Religious Passion and Public Life: Religion and the Demise of Liberal Rationalism; the Foundational Crisis of the Separation of Church and State; the Transformation of American Religion; the Story of a Late-Twentieth-Century Awakening; Landscapes of the Soul

By S, Roger | Tikkun, November/December 2001 | Go to article overview

Religious Passion and Public Life: Religion and the Demise of Liberal Rationalism; the Foundational Crisis of the Separation of Church and State; the Transformation of American Religion; the Story of a Late-Twentieth-Century Awakening; Landscapes of the Soul


S, Roger, Tikkun


Religious Passion and Public Life: Religion and the Demise of Liberal Rationalism; The Foundational Crisis of the Separation of Church and State; The Transformation of American Religion; The Story of a Late-Twentieth-Century Awakening; Landscapes of the Soul

Roger S. Gottlieb is the author of A Spirituality of Resistance: Finding a Peaceful Heart, Protecting the Earth, and Joining Hands: Religion and Politics Together for Social Change. He teaches philosophy at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Seeking an end to centuries of bloody religious conflict, Enlightenment thinkers proclaimed that religion should be free--but private. Because modern society was religiously diverse, and because science possessed the rationality religion lacked, our spiritual lives were to be excluded from the public realm. Yet modern society finds itself confronted by a vital interest in God, spiritual development, and cosmic meaning--an interest which constantly challenges the location and, indeed, the appropriateness of boundaries between public and private, state and religion, reason and faith. At the same time, contemporary believers who want to coexist with rather than overthrow democracy and human rights must fashion a religious identity that can resist fanatics who think faith requires orthodoxy and the crushing of "unbelievers," as well as the tendency to make religion so private and narcissistic that it has no more social, moral, or spiritual relevance than any other "lifestyle."

The books by Owen, Porterfield, and Porpora each illuminate an important facet of religion's complex relation to current public life. Yet their central claims are weakened by critical omissions of historical perspective. As a collection, the Snyder anthology is necessarily less analytically developed than the other books; yet it manages to convey a rich sense of the best of religion's current social meaning, and also to be an inspiring example of what it discusses.

J. Judd Owen rejects the way three of secular philosophy's biggest guns try to relegate religion to the sidelines of public life or dismiss it as irrational. His adversaries are no less than John Rawls, Richard Rorty, and Stanley Fish, the first two of which are among the half dozen most influential philosophers of the last twenty years. Despite important differences, the three share a basic concern with the public status of religion now that the Enlightenment belief in universal standards of knowledge and truth has fallen into disrepute. Thirty years of post-empiricist philosophy of science has challenged the detached objectivity of science's account of nature. Political movements have shown gender, racial, and ethnic bias in every humanistic discipline. An awareness of other cultures and of history makes us all realize that what we believe is historically and socially determined. With reason in retreat, how will the liberal state delimit religion's public presence?

Rawls tries to separate out political rules that will work for everyone from substantive religious (or philosophical) perspectives that will necessarily manifest wide differences. The former will be public and universal, the latter private and particular. Unlike earlier liberalism, this one will provide rules we can share, and not try to impose a vision of human nature which we can't.

Rorty, by contrast, doesn't believe that any universal rules can be found. The liberal trust in natural science and rights is just one more ethnocentric habit, no more "rational" than fundamentalist Islam or alchemy. The best we can hope for is that we'll all tolerate each other's idiosyncratic beliefs, while trying to develop some compassion for each other's suffering. Instead of trying to impose competing truths, we'll share our stories.

Fish rejects altogether the notion that we can construct a realm of tolerance, reason, or compromise among different perspectives. Different religions, just like different secular world views, are simply opponents, motivated by fundamental principles, none of which are susceptible to rational justification. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Religious Passion and Public Life: Religion and the Demise of Liberal Rationalism; the Foundational Crisis of the Separation of Church and State; the Transformation of American Religion; the Story of a Late-Twentieth-Century Awakening; Landscapes of the Soul
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.