17 February 2011

Recent articles on political theology (6)

Sixth installment of recent articles on political theology:

Pini Ifergan (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev), "Cutting to the Chase: Carl Schmitt and Hans Blumenberg on Political Theology and Secularization", New German Critique, 37 (3), fall 2010: pp. 149-71.

Abstract: "Is modernity a distinct historical epoch that can be radically distinguished from the one that preceded it? What are the implicit philosophical assumptions regarding our understanding of historical time that determine the sort of answer that we are inclined to give to this question? The debate between Carl Schmitt and Hans Blumenberg concerning the conceptual status of secularization as an explanatory category for the emergence of modernity provides us with a paradigmatic case that sheds light on those questions. With the recent publication of the correspondence between Schmitt and Blumenberg, I suggest in my article a reading of the debate that exposes how they use each other's argument to sharpen their distinctive evaluation of modernity and its relation to Christian theology. These two arguments and their unique dynamic transcend the common ways of either defending or criticizing modernity's claim to be a distinct and legitimate historical epoch. The suggested conceptual reconstructions of the Schmitt-Blumenberg debate point to a revaluation of the terms of the quarrel over modernity, Christian theology, and the relations between them."

Mary Alberi (Pace University), "'Like the Army of God's Camp': Political Theology and Apocalyptic Warfare at Charlemagne's Court", Viator: Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 41 (2), 2010: pp. 1-20.

Abstract: "The political theology of Charlemagne's court drew upon theological concepts to interpret contemporary events and fashion an identity for the populus christianus of the Frankish empire. The formulation of this political theology occurred against a background of political and military crises. A number of sources written by his ecclesiastical courtiers refer to the castra Dei, the militant ecclesia, or 'assembly of God's people,' commanded by Charlemagne, on pilgrimage through the dangerous last days of world history. These apocalyptic dangers called for enhanced royal authority to defend the castra Dei through a program of correction. Correction supported consensus among the king and his ecclesiastical and lay magnates, stabilizing the kingdom internally. Correction also established 'liturgical frontiers' separating the orderly and peaceful castra Dei from the world's chaotic paganism and heresy. This attempt to distinguish the castra Dei from its spiritual enemies gave Charlemagne's empire coherence in its political and military conflicts with enemies over contested frontier zones. The apocalyptic rhetoric surrounding references to the castra Dei was connected to political necessity, rather than expectation of an imminent apocalypse."

Scott M. Thomas (University of Bath), "Living Critically and 'Living Faithfully' in a Global Age: Justice, Emancipation and the Political Theology of International Relations", Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 39 (2), December 2010: pp. 505-24.

Abstract: "This article asks is there a place for religion and spirituality in a critical theory of international relations (IR)? The usual answer is 'no' because of critical theory's generally negative assessment of religion in domestic and international politics. However, while many of these criticisms can be acknowledged, a critical theory of IR still has to grapple with the more complex understanding of religion that already exists in critical theory, and the global resurgence of religion how [sic] Eurocentric its concept of religion actually is and how rooted it is in the European experience of modernisation. For the people of the global South – which comprises most of the people in the world – the struggle to 'live faithfully' amid the problems of world poverty, climate change, conflict and development can not be separated from their struggle for justice and emancipation. Therefore, a greater dialogue between critical theory and theology is necessary if critical theory is to more fully and creatively contribute to our understanding of some of the most important global issues in the study of IR in the 21st century."

Richard Lock-Pullan (University of Birmingham), "Challenging the Political Theology of America's 'War on Terror'", in "Just War on Terror? A Christian and Muslim Response", eds. David Fisher and Brian Wicker (Ashgate, July 2010): pp. 37-52.


Excerpt: "The events of 11 September 2001 and the response of the US to them have confronted many Christians with the question what is an appropriate Christian response to the challenges of living in an age of terror. In this context one can ask what insights Christian doctrine, as opposed to Christian ethics, has to contribute to understanding the present era and how these can then shape the nature of Christian engagement with the current issues [...]. This chapter will argue that one can generate a Christian perspective and subsequent ethics on the basis of seeing theology as an essentially interpretative task that mediates between Christian doctrine and political events. Using this approach President Bush's use of 'evil' is examined and shown to be a source of absolutist and self-righteous thinking, leading to a disastrous and unjust foreign policy. As an alternative, Reinhold Niebuhr's reinterpretation of the doctrine of sin will be shown to be an effective doctrinal lens to avoid these pitfalls, whilst itself generating a practice of Christian Realism that takes seriously the context of international affairs and Christian vision. The revisions of Niebuhr's theology are then used to develop a more liberal approach which gives the church a transformative role in addressing the 'war on terror', and concludes by examining how Obama's post-Niebuhrian liberal religious views shape current policy."

Jürgen Manemann (Hanover Institute of Philosophical Research), "New Orientations of the Political: On the Contemporary Challenge of Political Theology", in "Edward Schillebeeckx and Contemporary Theology", eds. Lieven Boeve, Frederiek Depoortere, and Stephan van Erp (Continuum, December 2010): pp. 67-81.


No abstract provided.

Julia Reinhard Lupton (University of California, Irvine), "Introduction to a Totem Meal: Hans Kelsen, Carl Schmitt and Political Theology", in "The Return of Theory in Early Modern English Studies: Tarrying with the Subjunctive", eds. Paul Cefalu and Bryan Reynolds (Palgrave Macmillan, February 2011): page numbers not known.


No abstract provided.

Graham Hammill (State University of New York at Buffalo), "The Marlovian Sublime: Imagination and the Problem of Political Theology", in "The Return of Theory in Early Modern English Studies: Tarrying with the Subjunctive", eds. Paul Cefalu and Bryan Reynolds (Palgrave Macmillan, February 2011): page numbers not known.

No abstract provided.

Ross Bender (independent researcher), "Changing the Calendar: Royal Political Theology and the Suppression of the Tachibana Naramaro Conspiracy of 757", Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, 37 (2), 2010: pp. 223-45.

No abstract provided.

Namsoon Kang (Texas Christian University), "Towards a Cosmopolitan Theology: Constructing Public Theology from the Future", in "Planetary Loves: Spivak, Postcoloniality, and Theology", eds. Stephen D. Moore and Mayra Rivera (Fordham University Press, December 2010): pp. 258-280.


Excerpt: "I believe cosmopolitanism can be an effective discourse with which to advocate a politics of trans-identity of overlapping interests and heterogeneous or hybrid subjects in order to challenge conventional notions of exclusive belonging, identity, and citizenship, and to envision a planetary love through an ethical singularity aimed at a more peaceful and just world. I regard cosmopolitanism as a 'stronger mobilizing discourse' that captures Spivak's call for a mind-changing love for the planet. This essay is an effort to illuminate cosmopolitanism as a discourse that calls simultaneously for a planetary love through ethical singularity, in accordance with Spivak's notion, and for a radical neighborly love, in accordance with the Christian notion. As such, it is also an effort to articulate a cosmopolitan theological discourse, which I believe can be a mobilizing discourse for a more just and egalitarian world regardless of who one is."

Wanda Deifelt (Luther College), "Advocacy, Political Participation, and Citizenship: Lutheran Contributions to Public Theology", Dialog: A Journal of Theology, 49 (2), summer 2010: pp. 108-14.

Abstract: "Martin Luther never developed a political theory, but his theology does inform the way Christians live in society, making it both public and political. Luther's 'two kingdom theory' often has been misinterpreted to justify passivity and obedience toward civil authorities. Under closer examination, however, his theology applies to the everyday practices of politics, economics, and religious affairs. In the context of nation-building, a Lutheran theology fosters citizenship not only as individual rights and responsibilities, but as active participation in civil society."

Robert Meister (University of California, Santa Cruz), "Athens, Jerusalem and Rome after Auschwitz: Still the Jewish Question?", Thesis Eleven: Critical Theory and Historical Sociology, 102 (1), August 2010: pp. 76-96.

Abstract: "This article treats post-Holocaust humanitarianism as a secular version of St Paul's 'Jewish Question': why are there still Jews now that the particularities of Jewish history have universal meaning? It considers Paul's Judaeo-Christianity, a distinctively Christian embrace of Jewish survival, as the prototype of today's secular project of conversion to human rights, and asks what it means within this project for Jews to regard themselves as the only Jews. The article concludes by defining an Islamic alternative to the imperial reach of today's human rights discourse, based on the recent publication of 1981 lectures by the late N.O. Brown, who presented Islam as an alternative to the Pauline synthesis of Athens-Jerusalem that would renew, rather than supersede, the prophetic tradition of Jewish monotheism. Following Brown, the article presents Muhammad as the anti-Paul, and considers the key differences between their respective political theologies on issues such as fidelity, cruelty and particularly the urgency of justice. Islam's insistence that there is no 'time between' the end of evil and the beginning of justice shows the limitations of today's human rights discourse as a religion of permanent transition that denies urgency to justice itself. The 'Jewish Question' that Paul formulated for Christians in a Roman world order thus illuminates issues posed by the Holocaust and Israel for professed humanitarians today."

Peniel Rajkumar (United Theological College, Bangalore), "'How' Does the Bible Mean? The Bible and Dalit Liberation in India", Political Theology, 11 (3), 2010: pp. 410-30.

Abstract: "This essay analyses the role of the Bible in Dalit liberation in a context where Dalit theology, despite being increasingly recognized as an academic theology, hasn't been effective practically in either sustaining the Dalits in their struggles for liberation or in challenging the perpetuation of caste discrimination within the Indian churches. In the light of the Dalits' own reception of the Bible as a potential source of Dalit liberation the essay critically revisits some of the defining biblical paradigms articulated by Dalit theologians, using as its epistemological tool the tensions between 'epic' and 'emic' forms of theological conceptualizations, in order to identify the reasons for the lacunae between Dalit theology and its practical viability for Dalit liberation. In the light of this analysis the essay explores and offers the synoptic healing stories as a viable biblical paradigm which can animate the Dalit struggles for liberation and thus enhance the practical efficacy of Dalit liberation."

David Grumett (University of Exeter), "Blondel, the Philosophy of Action and Liberation Theology", Political Theology, 11 (4), 2010: pp. 507-29.

Abstract: "Maurice Blondel's philosophy of action and concrete political theology provide foundations for modern theologies of action. By commencing with the reflective subject, Blondel compensates the deficiencies of collectivist Marxist social analysis. He did not live to complete his account of the social, political and economic implications of his philosophy, but they are realized in the work and witness of others: Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Yves de Montcheuil, Henri de Lubac and John McNeill. Liberation theologians of diverse persuasions need especially to acknowledge their debt to Blondel in an era when, in Western societies, the fundamental context of action is no longer material but intellectual, spiritual and interpersonal. The abstract nature of his thought means that he frequently opens suggestive paths into further reflection rather than prescribing complete solutions to specific practical questions."

Vincent W. Lloyd (Georgia State University), "Review Essay: Political Theology of the Ordinary", Political Theology, 11 (4), 2010: pp. 607-18.

Abstract: "In her recent book, Emergency Politics, political theorist Bonnie Honig proposes a 'Jewish political theology' to support radical democratic theory. Instead of taking Carl Schmitt as the starting point for reflection on the political significance of religious concepts, Honig takes Franz Rosenzweig. This review essay enters Honig's work into conversations about political theology, and it explores the significance and novelty of her position. It suggests that Honig's argument repeatedly runs aground for the same reason: she relies on a background image of democracy as an ethos rather than as a tradition requiring faith."

Dominic O'Sullivan (Charles Sturt University), "Reconciliation: The Political Theological Nexus in Australasian Indigenous Public Policy", International Journal of Public Theology, 4 (4), 2010: pp. 426-45.

Abstract: "Reconciliation brings together Christological and anthropological dimensions of human thought to illustrate the nexus between religious principles and political means. For the state reconciliation is concerned with social cohesion and political stability. For the church, it extends the sacramental notion of reconciliation between God and penitent to public relationships. This article examines Roman Catholic contributions to secular reconciliation debates. It shows how religious precepts create moral imperatives to engagement with secular discourses as a necessary element of Christian mission. It also argues that the church's role in the disruption of indigenous societies creates an additional moral imperative to engage in reconciliation as mission and to articulate a Christian vision of indigenous rights."

Kalemba Mwambazambi (University of South Africa), "A missiological glance at South African Black Theology", Verbum et Ecclesia, 31 (1), 2010: without page numbers. Refereed electronic journal, full text available online:


Abstract: "Black South African theologians created South African Black theology during the late 1960s and early 1970s as a conscious and theological dimension of the liberation struggle against apartheid. They drew inspiration from African-American theology, biblical hermeneutics and the raw material of their own experiences and suffering, whilst simultaneously creating a new theological paradigm and political orientation to liberate Black South Africans from apartheid and European domination. Inevitably, South African Black theology was a liberation theology aimed at helping to eradicate the existing socio-political order. This article gave a missiological overview of Black theology and examined and assessed the relevance of this theology to contemporary post-apartheid South Africa. The critical-theological research method was used."

1 comment:

  1. Abstract and link for Ross Bender, "Changing the Calendar":

    In the aftermath of the suppression of the Tachibana Naramaro conspiracy of 757, the Empress Kōken (“Kōken/Shōtoku Tennō”) issued two edicts articulating the royal political theology of the time. The first edict was a senmyō, inscribed in the Shoku Nihongi in Old Japanese; the second was a choku in Chinese. A miraculous omen, the apparition of a silkworm cocoon with a message woven into its surface, was interpreted as the occasion for a change in the calendrical era name, or nengō. This article argues that the imperial edicts express a coherent ideology combining ideas from a cultic matrix in which may be discerned proto-Shinto, Buddhist, and Confucian elements.