Civil Society, Civil Religion pioneers an essentially new genre of theology: a form of pure civil theology, on a systematic basis.
Such a theology is intended as a theory of critical civil religion. In the past, 'civil religion' has always been understood as the religious self-expression of a particular state-establishment. But with the increasing organization of international 'civil society' new possibilities open up. Andrew Shanks argues that a truly liberating civil theology must articulate the spiritual basis for what the philosopher Jan Patocka called 'the solidarity of the shaken' - overlapping with all manner of confessional loyalties. It would thus be a response to 'revelation' in the whole of history, but above all in those memories that remain most immediately traumatic and disturbing to us with regard to our identities as citizens. Each confessional tradition, for instance, has its own particular angle on the experience of twentieth-century totalitarianism. But what, in more general terms, would constitute an ideal culture of proper 'remembrancing' here?
Andrew Shanks also considers more mainstream Christian-confessional criticisms of modernity, such as those of Kierkegaard and Barth, and explores the broader requirements of 'the solidarity of the shaken' with particular reference to Nietzsche, Levinas and, above all, Hegel.
Civil Society, Civil Religion is an important and original book, in significant respects carrying forward the debate initiated by John Milbank's Theology and Social Theory, albeit in a very different way. It should be required reading for academics and students in the fields of theology, religion and political philosophy.
"The question of religion and civil society is becoming central for
all critical discourse. Andrew Shanks' new book approaches it with
a European breadth of seriousness." John Milbank, Peterhouse,
"This book is written with wit, passion and clarity; not the
least important thing about it is its thorough immersion in the
wider European world of culture and politics. It should be read by
anyone concerned for the future of a genuinely democratic politics
in our society, as well as by anyone who still looks to religious
language to offer a point of moral reference in times of violence."
Rowan Williams, Bishop of Monmouth, Wales
Part I: Negative Revelation: .
A. Hannah Arendt.
3. The Life of the Mind.
B. Simone Weil.
2.'The Absolute Good.'.
Part II: Religion, Civility and Faith:.
A. Against Confessional Exclusivism.
1. Truth as Subjectivity.
2. Faith versus 'Religion'.
3. Affinity Group / Open Forum.
B. Civil Theology in Christendom.
Part III: 'The Solidarity of The Shaken': Civil Theology And
A. Jan Patocka's Meta-history of Historical Consciousness.
B. The History of 'Nihilism'.
C.'Nur Noch ein Gott...'.
Part IV: The Virtues Of Discernment:.
A. Free-spiritedness (Heidegger, Hegel, Nietzsche).
B. Flair for Tradition (Hegel).
C. Transcendent Generosity (Levinas).
Part V: 'Anti-Politics'.