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After Modernity?: Secularity, Globalization, and the Reenchantment of the World Paperback – July 17, 2008
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"This interdisciplinary approach to the phenomenon of globalization offers ways of thinking that transcend secular/religious dichotomies."―William T. Cavanaugh, Associate Professor of Theology, University of St. Thomas
"Luke Bretherton's analysis on the care of refugees... is compelling and powerful and makes this otherwise valuable book indispensable."―CHOICE
"This book employs the expertise of multiple scholars across disciplines (theology, philosophy, religion, political science, social science, economics, and geography) sharing 'post-secular' approaches to globalization, grounded in religious (particularly Christian) thought and practice. ... Attentive reading of After Modernity? will reward advanced undergraduate, graduate, and scholarly audiences appreciably."―Steven B. Sherman, Regent University, Religious Studies Review
From the Inside Flap
This book is refreshingly different. -William T. Cavanaugh
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OVERVIEW OF THE KEY ESSAYS
The best parts of the book were the beginning and end. John Milbank urged a return to a neo-Medieval communitarianism. He defined "rule" as "providing good order," to give something--which is to share and empower the "other" into the act of ruling (29). Milbank builds off Wyclif: the owning or property is for the induction of others into the shared rule of society (33). However, Milbank is not arguing for democracy or democratic republicanism. (If you want to know the difference, leave a comment and it can be discussed).
The worst essay in the book was Michael Horton's. To be fair to Horton, it was well-argued. Horton actually argues (as he has for most of this decade) for the primacy of secularism. Horton is straining at gnats in trying to deal with Milbank's analysis. But to be fair to Horton--let him have his secularism. The theology of the Church Universal has long passed him by on this one.
The end of the book, which argued for the re-enchantment of the world, was superb. The authors urge a return to liturgy and the church calendar, noting that liturgical acts are formative on the Christian life. The last essay of the book is a call for a qualified Agrarianism. He is not advocating "going Amish," but simply pointing out the advantages of living close to the land.
The book is not perfect. I found the section on globalization particularly weak. While I have my criticisms of capitalism, I found their take on it to be naive and a straw man. Not even the most greedy capitalist is arguing that we should keep the poor poor. And even though most greedy capitalists are greedy, they know that simply throwing money at poor people does not solve poverty--it often makes it worse. (Incidentally, though the essayists do not consider this, the last essay on agrarianism can solve much of the poverty in America).
Secondly, I think John Milbank is the only one to understand that if one argues for socialism without divorcing it from the "State," then one gets the exact same corporational elitism that one originally opposed (only the government officials are the "haves;" the "have nots" remain the same). Milbank rightly understood that a medieval socialism in which sharing and ruling connect all members of society can prevent both the atomization of society in capitalism, and the statism that state socialism brings. Medievalism, though Milbank doesn't quite spell it out, provides a check on state power while introducing "inter-connectedness" to society.
Milbank's essay, like any Milbank essay, is worth the price of the book several times over. And the last part of the book was superb. However, Graham Ward's critique of democracy, while fundamentally sound, deliberately avoided answering any of the major questions, which was annoying. Ward's chapter illustrates why Radical Orthodoxy will never amount to anything. The Radical Orthodox offer, as usual, devastating critiques of Lockeanism and democracy, revealing the horrors of both, but stops short of urging the only real alternative to oligarchy: sacerdotal monarchy. They can't offer this because they are still fundamentally committed to Left-wing ideology. Until they realize that an anarcho-agrarian monarchism is the only alternative to democracy, they might as well be dilettante theologians.