Thanks to usbj for challenging us to get serious about a topic that needs to be taken seriously. For your convenience, we will be collecting all the Book Fair posts here.
I recommend Martha Nussbaum, Liberty of Conscience (Basic Books 2007), which is an exercise in intellectual and political history. Her thesis is that the American tradition regarding the interplay of religion and the public polity is one of fairness to all in which the foundational policy traces back to Roger Williams, his disputes with John Cotton, and charters he was able to wrangle from Parliament and the Restoration Crown. Lest one think that means fairness only among Christians, note that Williams particularly emphasized fairness to native American religions. Having laid that foundation, the remainder of the book reviews how that policy played itself out in the late colonial and early national periods and then how specific controversies have been dealt with in the two ensuing centuries. There is fascinating analysis of anti-Catholicism in American poliltics from 1830-1960, as will as the flag salute issues early in World War II; followed by an assessment of present issues. Conclusion: the traditional theme of fairness is under assault from Right and Left in ways that could have profound consequences in our increasingly religiously-diverse society.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Book Fair III: usbj on Nussbaum
For episode III in the Underbelly summer Book Fair, we welcome our friend usb j (that's Mr. and Mrs. usbj's little boy) who directs our attention to a central issue in public discourse: