Education, Religion, and the Common Good: Advancing a Distinctly American Conversation about Religion's Role in Our Shared Life

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Education, Religion, and the Common Good: Advancing a Distinctly American Conversation About Religion's Role in Our Shared Life. By Martin Marty with Jonathan Moore. San Francisco: JosseyBass, 2000. vii +164 pp. $23.00 (cloth).

Education, Religion, and the Common Good originated from The Public Religion Project, a three-year (1996-99) series of conversations aimed at promoting "efforts to bring to light and interpret the forces of faith within a pluralistic society" (p. 155). Funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts and hosted by the University of Chicago, the project invited educators from elementary through university level, as well as other scholars with an interest in religion, to reflect upon this "zone" (one of ten identified by Pew) of "public life where forces of faith are at work" (p. 156).

Professor Marty's thesis is this: "In the midst of global, national, and local change affecting worldviews and public action, religion is too widespread and too deep a phenomenon not to be reckoned with in primary or at least secondary schools and thereafter, no matter under what aegis or auspices" (p.139). He argues early and throughout for an integrated, "seamless" treatment of the subject, resisting the compartmentalization by level that characterizes so much of the discourse. After an introduction and first chapter that outline the scope of the book and offer some definitions, chapters 2 through 5 make a case for the urgency of the conversation, sketch the history that sets the current context, and elucidate the complexities of the issues: important differences in the critical faculties of students (and associated participants) in lower and higher education; the subtleties of establishment (i.e., the relative privilege of the Judeo-Christian tradition, secular faith, and the recognition of the growing presence of non-Western traditions); the inadequacy of teacher education to prepare teachers who can handle discussion of religion in their disciplinary contexts; and the competition for a place for religion in a curriculum among expanding and competing knowledge areas. …


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