It was, then, a stirring sight to see Habermas sit down with Cardinal Ratzinger in 2004 for a philosophical dialogue. It is hard not to miss a breath at the image of both men in conversation, one the arch-defender of reason and rationality, described by Habermasian scholar Thomas McCarthy as the “last great rationalist,” and the other, renowned as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (and subsequently as Pope Benedict XVI), for his steadfast theological defense of Catholic tradition and moral teaching. At the same time, the twinning of the two Germans made for a fitting tableau: through their long careers, both have shown little interest in sociological realities and have remained intellectually aloof from lived experience.Read the rest of Enter the Post-Secular.
Michele Dillon is Professor of Sociology at the University of New Hampshire. Her publications include Catholic Identity: Balancing Reason, Faith and Power (Cambridge University Press, 1999), and most recently In the Course of a Lifetime: Tracing Religious Belief, Practice and Change (University of California Press, 2007). Read Michele Dillon's contributions to Christianity and the crash, Surveying religious knowledge, and The naked public sphere?
Posts by Michele Dillon:
Although the sociology of religion is in a relatively good state, it still seems that there is continuing intellectual insecurity and uncertainty among sociologists who study religion. … American sociologists embrace, to varying degrees, the scientific status of sociology, and our professional training, associations (e.g., ASA, SSSR), and allegiances (with NSF, NIMH, NIJ, etc.) reinforce commitment to a scientific methodology. Yet, within this framework, the prevalence of positive socio-evaluative findings in sociological studies of religion is seen as suggestive of a pro-religion bias in the research program, rather than a “true” finding. Does any other sociological sub-field produce meta-narratives about their area’s findings, or engage in the crisis-assessment conversations that sociologists of religion seem compelled to have?Read the rest of Getting out of crisis-mode.
President Barack Obama’s May 17 commencement address at the University of Notre Dame deftly demonstrated the president’s unique ability to elevate civil discourse and to eloquently incorporate a deep religious sensibility into the nation’s most divisive contemporary public debate. Many observers have rightly commented on Obama’s important emphasis that the abortion issue requires “Open hearts. Open minds. Fair-minded words.” What is equally impressive is the religious repertoire that Obama used in articulating his vision of how that so-hard-to-come-by common-ground might be achieved. I am not thinking of Obama’s references to the “imperfections of man” and to “original sin,” or to the invocation of “God’s creation”—though these religious references are important. More striking was how Obama, a non-Catholic, showed his ability to think and to talk like a Catholic. […]Read the rest of President Obama’s Catholic sensibility.