christian Origins will promote informed and fruitful debate between religion and philosophy.
In Islam and Secularity Nilüfer Göle takes on two pressing issues: the transforming relationship between Islam and Western secular modernity and the impact of the Muslim presence in Europe. Göle shows how the visibility of Islamic practice in the European public sphere unsettles narratives of Western secularism. As mutually constitutive, Islam and secularism permeate each other, the effects of which play out in embodied and aesthetic practices and are accompanied by fear, anxiety, and violence. In this timely book, Göle illuminates the recent rethinking of secularism and religion, of modernity and resistance to it, of the public significance of sexuality, and of the shifting terrain of identity in contemporary Europe.