Over at the Biblioblogs site, Jim West has interviewed me as “blogger of the month” – you can read it here. We talk about theology, childhood, blogging, Rowan Williams, why my hair was once purple, and much more.
Hey Ben, in the interview you say that "the secularism which contemporary politicians are so keen to protect is in fact underwritten by some very complex theological assumptions." Could you recommend some books which explain this connection? I'm aware of the work of John Milbank, Alasdair MacIntyre, Stanley Hauerwas, and Charles Taylor. Is there anything else which investigates these connections? Thanks!
Hi Phil. It sounds like you've already read the best theological work on this question (William Cavanaugh is also good). For specific historical and political studies, you could also check out some of the following:* Blumenberg, Hans. The Legitimacy of the Modern Age. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 1986.* Clark, J. C. D. English Society, 1660–1832: Religion, Ideology, and Politics during the Ancien Régime. 2d ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.——. “Protestantism, Nationalism, and National Identity, 1660–1832,” The Historical Journal 43 (2000): 249–76.* Goldie, Mark. “The Political Thought of the Anglican Revolution.” 102–36. In The Revolutions of 1688. Ed. R. Beddard. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991.* Gray, John. Two Faces of Liberalism. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2000.* Manent, Pierre. An Intellectual History of Liberalism. Trans. Rebecca Belinski. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994.* Pocock, J. G. A. “Religious Freedom and the Desacralization of Politics: From the English Civil War to the Virginia Statute.” 43–73. In The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom: Its Evolution and Consequences in American History. Ed. Merrill D. Peterson and Robert C. Vaughan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988.——. “Within the Margins: The Definitions of Orthodoxy.” 33–53. In The Margins of Orthodoxy: Heterodox Writing and Cultural Response, 1660–1750. Ed. Roger D. Lund. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.——. “Enlightenment and Counter-Enlightenment, Revolution and Counter-Revolution: A Eurosceptical Enquiry,” History of Political Thought 20 (1999): 125–39.* Schmitt, Carl. Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005.Some of my own current research is also exploring this question, e.g. a forthcoming article on heresy in the next issue of the Journal of the History of Ideas.And for constructive work in political theory that takes seriously the theological roots of liberal politics, I'd also recommend Chantal Mouffe and William Connolly, as well as Kristen Deede Johnson's impressive new book, Theology, Political Theory, and Pluralism: Beyond Tolerance and Difference (CUP 2007).Sorry for the long answer to a short question — I hope some of this is useful!
That was an interesting read. If you decided to make your blog a communal blog what theological distinctions / flavor would be foundational for the contributers?
Hi Craig — good question, I guess I haven't really given it that much thought. But hopefully the "flavour" would be academic yet cheerful, ecumenical yet committed to specific doctrinal traditions. I doubt there would be any real criteria for inclusion, though — I've never been particularly self-reflective about this blog, since it's more fun just to muddle along...
Why don't I have my own blog? For one thing, the technology scares me. The overriding reason, however, is that having your own blog is a huge investment in work - and I'm too goddam lazy.As for "co-authorship" at F&T, quite apart from the fact that I am not fit to carry Ben Myers' fashionable blue-rimmed spectacles, I don't like the idea of being the bad cop!
C'mon, Kim, I'd be sure to let you play good cop once in a while...In any case, as all readers of F&T know, my own posts are just the padding between Kim's "Propositions".
Thanks for the recommendations Ben. These questions are so interesting!
F&T is a joy, thanks Ben! thanks, too Kim for your contributions.
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