College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

6. Religion and the Politics of Explanation

Sixth lecture of Professor Jeffrey Stout's Gifford Lecture Series.

Event Details

Date: Thursday 11 May 2017, 5.30 - 6.30pm

The lecture may be followed by questions. Latest finishing time is 7pm.

Venue: Business School Auditorium, 29 Buccleuch Place, Edinburgh, EH8 9JS

Lecture abstract

Like Livy, King used a distinction between ethical and unethical religion to explain social ills. Malcolm X and James Baldwin retained the distinction but rejected King’s pacifist Christianity. Reductive ideology critique and value-free social science abandon the distinction, but for conflicting reasons. Some scholars advise against using the term 'religion' at all. What shall we make of these approaches? Cornel West borrows from each pragmatically. The experience of catastrophe disrupts both the politics of lowered stakes and the academic pretense of neutrality. If some events are horrendous and some are glorious, something in our midst must be worthy of reverent protection, celebration, and sacrifice. If we find that the word 'religion' blocks the discussion, we can restate our concerns in other words. The task of cultivating resistance to tyranny, solidarity with the oppressed, and self-reliant piety will remain. And the history of religion-talk will be good to know.

Lecture video

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