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A Key for Fundamental Theology
In Conventional and Ultimate Truth, Joseph Stephen O'Leary completes his trilogy on contemporary fundamental theology, which began with the volumes Questioning Back (1985) and Religious Pluralism and Christian Truth (1996). Common to all three works are dialogues with European philosophers Martin Heidegger, Jacques Derrida, G. W. F. Hegel, and the Madhyamaka school of Buddhism. In the current volume, O’Leary deals with the nature of theological rationality today, recommending the practice of reflective judgment, as opposed to systematic determinative judgment. Inspired by the Buddhist notion of conventional truth, O’Leary claims that if we fully accept the fragility and conventionality of religious language, we can find a secure basis for a critical, reflective theology. This proposal is fleshed out in a dialogue with classical negative theology and with the implications of twentieth-century art and literature for religious epistemology. Embracing conventionality does not mean that the dimension of ultimacy is lost. The two are intimately conjoined in the Buddhist two-truths doctrine. Revisiting traditional sites of theological ultimacy, such as the authority of scripture and Christian dogma and the appeal to religious experience, O’Leary argues that we do justice to them only when we fully accept the conventionality of their historical articulation. By relating these traditions of thought to one another, O’Leary produces a new model for contemporary fundamental theology, one that will positively refocus and revitalize the field.
Maimonides and the Outsider
James Diamond's new book consists of a series of studies addressing Moses Maimonides' (1138–1204) appropriation of marginal figures—lepers, converts, heretics, and others—normally considered on the fringes of society and religion. Each chapter focuses on a type or character that, in Maimonides' hands, becomes a metaphor for a larger, more substantive theological and philosophical issue. Diamond offers a close reading of key texts, such as the Guide of the Perplexed and the Mishneh Torah, demonstrating the importance of integrating Maimonides' legal and philosophical writings. Converts, Heretics, and Lepers fills an important void in Jewish studies by focusing on matters of exegesis and hermeneutics as well as philosophical concerns. Diamond's alternative reading of central topics in Maimonides suggests that literary appreciation is a key to deciphering Maimonides’ writings in particular and Jewish exegetical texts in general.
How New Leaders Respond to Previous Rights Abuses
In The Costs of Justice, Brian K. Grodsky provides qualitative analyses of how transitional justice processes have evolved in diverse ways in postcommunist Poland, Croatia, Serbia, and Uzbekistan, by examining the decision-making processes and goals of those actors who contributed to key transitional justice policy decisions. Grodsky draws on extensive interviews with key political figures, human rights leaders, and representatives of various international, state, and nongovernmental bodies, as well as detailed analysis of international and local news reports, to offer a systematic and qualitatively compelling account of transitional justice from the perspective of activists who, at the end of a previous regime, were suddenly transformed from downtrodden victim to empowered judge. Grodsky challenges the argument that transitional justice in post-repressive states is largely a function of the relative power of new versus old elites. He maintains that a new regime’s transitional justice policy is closely linked to its capacity to provide goods and services expected by constituents, not to political power struggles. In introducing this goods variable, so common to broad political analysis but largely overlooked in the transitional justice debate, Grodsky argues that we must revise our understanding of transitional justice. It is not an exceptional issue; it is but one of many political decisions faced by leaders in a transition state.
The Politics of Life and Limb
Courage: The Politics of Life and Limb is a compelling and highly original study of the paradox of courage. Richard Avramenko contends that courage is not simply one virtue among many; rather, it is the primary means for humans to raise themselves out of their individualistic, isolated, and materialistic existence. As such, courage is an absolute and permanent good for collective human life. Specifically, Avramenko argues that when we risk "life and limb" for one another we reveal a fundamental care that binds our community together. Paradoxically, the same courage that brings humans together also drives us apart because courage is traditionally understood as manly, by definition, exclusionary, inegalitarian, and violent.
Catechism and Primary Education in Early Modern France
The religious education of children represents a critical component of the Catholic Reformation that has often been overlooked by historians of early modern Europe. In Creating Catholics: Catechism and Primary Education in Early Modern France, Karen E. Carter examines rural schooling in France in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries—the period when community-supported primary education began—and brings to light a significant element of the early modern period. Carter scrutinizes Catholic religious education in rural parishes in France through its two leading forms: the explosion of Catholic catechisms for children and their use in village schools. She concentrates on educational opportunities for rural peasants in three French dioceses: Auxerre (in Burgundy) and Châlons-sur-Marne and Reims (in Champagne). Carter argues that the study of catechism in village schools was an integral part of a comprehensive program, implemented by both clerical and lay leaders, for the religious, ethical, and moral education of children. Her research demonstrates that the clergy and a majority of the lay population believed in the efficacy of this program; for this reason, parish priests taught catechism in their parishes on a weekly basis, and small village communities established and paid for a surprisingly large number of local schools so that their sons and daughters could receive an education both in basic literacy skills and, through memorization of catechism, in Catholic faith and practice.
As new democratic regimes take root in Latin America, two of the most striking developments have been a dramatic rise in crime rates and increased perception of insecurity among its citizens. The contributors to this book offer a collective assessment of some of the causes for the alarming rise in criminal activity in the region. They also explore the institutional obstacles that states confront in the effort to curb criminality and build a fairer and more efficient criminal justice system; the connections between those obstacles and larger sociopolitical patterns; and the challenges that those patterns present for the consolidation of democracy in the region. The chapters offer both close studies of restricted regions in Latin America and broader examinations of the region as a whole. The contributors to this volume are prominent scholars and specialists on the issue of citizen security. They draw on the latest methodologies and theoretical approaches to examine the question of how crime and crime fighting impact the consolidation of democracy and the rule of law in the region. These studies represent a major first step towards evaluating broadly a relative dearth of hard data about the Latin American security situation, as well as identifying future research paths. This book will be important for scholars, policy makers, and students, especially in the fields of Latin American and comparative law, political science, sociology, and criminology.
Perspectives from The Review of Politics, 1939-1962
In the 1940s and 1950s The Review of Politics, under the dynamic leadership of Waldemar Gurian, emerged as one of the leading journals of political and social theory in the United States. This volume celebrates that legacy by bringing together classic essays by a remarkable group of American and European émigré intellectuals, among them Jacques Maritain, Hannah Arendt, Josef Pieper, Eric Voegelin, and Yves Simon. For these writers, the emergence of new dictatorial regimes in Germany and Russia and the looming threat of another, even more devastating, European war demanded that one rethink the reigning philosophical perspectives of the time. In their view, the western world had lost sight of its founding principles. Individually and collectively, they maintained that the West could be saved only if its leaders embraced the idea that society should be governed by moral standards and a commitment to human dignity. Since the first issue appeared in 1939, The Review of Politics has influenced generations of political theorists. To complement these essays A. James McAdams has written an introduction that discusses the history of the journal and reflects on the contributions of these influential figures. He underscores the continuing relevance of these essays in assessing contemporary issues.
Exile and Integration
Everyday life for Cubans in the United States during the 1960s and 1970s involved an intimate interaction between commitment to an exile identity and reluctant integration into a new society. For Catholic Cuban exiles, their faith provided a filter through which they analyzed and understood both their exile and their ethnic identities. Catholicism offered the exiles continuity: a community of faith, a place to gather, a sense of legitimacy as a people. Religion exerted a major influence on the beliefs and actions of Cuban exiles as they integrated into U.S. culture and tried at the same time to make sense of events in their homeland. Cuban Catholics in the United States, 1960-1980 examines all these facets of the exile and integration process among Catholics, primarily in south Florida, but the voices of others across the United States, Latin America, and Europe also enter the story. The personal papers of exiles, their books and pamphlets, newspaper articles, government archives, and personal interviews provide the historical data for this book. In his thorough examination Gerald E. Poyo provides insights not only for this community but for other faith-based exile communities.
Textuality and Performance in American Culture before 1900
This collection of original essays examines debates on how written, printed, visual, and performed works produced meaning in American culture before 1900. The contributors argue that America has been a multimedia culture since the eighteenth century. According to Sandra M. Gustafson, the verbal arts before 1900 manifest a strikingly rich pattern of development and change. From the wide variety of indigenous traditions, through the initial productions of settler communities, to the elaborations of colonial, postcolonial, and national expressive forms, the shifting dynamics of performed, manuscript-based, and printed verbal art capture critical elements of rapidly changing societies. The contributors address performances of religion and government, race and gender, poetry, theater, and song. Their studies are based on texts—intended for reading silently or out loud—maps, recovered speech, and pictorial sources. As these essays demonstrate, media, even when they appear to be fixed, reflected a dynamic American experience.
Dante and the Blessed Virgin is distinguished philosopher Ralph McInerny’s eloquent reading of one of western literature’s most famous works by a Catholic writer. The book provides Catholic readers new to Dante’s The Divine Comedy (or Commedia) with a concise companion volume. McInerny argues that the Blessed Virgin Mary is the key to Dante. She is behind the scenes at the very beginning of the Commedia, and she is found at the end in the magnificent closing cantos of the Paradiso. McInerny also discusses Dante’s Vita Nuova, where Mary is present as the object of the young Beatrice’s devotion. McInerny draws from a diverse group of writers throughout this book, including Plato, Aristotle, St. Bernard, St. Bonaventure, St. Thomas Aquinas, and George Santayana, among others. It is St. Thomas, however, to whom McInerny most often turns, and this book also provides an accessible introduction to Thomistic moral philosophy focusing on the appetites, the ordering of goods, the distinction between the natural and the supernatural orders, the classification of capital vices and virtues, and the nature of the theological virtues. This engagingly written book will serve as a source of inspiration and devotion for anyone approaching Dante’s work for the first time as well as those who value the work of Ralph McInerny.