This article argues that G. E. Lessing should be viewed as one of the German Enlightenment’s foremost thinkers of peace alongside his contemporary Immanuel Kant, whose contribution to thinking peace in the eighteenth century is already well recognised. It makes this case by examining two of Lessing’s late works: the 1779 drama Nathan the Wise and the 1780 essay The Education of the Human Race. The dialogue between faith and reason characteristic of Enlightenment discourse is at the heart of both texts, but here it is argued that peace is a crucial third moment. While in Nathan Lessing asserts the need to find peace between the forces of faith and reason in a literary register, in the Education essay he does so in a more explicitly theoretical mode.
Nicholas of Cusa's De Pace Fidei
The aim of this paper, which more generally is a contribution to political theology, is to show in what way the conception of peace in Nicholas of Cusa’s De Pace Fidei is dependent upon a specific philosophical anthropology. Within it any link between human being and law is replaced by the subject of faith. Central to the argument is demonstrating the ways in which this anthropological position is necessarily interarticulated with the larger metaphysical positions that are advanced across a range of Cusanus’ texts.
Toward an Ethnography of Education, Religion, and the State
In a major transformation of our times, governmental organizations are increasingly turning to faith-based groups to provide basic public services, including education. Faith-government partnering derives its power symbolically from a higher order than the secular state; the secular world of technical education is metaphorically encircled and uplifted by sacrilized forces. Drawing on fieldwork conducted in Tanzania and in the United States, and on analysis of education policy documents and reports, this article argues that faith-based governmental programs operate by a logic of hierarchical encompassment, a logic by which state education discourses of accountability, efficiency, and standards first supercede and transform the ideal of religious-moral education, defining all citizens as equally protected before the law, and then reinstate religious- moral instruction as a higher order value that, in turn, encompasses technically trained citizens through an ethic that values religion, spirituality, and faith in one God.
Evangelical Protestant Conceptions of Faith and the Resonance of Anti-humanism
This article explores the cultural significance of faith among US evangelical Protestants. It is argued that evangelical conceptions of faith provide an idiom for expressing religiosity that transcends conventional notions of belief, which alone do not account for the ideals of evangelical subjectivity. Through an analysis of group rituals in a Tennessee megachurch, along with a discussion of the historical roots of evangelical theology and the growing influence of charismatic Christianity, the article highlights an emphasis on radical intersubjectivity that calls upon the faithful to submit to the totalizing authority of divine agency. It is further argued that evangelical conceptions of faith feature a strand of anti-humanism that resonates with the increasingly authoritarian politics of the post-welfare era, which are explored in relation to the growing phenomenon of altruistic faith-based activism.
A Symposium on Timothy Larsen’s The Slain God
Brian Howell, J. Derrick Lemons, Jon Bialecki, James Bielo, Tanya Luhrmann and Timothy Larsen
Timothy Larsen is the Carolyn and Fred McManis Professor of Christian Thought at Wheaton College, Illinois, and the author of The Slain God: Anthropologists and the Christian Faith (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), an intellectual history of the relationship between anthropology and Christianity. Here Brian Howell, Professor of Anthropology at Wheaton, introduces comments on the book from J. Derrick Lemons, Jon Bialecki, James Bielo and Tanya Luhrmann, as well as a response from Larsen.
Ronald E. Santoni
In a probing paper entitled "The Misplaced Chapter on Bad Faith, or Reading Being and Nothingness in Reverse," Matthew Eshleman challenges part of my intensive analysis of Sartre's "Bad Faith," arguing that bad faith is essentially a social phenomenon, and that social elements—the Other, in particular—play a "necessary role in making bad faith possible." Although I share many of Eshleman's interpretative points about the importance of the "social" in Sartre's account, I contend, here, with textual support, that Eshleman is too extreme, and slights the original bad faith to which human reality, in its very "upsurge" as consciousness or freedom, is "congenitally" (Spiegelberg) predisposed. My continued appeal to Sartre's concept of "initial," "fundamental," project, or "natural attitude" of consciousness to flee its freedom—what I have called ontological bad faith—becomes the crux of my critical counter-challenge to Eshleman's thesis.
Hospitality and Hostility between Local Faith Actors and International Humanitarian Organizations in Refugee Response
Olivia J. Wilkinson
Local faith actors are deeply involved in assisting refugees around the world. Their place in refugee response, however, can be in parallel with and, at times, in disagreement with the efforts of international humanitarian organizations. Focusing on the interactions between local faith actors and refugees and local faith actors and international organizations, the lenses of hospitality and hostility are used to analyze the tensions between these types of actors. Through a review of the literature and interviews with 21 key informants, I show that processes of marginalization occur to the extent that local faith actors lose their positions of host to the dominance of the international humanitarian system, and feelings of hostility ensue. This demonstrates to international actors why they might be ill received and how they can approach partnerships with local faith actors in more diplomatic ways.
What Do We Learn and What Do We Teach about Ourselves and about Others?
I was asked to give a lecture with the emphasis on my personal experiences in growing up into what in German is called a Christenmensch (Christian human being) and my growing into Christian faith and into Christian value notions – and this within the framework of the overall theme of this year’s and next year’s conferences: ‘Education within our faith communities’, with the emphasis on the question ‘What do we learn and what do we teach about ourselves and about others?’
In the footsteps of Hermann Cohen, 'the idea of humanity in the correlation of the unity of God', Leo Baeck rises out of the experience of the First World War beyond being the Nebenmensch to become the Mitmensch, who lives forever with the Divine Mitleid, compassion. God must love the poor man, since man ought to love his poor Mitmensch, fellow man (p. 15 in Leo Baeck, Teacher of Theresienstadt). In 1922, Leo Baeck expressed this new awareness of correlation in his unique language, the 'twofoldness', in his extraordinary, beautiful essay 'Mystery and Commandment': 'There are two experiences of the human soul in which the meaning of his life takes on for a man a vital significance: the experience of commandment; or as we may also put it, the knowledge of what is real and the knowledge of what is to be realised …' This twofold experience could also be called humility and reverence. Humility is the feeling for that deep and mysterious sphere in which man is rooted, and reverence is man's feeling that something higher confronts him, and whatever is higher is ethically superior and therefore makes demands and directs, speaks to man and requires his reply, his decision. The true expression of this twofoldness is faith and social action, as Leo Baeck expresses at the end of This People Israel: 'What was confused becomes definite; clearly pre-empts what had been confused,' and 'The man of this earth works for something to come into being which this earth itself does not give.' And the great hope, that this is achievable, that tikkun olam is never an illusion beyond our grasp, is given ever again in the birth of a child.
Drawing on Sartre’s account of violence, I argue that not only is bad faith inevitable in practice, but a limited bad faith is necessary for authenticity. Although violating the freedom of others is bad faith, it is impossible to never violate anyone’s freedom. Moreover, and more fundamentally, the ontological structure of the for-itself entails that the for-itself can only be authentic in the mode of not being authentic. Seeking to altogether avoid bad faith is bad faith, for it is an attempt to constitute oneself as essentially authentic, yet the for-itself has no preexisting essence. By recognizing one’s complete responsibility for choosing bad faith, however, one limits one’s bad faith. This limited bad faith is in fact necessary to authenticity, which is a project lived out in concrete situations and not a categorical moral law that forbids bad faith.