Discussions archive

Since its inception in the fall of 2007, The Immanent Frame has organized and hosted a wide range of critical dialogues on secularism, religion, and the public life, from extended colloquies on noteworthy new books to ongoing exchanges on the complex role of secularism and religion in both U.S. politics and international affairs. Related discussions have explored and debated the power of religion and the significance of secularism in the public sphere, in cognitive science, in sexuality and marriage, and in politicaland intellectual criticism.

Most recently, The Immanent Frame has organized a series of exchanges on religious freedom and U.S. foreign policy, on the concept of civil religion, on the politics of spirituality, and on the emergence of a “strong program” in the sociology of religion. Recent discussions of new books by Courtney Bender and Stefanos Geroulanos can be found at the TIF book blog.

All TIF discussions feature invited contributions, original essays that have not previously been published in print or online.

Browse all TIF discussions and book blogs by following the links below.

  • "These things are old"
    A conversation about Obama, civic virtues, and the common good
  • A cognitive revolution?
    Is neuroscience changing the way we think about religion?
  • A Secular Age
    A critical discussion of Charles Taylor's book
  • American Grace
    A critical discussion of Robert D. Putnam and Robert E. Campbell's book
  • An Atheism that Is Not Humanist
    A critical discussion of Stefanos Geroulanos's new book
  • Belief
  • Beyond critique
  • Book blog
    Critical discussions of new and recent books
  • books
    books and book reviews featured at here & there
  • Christian Moderns
    A critical discussion of Webb Keane's book
  • Evangelicals & evangelicalisms
    How people understand and apply a contested religious category
  • events
    upcoming events featured at here & there
  • Frequencies
  • Games people play
    Religious and ritual dimensions of sport
  • Global Christianity, Global Critique
    A discussion of the special issue of South Atlantic Quarterly, edited by Matthew Engelke and Joel Robbins
  • here & there
    perspectives on secularism, religion, and the public sphere, from around the web and around the world
  • Interviews
    Dialogues with thinkers and practitioners
  • Is critique secular?
    Examining the histories, contexts, and assumptions of critique
  • Islam and the Secular State
    A critical discussion of Abdullahi An-Na‘im's book
  • Just and Unjust Peace
    A critical discussion of Daniel Philpott's book
  • justice
    A critical discussion of Nicholas Wolterstorff's book
  • Mumbai 11/26
    Responses to the terrorist attacks in India
  • Notes from the field
  • Notes from the field (2010)
    SSRC fellows studying religion share notes and reflections on their emerging research
  • off the cuff
    A handful of leading thinkers respond "off the cuff" to a question posed by the editors
  • Political Theology
  • Reconsidering civil religion
    Scholars interrogate Robert Bellah’s 1967 thesis of an “American civil religion”
  • Religion & American politics
    Beyond the front page
  • Religion in Human Evolution
    A critical discussion of Robert Bellah's book
  • Religion in the public sphere
    Scholars reassess a longstanding debate
  • religious freedom
    Contrasting analyses of a controversial facet of American foreign policy
  • Rethinking secularism
  • Secularism: Its Content and Context
    In “Secularism: Its Content and Context,” an SSRC Working Paper, Akeel Bilgrami addresses two questions: first, the meaning of secularism and second, its justification and implementation. Engaging Charles Taylor’s recent calls for a “radical” redefinition of secularism, he offers an alternative conceptualization of the category, while also addressing Taylor’s deep concerns about the politics of secularism for our time. According to Bilgrami, secularism has its point and meaning not in a decontextualized philosophical argument but in the historical and contextual specificities in which it is applied. In the end, secularism “needs, not replacement, but merely proper implementation, in order to get us ‘beyond toleration.’”
  • Secularity and the liberal arts
  • Sex abuse in the Catholic Church
    A discussion to interpret the sex abuse scandal as a subject for the study of religion.
  • Sex in A Secular Age
    Reactions to Charles Taylor's essay on modern sexuality
  • sociology of religion
    Reflections on the state of the sub-discipline
  • The assassination of Benazir Bhutto
    Colleagues and scholars reflect on Bhutto's life and legacy
  • The future of Egyptian democracy
  • The future of marriage
    Scholars untangle the past and future of the family
  • The Gospel of an Icon
    A critical discussion of Kathryn Lofton's new book
  • The headscarf controversy
    Weighing the social implications of secularism and political change in Turkey
  • The new evangelicals
  • The New Metaphysicals
    A critical discussion of Courtney Bender's new book
  • The politics of religious freedom
    Scholars consider the multiple histories and genealogies of religious freedom
  • The politics of spirituality
    A critical discussion of recent studies on America's growing "no religion" population and the manifestations of spirituality and spiritual movements in political life as they take shape around various contemporary issues, including ecology, health and the body, race, and sexuality
  • The science of religion
  • The state of religion in China
    A discussion of religion and secularism in China, with an emphasis on religion's role and interaction with political contexts and the state apparatus
  • The Stillborn God
    A critical discussion of Mark Lilla's book
  • The Unintended Reformation
    The last decade or so has seen a steady stream of publications seeking to cast light on the roles that theology and religion have played in shaping modern societies, politics, and human self-understanding. Keeping with the spirit of the literature’s dissatisfaction with the present and with the failure of modernity to live up to its promise of an emancipated and happy humanity, Brad Gregory’s The Unintended Reformation traces the absence of any substantive common good, and the triumph of capitalism, consumerism, and individualism to the long-term effects of the Protestant Reformation. Yet can the social and political ills of modern societies indeed be understood as more or less direct, if unforeseeable, consequences of the Protestant Reformation? What is the contemporary import of thinking of modernity as the degradation of an earlier, more wholesome age? What sort of philosophical or theological premises underlie Gregory’s understanding of history, and how are political and socioeconomic factors to be incorporated into his account of modernization? We have invited scholars to respond to these questions, to evaluate Gregory's thesis, and to offer their critiques of how his work might fit into broader historical patterns of interpreting the relationship between modernity and its past.
  • Uprising in Egypt
  • World affairs
    Bringing religion back in?
  • Youth Without Youth
    Critical reviews of Coppolla's adaptation of Mircea Eliade's novella