Matthew J. Walton
This article looks thematically at several important aspects of Buddhist politics in Myanmar, from the precolonial period to the present. It considers a number of arguments regarding the use of Buddhism in both supporting and opposing political authority, especially as they are rooted in a dualistic conception of human nature. It presents several examples of Burmese Buddhist political thought that creatively combine traditional Buddhist ideas with other political ideologies and practices, revealing a once-vibrant tradition that will hopefully be revitalized with the country’s current political transition. The role of monks in politics is controversial in Myanmar, and the article looks at some of the unique aspects of monastic activism, using examples from the 2007 “Saffron Revolution” and the current anti-Muslim Buddhist nationalist movements. Finally, it offers several different strands of democratic thought, including a provocative Burmese Buddhist notion of “moral democracy.”
The Anglican Communion has recently experienced a sea change in its understanding of and approach to canon law, hitherto a matter lacking worldwide attention amongst Anglicans. Whilst the worldwide Communion has no global system of canon law applicable to its member churches, each church (or Province) is autonomous, with its own system of law and government. These individual legal systems deal with such subjects as government, ministry, doctrine, liturgy and ritual, and church property. However, in recent years there have been key developments. The chapter describes, explains (particularly in the context of the juridical experiences of other international ecclesial communities which are ecumenical partners of Anglicans), and evaluates the process leading up to, and the terms of, the document the Principles of Canon Law Common to the Churches of the Anglican Communion, launched at the Lambeth Conference 2008, and the juridical aspects and issues which relate to the Anglican Communion Covenant.
This chapter identifies capitalism as a system for human relating which came to predominance in several Christian societies during the nineteenth century. Socialism emerged in the same regions—part Romantic desire to restore social relationships weakened by capitalism, part product of secular Enlightenment hopes to reorganize human society by the moral light of reason. The chapter reviews Christian responses to both phenomena. Paternalist theologies were frequently revived in new industrial circumstances. Evangelical Protestants saw the free market as a sphere of God’s providence and human agency to do good. Christian responses to socialism often agonized over anti-Christian tendencies, but many recognized cooperation as more Christian than selfish competition. By 1900, Catholic social teaching mediated between free market capitalism and secular socialism, and Protestant Christian socialisms abounded. To conclude, the chapter explores why the idea of the Kingdom of God was so frequently evoked in nineteenth-century reflections on capitalism and socialism.
For more than half a century, Rousas John Rushdoony and his followers have articulated and disseminated what they understand to be a biblical worldview, based in aspects of traditional reformed theology and both the Old and New Testaments. This worldview seeks to apply biblical law to every aspect of life and to transform every aspect of culture to establish the Kingdom of God. While some components of their vision are so extreme that Christian Reconstructionists are often dismissed as an irrelevant fringe group, other aspects of their vision have taken root in conservative American Protestantism, especially in the Christian homeschool movement, and therefor influenced American conservatism more broadly. This essay outlines that worldview and points to some of those areas of influence.
Karen L. King
This chapter considers the religious justifications for and against torture. It also describes the torturous narratives at Christianity's foundations, the notion of redemptive martyrdom, and the various ways in which Christian ideology has challenged as well as supported the torturous suffering of fellows and foes. Torture functions in the absence of the facts or against the facts. Despite legal censure, torture and claims of torture are omnipresent. The violence of torture depends on sex/gender differentiation for much of its public communication. Opposition to torture on religious grounds will not be efficient without addressing the fact that enculturated ways of thinking and structures of feeling cultivated in Christian stories, images, and theological discourses are entailed in a wide variety of attitudes and behaviors, both for and against torture.
Laura R. Olson
This article observes the central currents in the literature on politics and clergy. The first section centers on charting a short historical map of scholarship on clergy and politics. It then considers the question of whether clergy are paradigmatic of other politically relevant social elites. It considers how one may categorize the politically relevant activities that the clergy engages in, and discusses the ways the existing literature helps in understanding whether and why clergy become politically active.
A. Dirk Moses
A long tradition of scholarship has posited colonialism and ‘racial imperialism’ as an enabler of the genocide against European Jewry, though often in imprecise ways. In response, critics of this view have insisted that antisemitism and World War I were the salient enablers, and Germany's colonial experience was too ephemeral to have had serious causal importance. This article changes the terms of debate by presenting the murderous National Socialist program as a colonial and imperial project executed in Europe to compensate for the loss of Germany's empire abroad and in central Europe in 1919. It argues that the style of occupation and warfare Germany conducted in realizing this project was colonial in nature and inspiration, and the Holocaust of European Jewry can be understood in terms of colonial logics as well. At least in part, the Holocaust was, for the Nazis, the attempt of an indigenous people — the Germans — to cast off the perceived exploitative rule of a foreign people: Jews.
This chapter focuses on the role of the comparative study of ethics in peacebuilding. The argument proceeds as follows. First, comparative ethics is presented primarily as a hermeneutical discipline, in which the goal is to answer the question “what is going on?” in a particular context. Second, the chapter analyzes changes in Muslim discourse about war. These point to a deep political crisis. Third, the chapter turns to an analysis of the virtues necessary for those who undertake to build peace in such a context. The example of Dag Hammerskjold serves to make the point that, among other virtues, peacebulding requires the wisdom to identify “provisional solutions”, which at times will include a judicious use of military force. The chapter concludes with the suggestion that the vocabularies of jihad, just war, and other frameworks may yet play a constructive role in the building of peace.
Ron E. Hassner
This chapter argues that contested sacred sites pose indivisibility challenges which can drive even natural religious allies into violent conflict, and also outlines the multiple roots of conflicts over sacred sites based on the type of objective at stake: legitimacy, security, or profit. It then turns to investigate several aspects that characterize these disputes, regardless of cause. Sacred sites cannot be shared to the satisfaction of all parties involved. The characteristics of disputes over sacred places include cohesion, boundaries, and value. Leaders have pursued three primary strategies in order to avoid bloodshed: partition, scheduling, and exclusion. These approaches develop tensions that threaten to burst as soon as one of the claimants perceives a change in the balance of power. Religious leaders can introduce flexibility into the rules governing holy places and add a measure of harmony to contests over holy sites.
Patrick S. Cheng
This chapter provides an overview of what Christian theologians need to know about queer theory, which is a critical approach to sexuality and gender that challenges the ‘naturalness’ of identities. Based upon developments in queer theory since the early 1990s, the chapter proposes the following four marks of queer theory: (1) identity without essence; (2) transgression; (3) resisting binaries; and (4) social construction. The chapter then discusses four strands of queer theology that correspond with each of the four marks of queer theory. The chapter concludes by suggesting six issues for future queer theological reflection: (1) queer of colour critique; (2) queer post-colonial theory; (3) queer psychoanalytical discourse; (4) queer temporality; (5) queer disability studies; and (6) queer interfaith dialogue.