Exciting news from Edge member Matt Sheedy: his new book Owning the Secular: Religious Symbols, Culture Wars, Western Fragility (Routledge, 2021) has just been published!
From the Routledge site:
Drawing on theories of discourse analysis and ideology critique, this study calls attention to an evolution in how secularism, nationalism, and multiculturalism in Euro-Western states are debated and understood as competing groups contest and rearrange the meaning of these terms. This is especially true in the digital age as online cultures have transformed how information is spread, how we imagine our communities, build alliances, and produce shared meaning.
From recent attempts to prohibit religious symbols in public, to Trump’s so-called Muslim bans, to growing disenchantment with the promises of digital media, this study turns the lens how nation-states, organizations, and individuals attempt to “own” the secular to manage cultural differences, shore up group identity, and stake a claim to some version of Western values amidst the growing uncertainties of neoliberal capitalism.
Perhaps you’ve caught the news about a recent Supreme court decision in the U.S. in which (by a slim, but sufficient, 5-4 majority) local town meetings that begin with prayer were held to be constitutional — so long as religions were not actively excluded from the opportunity. The majority (read the decision, and various commentaries, for yourself here, linked under “Opinion”) concluded:
All that the Court does today is to allow a town to follow a practice that we have previously held is permissible for Congress and state legislatures.
Continue reading “WWDS?”
Not long ago I posted about a paired example (one scholar in India and one in North America), each debunking what they both called other people’s superstitions. Apart from being curious as to why one of those critics met a tragic fate (the topic of my earlier post), I also find interesting the way in which the side they both share — what shall we call them: Modernists? Rationalists? Empiricists? Scientists? Secularists? — portrays those on the other; for “they,” as indicated just above, are superstitious people who rely on archaic beliefs in black magic, hocus pocus, faith (in fact, it is often called blind faith) whereas “we” boldly rely on our own cool-headed rationality and cold hard facts.
But is it as simple as that? Continue reading “Blind Confidence”