Here I Stand: Conscience, Reformation, and Religious Freedom Across the Centuries Panel 2

Here I Stand: Conscience, Reformation, and Religious Freedom Across the Centuries Panel 2


Let me say a couple of things before we
begin. First I do want to acknowledge— which I should have acknowledged before—
that we have two co-sponsors for our conference today. One is our longtime
institutional strategic partner Baylor University, and I’m delighted that Tom
Hibbs, Dean of the Baylor Honors College and head of the Baylor and Washington
Program, is here today. I’m also delighted that Baylor president emeritus, Judge Ken
Starr is here with us today and Judge Starr, I should add, is also a contributor
to the Christianity and Freedom volumes he contributed the chapter on the
development of, and Christian contributions to, religious freedom in the
United States. And let me also say that another one of our institutional
partners has been the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, New Jersey,
represented here by Matthew Franck, who marvelously participated in the first
panel you heard, so thanks to the Witherspoon Institute for being a part
of this project from the very beginning including its support of this conference,
so thank you very very much. I’m delighted to have now just an
extraordinary set of scholars to continue our conversation about, as we
already discussed the the ancient roots of ideas of conscience, freedom, and
dignity how those roots were articulated, developed the impact that they had
historically, going back to the very earliest stages of Christianity,
and we’re going to talk about the impact of these ideas across history. We’re
going to cover something like 2,000 years I think in the course of our panel.
Now we had of course a very focused discussion earlier today about the
Reformation and what the Reformation did or didn’t mean, roots of certain
Reformation ideas of conscience in ancient patristic writings, also in
Scripture. Now we’re going to spend a little more time talking about
the ancient roots of notions of individual freedom, conscience, dignity, and how as it
were long before Martin Luther’s “here I stand”
or long before Caritas Pirckheimer’s “here I stand” we had other extraordinary
Christian individuals say in effect, “here I stand.” We’ll be talking about Gregory
of Nyssa who said “here I stand” in the fourth century against slavery. We’ll be
talking about Basil of Caesarea and his great “here I stand” against poverty and
hunger around the same period in the fourth century we’ll be talking about
Bartolome de las Casas, the Dominican who said “here I stand” against the
enslavement and genocide of Amerindian peoples in the new world. And we’ll be
talking about other great figures in Christian history who in effect said
“here I stand” on the ground of conscience, the sacred ground of conscience for the
truth about the dignity and the freedom of all human beings. This is an
intimidatingly impressive panel. I have something like two single spaced
pages of their biographies. I’m not going to read all their biographies, which
would just take time away from our conversation. I refer you to the
booklet that you all should have; the booklet will contain biographies of the speakers or at least I think there’s another publication that has the
biographies am I mistaken about that? Yes, there are
biographies in the in the publication. I’ll refer you to the publication
which also has short essays by some of those who are with us today, some of
those who contributed to the Christianity and Freedom volumes. There’s
a summary of Robert Wilkins lecture, David Lantigua has a summary of his
essay, so I refer you to the publication. I also refer you to the Berkley Center
blog, called the “Berkley Forum,” which has more essays by other contributors to
today’s conference, so if you’re eager to carry on the conversation please do go
to the blog, pick up the publication, and again I refer
to the publication for the bios. But I also want to refer you to the
books piled up in the back there, remind you about the opportunity for papal
indulgences. You know the lunch
was free, that was in part to make you feel guilty so that you want to
want to buy the books, so please do buy the books. I am
delighted that we have with us again four extraordinary scholars to my immediate
left is Kyle Harper, who is senior vice president and provost at the University
of Oklahoma. as was already mentioned earlier he is author of “Slavery in the
Late Roman World,” published in 2011 which was awarded the James Henry Breasted
prize by the American Historical Association and the outstanding
publication award from the Classical Association of the Middle West and South.
His second book, a groundbreaking book that deservedly earned a lot of
discussion was “From Shame to Sin: The Christian Transformation of Sexual
Morality,” and depressingly he has a brand new book which is also getting
extraordinary attention—that’s three books in about seven years—brand new
book called “The Fate of Rome: Climate Disease in the End of an Empire,” which
was just reviewed in The Wall Street Journal
Kyle Harper is among the stars in the historical study of Late Antiquity
including the early origins of Christianity so we’re delighted to have
Kyle Harper with us. Also delighted that my friend Elizabeth Prodromou is here.
She is an outstanding scholar of religion and international relations,
including the the role of the Orthodox Church in the world, historically and in
the present day. She is visiting associate professor of conflict
resolution at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts, she’s also a
non-resident senior fellow in national security and international policy at the
Center for American Progress. She is co-editor and contributor to the
volume, “Eastern Orthodox Christianity and American Higher Education” and “Thinking
Through Faith: New Perspectives from Orthodox Christian Scholars.”
And then to Elizabeth’s left we have David Lantigua, formerly of Catholic
University, now assistant professor of moral theology and Christian ethics at
the University of Notre Dame. David specializes in late scholastic
moral and political thought emerging out of the Salamanca Spanish school and the
debates concerning the Spanish conquest of the Americas. We had some discussion
about that already and we’ll have further discussion thanks to David. His
research explores the contested legacy of Latin and Latino Christianity and
current discussions of just war, empire, race, religious violence, international
order, and human rights. He is working on a couple of major book projects and
we’ll hopefully hear more about that in due course. And then finally, last but not
least we have Slavica Jakelic who is associate professor of humanities and
social thought at Christ’s College at Valparaiso University. Her scholarly
interests and publications center on religion and collective identity,
religious and secular humanisms, theories of religion and secularism, theories of
modernity, and of conflict resolution. Before joining Christ’s College at
Valparaiso, Jakelic has worked at or been a fellow of a number of
interdisciplinary institutes in Europe and the US including the Institute for
Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia, where she worked
for many years alongside the the notable sociologist James Davidson Hunter on a
variety of projects and issues at the intersection of religion and its role in
modern society. She is the author of “Collectivistic Religions:
Religion Choice and Identity in Late Modernity,” and is currently working on
another book, “The Practice of Religious and Secular Humanisms.”
so I want us to proceed in much the way that Tom Farr proceeded with his
panel, namely, we’re going to have a conversation, this is not a series of
speeches, I did provide questions to our distinguished panelists ahead of time,
I will pose these questions and they’ll offer some preliminary remarks and then
we’ll have a conversation with each other, but then very soon with you all
with at least 30 minutes of opportunity to interact with with you.
I’d like to begin by asking a question that I’m going to pose to really all the
panelists, particularly Kyle and Elizabeth and David, and it’s a question
that revisits the discussion we’ve already had about the genealogy as it
were, the the origins of individualism. We had a great deal of discussion about
that earlier. And we of course are familiar with the the fact that at the
heart of Western modernity is a powerful moral and indeed spiritual vision, one
that casts human beings as free and equal individuals of inestimable worth
and dignity, and we’re familiar I think with the fact that this vision also
tends to cast individuals, because of their worth and dignity, as bearers of
rights, including, as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has it, the
right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion and belief. And when we
think of radical assertions of conscience again as we’ve discussed thus
far quite extensively we of course can’t help but think of Martin Luther and his
great “here I stand I can do no other,” and we also think of other remarkable
statements by Martin Luther, one thinks of his statement in his text, “On Secular
Authority,” that already came up earlier today, in which he says, “every man
is responsible for his own faith, and he must see to it that he believes rightly.
As little as another man can go to hell or heaven for me, so little can he
believe or disbelieve for me.” On the other hand, these scholars have all
written in effect that the intellectual ground for radical assertions about
conscience really were prepared long before Martin Luther,
that the ground was prepared, as it were, in the common Western and
Eastern patristic traditions and one dares to say in scholasticism even
though Martin Luther would probably have wanted to disown any any dependence on a
Scholastic background. So here’s my question for you all: in your
various writings, who were some of the most important pre-Lutheran reformers we
could say, pre-Lutheran asserters of a “here I stand I can do no other” right to
freedom, to dignity, to conscience, that you have studied closely as having had a
major impact. I want to start with you first, Kyle, and then we’ll ask Elizabeth
and David the same question. So Kyle Harper. Thanks, well, I’m delighted to be
here and honored to be a part of these conversations and to join this panel and
I’m glad to hear that Gregory of Nyssa already came up he’s an
important figure in this, in the way I would reckon with it, but who is
he? I think that that matters: he’s a fourth century Father and to the extent
that he’s he’s known in the Western tradition he’s probably most famous as a
Trinitarian theologian but he’s a Trinitarian theologian of such significance
because he lives in the in the first post-Nicean generation he lives after
Constantine and that’s a very important moment in which the Church is rapidly
becoming a majoritarian institution. Christianity is becoming a culture, it’s
becoming mainstream, it’s not a persecuted minority any longer, and in
some ways it doesn’t have the luxury, if you could call it that, of standing aside
and not thinking through how it wants to grapple with some of the more
challenging—some of the greater evils in the world, like slavery and poverty and
other institutions that caused human suffering. And Gregory
lives at an important moment he’s an ecclesiastical leader in the Church at
the moment when it is assuming a new, greater level of social responsibility than it’s
ever had. So while I think it’s important and I like the fact that you used
the word genealogy and to recognize that he’s drawing on ideas that are even older he’s drawing on the Genesis
account of the Creation and the idea that all humans are created in the image of
God. He’s of course drawing on the Gospel and the love commands, but it’s in his
moment the way that he translates those both into action and into social
principles that matters. And so the Church in that phase of its existence
when for the first time it’s becoming something other than a minority
institution does reckon with the evils of the world in a way that is new and
creative and even if the ideas that it’s deploying have an even more ancient
history, that’s a particularly important moment, so I was glad that that he came
up. And the other contribution I might make to answer the question as you’ve
posed it does look even earlier to the to the early Church, and as you were
talking in some ways I was thinking that we might imagine as the the real
ancestor of “here I stand” to be Stephen in the Book of Acts. And the
importance of martyrdom is an experience in the early Church the the willingness
to sacrifice any kind of good in this material life for a different other and
transcendent kind of good is a form of freedom is a is a kind of conscience that is developed quite uniquely in many ways in the in the early Christian
experience and is really integral to the development of this culture, even in the
period before Gregory of Nyssa. Thank you, Kyle,
may I ask just a quick follow-up: you’ve written about the way in which early
Christian thinkers such as Justin Martyr really in effect constructed a new
understanding of freedom of the will, could you connect that with the
way Gregory of Nyssa argues against slavery and maybe just say just a little
bit about how Gregory argues against slavery for those who are not
familiar with what Gregory argues. Sure, so there’s two separate questions there.
One is that I think it’s just possible if you’re tracing the genealogy of ideas
and you’re interested in the articulate development of
an idea of the free will, that it would require you to have a deep appreciation
for the contribution of Stoicism and I think Stoic philosophies as an important
part of the conversation in the ancient world, but at the same time I think there
is something something very distinctive, at least by the second century, as
Christianity is very much coming into conversation with ancient philosophical
schools, Stoicism in particular, that contributes to a novel, creative
notion of the freedom of the will and Justin Martyr
simply in kind of philological terms is the the earliest instance of the
usage of that construction of the free will—something that’s internal, a kind of
faculty that causes our dispositions, that somehow doesn’t have any other form of necessity or cause imposed upon it. And that’s a really radical
moment, it takes a step further even from people like Epictetus, who are in the same that that notion is novel and there is
clearly a I think a pretty direct line from the development of that notion
certainly by the middle of the second century in Orthodox Christianity to the
to the Nicene and post Nicene Fathers like Gregory like basil of Caesarea who
are very familiar with those texts with that language with those ideas and are
now looking out across a city where they have a level of social leadership that
maybe the previous generations didn’t and they have those ideas in their head
they have them in their texts but they’re looking out at congregations of
Christians that cities of people and trying to think through what does it
mean to say that people have a free will if they’re enslaved what does it mean
for their agency what does it mean for their ability to make morally
significant choices like what one does with with one’s body and so there’s a
kind of a direct line from the articulation of that idea of this
internal faculty that has to be free from constraint and it’s
it’s importance in the the social context that Gregory’s looking at where
he is taking a leap to say those people are in a institution they’re in a
circumstance where that that will is is being endangered by circumstances that
are inherently unjust and intrinsically wrong and is really creative and doing
something thank you now we’ve already talked about key figures gregory of
nyssa basil of Caesarea Cappadocia and fathers who are crucial for the
foundations of Orthodox theology Elizabeth and you’ve given us a
wonderful contribution Christianity and freedom that focuses on the
contributions of Orthodox distinctively Orthodox Eastern thought and practice to
notions of dignity and freedom who are who are some of the heroes and that in
that story if I may put it that way Elizabeth thank you for the invitation
to be with you I would again I would have started with Gregory but I think
someone else is extremely important and I think basil basil sermons and Chris’s
ohm’s sermons would that we have those kinds of sermons today and in all of our
churches I think their sermons on poverty are particularly instructive
because what they do is they connect ideas about freedom of conscience and
also the demand to act on behalf of principles of freedom to different kinds
of enslavement and in particular the enslavement that comes from from
impoverishment so we get a broader sense of ideas about what freedom or lack of
freedom means we get a broader sense from them about what Christians are
called to do in order to remedy and correct social inequality and social
inequity and we also get from them some of the foundational ideas that led to
the creation of institutions and what was the Christian East that we associate
well that we know today which are things like the University which were promised
on the unit studying the universe of ideas in order to understand the way in
what Christian ideas engaged with those and
could contribute to those when it came to further fundamentals of freedom also
the Christian hospital and all that went along with hospitals and things that we
talked about today shelters the equivalent of soup kitchens homes for
the indigent these were all institutional consequences of Basel and
Chris systems problem problematizing about different forms that limit human
freedom and that demand a response from believing Christians and then finally
someone else who I think who deserves emphasises Athanasius the patriarch of
of Alexandria who you know twice deposed twice returns but ultimately is
understood as the architect of the Nicene Creed and the radical
understanding the ontological understanding of freedom that lies at
the heart of the Nicene Creed so I think all of these are important figures and I
think it’s worth pointing out and this came out certainly in the earlier panel
but that you know the chance to kind of reflect on Luther is also a chance to
kind of reflect on how we use terms like Church and Christian and the kind of
standardised tropes that have come to be associated what with Luther’s impact on
the church and it’s a geography of Christianity and a geography of the
church that largely omits the Christians of the East and Christians in the east
and I think recovering the fullness of that Christian geography is absolutely
central to how we understand the overall contributions of Christianity not simply
historically but also in the present I just returned from a conference on
religious pluralism and peaceful coexistence in the Middle East that was
held in Athens and it was interesting to hear the ecumenical patriarchs
reflections on the importance of pluralism and that ultimately pluralism
itself an acceptance of pluralism is based on the the primacy of place of
freedom and in Christian theology and certainly in Orthodox theology so I
mentioned that not only for us to broaden our jiya
when we talk about church the church Christians on Christianity to move
beyond a more kind of truncated one but also to recognize that some of the
thinkers that we were talking about earlier the contributions they make
didn’t stop at the at the fort in the 15th century and that there’s a kind of
modern problematic that has continued drawing from that wellspring I’m so glad
you mentioned effin Asia if there is someone who said here I stand
literally contra mundum it was Athanasius and we don’t perhaps reflect
often enough that part of his stand was also a stand for kind of political
theology that said the freedom of the Church has to be inviolable that the
temporal Authority doesn’t have the right to define core Christian doctrine
to take over the church and that battle kept being fought by successors of
Athanasius against even the emperor justinian
so this is extremely worth important Orthodox contribution again I think the
nation is important for that because unfortunately you know still very large
shadow of Edward Gibbons and his yes almost cartoon afid version of you know
how it is that Orthodox think and affects the way we view Tertullian as
well by the way if a Gibbon doesn’t have a very flattering portrait of
foretelling in either yeah right exactly so I think you know people like a
fallacious and others who came after him in a reinforce though what we heard
earlier again this morning the recognition that in order that in order
to have be Christian and have a Christian society or society that’s
religiously plural that ultimately demands a kind of freedom and
independence and autonomy from the state that you know whether it’s Eusebius or
or given Givens they both you know done a lot of damage to to how we think about
that historically in the Orthodox space Thank You Elizabeth
David lan-evo your your outstanding work on Bartolome de las casas including in
the christianity in freedom volume has already been teed up to a certain extent
by our earlier conversation you don’t have to restrict yourself to talking
about Casas but perhaps you could talk about
other figures as well but you know what what are what are some of the key heroes
of conscience as a were you’ve looked at sure yeah well as Kyle said I mean it’s
we have to pay attention to the particular moment in which these ideas
are presenting themselves and these practices are being demonstrated by the
specific Christians that are considered in the volume the period I look at is
contemporaneous with Luther Luther doesn’t come out of a vacuum right this
is the the Reformation is in the context of Renaissance throughout Europe the
rise of humanism a return to the classical tradition to Scripture the
sources the Church Fathers and and so reform is taking place across all of
Europe even in a place that doesn’t seem to be one of reform and that’s Catholic
Spain we heard the term Spanish Inquisition used earlier right the
Reconquista the colonization of the Americas I mean whenever we hear these
terms they’re immediately kind of sound for us you know the the epitome of a
repressive society right a persecuting society and and so what’s I find so
fascinating about this period with respect to Spain is is that you have a
debate about you know the proper way of being Christian and what it truly means
to be a Christian and so when we look to the colonization of the Americas you
have in a very clear debate that takes place between two opposing views of the
proper way to evangelize native peoples and that’s really what I’m drawn to in
my research and it was presented earlier by the human rights practitioner the
question she raised last panel about what are the justifications that are
used in order to advance these kinds of you know destructive patterns of
behavior and the dispossession of peoples and and the the you know
destruction of cultures and so you know just a few years before you know the
the Lutheran Bergen 1517 you have you know the the first Dominicans who
arrived to to the Americas and they they come to the island of Hispaniola if I’m
to point to a particular moment where this sort of all begins to develop and
and what they see is utterly shocking to them I mean they were told by you know
Columbus’s diet you know the the reports coming back from Columbus and and other
travelers that you know this this place was just you know so you know fruitful
in terms of its its the people the land everything and yet they get to
Hispaniola already in 1510 and it’s falling apart disease has settled in the
the forced labor system that’s in place there is is just estimating the
population so how do they respond as Christians to that brutal reality and
one of the things I like to point out is that they’re religious so they’ve taken
a vow of poverty and that already puts them in a position to see things I would
say from a unique perspective than those who surround them who are very much
interested in and you know profit and and Commerce and and you know and so
forth so the the what happens in in 15 10 15 11 is this concerted effort on the
part of these first Dominicans to to challenge the the the practices that are
happening around them on the island of Hispaniola which is today of course
Haiti and Dominican Republic and so they choose among their their best preachers
a figure by the name of Antone Montesinos who gets up before you know a
church congregation and during Advent of 1511 and he preaches to them that
they’re in mortal sin and he’s now taken upon himself it’s it’s actually he’s
preaching on on John the Baptist as a voice crying out in the wilderness and
so he uses that language to say I’m a voice crying out in the desert of this
and you were all in mortal sin and so you know immediately he’s going to get a
reaction to that and and you know the the Dominicans rather than saying you
know here I stand it’s it’s here we stand as a religious community in
response to this to this violence and and so they raise the question you know
are these not human beings do they not have rational souls are you not to love
them as you love yourselves you know very basic Christian claims being now
presented to to the congregation and so this really kind of leads to a you know
just an amazing set of responses on the island and and within the the the the
colonial project itself of Spain all the way up to the to the the Royal Courts
you know and and so you know figures like Bartolome de las casas have to be
understood in that context so that they’re not seen strictly as kind of
like a lone voice because they’re part of a community you know a period again
in which we look to Luther right Luther was an Augustinian friar right so he’s
the the Augustinians were very much shaped by the mendicant orders so that
that sense of mendicant you know preaching of the gospel the true gospel
which is at the heart of Medicaid communities is is very much you know
happening at this point in time and Spain is in a unique case and so much as
you have a royal patronage system in place whereby the Spanish crown has
really a great deal of administrative function over the church so the church
is in very much in a compromised position by its own will the Pope’s you
know wanted this for various reasons and and so you know that’s we have the
Catholic king and queen of Spain you know who had this kind of you know
responsibility over over church matters in a way that puts we might say secular
clergy in a much or compromise position and therefore
highlights why these mendicant orders are as important as they are for
preaching the true gospel which you know according to the Dominicans cannot be
presented in a way that does violence to the hearer of the word and so you know
the the freedom of the gospel must it demands it requires the freedom of those
who adhere it can’t be imposed on them so it very much becomes a debate about
as I mentioned before the proper way to to evangelize and whether or not
coercion which has deep roots in the Christian tradition that doesn’t just
come out of the the Crusades although the Crusades are certainly part of that
discussion but Canon lawyers in the Middle Ages we’re using justifications
for using coercion various sorts as a way of compelling both pagans and even
Jews in the tradition and then it goes back to Agustin you know and of course
the controversy surrounding the the the doughnut ists and the heresy in the
early church so so all of that you know the the again this is a much larger
thing than these first Dominicans as we see in the case of las casas who’s you
know himself is a priest slave holder and so when he’s denied absolution in
the confessional by a Dominican well he starts to reconsider you know his his
actions and so that ends up weighing on him over the course of his life and he
ends up joining the Dominican Order later but but it also finds connections
at the school of Salamanca as you mentioned the University of Salamanca
which was kind of the center of intellectual life in Spain at the time
you know among figures like Francisco Vittorio who comes out first on his
lecture on the Indies in 1539 which becomes a very important document and
and subsequent reflection on the roots of international law very important for
Hugo gross you know a who someone connecting the image of God with the
language of Rights and that’s something that I find very
you know unique to this point in time is that connection between theology and law
in that in that way thank you David Slavitt
I want to turn to to you we had a long discussion earlier today about
volunteerism and a religion and you’ve long challenged some stand standard
assumptions about voluntarist eclectic religion we no doubt have a sort of
assumed reflex that volunteerism is good collectivism is bad and in a sense part
of the purpose of our discussion our project here is to challenge these
received ideas so I’d like you to just comment how does how does focusing on
these kinds of pre-modern contributions I’ve in fact collectivistic religious
communities to understanding freedom and dignity give us perhaps a better
genealogy also a richer a normative vision and any other thoughts you’d like
to offer well thank you for inviting me I wasn’t a contributor to the volume but
I started reading it or both volumes actually and I very much I find it
extremely illuminating in many ways but we first explain how I think of
collectivity Christianity’s because to me they don’t only signify some that’s
pre-modern in fact in fact I think the problem Atty the narrative of the
separation between modernity traditional and and and modern societies when I
speak of collectivistic Christianity’s I refer primarily
to European collectivity Christianity’s the kinds of Christianity’s we find in
societies like Bulgaria Romania Poland Croatia so not just Eastern or thought
of Christianity’s which is sometimes a trap that people fall into but also
Catholicism as a tradition and these Christianity’s I think are unique
religious phenomena in Europe they’re often forgotten they’re not explored as
much as they should be explored and they’re unique because they’re
culturally specific they’re historically embedded and what I always emphasize in
any sort of conversation about letí’s collectivity Christianity’s they are
constitutive of particular group boundaries so that the key aspect is not
a level of church attendance it’s not a question of one’s belief that is
constitutive of it but the key component is in fact belonging to a specific group
so even when this belonging is without believing it’s very different than
investing Christianity’s this belonging is always public it’s always very
communal and because of this communal aspect of nature of these Christianity’s
they’re actually more similar similar to European Muslim communities then they
would be to say Spanish Christians or Italian Christians or even Irish
Christians so as I said I think that collectivity Christianity’s
in the way I approach them complicate this idea there is a strict separation
between tradition and modernity and I think they help us see modernity in
terms of multiple narratives of modernity or the notion multiple
modernity indicates there is no clear-cut between what was traditional
and what’s modern it’s also a notion that I think helps us understand that
modernity doesn’t mean establishment there’s just Universal identities that
replace particular identities it’s not a promotion of advancement of just
voluntary associations or religions as institutionalized or expressed in form
of voluntary associations modernity is also mean sort of revival in
perpetuation or particularly nataly’s I think it’s really important to
understand that and I don’t think that there are Christianity’s that are going
to go away I think there are constitutive religious pluralism
contrary to what my late teacher Peter Berger would say I actually engage his
work on this very much and I find it extremely insightful but I’ve recently
conducted an ethnographic study of everyday life of Catholic women in an
urban parish on the croatian coast the beautiful Dalmatian coast and i was
interested in the way in which they themselves approach their religious
experience their leaders fate so i asked them questions
about the the language they use when they talk about the religious identity
is it something that’s ascribed is it something that’s chosen is it neither is
it both I was also interested in the ways in which they think of their
religious activities daily prayer for example attendance mass attendance is
that something that is just part of their daily routine or easy the space of
creativity is it a space or resistance in fact to daily routine that they have
as as as mothers as wives as professional women and what I find what
I found in this study is that the the nature of their religious experience
daily routine that they have is in fact very complicated that on the one hand
they speak about respect for tradition and respect for church authority but on
the other hand they think of their religious experience as a process of
conversion which is the process of conversion they see as sort of a repro
painting tradition that was given to them so say they think of their
tradition is something they were born into but also something that they
appropriated in a different in a different manner Saba Mahmood who is an
anthropologist of sacker ism yes but also religion I think helps to
understand this way of thinking about whether just agency is not something
that assumes resistant to norms a resistant tradition but the way in which
we can think about inhabiting tradition I think she’s correct i completely agree
that the notion of inhabiting helps us here but I think inhabitant is
complicated for the questions of religious agency it can it can indicate
assent to tradition in orders but it can also indicate resistance or dissent from
these norms in tradition the most important point I think I want to sort
of underline is that I think the collectivistic form sort of the Gerasa
tea question understanding that modernity means movement towards more
individualized a religious experience I think individualized religious
experiences bind with collectivistic forms of
religiosity in very complicated way and it requires from us to really explore in
a more expansive way the notion of freedom what it means to be free what it
means to be religious in a pluralistic world that we have today
and freedom is not it can’t be reduced to just opposing traditions or opposing
community in fact the women you talked with are able to inhabit community
receive tradition but in a way that it isn’t necessarily disempowering or
stifling they can engage it critically they engage if critically they get
particularly but also as I said I was wondering to what extent this is a space
of creativity for them or space of sort of establishing different kinds of norms
and in in carving out the space for doing a tending math daily for
participating a religious community the smaller lives prayer groups they
actually had to remove themselves from their family lights so oftentimes they
have to justify that to their husbands to their children and they have to
resist in some way so it’s I think it’s a it’s a problematic that can be
captured simply just by talking about individualist forms of religion it is a
respect for tradition but also in a little bit different way I have two
questions follow-up questions in a way and then
and then we’ll turn to the panel one is many of us whether we were trained as
historians of political thought or historians of theology a historians of
intellectual life in the West we have a certain received narratives when I was
being educated or Mis educated in the history of political thought there were
kind of two narratives there was a kind of Strauss in narrative and there was a
kind of rauzein narrative the Strauss a narrative and the Razia narrative
actually converged though around a kind of shared notion that well freedom
essentially arose with modernity the pre-modern world was all about virtue it
was all about collectivism and a kind of you know bad sense how do
the insights you’ve offered caused us to rethink the kind of genealogy the proper
genealogy of freedom in the West the book by Larry Seaton top inventing the
individual offers a kind of Reena raishin of this history but I’d like to
hear your thoughts we also have new narratives by Samuel moines about the
genealogy of human rights which offers a sort of different perspective argues in
fact in fact that human rights really doesn’t originate with modernity or it
arrives very very late on the scene only in the mid twentieth century so how does
your work complicate and challenge these receive narratives and a second question
after we’ve discussed that is how does your work give us resources for
answering a question we dealt with earlier namely what are the theological
resources that we should recover for emphasizing the ways in which all people
are bearers of rights of conscience and and freedom of religion all the figures
you’ve studied in in fact touch on this actually maybe even touch on the idea
that there are inalienable rights to certain kinds of freedom regardless of
one’s religious background but first the first question on genealogies David
could I start with you on genealogies you’ve done you you’ve written important
articles which sort of suggest how your work challenges standard genealogies of
human rights and freedom and religious freedom so what extent was Hegel correct
right yes yes the modern world you know revolves around subjective yes and other
third goes back to Lutheran yeah yeah so although he at least for Hegel yet
certainly Luther included they would attribute Christianity obviously is
having a central role in that and so you know one of the things that I you know
understanding as much although I’m not you know trained in political thought
I’ve had to address it in the context of my own work I mean but and coming to
know Strauss is narrative you know that that move from from you know pre-modern
natural right to modern natural rights in the
you know and this or even you know Rawls for that matter I mean what these
narratives do is they focus on the domestic political context so they focus
on questions of the rise of the nation-state and and that’s obviously
going to have a very European focus and and so when we talk about the history of
political thought the the dominant narrative is one in which you know it’s
post Westphalia you know it’s it’s post-reformation and and you know post
royal absolutism you know all of this in Europe a lot of the research you know
within the last couple decades are increasingly more research in the last
few decades has been turning to this question of global history you know and
and you see this in you know not just the history of political thought but
also an international law that the you know the turn to the International
colonial contexts in particular in Imperial context so rethinking
liberalism and the rise of liberalism without forgetting you know liberal
empires and and so in a way I see my research as as responding to that more
recent shift in and how we think about political thought and and one of the
things that the sort of the dominant narrative still effectively I think does
although this has been questioned is you know the the to what extent do do
debates about you know religious diversity factored into the kind of the
role you know the rise of the nation state or the rise of the modern state
you know as a means of pacifying religious conflict which is very
compelling argument but I would say that in the context of the colonization of
the Americas there is something similar operative there you know there’s a
debate about whether or not you can wage war on the basis of difference of
religion can you wage war in order to punish idolaters for they’re inhuman
practices right so which is these early practices that are very
closely wedded to religion you know religious traditions and customs so so I
would say that you know you have some some interesting overlap there with
these two different ways of thinking about the history of political thought
but again that turn to kind of international and and colonial history
you know it also helps us to sort of rethink our our Canon of who our
political theorists are people like Locke right lock looks a bit different
his state of nature looks a bit different when you’re really focusing on
him saying in the beginning all the world was America
you know and and what what the state of nature has that civil society ends up
you know understanding better which is the right to private property so that
sort of you know I don’t know it just provides a different sort of angle on
these now maybe we can turn to you Kyle you have a chapter in the volume called
no Konstantine no Conte which is kind of a frontal attack on standard genealogies
of human dignity so what are your thoughts about what a proper retelling
of the sources of human dignity would would emphasize well I I think that
people mean all sorts of different things when they talk about rights yeah
we learned about human rights and if what we’re interested in is the concept
of human rights which is politicized as a set of international norms in the
middle of the 20th century in a particular powerful way at a
particularly powerful moment after a particularly traumatic set of
experiences globally then then we’re gonna find one genealogy we’re looking
for other definitions of rights in other context then you would find the
different genealogy but if we’re interested in global norms of human
rights then I do think that the the bedrock of that that set of norms is the
idea of human dignity and the the belief and the high inherent worthiness of all
humans regardless of I think identity or other circumstances
and that particular norm of as you alluded to is sometimes claimed for kind
of enlightenment rationalism and there’s certainly a case to be made that that
you can find the roots of it certainly traces of it in saying Conte but the
there even that I make in the in the chapter and that I would stick to is
that this genealogy is much more ancient and that it should affect how we view
the Enlightenment in some sense the Enlightenment is the secularization of
certain norms that I think are maybe not so easily derived from a neutral
universe and I think it’s understandable and and better than the alternatives if
people want to say that those are neutral and and universal norms but the
this is where the genealogy matters and getting getting the history right
matters that the secularization of those norms and the enlightenment rests on and
kind of even deeper bedrock and to understand that is to understand a
legacy that’s several thousand years old and that may have multiple sources but
one of which certainly and I think arguably the most important of which is
the concept of the worthiness of the human being that flows out of a
particular vision of the idea that humans are creatures would they bear the
image of God and that they are they’re worthy of love regardless of their
ethnicity or their status or their gender or otherwise and so Kahn’s
project and other Enlightenment projects may be to provide a kind of universal
set of axioms that justify those yawns but at least historically I think we can
say that those norms arise out of particular traditions and particulars in
particular places Thank You Elizabeth how would you you
you we’ve already heard a little bit of discussion about the importance of
geography to genealogy and this is something you’ve you’ve written a great
deal about we forget the the the east and it’s cultural intellectual geography
perhaps we need to tell a genealogy that also takes geography into account yeah I
would also emphasize language because in terms of your question you know can we
sort of unpack and deconstruct the claim that it’s really the the Reformation
that gives us you know the foundations for contemporary human rights law and in
particular the focus on the dignity of the individual I think the term
individual itself feeds into this kind of artificial distinction between modern
and traditional where modern things are what we associate with the
prioritization of freedom and traditional and collective are things
that are associated with the repression of the dignity of the person so I think
you know I wanted to have this wonderful quote that I wanted to read from Jones’s
ulis who well-known orthodox theologian a part of the Catholic Orthodox dialogue
he writes you know God did not provide the law in order to take freedom away
from man but precisely to give freedom to him and he says freedom is the law
freedom is the law and you know clearly as ulis is drawing on you know Eastern
thinkers you know Greek Syriac and others in making this kind of argument
but I think these ulis is also important for us because his entire anthropology
of personhood which looks at the dignity of each and every person created in the
image of God and then develops a ecclesiology that is meant to help
people transform themselves from the image to the likeness doesn’t use the
term individual it uses the term person and I think you know this is a critical
linguistic difference and it’s a critical I would say you know Orthodox
contribution to the way in which we can develop a more you know fulsome
genealogy of how Christianity can try to contemporary arguments about freedom
and the law so that’s one thing I would mention the other thing I would say is
that if we go back to Byzantine times and we think about you know again as
well Springs for arguments about freedom and the law the ultimate sort of
violation of personal freedom of course is violence and war and it’s very
interesting to note that there is no Just War tradition there is no holy war
tradition in eastern Christian theology there are enormous treatises developed
military treatises developed during the Byzantine period
emori cases for example that talk about that are informed by this theological
notion that war is a tragedy and it’s the tragedy of the post lops aryan
condition it’s the reality of the post lot sorry end condition but never can
the notion of virtue or holiness be applied to the conduct of war and in
fact the best that we can do is to Center the meta noetic tradition the you
know meet Anya repentance repentance in all practices that are associated by the
necessity of this fallen condition so there were you know long problematics on
freedom and unfreedom and war as the absolute negation of freedom that
predate certainly some of the things we’re talking about here and what the
you know economists right right about Luther and the Reformation and then
finally on the collect on the language again and going back to collectivist
traditions I think another way that we can think about collective collectivist
religious communities and experiences is to think about this as a problematic of
ecclesiology an ecclesiastical structure because what a lot of these you know
collective traditions do is they have they’re embedded in an ocean of
ecclesiology as divine human communion and that ecclesiology assumes then that
it’s within the context of the liturgical or experience that one’s
freedom in because be coming through participation and I think
that so introducing sort of ecclesiology and then the ecclesiastical structure
that goes along with some of these traditions helps us break out of these
kind of you know ultimately unhelpful binaries that we associate and just a
footnote the late great Yaroslav Pelican who I think is somebody who you know
embodied what we’re all talking about here and who at the end of his life
formally embraced orthodoxy have this wonderful statement you know tradition
is the living faith of the Dead and traditionalism as the dead faith of the
living so here again I think precision of language is something that we must
use and I you know bring out my pal econ one I’m arguing with traditional istic
Orthodox that you know get them to drop off mystic that’s beautifully guess in
and flashes that your thoughts couple of comments to what they’re talking about I
think that you were talking about this thing should between individual and
person and I think that’s really critical I am I guess the most modern
person on this panel in a sense of what I study and in a personalist theology of
somebody like john paul ii or jack marathon i think making the distinction
is so clear to precisely show the extent to which somebody’s pursue this shape by
belonging to community and i think that’s really important
theologically anthropologically in every other way and as far as the question of
collectivistic traditions is concerned i i am not i think that what you were
mentioning what you’re highlighting is a way to think about it it does equal
geology i think is very helpful but i think it’s also important to keep in
mind ways in which Christianity becomes part of culture how it infuses culture
how it actually be is being transmitted historically in what ways and how it
becomes particular eyes because if we lose sight of that I think will not
understand both the advantages of Christianity affirming notions of
freedom but also the problems of that and just one final comment you asking us
about how to complicate the narratives and one of the narratives you mentioned
in the question you asked there was not just roll Sein and Strauss he and you
also talked about the cobia narrative yes I’m good and I think yes audience
are and I want to introduce Foucauldian narrative
I think it touches a little bit on one of the questions in the previous panel
which was what’s the place of secular non-believers in in this conversation
and I was really happy to hear that question because I think it requires for
us to first of all to provide the notion of secularism not to think of it only as
a political phenomenon but to think of thecar ISM also as a moral orientation
and what I mean by this is in the Foucauldian tradition critics of secure
ISM they want on the one hand to to unmask the modern notion of secular
agency that’s how they talk about it right they want to complicate this whole
narrative of this advancement towards greater freedom individual freedom but
on the other hand what they do they’re actually reassert these boundaries
because they talk about secular agency that’s something that is norm resistant
tradition resistant history making and opposed to suffering right and they talk
about religious agency as something that is affirmative of tradition affirmative
of norms and also affirmative of or suffering and sacrifice but again if you
look at concrete examples as to how these types of agency are actually
embodied and how they enacted and I study social movements you see that it’s
really complicated so somebody like Joseph Tichenor Polish philosopher and
also advisor of chaplain and advisor of solidarity movement which helped bring
the fall of communism in Polish context but in Europe as well
he thinks of solidarity as a way to liberate human beings from suffering
that is superfluous it’s a suffering that one human being imposes another and
then in the context of anti-apartheid movement there is a communist activists
and a leader of African National Congress Chris honey who talks about
suffering is needed so he’d spent years in prison because of his anti-apartheid
activities and he thinks of sacrifices necessary if we want to reach liberty so
what I’m trying to do with this is to actually complicated these the ideas of
what sector agency means priest who is affirming liberation from suffering and
then secular atheist communist activist who is talking about in
suffering in order to reach freedom not to not to basically say there are no
differences because I’m merely against hybridizing these kinds of categories
but to think of complicating narrative in the sense of thinking about it in a
very historically norms contextualized way that will not allow us to succumb to
preconceived notions of what freedom is I want to briefly touch on the second
question that I raised namely what are the resources from the figures the
movements that you’ve looked at that we can bring to bear to defending the human
dignity and religious freedom of all people of the of the other if you will
the religious other or perhaps the ethnic other the cultural other this is
a crucial question to ask today because we’re well aware that in the United
States and other countries their efforts to recruit Christianity to justify
increasingly narrow exclusive istic forms of ethnic nationalism know this is
a trend across the Western world so what are resources theologically resources to
bring to bear for the human dignity of all people David you mentioned liberal
Empire and the the crucial importance of justifying defending the human dignity
of all people made me think of the statement Edmund Burke made who was of
course a great critic of liberal Empire and when he was asked to justify why on
earth he was wasting his political capital defending Indians who were of no
importance in terms of their dignity he said this remarkable thing I have no
party in this business but among a set of people who have none of your lilies
and roses in their faces but who are among the image who are the images of
the great pattern as well as you and I I know what I am doing with the white
people like it or not David Bromwich of Yale says that those
lines were among the most amazing lines any human being has ever said in history
and it’s interesting that Burke refers to the images of the great pattern
as well as you and I he’s clearly drawing on the first chapter of Genesis
made in the image and likeness of God any reflections you have about what are
the the bedrock resources you mentioned the phrase bedrock I’ll David you’ve
written about this as well remarkable that Dominicans defended pagan
amerindians and their right to religious freedom even their right to defend
themselves with violence if necessary to defend their religious and using Roman
legal sources actually which is very interesting one instance Cicero the
writings of Cicero to defend you know in the context of the Roman Empire you know
that you know conquered peoples have a right to defend their ancient customs
and their traditions so so yeah again this is a period of renaissance so you
know sources from unlikely places the I think the image of God the imago Dei
doctrine is a central then as it is now I mean it was clearly central and the
civil rights work of someone like dr. King and it just continues to remain a
powerful source of inspiration for recognizing this this shared humanity
but as Elizabeth was there also rightly pointing out I mean there it’s it’s not
just a you know an argument for you know sameness we might say there’s also that
question of becoming like god that’s important for these religious figures
you know so growing in virtue rather than recognizing just basic rights but
you know the scholastic categories that the figures I work on are using I mean
the the imago Dei is directly associated with with human powers of reasoning and
freedom so you know that can go a long way in defending you know the
rationality of the people you’re engaging if you really do believe
they’re made in the image likeness of God and so you know that
that has quite a bit of purchase in their arguments to say we’re not just
you know we’re talking about you know communities peoples that have that are
that are rational they have rational agency as a people and and they they
have freedom as well freedom and political economic as well as spiritual
and de las casas and others invoke these these biblical arguments against more
Aristotelian styles of argument that defended natural slaves strictly
Aristotelian yeah yeah right right yeah which is an important way of nuancing
the diversity of scholasticism in that period other thoughts on theological
resources for a defense of universal i do the right thing yeah briefly to
comment on the ways in which collectives ik traditions to Christianity’s are
usually understood as a problem because of the way in which they oppress the
others or exclusive istic in their claims and i want to say that in my work
on on these traditions what i in different historic expressions of them
what i found out is that due to the ethical components of the notions like
human dignity personhood some in some cases in very particular historical
context these collectivistic traditions in fact enabled an expansion of of the
notions like national identity for example to include the others to be more
to be more tolerant of others and i find them to be as much useful for sort of
offering a critique and subversion of exclusivist nationalisms ethnic
nationalism as much as they can be supportive it depends on the context and
depends actually how they articulated well let’s turn to the the the audience
we have 2025 minutes or so of time for Q&A so yes yes andrew ambassador andrew
bennett wonderful that you’re here and yes thanks Tim I wanted to pick up on a
very brief mention that kala Harbor made about Steven the proto martyr sort of
highlighting him as one of the first two in the Christian
tradition state say here I stand and talk a little bit about martyrdom in the
Christian tradition particularly if we look at the Orthodox tradition the
eastern tradition the experience of living out conscience and an expression
of freedom of conscience particularly during the four hundred and fifty odd
years of the Turkic Razia of the experience under Soviet Communism where
martyrdom and also confessors of the faith taking a very radical approach to
that freedom of conscience where martyrdom comes to be the most radical
expression of that freedom and to pick up a little bit on your point Tim now
when we see the situation in the number of our countries Canada the United
States where we are thinking again about what does freedom of conscience mean for
Christians for people in other communities
what can this experience and this to use Tim’s term this genealogy of witnesses
around freedom of conscience say to us today because increasingly I think a lot
of people particularly Christians are looking at the challenges facing them
today in terms of expressing their conscience and living up to what they’re
called to do through their faith martyrdom seems to sort of exist as this
golden thread running through Christian history and I wanted you to just maybe
make a comment on the idea of martyrdom whether it’s red martyrdom or whether
it’s some form of white martyrdom where Christians are called to express their
freedom of conscience in a fairly radical way in the midst of of the world
thank you thank you Andrew anyone like to take that very found challenging
question yes I’ll start again having come just last night from this
conference on religious pluralism on reconciliation in the Middle East which
brought you know again faith communities across and with diversity across
communities and within communities to that conference this issue I think you
know that the word pluralism was very much part of that calm for
and I think what you raised him in terms of the American context today is coming
to terms with and learning how to respect the dignity of the human person
in conditions of ever greater degrees of pluralism
of belief and non belief and you know there’s something I think a little
unsettling about us being able to easily have this contract conversation here
particularly as it relates to Christianity when Christians are
literally being eradicated and the lands where Christianity originated and I
think it’s very important for the ability for us to do well in the United
States to be able to speak truthfully about empirical facts on the ground and
if in the United States were experiencing yet the latest episode in
our countries lack of comfort comfort ability with
religious pluralism you know if you are a Protestant in the nineteenth century I
mean you know for men a Roman Catholic you are for many Protestants you know
the child of the Antichrist okay if you are an orthodox in the late 19th early
20th century you know you’re part of those you know people who the emigration
and exclusion acts were designed to keep out if you’re a Muslim today then you
you are experiencing the same sorts of feelings of discrimination and
oftentimes violence so and I say that because I think it’s important for us to
historic spear Ian Singh today in the United States to recognize that it’s
this issue of coming to terms with pluralism that continues to challenge
how we protect the dignity of the human person and as that’s happening here I
think it’s absolutely crucial we recognize that you know the deep
pluralization and the homogeneous Asian of religious communities in the lens
where Christianity originated continues even as we speak and it’s a particularly
acute problem for eastern and oriental Orthodox but it’s for all Christians of
the East and it’s an equally acute problem that’s horizontal pluralism
that’s been eradicated so modern martyrdom but it’s
a vertical you know effort to vertically within communities homogenized
and I think you know where issues of Christian Muslim dialogue come into play
it’s important to recognize that you know the kinds of depolarization and
homogenization that are visited on others are also visited on others within
so centering the way in which we accept and create legal regulations to ensure
pluralism and freedom of belief and conscience I think is we need to connect
what’s happening here with what’s happening in other places and certainly
were Christianity is concerned to see you know that the the modern martyrdom
experience Elizabeth was a part of a project called under Caesars sword which
my friend and colleague Dan Philpott and I worked on together which documents how
much red martyrdom there is today of course you mentioned earlier Andrew that
today is the feast of saints cosmas and damian in the Greek Catholic liturgical
calendar Kyle do you have any thoughts about what ancient traditions of
martyrdom might have to say about our current situation sure and you called it
a golden thread and I think one of the reasons that it’s a golden thread is
that by its very nature martyrdom has always been paradoxical in trillions
words the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church it’s it’s an act of
sacrifice your right to also to evoke the spectrum of different kinds of
sacrifices that people might make as witnesses but it’s from its very
beginnings it’s paradoxical because it’s in some ways the most it’s the supreme
renunciation of power and for the early church represented the submission to the
violence of the most powerful political entity that had ever existed and yet at
the same time the paradox is that it’s a it’s a way of speaking
it’s a very powerful way of speaking and there’s there’s it speaks to something
deep in our humanity when people are willing to sacrifice and I think that’s
true today as it was 2,000 years ago other other questions yes yes sir oh yes
I just heard a comment I think it was from you about about being an
Enlightenment being a secularizing force I’d like the audience to if the does the
audience realized that there were two men who were freemasons he both resigned
from the Freemasons because of the French Revolution
the two men were George Washington and demised now this is the demise to
champion the papacy and it was obsessed with bloodletting
I’m the Enlightenment was far more Christian 70 to 80 percent of the
Enlightenment was far more Christian than either its enemies or its champions
wish to admit and I’d like to recommend my great teacher John Pocock founder of
the Cambridge School his six-volume biography of Edward Gibbon on his rise
and fall of the Roman Empire shows that Gibbon was not the great enemy of
Christianity that he was made out to be think about that any any thoughts on on
that I’ve read part I’ve read some of barbarism and religion by Pocock any
other thoughts on comment there well I like poke off because he reminds us that
you know Christianity originated in Asia and then was disseminated to Europe and
so again a real kind of call to think about the dissemination and
globalization of Christianity and again recovering this you know thinking about
and now the north south you know dissemination of Christianity and so I
think yeah you know it’s very useful on having us think about the way in which
transnational belief systems are indeed globalized but I confess you’re not
going to get me to say good thing about Gibbons any any any scholar of the fall of the
Roman Empire whose works being talked about 240 years later has done it
something yeah but oh I’ll just say I would probably accept a little bit of
your pushback I’m probably not as much as you would like it’s a reasonable
question how secularizing the Enlightenment is and it’s a period in
which I’m not an expert I think to my taste and limited knowledge some people
push very far in that direction Jonathan Israel’s work in the last
decade is certainly trying to do that and does it you know in a powerful way I
don’t know agree with all of it but at the same time I I’ve always been
persuaded by Charles Taylor and I don’t think we can talk about whether or not
the Enlightenment secularizing or not simply by thinking about the kind of
religious identity cards that particular philosophers are carrying around but
I’ll leave it at that and certainly there are many Enlightenment saz
scholars have emphasized recently we’ve talked about many Reformation in the
course of the day there clearly were many many different Enlightenment this
question actually invites us to be very cautious about the way we use the notion
of secure is a ssin and secular and that we have to give it a thick account just
not as much as we give a thick account of what religion is so even Charles
Taylor I think simplifies the versions of humanism he talks about exclusive
humanism and sacra humanism as anti religious and I just find that very sort
of if it’s reduction is reading what psycho humanism can be especially in
contemporary context in which secularity can be embodied in many many ways any
further comments or questions yes yes you probably already address this issue
but I just wanted to hear more about the difference between globalist
western-oriented concept of religious freedom and human rights and localize
contextualize dynamic understanding of religious freedom and freedom of
conscience especially within the context of state religions and state churches
this is probably a question of individual versus communitarian
approach but I just wanted to hear more about that thank you
anyone want to take that up maybe slapping your best best place to do that
I mean you you know I can only just perhaps touch on this a little bit I was
a little bit uncomfortable in the first panel when everything they had to do
with question of religious freedom as a right was linked to individual
conscience yeah and and the reason is very simple its historical when we think
of the communist experiences and I’m sure that we can find similar context in
contemporary world when I think of communist experiences it’s that they in
the context of former Yugoslavia for example they did affirm the right to
individual freedom for a religion but it was very privatized so it mapped really
nicely on a particular liberal notion of what religious freedom is while at the
same time collective rights religious right was something that was denied it
was not just marginalized it was oppressed so I think your question is
very important and I think in the roots of human rights and there people here
probably who know more about this than I do
the relationship between individual protection of collective rights
protection of alleles right is very much something than me to probably learn more
though I think we did in the course of the discussion I think throughout the
day tried to sort of emphasize that it’s wrong to kind of voluntary if conscience
too much or individualize it that conscience of persons right not
individuals is always embedded in tradition and community at some extent
so I think that might be one way to respond I think it’s the burden of our
project here our conference our volumes to try to delink religious freedom from
a strictly sort of secularized or individualized notion of the human
person there certainly are attempts and Kyle referenced them to ground human
rights incontinent notions of autonomy and we can wish them well no reason to
oppose anybody who wants to you know genuinely defend the human dignity and
human rights of all people but we speaking collectivistic alee we we might
wonder whether there are not other sources and foundations as well
which route freedom of religion and a thicker understanding of the human
person as again embedded in tradition and community and also keeping in mind
what was said earlier that Matt Frank emphasized that conscience is also
compulsion this is not about choosing life plans so much as responding to
duties to the truth a sense of obligation duties that non-believers can
also feel very very powerfully it isn’t just for conventional religious
believers who have a sense of a duty to the truth or a duty to seek some harmony
with whatever wider source of ultimate reality there may be this is not
restricted to traditional religious believers any any further thoughts on
that or further questions yes yes yes thank you
well actually forgive me I sue Taylor and who you you had you asked wonderful
questions earlier I would like to hear from you as well but I want to have sue
Taylor join in since we haven’t heard from you soon great thanks Tim sue
Taylor from the national affairs office of the Church of Scientology just a very
quick question we’ve been talking about freedom of conscience like in the
Western world in the sort of thing and I was just wondering going back before
Christ were there any ancient ancient thinkers
ancient spiritual thinkers that could have influenced the more modern thinking
with regards to freedom of conscience that’s a wonderful wonderful question
any and any responses certainly much of what we’ve said would suggest that the
the deepest roots of some of these ideas are in the Hebrew Scriptures and it’s
also worth pointing out that a number of early Christian thinkers were inspired
by the battle for freedom of religion that the Maccabee ins fought for and the
maca bean revolt for the early Christians first and second Maccabees
was of course part of the Christian Bible and the story of revolt against
the hellenization that was coercively imposed on the Jews was a story that
inspired early Christian that of course is pre-christian but but
other other other ideas I’ve yes mentioned briefly stoah the stoicism and
I think that’s certainly one of the kind of richest veins that we might look to
as a as a source in the classical world in the Western world for non-christian
and pre-christian ideas that that are conducive to thinking of humans is as
inherently worthy beings and you see you see traces of this in ideas of
cosmopolitanism the very word you know I’m a citizen of the cosmos not my
primary identity isn’t this sort of an ethnic or civic identity that limits my
duties to the people who are simply in my kind of near circle but as a citizen
of the the world I have responsibilities to all people and that I think there’s a
certainly a progressive moment in that in the ancient philosophical schools and
stoicism a particular you see Cicero dancing around with it I’m talking about
Dignitas that that sense of worthiness of people who have reason and so I think
there are there there’s a case to be made for some of the ancient
philosophical schools particularly stoicism having a kind of impetus
towards looking at humans across any kind of Civic or ethnic boundaries and
as inherently moral and therefore worthy creatures yes thank you for the
fascinating and insightful comments on this panel
Sam Moines name was invoked earlier and I think it’s in the last utopia that
more in kind of gestures to ideas like the ones that we’re sharing here today
as a quixotic search for deep roots of human rights which as you mentioned he
sees as a a very modern recent project and I know there’s a lot of debate
around moins work but one of the points he makes is around gender and so I guess
the question is with the the sources and the
thinkers that we’ve been talking about here in this panel that we’ve heard
about just now are the are those sources speaking to human dignity across gender
explicitly or do you take them to be implicitly or if not what are your
thoughts on kind of when in Christian thought those ideas of human dignity
expand to be inclusive across gender if not across sexuality and thinking about
this problem particularly in a contemporary context where the idea of
equal human dignity yielding equal human rights is still very much contested
among American Christians and and transnationally as well thank you maybe
this is the question with which you might begin Kyle you’ve written a book
on sexuality in the ancient world and transformations that Christians helped
to bring their is partly a matter of rights of dignity in both men and women
and I live to tell about it and I’m never going to do sorry to bring it you
weren’t threatening at any controversial you know there at all yes and no in
reference to the ancient Christian sources and there I think it depends on
again what genealogy we’re looking for there are certainly strong elements of
what we would think of as progress towards gender equality in ancient
Christianity it’s in Galatians that there isn’t male or female in Christ and
that’s a radical thing Paul’s letter to the Corinthians where he talks about
marriage expects a level of kind of mutual fidelity between husband and wife
in the marriage relationship that’s completely alien to ancient culture and
those are really important sources of ideas of worthiness of dignity of women
in the ancient world and that continues I think right through Late Antiquity and
I’ve tried right about the the importance of Christian ideas in in
practice for particularly for enslaved people’s but but above all for enslaved
women and how what radical implications the gospel carried for people who were
in a sense subjected both to slavery and to norms that came out of a very
patriarchal world at the same time there’s no doubt that ancient
Christianity and late ancient Christianity had ideas of gender norms
that are very different from most modern ideologies and that would fit I think
uneasily and in terms of contemporary secular gender norms and and there are
elements of late in chat Christianity that still that still do certainly
envision men having more power within the family within the city than women so
I think what you ask is a really hard question and a really good one doesn’t
make me think that we heard earlier from Robert Wilkin about the Franciscan nuns
saying here we stand so we did have a remarkable instance of women in a
patriarchal context asserting their equal rights to freedom of religion well
with that I’m afraid we have to conclude we could go on and on we have a short
break before we begin our next panel on contemporary Christian contributions
which will be moderated by my co-editor and friend Alan Hertz key starting at
2:45 and please join me in thanking this wonderful panel you

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