From Publishers Weekly
At a time when we are bombarded with "reality" TV and Jerry Springer as models of civic engagement, and when conflicts are increasingly litigated rather than discussed, forums in which diverse Americans seek common purpose deserve special celebration. This book represents one such forum the background papers, final report and call to action of the American Assembly's second gathering, which was dedicated to the role of religion in American public life. For three days, leaders from many sectors and faith-based organizations worked together on policies and actions concerning religion's intersection with education, social services, the media and other arenas. And yet, as the book's subtitle suggests, this religiously diverse gathering did not achieve consensus on intractable matters of religion and conscience. Indeed, the assembly was not one of believers but of citizens, and rather than arriving at interfaith or ecumenical agreement, it provided a model nonviolent and mutually respectful of civic disagreement. For the late Catholic theologian John Courtney Murray, disagreement among citizens is not common at all but a hard-earned outcome of dialogue. Only when citizens find enough common ground to speak meaningfully to one another can they arrive at true disagreement. This book, and the three-day assembly of which it is the product, represents an invaluable framework for civic disagreement. That the disagreeing citizens are luminary thinkers makes this book a valuable part of the national conversation.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Commissioned by the American Assembly of Columbia University to "help reverse some of the most difficult and divisive forces in our society," this new work tries to create a bridge between public life and religion. Contributors al-Hibri (law, Univ. of Richmond), Jean Bethke Elshtain (social and political ethics, Univ. of Chicago Divinity Sch.), and Charles C. Haynes (senior scholar, Freedom Forum First Amendment Ctr.) strive to stimulate discussion and provoke independent, insightful thinking by presenting representative essays on religious belief and American democracy, religion and technology, and religion and public policy. Thoughtfully introduced by Martin Marty, the book concludes with an equally dynamic piece by Os Guinness (Trinity Forum), who rightfully ruminates that while some might consider this "windy nonsense," the murderous 20th century makes such political and religious discourse the most urgent challenge of the modern world. Intellectual but timely, this work recommends itself to all manner of American studies, religion, and political science collections. Sandra Collins, Duquesne Univ. Lib., Pittsburgh
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.