Thursday, January 20, 2005

Professors JJ

Both law student authors of this blog, who are neither academics nor religious specialists, ironically find ourselves teaching classes on religion and society next semester. I'm team teaching (with several other students) a "Reading Group," which is a student-led course for which my law school awards credit. The course is called "Christiantity & Politics: Assessing 2004's Constitutional Moment." It proceeds from the assumption that the 2004 election changed the relationship between religion and politics in the country and attempts to come to grips with this fact. I thought our readers would be interested in the course description which we've just submitted to the Registrar:

The 2004 election signaled, arguably, an Ackermanian-style “Constitutional Moment” in the history of the United States. Although the Constitution contemplates, at least to some degree, a separation between religion in politics, the boundary between the two spheres is becoming increasingly permeable. In this reading group, we would like to study the direction that this arguable “Constitutional Moment” is taking our country, with particular emphasis on the agenda of the “Religious Right” and potential alternatives. Doing so will require a detailed study of modern American Christianity and its impact on the public sphere.

We intend to address the following questions:
(1) What are the theological foundations of Christian fundamentalism in America?

(2) How should we understand the relationship between fundamentalist Christian theology and the politics of the Religious Right?

(3) How significant is the political influence of the Religious Right?

(4) Does progressive Christianity provide a satisfactory answer, intellectually, to Christian fundamentalism?

(5) Would a “Religious Left” movement be consistent with progressive political principles and a vigorous understanding of the Separation of Church and State?

(6) Assuming an affirmative to question (5), what specific public policies and political strategies should such a “Religious Left” explore?

I'm very excited about participating because it will give me a chance to explore, even more deeply, many of the questions we address weekly on this blog. Moreover, it will give me an opportunity to familiarize myself with non-Social Gospel strands of progressive Christian theology, such as Queer Theology, Liberation Theology, and Feminist Theology. At this point, I am woefully ignorant of these things. As the course progresses, I will certainly keep our good readers updated on whatever insights are generated from this course.

Wish me luck!

P.S. I encourage the other author of this blog to discuss the course he's teaching at his law school. It is exciting as well.


At 2:00 PM, Blogger DLW said...

I guess this is why I'm an alternative views blog, but I would caution against focusing on progressive Christian theologies for political activism. I fear that such is relatively new and may have a varied following and be less informative for understanding wider trends or viewpoints.

I'd encourage looking into Catholic Social Ethics, Kuyperian Social Ethics, classic writings from the Social Gospel movements, and African-American and Hispanic-American liberationist theologies.

I'd also suggest considering the writings of Frank Knight, who was a critic of the social gospellists of his day and came from a religious background that he rejected and yet which influenced his philosophical reflections on social/economic ethics.

There is an interesting article on his religious background and how it influenced his thinking in "Economics and Religion: Are They Distinct?"

You might be able to find that in libraries near you. Its important to historically remember that the subdivisions we make of economics, political science, and sociology are relatively recent and they were all mixed in, along with theology, in the past.


At 2:22 PM, Blogger jj said...

DLW, you are in the "different perspectives" category by default. As a law student, I am extremely busy, and don't have the time to sufficiently inform myself about your perspective. Moreover, from what I can tell, your views are quite complex and sophisticated (more sophisticated than me). To put it another way, I have neither the time nor intelligence to decide at this point whether I can "vouch" for your blog yet.

But that doesn't mean we don't LOVE YOU and appreciate your feedback. Thanks!!!

At 12:45 AM, Blogger DLW said...

As a busy sem-student, I understand.



Post a Comment

<< Home