The Religious and Secular Sources of Democracy and Nationalism

– Good afternoon, everybody. And welcome to a new episode. In our ongoing series on Global Religious and Secular Dynamics. My name is Jose Casanova. And for the first time I can announce publicly that I am emeritus professor of sociology and theology at Georgetown University as of two days ago, August 25th.

But I continue my affiliation as senior fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs, which sponsors this series. A series, which is also sponsored by Reset DOC. Today we are very fortunate indeed to have as our complaisant, professor Craig Calhoun, who is professor of social science at Arizona State University.

But before that he has been professor in many other universities and has had directing post, directing the Institute for Public Knowledge at NYU for many years. Was the president of the Social Science Resource Council for 12 years, then moved to London, to the London School of Economics

Of which he was director and president for several years. Moved to the Berggruen Institute that he directed. And now he’s in Arizona. And throughout his life, So he has been dedicated to research and public knowledge, both as a researcher, but also as a director of many many research and academic institutions.

And obviously he has dedicated his life, his only scholarly life to precisely the study of the topics we are going to touch today. Democracy, nationalism, global, religious and secular dynamics, cosmopolitanism. These will be the topics we will be discussing and we’ll end with some observations on COVID-19 the pandemic, and what it implies

And its effects on all these institutions. So Craig welcome, welcome very much. Thank you, thank you for joining us. Let’s begin with democracy. Democracy or rather democratization, the surging and receding waves. Some years ago, 1997, I believe or 94 I’m not sure, anyhow. You published a book, “Neither Gods nor Emperors”

And “The Students Movement for Democratization in China”. This was based on essays you had published in prominent journals in 1989 in the midst of the Tiananmen Square Movement and its repression. This was a high point of expectations of a third wave of democratization, that had started in Southern Europe,

Portugal, Greece, Spain moved to Latin America, moved to Eastern Europe, moved to East Asia, Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, and then ended in South Africa. There were expectations that the wave will continue and to China and to much of the Muslim war, this didn’t happen. So let’s discuss about China specifically and what happened,

Why these expectations could not be realized there? And what is happening to democracy in China today? Some comments on this. – Well come to China, thanks Jose, let me probably start by saying. Democracy is always a project, it’s never a settled, finished reality. And so the project of building democracy in China

Has been one up against a variety of challenges contested by other visions of the future. But in some degree that’s true everywhere. The project of democracy in the United States, isn’t something that was finished in 1776 or 1789 or 1792. There are series of movements that expand the electorate most famously

The Abolition Movement that brought the Civil War, but then the Suffrage Movement, that brought women the right to vote and so forth. So democracy has been something that has been building over time. So the first thing I want to say is that everywhere democracy is not just a matter of institutional arrangements.

We have elections, we have free press. It’s a matter of movements of participation, of struggles. So democracy is necessarily a project and we can come back to other examples of this, including the US but now China. There were those for whom democracy remains today, a very important project.

Those who were hopeful of democracy in 1989 and the 1990s, and have lost some of their hope and there’s a longer history of this. So I’ll be really brief, but during the few hundred years of modernity and during the time in which China has entered into a new kind of global relations,

Not understanding itself simply as the middle kingdom and the center. It’s been transformed. For one thing, it’s been transformed by becoming increasingly a nation not the center of the world, but one nation among many with strong Solidarity and in common with other nations,

More and more of a bottom up idea that the people matter, the welfare of the people matters. This wasn’t absent in Imperial history, but it wasn’t as strong, it becomes more strong. Then it gets boost from things like literacy. As the Chinese language literally introduces new characters, simplified characters to ease printing

And printing helps to bring literacy. And so there’s a stronger idea of the people. This gets a manifestation in Nationalist Movements, 1911 famously, it gets a manifestation in communism with a very strong idea of being the People’s Republic of China. And then for some,

The rule by the people and rule for the people necessarily means democracy. And so this was true in 1989, in the struggles I wrote about. There were students and there were others who wanted China to live up to a strong idea of being for the people. And claimed that the communist

Partly as it existed then, was not living up to that, it was corrupt. It was pursuing its own power and not the welfare of the people. And it was failing to make China strong and international. Now we fast forward from 1989 to today, we have a renewal of communist language

And discourse with Xi Jinping. Who indeed is now pursuing a rectification campaign against people he sees as problems, very reminiscent of now, but this is a strong reassertion of an authoritarian center. And for several years, the would be Democrats in China have been losing out. The most visible face of this

Is China’s complete annexation of Hong Kong and destruction of the Hong Kong Democracy Movement. But inside China too, people are afraid to speak up too strongly for democracy. A few still do. And with that, there’s a final problem, of course which is that in 1989,

The US looked like a nice model for China. When people would say, Oh, let’s be a democracy. They could look at Europe, they could look at the US and they could say, being a democracy can be linked to other good benefits, other good values. Unfortunately today,

The US does not look like such a happy model for would be Democrats elsewhere. – Yes, but let’s look at specifically in China, one of the things, the subtitle of your book was, “The Students Struggle for Democracy”. It was a student’s struggle. My own experience in studying Transitions to Democracy

Is that you need transversal coalitions of workers, students, human rights lawyers, maybe national groups, religious groups. And this is what has been always absent in the China context. You may have some artists, you may have some lawyers on their own, but the way in which those different movements, I’ve never seen them coalesce.

And these, I think one of the weakness of civil society, I wouldn’t say that it is a authoritarian state penitentiary society completely, not at all. It’s a lack of autonomy. But then autonomy is very strongly regulated by the state. and knows exactly what are the limits.

And the people sort of in this respect, the 2000 year state that has to a certain extent imposed a model up on society remains very strong, despite what you said about nationalism, I thought about it. But nationalism of course also has its problems because nationalism is basically a nationalism

That makes difficult to deal with debate and seeing as seen in (indistinct) and other non Han groups. So there are difficulties on both grounds. The traditional state and the kind of Chinese nationalism. – I think that’s true, but maybe not as completely or as strongly as you’re stating it.

So first, the 1989 movement was not just students. The subtitle of my book is “Students and the Struggle for Democracy”. And it was students that I was with and talking to and studying. And they were certainly in the forefront, but the people who died at the end of that struggle

On June 4th were not students. They were workers and others who had joined with the students, and the students also received support from civil society actors of an earlier generation. People who had been involved in previous movements in China. One of the stories everywhere, including China

Is that large scale changes take many steps. And so China had had a number of movements and steps. Some of them explicitly democratic, but some of them, for example praising individual autonomy and individual spiritual autonomy, which was potentially important to democracy, but it wasn’t only for the reason of democracy.

So I think China has a relatively weak civil society or relatively weak legal framework and so forth. But I don’t think it’s quite all or nothing. And I think that in the 1980s, really from the late 1970s through to the early years of this millennium, China was building more civil society organizations

And giving more autonomy to them and they were becoming stronger. So there’s been a reversal made part of what has been going on with the current rule by C, has been a repression of many of these institutions and these forms of connection that we’re underwriting democracy,

Which of course he sees as a threat to party rule. – Now, recently you’ve been looking precisely at the crisis of democracy throughout the world. You are now working on a manuscript that will be forthcoming together with Charles Taylor The title I understand is going to be “The Generations of Democracy Degeneration.” So please, can you talk about these degeneration? What is going to be the main points of the book? – This isn’t a sense the other side of the coin from my point that democracy is always a project.

There are not only forward steps in this project. There are also backwards steps. And the idea of degeneration of democracy is that democracy can get in trouble, not only from outside attacks, like anti Democrats, but from internal weaknesses and degeneration. These include things like the erosion of the power of citizens.

Not only their power in a political voice, but their ability to manage their own lives, to get things done. And we’ve seen in the US and in many other countries, this kind of erosion of citizen empowerment. we’ve seen a loss of the inclusive nationalism of the ability of the overall discussion

To encompass and embrace everybody. And so in the US we talk about cultural wars, there’s an anti-immigrant movement. There are various frames for this, but they are all in some degree failures of the inclusive discourse of being American. And then there’s hyper partisanship. So, I think these are all manifestations of degeneration.

You can see a different story in Hungary, where democracy perhaps did not have the same long historical path and equally strong foundations, but where there has also been a degeneration and a backward walk for democracy. And, you can see versions of that in India. The world’s largest democracy,

Which has had forward and backward movements. We’re looking mainly at the rich industrial countries in the world. And the ways democracy has gotten into trouble in some of them not equally everywhere. This others often analyze this and say, oh, it’s populism. We talk about populism, but we say,

Well that’s not exactly an explanation, because populism can go both ways and there are left populism and right populism. There is a strong importance to speaking out to the people, but then there’s use and manipulation of that by demagogic leaders the greatest problem. So that raises as many questions as it answers.

And we don’t think that this kind of so-called populism, whether of Orban or Trump, just comes out of nowhere. And Orban and Trump create the problems. We think it reflects weaknesses in the democratic institutions in the framework. And these, I would argue, reflect underlying social conditions.

In the United States there’s been accelerating inequality. There’s been a disruption of local communities, whether by de-industrialization and plant closures, or by the economic transformations of so-called logistical of commerce that is ordering everything from Amazon, instead of buying it from a shop in your community and so forth.

And these and other changes have undermined some of the conditions for democracy. So that’s what the book is about. – Good, let’s move to a related topic. Nationalism, democracy are intimately connected. You wouldn’t have one without the other probably, but as we know nationalism also doesn’t means necessarily democracy.

And democracy could be a multinational democracy. So let’s look at. You’ve been involved in many of the debates around Nationalism and Cosmopolitanism. Those who were saying, it’s the end of the nation and state now a global cosmopolitanism is the future. You were already a skeptic about these kinds of claims,

And you wrote a very important essay, “The Limits and Necessity of Cosmopolitanism.” We could also say the same thing about nationalism, the limits and necessity of nationalism. So I want you to basically elaborate on precisely how can we not live without nationalism? But how we need to somehow go be a nationalism

To create trans-national structures, that basically are able to address all our global challenges and crisis. So not to put faith on a abstract cosmopolitanism, but how can we get strengthened nationalism and democracy by being able to go beyond it to address the global challenges? – At the heart of these questions

How do you have a good nationalism. A nationalism that you’d like, and that works for people. And that is not just manipulated for international conflict or domestic repression of so-called aliens or deviance or others by the majority. And this is a challenge and it’s a project. What I suggested in that essay,

And a variety of other things in a book I’ve never quite finished on nationalism and cosmopolitanism is that you can’t wish away nationalism. I’m not saying nationalism is inevitable and the world has to always be structured in terms of nation States. But that we live in a world of nation States,

Much of what has made globalization viable, has been international agreements. We create the United Nations, We create the World Trade Organization. We have international agreements for things like standards, so that we have an agreement of what is an ounce. We have an agreement on the width of railroad tracks.

We have failed to have just one agreement on electrical sockets. We have five or six. But there are standards for basic industrial and consumer products. These are the most extreme example of what we’re doing right now. The internet is not just a technology. It is a creature of international agreements,

Legal treaties, that do things like assign addresses and manage the way in which information flows around the internet. So, it’s not so easy to say, Oh, let’s just forget nationalism. Let’s imagine we have only individuals and they are perfect conscious individuals, and they relate to each other in the global cosmopolis.

We have to take nation seriously. then I’d suggest when we take it seriously, it’s not just an enemy. It’s a resource. It’s part of how actually existing cosmopolitanism works, actually existing care for the world. If that’s what cosmopolitanism is about, is accomplished largely by an internal politics,

That tries to get nations to change the way that they relate to the rest of the world, to not only be militaristic. And so I have felt we need both a global consciousness that tries to care for everybody, and a recognition of the importance of the political struggles within nation States,

About how we do that. And then of course, there’s the issue of the political struggles about how we live together inside the country, How the Han majority in China relates to the Uighur or the other minorities in China and so forth. And the same thing in the US.

We have a kind of White Christian Nationalism that is flourishing in a minority, but a powerful and disruptive minority in the United States, that claims to be the true American identity, against various others, that’s very problematic. And what I want to say is the answer to that is not to say,

Oh, we are only individuals with rights. The answer is to say, how else can we structure an inclusive identity? How can we make a better national whole? – I mean, one of the fundamental questions. The structures of solidarity? The strength of nationalism comes precisely from the ability to create this weed.

The sense of not only a cognitive, if we say a reading, emerging community through newspapers, but really an emotional community which obviously has gotten through all kinds of emotional memories etc. There are two problems I see today, one is of course, that in our case of democracy,

One of the fundamental issues is the dramatic polarization, that weakens national solidarity. And this makes even more impossible then to even create the good type of national solidarity, that can go beyond this national solidarity and create the structures which are transnational. Because I think that the issue of

Transnational global society is not only an issue of creating international mechanisms through which the nation States are able to collaborate and work together and all kinds of standards. but also create transnational structures of solidarity. We. – Sure. And so in here is where I want to bring religion in.

The same way that from Benedict under Saloninus, we know very clearly that the nation is a secularized church. There were national churches before there were secular nations in Europe. And to a certain extent religion has played this crucial role of being a source for nationalism. But you have also transnational religious communities

That could play an important role. It’s what I call global denominationalism, but doesn’t have to be only transnational religious communities. It can be transnational secular communities from all kinds of pacifist movements, ecological movements, movement for immigration refugees. So we need to create these structures, not only international agreements, but re-transnational social movements,

Transnational social structures to create precise the institutions that will be necessary to go beyond purely a whole system of nation state. – Well, I agree with you Jose, and the issue is truly changing a world system in the sort of strong sense. That includes a political economy,

A set of social structures and social institutions and culture. So we have an existing world system, a capitalist dominated Western dominated world system. and we would like to see it transformed. I think you and I. I think as I argued in those earlier essays, transforming doesn’t mean wishing away.

It means figuring out a historical process of change by which you can get something better. So you could see, and we have some scary examples in this COVID era of collapse of international order, which could bring chaos. So I think that we have to consider

That getting rid of nation States could produce chaos, or it could be part of a transformation to something better. How do we get that? You rightly point to the role of religion in transnational organizations. So there are a one dimension of this is the denominationalism

As you point to it on a global scale. So we have various versions of Christians and various versions of Buddhists organized on global scale. Another is the disproportionate engagement of religious people, People motivated by religious faith and understandings in secular organizations of certain kinds. So humanitarian action is often organized by secular groups.

So it’s not only church world service or something like that. It’s also secular humanitarian actions, Médecins Sans Frontières that are informed by religious heritage, religious thinking, and that mobilize religious people, including people from different religious backgrounds, Médecins Sans Frontières had sort of Catholic roots kind of odd combination of Catholicism and Maoism.

But it also then mobilizes others, Protestants and Jews and so forth. So, I think we need to be attentive to this. And I would quickly say that what it means is that global solidarity is poorly conceptualized by that image of a world full of independent conscious individuals.

Rather it’s better conceptualized as a patchwork quilt, in which there are many different kinds of connections between different kinds of solidary groups. So we aren’t individuals who are stripped of religions, stripped of communities, stripped of nation, stripped of all of our distinctive characteristics. We remain individuals because of those characteristics

Embedded in various kinds of communities. And that’s the path to a better future global solidarity, not having it be limited to nations, but not necessarily banishing nations either. And building multiple overlapping kinds of connections. One quick thing I want to say about nation of democracy is nation… Well, I’ll make it three steps.

Religion played a big role in the coming of nations, but in certain ways, as you point to Benedict Anderson saying. Nations become secularized of inheritors of religious communities. But not only that, nations become secular structures for relating multiple religious communities to each other. So we see very clearly in the United States,

But in various settings. So that the importance of nation is partly enabling people of different religions to live together in reasonable harmony, not just expressing one religion. And when nation is structured to just express one religion, that’s usually the enemy of democracy. When it is structured in a way that enables people

Of different religions to relate to each other, that’s much more compatible with democracy and with other kinds of differences that coexist in nations, people have no religious faith, but various kinds of views. So I think it’s important that we have a demos, right? Democracy depends on a Demos,

But that’s not dictated by ethno-nationalism. That’s one of the resources out of which demos is built religious identities sometimes one of those resources, but the loyalties that connect us to each other in our countries are more than either of these, and they have to be for it to be democratic.

– Well, this leads us then to the topic of going more in depth into the relation between global religious and secular dynamics. When you served as president of SSRC, you made this issue central to the intellectual project and the research project of the SSRC,

Partly because of the work you have been doing for years with Charles Taylor. You co-edited with Jonathan VanAntwerpen, who was one of the people that worked with you, several very important books, the book on “Varieties of secularism” analyzing child state on a secular age. Then a second book on secularism,

I don’t remember the title, but it came out of the many workshops you organize, I participate in these workshops. I also participated in this book, and then you wrote the third very important collection of essays and covered much in religion, and other major philosopher public intellectual, political figure, political theories,

Who has been in dialogue with you and with Charles Taylor for many years, and who was a very strong representative of secular modernity And then it comes out how to revise his own position and to be more open to the possibility of the role of religion, the public is fear.

So tell me about what has been faced? What was the impulse that led you to really put this at the forefront of the work you were doing in the social science research center that later you continue in the London school of economics. What can we learn from these new understanding of how

Religious and secular dynamics are interconnected, except they are not exclusive of each other, but actually they are intertwined. And where should we put precisely the focus, the things that we still need to understand better or to study today? – Okay, I will say my sources on this,

But institutions of course are not simply run by presidents as though they were Kings. And so there are a number of voices coming together. The SSRC is an organization that always brings people like you and Charles Taylor and others into conversation. And the conversation was intended to address themes

That were too often pushed into the background or obscured by conventional disciplinary academic discussions. And so to get people coming from anthropology and political science and economics and sociology talking to each other, but also talking about questions, like the extent to which our very understanding of knowledge or a very understanding of democracy

Reflected secular assumptions and what secular assumptions. A key importance to the works you were citing is the argument that secularism is not just a disappearance of religion. What Charles Taylor calls a subtraction story, and you indeed had made an important work, an argument about de-privatization renewal of public religion,

And the intensification of religious practices in this modern era when religion is supposedly receding. But I wanted to argue in particular. And I think Charles did that, secularization grows out of religion as much as it is imposed on religion. And that there is inside religion, a set of reasons

For trying to figure out structures to relate to this worldly life in vapor sense. And so, there are old ideas like secular priests versus priests and monasteries and all, but in modern democracies and in modern plural democracies with multiple religions, working out ways to relate to each other

Is something that people did often while being religious and for religious reasons, it wasn’t just because they lost their faith. But then that had an effect, changing the nature of faith in a religious practice and thinking. Universities grow out of some of this history, in fact. And so it’s not a surprise that

Disciplines and knowledge institutions do, but one of the peculiarities of the university is the way it compartmentalize thinking about religion and thinking about secularism as taking it out of most of the social science disciplines, placing it in the humanities, but also often in a religion department or a theology school, not everywhere.

And so not seeing as much as we would have liked the kind of connections of religion and secularism and their histories to all sorts of other things like the university itself, as I mentioned. So this was the importance then again at the LSE is a very secular institutions,

Are proud of its socialist, secular heritage and members of the LSE would tell you, it always was it’s completely secular. And they’re surprised when they find out that the Bishop of London laid the cornerstone at the invitation of Sydney and Beatrice, and socialists. That there was a Christian Socialist Movement

That was part of the shaping as well. That tends to get forgotten in the way in which we narrate the history, and the LSE confronted to make long story short and interesting but very telling. The students were much more religious than the professors. The students who come from all over the world,

The LSE is an amazingly international institution with students from every country. The majority of the students are not British. They come from all over. but the students often have very active religious involvements. And they have a hard time connecting those to their studies in the secular disciplines of the university.

But that also means that the people in those disciplines don’t have a very easy time understanding religion, that in the seeing the importance of religion, why it would matter for diplomacy and so forth. So a project at the LSE, building a faith center was partly to provide space for religious students,

But it was partly to build connections. so that both secular and religious people would be thinking better and acting better in relationship to a world that is neither Holy religious, nor Holy secular – On this topic, as you know, recently, Ronald Englehart published an essay in foreign affairs,

Basically “God is in decline”, whatever was the title, the global decline of the religion. As You know, Englehart and Pippa Norris have been basically putting forward a rather simplistic thesis. That religion is simply a response to existential insecurity, which of course is widespread throughout history in Agrarian societies.

This Agrarian societies move to industrial societies, and then to post industrial societies, existential security diminishes, and therefore religion is going to diminish as well. There’s thesis which of course was comparing much of Western European societies, the America, US was the exception. Then since the nineties, there was a modernization drive

In many non Western societies that was connected with religious revivals. So the thesis was in crisis, but now he has come up with, he says empirical evidence that finally the whole world, there is a clear decline in belief in God. Now it seems to me that the strongest argument

Or empirical evidence come from three countries in the list, which are the United States, Chile and Australia. One could argue for a specific reasons why the norms that people without religion have grown in the US in the last 20, 30 years, but it’s not necessarily as a sign of modernization

Is simply for a very specific historical reason. So I want you to maybe take a look at this thesis. What would you have to say to them? – Okay, really quickly, Englehart’s data and Englehart notes his data over a number of works is cross national survey research.

This is an important source of data. They are masters of this that have done a lot, but it’s a limited source of data asking people. What do you believe? What do you think? Is a limited way to find out what’s going on in various places. And so there’s one set of critiques,

I won’t go into around how to get from individual responses to translated questionnaires, to the kind of arguments that they’re making. And I tend to think that these lose touch with historical and ethnographic and other kinds of understanding. So that’s methodologically. More basically in terms of the theory,

I find it very hard to understand why anyone would think modernization brings existential security. I think that modernization transforms the kinds of insecurities that people feel. So they may feel less afraid of walking in the forest. they may be less vulnerable to disastrous of crops, but there are new insecurities,

We worry about climate change. We worry about the impacts of nuclear power. But look at war, far more people have been killed by war in the modern era than in previous eras. The Englehart essay has an irony of it timing. That it comes in the context of COVID.

And the existential insecurity that people feel because of global plagues and infectious diseases. In many ways the story of modernity, as a story of growing existential security, was a story of some parts of the world. The wealthier countries in the West, over a period of time, ignoring the periodic disasters

Like World War I and World War II and so forth. And suggesting there’s this growth. And it has a basis. It’s not all false, right? Life expectancy grows. More people live to old age. They become professors of emeritus. They don’t die at 40. But the sense of insecurity is a cultural phenomenon,

As well as a material phenomenon. So you can point to life expectancy and say, therefore people ought to feel much more secure. But you have only to look around at the anger and the anxiety of so many people in the United States, and in other countries to realize that

They don’t automatically feel more secure. and they worry about things like, What will my old age be like? If I’m very sick, will I have money? Will I have life? Will I have friends? Will I have care? How will I get care? Will I get care only from people

Who speak a different language and are immigrants? Will that make me feel bad? Right? So there are a lot of ways in which this… Now I think that studying these dynamics of security and insecurity is very important. And we would find that social institutions are basic. That having strong public institutions,

But also strong communities, is very important to having a stronger sense of existential security. But the kind of generalization that Englehart makes there. is just unwarranted about this last point on that. It may be entirely true that there is a decline in people saying, I believe in God.

I don’t have evidence to the contrary. The question is what that means. And the question to me is whether this is simply a decline, a subtraction story in Charles Taylor’s sense. or a transformation story in which people still have some of the kinds of faith and understandings and desires for transcendence

And so forth that have been expressed largely in religious terms. But they’re coming to express them in different ways, and maybe new religions are forming. Maybe religion won’t be quite the right word for the new structures of seeking that emerge. But it’s not clear to me that we do very good job.

By just assuming there’s a fixed category religion, and imagining people falling away from it. Rather than asking what are the transformations within religion and beyond religion. – Good before we move to COVID-19 and its implications. and the lessons of the pandemic, global pandemic and global lessons.

Let me remind everybody that, in about 10, 15 minutes, we’ll end the conversation, and there will be a time for question and answer. 15, 20 minutes at least. And so you are welcome to write your questions. In the question and answer. And I will reserve them to give these questions to Craig.

And Craig will have the chance to respond. So let’s look at COVID-19. One of the things that strike me first, it was really the truly first global pandemic in the way, in which so quickly, became a global both in its effects, how rapidly it spread and its consciousness.

It started very similarly as the SARS epidemic. But the SARS epidemic basically was restricted to East Asia. and some Chinese diaspora communities. So in these we’d say was not a global, Although it started precisely the same way as the SARS epidemic. But second was the extent to which

The response has been a nationalistic in the anarchist nationalism. Individually nationalist response, rather than a communitarian nationalist response. Even the European Union, the first response was to end the sanguine open borders to close and goes back to the basically anarchy European Nation state. And so, on the one hand,

The paradox is precisely the global pandemic. shows the need for a global communitarian response to the pandemic. And yet the immediate response has been. Now, probably things are, there have been some corrections, was a very, very nationalistic one. So I want you to, What are the implications there for democracy, cosmopolitanism?

The things we’ve been discussing. What are the lessons from the pandemic? And specifically, I want you to ask about the effects and lessons for universities. We’ve been talking about universities, research institutions, obviously they are, as we know, under tremendous pressures, uncertainties, how can we proceed campus, colleges, universities? How can education continue?

So especially the issue of education, youth education, not so much the issue of research, not so much the issue of public knowledge that can be distributed. because obviously you can use online distribution. But especially the issue of getting youth together. to the process of transmitting knowledge from generation to generation.

So what are the implications for the university in the future? And anything else you want to talk about. – Okay, well it does open the door to everything. Let me begin really concretely though. The Coronavirus like stars, starts in China, but if it’s prototyped in China, it’s mass produced in the US.

So the big difference in the first instance, is the catastrophic bad US response. The first thing you have to look at in COVID is why did it go awry in the United States? And so Trump made initial responses like restricting travel from China, but then in various ways,

The US response has been incoherence, often anti-scientific and problematic sense. I won’t try to offer a detailed explanation, but you have to see the US as figuring very centrally in this story, the COVID story. In a way, it didn’t figure it in the SARS story. It did somewhat in the AIDS story.

Look at another global pandemic, but the US still has the most cases in the world. This six, seven months into it, eight months, it’s had a high death rate. Now there are other countries with high death rates and high infection rates. You’ve got to look at where Spain, of course,

The United Kingdom has a very high death rate. Brazil has a high infection rate. India now has a growing number, although the rates is still low. and we can look around the world. So it’s not that it’s just the US but the fact that one of the richest countries in the world.

With one of the most highly developed healthcare systems. and high tech healthcare systems, would have such a disaster, is an important clue for what’s going on in the pandemic. And it’s partly that it’s confronting weakened institutions and internal divisions that weaken response in these countries.

So you have a politicized response in the US. Whether do you wear a mask or don’t wear a mask, is a statement of political identity, instead of a public health precaution. Whether if children go back to school or not, is the dictated by the political considerations.

And so forth and so on through a whole lot of responses. And that’s in many ways, true in several other countries. Countries with less political polarization. New Zealand or Germany have done better than countries with more political polarization. and countries that have been very neoliberal

In rolling back, their public institutions have done worse than countries with stronger public institutions. There’s a narrative that China would encourage that says this is a kind of referendum on democracy. China’s successful response shows that authoritarianism works. It’s not so clear, China’s initial problems showed that authoritarianism frightened people

From actually sharing the information about COVID in early days. And that helped to get going. And more over in line with our previous discussion in the US, in the United Kingdom and other countries, COVID confronts a degenerate form of democracy. Democracy has already been undermined. And so there are preexisting social conditions,

Just as there are for individuals pre-existing conditions. Like if you have a lung or heart disease, you have a much riskier time with COVID. For countries, high inequality, political polarization, damaged institutions, all shaped this. A couple of quick more points and I’ll turn to university. In this context, we see among other things,

A separation between the wellbeing of people and the wealth of economies. And so COVID is doing damage medically, but the COVID response is doing huge damage economically. And this is a complicated story. How much of that is necessary? The lock downs are a kind of blunt instrument. People would use testing and tracing

If countries had the capacity to do testing and tracing, but the United States didn’t have that capacity. The United Kingdom didn’t have that capacity more or less screwed up what it tried to use. So the blunt instrument of closure creates economic havoc. Who bears the pain of the economic havoc?

Not people like us who work at home. It’s inconvenient, and we can’t go out to cafes as much, but it’s actually a variety of working people. Who either lose their jobs, or who are forced to work in jobs, where they are exposed to COVID, and often paid very poorly.

Care workers, drivers, delivery workers, and so forth. So the COVID reveals some of the problems of societies in this sense. And I’ll be quick about the university, but ask more, if you want about it. There’s a very large story about how learning is affected. and the relative virtues of

Online versus in person learning. A lot of that has to do with the university as a social experience, not the university as an educational story. And there are losses, but I want to point to a few other factors. A lot of people debate online learning. as though there’s a choice between

Having small seminars at Georgetown, and having mass online classes. Well, most people didn’t get to go to Georgetown in the first place. And so the university system is highly heterogeneous. There’s not just the university. There are various different kinds of universities, scales of university. So what is online good for?

It’s good for access, right? It may or may not be as good for certain kinds of personal conversation and exchange and seminars. But if you didn’t have access to those seminars, you didn’t lose in the online transition. So online can be okay. There’s a whole story about proximity,

But there’s a second story that I think is more basic. It’s not about learning. It’s not about research. It’s about finance and about the upheaval in the economic basis of universities as knowledge institutions. Will they be able to employ the professors they have in the past?

Will they be able to support the libraries? Will they be able to provide the context for knowledge? And if they aren’t right? What kind of transformation will take place? It’s like the story of religion, they won’t just go away. There will be change. But what will that change be?

Will it be for profit providers? Will it be a consolidation which there are smaller number of bigger universities, that are effective in deploying the technology? How will we manage this? But we will not go back to universities as, before. There are too many ways in which the COVID experience

Has exposed patterns of change, including budgetary issues that will tempt administrators to keep going down some other paths. – Well, thank you very much, Craig. Let’s open the session for the question and answer from the audience. I have a list of questions already. Let’s see how many we can get at.

There is first a question Robert Neigh, writes, Steven Pinker says that relative to a number of people, violence and death in war is decreasing. Same with gruesome punishments. What is Dr. Calhoun’s response? Are we overcoming death and violence? – Right, so this is a reference to Steven Pinker’s “Better Angels” book.

I’m not fully persuaded by his empirical arguments. But I won’t take the time to go into details of why. I think there is some truth to it though. Even though I’m not fully persuaded, that is what I referred to by saying we have longer life expectancies. That’s one simple index of a reduction

In age adjusted death rates in reflects to violence. Now in response to this, though, I want to say a couple of things. First trends can be reversed. And even with gruesome punishments, we see Donald Trump bringing back the death penalty in the United States. It’s not necessarily true that there is

A one directional change that can never be reversed, which is more or less what Steven Pinker implies. Second, my main point was not about the physical risk of dying, but about existential insecurity. Englehart’s term, which is a term inevitably for how we feel. Do we feel secure? Let me use a simple example.

You may be healthy, but feel insecure. because you hear so much about the diseases around you, including COVID. So you feel at risk, even though you’re healthy, or you may feel insecure because you don’t have insurance, and you will have to rely on emergency rooms and substandard care and all that.

One of the things we saw in COVID was that, which hospital you went to was a big predictor of whether you lived or died. And the relatively poor areas of New York with publicly funded hospitals had higher death rates. People who could afford privately funded hospitals,

And other areas were more likely to survive. Now that can create a sense of insecurity. Even if on average, more people are surviving because we have hospitals for everybody. The inequality itself contributes to that. And there are other kinds of insecurities and risks. You may feel insecure because you’re not sure

If you can make your mortgage payment. That’s not a question of whether you will die necessarily, but it is a big existential insecurity. And as it happens, suicide rates are rising in the United States. And they’re rising particularly in certain populations. and partly for reasons like economic insecurity. So it’s absolutely true

That many kinds of material improvements in health and living conditions, sanitation, other things have taken place. But the kind of interpretation that has been based on that fact is misleading. – And a related question, which basically only needs a footnote come from Pat, What can human security theory

And the UN human security framework offer as insights for building and stabilizing a democracy? – Okay human security theory is basically the idea that there are a lot of different kinds of security as I was talking about. Not just whether you die in war. So traditional security, hard security,

Was all about war, we have all these other kinds. I think that this is important that human security is a very useful concept. It went out of vogue a bit. It was very popular in the late 20th century. After 2001, there was a return to talking mainly about hard security, terrorism and war,

Rather than broader human security. But I think broader human security is basic. and this is what we should be talking about. And we should connect it to the sustainable development goals. and the whole idea of a sustainable future. What makes for a sustainable future is not just the absence of war or terrorism,

But the presence of a variety of kinds of care for each other. Improved sanitation, improved environmental relations, greener infrastructures instead of resource intensive infrastructures and so forth. So if we extend human security into the environmental area, we’re really talking about something very basic that we can’t afford to leave out of discussions.

And I would link this also to something like the capabilities approach that Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum have pressed. That is the idea that we need to ask, whether people’s capabilities to do the things they want in their lives are being increased, in any path of development.

And I think this is an important question for this whole security and existential risk discussion too. – There is a question from Lasso Ramirez. on basically humanitarianism again, the limits and necessity humanitarianism globally. So the question is, do you think that NGOs run by secular and non-secular groups

Hinder rather than aid local communities as example, the white man’s burden, how this aid affect a country or a community’s economy, autonomy and viability and thinking of Haiti and the flooding of money and resources. – Great question. So there are problems with aid dependency, aid dependency tends to block

Some desirable paths of development inside countries, and tends to be very prone to problematic captures by governments. This doesn’t mean that all forms of aid are bad, but it means that being radically dependent on aid is problematic. I think humanitarianism represents, good values and efforts to have good actions

And it does good things, but it’s also an admission of failure. It is an admission that we haven’t in fact, reduced all the existential risks that Englehart is talking about. And to a certain extent, humanitarian action, reassures people in rich countries that the problems are often in other countries.

So people in Chicago can think the problems are in Haiti. And people in Los Angeles could think the problems are in Venezuela and so forth. So there’s an other arena of the sense of problem. Part of what we’re seeing now in this century since 2001,

Is the problems are in the rich countries too. The humanitarian issues cannot be seen as just third world issues. They are issues at home. And so we have to recognize increasingly what humanitarian discussion represses, which is that the global world system that you were talking about Jose, helps to produce these problems.

That it actively under develops some countries. That it creates problems. So it’s not just solutions. So humanitarianism is efforts by individuals and groups to put band-aids on problems, but it’s not solution to problems. I think the band-aids are good and they’re needed. The most basic moment of humanitarianism is refugees.

And we need a global regime of good treatment for refugees. We need each of our countries to give better treatment to refugees, but that doesn’t mean that we need all the things that call us refugees. It means we have to deal with it better. And the rich countries in the world have failed

The refugee test in recent years. You referred earlier to the nationalism in Europe and response to COVID or countries putting up walls, but already this was going on in response to immigration from 2015 on and from the financial crisis, the discourse in Europe immediately became a national discourse,

German started talking about those Greeks they’re profligate, those Southern Europeans, and it had a religious element. We Protestants saved those Catholics and Orthodox people. They don’t, this kind of thing, didn’t go away during the era of supposed secularization. – A question from Diane, How do you see the relationship

Between neoliberalism and religious ethnic nationalism, especially in the context of the argument that ethnic nationalist movements like Hindu nationalism in India are an expression of popular resentment, against increasing precocity in conditions of neoliberalism. – Okay, let me divide that into two parts. I think in general,

We have seen a huge spread of neoliberal thinking. in the world since the 1970s or so, that on the one hand, it involves stripping away the social support systems for people, the public institutions, undermining local communities making it harder for family members to care for each other.

So neo liberalism tends to privatize risk and throw people back on their own resources. Then people look for some other kinds of solidarity. Something to help them. Can ethnic nationalism appeal to some people as a way of dealing with the undermined support systems. Yes.

Is it necessarily an effective or good way of doing that? No. But we need to see nationalism as impart and attempt to find some sort of solidarity when other kinds of solidaristic institutions are being undermined or destroyed or attacked. I said two parts because the second part,

I have a slightly different view of India and of Modi, because I don’t think that the DJP is primarily a product of precarity among the relatively poor in India, lots of poor people, some of them support the BJP. I think first off, lots of the very Precarious poor

Are barely included in Indian politics. The BJP is big support comes from the middle classes, not from the most precarious and the mobs that are rallying may come from the poor, but it’s not the case that the middle class and the educated have rejected, so-called populism of Modi.

And so I think we have a kind of typical desire to think it is only the poor and uneducated. The same thing in America with Trump. Many people imagined, how could anyone with any education support Donald Trump? And that’s a question I’ve asked myself, because I think Trump is awful,

But I note a lot of his support comes from people with college degrees who live in suburbs. They have various interests, right? They are not just these sort of unwashed the downtrodden. There is a successful mobilization of many people who suffer with precarity, but there’s also a lot of calculation, right?

So evangelical Christians say, we can get some things we want from Donald Trump, in terms of future judges or whatever. And people who are rich say, we can get tax breaks. And Trump has dramatically reduced the taxes on the wealthy of the United States compared to everybody else.

And there are cynical calculations made by people who are not poor and the same, in various ways and in India. Well, I won’t belabor the point, but I think we should be cautious about imagining that the support for populism comes only from the ignorant. (indistinct) support for Modi is not coming

Because he’s in a precarious situation or ignorant. His brother does seem to be in a precarious situation now, but… – The next question comes from Sonya Sikas. and she writes, you mentioned the possibility of new formations, new patterns of seeking that express some of the same needs views, et cetera, as traditional religion,

But might not be described or describe themselves as a religion. I wonder if you could elaborate on where you see signs of such formations and how they deviate from traditional ideas of religion. – Okay, I will try to be really brief about this conscious of time, but I appoint to the rise of

Various kinds of self-help movements and movements in general, where people sort of sacrilege relationships, to Typology Gaia and so forth to certain kinds of other people in communal movements and all this, there are what would have been called seekers of a variety of kinds. And the heterogeneity is almost definitive of this.

People are looking. There are also Cults and people are joining Cults, and that’s not in my view, generally speaking a path forward, but it’s indicative of the number of people who are trying to find something, as a source of belief, but there are also right, let’s take this back to the core theme,

Ethno-nationalists, who are, sacralizing the nation. Who are seeking the kind of transcendence, that might have come from religious involvement in national involvement, right? And that’s also that kind of politicized national realism with a transcendent element, trying to replace religion is significant. – Let me put together three questions which are related,

And give you the chance to elaborate on the interconnections. There is a question coming from (indistinct) from sir Lanka and has to do with the waves of populism, and how many populace movements seem to ride, and the grievances of majority’s. State the cause about the tension between

The democracy being the rule of the majority, but liberal democracy has been there precisely to protect minorities from majority rules. So this is one of the problems. The other problem, the other question about democracy. (indistinct) writes, many great experience of democracy indeed seem to go backward. The examples are US and India.

People who are already skeptic with democracy are more frank now against the whole idea of democracy. How can one reassert the significance and the importance of democracy, is the only way of attaining political freedom and political arrangements. Are there alternatives or potential alternatives to democracy? And finally there is a more pessimistic question

About homo sapiens, the species having hit the limit of rational thinking and living. The rising types of nationalism, tribalism, populism, and religious fanaticism seems to have clearly dominated. This is in spite of profound insight from science, philosophy, et cetera. So you take it in any direction, these three come.

– Okay, I’m gonna go three, one, two. The last point, it seems to me is better stated as. We have tried to imagine human beings and human progress as a matter of rationality. And reason is certainly one of the human faculties we have,

But it was never the case that we were without affect, without emotion that our solidarity with others was only transactional based on reason, or even that knowledge was purely rational. and lacked standpoint and situation and so forth. So I think we are reaching the limits of a conception

Of human beings as defined by reason, and seeing the need to have a broader more complex view of human beings, that will also be one that makes it clearer to us. Why human beings matter in comparison to say artificial intelligence. Why do we care about human beings? Should we care about human beings?

Questions we need to answer. To the first question I can say very quickly, yes. The grievances of majorities are very central to contemporary populace but also to lots of the issues going on in the world. And they are partly grievances against minorities, and they think have unfairly benefited at their expense.

So, in the United States and some other rich countries, the resentment of immigrants is often expressed as they are living on welfare and we are paying taxes. But the resentment is often highest for successful immigrants. They are getting places at Harvard Medical School and I’m not, or my children are not.

And so we see a resentment focused on minorities. Second though, we see a resentment focused on elites. and the resentments of majorities that may scapegoat immigrants or people of color or other minorities are often deeply resentments of the established elites. who have presided over patterns of change that they don’t like, right?

So the people who have lost jobs due to de-industrialization in the context of globalization, are not necessarily politically economists who are analyzing the role of capital and private corporations, but they do notice things like, hey, this went on while Democrats were in office, it went on while Republicans were in office.

The whole elite political class didn’t care about people like us who were losing our jobs. And there’s a lot of truth to that, this one. Finally there is resentment of change itself. There are a lot of people whose resentments, whether they scapegoat minorities or they attack elites or whatever,

Their resentments are of the world changing, of not feeling familiar. And hence you have demands, Americans should speak English. We shouldn’t accept Spanish as a language or whatever. And pure gender is perhaps an important index. And the extent to which people on the populist right, are upset about changing gender roles,

Treating men and women. But we shouldn’t exclude the possibility that the elites, haven’t been very good elites. And that takes me to the second question. One of the things we should be struggling for is having better elites. We tend, we on the left, we who are Democrats.

So we need equality and I’m in favor of equality. But to the extent that we have elites or inequality, we need good elites. And we’ve had some pretty bad elites. And we have actually encouraged people to be bad elites. We’ve had ideologies like meritocracy,

That says you deserve to be part of the elite, because you did really well on your exams. And you went to a famous university. and those other people who aren’t part of the elite are less deserving. And so we’ve had a whole culture of encouraging elites not to be solidaristic towards non-elites.

And we’ve had elites who embraced this and said, well, look, the value of my house is going up. My kids are getting into the really good schools. Does it matter if it’s become more unequal in higher education? So after bad elites now, there is actually a political theory of good elites,

Republicanism, not the Republican party. But if you look at the founding of the United States. and most other democracies in the world. Most of the world’s enduring democracies are not just democracies, they’re republics, they are democratic republics. And what that means is that they embrace popular voice in government,

But they also embrace the rule of law. They also embrace a normative order of good elite leadership. And they embrace the rights of minorities, and including religious minorities. So, I think we need to remember, that democracy is not the only good, right? The rights of minorities, the rule of law are also good.

And part of the democratic project is trying to balance and integrate. The majority call for voice with the frameworks that ensure freedom, and majoritarianism does not ensure freedom. – Well, since we put these three last questions together, there about 10 new questions, which unfortunately will need to be left unanswered.

One of them is does capitalism have an alternative? And I would ask this person to read the book you’ve co-edited with. Immanuel Wallerstein, Michael Mann and Randall Collins, “Does capitalism have a Future?” and many other questions about pragmatic rationality. It’s an alternative to religion and so on.

Craig, thank you, thank you so much. What a wonderful enlightening, interesting conversation. on all kinds of related topics. And thank you for everybody for participating in this series. The next series will be a conversation. Then next episode will be a conversation with (indistinct) on global religious and secular dynamics.

And we’ll go from there. Thank you so much, Craig. Thank you everybody. And we’ll see you next time. – Thank you, Jose. And thanks to everybody.

#Religious #Secular #Sources #Democracy #Nationalism

The G20 Interfaith Forum in Buenos Aires: Religious Perspectives for the 2018 Global Agenda

– I am Katherine Marshall, welcome to the Berkley Center. Berkley Center, despite the location is a part of Georgetown University, 12 years old. It reports directly to the president of the university and is a very multi-disciplinary organization. Also, welcome to the World Faiths Development Dialogue,

Which is a small NGO that is housed here, and that was born in an improbable location, which is the World Bank, and is now approaching its 20th anniversary, so we are very happy to welcome all of you here. I’m going to do a very short introduction, basically saying what this is all about.

And then, we’ll pass it to the panel who will give brief comments and then we’ll have a conversation and we’ll go on. So I’ll introduce the panel when I finish with this. Next week, there is an ambitious meeting taking place in Buenos Aires, which is the G20 Interfaith Forum.

And it’s one of many global efforts to try to bring religious voices into discussions about international policy. The basic idea is to have religious institutions, religious ideas at the table. And one of our classic comments is, if you’re not at the table, you end up on the menu.

So that the basic idea though, is to see which religious voices, which tables, and how should they be represented. So, this particular effort is focused on the G20, which started in 2008, with the initially, primarily, as an economic advisory body but has evolved and expanded over time.

One of the features of the G20 is that the tone and the agenda are set by the host country which shifts every year from one country to another. So last year, it was in Germany, and it was very much a Merkel agenda. This year, it is in Argentina,

So it’s very much an Argentine agenda, led by the Argentine government. There’s no permanent G20 secretariat. And then, next year it’s Japan. And the following year, 2020, it will be in Saudi Arabia. So one of the questions is, are the pros. What is the advantage of focusing on the G20

For the efforts that we as speaking from religious perspectives are looking at. It’s a channel for focus and influence. Another feature is that it’s quite flexible. In other words, you don’t have some of the rigidity of the United Nations systems and conventions, et cetera. The disadvantages are that it’s flexible

And also that there is an enormous competition for ideas that’s taking place, so it’s not a virgin field where you can just go and have an influence on the G20 leaders, you really need to have a strategy. So, the question, which religious voices on which agendas.

One of the efforts I’ve been part of the organizing group for the G20 this year, and for the past several years, is to have a network of networks, which is the foundation for the legitimacy of the voice of the forum. In other words, it’s not just the people there,

It’s the networks that lie behind them. Another feature, and that’s very important is strong links to the host government communities, in this case, of course, Argentina, and of course, one feature of Argentina is that the Pope is an Argentine, and therefore, there are a lot of personal relationships

And history that go into the Vatican as well as other relationships. Rabbi Skorka who knows this very well was here last week at Georgetown. He will not be at the forum, but others will. So the aim is to ensure that the recommendations that come out reflect both sound analysis

And broad consultation, in other words, it’s not just off the top of your head. Another feature is that we know very well that religious communities often disagree. The idea that there is a single religious voice is frankly a nonsense. So one of the objectives is to make sure that the religious voice presented

Includes a respect for difference of views and for dialogue, both among religious communities but also between religious and secular communities. Broadly, for the 2018, the most logical entry point has been wide concerns about social cohesion. And that includes populism and the threats of nationalism, but also extremism, obviously,

All of which are of concern to religious groups. So very briefly, this is the fifth forum. It’s a very ambitious meeting with a rich agenda. It’s all on the website now. These forums have become increasingly focused and ambitious over time. It was originally quite academic with a religious liberty focus

But it’s not much broader. Relates to the agenda set by the host country as well as the Sustainable Development Goals. And it’s gone from invisibility, nobody knew about it, to increasing visibility and the International Shinto Foundation this year has provided substantial support to increase the visibility. So this meeting is being videotaped

And the footage we hope will be useful for the forum itself. So it’s an evolving and an ambitious initiative, which you can find on the website, and I would also add that Georgetown and WFDD’s roles have grown over time. So the questions for us here, which shall be put to the panel,

Are the possible impact on leaders of well-crafted proposals and effective communication, how to build on the network of religious networks, how to link to the other engagement groups, we’ve particularly focused on what’s called the T20, which I will not ask you to guess what that means.

It is the network, the engagement group of think tanks, which is a very dynamic, but you also have the C20, B20, L20, W20, Y20 and S20, and this, now is the I20, the Interfaith. So some specific topics and themes that are emerging are the preferential option for the poor,

What does that mean, children, violence, modern slavery, and also work, education, food security and health. So that’s just a brief sort of preview of what this is all about, and now we are absolutely delighted today to have a wonderful group. Unfortunately, David Moore, the acting deputy administrator

Of USAID can’t come to Buenos Aires. My understanding is that you’ve given a priority to the United Nations General Assembly. (laughing) – He meets the needs. (all laughing) – But he has a long background, particularly in law. He was a professor at Brigham Young University Law School,

Where, by the way, I am going tomorrow morning, very early. He is now, I think, very keenly interested in these issues of what’s religion got to do with it and what do we do with that? So, I would also introduce Kirsten Evans,

Who I think you, what, are a week on the job then? Roughly, (laughing), as the head of the office in USAID that works with faith communities, so we’re delighted to welcome you here, I think for the first time, perhaps. – Thank you very much. – Here. Ambassador Cynthia Hotton is the Argentine representative

At the OAS, and I’m happy to say she will be going to Buenos Aires, as will Kirsten. So we have two people who are very much a part of the forum and finally, my colleague, John Monahan is the senior advisor to the president of Georgetown University, especially in calling the health issues.

But he covers many others, and he also has a very long and distinguished career that include public service, academia, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So we will just invite each of you to speak. You can speak from the table, or you can speak from the podium, as you wish,

With, hopefully, with the microphone. And I know you will have to leave at some point. – Right. – Early on, but we’ll just keep an eye on the time. – From the mic, I’m gonna ask Ashley, my assistant to see if we can scoot back, ’cause I apologize that we arrived late.

So I wanted to thank Katherine for hosting this event. It’s an honor to be with you here. I wish I were going to be with the group in Buenos Aires next week, but I have attended two of the interfaith forums, so I was in Istanbul and Beijing,

And very personally supportive of the work that the forum is engaged in, and the effort to bring religious voices to the G20 and to the important policy discussions that occur there. I missed last year’s because of this job, I’ll miss this year’s because of this job,

But that is not to be taken as a sign that USA is not onboard with the principles that motivate the forum. And I wanna focus my remarks today on explaining how the USA shares the principles that motivate the forum and its efforts. The Interfaith Forum recognizes the importance

Of religious freedom, of religious organizations, of religious harmony to go with priorities including economic development and we share that perspective. At USA, we believe that the purpose of foreign assistance, which is our main focus is to end the need for foreign assistance. Now, we don’t say that because we don’t want to help

Our friends, but because we believe in the inherent dignity of every human being. Where we believe that every country, or community, every individual wants to be empowered to lead its own future, and so we focus on and speak of the journey to self reliance

And believe that when a country’s willing to take the, make the hard choices, invest the efforts that it takes to progress on that journey, we should be there at its side. As part of that approach, this journey to self reliance, we focus on helping partner countries strengthen capacities and policies

That experience tells us are necessary for a country to reach self reliance, to become, to stable in the long term and ultimately to enjoy prosperity. And among the critical foundations along that journey, is freedom of religion, as this administration has emphasized and as we recognize at USAID.

We recognize that freedom of religious is key to peace and stability, it’s a cornerstone to citizen responsive governance, which is what we try to produce in our democracy work. It’s a key, not only to economic development writ large, but particularly to inclusive development and to the rule of law.

And, of course, it’s intertwined with so many other aspects of democratic societies, so many other freedoms like the freedom of association, the freedom of expression, freedom of assembly. So we see religious freedom as a key, both goal of development and cornerstone of development. And we’re painfully aware that when religious freedom

Is absent, development suffers. One very unfortunate and recent example, and it’s an extreme one, admittedly, but it’s a real one, is the situation in northern Iraq, where we saw ISIS wage genocide against Christians, Yazidis, other vulnerable populations there. And where we see that after the area has been liberated,

Formerly by ISIS, much work remains to be done, particularly with these religious and other minority communities. A significant focus for us right now has been investing in, not only infrastructure development, the sort of things you might suspect are important to allowing people to return after a genocide and the sort of destruction

That occurred in the wake of ISIS, but also, we’re looking at issues that are particular to vulnerable communities. How, what entices or what allows a vulnerable community to want to return voluntarily to an area where this sort of genocide occurred? ‘Cause it’s not just, obviously, providing water and schools and infrastructure,

There are deeper issues there, and issues, obviously, that tie into this principle of religious freedom. So again, I want to emphasize that religious freedom is a development goal, it’s also a foundation for our development work. In addition, we recognize tremendous power of religious and religious organizations

To drive development, obviously this fits very well with the goal of the Interfaith Forum to bring religious voices to the table on these global issues, including economic development. So we see firsthand, for example, the power of faith based initiatives to deflate the appeal of violent extremism.

We work with faith leaders because they tend to be pivotal leaders in their community, they can be promoters of peace, tolerance, justice, they can be, lead some of the entities that are the first to remember the poor and marginalized in communities. And even more practically speaking, we work with these entities because,

Whether it’s in our development assistance or our humanitarian assistance, we need to reach corners and communities in the world where governments cannot effectively go, or have chosen not to go. We need to be able to touch and reach people who have been left behind or forgotten,

And in many settings, that means that partnering with communities of faith is not just the best way to reach these vulnerable populations or forgotten populations, it’s the only way to do so. And faith based partners offer a particularly rich avenue for doing that because they are often uniquely trusted

By these communities, they could harness networks, really, networks of networks, right, but certainly in country, that’s the principle, right, that these religious leaders have networks on the ground that can be mobilized to assist with development efforts and to provide insights that otherwise might be missing.

So let me just give you a couple of examples where USAID has been doing this sort of work in the Central African Republic, with our Interfaith Peace Building Partnership, which is a consortium of five actors, led by Catholic Relief Services. It brings together organizations that represent Catholics, Muslims and Protestants

To help overcome sustained political instability and intermittent armed conflict. So we’re working with these entities to strengthen the capacity of global institutions, to generate secure livelihoods and to provide healing and peace education, and in many of these programs, religious leaders take a part. They are local influencers.

They provide motivation to communities to want to find lasting peaceful solutions. Another example, another group we are proud to partner with is Food for the Hungry in Ethiopia, where we, Food for the Hungry has engaged local religious leaders to help promote things like better hygiene, maternal and child health, including access

To nutritious foods, clean water, et cetera. And this work has reached about half a million people with food aid, so just another example. There are so many we could cite of the great work that faith based organizations do, and so recognizing their practical impact is so critical that their voices be included

As we think about the challenges the G20 tries to address. At AID, recognizing these benefits, we are constantly looking to expand our work with faith based organizations, as one recent example, in June we signed a memorandum of understanding with Malteser International, to coordinate country and regional activities

In the Americas, the Middle East and Africa. As many of you know, Malteser represents the Order of Malta in the United States, and is one of the largest Catholic relief organizations. In all these efforts, I wanna highlight, we seek to ensure that faith based organizations have equal opportunity to compete for USAID assistance

And contracts and so we have a regulation that makes clear that religious organizations are eligible on the same basis as any other organization to participate in USAID programs, for which they would otherwise qualify. It’s been kind of a process, generally, to get assistance or a grant, but it is key,

And this regulation ensures that it’s a matter of law, religious organizations are on the same footing in that effort, and we have those regulations, obviously, because we recognize the value of partnering with faith based community groups. Those regulations also ensure our commitment that faith based groups can play this role,

This partnering role, without surrendering their essential identities. So, it recognizes that partnering with USAID, for example, does not change hiring opportunities that a faith based, or priorities that a faith based organization might have. So, with that, just wanna conclude saying, as we look forward to the G20 Interfaith Summit next week,

We at USAID applaud these efforts, are keenly aware of what makes faith based groups such valuable partners, we’re keenly aware of the importance of religious freedom to development of the individuals and society, where we fully support the Forum’s goals of promoting religious freedom and focusing critical attention on the role

That religion and religious organizations play in development, so although I’ll be at UNGA and miss the Forum, I look forward to the lessons learned and the light that the Forum will shine on this critical link between religion and development. Thank you. – Thank you so much. Ambassador Hotton, next. – Thank you.

Well, first of all, I can say that it is a privilege to be here with you this morning. And also, because this is such a prestigious position for me, also, this is very important. And also because Argentina is going to welcome almost all of you next week, so I am very proud

To be part of this incredible country that is receiving many countries of the world to really spend time to find solutions, the best solutions that we can find in our difficult world, so only sometimes. So, well, maybe I would like to, oh. First of all, I’m sorry to correct,

But I’m not the ambassador, I am the second of that position of Argentina. Just a detail, but if I don’t correct, there’s a problem. It would be a problem. Okay, having said that, well, why I am here, because usually there are many actors that are directly involved in issues that have to be with religion, and I represent Argentina to the Organization of American States, but, well, personally I was really involved during my whole life,

In everything that has to with inter-religious dialogue, for example, Skorka, he’s a good friend, and we’ve met, we’ve done many many things together. But well, I am a diplomat, but in the moment, what I’ve seen that religious freedom was also respected in Argentina. There were little details that were not taken into account,

So I decided to participate with politics, and I became a national congresswoman, the first evangelical congresswoman in Argentina. That was really hard because it’s a Catholic country and we didn’t have evangelicals, so it was very hard in my community because usually they would say, don’t enter into politics,

And if it was a woman, worse. But, I’d also for the rest, for the media, is like what, you’re evangelical. So, and also, the problem is that I wanted to be vote in issues that had to be religion, so even if I was in politic, I wanted to do,

But in the, through the, under the umbrella of politic, but freedom. And I’m not going to tell you now the details, but it was maybe for you, interesting to know, but if you have questions I can tell you more about that, is that I presented the bill in Argentina

That was for freedom and equality in religion. And at that moment, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires was Bergoglio,, the actual pope. And you know, the idea, when we talk about religious freedom and equality, it’s not that we want to be, if there is an importance in culture

Or for a church that it’s the major church, it’s not that there is some competition. We don’t want to compete, we want the same rights, and the rights have to be equal for everybody, so it’s not a competition between different churches. It’s like we need the same umbrella to prevent us,

To kinda enjoy our freedom in religion. That include freedom of belief, conscious, and everything, you know. So the first thing I did, is I went to see him. And then we started a very good relationships, I could tell you many details, but that’s not the point of this conversation.

But the first thing I did is went to see him, and I told him, I need the support of the Catholic church, because if you don’t understand that this is for everybody, it was going to be interpreted as it is a competition, or that the new churches

Want to compete with the Catholic Church. And I don’t want that, so if you don’t understand, in fact, the meaning of this bill, I will not present it, because it’s not the evangelicals against. And so after, he said, leave me this, it was a huge bill, not just

A couple of articles, 37 articles. And after a month, he called me and he said, “I cannot disagree.” So the Catholic Church promoted with, also the Jewish, Muslims, all that, this particular bill, and well, at the last moment, because it went positively in many committees,

But at the last moment, after three years of debate, they started with the debate on abortion and gay marriage and so that made not very important to still continue in the debate of religious freedom, so that is why it stopped, but now the present government

Is promoting again, the same bill, with some alterations. So it is now under debate and in the congress. And well, now as a diplomat, I am here at the OAS, and I’ve heard about this contact group, for religious freedom and belief, and of course, I am so involved with this

That I’ve asked my government, really to be part. And in this is, yes, something that I want to tell you, is that we are thinking about an umbrella for our region, so that is why now we are thinking, the OAS, the Organization of American States, that we would need some, maybe inter-American convention

On religious freedom because as you may know, in the other regions of the world, it would be harder to think of this possibility. But America in general, and also in Latin American countries, if you think about it, there is not much conflict in religious freedom, between religions, it’s not like in Asia

Or in other regions of the world. So you think, is that so important, to have this umbrella convention or to be sure that in each country the religious freedom is respected. If you see the, sorry, we look young but we, First up, we see that the 17th annual report

Of the US Commission of International Religious Freedom, there are only two countries from Latin America that are mentioned there, it’s Cuba and Mexico. And still, it is not the countries that are most concerned. There are some, of course, Cuba, you can say, of course, before it was really hard to practice

Freely of religion, but now it’s going better, but there is still some deterioration in the conditions of religious freedom due to, there are short term detentions and some threats to churches, some expropriation, and some destruction of particular properties. But this has to do with the idea of the control of the government

To what is going on with the society. They want to moniterate or limit the church’s influence into the society. Now, in the case of Mexico, it’s not something that is in the national realm, but it’s mostly in some communities, some provinces, so we could say that the problem

That we could have in Mexico are more communal at the communal level, where, for example, the majority religion, the Catholic Church, would be, but it’s more like how they live in that community, their faith, for example, they will do a special event, activity or all that, and they would impose

To the minority religions that they have to pay or participate in special events, and if they don’t they will go and maybe burn the churches or some houses, but it’s really particular cases. It’s not something that is more promoted by the government. So these are, these two cases that are mentioned

In the annual report, but unfortunately, now there are two countries that are having huge problems with religious freedom and also that are, that the churches, or I would say the religious actors are now not respected, and these are Nicaragua and Venezuela. Such it is that US Special Ambassador

For the religious freedom, Ambassador Brownback, went for the first time to the Organization of American States, the permanent council, and it was the first time that in that organization we would talk about religious freedom. So the first time, I was so happy, personally, because, I’m going to, I’ll explain that later,

But and so, what, and he came to talk about these, of course, to talk about the possibility of all the countries to participate at the G20 and sorry, the Interfaith Forum, because you have the ministerial here the United States, in July, it was. But he mentioned that the United States

Is really concerned about what is going on in Nicaragua and in Venezuela, because first of all, the two countries, the two governments, started with the religious leaders to respect them as mediators for the dialogue, and you have mentioned that is very important. But then they realized that they wouldn’t

Directly respond to their will, but really they were representing mostly the needs of the population, so they’ve started to really impose some violence directly to those leaders or to some communities that are more important in this. So really, what we see is that in those two countries,

What is happening is that when you do not respect religious freedom, may believe that you don’t respect many others human rights. So you have so many human rights that are not as respected, one of them is religious freedom. Maybe it’s not the most seen or followed

By the countries, but still it is happening. And if we think about what the religious organizations are doing in those countries, and you know a lot what is happening there, inside the country, for family, I would talk especially in Venezuela. Inside the country, the only humanitarian help

That they would receive is through the religious communities and ONGs, because the government doesn’t know to receive any help from any country. So the only organization, the PAHO, the Pan-American Health Organization, is the only one that can introduce that dialogue, can enter into the country and help in health,

Because the crisis in health is terrible. Yesterday, we received some report at the OAS and 80% of the hospitals are not working. For example, in Argentina, we have received so many doctors from Venezuela, they leave the countries. And stayed their countries, so there are no doctors and the diseases are increasing because

They do not receive the medicine, they don’t want to open the route to receive medication or food, and so what they’ll do is organizations, these religion organization called, faith based organizations, is that they can receive. The debate is if they will do that or not,

Because they can only receive that through the government. So is the government that is also helping them to distribute, so it’s a way of reinforce the support to the government of Maduro or the regime. But still, they know that Caritas, for example, they are doing an incredible job there,

But what they said, and many of them came to Washington, D.C. telling us, we are doing the best we can, but the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela is so huge that it’s not enough. Even if we were work all together, and you want to send food and medicine through us,

You won’t solve that such a humanitarian problem. And, I can tell you more details, but the last thing I would explain is that in the region, you have all the borders of Venezuela, you can imagine that in this, during these five years, they are, there are 2.6 million

Of Venezuelans in our region that had migrated and we are countries that are not prepared to receive so many migrants, and so what we have now, it’s the huge crisis in the borders of Venezuela, with Colombia, with Ecuador, with Brazil is terrible, and those, and there you have all these

Faith based communities that are helping. We receive a lot of help from the United States that cannot enter into Venezuela, but they can work in the borders, mostly with about Colombia, Vice President Pence was there. And but also, in our countries, because the migrants are going everywhere,

And for somebody in Argentina, I have calls from many pastors that are calling me, “We have so many Venezuelans in our churches.” And the churches are receiving them, helping them with houses, work, we try to find work for all these people, so there is a huge network that is working and it’s mostly

With faith based organizations that contain support it. So this is an idea of what is going on in our region, specifically in Latin American countries, and also, I think that it is important for you to know that this is the really, the first time that the Organization of American States

Is thinking about something, that it is important to think about in the human rights agenda that we have to include religious freedom, right, because it is not till now, thank you. – Let me say a couple things. First off, I’ve had the privilege, over the course of my career, both working domestically

And internationally, domestically both for reform programs, refugee resettlement programs in the United States, early childhood programs, access to affordable medical care, to be working with faith based organizations here, like the Catholic church, the evangelical community. And they’re an indispensable part of how our country responds to human needs.

And when I worked internationally at the State Department, and represented the US in a political role for the Fight AIDS, TB and malaria, working with the president’s emergency plan for AIDS relief, all those, both of those programs include faith based communities both in the support for their initiatives, as the USAID is continuing

To be a central part of that agenda, and in country, because I think the practical reality is that many parts of the world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, faith based communities are backed by a health delivery system, so I’m absolutely committed and think that the vision of faith communities

Is central to health and development both in the United States and abroad, it’s critical. I guess I’d say a couple things just thinking ahead for this G20. The first point is that I think, while obviously the issues of religious freedom are important. I think the faith community is at its most powerful

When it speaks in a common moral voice about who’s been excluded and expands our, what I think of as our moral perimeter, so whether it’s in your community or your nation or the world, it’s not them, it’s not competition and it’s not people who aren’t religious.

In fact, it’s all of, that’s why we share our common human dignity, which the pope talks about as well, and the great religious traditions do. And so I think that’s an opportunity for this interfaith group to be that common voice of a broad moral perimeter, and every community throughout the world.

It can be a voice for the people whose human rights are being violated, whether it’s the right to religious faith or a human right as a person of color or as a woman or as an LGBTQ person, anybody who has been excluded or marginalized in any organization.

So that’s, I think that’s just a great opportunity for an organization like that to be that common force. Two, is it seems to me that the G20, and thanks to our colleagues from Argentina, there’s a terrific opportunity. They’ve, at least in the health space, I don’t pretend to know the full breadth

Of the things that USAID ideas work. But the decision to continue the health minister’s track as part of the G20 that started last year in Berlin, the minister has laid out a very ambitious agenda including anti-microbial resistance, health system strengthening, universal health coverage, combating pandemics, it’s a huge opportunity.

If you think about faith communities are so intimately involved in health care everywhere in the world. Everyone of those issues is critical. In fact, we here at the, Katherine, not myself, but Katherine and our colleagues here at the Berkley Center work with a network of Catholic health delivery systems, I just think there’s a huge opportunity here on that track, and then looking ahead to next year, if the, I think the Argentinian presidency is clearly building on the work from Germany. Next year it’s in Japan, Japan has been a leader in universal health coverage as a global priority

And I just think this could be a terrific opportunity, I’m really looking forward to seeing what comes out on this (mumbles) in October. And then the last, sort of the third thought I had, is maybe this gets back to the inclusion idea, is the theme of this G20 is broadly,

How do we bring more people into this prosperity, how do you, so how do we figure out how to deal with, acknowledge it, and then rapidly change the world, and I think here’s a place where health is central to vote and to work. If we want to succeed in the modern economy,

We need healthy workers. That’s true in all what the president an important agenda, opioids for example here, I think this is a major issue both abroad and also to fulfill the agenda that Washington has put out, and I think also deals with attrition. I think that fits within the attrition agenda,

And fits within this broader full agenda, and again some exciting linkages, and I think we had this argument’s been well positioned. That’s clear, so those are just a few thoughts. I just think broad, moral vision is a huge opportunity for this group. Second is why the crack what we’ve got,

The experience like of the health cribe. And then, participating in this broader debates (mumbles). – So, I will try to brief also and in order to open the floor up to questions. I was asked by the center if I could make a few comments in following of Deputy Administrator Moore’s comments

About the larger, 30,000 foot vision of USAID’s space to talk more specifically about what my office does. Specifically within the agency, and what our folks or expectations are for the G20 Interfaith Summit next week, so to give you a sense of what we do,

I am in the office for the Center for the Interfaith and Opportunity Initiatives. We are an office that was founded in 2002 under the Bush administration imitative for the Executive Order for the integration of a faith based and small community initiative strategy across the federal government at large

And the work that we do. And today, we are part of an overall national strategy on religious leaders, faith based community engagement. Which is encouraging US government officials to develop and deepen their relationships with religious leaders and faith communities as they carry out, in the case of USAID, foreign policy responsibilities.

Under this administration, there’s three foreign policy objectives that are specific to engaging religious actors, and they are, as Deputy Administrator mentioned the advancing of pluralism and human rights, including the protection of religious freedom, the promotion of sustainable development, and more effective humanitarian assistance, and the prevention and resolution of violent conflict

And contributing to local and regional stability and security. And as you can see USAID is deeply involved in all three of those objectives in the engagement of religious actors. So the role of the Center for Faith and Opportunity initiatives is to provide the practical support and assistance to the administrator, USAID, to staff

And to our field missions, in our mission countries around the world in order to implement this strategy of faith based engagement. Faith based communities, as we’ve mentioned, are integral to USAID’s success in the field. Across the globe, religious leaders in faith communities make significant contributions to sustainable development

To the promotion and protection of human rights, to conflict mitigation and resolution. There’s not a field office or a bureau or a area expert at USAID that would not tell you the practical importance of working with small community initiatives and faith based organizations on the ground. Religious leaders and religious communities

In the countries where we implement our programming are often the most trusted members of those communities, and they’re able to reach populations where the United States government or large multi-lateral organizations or multinational organizations are not able to reach. Religious leaders are authorities that can localize followers using faith inspired language, where

Our values overlap and coincide. And in order to achieve development and humanitarian objectives. They can provide justification for action, for peace, for pursuit of social goods in a way that large foreign entities or international actors are not able to speak to a local community with the same closeness or trust.

They’re frequently better position to target the poorest or the most marginalized and the least accessible members of their own societies. And are better positioned to know the most effective ways to do that than we are from the outside. And as I mentioned, they’re uniquely positioned to counter extremism by offering peace,

Reconciliation, universal human rights initiatives, often times under those banners of religious affiliations that speak to the local community. The work that we do at USAID is we are in many ways dependent on the interfaith and faith based community network around the world. One half of the work in health and education in

Sub-Saharan Africa is done by various churches or faith based communities, one half, and not just what USAID is involved in, but for sub-Sahara Africa, as a whole, one half of all the educational and health initiatives in that continent are run by church based or local community based organizations.

So, our office operates on the premise that religion can increase the effectiveness and the impact of development programming, not really doing per se, but working with faith based entities, can increase the development. The effectiveness and impact of development programming. So how do we operate practically within our office?

We do that with I’d say two views. One is a view towards our partners on the ground. So our responsibility is to find ways to provide bridges for these local communities in the area, to be able to connect with USAID to understand our mission and to understand the process

By which they can become partners. As Administrator Moore mentioned, it’s a very competitive process, and a lot of these smaller organizations are from the get go intimidated by the process and are not entirely well equipped to be able to navigate and manage the complexities of competing for grants and funding

From a large international organization and so our office is to help to give them the tools and the toolkit to be able to do that more effectively from where they are. And to eliminate any barriers encountered for them. We seek to level the playing field for these communities, making partnerships with USAID

Possible for these groups, and we also have a glance toward the local community as well. We seek to convey faith based community groups to catalyze new opportunities and to be a voice for innovative partnerships, new programming designs, a wider strategic thinking and strategic vision on how to increasingly engage public private

Charitable partnerships in order to achieve shared development goals. In the words of President George W. Bush, and I quote him because he’s the founder of this initiative, the faith based initiative, Governments cannot be replaced by charities, but can issue welcome and its partners. We must head the growing consensus in America

That successful government social programs work in fruitful partnership with community serving the faith based organizations, and at USAID we take that philosophy just within the United States, but we take that into the field with us. Very quickly, I’ll mention some things that we do not do

In order to debunk common myths about faith based engagement by the United States government but since pardoned by the USAID in the international space. We do not favor one religious community of faith over any other, that’s a common myth. We promote partnership with people of all faiths,

As well as small community based organizations that are not necessarily associated with a particular religious affiliation or culture but are developed or grass roots initiatives out of particular communities. Faith based organizations who receive federal funding must be willing to serve people of all faith and any government programming services that you provide,

So we mandate that that funding be non-discriminatory in the programming that’s offered. Organizations who receive federal funds cannot discriminate against who they serve. Faith based communities do not get preferential treatment is another myth, or consideration over other organizations. I mentioned that we’re here to level the playing field.

That does not mean we’re here to tilt the playing field, right, we’re here to level the playing field. What we wanna do is give these communities the ability to compete against some of the larger, more equipped local development organizations that are out there. We are not here to give them an undue advantage

Over those organizations but to give them the tools to be able to compete in the marketplace for funding. USAID does not discriminate for or against any religious organizations in the competition for USAID grants and funding. You are neither at a benefit or at a loss because you are a faith based organization

When you come to us in the competition for funding. Or receiving funding. Another myth is that we do not fund religious promotion and activities through faith based organizations. So, USAID is very careful to respect the establishment clause in our engagement with the international community, and in fact we safeguard and administer the same

Standards of the establishment clause, that there should be no law respecting an establishment of religion or compendium free exercise of religion. That’s obviously a constitutional principal that is directed towards the governance of the United States, but we take that same principle and we apply it with an equal measure in our engagement

In the international world. That means that we do not fund explicitly religious activities that’s worship, religious instruction, proselytization, and we ask from many of our organizing partners that all government funds must be utilized for a secular purpose. Religious activities that they may offer need to be done separately in both time and location

For USAID funded services. That does not mean these organizations can’t maintain their religious identity because of course they can, but we do safeguard that any American taxpayer dollar that is going to help fund these organizations that that money arrives to programming that is not specifically religious in nature.

That is humanitarian nature or is meeting our development needs. The programs we fund cannot endorse or disapprove of any religion, they may not result in any government indoctrination of religion, they may not define recipients by reference to religion, and they may not create an excessive entitlement of religion, and again those are principles

Again of the constitutional establishment clause within the United States and we aim to apply them at as even a hand as we can in the international community. So finally our expectations for the G20 Interfaith Summit, it’s not the first time that we have participated in the Summit. And so I’ll say very simply,

I’ve three simple expectations that came to mind. First of all, the first is to come with the hope of a position of leadership. We like to demonstrate the American commitment to the ongoing American to the engagement of the interfaith community in shared pursuit of human rights and global development goals.

A posture I think as well of humility. Right, we come to learn. And these type of events create an unprecedented environment in which to cross pollinate and share ideas and understand best practices and understand in a deeper way the experience of our partners around the world.

And then finally, we come with a hope of a position of innovations, to reach the sustainable developing goals of global communities to harness creative energy, enterprise innovation, seeking new paradigms and new models through technology, business partnerships, creative program design. The goal of low assistance is to end the need for it,

And this is perhaps one of the most important charges in human history, and one that deserves the best of the world’s creativity and its innovation. So we hope this will to come with the intention to keep thinking out of the box in global development solutions worldwide. Thank you. – So thank you all.

Let’s thank all of our panel, but also all of you for your attentive commitment and really, we are in a position of humility and of enormous curiosity, and recognizing that this G20 challenge is an enormously complex one, it is approaching really the global stage, and issues affecting both

Individual countries but also the world from a moral perspective. I think John’s comment is extremely apt of the moral perimeter that I think is really what we’re trying to accomplish. And it’s a very ambitious meeting that’s happening next week, delighted to have all your perspectives on it, and look forward to continuing journey.

So thank you all so much.

#G20 #Interfaith #Forum #Buenos #Aires #Religious #Perspectives #Global #Agenda

Religious and Secular Dynamics of Social Thought

– Good afternoon. Good day, whichever time zone you are. And welcome everybody to the second in a series of conversations on global religious and secular dynamics. Welcome everybody, and especially welcome Hans Joas, Professor Hans Joas, who of course is a preeminent, distinguished, German sociologist and social theorist.

It is a pleasure to have you with us today, for this conversation. Before we begin our conversation, let me go over a few of the rules. This webinar is being recorded, and eventually in a few days it will be put on our website, the Berkley Center website.

If you are registered for the conversation today, you will receive an email notifying you that the webinar is already on the website. Otherwise, you can check in a few days on the Berkley Center website and you will find it there. We will have a conversation of around 50, 55 minutes,

Going over different aspects of Hans Joas’s life work, and afterward, we will have time for Q&A with the audience, about 20, 25 minutes, so please do prepare your questions. There is a question and answer at the bottom of your screen. You should open it and write your question,

Write your name, and please indicate your affiliation. We will try to answer as many questions as possible. So without further ado, I am Jose Casanova. I am a professor in the departments of sociology and religious studies at Georgetown University, and a senior fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion,

Peace, and World Affairs, which is sponsoring this series. But also is being co-sponsored by Reset (indistinct) USA. So, welcome everybody, welcome Hans. It’s a pleasure to have you. We will cover your life work, beginning with your early work and going to your most recent work. So let’s begin with your early work.

Your first major work was the book on George Herbert Mead. Which made you famous. It became the definitive work on George Herbert Mead. The subtitle it had when it was published in English by MIT Press was: A Contemporary Reexamination of His Thought. It was the least well-known of the major pragmatists,

Along with John Dewey, William James, Silas Peirce. There had been not yet any systematic interpretation of his work; your interpretation became the definitive one. Later, you wrote a second book on pragmatism and social theory, where you expanded the analysis to other pragmatists, into your parasocial theory.

You’ve become the main interpreter of American pragmatism, and interlocutor between American pragmatism and German and European social thought. So what attracted you to American pragmatism to the point that you indicated that you fell in love with American pragmatism, so please elaborate how did you fall in love with American pragmatism?

– Well, first of all Jose, let me say what a pleasure it is to see you, and to hear all your flattering remarks, about my early writings. Yes, I mean, I said, I wrote it someplace, I’d written it someplace, that I fell in love with pragmatism, and at first,

Particularly, with the work of George Herbert Mead. I could also have said that for me, it was a kind of revelation. Now why? I think the shortest way to explain that is to refer to the German, original German title of the book on Mead, which was: Practical Intersubjectivity.

I experienced Mead as a kind of transformation of something that was of profound importance for myself, namely the Christian idea of neighborly love, or of compassion, of understanding others. Now in Mead, you find this idea transformed into something you could almost say naturalistic.

I mean, he doesn’t remain on the moral level in that sense. It would be good, too, but he studies the empirical processes in which infants, children, human beings in general, develop the ability to see the world not just through their own eyes, but also through the eyes of others,

To put it somewhat metaphorically. And I still think this is an extremely important thing on both levels, on the empirical and on the moral level, and I’m rather radical with regard to that, in the sense of we as social scientists, or maybe we as historians, really should try to understand other human beings,

And we can understand all other human beings, even those who commit the most abhorrent deeds, so to speak. So that was the starting point. Now, in an atmosphere, I would say in Germany, in which all thinking about human intersubjectivity was kind of dominated by Jurgen Habermas’s idea about rational argumentative discourse.

So for me, Mead also was a kind of alternative in that sense; I mean there is a clear similarity or parallelism here to Habermas, but it’s also a kind of alternative because Habermas has this extremely strong emphasis on the rational and linguistic dimension, whereas in Mead, human intersubjectivity is much more corporeal.

It’s not necessarily on the rational, and not on the argumentative level, and even on the linguistic level. I mean, here are other ways of expressing yourself than the rational, argumentative one, like, let’s say the poetic forms of expression. So in this first phase, I would say, I mean,

The idea was to change from an exclusive focus on rational intersubjectivity to a more practical and corporeal way of thinking. But that, of course, then led me to discover that in the works of the pragmatists, this idea of intersubjectivity is not really the absolutely crucial one.

That such a central figure like William James, you could say, didn’t have so much to say about intersubjectivity, but he’s considered, and rightly so, as one of the most important pragmatists. So I realized that Mead’s thinking about intersubjectivity is, has a more basic, underlying level also,

And for that, I used the term: creativity. It is a specific understanding of the creative dimension of human action on which the ideas of intersubjectivity are based. – So Hans, if I may connect on this point, indeed, you are not only an authoritative interpreter of American pragmatism,

But one could say you are a major pragmatist social thinker in your own right. You’ve mentioned the creativity of action. This was the title of your next major work, and obviously this work was written in critical dialog with Habermas and his theory of communicative action. But also in critical dialog with the sociologist

Talcott Parsons, and his work: The Structure of Social Action. In a way, you are trying to expand the theory of social action beyond both Habermas and Parsons. And then you wrote another major work, a major work: The Genesis of Values. That continues the very same theoretical trajectory,

Trying to understand: where do values come from? But similarly, the personal commitment to specific values. In a way, it was a way of questioning theories of value decisionism, in the Bavarian tradition, but also the Parsonian emphasis on values being embedded in social systems, through which individuals are socialized and somehow accept those values.

You put the emphasis on the contingent historicity of both. The emergence of values in a particular social-historical context, and the personal commitment to these values. So can you explain this attempt to develop a theory of social action around these two key concepts, the creativity of action and the genesis of values?

– As I said, I mean, let’s say in terms of intellectual history, the book The Creativity of Action, was indeed an attempt not to write about the American pragmatists in historical terms, so to speak, but systematically on what the relevance of their work for contemporary social theory is.

And it makes sense to compare pragmatism and my own attempt in that sense, both to Parsons and to Habermas. Now, in Parsons, one could say, and I’m mostly referring to his first book, which I personally consider his best one, namely The Structure of Social Action from 1937,

That in a certain sense, the notion of value was the crucial term for Parsons, for his critique of what he called utilitarianism, and what we today might call rational action approaches or something like that, but although value was so crucial for him as a concept, he had nothing to say

About the historical emergence of values. And now it makes sense, as you did in your question, to distinguish between the historical processes in which certain values emerge, and the processes in which a person develops his or her commitment to a value. But even in the historical processes,

When values first come into being, so to speak, such the same processes in which individuals develop their commitment are at work. I mean, if nobody ever had had the idea, where would the values ever come from? So, I realized that one has to clearly go beyond Parsons,

On this very basic level, and as I already said with regard to Habermas, I think Habermas is, so to speak, two things: a moral philosopher and political theorist, on the one hand, and particularly in the book on the theory of communicative action, a sociological theorist.

But the two goals are not identical with each other. It can be that too much interest in the normative dimension, too much interest in rationality draws your attention away from the, let’s say, from the phenomenal character of human action, so for me I try to distinguish

The two problem areas more than he did. Now, we certainly don’t have the time to develop the details of such a theory of action that focuses on creativity, but I want to say one thing about the connection between the two books you mentioned, namely The Creativity of Action and The Genesis of Values.

When you study creative processes, I think what you cannot abstract from is something like the passive dimension in creative processes. I mean, you may have a problem, so to speak, that you would like to solve, but it doesn’t help to make the decision to solve a problem. You have to have the idea

That helps you to solve the problem. And this idea, although it may come from somewhere in your own person, you experience something that is coming to you, that is given to you, as in terms like inspiration and so on, huh? You are not really the master of the creative process.

That’s true for all creative processes. Even those, let’s say, in the area of what Habermas would call: instrumental action. As an engineer who has a technical problem to solve. But that idea of passivity is also the bridge between my book on action theory and these basic ideas about the emergence of value commitments,

Because the fact is when you’re honest to yourself, that you realize for you, certain things are self-evidently good or self-evidently evil. You do not really feel the need to develop a complex rational argument in favor of that. Let’s say, an example I often use in German discussions,

That the Holocaust is evil, is not something that you have found out after long processes of reasoning, it seems self-evident to you that this is the case, and if somebody asks you for a justification for this assumption, you find this a strange person, who asks such a question.

So that’s true for all of us, I would say. All of us who have any value commitment, and there is no human being without value commitments, have come to this feeling that something is self-evidently good in processes that also have very strongly this passive dimension. I mean, the German tradition, for example,

The theologian (indistinct) used terms like: you have been captivated or seized by something. That you then articulate in quasi-rational statements or propositional statements of character. I consider this to be good, or justifiable, and so on. So that is the connection between the two, and The Genesis of Values book, of course,

Is an elaboration of this idea. Namely the attempt to offer a rich kind of analogy of human experiences, out of which such a commitment emerges. – And you expanded this argument with a historic (indistinct) over the emergence of values in history, particularly in your next major work,

On The Sacredness of the Human Person, which had the subtitle: A New Affirmative Theory of Human Rights. And this work can be viewed also as an alternative theory of negative, Nietzschean and Foucaultian genealogies of values. It makes also, or marks also, actually, the beginning of your interest on the notion of religion

As self-transcendence as an experience of being seized or captivated by something external to the self, and also we’ll get into this notion of religion and self-transcendence in a moment, but also it is the beginning of a new phase in your work, focusing on global theories of religion,

Or the global history of religion, actually, and moral universalism. So, this work, can you explain or can you give a summary of this work, the Sacredness of the Human Person? And the role it plays in your further theoretical development? – I mean, for sociologists, so to speak,

Perhaps the easiest way to start is Emile Durkheim. And of his very famous Sociology of Religion, in which I think he analyzes connective processes, in which the participants develop an emotional commitment to something that he calls the sacred. Now, we should not forget that the analysis

Of what at the time was called primitive religion, was not his only contribution, but that he was also deeply interested in contemporary types of sacralization, let’s say, in the history of modern nationalism. I mean, obviously, historical sociologists have to explain why an emotional commitment to the nation,

That may go so far that people are willing to sacrifice their lives for the national flag, for example, has not been there in human history all the time, but that it emerged at some point. And Durkheim also already had, I think, the ingenious idea that we can analyze the history

Of human rights, along this line of a growing sacralization of the individual, or as I prefer to say, of the human person. I prefer to say person, because sacralization of the individual can easily be misunderstood as the self-sacralization of individuals, eh? People who think they are the only thing that is sacred,

For them, in the world, but what we mean when we talk about human rights and ideas about universal human dignity, is something different, of course. Namely that we attribute this dignity to all human beings, whatever they have done in the sense of, you know, even, let’s say,

A murderer who has tortured his victims must not be tortured by the state, or by other people in general. So that’s the basic idea here, that we have to understand the history of human rights, as a history in which such ideas about universal human dignity have become captivating.

So we cannot write this history on the level of history of ideas, as such, but we have to write it on the level of collective processes of experience in which this becomes something that then is articulated also in theories. But the theories, so to speak, are not constitutive for what happens later.

– And this is actually what you show in your book, The Sacredness of the Human Person, which the book was actually based on the Berkley public lectures that you gave here at Georgetown. And it was publishes subsequently by Georgetown University press.

Can you elaborate a little more on the way in which you link the first proclamation of human rights around the time of the American and French Revolutions, with the anti-slavery movement, and in similar ways, the way you link the second United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights with the experience of the Holocaust.

So there seems to be, in your theory, a linkage between the notion of the positive affirmation of the sacredness of the human person, and the negative experience of violence and oppression. Can you elaborate on this link? – Yes, I just realized that I did not really respond

To one element of your previous question, namely, what you said about a non-Nietzschean, non-Foucaultian approach, so to speak, and maybe before I answer this question, I just add very few sentences. Namely that what I share with Nietzsche, so to speak, is the insight that such processes are contingent,

They happen, that they are not determined by old, previous history, so to speak. But, in Nietzsche and Foucault, and that’s what they call genealogical, but in Nietzsche and Foucault, the idea is that as soon as people recognize how contingent the existing values are, and how contingent their own commitment to values is,

These values somehow lose captivating force. And I dispute that, and that is why I call my own approach following some ideas from Paul (indistinct), affirmative genealogy, namely: although I see the historical contingency of these processes, remembering these processes might actually strengthen our commitment to them.

I mean, you mentioned the, and I came to this period. Last question now: you know, I’m fully aware of the fact that let’s say if the Holocaust hadn’t happened, and if I were not a German, maybe my interest in the history of human rights would not be so passionate.

But this insight that if things had been different, I would be different, doesn’t destroy the energy, so to speak, I put into this research endeavor. Now, actually it is true what you said. Although my explanation of the innovations of the late 18th century is a little bit different,

But in principle, what I have to look for, if I follow the methodology as I’ve briefly described it, is of course changes in the experiential context of people. That is why the abolitionist movement plays an important role in my argument, but not for the 18th century, but for the 19th century, yeah?

The important point for the 18th century, in my eyes, is first that we should get rid of the myth that the French Revolution invented the basic ideas of human rights. It is indeed true that the American Revolution preceded and influenced the French Revolution, and I follow 19th century thinkers

Who already had the idea that although the topic of religious freedom was not crucial in the context of the American Revolution, let’s say basic logical structure of human rights, is a result of the struggle for religious freedom, not just for yourself, but for all human beings.

So it’s easy to ask for freedom for yourself. But it’s a complex thing to act in favor of the same right for people whose religious or other convictions you do not share. – So this is, however, the link with your new interest and new focus of your work, for roughly the last 15,

20 years, on the global history of religion, and the emergence and trajectories of moral universalism. I have to admit that probably the seminar that we both co-directed, the so-called Young European and American Scholars Seminar on Religion and Globalization was a turning point also for me, because I was already given up,

To a certain extent, on my interest in secularization, thinking that nothing new would be said, everything had been said already. And it was this participation in this seminar, first in (indistinct) and then in North Carolina, with very, very bright, young scholars that awakened in me once again the interest

In the study of global religious dynamics. So, if we look at your works of the last 15 years, beginning with your work in collaboration with Robert Bellah, your work on: do we need religion? Where you explain your theory of religion, itself, in standards; your work on faith as option,

In which you put both religion and secularity as options for modern individuals. In particularly your two major, recent works. First, the work that was published first in German, in 2017, and that will appear very soon, at the end of the year, in Oxford University Press, with a title: The Power of the Sacred.

And then the work, (unintelligible muttering), which is going to be published also by Suhrkamp, a German publisher, at the end of the year, with the title: (speaking German). Or: Under the Spell of Freedom. Basically, in this later work, you revisit the relation between religion and freedom, as postulated by Hegel,

By looking at some 20th century thinkers that have written about this relationship. So it’s a lot of work, but all of it can somehow be put under the heading: dynamics of sacralization, and de-sacralization. Can you explain what you mean by these dynamics of sacralization and de-sacralization?

– Jose, I’m of course happy to hear that the seminar we taught together, where you clearly influenced me a lot, also, that I also exerted some influence on you, and on your further intellectual development. Maybe I can just go back to what I said with regard to Durkheim, namely, I said:

I think Durkheim is an important author for, let’s say, the dynamics of new sacralizations. I used nation and person as possible examples. Now, if we think that new sacralizations are possible, we should certainly get rid of historical narratives that describe world history in the sense of an ongoing weakening of sacredness.

And I mean, I would have much, much more to say about Max Weber’s narrative of disenchantment. So I’m simplifying things at the moment, but at least in the reception of Weber, one could say, for the moment, the narrative of disenchantment is interpreted in that sense. And I think that’s totally wrong.

There are always processes of de-sacralization, that is true, but there are also always processes of sacralization, and some people say of the migration of the sacred, or of the migration or the transfer of the holy, and I mean, there are different terminologies. So, unexpected processes of that kind, I mean,

Nobody really predicted the rise of German Nazism, for example, and the cult-like forms connected to it, in the history of the 20th century. Now, let’s say for normative reasons, since I consider myself a moral universalist, what interests me most is not just any process of sacralization, so to speak,

But the long history of moral universalism. And what you mentioned with regard to Robert Bellah and our work together, including you, on the Axial Age, is of course work on what one could consider the first historical emergence of moral universalism. I mean, and one can even turn Karl Jaspers’s

Controversial claim that there was such a thing as an Axial Age into a question, so to speak. I don’t need all the implications of his claim for my argument, like simultaneity between let’s say China and the Middle East or something like that, but one can turn it into the question:

Where did moral universalism come into being? When did it come into being? Why did it come into being? And so on. So that interests me a lot, and I would have a lot to say about that, but of course that is just, let’s say, the first breakthrough of the idea

That there is empirically and normatively such a thing as mankind. That when I think about the justifiability of my action, the highest criterion is not: is it good for me, my family, my tribe, my people, my nation, my religious community? But is it good for all human beings, including maybe

Future generations that have not even been born ye? And after this Axial Age, or whether you call it Axial Age or not, but after this first breakthrough, of course, you have to study the processes in which such ideas became canonized, for example. How these processes of canonization into acts

With political power, because canonization always implies some power, at least within the religious community, but maybe much farther than that, and beyond its limits, so for me, the studies about the Axial Age, the two books I’ve actually written about the history of human rights, and still unpublished lectures

I gave in Wiemar as so-called Friedrich Nietzsche Fellow, on Gandhi and others, and Martin Luther King, in the 20th century, as extremely important, and rich articulations of the ethos of moral universalism. And why did they emerge and why did they be successful, so to speak?

All this is connected in this idea of a global genealogy of moral universalism, and in this global genealogy of moral universalism that nobody can write in a sense of a complete history of that, yeah? You can only reconstruct crucial points of that. History, I think, is the alternative

To the Weberian narrative of disenchantment, and since you mentioned Hegel, and since Hegel plays an important role in my most recent book that will come out in December in German, and Hegel’s narrative according to which somehow the world history of religion leads to Christianity, and Christianity somehow, particularly in its

Protestant version, leads to modern political freedom, I think that’s a myth and perhaps nobody would defend it as this myth today, but it is still extremely influential in the minds of people and even some leading intellectual figures. – Since you’ve been referring to Max Weber,

You serve actually as the director of the Max Weber Kolleg in Erfurt, for several years, and now you serve as the distinguished Ernst Troeltsch Professor at Humboldt University in Berlin. One could say in your later work, you have become much closer to Ernst Troeltsch and more critical of Max Weber.

And somehow this is related with your interest in historicism, and the problems for moral relativism with historicism, usually presents. Actually, the (indistinct) rift, written in your honor, at your 60th anniversary, a collection of essays to which I also contributed, had the title in German: Between Pragmatism and Historicism.

These being the two intellectual traditions within which one can say your own work is somehow related. So can you tell us more about your relation to Ernst Troeltsch, your interest, late interest in the work of Ernst Troeltsch, and also to a certain extent to answer those who argue that historicism leads,

Necessarily, to moral relativism? – It’s funny what you say, that I was the Max Weber Professor for nine years, and now I have been the Ernst Troeltsch Professor for six years. It’s funny, for those people who know that Max Weber and Ernst Troeltsch lived in one and the same house

For many years, in Heidelberg, and were very close together in a certain sense- (audio distorting) Had a major conflict in 1915 and nobody knows exactly why their friendship ended then. Now for me, as for most sociologists, and I would say for most people, at least non-theologians,

For a long time, Troeltsch was just a kind of version of the Weberian thinking, and you could, in the secondary literature, you can find many descriptions that say, let’s say Max Weber was this extremely also polemical author with clear, and sharp statements. And Troeltsch was milder and in that sense more liberal,

And so on. But in principle, they seem to have said the same thing. Now, I dispute that, and for me, I would say in my life, he is the second author, after the student, or this encounter with George Herbert Mead in my student days, he’s the second author

Who I experienced as a kind of revelation. Namely, I think in very fundamental ways what he has done differs from Max Weber and differs from Max Weber in crucial respects. Now, one could elaborate all that, with regard to many topics. Maybe I just mentioned the two 1,000-page books that Troeltsch published.

One is a kind of 1,000-page history of Christianity. But certainly not written in the spirit of a history of disenchantment, secularization and so on. But with an interest in the question: how can Christianity remain vital? How can it be justified intellectually, in the present, but also what has to change,

Organizationally, to make it vital again if it is in a kind of crisis? Now, you were referring to the other main book, one could say, a book that is practically unknown in the English-speaking world, because it has never been translated into English, Historicism and Its Problems.

It is fortunate that I know the translator. He has just finished the translation, so it, and I have written the preface to the American edition, so I will come out in English, and I personally think this will change many things, so to speak, also in the perception of Max Weber.

Now, with regard to historicism, I mean, Weber is famous for making a very strict distinction you could say, between empirical study and the clarification of evaluative questions. And he does that with a lot of emphasis, so to speak, that nothing follows out of your empirical studies.

You have to reflect on your own values, so to speak, and you have to decide in favor of your own values that then have an existential meaning for you, and of course, everything you do, empirically, is somehow driven by your values. Now, in Troeltsch, I think, I personally think

He’s much more sophisticated at that point. Namely that when we reflect on the values we already feel committed to, we necessarily get into the empirical realm. I mean, I have to ask the question: where do my values come from, in an autobiographical sense, and in a historical sense?

So I cannot so clearly mark and make a distinction here between the two, but there is a connection. Now, the idea of a history of moral universalism is also the way out of the dilemma that you are alluding to when you say: how can you be a historicist, without becoming a relativist?

I mean, what Troeltsch was thinking, and what other of my main heroes, so to speak, like Paul (indistinct) certainly, also, have had in their minds is that I am, I’m acting in a present, on the basis of a past, and in anticipation of a future.

And when I see myself as such a potential actor in a present, I reconstruct history as having led to the situation in which I now find myself. And I draw from history, as I said before when I explained this term, affirmative genealogy, a certain strength for my commitment to values.

This is not an uncritical, selective attitude to history, but it is an awareness that I was not born with my values. That I cannot speak about my values without getting into the terrain of narration, so to speak. I have to explain to people why I find certain things

Deeply convincing, and as soon as I do that, they can argue with me, both about on the narrative level, let’s say they can say: the last time, you told me a different story about yourself. Or last time, you described German history in a different way and so on.

And they can argue with me on the normative level and say: no, I dispute the, what you derive from your experience, or what you derive from historical fact, but there is an intertwinement of our reasoning about history, and our reasoning about our values. – So coming now to our final question.

One of the like motifs, precisely, of your work, has been the relation between the sacred and violence. Between the positive experience of faith as self-transcendence, and what you call its perverted brother of the traumatic experience of violence. If we can bring this in relation to contemporary developments, in 1795,

On your first trip to the United States, when you were digging in American libraries in search of the key to your interpretation of the work of George Herbert Mead, on the one hand, you encountered both, the promise and achievements of American democracy, which are so crucial in understanding the philosophy

Of American pragmatism, but also its perverted manifestation in massive poverty and social inequality, racism, criminality, violence, and social decay. For over 20 years, you’ve been coming regularly, every year as a visiting professor to the department of sociology and to the committee on social thought at the University of Chicago.

How do you see, in this relation, the contemporary intertwinement of the disastrous American response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the widespread societal support for the Black Lives Matter movement? – First, my interest in violence, yes, but it has not mostly been an interest, let’s say, in individual violence, crime.

But in macro violence, eh? War, and the Holocaust. And what I found, the really challenging thing, in connection with my work about religion and experience and so on, is that perpetrators of violence sometimes enjoy the violence they commit. And so I’ve written a theory in one of my two books on war

About this fact; that’s what I call the perverted brother. Namely, that when what is characteristic for religious experience and for the experience that leads to all sorts of value commitments, including secular values, is what I call self-transcendence. Namely that you feel captivated by something that draws you beyond the boundaries of yourself,

Something similar happens in acts of violence. But similar only in the sense of that. In other respects, it is radically different, of course. While you may open yourself to the other, in let’s say, positive experiences like love, the boundaries of yourself are opened by others, using force against your will.

And that leads us to recognizing strange parallels between let’s say the need we feel when we had an ecstatic experience, namely, to articulate it and to share it with others. And our inability to talk about traumatic events in our life, and the long and slow process

That we have to go through to become able to articulate these experiences. Now, so that was the first part of your question on violence. Now, my experience of the US and particularly one could say in connection with your question of the South Side in Chicago, it is true

That when I and my wife first arrived there, in 1975, we could hardly believe what we saw. I mean, the degree of poverty. The, the, yeah, the way, the whole situation was broken, so to speak, we could hardly believe that. And I could talk for hours about the intensity

And the shocking character of this. I mean, given the fact that we came and I would call myself and my wife something like ardent defenders of the social democratic welfare state, I could hardly believe that this is true. And of course, at the time, and with a somewhat idealized

Image of American democracy in mind, I thought this is a problem that exists right now, but this is such a great country, they will certainly be able to solve that problem in the coming years. Now I must say, that this was not true. Although things constantly change, I mean,

The character of specific street changes, the University of Chicago may buy some buildings, adjacent to the campus, so to speak, in principle, not much has changed. And even under President Obama, to be honest, I’m very disappointed in this regard, not much has changed. So I certainly experienced the current Black Lives Matter

Movement as perhaps, nobody knows that yet, a crucial step forward in that regard. Although, I would also like to add that the mechanisms for the long term, let’s say suppression, of the urban poor in the United States, and of the Black urban poor, are probably more complex

Than the mere term “racism” is able to express. – So Hans, thank you so much for all these insights and ideas. We can now move to the question and answer period. We have about 25 minutes. Let me begin with a question from Professor Bill Barbary

From Catholic University of America, who says: Hi, Hans. Here is my question for you today. In light of your comments about affirmative genealogy, and your own historical and existential location, I wonder how you think your development of critical alternatives to Habermas and Weber has been saved

By the fact that in contrast to these two thinkers, you are not unmusical when it comes to religion. – Yeah, let’s say, as a religious person, in an extremely secularized environment, I mean me being Catholic, living in Berlin, to put it concretely, of course,

If you are not, let’s say, excluded from secular dominated intellectual discourse, you are constantly confronted with the question: but how? Why are you a believer? Where does your faith come from? And so on. And so I’m used to answer these questions, so to speak, on an autobiographical level.

Now, I will not get into that, but the abstract conclusion from that is: nobody in a highly individualized culture can answer this question by simply referring to his or her childhood background. You definitely have to say that you, in your own life, had certain experiences that either, let’s say, strengthened your original commitment,

Or that brought you to such a strong commitment. And this structure, how do we speak about the origin of our basic commitments? That is exactly that, what I defended methodologically a few minutes ago. Now I am saying: but this is not only true for religious people.

It is true for people with a strong emotional commitment to secular values as well. They cannot say: I came to my commitment to, let’s say, a secular understanding of human rights just through reasoning. They have to admit that something happened in their lives that made them so intensely committed.

And so I derive from the fact that I have a religious biography a kind of structure of possible argumentation for our value commitments, and this possible argumentation for value commitments is different from Habermasian, rational argument about cognitive, and he would say normative, validity claims. – There is a related question coming from

Sergio Gader, a Jesuit and PHD student at the Hochschule für Philosophie in Munich. And he asks: would you elaborate on the connection between transcendence and the absolute or the sacred, and the normativity of values, in the sense and the relationship you find between religion and morality

And whether there has been an evolution in your perspective on this relationship in your recent work? – Okay, that’s a complex question, or a complex of questions, I would say. Maybe first I say: please bear in mind that in my terminology that may be a little bit unfortunate,

But I will not change my terminology now, after decades, so to speak. There is a difference between self-transcendence and transcendence. Self-transcendence, for me, is a descriptive psychological term, applied to the processes in which people have the experience that something draws them beyond the boundaries of their self.

Transcendence is a kind of metaphysical term, namely a sharp distinction between the mundane and something different, called the transcendent. That is not given in the whole course of human history, but that like moral universalism and in the certain connection with moral universalism, emerged at certain points and in history,

Like in the Axial Age. Now with regard to norms, I make a rather strict distinction between values and norms; values for me, are attractive. Norms are restrictive. Now, we certainly derive restrictive norms from our values. My favorite example to illustrate that is, even if I’m purely, let’s say, attracted by somebody.

Like, in love and friendship. Something restrictive follows from this attraction. Nobody can say: I have a very close commitment to this friendship, now my friend is sick; I don’t care. But if I do care, something follows from that. I will not do certain things I might have enjoyed.

Because I will visit this friend, help this friend, or whatever. So we derive normative restrictive things from our values. But the values are not the only and exclusive source of normativity; I follow Piaget and others, Mead, for example, in also thinking that the structures of action, themselves, have normative implications,

Like the rules of fairness and so on. So, there is a very complex interplay of values and norms in our individual lives, and in history. So ideas about transcendence in the metaphysical sense, for example, probably lead to ideas about humanity in the sense of mankind and moral universalism,

But how exactly we translate these ideas about the reference point, mankind, into specific moral or legal norms, depends on many intervening processes that I cannot spell out within a second. – A related question comes from Paolo Costa, from the Bruno Kessler Foundation in Trento, Italy. Namely: do you see the COVID-19 pandemic

As a collective limit experience, that could lead to the genesis of new values? – Yeah, Paolo, this is a very good question. I recently said in an interview that what is so striking about this pandemic is that in one crucial respect, it differs from other societal crises.

In general, I assume that a societal crisis, let’s say a major depression, a war, collapse of a regime and so on, in a sense that brings people closer together. At least, particular groups of people. I mean, not denying that there may be very hostile relationships among different groups,

But within those groups, people come closer together. They identify with each other in such a difficult situation. Now, in this pandemic, what is lacking is exactly the opportunity to come closer together. One could put that in the literal sense, so it makes us more lonely. And not more collective.

And I really do not know, and I do not want to make unfounded predictions, what the result of a crisis is that isolates people in the corporeal sense, from each other instead of producing a kind of enthusiastic public. In that sense, I’m also less optimistic than others,

Who think that this crisis is, might be, a turning point in the direction of more solidarity. But actually, I do not know, and it is probably too early to judge. And we have to bear in mind that the societal conditions differ very much from country to country.

I mentioned before, speaking about the South Side in Chicago, that I’m an ardent defender of the welfare state. I think that the current crisis also, I mean, at least for me, strengthens the commitment to the welfare state; the crisis is much less dramatic under conditions of a welfare state than it is

If the welfare state is as weak as it is in the US. – Then we have a very broad question from Andrew Condon. Do you feel that in this time of technological, digital socialization, the notion of transculturalism faces some impact on the adoption of intersubjectivity as a theory?

– Again, I’m not totally sure that I understand the question. But I certainly think that, under present conditions, we do not live in one culture, exclusively. But that our contact with people from other cultures and the availability of elements from other cultures has become much stronger and that affects intersubjectivity,

But in the sense of a greater challenge, so to speak. I mean, it’s certainly easier to understand people, with whom you share many cultural features than people who you first experience as being very far from your own cultural background. On the other hand, that is exactly what may make these encounters more fascinating.

– So, Hans, my dear friend, I would like to thank you very, very much, for your willingness to participate in this conversation, which for me, really, really was fascinating. And I would also like to thank the entire audience, everybody who came and participated in the webinar, for their interest.

Thank you so much to everybody. And at this point, I would like to announce that the next conversation, our third conversation in our series on global religious and secular dynamics is scheduled for August 16th, again, a Thursday at the same time, at 12:30, with the Turkish French sociologist Nilufer Gole.

We will be discussing her work on Islam (indistinct) in Turkey, in France, and throughout Europe. So, I hope to welcome many of you to this webinar. Thank you so much and goodbye.

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Global Religious and Secular Dynamics

– Good afternoon, everybody. And welcome to the first in a discussion series on Global Religious and Secular Dynamics. My name is Jose Casanova and I’m a sociologist, Professor of Sociology and Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at Georgetown University as well as a Senior Fellow at the Berkeley Center

For Religion, Peace and World Affairs, which sponsors these series. Good afternoon here in the East Coast where both Charles Taylor and I am but I know some of you is good morning in the West Coast, for others is good evening in Europe in the Middle East

Goodnight in Asia and even past midnight in Australia. Welcome all. We are fortunate to have as the first speaker in our series, in our conversations, the great living philosopher, Canadian, Quebecker Charles Taylor. Charles, welcome to our conversation. We are going to have a conversation between both of us,

We are going to cover four topics, The Secular Age, The Crisis of Democracy, Linguistic Anthropology or Global Human Condition in a Catholic Modernity. It will be first conversation perhaps a bit superficial, but I think that it blends well key aspects of Charles Taylor’s life work. After our conversation, we’ll have a 20 minute

Period for question and answer. And so please, you have there a chat. And you can write your questions and answers. And we’ll try to give you the opportunity to for Charles Taylor to respond. Without further ado, Charles, good afternoon. Again, it’s a great pleasure to have you with us,

It will be much better if we could be physically together. But this is a still a substitute is important that we keep socially connected an intellectual conversation under those conditions of physical distance. So again, let’s begin with “A Secular Age.” This is a book that obviously made you famous beyond philosophy.

It became almost you could say an intellectual best seller. Did you expect such a response to the book “A Secular Age” when you were writing? – No, I didn’t, I thought it would be largely ignored by most people but just specialists in the field might find some interesting ideas.

You remember, when we worked it out together, I finished the draft in discussions with you and Hans Joas very intensely in Berlin. And I thought then it’s a continuation of that kind of discussion among sociologists and philosophers. And suddenly, to my surprise it– – Well, it certainly went beyond anybody’s expectation

And I’m so pleased that it happened. So now one of the concepts you develop in the book you had already begun developing, is this of the imminent frame. Explain what we what we mean by the imminent frame. And how is it connected with our secularize.

– Yes, well, I’m trying to get out there they what we all understand that we all understand. People’s understanding of what they share in their understanding of their situation. Now if you go back to the Middle Ages, Early Modern Period in Europe, there was a biblical story that everyone accepted

There was a fight between different versions of Christianity, there was a sense that we also lived in a Cosmos with moral orders that the various kingdoms and so on were based on these cosmic realities et cetera. And today, it’s really very, very different. What we all understand, that we all understand

Across all civilizations, is roughly speaking the natural science view of the natural world, the sense that our different societies have all been created by human beings at a certain time revolutions and so on. The sense that we live in in man’s timeframe, stretching back unimaginably millions of years

And in the evolution of the universe then we have different positions within that we some of us are into certain faiths. Others are against faith and so on. But everybody understands that that’s what everybody understands starting point. And that’s what I call the, if you like the frame

And I call an imminent frame because it’s elements are totally imminent and they transcend. – So okay, so this the imminent frame meaning is based on horizontal institutions, without any reference to transcendence? They all operate as if God would not exist, right? But as if there was none directly. And obviously, in Europe,

The emergence of this imminent frame, perhaps because it was there that you could be develop had very negative consequences for the survival of traditional forms of Christianity. The spectation was that is the imminent frame becomes globalized to other civilizations, the same will happen, the same process of decline of religion, and basically,

Rather, purely secular is the only option of normal life could also happen. But this has not been the case. So how can we explain that within such an imminent frame, such a diversity of possibilities of global religious and secular dynamics are possible? – Yeah, well, I think he was to turn it around

Why should that change people’s mind? It means, of course, that one’s religious faith is in a quite different context. I mean, think of religious faith 16th century world of magic, of magic forces, God is a being that could defend us against that. But it’s perfectly possible to turn it around

And say within this imminent frame, people are searching for meaning, they’re searching for a sense of what human beings can become, how they can grow and so on. And some people are gonna see that growth, that development, that journey towards something greater in terms of religious faiths,

And indeed, what we find in the imminent frame now is a tremendous growth and diversification of different ideas of what the spiritual development is. So it’s in a sense, it’s a different context it inflects all faith positions differently but it doesn’t rule out the possibility of faith quite the contrary. – Right.

And yet you in your lifetime you’ve experienced personally the rate transformation of Quebecker Society from being a uniformly Catholic, and then suddenly almost a homogeneous radically secular. So it seems that Quebec is almost a confirmation of the European notion of a self fulfilling prophecy of secular modernity.

And yet, we see the parallel to that in Latin America, you see, the transformation of the societies, their own silent revolutions, leading into all kinds of religious pluralism. So how do we explain under which conditions then one seems to, this imminent frame it seems to lead to homogeneous secularity.

And when does it open up the possibility for precisely all forms of pluralism? – Yeah. Well you see if the previous period in which there was this sole unanimous belief in this case, the Catholic Church in Quebec, if it was a period in which people really suffered is certain kinds of restriction, oppression

Being forced to do things they didn’t want to do and so on, then, the change in the global understanding of where we are at, is seen as a possibility, where we can get rid of all this, we can throw it all away. And that’s what of course,

Was lived in my society in Quebec. But if you take a society on the other end of the spectrum, like the United States, which in a sense became plural, roughly around the time of the Great Awakening or the Great Awakenings, maybe the second one in the early 19th century

Then it’s a quite different situation. And so you see these very, very different ways of responding and again, and in the Latin American case in Brazil and so on it’s something different again what’s clear in all these cases is you get plural pluralism, glorification, growth of different possibilities. And that exists here too,

Because in the generation after the one that threw the church out there are young people that are saying, “well, what are we gonna do with our lives?” Well, I mean, we’re searching for some kind of meaning for some kind of, in some cases, spiritual growth and that’s happening in all sorts of ways.

So it depends if the experience prior to pluralism was very negative, then it’s reached to this rejection of religion. – Right. So it seems that it’s also, as you point out a radical transformation. Pluralism was viewed as a negative fact these what explains the Wars of Religion. Nobody could imagine the possibility of

Different religious beliefs in the same society. There had to be homogeneity, thus the Westphalian model. While we’ve moved from this model, it was for plurality of beliefs, which are heresies, or false doctrines to a positive recognition of plurality is a positive development into pluralism to which extent this is one of the factors

Of our global condition recognition of a kind of hereditament plurality, especially in the field of the world system of religions. – Yes, well, I think that this has causes its reactions and we have various parts of the world in which is still thought to be a disaster

So now it’s thought as something that has to be stamped out and really, you know, very, very tight discipline. If you look at the evolution of a society like Pakistan, It’s really very, very worrying. But it’s very much a lesson of that, Pakistan was started with the idea of

An Islamic state that was Islamic State culturally that was connected to the culture of the moguls and so on. And it’s slowly evolved towards a state that is permitting people, Islamic in the narrowest possible sense of Wahhabi time discipline around, they’re a very narrow notion of the Sharia.

So you get people who are on death row, now for being accused of blasphemy and so on. So there are reactions to this kind of pluralism in various parts of the world. And they become in a certain sense, even more viciously narrow (laughs) than the original, raw, the conformist societies that–

– But of course, paradox here is that we know the Jinnah the founder of the idea of Pakistan himself was really an atheist. He didn’t take Islamic religion seriously. Muslim identity yes but not Islamic beliefs. – Even worse than that, he was a member of a sect

That would be probably victims of drive by killings of Ultra Shia sect, and yet he’s still revered. There’s a kind of tremendous cognitive distance in Pakistan so he was both not really a believer but he was connected to a sect which is considered not really Islamic anymore, by most, anyway, lots of Pakistanis.

– These resets to the next topic of The Crush of Democracy and to a large extent it has also to do with attempts to impose the kind of religious or ethno-religious homogeneity, that of course, was also the mother of Westphalia this is what happened in Europe

And to to a large extent, there has been a tragic repetition of this model of ethno-religious uniformity for the sake of the nation or state and of religious nationalism, this is one of the crisis of democracy. But there are many others which have to do with even populist rejections of liberal democracy

In the West, you’ve been working with your friends with Craig with Philip on a new book, precisely analyzing this crisis of democracy and how we can somehow respond to it. You’ve been involved in democracy both as a political thinker but also as an activist, you’re one of the founding members

Of the New Democratic Party of Canada, you have been a social democrat before Bernie Sanders was a social democrat. And to a certain extent, you’ve been always very much involved both intellectually but also politically involved in democracy. So how do you see our contemporary moment and what is the fundamental for you the most fundamental crisis of democracy today? – Well, I think the faith of Western democracy

The crisis is the rise of what we call not really very apathetic populism, And that is, there is a sense among the idea that one has to mobilize the people defined as ordinary people who are not part of the elites but the mobilization is around extremely

As you say, extremely narrow, and notions of identity and that exclude others that exclude people with varieties of ways of approaching. And I think that this has different sources. One of the sources in our Western societies has been that a lot of ordinary people were neglected in the era you might see

A new liberalism where there was globalization carried through without a concern for whether they were victims losers as well as gainers from this without any attempt to inflect the gains so that makes sure that everybody was on board and I think the United States is a key example

Of that kind of cause where the society moved more and more towards galloping inequality and tremendous deprivation and that’s one of the things that could easily turn into populism. Then if you go to the other end of the Western world and you look at a country like Poland, it’s somewhat different,

Is that they have this experience of their nationalism, which is very much linked with the Catholic church or older now, ideally the Catholic Church, suppressed for years for decades under communist regime. And so when the liberation comes back, it’s easier to argue by people who have this kind of view that

That’s really what Poland is all about and that it’s not about being open, liberal, plural and so on. So there are different kinds of origin of this thing but it happens that we are in a, I don’t know why, in a constellation in the world in which these bad movements are winning

And even India is not connected to the Western world at all. Indian democracy is moving in a very worrying direction with Modi with a kind of very narrow notion of Hindu persecuting the largest minority, the second largest Muslim society in the world in terms of population has just

Had a law passed where doesn’t recognize Muslims as Indian citizens. So, we have this– – You mentioned Poland, what is to me evident in these contemporary regime in Poland is a very clear critique of rule of law, of justice former justice by experts but also of liberalism, for in the name

Of majoritarian democracy. So you get a affirmation of the rule of the majority but without concern for minority rights and without concern really for a fundamental constitutional order that protects everybody. To me, it’s a dissociation of three elements of democracy that were also separate in the 19th century. Liberals used to be anti-democrats,

Democrats used to be anti-liberals. And you will have a rule of law in Prussia that was neither liberal nor democrat. So part of the problem and we see it in Trump is very majoritarian rule without any also concern for institutions, legal institutions rule of law, and also a certain totally dis-concern

For the rights of minorities. So to which extent is a fundamental problem today how to bring together because one understands a critique of liberal elites, but in the critiques of basically pure expertise, legal formalist but when it goes to undermining the fundamental legal constitutional structures and minorities, professional minorities rights

Then there is a fundamental problem. So to which extent this is a fundamental issue today? – I think it’s absolutely fundamental but how to defeat it is the big question. What powers it, is a sense of the national identity, which is very much this in a narrow sense

It anchored in mostly in the past, and a tremendous fear. So the fear around losing that is what makes all these illiberal regimes try to make their power irreversible. So what you see in all of them in Hungary, they succeeded in doing that. In Poland, the fight now is that they,

You know, the reigning party is trying to change the judicial system, fire judges and so on. The idea is to make it irreversible what you see in the Trump regime with the Republicans in the United States Well, Republicans in general have been trying to have this kind of irreversibility

By both suppressing and so on. And in the case of Trump who go to any length to make sure that he doesn’t get turned out, there’s completely abandon the idea of as a democratic society, which well, we rule for a while, and then you take over

And you rule for a while but you open the possibility of it continuing. So how you undermine that immense fear around a certain identity which makes it just inconceivable or horrible to think that one could ever change. That is the big challenge today. – And of course, too, as you point out

The growing, global problem of growing economic inequality and social inequality to these we are the global pandemic and it is also precisely made clear manifest the consequence of these inequalities but then in has produce a retrenching towards presenting national autarkic you know almost Americantlism right even the European Union,

Closing its inner borders once again abandoning the Schengen model and retracting to a purely national a unit Black Lives Matter protest that under those conditions despite the fear of well contagion, you have people risking their health for the sake of an idea, is not any more simply Blacks,

African Americans, but now you see a very wide spread other populations supporting the both participating but also majority of the American population supporting the demonstration. So do you see here a point of influx or revitalization of democracy? – Yes, I think I do. And, you know, there was one good thing

That came from the COVID crisis, one good thing, which was in many, many societies an immense wave of solidarity which precisely bridged the divisions in many cases that existed before. And I think that that sense of solidarity greater solidarity you know, we’re faced with the same crisis,

With the same danger, with the same enemy, as it were. People said, the beginning is like a wartime and I think that’s very true. It’s like the, you know, declaration of wartime, which I was old enough to remember in the Second World War, when a lot of lines of division were closed

Because people thought we have a common enemy and we have to get together and fight them. And I think that that stronger sense of solidarity is partly explaining the wonderful reaction to the killing of George Floyd I mean, it’s partly the horrible scene in which he was killed.

But I think it’s also because there’s a sense that we have to hang together now we have to create a kind of unity and that’s why, not just in the United States but worldwide in Canada and elsewhere there is this very strong feeling, no we can’t carry on like this

With these kinds of hierarchical views of who really matters. And we have to do something about it. I think that comes from the very context of the COVID crisis in which it arose. – Right, especially the realization to the extent to which discriminated racial minorities have been disproportionately impacted

By this inequality, by the crisis when this is big. This is a very positive aspect. For me the fundamental question remains however, that the answers have been purely national so far and we know that these crises are global crises that required also transnational solidarity, also in their response.

And so part of the problem I see today is that we can innovate transnational international structure partly because of the United States that was the leader abandoned it, and partly because of the growth of authoritarian regimes in China, in Russia, in India, et cetera that are not interested in creating these transnational structures.

So the point is, to which extent we need to go beyond internal democracy precisely towards developing a structures of transnational solidarity because it’s not only the global pandemic, it’s of course, the global ecological crisis, is a crisis of global refugees, is the crisis of base, equally global inequality.

None of these problems can be solved in one single country. If you associate democracy in one country is not possible today, for economic reasons for many reasons. So how can we go both reinforce national democracies to make them lively and that responsive to people,

But at the same time be able to transcend them? So how can we do that? – Well, I think we have some of the basis for doing that in the way we’ve responded to the the Coronavirus crisis, because the idea is we want, first of all the solidarity within the society.

But secondly, the idea that here’s something really overriding our normal concerns for my own prosperity or my own job and so on. It’s something that goes beyond that. And that can only be fought on an international level. So you could imagine we could emerge from this

With a sense that yeah, we have to pull together not only within societies, but between societies. And we could start a new kind of movement, which would mean that we would have a more effective fight against global climate change as well. Then what tells against that

Is that we’ve spent a tremendous amount of money, rightly keeping people afloat, who’ve lost their jobs or businesses that couldn’t function and so on. And I know there’ll be people who will be saying at the end of all this, if ever there is an end to all this

“look, we’re so much in debt, “we can’t possibly afford a program “of really fighting for global, “against global climate change, and so on.” And I think Left and Right are gonna line up as we leave this crisis around that issue. Does this I mean, one thing is to say

What it showed us that we were terribly unprepared to face this kind of thing ’cause we ran down our health systems or old folks homes and so on, let’s never do that again. And the other response would be well, Oh be spend so much money, we’re so much in debt.

We can’t afford it. So let’s run the beam further down in order to get back to our level of production before the crisis. And I think we, you know, I don’t know exactly who is gonna win this battle. (laughs) I know it’s not long but we have a real chance

We have a real chance because of what’s the mindset created in the crisis of doing the right thing or once. (laughs) – But there was a time, obviously, where you talk over international social democracy in Europe, it gave a new light to European Union beyond what had originally been at least

A democratic project. But now really, really social democracy transnational is in serious crisis throughout Europe we see it. And so, how can we somehow recover this tradition and how can we revitalize it for our contemporary global condition? I’m not sure but obviously, you’ve been at this fight for a long time.

So do we have any idea of how– – We need new kinds of alliances in a way. there were moments in our history, like the New Deal, the first New Deal of the United States was a recreation of a new kind of alliance to fight a crisis that hadn’t existed before.

And people are talking now in the United States about our Green New Deal (laughs) that’s the same idea. But in countries of Europe, we have to have a new alignment. I mean, for instance, in Germany, it has to be an alignment of various Left parties and the Greens.

You know, the Greens are a very important possible vehicle. This when you think of the election of Bavaria last year that a lot of the votes lost by the Right wing went to the Greens. So it won’t be simply a social democratic or in France, a Socialist Party has virtually disappeared.

But it could be a realignment which produces a new situation, a new political course and I think the possibility is there the were a lot of young people are at in all our societies at this point, politically is they’re ready to move in that direction

But we have to be creative in bringing about the new kinds of alignments. – And if we can move now to your life work, you’ve basically been a consistent critique of what could be called any form of naturalism. Naturalism, your first critique in your book, “The Explanation of Behavior” in 1963, 64,

Against precisely the model of the natural sciences to understand human societies from the social science, human sciences. You develop a critique of communitarian critique of liberalism, which has also some of these elements a critique of purely formalist epistemologies and now in your new book, “The Language Animal,”

A book which I do recommend everybody to read this the book that at the base of which you receive one of the last big prizes, right? You got the Templeton Prize and the Kyoto Prize, the Kluge Prize together with Jürgen Habermas from the Library of Congress and then the Berggruen Prize

Now this is a book in which you tried to it’s called “The Language Animal” very clearly we are could be called “The Language Mammal” we are an animal species, and the attempt to any type of epistemology any type of understanding of reason, which is disembodied and dis-embedded from social context will not work.

The subtitle is the “Full Shape of the Human Linguistic Capacity” and you develop as a critique of you put two different types of linguistic anthropology one right HLC, Hobbes Locke Condillac and then the three aids of German romanticism, Harmond Humbolt Hargen. What do you mean by this critique of a purely,

Designative theory of language that only is an utensil is again, useful, but really is not considerative of fascist humans. Can you explain? – You see the Hobbes, Locke, Condillac all those three thinkers, what they were interested in language for was language enables us to formulate information,

You know, record it and communicate it to others. They were thinking always of how does it help us build a science of the world right, and their followers in the modern analytic philosophy, theories of language with a certain number of very important changes really introduced by Fregean

Are really focusing on the same thing. But if you look at human beings in language, just obvious that it’s doing other things for us. It’s I mean, if you look at art, if you look at literature, if you look at the role of metaphor, incidentally, metaphor is the enemy for Hobbes

And Locke and Condillac their customs say, you know, this is their confusing science if you use this word for that. See, but metaphor, we live by metaphors but also what language does, is it relates us to each other. So we thinking of linguistic anthropologists like Michael Silverstein in Chicago

Who really shown that language creates a communication between people and therefore sets up all kinds of relations of people including hierarchical relations between people and so you know, a when I was a kid in Quebec everybody, we used to speak to our parents with the familiar with French tu.

And they would speak to us with vous. And between classes, it was also like that, right? And we’ve had a revolution in the modern world in which people have struggled against that. And in places like Sweden, I understand everyone calls her What else tu or do now, right?

So what is language doing here? Language is framing how people relate to each other. And it does all sorts of things of this kind all sorts of functions in human life other than simply collecting information, building sciences, which is not to say that that’s not important is tremendously important.

But you have to see this capacity, scientific capacity as it were placed within a much broader range. That’s why I use that, you know, subtitle “The Full Range of the Human Linguistic Capacity.” I wanted to bury that kind of theory once and for all. – So let’s talk about the global pandemic

And how these reinforces these issues on the one hand, our embeddedness in the live world of nature and the violence we are part of the live world and so on, right? Then the other the lack of communication or the physical separation but then the connectivity through media but one of the strengths

Of the new media is of course, the focus on artificial intelligence and big data the kind of thing that precisely reinforces the other notion of reduced linguistic capability. So, to which extent what we are doing now, despite doing it through media, it still is able to reinforce this notion

Of a linguistic capacity goes beyond precisely gathering information, big Data, are purely a kind of mechanistic artificial intelligence that machines are more rational than we are and therefore they are better than we are. So what are the lessons of the pandemic in this respects? – Well, I think that, you know,

They, there’s a perpetual temptation it’s a great technological temptation to be able to reduce everything to machine intelligence and so on. And I think we’re gonna find with the pandemic, it’s gonna work in both directions for exactly the usual reasons that there’s a certain kind of mindset,

Which is gonna say, “well, let’s you know, “let’s have a systems of control “working out what people should be allowed to do “or not do, by machine intelligence.” And then they’re going to be other people who are saying, “well, these are never going to work “because human beings have to be

“brought to motivated towards have to “in virtue of the certain notions of “what they owe to other people in their society,” like the sense of solidarity we have today that’s an important part of it. And you can’t talk about a machine intelligence which is feels Solidarity.

I mean, you can’t talk about a machine that feels anything That’s why there’s a perpetual fall back falling short of these claims that are made for artificial intelligence. Now, there are certain needs that it really can very well do it can, you know, like, can calculate, calculate in a much more quickly than ordinary human beings. But there are certain functions

That it just can’t take over. So what we get is, in my long life, I’ve seen there are booms and busts. There was a theory of psychology which was a behaviorist when I was younger and I wrote a book saying it was no good. And it collapsed.

And I thought for a moment I did it, but I didn’t do it. It collapse of its own weight. But then people who have a mechanistic mindset needed something so they found the computer. Oh, the computer that’s it, nothing, simply looking at behavior but looking at the computers

And there’s a whole wave of that and then that collapsed. And then you see there is this motivation always to find a certain mindset. It’s the kind of Cartesian being masters and possessors of nature mindset that pushes people and we’re going to have this series of booms and busts,

Booms and busts, booms and busts. But there’s always going to be a version Of the mechanistic outlook, which is riding high. – Let’s move then onto the question of different narratives. Precisely, it’s not only that we need feelings and machines, but also narratives are parts of what is constitute of ourselves in group identities, and as you point out in your big, big narrative

Of a secular aids, the question is not to get rid of narratives, but simply you have to come up with better, more compelling more basically hermeneutically full narratives. One of them is you develop a text is not well known “A Catholic Modernity.” What did you mean with this narrative of a Catholic modernity.

What were you after? – I was after trying to find ways of being Catholic that made sense in the world we’re now in, right? And I felt that the ways of being Catholic that we were offered by the established churches remember that I was brought up in Quebec

Before the revolution before this make up. (laughs) We’re just designed to repel people particularly young people and send them out elsewhere. So I was trying to struggle through to the idea of modes of being Catholic that would make sense today and of course, that led me to the surrounding idea

That what it means to be a Catholic has been very different in different ages it’s evolved and has changed and so on. And in that I was partly inspired by the theology that underlay Vatican Two the theology of people like Judy Burke and Econ Gollins.

Their idea was let’s go back to the Fathers of the Church and see what was going on then. And then we’ll have a point of view outside our present situation in which to ask if our ways of operating now and as against the anti-modernism, which was really itself very recent.

It was based on the Tridentine mindset. They had a way of understanding that we were gonna have different ways of being Catholic, but let’s find the one that makes sense for us. That’s really what got me going and eventually led to my making this lecture and then from there (laughs) the discussion —

– If we can continue in this vein obviously you’ve always insisted that Medieval Catholicism was much more openly pluralist than even later Catholicism right? Although we see there’s the Golden Age of Catholicism it was much more precisely pluralist that the one that comes out of the Tridentine

And then of course of Vatican One. You refer to Vatican Two, for me always, what is obvious from reading Vatican Two is the associated fathers who are from all over the world, suddenly, are aware of these global condition, the sign of the times that globalization they don’t use the name yet

But whether it is Nostra Aetate whether it is Dignitatis Humanae whether it is Gagument Space. This idea of the science of the times of a new global age is very, very powerful. Now in these lecture, you refer to Matteo Ricci as a possibility of an alternative form of Catholicism.

Indeed, for me, as you know, I’ve been working on Jesuit and globalization looking for an alternative form of competing models of Catholic organization that of inspired by the Catholic Kings, right, the Portuguese, the Spanish, the French, or by Rome that will come with propaganda fitted. Here you have this model of

Based on open communication, accommodation to other cultures partly the same way that is, you say the Daniel Lou and Congarme have gone to the patristic. They went to San Paul and the Gentiles. And they realize that if early Christianity could be Latin and Greek to radically different forms of Christianity,

It could also be Chinese, it could also be Indian Hindu, and therefore the idea is that of multiple Catholicisms. So, the Christian story itself is universal but it is embedded in very particular cultures and understandings and contexts. And so Christian universalism cannot be the globalization of Roman centralism.

But it will have to be some form of understanding of the multiplicities of Catholicism through history and today now in the globe. So, we know that part of the project of this Pope Francis, precisely the acceptance of these multiple local churches. How do you think that this is something

Which still can be brought back by the very stronger systems of Catholic uniformity? – Well, I think it’s what’s gonna make it irreversible is the fact that the majority of Catholics are rapidly if they aren’t already the case outside of Europe, outside of Europe and North America outside of the Old West.

And what we’re also looking at is the effect of the decline of the Imperial West. Right? When, you know, the history, modern history of the West is more complex than people think. In the 18th century and the 17th century, there wasn’t necessarily this certainty

That Europe is absolutely the be all and end all right? There was a, on the contrary, you get the end of the 18th century, people like Burke who are horrified at the way the British Imperialist are creating the Indian Empire and so on because they’re destroying another culture.

You go through the 19th century and you get this total belief that Europe has the answers to everything. Right and Left Marks and John Stuart Mill both agreed that is a good thing that the Indians are under British rule because they’ll get shaped up properly so that they can be modern men.

And I think the disappearance of that and it’s reflected in the Catholic Church by the fact that the majority of, close to the majority of Catholics are outside this original imperial core means that the idea of imposing the European model, I think he’s utterly, there’s no chance at all

It’s it can’t possibly succeed. I know, I know that there are holdouts in the Vatican still and there are holdouts in certain parts of the European and North American Catholicism, but the movement of history is just not gonna make this possible. – Okay you know, I’m sure that the audience

Has been very much quiet listening to us. I think it’s time to end our conversation between both of us our dialog and to open up to some of the panelists. I already see some questions coming from some close friends, common friends. Let’s see, I see a question from Paolo Costa,

Who is the translator of “A Secular Age” into Italian. And he has the question, has the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic and of how the various religions handle the health emergency affected in some ways your understanding of secularization? – Well, no, I don’t think it has really

I think that what I found interesting and encouraging in the COVID crisis, as I said earlier, is a creation of a new kind of solidarity in societies, but I don’t think that it’s had any effect at all on the really big evolution that I was talking about,

Which is the evolution towards the world of and which is an immense number of spiritual people on the spiritual search on a spiritual journey. The number of these people are growing, but the number of possible journeys is also growing. And I think that the whole COVID crisis could only accentuate this further, right?

People are very often in the face of all this people are turning to issues of what was my life really mean? What is my life based on? What is my whole moral view based on? And I think that that will just accentuate the spread of this kind of this kind of searching.

– Okay, there is another question from Bill Barbieri again a common friend who recently brought you and Michael Walzer together to American Catholic University to discuss the “Crisis of Democracy.” And Bill asked Charles, I’d be interested in any thoughts you might have in this moment

About race and racism, and how they are implicated in first, the dynamics of secular modernity second, our pressing democratic crisis and third, our linguistic anthropology and how deep racial categories help restructure modern thought. – I think it’s very, very interesting, but very, very hidden. I think what you have in a great number

Of Western countries, including ours, is a kind of unspoken, unstressed sense of hierarchy. Who comes first, who comes second, right? There is not the old racism of you know, we don’t want these people all around us. But the new kind of racism that, well,

This kind of person counts, people who came first count more than people who came later or the people of this race count more than the people race, you know, and we have certain amount of racism in Canada but we also have this in relation to Aboriginals in Canada, a lot of mainstream Canadians

Coming from elsewhere, originally had that have that sense. And it doesn’t emerge until the people who are thus disadvantaged protest, and then you get a lot of very harsh reactions, but not an awful lot of theorization because you can’t say these things. I mean, there are white supremacists who do say things

But there are a small minority of those who share these responses. So the big question, the big challenge for us is how to overcome these largely unspoken attitudes, which even the people who have them don’t quite recognize that they have them. They don’t quite recognize they’re being racist.

They just think it’s kind of normal. So when you know Black Lives Matter movement start a lot of people, a lot of whites are tremendously indignant of this so they’ve rationalized that you know, like Trump or against disorder or against looting and so on. But actually what it comes from

Is a sense that why are these people objecting? They’re in their proper place of getting their due desserts. And that I think, is that the insidious kind of racism is something we have to defeat. Now there’s this whole other things we can do about that. But I think that’s the that’s a fact

We have to see in our societies. – Okay, there is a question from Aristotle Papa Nicolau, from the Public Orthodoxy Center at Fordham University, and they are related to again Orthodoxy but the most broader question of “The Secular Race” how do you respond to the critique that culture of secular is Western,

In the sense constructed in use for colonial interests? And then how can you speak to how secularization is taking shape in pos-communist countries and in particular, Orthodox countries? – Yes. Well, I think that’s something that I didn’t tackle in the book. And I deliberately didn’t tackle it

Because I think that processes that we can call secularization are very different, in very different parts of the world. And it’s even not the same thing in, for instance, Latin America, as it is, so I was claiming, they were talking about the civilization that emerges from Latin Christendom,

And even a big part of that in Latin America I couldn’t really touch on. And ’cause I realized, I think I could explain I could justify myself by saying that I for a long time in political science department, people talked about secularization as a world movement, which happens in certain countries

Like our countries first and other countries afterwards. And it’s always seemed to me to be absurdly Western-centric, that this whole situation in China the whole situation in the Muslim world is something very, very different. And there are analogs, but we have to understand them in their own terms.

So now that includes I didn’t really talk about it the Eastern Orthodox Christian world. And in a certain sense, I’ve lacked more sense because I’ve had the kind of conversations that I hope the book as it would spark, where an Indian friend of mine said “it’s very interesting book you wrote on Europe.

“But that didn’t happen here.” And I said, “good lets have a talk “and discuss what did happen there.” And I think that that’s the talk that I still have to have with friends and colleagues in the in the world of Eastern Greek and Eastern Orthodox. – There is a question similar questions

On Catholic modernity. Into which extent the Agg is precisely something that is very much linked to this notion of the Catholic modernity. And the other question about aspiring Catholic theologian who has studied the history of Western philosophy and post-modernism, increasing the strength within the church. I have found it ought to be wanting

It is safe to say that the Catholic modernity will be an authentic response to the call for aggiornaménto from Pope John 23rd. What I mean is a comparison or metanoia, where we returned to the sources in such a way that there’s not prima facie reject the modern world

Nor blindly accepts past views of reality. – I subscribe to that, that’s very convincing. I mean, I think that what goes along with the aggiornaménto is another attitude towards the past, where it doesn’t become simply normative but where are you see in the past an immense possible repository of spiritualty

That we can can nourish us today if we connect up to them in our own way, and I think that’s going on all the time that people are, you know, rediscovering the importance of (speaking in a foreign language) rediscovering the importance of the Desert Fathers and so on.

And seeing that is very much related to their particular path as growing in the Christian faith. So it’s not a matter of we either follow slavishly the past, or we totally reject it. On the contrary, we have to hold aggiornaménto of the Vatican Two

Was we have to think of what’s appropriate in our time. But in working out what’s appropriate in our time, we can find resources, right to the whole history of the church and right across across the whole geography of the church and then think of how someone like myself have been tremendously helped

And fed by a certain dimension of lets go again to talk about Eastern Orthodox theology that crept through to me and had been very meaningful to me even though they’re not part of my immediate background as a Catholic. – And then we have a question from David Lemon, Prominent Sociologists of Religion

From Cambridge University work in Latin America and Israel his question is, we are the finding that the authority of experts, judges bureaucracy is quite fragile. Is this because religion is not providing the glue, if it ever did but rather has in many places become a force for polarization

Precisely at a time when political participation has been spreading and intensifying as advocated by Citizenship Theory? – Well, I think that religion is not a single thing it’s split. I think we are virtually all confessions are split between very often as this is the kind of split between people who really want

To return to a past of much greater conformity and greater unanimity around church, mosque, whatever Oma et cetera. And people who find this new world in which there’s a plurality of searchers in which the searchers are interested in a kind of a e-communism of exchange with each other right?

So there’s an opening their horizons, I think we find these two reactions, and they’re, they break rather hostile to each other. So there isn’t a single phenomenon called religion operative here, there is a different kinds of faith different kinds of ways of entering into faith, which have tremendously different consequences.

I would say that the one that I was writing about, but the one that I also feel I belong to the world of searchers is, of course, much more open and much more favorable to the idea of a re-diverse society of mutual respect. Whereas we find that in many cases,

The more reactive kind of circling the wagons religiosity is supporting the reason why they turn back to various kinds of populism, even to certain Catholics in the states voting for Donald Trump (laughs) on that basis. – There’s a question for Salma Rodriguez, who is a PhD candidate at Columbia University

And she writes deeply diverse democracies like India have negotiated the dilemmas with an Indian form of secularism. But in the process, Islamic justifications for post-colonial democracy, or other similar minority justificatory discourses have had to constantly encounter Hindutva majoritarianism. Can rejecting mythological nationalism be one way of dealing with this dilemmas?

– Well, no, I think again, we’re dealing with one of these fights between different notions of the national identity. And there was a few like Gandhi narrow idea of the Indian national identity, which we meant to include all the different faiths and for a long time it was dominant.

I mean, what is really worrying is that you go back to the 1960s, the kind of thing represented by the present ruling party, the BJP was represented by the Hindu Maha Sabha which was a tiny group, it was a virtually no members of parliament. And it’s since grown.

So the issue is always in all these cases, not nationalists, like not national identity, but to the two very different versions of the national identity, fighting it out. And what I find very worrying and I don’t have the explanation to it is why in the present constellation,

What I consider the bad side of national identity is winning out everywhere. See, I mean, there are individual explanations in all these countries, but why is it all happening now? Is there any kind of common cause or common factor here? – We have a question from Iban Garthone

From let me look for the question. From Colombia, who is asking, what do you think of the fact that during the COVID-19 pandemic, in many Western countries, people can go to a church to pray even alone? Is this some kind of secularism imposed by public authorities and the protest of public health?

As you know, this has been a controversial issue about maintaining churches open or not gathering churches. So what do you think of his controversies? What is valid of the critique? What is not valid? – Well, I don’t think it’s a valid critique that for instance, you know,

There are no more Friday mosque prayers and the no more people getting together for mass. It’s is something that is obviously very dangerous for you if spreading could be a dangerous locus of spreading the the virus opening churches where people can go as individuals to pray is another matter and that’s happening

In a lot of countries, right? Provided people keep social social distance from each other. But I think that it’s not in any way I got a secularist blog or a secular ploy to close churches and it’s something that a great many churches and religious communities have quite freely accepted as being something necessary.

– Then we have two questions which are similar political theory. One comes from me, name Blaisdon, Jason Blakely, a Professor of Political Theory at Pepperdine. And he writes, you seem to affirm aspects of the liberal tradition, especially pluralism. Yet many of the new socialist millennials in the USA think of themselves as post-liberals.

How do you conceive of the relationship between your social democratic commitments and liberalism? In what sense are you a liberal? Should we be liberals or post-liberals? – Well, I think that liberal is one of these words that has so many different meanings, that you can’t take a stance towards liberalism without specifying it.

So let me specify, I think there is a kind of liberalism could be called that which I’m calling pluralism, the acceptance of difference and the belief that a difference enriches us and not impoverishes us and that we should be open, and we should exchange.

And then there’s a kind of thing that which you can call maybe neoliberalism, which is a quite unjustified faith in markets, not only to maximize production but also to make sure that everybody benefits from the results of production benefits from well. That has been an immense illusion, which somehow,

People I hire can force it on the world, together with the political movements on Reagan and Thatcher and so on. And I think we see the utter refutation of that in the present crisis that we just have not prepared ourselves. We starved various public services, we have increased radically increased inequality,

We have increased the plight of deprivation, which we thought we had no obligation to relieve. And this is more the case in the United States than anywhere else in the Western world. And so if that is if neoliberalism is liberalism, I’m totally against it, and I think this is what the young millennials are saying in the United States today, who are part of the, you know, the big Democratic victory in the Midterms and I hope will be part of the Democratic victory in next November. But they’re thinking of that as liberalism

But it’s a terrible confusion to think that all these different things openness, willingness to exchange sense of enrichment by difference. And Reagan Thatcher or US Republicans are part of the same world, the same idea. It’s just the single word which unites those different views. – Then we asked a question from a student

Of political theory is a Ukrainian doing his PhD at Leuven University, Victor Poletco who writes, “in your work some political secularism, “you often expressed an optimistic attitude “as to the prospects of reaching an overlapping consensus “and a set of central liberal notions “in the sense that they get support “from diverse intellectual traditions

” despite some opposing metaphysical claims “of those intellectual traditions. “Do you remain optimistic on that?” – Yes, I am. I mean, I do because I realized is a danger because as we see, various people turn their version of the national identity into something which is seen to be absolutely essential

To living that national identity and they then not only wanna win out but they wanna make their gains irreversible. So they end up destroying democracy, but there can be this kind of unity of citizens across difference. So I would say my notion of democracy and liberalism

Can be summed up by going back to the original French Republican Trinity. Liberty, Equality, I would replace fraternity with a gender neutral term of solidarity, I think if your notion of democracy doesn’t include a very powerful sense of solidarity between all citizens, then you have a very inadequate democracy, which is heading for one of these terrible populists deviations.

So I think that if we include solidarity in our picture of what democracy requires, then we have a really adequate view. And we can we can be in solidarity with people that are not exactly carbon copies of our outlook. We’re asked to the every time we open our frontiers to refugees from very,

Very different cultures, and we’re asked to do that whenever we unite together with citizens of very different cultures, different origins, and share with them in order to make sure that everybody has a decent life. – Very good. And then Gloria Moran is scholar of Canon Law,

Would like to ask you about the role of mediation, in particular religious mediation in the narratives of consensus and democracy. – Oh, well, I think yeah, mediation I can see I think I can see what the question is getting at. Mediation is very important

Because one of the things we find one of the real, you know, diseases we find in our society is that people are seem to be more and more convinced that they understand what other people are about. And this is what gets intensified in one of these populace situations because they,

Populace appeals demonize the elite so it’s clear that they are simply interested in themselves and not sense of the good of the people in heart and on the other side, you get these same elites who are dismissing populace voters as ignoramuses, as deplorables and so on.

What we really need much more in our societies is a attempt to understand what is motivating people, including what’s motivating people to do things that we totally disapprove of. I mean, this is something that I’ve been very engaged in in Quebec because we’ve had a fight about certain legislations

Which have been discriminatory against Muslims for instance. But if you dig into the reasons for this, you find a very complex set of reasons not all of which are bad. And one has to have that kind of attempt to understand what makes the opponent tick. What the deeper motivations are,

’cause a lot of them are perfectly good, perfectly acceptable and it’s that which is missing in our societies and unfortunately, not just missing it’s being driven to the margins. The kind of polarizations we now live in, encourage people to caricature and misunderstand their opponents to the point where

The possibility of finding some kind of common ground, I would say the possibility in very many cases of converting the other side to one’s own side, disappear completely. – In the same vein, Marco Ferrario ask, the need of recognition how is it connected with the crush of democracy you mentioned?

Would you like to add something about the need for recognition in the importance of this concept? – Yeah, well, I think that the Yeah, I think the recognition is precisely the opposite of this kind of alienation I’m talking about where we have a completely caricatural view of the other so that the sense that the other has, he or she has is that when faced with us, they’re faced with some kind of stereotype

Being plucked on them and what they really are like, is totally unrecognized. The kinds of mediation I was talking about can lead to this sense of mutual recognition, a sense of yeah, I get you I don’t fully agree with what you’re driving at

But I sort of get where you’re at as a human being. And it’s that kind of mutual understanding that can help to dissolve some of these deep, deep divisions. So I think that recognition is still absolutely one of the really important issues in our society.

– I will ask you for a brief personal question asked by Brooke Valve in a Duke. Take it into the final reflections in any direction you want. So she asks, what inspired you to study religion? – Very big question. Well, I mean– – You have four minutes to answer it. – Ill be faster than that. I break the question down into two, what inspired me to begin to think about the Christian Catholic faith. And that’s really very simple, that I was brought up in this extremely narrow authoritarian in church. And I couldn’t, I just couldn’t see the point in any of this and I, but I had several questions and so I wanted to ask myself, how to articulate it. And then the next part of the question is how I got interested in something beyond my faith.

And that’s because I had the great luck to have a magnificent teacher as an undergraduate Wilfred Cantwell Smith who later became famous as a student of Islam set up the Islamic Institute. And he gave a course on comparative religion, which is absolutely riveting in which he made these different faiths comprehensible to us

Young undergraduates in the 1950s, 40s and 50s, in Montreal, and I was carried away by that. I’ve never come back from that kind of interest in economism and understanding the other. – Well, on this great note, I want to thank you, Charles, very much for your openness

To have this conversation with all of us. I would like to again, thank you all of you for participating and for your interest. As I mentioned, this is the first in our series we already can confirm it will appear it will be eventually appear in our website,

But we know that the next conversation is going to be on July 9th. Is it July 9 Thursday? I believe so, let me make sure that they got it right. Yes and July 9th, the prominent sociologist German sociologist Hans Joas will be the next conversationalist.

Hans Joas is actually the one who brought us together as three together, Charles Taylor, me and him to be together for one year at the Brandenburgische in Berlin. And this is where basically Charles Taylor wrote his manuscript, A Secular Race conversation with many of us. There was a larger group and since then,

Hans Joas really, really written very significant works on the sociology of religion. Two new books are coming out. “The Power of the Sacred” and the new book is writing on religion freedom. And we’ll be discussing those issues. I can say it’s an anecdote the three of us

Three Catholics in a very secular Protestant city Berlin a few times we appear together in forum discussions, and we began to be known as the Three Catholic Tenors. Charles, would you like to add something to that? – No, I didn’t know that. (laughs) – You didn’t know that?

– Or I forgot my memory suppressed me. (laughs) (mumbles) no, not a base or something like that. – Well, and these note again, thank you very much to everybody. Thank you, especially Charles, stay safe and we are looking forward in a few years to celebrate your 90 years anniversary.

I still remember the big celebration we’re in Montreal the fantastic conference and your work, both as a philosopher as an intellectual as a politician in Canada, and we are looking forward to again, celebrate your 90th anniversary in a few years. So keep safe, stay healthy, and keep us

Illuminating us on the complexity of the human condition as you’ve done through many decades. We are still looking for many important books from you as they are coming in your mature age. Thank you so much.

#Global #Religious #Secular #Dynamics

Contested Concepts: Religion, Fundamentalism, Secularism

– Welcome back, I’m Michael Kessler, executive director of the Berkeley Center faculty member in the government department and theology in the Law Center. This panel is our final panel before we hear from Jose, who will have the floor in about an hour and a half. The topic is “Contested Concepts: Religion, Fundamentalism, Secularism.”

We have three very distinguished colleagues of Jose, friends of the center, eminent scholars. First R. Scott Appleby, who’s the Marilyn Keough, Dean of the Keough School of Global Affairs, and a professor of history at the University of Notre Dame. It’s been 27 years since you concluded a major project,

Which is the subject of one of the contested claims here, the fundamentalism project, but it’s done much work on contending modernities among many other topics. Next is Beth Hurd, who is the professor of political science and religious studies and holds the Crown Chair in Middle East Studies at Northwestern University,

And works on religion, immigration policy, the global politics of secularism, and where I know her most from debates in religious freedom, and secularism. And last, but not least, is Hent de Vries, who is the Paulette Goddard Professor of the Humanities at New York University

And director of the summer School of Criticism and Theory at Cornell University, and formally, much closer to us at Johns Hopkins. So we have asked each of the panelists to offer about eight minutes of reflection on the significance of Jose’s work in light of these three contested categories

And their own thinking about the significance and the challenges ahead. So first, Scott. – I wanna join everyone in thanking our host. And since Bob Hefner began a litany Allah continue of spurned suitors of Jose, at the same time Notre Dame was trying to grab you. But for some reason, apparently,

You decided the Jesuits were more meaningful to you than the congregation of Holy Cross a younger French, I don’t know why, why you did that. – Today is not the day. – I’ve got three quick parts, and I’m gonna stick to my text so I can stick to my time. Overall, I’m asking how his mind has changed. That’s the core of what I wanna talk about. The fact of deep and abiding pluralism, expressive of multiple and varied forms of religious and secular interaction,

And co-imbrication renders it impossible to speak of the modern world as determined by a single material structural or moral homogenizing process. This much we have learned from Jose and others. On the other hand, they remain striking non-superficial, non-trivial resemblances across these multiple forms and expressions of religion, which demand closer scrutiny before assuming

That the forms and expressions are not each in its own way, partaking in reacting to a set of global conditions and circumstances that we’ve identified, for example, the widening excessive inequality between rich and poor within and across regions, countries and localities, the increasingly ubiquitous regulatory reach of the state,

The ramifying contestation is about an over social media and other technologically empowered methods of social control, we could proliferate some of these well known contemporary conditions, such conditions and circumstances further demand of an evoke from all religious and indeed secular subgroups, a logic of response. A strategy or strategies of resistance, accommodation,

Withdrawal, whatever it may be. By the way, this little part of my presentation is just letting you know what I’ve learned these two days. I hope it’s by way of summary and his account of religious subjectivities during the previous session, Patrick Gilger called this what I’m calling a logical response to the circumstances,

A style of public participation or publicity in his Catholic cases the style is premised on an acceptance of differentiation in the public square, while resisting differentiation and preserving the integrity or wholeness of the religious or spiritual community in question. And of course, we know there are multiple publicities, multiple logics of response

And disparate justifications for each chosen logic. So it seems to me the question we’ve posed this last day, is how we might ask, does the combination of the core premises of modernity as experienced today, and deepening pluralism. How does that combination contextualize the moral and organizational choices

Which religious and secular movements and groups make, those are the contexts. This is my way of asking how has Casanova’s mind changed since the publication of public religions 28 years ago. 14 years ago, right cutting that period in half, he gave us a midterm report, and a 2008 essay published

And hence religions beyond the concept volume. There, Jose revisits public religions after 911, after the political ascendancy of Huntington’s clash of civilizations thesis, after he had begun to wrestle Jose, that is with the fact of religious pluralism in a newly profound way. And as he was pivoting toward his concept of global denominationalism.

At the time, Jose was still enamored of both multiple modernities and the twin tolerations. And even though it seemed that I heard yesterday, a little bit of backing off on the multiple modernities concept, I’d like to hear more about that. I think Jose would still stand by his rejection

Of the single cosmopolitan modernity as a general process of secular differentiation, indeed, is a normative global project. But the question is then, how are we to conceptualize plural global imaginaries? And how are they different now than when the Jesuits roamed the earth embedding themselves in non-European cultures? And what are global denominations exactly?

Is this an updated form of the Global Local, Jose cause Pentecostalism in that 2008 essay, maybe not for the first and certainly not the last time cause Pentecostalism, the first non-territorial global religion. If I understand you correctly, but we Catholics know that the Jesuits are a religion unto themselves and their extraterritoriality

Preceded the Pentecostals by centuries. And are the Pentecostals really still recognizably unrecognizable, in terms of their lack of structure, doctrine, their logic of resistance and a combination? I think that’s an evolving question. There was great enthusiasm then in 2008, and I heard yesterday as well from Jose and others,

For integrating into any theory proposing to comprehend religious secular, modern ways of knowing, believing and acting, such new old facts as inter-civilizational encounters, trans-cultural limitations and borrowing, diasporic diffusions and hybridity. This awareness, appreciation and integration Jose wrote in 2008, would surely displace the presumption of Western hegemony in cosmopolitan homogenization.

Adding that he added, that we tended to call any religious or secular threat to this western enlightened project fundamentalism. And this thus is introduced the contested term I’m supposed to address here and what remains. I’m not sure if in that article, Jose was defending the fundamentalists, denying their existence or defending the anti-modernists,

Who are typically denigrated as being a threat by virtue of their resistance to what they see as atheistic modernism. In any case, I come not to deny their existence and not quite to to defend them. But to agree with the claim implicit in Jose’s condemnation of binaries, that they,

So called fundamentalist should not be relegated to the uncharted waters of the ancient maps that simply warned here be Monsters, or as we would say today, here be bad religion. Of course, fundamentalisms are hardly anti-modern, they are quite modern, it fiercely opposed to elevating the conventional technical and material aspects

Of modernity to an existential way of being in the world. In its most egregious misapplication, fundamentalism is applied to any movement, party or individual who offers theological or religious warrants for their public positions and programs, when those positions or programs are judged by the labeler, to deviate significantly

From liberal secular or cosmopolitan norms. If non-violence and this is a theme I like us to pick up at the end to return to the question that it’s arisen here a couple of times. If non-violence is to be the one true global fundamental, as it were.

Extremist religious groups are hardly the only violators of this one moral norm, whose universality is thinly assumed but observed in the breach every hour. The 17 clusters of movements, groups, organizations we studied in the 90s, roughly simultaneous to the writing of public religions, under the rubric of fundamentalism.

These clusters of movements included Hindu, Jewish, Islamic as well as Christian offshoots, did appear to follow a comparable mode of religious logic, a habit of mine which manifested itself, the mutatis mutandis as a strategy or a set of strategies, by which believers attempted to preserve what they embraced,

As their distinctive identity as a people or group, feeling this identity to be at risk. They fortified it by selective retrieval of doctrines, beliefs and practices from sacred or primordial past. These retrieved fundamentals were defined, modified and sanction in the spirit of shrewd pragmatism. They are to serve as a bulwark

Against the encroachment of outsiders, who threatened to draw the believers into a syncretistic our religious or irreligious cultural milieu. Moreover, these fundamentals are accompanied in the new religious portfolio by unprecedented claims and doctrinal innovations. By the strength of these innovations and the new supporting doctrines. The retrieved and updated fundamentals are mentary

Regain the same charismatic intensity today by which they originally forge communal identity from the formative revelatory religious experience long ago. These groups took different attitudes to the state as they do today. From the Hindutva organizations in India, the secular Jews in the West Bank, the Bible believers in the US,

Who, each in one way or another, enjoy a mutually manipulative and interdependent partnership with a supposedly secular state. To across the spectrum state defying would be state replacing Muslim Congress, they recognized and exploited internal religious pluralism. And while they made a big noise about despising external pluralism, these 17 clusters groups and movements

Shared a tendency to borrow and continue to borrow from secular as well as other religious ideologies and tactics. My point is, they’re not so much far out there and the kind of processes we’ve been describing across movements. They’re not that much of an outlier. And not least they became increasingly transnational

From the early 20th century onward to this day. So why can’t these types of groups be seen to fit rather neatly with and be generously included within the array of global religious forms across a moral and ideological spectrum? Unless, of course, the global denominations must be called

And expected to develop something like a moral consensus, say, against violence, against the repression of women, the taking of slaves, and so on. This of course, is something very like, the good old secular religious consensus that inspired the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. So this is yet another way of asking you, Jose,

How your mind has changed on these questions. And particularly, I’d like also to get a minute to explore not only the question of non-violence in this global imaginary, but also your comments about moral pluralism and what that might mean. – Thank you so much, that was great.

Jose, you’ll have a few minutes after each host speak. – Put at the end. – At the end, yeah, Beth. – Okay, thank you so much, Michael. Hi, everyone, it’s good to be here. Thank you, Jose, for hosting this wonderful event. In a recent post, a shout out to my colleague here

On the contending modernities blog. Nelson Maldonado Torres reminds us that whoever defines, identifies and explains religion wields much power. I think we’d all agree this makes Jose very powerful. Today, I’m interested in pursuing his important work on the category and history of religion by considering what it means to decolonize,

Globalize and pluralize this category, that is to use the modern term religion to teach with it, to write about and around it. How do we do that? Given its intense entanglements with colonialism, its dizzyingly complex legal lives, its embeddedness and even complicity at times in histories of domination,

Many of which we’re now learning are deeply racialized. Is it possible to use this category without reproducing these hierarchies? Is it possible to do something other than simply say, we were wrong. Modern rational religion we all know was defined by a lack of entanglement with supernatural power, with magic are with the state.

Bad religion is criminalized as dangerous, uncivilized, wild, pre-modern, thuggish and demonic. In his earlier work, Jose provided an alternative a powerful alternative to these simplistic narratives. Yet we know that making religion across colonial settings did mean excluding practices described as superstition, magic, witchcraft, and so on. Working in the shadow of religion,

As I’m proposing here does not mean that we can just include those practices in the category and then move on. You can be a religion, you can be a religion, and so can you. Instead, we have more work to do, we need to decolonize and pluralize the category itself

Open it up into and onto other possibilities, and “To Think Religion Otherwise,” which is the title of the paper that this talk is based on. I agree with Webb Keen, we can’t just throw away these categories though. They’re part of elite and everyday discourse as they mediate self awareness just about everywhere.

He says the categories of themselves become social facts. David Chittister agrees after reviewing the history of religions, colonial productions and reproductions we might happily abandon religion and religious terms of analysis, if we were not as the result of that very history, stuck with them. So my question is simple, are we stuck?

Standing in the shadow of this category means I think striking a balance, taking some distance from it without acting as if it’s no longer influential. Here I wanna highlight a new book that I think achieves this balance admirably Brent Crosson, “Experiments with Power: Obeah and the Remaking of Religion in Trinidad.”

Brent sets out with the benign intention of recuperating Obeah, a form of spiritual work to add it to the pantheon of protected world religions. He wanted to show Obeah as also a religion. He wanted to morally vindicate it from ambivalence and even dark popular associations,

Which he conceived of as the product of its colonial and postcolonial criminalization. It was actually a crime in Trinidad until 2000, and remains a crime today, in much of the Anglophone Caribbean. Crosson runs into problems. He’s forced outside of the category of religion and into its shadows and here things get interesting.

He says, I came to my research wanting to defend Obeah as a religion, but his interlocutors reversed the terms of this project. Rather than making Obeah into a religion. They made me ask, How does spiritual work challenge the hegemonic limits of the category of religion itself, forced outside the comfort of this category,

Crossing abandons his redemptive project. Some religions then it appears are forced into the shadows. An example is the American occupation of Haiti 100 years ago, in which historian Kate Ramsey shows US occupiers equated sorcery with popular insurgency. Sorcery was in fact framed as the source of insurgency.

The Americans enforced laws against lisa tillage or spells in the name of moral decency and of consolidating American control of the island. This was not understood to involve the export of or establishment of religion, however, but the promotion of universal values of free market, modern scientism, public health, secular marriage and gender conventions,

The rule of law and religious freedom. And this is a global story involving the invention of modern ideals not only of religion and secularism, but also citizenship and nationalism. Now, some might counter that that category of religion has already been adequately decolonized and dissected.

The US is after all out of Haiti, at least for now. But my current research on Santa Muerte the patron saint of the marginalized in the poor in the American Mexican Borderlands suggest otherwise. Santa Muerte has many devotees in the Borderlands and all over North America.

In the eyes of US law enforcement, however, and echoing their forefathers who occupied Haiti a century ago, Santa Muerte poses an existential threat to US national security. This is palpable in a 2011 master’s thesis written for the US Marine Corps University in Quantico, whose title says it all,

“Santa Muerte: Threatening the U.S. Homeland.” The author warns Santa Muerte is in and of itself a religion incompatible to good order and discipline and promotes a society of lawbreakers. Counterterrorism authorities describe devotion to her as spiritual insurgency involving the worship of a perverted Christian God,

To invite her and her devotees into the pantheon of world religions I think would be a mistake. How do we do them justice without reducing them to the categories from which they’ve been so violently excluded? Here, I think Jose’s current work on the Jesuits rises to the challenge by opening new perspectives

On early modern globalization and Jesuit evangelization. That challenged persuasively modern assumptions about the West globalization and modernity. He calls us to focus on the brokers, on the borders, on the spaces in between. I’ve run into one of his Jesuits in my current work in the borderlands Eusebio Francisco Kino, Father Kino,

A Tyrolean Jesuit missionary explorer, cartographer, and astronomer, whose missions in the primary altar, which is now Northern Sonora, Southern Arizona, shaped the political, cultural and religious landscape in the late 1600s until his death in 1711. Father Kinos legacy lives on today in the Kino Border Initiative,

Which works on behalf of humane migration policy between Mexico and the US. The Jesuits to perhaps came to live in the shadow of religion overtaken as they were at the time of their expulsion, by the rise of a new kind of Western hegemony. Perhaps Jose would agree that modern religion is crossed

And concludes must be pursued through what it excludes, rather than through its recognized representations. In our search for new vocabularies to approach the ambivalence of power beyond modern religions, moral racial limits, Jose escorts us to and through an earlier world before those limits had firmly taken hold. Obeah, Santa Muerte and aspects indeed,

Of the early modern Jesuits practice, exceed a model of religions is mutually exclusive communities gathered together around sets of beliefs and rituals. They allow us to think religion otherwise, thank you. – Well, thank you. – Good morning. I would like to begin, as well by thanking Jose Casanova

For making this wonderful event possible for the book and the subsequent work that we are celebrating. It has accompanied me, since its publication, and in my own individual research, and in collaborative projects, devoted in reverse order to the history, concept and ongoing relevance of so called political theologies,

To the empirical and also intrinsic relation between religion and violence, religion and media, old and new. And last but not least, and more recently, in a project on spiritual practices, or exercises,. Jose’s work has been a constant reference also that I have shared with my students

Assigned on syllabi, and is part of my Canon so to speak. It’s an honor to be here today, and to learn from you all. And I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Thomas Banchoff, Michael Kessler and Ruth Copan, for their repeated gestures of hospitality,

Here at the Berkeley Center over the years. There’s little that has not already been set, and better than I can do it. So let me just make a few personal observations and propose some further, I’m afraid, all too abstract and somewhat speculative thoughts, on which I hope to expand in the written version

Of this contribution. In some, I want to say something about the ongoing relative, in my view, metaphysical and pragmatic usefulness of the category of religion, perhaps over and against the others in the title of our panel, namely fundamentalism and secularism. That’s a bit of a provocative claim, but,

And I won’t be able to substantiate the claim sufficiently, but at least it’s a thought. I’ve also been intrigued by Jose’s more recent proposal to look at early modern Ignatian spirituality and its forms of organization, quote, through the prism of globalization, and conversely, of looking at the letter

Through the lens of the former while avoiding both anachronism and reductionism. And I would like to venture some very tentative suggestions as to where that might leave us now. A quarter century after the publication of by now classic public religions in the modern world, quite a few things, undeniably data and trends,

Causes and ends have significantly changed and become more apparent. So my question basically, is in what ways and to what extent, have global transformations affected the books underlying concept of Public Religion, as it has continued and it seems increasingly manifested itself, in what we are still inclined to call the modern world.

Have these transformations or rather, revolutions, which are not merely scientific and technological, but economic and political. And that we somewhat vaguely designate as global have they necessitated shifts in our understanding, that are nothing short of paradigmatic, or have we merely come to see that there are still more blanks to fill in

Epicycles in the overall pictures to add, and so on and so forth? Do we need to broaden our horizon to include for example, non-western or non-European, say non-secular, pre para or post actual cultural domains, regions and periods, to improve our comprehension of what has happened and keep on happening, keeps on happening today?

Or do recent phenomena and current affairs that we are faced with require that we more fully reset and reorient our thinking, and one hopes, also, our acting and practices or practices in a more profound and vertical fashion, espousing an altogether different metaphysical and pragmatic viewpoint, one that is at once deep and resolute,

For lack of better words. In any case, should we perhaps adopt a perspective and take an approach that cast its net, even wider still, reaching back into the what I like to call immemorial past and archive of religion, and more, perhaps even further out into the unfathomable future,

While continuing to search also around us, for all that does not quite match our expectations so far? This much is clear. In the last quarter century, ever newer and paradoxically, in the very nature and structure or format, more and more global publics have kept emerging.

And this up to a point and beyond the critical point, where the polysemy of the very meaning of public, as well as for that matter of modern or world, including their enabling, surrounding and transcending Lifeworld in the western alien and Habermasian lingo, have undergone fundamental and wide ranging changes.

There is little doubt that the original meaning and force contributed, attributed to the concept and practice of Publix has been subject to a near-alietory process of indefinite perhaps infinite dissemination, which has all the demeaning and used or force of these concepts and references in question virtually beyond recognition.

As a consequence, we can no longer simply assume that a single or even pluralistic body or body politic, made up of constitutive products, with some overlapping consensus so much as exists in our present, if ever it did, or ever did, and does that it has much chance of surviving

The ongoing proliferation and exponential growth of proverbial markets of commerce and communication, money and instrumentalisation not to say militarization to say nothing about the more and more recurrent at times symbolical, at times violent reactions and revolts against them. After all, the letter hardly restore the older sense of public.

If anything, they modernized transform and globalize it further diffusing its putative origins as if there were none. And this is perhaps why fundamentalism were always so deeply modern. Now, I would like to give an example as to where the contemporary emargination puts pressure on the boundaries of these concepts of public religion,

But also of fundamentalism and secularism. When the science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson, in his 2020 novel, “The Ministry for the Future” recommended by President Obama and New York Times podcaster, Ezra Klein as a must read, which I agree with. Invokes the inalienable rights of generations of future beings,

The totality of mankind and indeed of all non-human animals. When in fact and as a matter of principle, he thinks through the models to enforce them, with virtually all possible means, ranging from the diplomacy and exertion of soft power to covert that is, strictly speaking, extra judicial forms of violence when necessary,

And also resorting, interestingly to old and new religious sensibilities. But this is both metaphysically, abhorrent and pragmatically sound, when gets, I think an idea of totality of universality fundamentally might mean, totality here is almost like an idea of a good beyond being, but indispensable nonetheless.

In both our present and Robinson’s “Not Too Distant Future,” sociological and intellectual categories, such as fundamentalism and secularism seem less and less relevant, or at the very least, not that productive, in the sense of conducive to greater justice, equality, and the democratic mobilization of movements and masses,

Which would be required to ward off the worst and to avoid the catastrophe. If the ongoing changes in the meaning as well as reality, one is tempted to say a reality and virtuality of the global in these above remarks are correctly summarized then, surely the analytical tools, and the normative realm of expectations

And justifications must have shifted and must further shift accordingly. And yet, while the contested concepts and practices of fundamentalism and secularism have in my judgment largely succumbed to the quote, unquote, death of 1000 qualifications, to cite Anthony Flew in his famous article, “Theology and Falsification”

That is under the onslaught of the multiple historical and empirical, social, cultural, economic and political pressures of the current late modern age, such that there is also ample reason to believe that they are in their very concept and what remains of their practices increasingly worn out

Then this, my suggestion is, is not the case of religion. We need not naturalize or even believe so much as we need, that we need religion. As Robert Towler’s suggested title “Homoreligiosis wants all too naively implied,” and as Hans Joas nuanced considerably,

In order for us to claim that it religion continues to form or at least inform our horizon for now. In this respect as a critical term, and heuristics or strategic concept, religion has already shown to have a longer lifespan than any of its contenders or offshoots, or even presumed successor forms.

We will be still talking religion, just as there will be an abundance of and I would say need for God talk. Well, after fundamentalism and secularism, have lost much of their present currency. I would even go so far as to suggest that perhaps the terms populism and liberalism,

Both in its relatively benign form of political liberalism, and in its pernicious economic ideology of neoliberalism, may well have been the most plausible substitutes for these theorems, fundamentalism and secularism. Just as authoritarianism and naturalism are their political, theoretical and quasi epistemic analogues and functional equivalents. Anti-authoritarianism was, as you will recall,

The later Richard Rorty’s term of choice to demarcate the stance he had earlier to his regret, described as anti-clericalism. And naturalism he added in an essay on God talk, or to be no longer in the business of ontology, but precisely of cultural politics, which simply means of figuring out

What is better for us to believe. Now, I have some further remarks, giving an example with the help of Jose’s work on the Jesuits and globalization. But I’m looking at Michael, because I may have to leave that for the next round. – Maybe leave that for the next round,

Because I think each of you have opened up a number of questions that I think we should let Jose who has been exceedingly patient throughout this conference, to jump in, and perhaps answer a couple of these important questions, and then we can continue to probe each other’s definitions. – Why don’t we ask questions, rather than- – It’s your show. So, Beth, Scott, Hent. Beth, you were taking a lot of notes when Hent was opening his critique of religion and religions. Do you have further questions for him? – I’ll probably need some time to think about it. Before I have a question.

But I agree with this on its sort of gut reaction level, that these terms secularism and fundamentalism are worn out in the words that you use, and that religion, I’m not sure I agree. I think it’s worn out in certain ways too but maybe it has other aspects or other dimensions

That have yet to be fully thought and fully explored. So I think I’m on the same page there. And I do think that asking this question about the concepts in Jose’s book, the terms that you’re using, the categories that you rely on, and how the development

Since that book came out almost 30 years ago, may have actually transformed the meaning of those terms, how we’ve understood them, what goes into them, and the need to sort of catch up, I think and reassess. How do we think the questions that Jose was thinking when you wrote that excellent book?

How do we think, how do we ask those questions today? Are they different questions? If so, how are they different? And if they’re different questions, do we require different concepts in order to reorient and reset the conversation? So I think the forward looking aspect, the kind of renovation of those content concepts,

The revisiting of those concepts is a really important task for us today. And I would love to hear your thoughts because, we always I remember Willington Talal said to me, “I never read anything I wrote, after it’s published, I will not read it.”

And I thought, wow, I really like reading what you wrote after it was published. But I kind of, I think that all of us, when we go back and visit something I’m imagining here and projecting on to you, Jose, but after 30 years, you think, wow, to what extent

Does this still hold water? Is it still alive and still speak to the transformations and challenges of our time. And so to me to reassess those categories and to rethink what we mean by publics. And what we mean by religion and to kind of renovate

Our understanding of them to update with where we sit today, I think is just extraordinarily important. And I agree with, initially with what Hent was talking about, although I don’t know what an alieatory processes. I have to admit, I’m not quite that fancy. But- – What doesn’t know. – I wanna just build on this also, because I know Jose wants to listen and wait before he jumps on your, where you’re leaving Beth, the word one of the words you used when you refer to the tired nature of fundamentalism, secularism, maybe even religion, is neoliberalism.

And I think if I understood you correctly, you were saying almost you could replace some of these terms within the category or put them within the category near liberalism if I understood you correctly. This question is why come back to the question of a moral global or what that might mean?

And whether what we’re talking about we step back within the sphere of religion, but not only religion, that the world is even more clearly configured around power dynamics, wealth accumulation, neoliberal capitalism, and everyone in a way, is in some kind of responsive mode, accommodation resistance mode. And so the question is almost not

What is fundamentalism, what is secularism? But what are the kinds of modes of reaction, response, resistance, accommodation, to a global order that has seemed to me to be overwhelmed by markets, by capital, by wealth, by this widening inequality, which affects religious expressions, but not those alone? So whether fundamentalism or secularism,

Whatever these terms should become or or be shelved? I think the question, the moral questions of violence, and I’ve been pleased that these have come up as including in the tribute to the constructive and positive explorations you’re making about how do we move forward in a moral framework within this context?

I think those are really interesting questions. And we almost come back to these contested terms after thinking about what is the context that we’re all facing, and which religious groups can opt out of that, which religious groups can escape it. Maybe the Amish but but even the Amish so anyway,

That your immigration there have a larger social and economic, I think homogenizing tendencies that are more pronounced than they were in 2008, 1994 changed his game for us in a way. – To read or do you want me to enter the conversation Hent? – Well, I was going to give two quotes from the later essay that I referred to on the Jesuits and globalization, where you write two things that struck me deeply. And I’m grappling with what the implications of it would be,

And where it would lead us. So one quote is that, “We are entering a new dissented global age after Western hegemony. And the other is the following and perhaps even deeper, where you say, and I quote again, if on take seriously the argument that processes of globalization are contingent historical processes,

Not functionally necessary processes are consequences of modernity, that the most important lesson from the global history of the Society of Jesus, as its prefigures globalization and for helps us to form a lens as what route might have been taken as well, is that different historical processes

Could have led to a different age of globalization.” And then you conclude by saying one enters and that’s the abstract speculative thought that appeals to be hopeless metaphysician as I am among social scientists and political scientist. “One enters thereby into the highly problematic, yet illuminating field of speculative what if stories,.

The merit of such theoretical exercise or thought experiment resides not so much in its ability to construct rational social structures freed from any particular historical constraint, but rather, it is facilitating the critical reflexivity that is required to free ourselves from what Charles Taylor calls the unthought,

That is to allow us to reflect critically upon the deep taken for granted structures of our own epistemic and metaphysical presuppositions.” And so without wanting to develop this now in the article, which now most of you will have read and which I cannot render in a few terms, the question then becomes,

So what is this appeal to another globalization in the early phase of the globalization mean to us without falling into reductionism or anachronism? How is that counter model as it were a prism or lens that allows us to reopen, let’s say, the debate on globalization and on modernity.

My fascination with that was that, it speaks exactly to what I suggested earlier, namely that, religion is and remains the larger immemorial archive whose unfathomable resources will inform even the most enlightened critical thinking. And through the sheer wealth and depth of that repository and reservoir, enlightenment thought or more than secularity

Will always be on the losing end, be less imaginative, less resourceful, less interesting, less but it’s better for us to believe as it were. At the same time, I could not suppress a certain worry, namely, as to whether the model of Ignatian Spirituality and its practices would allow for an openness

To everything that the contemporary world demands and challenges and asks of us as it were. And in that sense, my abstract speculative or metaphysical question is perhaps also my being stuck in a certain Habermasian perspective, not so much of the discourse theoretical framework, but this sense that you find prominently

In the Theory of Communicative Action, that modernity stands and falls and rationality stands in falls with there being a formal concept of an objective world, nature, the social world and an inner world that can be filled up, that can be particularized in multiple ways. And the challenge I think in religion,

And that may be the distinction between rational, relation and lived religion, or revealed religion, or historical religion, is always whether it’s universal idea seats to a form of particular reason, that at the same time also always opens up as it were. But I’ll stop here for now. – While those are impossible questions,

I wish I had some answers to them. I mean, I think we need to pause them today. Let’s begin with a one your race on global denominationalism and who do we include here, which is close to your question, who is included in our category of religion and who is excluded is bad Religion,

Therefore not religion, but magic. Which of course brings us to Durkheim in the sacred and profane because really, for him the fundamental distinction between religion and magic. Religion is the publicly sacred, whatever is societally publicly sacred is religion, whatever is private and it’s magic and superstition. Which is a way of saying that

Privatize religion precisely is magic, while the sacred secular is what is the sacred in modern societies. This way of putting it. So on global denominationalism, the arena making history based on the place of mutual recognition. Of recognition without giving up the claims to truth of any of the religions

To accept and the equal claims of others. So this is one aspect of it. And actually, the idea came to me very obviously, when I was doing simply visiting in Umbanda temple in Sao Paulo. The founder is a famous heart surgeon, so a very secular expert,

But also has written a lot of books on all forms of oriental mysticism, Indian, Tantric, Parisian, Sufi. So he’s both a scholar of mysticism. He’s a surgeon and he’s the priest of the so called superstition, let’s say Afro-Brazilian religion. And the slogan in their own temple is, we are different but not unequal. In this idea, yes, we are different, we are not Christian, we have a different religion, but this can make us less than others. So this notion of emphasizing the uniqueness, the particularity, while also appealing to the universality, so how can we do both? And obviously, I think the solution has to be

In some form of linking of precisely religions in the sense of the post-sacred Axial religions dealing with transcendence, therefore, the end the notion of civil religion. So we have to accept both, a global denominationalism, which brings a certain affirmation of the difference of his religion and the right to be different,

While also accepting their claims to equality, universality, whatever, while at the same time realizing that this is not enough, that we still need some common moral universalism, let’s call it the sterilization following hands, the sterilization of the human person that precisely will lead to some questions of non-violence.

So not the sacralized the human person. But what this means in practical terms, it cannot be answered theoretically. For me, it’s very clear that whatever we call equality, gender equality, obviously we all are for gender equality, will my colleagues, Muslim feminists claim that for them Islam is the best religion

Because it is the one that really, really emphasizes gender equality, all my secular feminists what are they talking about? So obviously, we are both appealing to the principle of gender equality and yet what it means for us concretely personally is very different things. But this also what, the same thing goes to public

Is fear in democracy, et cetera. I was always stuck on socialities, I spent all my life teaching the founders of the discipline, Marx, Durkheim, excuse me, Marx, Tocqueville, Durkheim, Weber, and then Mosei and then the Chicago. And for me Tocqueville, these obsessive with the notion that equality, democratic equality is the providential,

Unstoppable force of global history, that nobody can stop it, everything is contributing to equality. And he calls democratisation the unstoppable force. And he could not see gender equality as part of this force. So if the great prophet of equality is really marvel at the fundamental definition of what is,

Could not see gender equality, you realize precisely how pragmatically we are embedded in countries that we do not allow us to ask this question. So the best we can do is precisely to free ourselves from the unthought. And how do we do it? Well, then precisely by being able to

Cross from our culture to others, from our language to others, from our historical period to others. What the gesture is this for me? For me the Jesuits had been the typical anti-enlightenment, anti-modern, I’m come from Spain, they are bad guys, because they were the bad guys in barbarous police history,

They decided with the country formation, decided with the anti-enlightenment, and so in the nation, they were spelled rightly so many times. And then the question is, why did everybody gang up on them? Where they so dangerous, so bad that everybody, every Catholic Kings as they had to be expelled from every country?

Every Catholic king and then ultimately by the Pope’s and so on. The idea is, I realized how much my whole thought is caught up in the fundamental Theories of Modernity, which is was what sociology is, a theory of modality. Hegemony theory of western modality. And to free myself from it,

I had to go beyond or earlier than modernity, and realize it when I say that the global age something is, we are entering. That we cannot view this simply as a continuation of western modality. That we have to realize that, we have to break with this western hegemonic face

Of organizing the world, either through capitalism, through the West national system of state, but how to do it? So again, it’s not a so another question of counterfactual. But then the idea is, when they go, when Kino goes to Sinaloa, when Kino goes to the Southwestern Native Americans.

I mean I visited Kino territory in Mexico two years ago and fascinating to see these tribes that still remained bear the Jesuits is that left them for 200 and they didn’t want to have any other priests but them. So they’ve welcomed the Jesuits again, now they are the missionaries,

They are the missionaries they respect. But the same thing was with the Japanese that have been underground for 200 years and with the French missionary in the 19th century came, and after having been exposed to so many Protestant Christians, a Protestant ministers and they ask this, are you married?

No, I’m not marry, I’m a Catholic priest so you are a padre. The idea again, so the idea that somehow there was a relationship there. So the question to colonial how to decolonize, to realize the colonial encounter was much more complex than our own theories of colonialists.

That religion has not been simply the construction of Western circularity. And this is my main distinction with Talal Asad. The notion in the beginning, the encounter of the Jesuits, they themselves didn’t know what religion is and they don’t use the category. But in the encounter itself,

They open up a possibility of different types of things, differential of religion and culture. So it has been a process of 300, 400 years. So we have to enter the whole intercolonial exchanges, heavy, much more complex than our theories of Western hegemony and anti-Western Orientalism imply. – [Beth] Absolutely.

– So this is basically way of getting at it. Obviously, hands a bit, I was going to make this come in later. Yesterday, when I felt this fantastic reconstruction of my live work, I was not shocked because I had read it before in German. Otherwise, I could be shocked

That somebody can understand yourself better than you do. And in reconstructed and by looking precisely in the particular programmatic countries, the seats in 11, there are many countries within which your ideas are being produced. And so we are struggling all of us, nobody has an answer.

If somebody thinks that anybody knows where we are going, we have no idea. So let’s be honest, and let’s try to free ourselves from our certainties of what we are building realized that we are. In a certain sense, Durkheim was right. The old gods are there, the new gods are being born.

But of course, this has been going on for 200 years. The reason for a constant transitional thing that we are moving. So rather than knowing what the telos is recognizing that no, and they will make a difference, how do we project what we want to construct

Or the thing in there is a telos we know really what the telos is. So this is where transcendence comes in. So the power of transcendence to free us from the notion that somehow whatever in money, whatever we can rationally construct is all there is to it.

And this of course, the power of Durkheim’s pre-rational, rational, the societal, is we in the non fully rationalisable. So the origin of the social, there is something which is transcendent. And of course, he doesn’t want to accept the very notion of really, non-human transcendence, and therefore, it’s somehow in the social.

But the fact that they cannot all be rationalized, then they attempt to rationalize fully what we construct. And that simply it’s, so there is some mystery, there some questions that we cannot answer rationally, and that we have to accept through other means of getting it them.

Let’s put it this way, there is no spot illogical. For instance, and violence and pieces. We know this pope is committed to going beyond just war theory, getting read together for wars. Yes, it’s pathologically this world we all want. But then when the real world comes you need a just war theory,

To say which kind of defense is ethically defensible and which kind of defense is simply entering to the logic of war. So again, I think that we are not there so we can try to, but here’s the problem sometimes with this Pope, he can be very, very clear and criticizing the devil,

Let’s say in the liberalism and the capitalism kills. But then there are things that actually will kill, then he’s much more reluctant to call it. And so this is where we’re struggling with telos. Yes, of course, we all want to have a war without wars, without violence.

But we are far from it and we still out in business big, have to accept that this cutter is not here yet. – Beth, Scott had comments or further questions for Jose? – I was looking for a little more certainty from you. No, but I think I think the ambiguity we face is, is the reality of it. And so I appreciate the way you wound up your comments, the uncertainty of it, and where we headed is not a teleological destination. And I was struck, I’ll simply say, I was struck yesterday by the exchange,

About the situation in Ukraine, and it’s one thing for Parylene, to say, we’re opposed to, that the Ukrainian should defend themselves, but just don’t give them the means to do so. – Beth. – No, I think I would love to just, hear you say a little bit more about

The category of public religion, in particular, and how you’ve people use it all the time. Are you happy with how it’s used? Do you think that it does justice to that which it seeks to capture or represent in its current forms? And its current instantiation, current usages?

– Well, as you know very well it had a very clear normative element. What is good public religion, and obviously, Talal Asad challenged me on this right? – Of course, yeah. – And I became very clearly conscious that my whole category came out of the experience of adjournment of Article Two

And the way in which this was a unique historical moment. And the one on evangelical Protestantism is where it opens the possibility of a cacophony, I talk of the cacophony of the public sphere, in which all the voices precisely are equal. And it’s we can enter into precisely

The fragmentation of media and the public sphere that we are all observing today. I mean, even in all the countries I feel so confident democratic, leaving my honest pain is a mess. And obviously, a lot of European countries have gone through unthinkable ideas that somebody like Berlusconi

Could be elected three times to office, right? And obviously, let’s find out I mean, I always, when Trump came into the picture, I always said, “Well, this is our Peron,” and we are going to have Peronism for a long time. And Peron obviously was defeated again and again.

But Peronism reasserted itself in a way in Argentinian politics that made basically almost the democratic game impossible, because in so we have to be honest about the possibilities that our own democracies are in various you just travel and therefore the public is fear, I was always aware of the notion that mobilization itself

In civil society can be very undemocratic, obviously. I mean, this was something that when somebody like bowling alone was offered, Putnam was talking about these movements in Italy, and obviously Juan Linz that has studied a lot about this failure of democracy pointed out all these moves,

Those are the places where fascism were the strongest. So, these civil society that you are talking about is the one that actually open itself up to fascism so seriously. So obviously, we need history and we need to be very, very humble about our presentism.

And think that certainly wherever is now is the best and we have so open ourselves to learning from other people also from the past and it’s mainly from Primavera from primal, I mean, the question of actuality of course, raises the question are you then the religious which are actually therefore universal, therefore good,

Because the other which are pre-axial, but point is that today, this my point, precisely Umbanda wants to so I acceded to the ceremony. And, of course, first you have the kind of the public ceremony in which everybody’s invited. And you have very much like a procession

Of white clad ministers into something looks like a lot of priest been together concelebrating in mass, but of course, half of them are women, which of course, you know it’s not the Catholic Church, when half of the priestesses are there concelebrating. But this is in a kind of a celebration of equality,

And human rights and… Then comes the actual pragmatic aspect of exorcism where people come from healing. And then you have the public event and because you have publicly, the way in which people come is clients to be exercised by the people they are,

So you are presentialy, all these type of exorcisms they are and obviously, a lot of people are helped by in the process, not everybody, they may go to some other place to find salvation or to find healing. And then you have their own Santa Sanctorum. Then they invited me what initiation

Into the real Umbanda religion, was of course, one that for me was the most exotic, if you will, the most mad superstitious in you is right. But I realized that these surgeon can have this possibility of living in this world of view with practical religion.

But of course, he knows that we are in the 20 century of global moral universalism, and is he himself is fluent in all forms of mysticism of all the world religions. This our 20 century. – Jose, we can draw in a few other people into the conversation at this point,

We have about 15 minutes. Yes, Craig, – Not quite sure. Which individuals direct this two. I’m wondering how much the discussion continues to focus or is focused overwhelmingly on the ideas of good and bad order and not disorder. That is the extent to which the accounts of public and public religions but also in democracy, I presume, an order, not the cacophony that Jose has also referred to,

But that there is some resolving order, from the state, from morality, from reason, from somewhere, the discussions of public religions invite inter-civilizational look at good and bad order, alternative order, multiple modernities. But where is the place? I mean, Hent says alliatory processes we throw dice

Or something, but where is the place of non-order in this? And it seems to me that lots of the motivation in the projects that are at issue is the fear of disorder or the attempt to avoid disorder or non-order not merely to choose among orders,

So I’m just kinda struggling with how that fits in. – Yeah Hent. – Yes, thank you Craig, that helps me clarify, my thought on the matter, and it speaks to something that Jose brings up because I think I was trying to press the point. Thinking back to harbor masters theory,

That there is something on a superficial level. And I’m not doing justice to all the complexities, but, one might come away with the following impression, namely, that given the global impact of let’s say, world capitalism and the world system of nation states, which left to their own devices create havoc,

In their mutual clashes, but also intrinsically, we need to imagine history narrative, as a resource, as a repository, as an archive, as I said. Tapping into its forces of subjectivation of embodiment and of community and whatnot. So I take Jose’s work but I may be wrong of having shifted,

Let’s say to Habermasian, pragmatic paradigm, somewhat away from let’s say, communication back to interaction and love and friendship and things that religion know something about. My worry, and that goes back to Craig’s question is that, that may run the risk. Even though it acknowledges human finitude and cacophony,

It may run the risk of thinking too optimistically or too ecumenically, about the possibilities of encounter of an intertwinement and I was struck, I made a note of this, of a passage in the interesting recent biography of Robert Bellah, the book by Matteo Bertolini, who quotes a research proposal that apparently

Did not make it at the Rockefeller Foundation, a quote from Richard Matson in August 2006, which reads as follows, “The strains upon the emerging global civilization, might produce civilizational breakdown, that could be solved only by new social and cultural breakthroughs, perhaps even a new actual age.”

And now, that suggests to me that the moment of transition of how to orient ourselves individually and collectively in an age of global transformations may be dictated as much by this continuity as by possible continuity. And in my vocabulary, that would mean that, to think through, to return to almost like the tradition

Of not of manichaism, or dualism, but a form of metaphysical occasionalism, so that each thing happens. And history after all, is one damn thing after the other, is the occasion for a miracle, disaster or redemption or a catastrophe. Now, without being too hysterical about that or too dramatic about it.

One wonders now then whether Jose has not at bottom, this may be a form of ontological positivity on his part, which I think is a good thing also, has not relatively optimistic gradualist or ecumenical view of how things might work out in due course or if not, at the level of prediction,

The only path forward to have them work out in ways that are not pernicious or detrimental. And I found this passage, first, actually, in the syllabus that he kindly made for a seminar last year at the school of criticism and theory, but then also in similar words, in global religions and secular dynamics,

The modern system of classification where he writes, and I quote, taking a long duray, global perspective from 1492 to the present, one can see two seemingly divergent routes, the internal European road of secularization without religious pluralization and the external colonial route of Global Intercultural and interreligious encounters,

Leading to the global system of religious pluralism. Presently, we can observe the intertwinement of religious and secular dynamics, through the globalization of the secular imminent frame, and the expansion of global denominationalism, end of quote. And now, one element of that is, to somehow shortcut if that’s the right description,

A discussion that can become super tedious namely, did Europe or did the Atlantic West, secularized or not? And by saying, well, let’s take that as a factor completely, but let’s also provincials it and contrast it with a larger global domain where all these dynamics play out in a different way.

– Hent, Scott is itching to jump in. – All right sorry. – He has his point. There were a couple of points of contact. And earlier what you said in taking it back to Craig’s question. I wonder if we might consider now Pentecostalism as one of the world’s fastest

If not the fastest growing religious movement, that in a way it was born out of the experience of disorder, of collapse of chaos of economic displacement of not being and its own dynamics. This is what I was trying to get at earlier. How much Pentecostalism itself

And it’s trying to reconstitute a sense of order. And because the question is, are there structures that are or is Pentecostalism itself evolving structures of order and boundaries, when in fact the emphasis the religious experience of Pentecostalism is not that, it is a cacophony of voices of movements of spirit?

But it’s born out of a sense of collapse crisis disorder. So the dynamic there is this the global religion, the global religion that arises out of a sense of displacement, dispossession. Of course, Pentecostalism has replicated with its mega churches and its wealth, and it’s a lot of the processes we see elsewhere.

But it’s, I think, an interesting empirical case to ask these questions about order and disorder. – And of course, Pentecostalism is not only a different religion, different from Christianity, but now Pentecostal Christianity has penetrated every form of religion. So you find it of course, in Brazil,

You have now more Catholic charismatics and Pentecostals. In Ethiopia, you have a charismatic renewal within the Ethiopian Church, which perhaps they didn’t have for centuries. So the poor in India, you have of Pentecostal movements, within all forms of Christianity and so on. And you could argue about not the same Pentecostal

But movements of renewal with non-Christian religions in this respect. So yes, I think that again, purely sociologically, if you start with Durkheim you say you have ultimately this question about the faith or trust or optimism. That ultimately if the social produces the sacred religious, that will ultimately disorder cannot be, it could be,

Disorder can’t be the final, it could end everything right. But somehow there is trust in the Durkheim sense, within the societal, right? Certainly there is an emphasis greater than order than disorder in the whole tradition. And one could say the same thing within theology, right? Sin is explained as a disorder.

But of course, sin is there all the time. So the question is, you need rituals to understand that then comes some special days in which you feel that despite everything, life triumphs over death. So, yes, do I needs some kind of trust, is there a glass half full or half empty?

What I prefer to say is half full because if by saying is half full, it helps people to try to make a self fulfilling prophecy. I prefer to be proven wrong. By having heaven optimistic outcomes. That didn’t happen, then to be proven right by having a pessimistic outcome that actually did happen,

Because I believe that our own definitions of the situation can make a difference in the outcome, then I think that to have an optimistic outlook is societally, so purely sociologically makes sense. And of course, theologically, if you are a person of faith even more so.

– So we have time for one more question. If anyone is… – Charles has been very silent. I would like Charles to enter into this. – [Charles] This three questions. What you just said. Isn’t, pop cultural spiritualism the greatest threat to the world’s great religions going forward? Whether it be Harry Potter or… Whoever cares to answer it. – No. – No, I mean, I don’t think that. I don’t think that I mean,

No again, you’re one of our colleagues who wouldn’t come here is Peter Vanderveer, who has added to our whole debate between the sacred and religious you have to add a spirituality in magic superstitions are the four categories that have emerged together as part of our modern discourse everywhere.

And we have to integrate them, we can’t when all these people who say, I’m a spiritual, not religious is a way of saying, I want to be religious, but who can be religious given these institutions, right? So I rather stick to my own spirituality rather than follow these institutions.

So I guess that in all of those things, the spirit moves in all kinds, I would say the spirit moves everywhere in all kinds of places, even outside of the church, I would say, yes. – Charles, did you have a final thought? – Well I have a thought yeah. Maybe this problem order and disorder, we’re always trying to seek order by I wanna make this distinction between, morality and ethics that people have made, morality is what we all do each other, some principle of justice and so on, really is the negation of negation, you shouldn’t do this, you shouldn’t do that

Deprive people of rights. And ethics is some sense of what proper human fulfillment is about. Maybe, on the level of morality, you never can get a system which is really going to work because there are some kinds of, overriding of justice, which can only be defeated by ethical growth,

I’m thinking of what I was gonna say yesterday, that you get bones of ethical growth when you have something like Gandhi, preaching non-violent resistance. And it’s only through that, that you can solve the conundrum of achieving the liberation of this people buy from that oppression and still have some kind of

Relationship or friendship. And we can only get over the present crisis, what we call populism, which, if we have an ethic, where people feel really fulfilled by exchange with others, in the sense that the fullness of humanity only comes from exchange with others. So, you can only get over certain kinds of breaches

In order, if the ethical advance occurs with a large enough number of people. So at a certain levels of ethical growth, there is no solution. You have to fight things out. And by fighting things out you hurt other people and you create reactions and so on.

In that this can be seen as a pessimistic outlook. If you think there’s no further ethical advance possible in humanity, this is very pessimistic story. But maybe that if this is possible, then its a long-term optimistic story. That’s my sense. – Thank you, Jose. Thank you, Scott, and Beth and Hent.

We will leave the stage and now we will turn it over to you for the concluding remarks and then we’ll adjourn to lunch.

#Contested #Concepts #Religion #Fundamentalism #Secularism

Religious and Secular Global Dialogue

– Good afternoon and welcome everybody to a new episode in our series ongoing series of conversations on global, religious and secular dynamics. My name is Jose Casanova and I’m a senior fellow at the Berkeley Center for Religion Peace and World Affairs which sponsors this event.

The event is also being sponsored by Reset DOC USA DOC stands for dialogue of civilizations. We are very fortunate to have today for the discussion on religious and secular global dialogue, Dr. Professor Azza Karam. Probably the person most qualified to lead this conversation. Thank you for being with us Azza today.

Our webinar is being recorded and eventually, very soon will be posted on the Berkeley Center website and you will be able to access it. It’s our routine we’ll have a conversation about 50, 55 minutes with Azza. And then we’ll have a question and answer section to which you can place questions

And we’ll have as many answers as possible. At the bottom of your screen, you will see a question and answer image. Please open it if you want to write questions for Professor Karam. So let’s start. Welcome Azza. Thank you, thank you very much for being with us.

– Thank you very, very much for having me, Jose. – Let’s begin with just setting the stage. In our contemporary global aids, we are becoming increasingly aware of the need to come to terms with two different kinds of pluralism. Secular and religious pluralism and multi religious pluralism

And the need both for dialogue and cooperation within these pluralisms. In the first part of our conversation today, we will examine some of the dynamics of the religious secular pluralism corporation and dialogue through your work for many years in the United Nations, actually leading this dialogue. In the second part of our conversation,

We will explore some of the dynamics of multi religious pluralism and inter-religious dialogue through your work as secretary general of Religions for Peace International. So can we start. – Absolutely. – So let’s begin with the United nations. Historically, the United Nations we know is the symbolic representation

Of the Westphalian global system of nation states, which actually started after the peace of Westphalia with the notion to leave religion out of international politics. The rate that a pioneer of international law had the famous sentence that international law and the international system should function As if God would not exist. Now in the last 50 years, we’ve seen that these separation is not easy to maintain. Religion has entered in many ways, the United Nations and the United nations through its work around the work on development first step on the feet and the field of religion

Throughout the world. You have been both a privilege observer and participant of these confrontations, tensions and dialogue is in your function as senior advisor for culture in social development at the UN population Fund. And this coordinator chair of the UN inter-agency task force, and engaging faith based organizations

For development at the United Nations. So I would like you to start in any way you want to tell us what have you observed? What has happened to these confrontation dialogue in the last 20, 30 years, while you’ve been at the center of it? – Well, first of all,

Thank you again for this opportunity, Jose, and I’m not letting it get away with the fact that I have to highlight, which is that you’re a mentor to me and many others in this space. So I am extraordinarily delighted that I had the opportunity to have this conversation with my mentor.

I learned a lot from what you have been writing over the years. It was extremely helpful for me to be able to juxtapose the learning into this United Nations hemisphere. I joined the UN after I already actually has been working for Religions for Peace for some years.

And then I joined the United Nations Development Program. So I have come from this deeply inter religious space with all its political and cultural and social nuances straight into it, I felt like I had gone from a very warm fire place next to a fireplace straight into a freezer.

– From hell to somewhere. – It wasn’t by no means hell. It was an incredible learning experience to work with so many religious institutions around the world. It was a certain kind of warmth and a certain kind of cynicism as well which I’ll get to in a second.

But I think going from that space of relational dynamics, which are very, very personal actually, ’cause when you work in an ultra religious space, you per definition and have to work with your emotions and your feelings and what you believe, it’s your right. It’s all about what you believe

And how you do this work and so on. So to go from there into the United Nations Development Program and to be told within the first week, even though it was working in the Arab Bureau, and as far as I know, the Arab region is where all three major monotheistic traditions emerged.

So we’ve never kind of gone into that secular space at all in the Middle Eastern context. And so to go into this United Nations Development Program regional Bureau of Arab States and be told within the first week, we don’t do religion was literally like being thrown into Siberia. What do you mean?

So how do we do? If we don’t do religion in an Arab context where we’re supposed to be, I was working on the Arab of human development report as a coordinator and I thought, well, how are we even addressing some of these issues of governance, human rights, democratization, the whole women’s rights.

How do are we doing all this without doing religion? So that was my first cultural shock in the UN system. And I realized very, very quickly that there is, it’s not because of a, it’s almost a willful determination not to engage the religious space. So I think now that you’ve described

That particular motto in Latin, I think the United Nations system honors that motto till this minute, till this day. And to be honest with you, I think it has to. It doesn’t have to ignore God, or pretend God isn’t there, but it does need to be very fiercely protective

Of the secular space because you have 193 governments and heaven knows it’s difficult enough to work with 193 governments. Bringing religion into this equation, in addition to all the nationalisms that are already there. In addition to all the territorial, economic, financial issues that have to be dealt with,

Bringing the religious into this mix is not necessarily immediately helpful into this space. And I’ll belabor that in a second, but I think one of the first things that therefore after trying to overcome the cultural shock and trying to understand why. Why do you not need to, do you not do religion?

I realized that a great part of it had to do with the origin of this particular developmental space inside the United Nations system. And remember, United Nations is a massive universe. It’s a big entity with so many different sub solar planets. You’ve got the World Health Organization

Is part of the United Nations system. The World Bank is part of the United Nations system. Then there’s all these different development groups and agencies in that system and then there’s the secretary. So it’s a big universe. And the idea was that the origin of the development thinking and community that United Nations

Development program symbolized, it was coming out of the liberation struggles with the 1960s South Africa and the apartheid, the Palestinian-Israeli dynamic. It was coming out of that era and it had emerged in that. It had merged to form. There were two different entities that merged to form UNDP in that era.

It was coming from that ethos of the liberation movements, none of which in the 50s and 60s had the been particularly religious by the way. So that legacy of activism, of service in a space that was about coming together and building and solidarity and stuff like that, was not articulated

With a religious lens in the 50s and 60s. It was still the height of the secular, solidarity and nationalism based on shared identities that are not religious in that moment. So this is the origin of the UNDP space. And therefore, the idea that you would, and also remember that the emergence

Of a very powerful global feminist movement that was coming together, which for very good reasons, was deeply skeptical about the religious institutions and the religious discourse that wasn’t necessarily renowned for its feminist agenda in any way, shape or form. So this hybrid mix of the origin of the UNDP

And much of the UN development space explains why there was in a way, at best a sense of ignorance of the religious space and dynamics. And at worst, quite frankly, a sense of fear and mistrust that we all and remember heavily influenced by governments member states who not all of whom

Were comfortable with religion, themselves. Many of whom had had invested significantly in putting the religious space in its size. Rightsizing the religious space into not too much public involvement. Very limited kind of public involvement. So you have that from your board. Your board is the governments and the governments been doing their best

To try to be very limiting in terms of how much religion and religious institutions play the role in the public space. And at the same time, your own emergence out of a nationalist liberation struggles and feminist struggles, which were deeply which at best just didn’t see religion

As a very valid space, even with liberation theology in Latin America and that space. It was still a secular ethos that came to that table. So I understood that therefore, the issue was our particular glasses inside the UN system were colored by that vision of mistrust,

Fear and frankly, ignorance of the religious space, because there’s a certain arrogance that comes to being in a global system. There’s a certain arrogance that comes with that. By the way, some religious institutions have it too and that particular arrogance in a global space assumes that because we’re so big,

Because we do so much, because we answer to all different needs or we’re supposed to, because we deal with all these esteemed governments at the highest possible level, et cetera, we know it all, we’ve got this. So what is it that the religious can support or provide?

So I realized that if we were going to try to engage with the religious sectors, writ large, who are much bigger together, much bigger than the world of United Nations at its height. But if we were going to engage with that sector, with those different sectors, the multitude,

We had to begin to humanize them, literally. To realize that it’s not just men in robes that we’re talking about who have a particular universalistic discourse about human rights. Either it’s all good like liberation theology, supposedly, or it’s all bad, like certain religious discourses about Whitman for instance. It’s not like that.

There’s a wealth of being and a wealth of institutional discursive narrative realities to religious communities, religious leaders. And so we started by trying to humanize meaning, deliberately inviting our religious, non governmental organization colleagues. And the focus was very deliberate on the NGOs, the religious NGOs, inviting them to the different tables

That we were hosting in the UN. Different seminars about this and this and that issue, different policy discussions, different research oriented discussions. And I worked a lot at that time also with the social science research council, and so I was happy to hear Greg Calhoun had that conversation with you.

The social science research council was one of the first people I reached out to, to say, okay, let’s begin to host these consultations. And you may recall Jose, you were at a pretty good number of them actually in New York and elsewhere. But the idea was, can you please sit as UN officials

Responsible for the policy, for the programs and speak to your peers in these NGO and academic communities who are the religious, they’re also religious folks. They’re not wearing the regalia of religious leadership, but they are very much engaged in this religious space. So I deliberately made a point of saying,

Okay, we have to speak. We have to have a conversation and engage with these religious actors. Show the other side of the religious actors, not just the religious leaders in their institutions which is what everybody saw all the time, but show those who are working in exactly the same development and humanitarian spaces

As the UN actors working with very similar modus operandi, you have your strategic plans and you have your audits and you have your program indicate that you all, all that Tamasha was there in a religious NGO. And invite as many of them to the table as possible.

So there was a conversation between us about our common work, what we were doing together, and therein began what later, what we refer to as the strategic learning exchanges between the, if you will, the secular policy guys inside the UN system, the officials and the religious policy and NGO guys in that space.

So I think that became very instrumental because it literally puts a face to this idea of religion and it puts a very deliberately put a different face than the religious leaders in the religious garb. So some of them were religious leaders. Some of those CEOs and program advisors and policy advisors

Inside the religious NGO space for ordained leaders, but they were serving inside this development and humanitarian space. So the emphasis was to come at it from let’s meet as common folks working in this policy in developmental and humanitarian space within institutions that are actually pretty alike

So we can have a common table and not, and very, the emphasis was also on, we’re all here as peers. So I understand that we are extraordinarily hierarchical within the religious world. We’re extraordinary hierarchical within the policy world of the UN. But you know what, we’re all here. This table, we’re all equals.

We’re all peers. Let’s have a conversation based on the issues, how we do them, why we do them. What makes your work different than mine? Why is your work has, why does your work have any value added as a religious NGO? What is it that’s so special

About what you do as a religious NGO? What is it that’s so special about the humanity? – Yes, but listening to you, I would assume that there was also dynamics of recognition, precisely of equality that created tensions between the new cameras and the old religions that claim to be dead to religion.

It was easier for certain new religious groups to try to lobby the UN openly than perhaps the old religions that prefer not to enter into a table as equals, but to have core priorities kind of influence. – That was of part of what happened in the very beginning of those conversations.

Because remember that the, if you will, the learning that was taking place, the deconstruction and reconstruction that was taking place on what’s happening on all sides. On our UN side, it was also happening within the religious side. So the religions leaders and actors who came to these tables

Were also transformed with time as were we as UN staff and policy folks. We were also transformed through that encounter. It was mutually transformative, and each came to the table with their particular perspectives on particular worldviews. Here’s why we think our work is so fine. And so one of the conversations that started

In that beginning of those strategic planning exchanges was what I called the claim to exceptionalism that actually both sides had. So you were sitting as a UN person and you think that the UN is an absolutely exceptional space, which of course it is. Of course it is.

In many ways it’s an exceptional space, but then you have the religious actors, these heads of religious NGOs, the policy and program people in different religious NGOs who also would come, especially the ordained ones among them who would also come and say, we’re not just regular civil society.

This isn’t just regular civil society. We’re special in so many words, it wasn’t of course said like that, but this is a special community here. You’re not just dealing with any NGO which the UN has a big history of working with by the way.

But so the conversation was not, but we’re not just that. I mean, we are definitely, but we’re not just that. So eventually the pushback had to be within the UN ecosphere, we don’t have a category for exceptional. We shouldn’t have a category for special and exceptional. It’s governmental, non-governmental and inter-governmental

And obviously in the non-governmental, that’s the field that includes all of different civil society actors. So yes, we understand that there’s a special claim because of a special relationship supposedly in the mission statement that isn’t necessarily inspired with the universal declaration of human rights in any way, shape or form,

But it’s actually inspired by God said, and the prophet did. And so yes, there’s different in that. – So this is one side of the story. Namely, the UN and you particular inviting religious groups as nongovernmental organizations would take part in this table of equals with other nongovernmental organizations

To hear precisely with all common issues of development, human rights, health, education, et cetera. The other side of the story is the United Nations going into the war and becoming involved in development at the civil society level, not anymore on the intergovernmental relations, but more and more realizing that the UN

Has to becoming both really grassroots organization for development, health, education, women’s. And of course then it’s not only that their religion is embodied, but now the United Nations begins to step on their feet as it were and the feel of religious communities. So there is the other element of it.

The UN is not only an agency in New York, but also mobilizes (indistinct) across the world and the more it goes into civil society, the more even countries religious groups. – So one of the first things that we did after we started doing these strategic cleaning exchanges

By bringing our peers in the religious sectors, humanitarian and development to the table, one of the first things that each of the different UN agencies started to do, and this was now thanks to actually setting up a space inside the UN system, an inter-agency task force

That at that time, the heyday of the UN reform agenda was delivering as one. We all have to come to this. We’re so big, we’re so many. We had to come together and deliver at country level at least, and hopefully a global level, but at least the country level,

We had to work as one entity. So you don’t have the UNICEF, UNDP, but you actually come together as a country team, at least the development guys and serve and deliver as one. So part of the way of doing that was to say, let’s have inter-agency modalities, mechanisms.

So sure enough, we established an inter-agency modality on religious engagement, on engaging with religious actors and for the longest amount of time, that was the inter-agency mechanism that nobody would hear about. It’s just, it was so down low on the priority of all the inter-agency stuff. Funding and resource mobilization and gender equality,

All good and religion. So it took a while to actually give status to that particular inter-agency mechanism. And it’s one of the few that still continues until today, because of course the system has changed multiple times since with different leadership in the UN. So the inter-agency mechanism,

Not necessarily the most popular thing these days, but the inter-agency task force on religion continues and is working. And it’s grown in fact. – Thanks to you. Thanks to you. – Many, many colleagues in the system, but one of the things we learned, Jose, was let’s do our own homework.

Let’s find out whether this business of working with religious actors is indeed such a novelty as Rome and New York and Geneva would help us believe. Why are we doing this? Why are we doing this? So I said, let’s look at what are our country, especially the operational entities

Who do development and humanitarian work. We have country presence. We have offices in countries. Let’s just begin to see, have we worked with them? Have we done research with these people? Have we indeed partner and guess what, Jose, we realized that not a single UN entity with a humanitarian

Or development mandate, not a single one had not engaged at one point or time or another over the last 50 years with certain kinds of religious actors, none. But the issue wasn’t so much that engaging issue was A, do you actually systematize that engagement? Do you actually realize

That this is part of your civil outreach, civil society outreach? Does Rome or Geneva or New York know the outcome of this, that you’re actually having this program and the outcome of it and some of the learnings? No. So the issue was we learned within the UN system,

We learned about our own legacy and history of engagement and started to rediscover it at the same time, by the way that our religious counterparts, our partners were beginning to rediscover why they do work the way they do. What is it about the Christian tradition that actually, so they were rediscovering

Their religious roots because they had existed for so long as partners of the multilateral world in their secular NGO hat. So they were religiously inspired. They were faith-based, NGOs, faith inspired and based NGOs but they weren’t using the religious language. They were busy doing the work and trying to, in a sense,

Not necessarily acknowledge the religious identity so much. So as our religious counterparts were rediscovering their here’s the biblical narrative that inspires this particular kind of engagement on children or on women or on refugees. And here’s the Islamic texts that actually inspires why we do. They were rediscovering their religious discourse

And the roots of their passion and mission while we were rediscovering the basic reality of the fact that we had been working with these actors for a very long time. So that transition happened, and that was extremely important for us to learn about heritage, if you will, on both sides

And use some very basic data that till this moment is still deeply contested. How can you work in this space of education and or health and or nutrition and or sanitation and or refugees? How can you work in any of these areas and not engage with those

Who are the original providers of service in those spaces? No, there’s no way you can do it. We had to come up with the data. So our World Bank colleagues then undertook in that inter-agency space, they brought to it some of the data of their engagement and legacy

And that’s how we learned so much from people like Katherine Marshall, who had been setting up this space and leading it inside the World Bank for so many years. They came to this inter-agency space with their data and their evidence of here’s how we have been working with these different actors.

Largely we discovered in the space of health, the most amount of engagement that happened in that health space. So that’s how we began to learn about ourselves, quite frankly. – And of course our dear Katherine Marshall which is my colleague at the Berkeley Center those are types of some of the conversations

Before we move to the second part on the Religions for Peace, obviously the most contested issue in all these fields has been the issue of gender. And this is the issue at the center of precisely UNDP, population, reproductive health, women’s rights. Since Cairo, the 94 conference in Cairo,

Sine Beijing in 95, this has gone in different directions. Obviously first it was apparently the Catholic church and the Muslim world. Now, lately is the evangelicals. American evangelicals in the Russian Orthodox Church and the Moscow party arcade against feminism and gender equality. How have you been able to navigate all these tensions

And what do you see has happened in this field in the last 20 years, both positive and negative? – So it’s important to highlight a very interesting couple of realities that you come across when you’re actually working in this space. So the first reality is that it turns out

That the United Nations population fund. I remember I joined UNCP first, then I moved to UNFP. I realized that the United Nations population fund was actually one of those entities in the UN system that had the longest legacy of partnering with religious organizations. And that wouldn’t necessarily be intuitive.

That was actually kind of counter intuitive because their agenda is reproductive health, which is sexuality and sexual relations. So how come this was the UN entity with a very long track record, actually. One of the longest track records of engaging with religious actors at country level.

It turns out that, of course you can’t do this work. You can’t speak these issues in a country if you have not already managed to have a few partners in the religious space who at best, at best will work with you, will actually work with you on some of these issues.

But even when it’s things are really not going very well, Jose, at least they’re not going to condemn your work. They’re not going to stand in direct opposition to your work, which is a big deal, which is, cause sometimes you won’t be able

To work with people, but at least don’t close the doors that I can actually work in, so to speak. So we realize that the agency that has sexual reproductive health and rights as its key mandate is the agency with one of the longest track records of actually working in partnering with religious actors.

We also realized something else, that as we expanded the circle of partners in this religious engagement space, there were basically two blocks. There was two different blocks happening. One block was the, for lack of a better word, the much more conservative oriented religious institutions who were working with governments

With certain governments, very, very well. And so therefore in many ways were much more powerful inside the UN space because they had some governments with them behind them. – Mainly Catholic countries, Muslim countries. – It started with the Catholic countries. – And America and after Cairo, right?

I think in also Muslim countries and yeah. – Yes, over the years, but interesting because it’s not necessarily a coincidence. As the voices of, for lack of a better word, the pro human rights, pro sexual and reproductive health and rights atmosphere, just the broader pro human rights openly,

No discrimination, no cherry picking between them. As that religious space expanded thanks to the efforts of inviting a broad swath of people around the table regularly so that it became normal to speak and see, and witness and have conversations that included their leaders. As that space was increasing, Jose the number of partners

On the more conservative side of the religious spectrum was also increasing. The voices were increasing and the quality and nature. So it became not only a Catholic voice. It became a Catholic, Orthodox, evangelical, Muslim. And in the last few years, also a Hindu supported or tacitly supporting voice.

So the range of, I wouldn’t say it’s very hard to categorize this way, by the way and I’m not sure that could do that officially on the parts of religions for me. So I’m not speaking as Religions for Peace now, but really as a scholar of religion and development.

I can tell you that the, for lack of a better word, the more conservative voices around the issues of sexual reproductive health and rights in particular, those have expanded and grown over the years, and so have the counterparts on the other side, who were speaking for sexual reproductive health and rights,

They have also expanded so that they’re not just Christian or Muslim, but they have actually expanded and grown together. And a large part of this on the one side, the expansion of the conservative multi-religious discourse has happened thanks to, as I said earlier, the collaboration with certain governance.

The absolute green light given by certain governments because it served the purpose to say, well, this is against our religion. We’re not going to do this particular set of rights because it’s against the norms and whatever, whatever. But the other group, the other group that was trying to inspire a conversation

That all human rights were interconnected, no set of rights is more significant than the other. None can be realized at the expense of each other or the silencing of some of them. That group also grew deliberately thanks to the deliberate effort of the UN system actors in country at regional and global levels

To provide also a space for those voices to be heard at the table. And they also were very multi-religious. They were also Catholic and different kinds of Protestant Evangelical and whatever, and Muslim and Hindu and Buddhist. And so in a way we kind of,

If I look at it from a less concerned perspective, I can tell you that the expansion of the multi-religious narratives in and of itself has been in a source of affirmation for why it is important to be in this. How can we speak about strong civic societies

If we don’t have a vibrant multi-religious space and narrative as part of that civil society? So yes, the UN system has, since the 1970s very deliberately reached out to the civil society. I would say that over the last 20 years, it’s expanded. Now, where does the Religions for Peace

Institutional representation feature in this space? I can give you a very simple example based on the years of working inside and outside of the system. There’s a very different dynamic that happens Jose, when you invite the Catholics together, the different Protestants together, ecumenical, Muslim, and each gets convened in their own spaces.

This is incredibly valuable, extremely helpful, and also can have its limitations. What I have observed happening systematically over the last 30 years, whether I was in the Middle East or in Central Asia or in Europe, or here is that when you bring the different religions

And religious voices together around a common set of issues, human rights, education, children, environment, something very amazing happens. And I personally call it grace, to be honest with you. I just call it plain as it is. As I see it as I feel it, it is grace.

When these different religions come together, Jose, yes, day one, everyone is speaking to their particular text interpretation that here’s my official position, my institutional position. The conversation goes on, Jose. And by day two, they are speaking as people, as human beings with deep, deep hearts that are committed to serving. There’s a dynamic,

There’s an incredible change in the conversation. It doesn’t become, what is your institutional position? How can that be defended? It becomes, how can I serve these needs best? And there’s an actually an element of competition that creeps in. It’s very constructive competition. It’s very progressive competition. It’s competition about who’s serving most

And that is precisely when grace takes place, because you suddenly realize that not everybody’s hung on to their particular interpretation, their particular texts and their particular narrative, but they’re actually, and they look, they see each other speaking about the divine in so many different ways, but a divine that is of humanity,

Of service, of love, of saving lives. It’s a totally different caliber of conversation, but it has to be stewarded. It has to be intentionally convened. It has to be about very practical situations with very hard evidence and facts. Then the narrative changes

From here’s what my God says has to happen, or you’re a God to how can we serve this? How can we serve this best? I saw this happening in the Arab region and I saw this happening in the African region and the Latin America. So I think this is the key,

And this is why Religions for Peace has such a critical role to play in transforming the dynamics of inter-religious civic conversations about everything, about governance, democracy, and human rights about gender equality, about environmental sustainability, about inter-religious education, about learning education. How do we learn and how do we get through years of postgraduate

Without knowing a thing about our faith respective data? So when you convene religions together, there is a dynamic that happens that is absolutely phenomenal, and it is a must. It is no longer a luxury for us. It is a must in a context where we have lost the diplomatic space.

There is no diplomacy as we know it today. There’s a lot of voices out there from the top most political leadership to the governance and civil society entity and actors. There’s a lot of voices out there, Jose, but I think we’ve lost the art of diplomacy as in tactfulness to reach one another

And to relate to one another. We speak at, we don’t speak with. So in this conversation, in this context, the multi-religious narrative is providing us with resources, opportunities, language in which we can reinvent our diplomacy to be what it was meant to be. The coming together, to heal together the entire universe,

Not just our respective vested interests, but each one coming at it from their vested interest, for sure. But when we come at it together from within this multi-religious space to be added to the civic space, the secular civic space benefits, the multi religious space means that per definition,

No one religion can claim an exclusive right to truth. One of our problem. – And this is of course is the central issue because there is a very strong Christian European cognitive tradition of arguing that inter-religious dialogue is a continuity of theological dialogue who has the truth. And of course you get nowhere.

Dialogue has to begin with interpersonal recognition as you say, it’s kind of a space where persons recognize each other as persons, and then everything else can come later. Perhaps you don’t need to get into the actual theological controversies, if you can work together on many, many fields.

– And that is proven that actually working together has and is a space of serving together, which is why religious repeats created its multi-religious humanitarian funds because we realized, all of us are running to serve. The religious communities today and in the face of COVID or at the forefront

Of serving the needs of their communities on every possible level. But guess what? Each one is going about it in their own institutional way. So when we talk social cohesion, we have to act social cohesion. The pandemic is a moment that forces us to work together.

How can we encourage this serving together in that space? And this is what made the change and I just got the note from Catherine, if I may refer to it. When we convened the different religious actors together across who are serving the NGOs now, not just the religious institutions,

But the NGOs who are delivering humanitarian and development. And we convene them around what? Around sexual reproductive health and rights after years of begging them together to come and talk about the common, the safety issues. Children, environment, all the safe stuff. Death, things that we can all talk about

Without getting too worried about what God actually meant when he was saying this or that. One of the things we realized is that even in that space of deep contention, the religious leaders and the actors in the NGO system were prepared to say that some of the harm that is happening

In the name of serving this religious purpose, early child marriage, female genital mutilation, rape, violence against boys and girls, that none of this could possibly be and should never be in their own name as a religious person, as a religious leader, not in my name was the mantra or the statement

That they all actually signed down to. Because yes, we understand that there are certain interpretations and understandings, but the harm that gets done in the name of religion. No, there’s a rejection to that. Not in my name was a very video key tipping point in this conversation between the different religious actors.

They can agree together that harm is not in the name of their respective traditions and therefore not in the name of all of them. Already that agreement may seem minor given everything that’s going on around us, but it’s not minor. If I agree with you and we’re both coming

From different theological perspectives and traditions. If I agree with you that that harm is not in our name, is not in the name of my faith, that is massive. That’s an act of faith. That’s a statement of solidarity. That’s a move towards transforming social norms and behaviors in a radical way.

And that’s what is possible when you bring the different religions together with the different civic actors. – So I was of course, extremely happy when I learned that Religions for Peace have elected a woman as its secretary general. I know you and I knew that you were extremely, especially qualified for this role.

But I can imagine that we know that patriarchal legacies for religious traditions. And so kind of frankly, how difficult it is for you to deal with the clerical leadership of all the religious traditions and how do these institutions deal with Religion for Peace? What is the relationship between these very unique

Place or space where religious can come together, precisely work together and the religious institutions themselves, which each of them wants to maintain, its privileges, authorities, it’s places. – So I learned something very valuable from the executive directors, women executive directors in UNFPA because they were handling such a sensitive,

Hot potato set of issues all the time. And they’re dealing with, yes, of course, female leaders, but also peers who are male leaders in the political establishment. So it’s not exactly the easiest walk in the park, either. One of the things I learned from them, especially

Another mentor of mine, Dr. Threa Albeit from Saudi Arabia. One of the things she told me many years ago was first of all, you have to find allies in this space who come from precisely the camp of detractors. And you have to just put your head down

And keep working and look on the bright side of things. And so the first thing that struck me about being elected to serve in this position, to be perfectly honest with you and I have been on record for saying this repeatedly is it’s not about me. Honestly, yes okay.

Thank you very much for that acknowledgement, but it isn’t about me. The election of me, of this woman is a testament to the religious leaders who came together and agreed that it would be a woman who would lead them in their effort to who would serve them in their effort to work collaboratively

In an institution that’s 50 years old with 90 different chapters around the world. They agreed, Jose to accept this leadership of a woman. To me, that is the most important moment of amazement, quite frankly and it’s such a testament to the courage of these individual leaders

And to the readiness, quite frankly of their institutions to say, okay, okay. – You will call it grace. – I do, actually. I didn’t want to say the word again, but yes I do actually. I really do. And I think that this, there is grace everywhere we step.

I am a firm believer in that. We don’t exist, but for the grace of the love of the divine. So, but yes, there are so many moments of grace. Definitely, definitely knowing that they had elected me and entering into that big hall during the 10th world assembly of Religions for Peace

In Lindo, which was hosted, thanks to a secular German government working with a wonderful organization and foundation called Lindo. Walking into that hall of 900 delegates who many of whom were cheering and they did no me, Jose. They didn’t know me. They were cheering of the fact that this organization

Of 50 years is electing a woman. And here she is that little thing walking into the hall and that is grace because I felt very tangibly the aspiration to formation, to coming together, to serving grace, not just epitomizing, but serving grace. That was a moment. Why would they otherwise? Why that incredible anticipation

And all elation and joy when they didn’t know me? Many of them didn’t know me. So I think there’s something to be said for that moment we are living in. We can choose, Jose to focus on all the negativity that’s happening around us in terms of leadership that is much more violent

In its narratives and actions, or we can choose to see what’s actually unfolding in the multi-religious space globally, that at least I can see. And in the civil society spaces, because I firmly believe that our salvation is humanity and the salvation of this earth is going to happen

When the civil society is vibrant. Governments are fine. We need them, they’re necessary. Multilateral entities are needed more than ever, but multilateral entities and governments need civil society and civil society needs the multi religious space. It’s not possible to exist with only one hand. You’ll do certain things with one hand,

You do much, but when you have both hands and to me, that’s the secular and the religious and where they meet, that is when we can move. Grace. – And I myself would say the most important lesson for me is the recognition of the irremediable plurality, cultural religious of the human condition.

And we simply, this is the point of the part of our global aids, mutual recognition. And this is a dynamic which is different from the dynamic of capitalism, one single system. From dynamic of the nation states. It is this at this level of a global civil society, where, what I call global denominationalism

This process of mutual recognition of all the not only religious, I’m talking of all the groups that want to claim, this is my name. This is what I stand for and I want to be recognized like that and I recognize you also in return. And obviously I would say this is essential

For working together, any global issue, whether refugees, social justice, these environmental issues and to which extent we see that some of the most important voices and those issues come precisely from religious leaders, which are free from what other wars are the constraint of nationalism. Making America great again,

And saving the vaccines for our nation. This vision, global human vision, but not as one of power to say my religion is the one, but really of mutual recognition. And this is a unique moment we find ourselves. And I’m very glad that you are actually leading this organization at this very, very moment.

I want to remind the audience that we will be moving very soon to our question and answer period, that you’ll have a chance put down in writing in the question and answer box, the question you would like to raise for Professor Karam. I call her professor because besides all these roles,

She’s also social professor of religious studies at Free University in Amsterdam. So before we go to the question and answer, I would like simply to yes, any thoughts about any issue that you think are really, really big issues that you are facing as a secretary general,

The issues that you see is the ones which are both most problematic, but also most necessary to face in the series of challenges we are facing as global humanity. – Thank you for allowing me that. I think there’s a couple of points I wanted to share

If I may and one of them has to do with what you were very rightly pointing out is an absolute necessity of that civic space and the plurality of it, that per definition, the plurality gets us those opportunities to grow and be better people, quite frankly. I always say that I’m a believer

And if God wanted us all to be alike, I don’t think it would have been much of a problem for him to create this all alike, quite frankly. – Sounds like Mohammed in the Quran. – It sounds like different, all the different faith traditions.

Divinity is power and the divine is capable of everything. And so how do we all meant to be, had we all been meant as equal and the same people, then it would not have been so difficult for the creator to do so. The fact that we are created diverse in so many ways

Is a testament to the divine. It’s not about, oh dear. It’s actually a testament to the divinity. It’s also what we have to aspire to respect in one another, that incredible diversity that we embody. One of the things that I’m seeing COVID force us to do though,

We are as a result of what I would call the failure of global meta narratives to actually serve anymore. And the increase in isolated discourses based on very limited narrow self-interests of certain political communities or nationalist ideologies. Because we’re in this era of we don’t have something

That mobilizes all of us at the same time, unless it’s the Black Lives Matter gave us a spark to believe in something that is beyond the interests of any particular, but it’s actually very inclusive of the interests of many towards justice. But we are facing that moment of crisis globally

In terms of meta narratives that can inspire and get people to actually come together in different ways. Because of this, I think religions are, and religious discourse is being exploited, left, right and center by politicians who are religious and politicians who are not religious. There are very odd alliances that are taking place

And flowering around the world, that are consolidating around the world about, and between the political and the religious spaces. Not all of it is good. Not all of it is built on welfare rights for all irrespective of where they come from and what they look like.

And therefore, I think that we stand at a precipice to be honest as, as human beings. And that precipice is if we can join hands together with our faith as a deep form of inspiration, but also without, but just as out of a commitment to all, if we can do that,

We can actually jump over that precipice to the other side. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of religious division that I’m seeing happening between intra and inter-religious and ironically, COVID has brought so much of those religions to the fore. And that’s one of the reasons why I think that the idea of multi-religious collaboration

Is not a luxury, can not afford to be treated as a luxury, but has to become a priority, socially, politically, financially, economically. Multi-religious civic stakeholdership and collaboration has to be the way to go. Otherwise we are looking at very deep, more deep rifts being created between different communities in the name of it.

– Thank you very much. We could go on and on for back to the United Nations, there are so many different issues, but I thank you very much for these very open and candid conversation. Let’s open up the question and answer. Our first question comes from our very, very dear friend,

Katherine Marshall, who asks Azza can you tell the story of the not in my name event and comment on the role of Raya Obeid, who will be speaking at the G-20 interfaith event? – I think I already did that actually. I spoke about the, not in my name event

When the religious actors came together and signed on to the fact that they will accept no harm in the name of their respective traditions, and they will do another. And I spoke about the legacy of Dr. Obeid in terms of developing this work and giving me the guidance

As to how to approach some of this work in this space. – I just want to give you the opportunity to expand on it, if you wanted to say something, but then we can move to the next question which comes from Brian. Is the universal these Unitarian church involved in your efforts?

If so, what contributions have they offered? If not, should they be involved? – If the effort is related to Religions for Peace, that Brian means, then my understanding is that the Unitarian Universalists were actually some of the founders of Religions for Peace 50 years ago. So there’s been a long history

Of commitment to this multi-religious space, which is for definition of what the Unitarian universal’s philosophy if you will is very much about. It’s coming together across differences and working together. So yes, the answer very simply is yes, and they are, they have, they are committing, contributing to the convening of different religions together,

The upholding of the human rights agenda, the realization of collaboration towards the sustainable development goals, peace and security, the whole demotion. – The next question comes from Dr. Yosef Berlin who asks, or who says UNESCO has a long history now of the many agencies of the United Nations. UNESCO has a long history

Of engagement with religious communities, religious actors in a scholar sovereign region, in countless seminars, conferences, reports, and programs in a deliberate and strategic way, at least since the late 1980s, focusing on culture, education and inter-religious dialogue. How would the speakers and I will ask you this team of speaker in singular,

See UNESCO’s contribution over the past 30 years to the discourse in the UN system? After you answer, I will give you guys a few footnotes on UNESCO of religion and gender. – When we set up the inter-agency task force, the United Nations inter-agency task force,

UNESCO was one of the early to join members of that task force. Their work has been singular in its outreach, particularly within the academic spaces. They have done some remarkable work bringing together some of the best brains in the system. That’s why Professor Joseph Lula and Professor Casanova

Are amongst those different distinguished chains of leaders who have been engaging, advising, working in that space within UNESCO’s academic hemisphere. There has been an inter-religious dialogue on specific issues that UNESCO has stewarded over the years. And I think that it’s been very important that there’s been this space in the UN system.

And I think that there’s more that can be done, quite frankly and I do believe that there’s a tremendous need to bridge the service providers in the inter-religious spaces with the academics, the theologians, the brains of the inter-religious and intercultural space. I think there’s a lot of work to be done

In terms of bridging those together, and it’s a little bit like bridging the UNESCO heritage in this space with the heritage of say, UNDP, UNHCR, UNH and the other operational agencies that are in different countries. So there is still work to be done in that bridging of those inside the UN system,

But we’ve come a very long way and I think UNESCO has established particularly around cultural heritage and religious sites established quite an impressive legacy. – If I may add a footnote some years ago, probably around eight years ago. UNESCO organized a very, very large project on public religions around the world

Taking basically the framework from my analysis by recognizing and pointing out that the issue of gender had not been really, really central to my analysis. And so what happens when you bring gender into the discussion of public regions? And for this task, basically female scholars from all over the world,

Catholic countries like Poland, India, Muslim countries, like I believe it was Turkey and Indonesia and so on precisely spend some time to bring up the issue, how gender basically makes it even more complex. The question of public religious in the mother world which I had incorporated.

And so I think that in this respect, UNESCO has done much in also serving as a place where different voices of scholars but also activist practitioners and I would say women leaders enter into these debates and conversations. The next question will come from Tatiana Barrett

And she asks Professor Karam on what she thinks about the role of youth from religious communities in promoting human rights, building peace, et cetera. Would she have any good examples to share, please? – Thank you. That’s a very good question. The reason I’m laughing

Is not because it’s a great question, but I’m laughing ’cause I don’t know where to start with the brilliant examples to share. Let me just give the thing that’s top most on my mind, but there are so many examples. So Religions for Peace has the oldest, most diverse, most proliferating interfaith youth network

Amongst all the different sort of inter-religious groups and communities and organizations. And one of the things that just happened recently, totally. First of all, it’s spontaneity of service and working together is definitely a hallmark of youth when they come together across the faith traditions. They come up with the most amazing, innovative ideas.

So as soon as COVID hit, the African Youth Network, Religions for Peace’s African interfaith youth network came up with idea that they needed to work with the women of faith, African women of faith youth network which is the other massive global network that Religions for Peace is extraordinarily privileged to serve.

And they said, the youth said, we need to give y’all training on social media. How to use social media. And they did they did. They organized it all together in COVID. I don’t know how they managed to do it, but they managed to organize for an entire regional,

Women of faith network, not in consequential and not a small network. And they came together as the young leaders in their own spaces and trained the women of faith on using social media. And the next thing we knew, we were getting tweets and Facebook posts and LinkedIn with all these women of faith

Speaking to their work and publicizing the work that they were doing collaboratively. And they now have a social media presence, which was phenomenal if you think about it because it took the young folks to train them in doing that with obvious results. So there are many examples. What I mentioned before

The multi-religious humanitarian fund, that Religions for Peace sets up and invited all the different religious actors to try to contribute to in kind or with the most minimal of resources, but to be deliberate about supporting communities to come together, to serve together in this pandemic context.

And we realized that so many of the applicants were actually youth networks who were coming up with the most amazing ideas and projects ’cause they were as busy in the information sharing, the awareness raising, the service delivery of actually packages of food and medicines and spending time with the elderly people,

People with disabilities to look after them during this time where everybody was just hiding in their own space, et cetera, et cetera. They were doing amazing work. They’re the ones who work asking for contributions to do more in this space to serve their communities.

There are so many examples I would invite you to share, to visit our website. I would also invite you to visit the website of the parliament of world religions, the United Religions Initiative, because some tremendous work is happening at so many different levels around the world with youth

Because of youth and thanks to the youth. When the UN secretary general issue to call for a global cease fire, Jose, you may remember that basically saying it’s a pandemic. We have a bigger, a bigger enemy to be confronting than one another. The Interfaith Youth Network of Religions for Peace

Came together and put their own video where each of them from different parts of the world, different religions were echoing that call and calling upon their own communities, their own in some cases in conflict ridden society saying, yes, this is the call that has to be headed. We must heed this call.

So they were expressing their own political will as young people of faith to support the leadership of the so-called multilateral world and saying, yes, this is time. This is what we must do. Please let’s do that. So yes, many, many examples. – The next questions, related one comes from Alejandro Williams Becker

From Argentina, who says, thank you, Professor Casanova and Professor Karam. I am a KICE fellow and I am working on proposals to take the G-20 interfaith summit to advance commitments for partnerships involving villages and multi faith organizations towards the achievement of the SDGs. So do you have any particular recommendations in this matter?

– It’s a great initiative. I’m extremely proud that the KEISI the international center for dialogue is doing this work on the G-20 interfaith summit with the leadership of very experienced colleagues like Professor Catherine Marshall and also Professor Cole Durham. So I think it’s a wonderful collaboration.

Yes, I do have a couple of recommendations. I think the key point here is how collaborative can this space be? What are the gaps in collaboration between different inter religious organizations? There are some very serious gaps in collaborations. There are also some wonderful examples of collaboration between different inter-religious efforts.

I think the multi-religious NGO world is just as riddled with challenges as the secular NGO world. And collaboration is not necessarily one of the strengths, but so how do we learn from the positive examples of collaboration between different inter-religious organizations and more critically, how can we enhance the collaboration

Between the multi-religious and the secular civic actors? I think that has to be a very key recommendation. I would also say that what’s absolutely important for this particular initiative is that it law dates and upholds and insists on the need for support to the multilateral world.

I’m all for the G-20 or the G7 or the G8 whatever they’re called these days. I’m all for it, but I’m also even more for the United nations and multilateral system. And I think it’s very, very important that these actors, whether it’s the world economic forum or the G8 or G7

Or whether it’s the G20, I think it’s very important that there’s a deliberate effort to highlight and to support and to uphold the role of the multilateral entity that is Supreme in our date and time, now, that is celebrating its 75th. Now is the time to uplift and to support this organization,

Not to go off in different sub branches to do their own respective areas of work and engagement. This is the time to come together. G20, G7, G8, G10, G whatever, to come together and support the United Nations system, unequivocally, including pooling the resources at their disposal

To serve that which is to serve us all. – The next question comes from John Borrelli from Georgetown University, who of course has been working on inter-religious dialogue for decades. And he asked, Religions for Peace has had to maintain a careful balance. On the one hand for the good reasons you have given,

It can bring to bear religious and moral commitments of religious bodies, churches, and religion, and current issues facing all of us. And on the other hand, Religions for Peace needs to maintain the confidence of religious leaders to exercise that important function of convening such these peace religious groups. How can Religion for Peace

Become more effective in what it does? Do you see any measure changes in strategies? – That’s a beautiful question. And first of all, many warm greetings to John Borelli, who’s one of the original architects of the Religions for Peace structure, infrastructure hierarchy coming together. The nuances of the conversations and the actions.

So yes, very happy to get this question. There is a very short answer to the question about, is there any change in strategies? I’m here today. I’ve been elected to be here. For the last 27 years, we had some amazing leadership within the Religions for Peace movement and system.

Clearly there is a change in that leadership for a consolidation of the best of what Religions for Peace has already done. And I think just being able to give me a chance to show that there is this already a massive change in that appreciation and in that space of leadership shouldn’t be underestimated.

I would say one of the first things that Religions for Peace today is much more committed to doing thanks to convening 250 of the religious leaders around the world in December for a strategic planning exercise, which had never happened before that you convene 250 religious leaders and plan strategically.

What you’re gonna work together, have a strategic plan with 250 illiterates institutions? They did it, they did it, and they came up with some very clear strategic priorities in full alignment with the sustainable development goals agenda, same language, same issues, similar priorities, and the same indicators for this work.

This was done by the religious leaders. This wasn’t done by some of us. This was done by the legislators. They came together to strategically plan and commit to working together with total alignment with an international agenda of 193 governments. Two that actually identified very clearly, gender equality as they are concern,

As something they’re committing themselves to and committing to actions in that space. So, yeah, I think there’s been quite a change in this movement. And it’s manifesting in the way that these religious leaders are working together. I don’t speak for myself. I’m speaking for the service

And in the name of the service to these religious leaders. So what you’re hearing, what you’re seeing and what you will see in terms of more partnerships, more engagement around very difficult issues is the commitment that religious leaders themselves are making and working towards and realizing.

– The next question comes from Samuel Bachner and brings us to the issue of theological dialogue and the role it plays or may play in multi religious collaborations, since I tended to somehow minimize the role of theological dialogue, but obviously there is some room for it.

So what will be the role of theological dialogue in multi religious collaboration? – It’s absolutely foundational. The reason that Religions for Peace and other institutions today that are inter religious in nature are able to realize so much collaborative efforts at so many different levels on so many different issues.

The reason is that this is the fruit of decades of theological engagement and discussion and conversation. There is a continuity that often we miss, but it is very much present. You cannot build it today on what you have not put together the tools and the materials with yesterday. Theological conversation is quintessential

To the relational aspect of that we’re saying today, we’re maintaining today. We’re proving by the very virtue of existence of multi religious collaborative initiatives that we need, that we are building on that relational dynamic, and the relational dynamic comes thanks to in large measure, not just a global pandemic

That forces everybody to work together, but thanks to the fact that we have developed a common narrative of commitment, of service that is built upon the theological foundations. Samuel has been leading, co-leading an incredible initiative with Muslims and Christians for many years, which I’ve had the incredible privilege of being part of

Just for a couple of times. And I have seen, and I have witnessed what it means to actually look at what God said in our respective texts, and then try to unpack it together and understand the deeper. I come out from these conversations with my Muslim,

My Christian and my Hindu and Jewish and so on, theological conversations, I come out feeling like I’m a better believer. I’m a more, slightly wiser believer in my own faith that is so integrally committed to the other, and part of all the other faith traditions. Theological encounter is the basis

Of an inter relational building that we need in turn to be able to work multi-religiously. – We are coming to the end of our session and we have three related questions dealing with religion and geopolitics. So I’m going to present all three of them and you can answer somehow

In any way you think it’s possible. From Flabio Conrado comes the question in different regions of the world, extremist governments are being elected, raising concerns about the human rights agenda in a spaces like a United Nations. This week, we showed the UN general assembly president spreading polarization and extremism using religious discourse.

How are Religions for Peace dealing with these kinds of discourse when it comes from readers who speak with religious rhetoric? The next question comes from AW and says, what are the mental multi-religious impacts of the United States from withdrawing from the UN human rights UNESCO sections

We could that from the World Health Organization? Do you think the scanning will be changed with any of us political administration if the current U S administration their policies remain the same? How can we as individuals and the society make sense to improve and enhance multi-religious impacts. Finally, from Mahamirsa,

Would you say that the global system is a structure to bring about the greater good, or to provide legitimacy through institutions for their own interests while giving the appearance of doing good wherever possible in part through the instrumentalization of religions? Can religions lead us into a better world?

Can they actually lead or do they mainly just follow, helping us manage crisis created by war order primarily secular? So on these three questions, I’m going to let you have the last word in whichever way you want to respond to that. – Gee, thank you. Those are extremely extensive questions

And I’m very grateful for them and then many warm greetings to Mahan and the others who raised these questions. There was no question to me that’s participation and engagement are a scenic one on of any transition, transformation that we need in our global community today. To exit the space under any excuse,

To exit from the opportunity and the challenge presented by actively engaging and working together to exit this space and to assume that you can do it on your own, that you don’t need that the rest of the world to work with you, that in and of itself is very, that is the problem.

That is actually the heart of the problem of what we’re confronting today. We are extraordinarily interdependent and interrelated as a planet. We cannot afford to go it alone. No nation, no community, no religion, no one can afford to go it alone anymore. I’m really sorry.

I don’t know when it was possible to go it alone, but now, especially, and the pandemic teaches us, pandemic 101, we are all connected, equally vulnerable, equally strong if we stay connected. So the idea that any government should withdraw from any particular multilateral space to me is the beginning of unraveling,

Not only that own governance and society structure, but it is unraveling of our interconnectivity. It is posing a serious challenge to the fact that our planet demands we work together and we work as one. So to me, that’s just, there’s no even question about that. Is that harmful? Yes, it’s absolutely harmful.

What do we do about it? And this brings me to the issue of the extremist. And by the way, extremist discourse that is espoused and subtly or implicitly or explicitly by certain governments and or regimes, the fact that this is happening more today is part and parcel of the phenomenon

Of certain government society that they don’t need to be part of this space. They can do it better on their own. That is the same phenomenon by the way. And I think that the issue here is we can lament, we can belabor, we can get very upset or we can actually demonstrate

How it is that working together collaboratively, how that actually does change, how that actually does contribute, how that actually does heal. And I think those, the emphasis on that, on showing that, on seeing it happen because it’s happening, it’s happening all the time. We are alive here today by virtue of the fact

That people work together. We are alive here today by virtue of the fact that people serve institutions serve together. We wouldn’t be here on this Zoom call if we didn’t have that absolute reality. So the idea that we could potentially show, highlight, more, magnify, and that’s one of the reasons

That’s one of my big things with media is when we were in the World Humanitarian Summit, all the faith-based organizations came together and came up with an agreed ethos on serving human rights and upholding international humanitarian law and serving together in humanitarian crisis all over the world.

Nothing emerged from that in the media. Nobody even knew this happened. And I will wager you that if somebody had walked in and exploded themselves, that would have made major news in that space. One loaner in the name of one warped understanding of religion, would have received tremendous media attention.

All the faith communities in that one space coming together and committing to a charter on humanitarian service and collaborations together, no news. I think we have a role to play in being deliberate about seeing that which is working, that which is the collaborative potential of our work. It’s absolutely necessary.

We have to do it. There’s no question about it. And with all due the respect, Mahan, I think the answer is in your question. Your question has the answer to it. Yes, religions institutions can be extraordinarily narrow-minded in their self interest, but we can’t survive without them

Because we’re too many to relate one on one with one another all the time. We need mechanisms to do so. Right now, institutions of various hues are mechanisms. It is up to us to make sure that those institutions are held accountable and responsive. There’s no question that the multilateral order

Requires the government systems. The government systems require the institutions of civil society there to function. That is the order of things. It will never be good. There will be rot here. There will be horrible stuff there, but there’s also a legacy of being able to work together, better.

– Well, the bell has rung. We are past our time, and I thank you very, very much for these wonderful conversation. And I thank you, especially for all your insights, for your courage, for your leadership and commitment to work together for everything that is important for global humanity, especially in leading

These global, religious, secular dialogue. Thank you everybody for participating in our conversation. As we pointed out in a few days, the conversation will be on YouTube at the Berkeley Center website, and you will receive soon notices of the next dialogue. It will be with Peter Vanderveer

From the Max Planck Institute in getting in mid October. We will let you know. Thank you so much and hope to see you next month.

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