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Sunday Syllabus – 8/6/2017

Sunday Syllabus is a round-up of interesting articles and links that I came across over the last week. I sometimes provide a little commentary or raise questions. The content is not necessarily brand new, just new to me. If you have a recommendation, use the contact form. No promises.

This week’s articles feature outsider perspectives on religion and blurred lines between academic and popular work.


FEATURED ARTICLE: Philosopher Paul Russell contends that religious identities are not immune from critique the way racial, gender, or sexual identities are. This is because they are ideological or value-laden. Nevertheless, critique must occur within the bounds of liberal toleration.

Emmanuel Carrère’s novel The Kingdom blurs fiction, non-fiction, and autobiography in his imagining the origins of Christianity. Carrère writes from the position of a double convert, a non-religious person who briefly became a zealous Catholic, only to settle into agnosticism. A recurring theme is that a person is always capable of becoming something that they do not expect or wish to be.

Geoffrey Stone’s Sex and the Constitution is an ambitious project, rooting American attitudes toward sex deep in the Christian past. Prof. Annette Gordon-Reed probes the promises and pitfalls involved in drawing lines directly from ancient figures such as Augustine and Aquinas to modern Americans.

A review of Peter Adamson’s Philosophy in the Islamic World suggests that it deconstructs the colonialist notions of “Western” philosophy vs. the rest.

Mary Beard reflects on a recent Twitter controversy over the racial diversity of ancient Britain. It’s easy to assert that history should be for the people, not just for the academics. But who will protect the academics from the people?

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