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Why Politics Can't Be Freed From Religion / Edition 1

Why Politics Can't Be Freed From Religion / Edition 1

by Ivan Strenski


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Why Politics Can't Be Freed From Religion / Edition 1

Why Politics Can't be Freed From Religion is an original,erudite, and timely new book from Ivan Strenski. Itinterrogates thecentral ideas and contexts behind religion, politics, and power,proposing an alternative way in which we should think about theseissues in the twenty-first century.

  • A timely and highly original contribution to debates aboutreligion, politics and power – and how historic and socialinfluences have prejudiced our understanding of these concepts
  • Proposes a new theoretical framework to think about what theseideas and institutions mean in today&'s society
  • Applies this new perspective to a variety of real-world issues,including insights into suicide bombers in the Middle East
  • Includes radical critiques of the religious and politicalperspectives of thinkers such as Talal Asad and MichelFoucault
  • Dislodges our conventional thinking about politics andreligion, and in doing so, helps make sense of the complexities ofour twenty-first century world

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781405176491
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 03/15/2010
Series: Wiley-Blackwell Manifestos Series , #37
Pages: 216
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Ivan Strenski is Holstein Family and Community Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of California, Riverside. He is the author of numerous books, including: Contesting Sacrifice: Religion, Nationalism and Social Thought (2002); Theology and the First Theory of Sacrifice (2003); The New Durkheim: Essays on Philosophy, Religious Identity and the Politics of Knowledge (2006); Thinking About Religion: An Historical Introduction to Theories of Religion and Thinking About Religion: A Reader (both Wiley-Blackwell, 2006).

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

1 When God Plays Politics: Radical Interrogations ofReligion, Power, and Politics 1

2 Interrogating ‘Religion’ 8

1. Religion Trouble 8

2. ‘Seeing’ Religion: Six Common Clichés 11

3. Gagging at the Feast of Two Unexamined Assumptions: Religion,All Good or All Bad 14

4. The Religion-Is-No-Good Cliché 21

5. The Second Set of Two Clichés: Religion Is Belief andBelief in God 24

6. ‘Religion’s’ Private Parts 33

7. Powerless in Paradise 35

8. Two Ways to Eliminate ‘Religion’ 36

9. Is Religion Our Phlogiston? An Historical Test Case 39

10. Talal Asad’s ‘Religion’ Trouble 42

11. The Trick of Defining ‘Religion’ 46

12. Owning ‘Religion’ 50

13. How Durkheim Took ‘Ownership’ of‘Religion’ 55

14. Religion and Its Despisers 59

3 Interrogating ‘Power’ 62

1. Confronting the Paradox of ‘Power’ 62

2. How ‘Power’ Plays Havoc with Thinking about“Institutional Violence” 66

3. Whom Should We Blame? ‘History’ on Trial 70

4. History’s Helper: We Should Also Blame Foucault 81

5. Problematizing Power in South Africa 84

6. Foucault versus Foucault 88

7. Thinking about Power as Auctoritas and Hierarchy 90

8. What More Is to Be Done? Thinking about Power as Auctoritasand Social Force 97

4 Interrogating ‘Politics’ 100

1. Defining ‘Politics’ 100

2. Where There Is No Politics: Despotism and Totalitarianism102

3. Autonomous Politics 105

4. Where Our ‘Politics’ Makes No Sense 107

5. Politics, the Construct 109

6. Two Pernicious Views of ‘Politics’ 112

7. History Lessons for Professor Morgenthau 116

8. What Constitutionalism Owes the Council of Constance 119

9. The Emergence of the Political . . . from the Religious123

10. Machiavelli and Luther: Critical Contributions to theAutonomy of Politics 125

11. Foucault’s Fault II: ‘Everything IsPolitical’ 130

12. The Hidden Fascism of Thinking that Everything Is Political133

13. Public and Private: No Absolute Line of Demarcation 135

14. Resisting the Panopticon 136

15. Afterword: The Autonomy of ‘Politics’ and theNation-State 140

5 Testing Interrogations of ‘Religion,’‘Power,’ and ‘Politics’: Human Bombers andthe Authority of Sacrifice in the Middle East 142

1. Is ‘Suicide’ Bombing Religious? 142

2. Making Too Much of Religion in ‘Suicide’ Bombing:‘Islamofascism’ 144

3. Dying to Make Too Little of Religion in ‘Suicide’Bombing: Robert A. Pape 147

4. No Religion in ‘Suicide’ Bombing: Talal Asad150

5. How Religion Helps Explain Human Bombing 153

6. Human Bombing Is “Catastrophe,” but also a“Triumph” of “Secular Immortality” 155

7. Human Bombing = Jihad + Sacrifice 160

8. Sacrifice or Suicide? 164

9. But Do Any Muslims Really Think Human Bombers Are‘Sacrifices’? 168

10. Sacrifice Makes Authority 175

11. How and Why Sacrifice Works: The Authority of Sacralization176

12. How and Why Sacrifice Works: No Free Gifts 180

13. Concluding Remarks 182

References 187

Index 196

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Going beyond the religion-is-good and the religion-is-badclichés, while also distancing himself from fashionableacademic eliminationists, Ivan Strenski examines the connectionsamong religion, power and politics. Is religion merely‘used’ by fanatics, as if it were an inert hammer thatcan be picked up or dropped at will? Is it to be equated withbelief? Or with power, à la Foucault? Or is it, rather,inseparable from authority? Most readers are likely to have theirpresuppositions shaken by Strenski’s Manifesto."
Gustavo Benavides, Villanova University

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