Monday, 16 February 2009

Religion and the political

The undoubted welcome for existential and personalist versions of the message is read by Metz as an index of the degree to which late industrial society has succeeded in forcing religion to the private sphere. Human existence is, he insists, a political problem. (Brendan Lovett, For the Joy Set Before Us 187)
The enthusiasm for existential and personalist versions of religion - see the West flocking to the gurus and godmen and women of India - there is no doubt about it.

I ask myself whether all religions are in need of such a critique - that of locking themselves up in the personal and the existential, and ignoring the social and political. Thus a young swami can consider drinking and sex as the greatest of vices, but remain blissfully ignorant about ongoing interfaith and intercommunity violence.... And Christians of the West can be terribly exercised about abortion stances of their politicians, while at the same time rooting for military interventions with faith-filled fervour.

Lovett in fact goes on:
However, once the religious a priori is conceived as protest against suffering, the issue of pluralism may need to be recast. In this perspective, all views, theological or otherwise, of what the human ought to be are not simply to be welcomed but must be subjected to critical and dialectical analysis. Otherwise, the concrete and practical character of the human problem will not be addressed effectively. The challenge is not simply to understand the plural world but to change it, to make of the Church a fit instrument of redemptive recovery. (188)

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