With the failure of the Enlightenment project and the rise of globalisation, religion has powerfully allied itself with ethnic and nationalist identities, creating sharp divisions. Yet in contrast new ‘spaces of convergence’ and creative partnerships also begin to emerge, often led by religious leaders and faith-based organisations. Baker and Reader suggest that there is an increasing desire to build a “more civil” civil society. where religion and belief play a crucial role in developing new opportunities for engagement.
A world-renowned social scientist turns his attention to religion in this thought-provoking new text. Drawing on William Temple’s understanding of what it means to be human, and how this interconnects with notions of family, state and social order, Calhoun characterises public life as involving both commonality and diversity. He suggests that contemporary society lacks the articulacy to build a sense of shared identity, and offers examples of the NHS, the United Kingdom and Europe as case studies of what can go wrong when we see the world through the narrow perspective of individual entitlement.
Following the success of ‘God and Money’ in this valuable new Temple Tract, Eve Poole sets out a theological argument for embracing consumerism as a God-given unquenchable desire. Poole lays out practical suggestions for how readers might consume more ethically. Going beyond simple spending decisions, the book tackles the serious job of developing a more theologically sound consumerism, looking at the five key areas of money, time, relationships, environment and you.
Is God back? Whether one sees religion as declining or experiencing a resurgence, in 2016, questions of religious beliefs and actions are more present in public life than they have been in recent times. From politicians publicly professing their faith, to France’s infamous ‘burkini ban’, to legal disputes over icing cakes with slogans supporting same-sex marriage, religion is far from a silent elephant in the room.
Conversely, at the same time, religious literacy appears to be declining. Greg Smith takes up the challenge of explaining ‘what on earth is religion?’ writing specifically from the UK’s globalised, post-Christian context. Smith suggests that the best way to understand it is through looking at what he coins as the ‘seven pillars of religion’, which are distinct yet overlapping in nature. In doing so, Smith highlights and clarifies what this increased visibility of religion in public life might actually mean, both in terms of how we perceive modern society, and how we understand the changing nature of religion within it.
Public debates remain dominated by the notion that all religion is inherently hostile towards homosexuality. Within these debates, the spotlight is frequently turned upon Islam, construing the religion as exceptionally violent and homophobic. In this Temple Tract, scholar and activist Shanon Shah examines how some LGBT Muslims are reinterpreting Islam to expand notions of equality, diversity and social justice, as they rethink notions of sinfulness.
Shah demonstrates how, when faced with anti-LGBT sentiment, some LGBT Muslims are addressing these challenges by incorporating their personal experiences and insights into wider debates on religious interpretation.