Customer Reviews: The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere (A Columbia / SSRC Book)
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars8
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on February 25, 2012
First of all, reading this book made me wish I could have been in attendance at the event for which it is the basis. Imagine hearing Charles Taylor, Cornel West, Jurgen Habermas and Judith Butler all lecture on the same day and then discuss back and forth.

Second, the book's brevity is its strength. It helps if you have read these philosophers outside of this book, but even if you haven't, you receive a rather robust introduction to their ideas and their style.

Third, Craig Calhoun does an outstanding job in the afterword of summarizing the arguments. After reading the lectures and debates, and then reading his summary, I have a much clearer view of what religion and its voice looks like in the public sphere. It's really a great little resource.
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on January 7, 2012
When I received this in the mail, I was a little put-off by how small the book was. But the quality of the content won me over: Not only are the essays themselves important and thought provoking, but the editing is amazing. Each pair of essays is situated with a transcript of a debate between the two authors. This encouraged me to think of each essay in relation to the other essays in the book--to compare each take on the role of religion and the purview of the public sphere.
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on January 11, 2014
Judith Butler reduces the level of discussion considerably. Her eccentricities simply do not pass for serious intellectual examination of the topic.
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on August 15, 2014
Very good, broad-minded and deep in general. I can point as jewels: Cornel West descripion af a poet in pag. 93 (complemented in p.98) and its dissection of prophetic religión in pag. 99; tough I do not agree with his opinión that President Obama is mesmerized by the braininess of technocratic elites.
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on March 20, 2014
Great insight...still reading it. I read what I needed for my research paper, but I definitely plan to go back and finish reading all of it.
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on May 3, 2013
I expected a more interesting book about the matter, it is superficial and doesn't pose anything new about secularism and religion.
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on December 30, 2014
An alternative title for this book could be: "how can left-wing intellectuals cope with religious arguments in public political debate in a liberal post-christian democracy." The speakers are clearly extermely intelligent and arctiuclate and with deep understanding of the topics. They don't agree on everything, but the spectrum of views is rather narrow. They also acknwoledge their bias, but what is a discussion worth when the conclusions are foregone?
A case in point, which curiously enough is not addressed in any of the talks, is the Muhammad cartictaures affair. There is a tension between a view that holds that speech and actions in the public sphere entail responsibility - for example, when public figures in the the U.S. are expected to be "policially correct" and not speak as freely as they do in private - and the secular interpretation of freedom of speech in which "blasphemy" is meaningless, and in which the most you can say about the Muhammad caricatures is that they offended the feelings of some people - which of course misses the point. I didn't find that this book really addresses such issues. To the extent that it does it does so from a purely secular point-of-view.
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on October 22, 2015
Not a light read. Some good information but densely written.
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