For Liberals: An Academic Candy Coating for theBitter Pill of God

Amy Levin:  Those who find religion scholars to be an insular grouping of armchair academics out of touch with the “real world” (a term said scholars enjoy deconstructing), might have been surprised to hear some of the panels at this year’s American Academy of Religion (AAR) Conference in San Francisco. Though the conference followed suit from previous years in its diversity of religions, ideas, and (inter)disciplines, many of the discussions trended towards a mix of religion, politics, the public sphere, democracy, grassroots organizing, peacebuilding, and secularism. You know, the “real stuff.”

Lisa Miller, an editor at Newsweek and keeper of the weekly Belief Watch column, taps into the academic space of public politics in this week’s column, “Is the black church the answer to liberal prayers?” She opens the conversation with the following: “As the American left continues to seek a coherent way to articulate its moral priorities in these days of political stalemates and widening income gaps, it might look to the most unlikely of places — the academy — for guidance and inspiration.” While I would hesitate to suggest that the “American left” and “the academy” have been in a long distance relationship up until now, Miller’s point is well taken. Continue Reading →