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Crediting God

Sovereignty and Religion in the Age of Global Capitalism

Miguel Vatter

Publication Year: 2011

Tocqueville suggested that the people reign in the American political world like God over the universe.This intuition anticipates the crisis in the secularization paradigm that has brought theology back as a fundamental part of sociological and political analysis. It has become more difficult to believe that humanity's progress necessarily leads to atheism, or that it is possible to translate all that is good about religion into reasonable terms acceptable in principle by all, believers as well as nonbelievers. And yet, the spread of Enlightenment values, of an independent public sphere, and of alternative projects of modernitycontinues unabated and is by no means the antithesis of the renewed vigor of religious beliefs.The essays in this book shed interdisciplinary and multicultural light on a hypothesis that helps to account for such an unexpected convergence of enlightenment and religion in our times: Religion has reentered the public sphere because it puts into question the relation between God and the concept of political sovereignty.In the first part, Religion and Polity-Building,new perspectives are brought to bear on the tension-ridden connection between theophany and state-building from the perspective of world religions. Globalized, neo-liberal capitalism has been another crucial factor in loosening the bond between God and the state, as the essays in the second part, The End of the Saeculum and Global Capitalism,show.The essays in the third part, Questioning Sovereignty: Law and Justice,are dedicated to a critique of the premises of political theology, starting from the possibility of a prior, perhaps deeper relation between democracy and theocracy. The book concludes with three innovative essays dedicated to examining Tocqueville in order to think the Religion of Democracybeyond the idea of civil religion.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii

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Introduction: Crediting God with Sovereignty

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pp. 1-25

The rise of religious fundamentalism in the closing decades of the twentieth century continues to have enormous repercussions not only for politics, but also for the disciplines of the human sciences, philosophy, and theology. The sociology of religion...

Part One: Religion and Polity-Building

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pp. 27-114

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1. Religious Freedom: Preserving the Salt of the Earth

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pp. 29-42

The history of the Jewish people, in large measure, is a history of exile, captivity, and diaspora—and also a story of redemption. The book of Exodus reports about the tribulations the Jewish people endured during their exile...

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2. A New Form of Religious Consciousness? Religion and Politics in Contemporary Muslim Contexts

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pp. 43-66

Scholars of Muslim intellectual movements have described two predominant ‘‘moments’’ since the late nineteenth century. The first is widely seen as the reformist moment, and the second the moment of fundamentalism. Scholars in both Muslim...

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3. A Republic Whose Sovereign Is the Creator: The Politics of the Ban of Representation

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pp. 67-82

There are many ideological and epistemological obstacles to understanding the politics of Judaism. Its foundational text, the Torah, both in regard to its biblical-Talmudic meaning and in regard to the historical condition of the Jews...

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4. Confucianism’s Political Implications for the Contemporary World

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pp. 83-101

Confucianism, as the dominant philosophical/cultural system of East Asia that has evolved over two millennia, is multidimensional and multilayered. Consequently, its interpretations diverge depending on which elements get emphasized and how they are arranged...

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5. Religion and the Public Sphere in Senegal: The Evolution of a Project of Modernity

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pp. 102-114

Those who led Senegal to independence and established the institutions of the new state, notably Léopold Sédar Senghor and Mamadou Dia, intended it to be based on the philosophical foundation of a socialism that would be both African...

Part Two: The End of the Saeculum and Global Capitalism

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pp. 115-175

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6. Should We Be Scared? The Return of the Sacred and the Rise of Religious Nationalism in South Asia

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pp. 117-141

The last two decades or so have seen a spectacular transformation in the perception of the importance of religion in the contemporary world among Western intellectuals. Whereas religion was previously dismissed as irrelevant and kept apart from more respectable objects of intellectual...

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7. All Nightmares Back: Dependency and Independency Theories, Religion, Capitalism, and Global Society

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pp. 142-159

Modern capitalism in the 1960s and 1970s was called late capitalism, and this index of time—the word ‘‘late’’—implied that modern capitalism, with free markets of labor, real estate, and money, had come to an end. Its final decay was supposed...

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8. The Evangelical-Capitalist Resonance Machine

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pp. 160-175

What is the connection today between evangelical Christianity, cowboy capitalism, the electronic news media, and the Republican Party?1 Can these connections be understood through the terms of efficient causality, in which you first separate factors...

Part Three: Questioning Sovereignty: Law and Justice

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pp. 177-249

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9. ‘‘The War Has Not Ended’’: Thomas Hobbes, Carl Schmitt, and the Paradoxes of Countersovereignty

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pp. 179-189

Thomas Hobbes’s political philosophy is based on a paradox: Hobbes, one could say, gives too much and too little to the state at the same time. He can thus be seen in the tradition of Leo Strauss, as the father of liberalism, but also, from a liberal perspective...

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10. Natural Right and State of Exception in Leo Strauss

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pp. 190-206

In his work on the state of exception, Giorgio Agamben relies extensively on the study of emergency powers made by an American political scientist, Clinton Rossiter, in a 1948 book entitled Constitutional Dictatorship. Rossiter shows that when constitutional...

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11. Law and the Gift of Justice

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pp. 207-220

What is the relation of theology to politics? Of revelation to revolution? To approach this question, I want to turn not to the constitution of the subject (Alain Badiou’s preoccupation) or to the constitution of the community (Paul’s preoccupation), because...

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12. Drawing—the Single Trait: Toward a Politics of Singularity

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pp. 221-249

Politics, in its theory and even more in its practice, has always tended to subordinate the singular to the general, generally by equating it with the particular, which, qua ‘‘part,‘‘ already implies its dependency upon and subservience...

Part 4: The Religion of Democracy: Tocqueville Beyond Civil Religion

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pp. 251

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13. The Religious Situation in the United States 175 Years After Tocqueville

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pp. 253-272

In Democracy in America there is a passage in which Tocqueville clearly states what he takes to be the real relation between religion and freedom, and it is only appropriate to begin by citing it: Eighteenth-century philosophers had...

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14. The Avatars of Religion in Tocqueville

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pp. 273-284

One of the complexities presented by Democracy in America is that Tocqueville continuously intertwines his observations of the American case (including the exceptional factors that distinguish the first ‘‘republic in a large...

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15. Publics, Prosperity, and Politics: The Changing Face of African American Christianity and Black Political Life

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pp. 285-304

Some scholars and laypersons alike worry aloud about the current state of African American Christianity. They witness, especially on television, what many take to be peculiar performances of African American religiosity often draped...

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16. Conversion

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pp. 305-316

Loneliness is deepest in the moments when we face the terror of nothing. But nothing rarely appears as itself. Instead, it takes on many different guises. Nonetheless, whatever guise it takes, nothing is the lack that drives us forward...


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pp. 317-371


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pp. 373-376

E-ISBN-13: 9780823248766
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823233199
Print-ISBN-10: 0823233197

Page Count: 336
Publication Year: 2011

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Religion and politics -- Congresses.
  • Globalization -- Religious aspects -- Congresses.
  • Capitalism -- Religious aspects -- Congresses.
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