Over the last week the Studies in Interreligious Relations in Plural societies Programme, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (or SRP, RSIS, NTU for short) held its third Executive Programme looking at religion, violence, and peacebuilding. As usual it was a full 5-day intensive course bringing academic knowledge and understanding to practical issues around managing religion in secular and religiously diverse societies. Some pictures from the event can be seen on the SRP Facebook page:
After 5 days there, we also held as well a first seminar with the community jointly with the Buddhist College Singapore on the Saturday. This touched on the way that religions relate in society as well as also exploring religious narratives on violence and peace. While focused on Buddhism we also paid particular attention to Christianity and Islam. again, see the FB page for photos:
Radicalisation is one of those buzz words that gets thrown into almost any conversation around terrorism, counter terrorism, and militant extremism in various forms. But is most especially associated with terror associated with Islam. However, like many buzz words it seeks to explain more than it can deliver.
Saying somebody has been “radicalised” is indeed pretty much meaningless and is often a way that politicians or others absolve themselves from blame or media pundits bandy around as a catchall explanation. In this article, I take issue with this abuse of the term, but recognising that as it is so pervasive we cannot abandon it. As such, if used we should recognise that “radicalisation” does not actually refer to anything in and of itself (people are socialised into worldviews we see as “radical”) and names various pathways and trajectories that are far more complex than a single word can really convey.
I also cover some recent debates around pathways into radicalisation between Kepel and Roy (two leading French theorists in the area) and look at the links with various forms of Islam.
I intend to write further and in more depth on this topic in the not so distant future. It seems to me a lot needs to be said to help unpack the jargon and myths around concepts of “radicalisation”.
Anyway, a full copy of the paper can be found here:
Following up from my last post, I have a new article out looking at the question of whether atheists can/ should be involved in interfaith/ interreligious dialogue. Needs a (free) signup to academia.edu (but that is well worth it if you haven’t got an account already).
The paper asks what religion and atheism are, and questions our understanding of these categories. It then suggests why there are not reasons for excluding atheists, before moving to what I see as positive reasons for including atheists. It moves therefore to suggesting what I term here “interworldview dialogue” between religion and atheism.
Hope you enjoy:
Next week, from 26-29 April 2017, the European Society for Intercultural Theology and Interreligious Studies will be holding its bi-annual conference. This time in Münster, Germany. There is an excellent line-up of speakers (including amongst more illustrious folk my good self). For those interested here is the lineup:
I was recently asked to prepare a slide showing all my book covers for a presentation my boss was doing about our programme’s research profile, and just because I think it looks quite nice am sharing here 😉
hopefully may also inspire someone if they feel like reading one or more too 😉
Just to quick note to point to recent RSIS Commentaries on the London terror attack in March outside parliament.
The first to appear was by myself, titled as the headline here, which looks at the way such events may be spoken of in the public sphere. It is available on my academia.edu website here:
The second was by my colleague Assoc Prof Kumar Radhakrishna which notes the wider issue of what he terms “the weaponisation” of “everyday life” and looks at the potential likely rise of such lone-wolf attacks which do not rely on sophisticated weaponry but use cars, knives, and other things we can readily access:
When I offered an update on my Towards Better Disagreement: Religion and Atheism in Dialogue book last month I hadn’t seen this report of the event itself, so for a write up of my talk along with the scripts from my atheist and Muslim respondents, see here:
Not sure if its just me but I think I look slightly like I’m gazing into the lights of an on-coming car in this photo and just frozen, paralyzed to the spot.
On the sidelines of this year’s SRP (Studies in Interreligious Relations in Plural Societies Programme) Symposium, Channel News Asia recorded this episode of Between the Lines documentary with Profs Lipner, Liow, Nasr, and Yan from (respectively): Cambridge University and SRP, RSIS; RSIS; John Hopkins University; Shanghai Academy of Religious Studies.
The topic was Politics and Religion and can be watched here:
Is it possible for atheists and people with a religious conviction to dialogue and converse with civility?
Is it possible for atheists and people with a religious conviction to see each other’s point of view, and recognise the validity and integrity of the other’s opinions?
There certainly are grounds for believing that this is possible and events which bring both sides together do take place. For instance, dialogue events between the two sides have taken place, as this report shows:
Moreover, at the launch of my book Towards Better Disagreement: Religion and Atheism in Dialogue, a panel discussion was held with a local Muslim and the founder of the Humanist Society of Singapore. The event is noted here:
While photos from it were previously posted on this blog, see:
To find out more why not check out Towards Better Disagreement, available on the publishers website or via Amazon, Book Depository, etc.:
On those sites you can check out the advance reviews by such figures as the atheist philosopher Michael Ruse or the leading theologian Ian Markham.
One of the first online reviews is the following:
While on Goodreads it got a 5*:
And a 5* on Amazon.co.uk:
My review of Alan Carling, ed., The Social Equality of Freedom and Belief, New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016 is now available on the “Reading Religion” website of the AAR. You can read it here:
This book adds to discussions around the freedom of religion and belief and law and legislation relating to this. My review is a a bit of a mixed bag for it: some very good surveys but also some poorer chapters.