Invitation of Papers for the
35th International Course on the
The Future of Religion: Politics, Art, Religion.
IUC, Dubrovnik, Croatia,
Rudolf J. Siebert
Professor of Religion and Society
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA
Call for Papers for the 35th International Course on the
Future of Religion: Politics, Art, and Religion
We are writing this letter to you, in order to invite you wholeheartedly to our 35thinternational course on the Future of Religion: Politics, Art, Religion to take place in the Inter-University Center for Post - Graduate Studies (IUC) in Dubrovnik, Croatia, from May 2-7,2011. We invite you to our discourse, because we are convinced, that you as a scholar are most competent to contribute to the clarification, understanding, explanation and further development of our new topic: the interconnection among religion, art, and politics, in the present transition period between Modernity and Post-Modernity.
This year we shall celebrate the 35th anniversary of our international course on the Future of Religion .We are the second oldest course in the IUC. The oldest course had been established by Academician Ivan Supec, former President of the University of Zagreb. Ivan invited me and my wife Margaret to found the course on the Future of Religion in 1975.Since 1977 we have met every year in beautiful Dubrovnik, coming from all parts of the world in order to study the main religions and their paradigm changes. We discussed particularly the situation of religion in the present transition from Modernity to Post-Modernity. We met even during the Yugoslav war in Hotel Lero and discussed in its basement Kant’s eternal peace and other issues, while the Serbian troops were stationed right above us on the mountain, from where they were often shooting. WE were glad that we could help the suffering people with medicine and money.. We shall take out some time during our discourse to remember our accomplishments in the past 35 years and express our gratitude to the IUC and all those who made them possible, and plan for the future.
We dedicate our 35th anniversary course to our dear friend Jim Reimer, who left us in 2010 for a hopefully much better world,the totally Other, for which he was longing throughout his most successful life. Still two days before his death in his home in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada Jim let himself be carried by his son and son in law to his Mennonite community and participated with his beautiful tenor voice in their Blue Grass Gospel Songs. Jim was with us already in our first course in 1977. He joined us throughout the past 35 years, whenever his most creative life made it possible for him. Jim showed us, how one can reconcile the religious and the secular in the 20th and 21st century. Jim was a good human being ; a good religious man; a good Christian; a good Mennonite; a good friend. Jim’s last book and last word, which will come out post-humously in summer 2011, is on Shalom - Peace, Friendship. We owe much to Jim, and we are most grateful to him for his exemplary life, and his friendship, and we shall continue our work in his spirit.
Presentation of Papers
We hope very much, that you can follow our invitation, and that you can come to the IUC in beautiful Dubrovnik in the first week of May 2011, and that you can join us in our 34th international course on the Future of Religion: Politics, Art, Religion and that you can present a paper to us out of the center of your own presently on-going research-activities, interests, competence and teaching, and in the framework of the general thematic of 2011. Of course, you are also very welcome, if you do not want to be a resource person and to read a paper, but rather prefer to appear as participant, and thus contribute as such to our, to be sure, very lively discourse. Our course will be part of a very rich IUC Program of courses and conferences in the Academic Year of 2010/2011. Dubrovnik and the IUC are, indeed, alive and well and even growing again in spite of all the tragic events of the past decades! We hope very much, that the whole region of the former Yugoslavia will soon become part of the European Union, We hope, that the further trials in Den Haag will be guided not by the Jus or Lex Talionis and by the motive of retaliation, but rather in the perspective of the Golden Rule, which is present not only in the three Abrahamic Religions - Judaism, Christianity and Islam - but in all the. living world religions, and of its secular inversion, and translation, and rationalization into the categorical imperative, and into the apriori of the universal communication community, and of a global ethos built on these religious and secular principles, and of an international law, which is rooted in them and will, therefore, never be without mercy and the power of at-onement, and of reconciliation. All ethics and legality must - in order to have motivating power - ultimately be rooted in the insatiable longing for the totally Other than the horror and terror of nature and history. (See website http: //www.rudolfjsiebert.org
Text and Context
Please, prepare your paper out of the material of your present research, in the horizon of our specific theme of this year, and in the context of the present historical situation, and in direction of our common goal: shalom, salam, peace among the Abrahamic religions. We are convinced, that there cannot be any peace among nations without peace among the world-religions; and that there cannot be any peace among the world religions without discourse among them; and that there cannot be any discourse among them without their mutual knowledge about each other and their interpretations of reality and their orientations of action. To such mutual knowledge among the Abrahamic religions and between them and other world religions, as well as between them and the secular Modernity our texts intend to contribute. Your texts must not be perfect. Nobody is perfect! You can still complete your paper to the level of publication-maturation after you have presented it, and after we have discussed it together, and after you have returned home. Our discourse may help you, to complete your paper, and to make it ready for publication. Finally, we would like to collect our research papers once more for a third volume, following Professor Reimer’s excellent first volume - The Influence of the Frankfurt School on Contemporary Theology. Critical Theory and the Future of Religion. Dubrovnik Papers in Honor of Rudolf J. Siebert. Lewiston, New York, Queenston, Ontario, Canada, Lampeter, Dyfed, Wales, United Kingdom, and Professor Michael Ott’s most outstanding second volume The Future of Religion: Toward a Reconciled Society, which has appeared with the publisher Brill in Holland and with the publisher Haymarket in 2007/2009.. Maybe Michael Ott will assist us once more with his great publishing experience, to bring out our third volume in the not too distant future. My own three volume Manifesto of the Critical Theory of Society and Religion: The Wholly Other, Liberation, Happiness and the Rescue of the Hopeless, which is very much based in our discourses in Dubrovnik from 1977 to 2011, and reflects very much our common efforts, has come out with the publisher Brill in Leiden, Holland, in 2010, and will come out in paperback with the publisher Haymarket in London and Chicago in 2011, and can be of help to us in our future discourse meetings. We shall celebrate the arrival of the Manifesto during our discourse in May 2011 in the framework of our work done in the past 35 years, which it reflects(See website http: //www.rudolfjsiebert.org
Resource Persons and Participants
Thus, we - the Director, Professor Rudolf J. Siebert, Western Michigan University, and the Co-Directors, Professor Mislav Kukoc, University of Zagreb, Professor Gottfried Künzelen, Emeritus from the University of the Federal German Army, Munich, Professor Denis Janz, Loyola University, New Orleans, Professor Michael Ott, Grand Valley University, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Dr. Dinka Marinovic-Jerolimov, Institute for Social Research Zagreb, and the Coordinators Professor Tatiana Senyushkina, Taurida National University, Simferopol, Ukraine, and Dr. Goran Goldberger, Institute for Social Research, Zagreb, invite you very personally in the name of the IUC, to join us as resource persons or participants in our 35th international course on The Future of Religion: Politics. Art. Religion in the IUC Building, from May 2 - 7, 2011. We chose this year's course title once more in a democratic procedure. It grew almost logically out of the texts and the contexts and motivations of our previous discourses on the Future of Religion. This year’s theme is certainly once more of highest actuality considering the present world situation: the so-called war against terror, which unfortunately continues under the Obama Administration in Iraq, Afghanistan. Pakistan, Palestine, Yemen and elsewhere, and which is continually fought on both sides by Jews, Christians and Muslims according to the cruel Jus or Lex Talionis, without any real peace, or liberation, or redemption in sight, as the possible result of the praxis of the Golden Rule, which all three Abrahamic and other religions have in common, in personal, national, and international affairs: a praxis driven by the yearning for the totally Other, including the longing for light, friendship, love, as well as liberation and happiness, and the rescue of all the hopeless victims of society and history, who have never had their day in court( See website http://www.rudolfjsiebert,org/) .
Addresses: Home, Secretariat, and Hotels.
In case you have any further questions, please address them to me or my co-directors at the following addresses and through the following media. My home address is: 630 Piccadilly Road, Kalamazoo, Michigan 49006, USA. My home telephone number is: 269-381-0864. My e-mail address is RSieb3@aol.com. My Fax address is: 269-381-1935. My website is: http://www.rudolfjsiebert.org/. If you plan to come, please also contact directly the Secretariat of the Inter-University Center, Don Frana Bulica 4, HR 20000 Dubrovnik, Croatia, Tel.+385 20 413626/7; Fax +385 20 413628. Please, also contact either Hotel Argentina, Tel + 385 20 440 555, Fax + 385 20 432 524, or Hotel Lero, Tel. + 385 20 411 455, Fax + 385 20 432 501, or any other hotel or private pension of your choice in Dubrovnik for room and board. Hotel Lero is the less expensive one. Hotel Argentina is the more expensive one. Most of us will probably stay at Hotel Lero. For further information concerning the broader context of our international course on the Future of Religion, please look at my web site: http://www.rudolfjsiebert.org/. You can get a lower hotel price, if you make your reservation through the IUC Secretariat as early as possible,
Please, allow me to make a few more concrete suggestions concerning the content of our discourse on The Future of Religion: Politics. Art. Religion. One reason for such suggestions is to constitute further continuity between our past 34 courses on one hand, and the coming 35th discourse, on the other. In fulfilling this task of continuity, we are greatly supported by Professor Reimer's book The Influence of the Frankfurt School on Contemporary Theology. Critical Theory and the Future of Religion. Dubrovnik Papers in Honor of Rudolf J. Siebert, and by Professor Ott’s new book The Future of Religion: Toward a Reconciled Society and by Professor Siebert’s new Manifesto.of the Critical theory of Society and Religion: The Totally Other,Liberation,Happiness, and the Rescue of the Hopeless. The other reason for the following suggestions is to indicate the possible direction, which our new international discourse on the Future of Religion: Politics. Art, and Religion may, or could, or should take, when we meet in Dubrovnik from May 2-7, 2011.The few suggestions may indicate the possible theoretical framework, level, and goal for the texts, that we shall produce in writing or orally in and for the new Dubrovnik - and world-situation, and toward the goal of further human emancipation as reconciliation on the long road of humankind from animality to Post-Modern, global alternative Future III: the reconciled, free, just and therefore peaceful society, instead of alternative Future I - the totally administered society as predicted by Huxley, Orwell, Kafka, Horkheimer, Adorno, Fromm, Marcuse, etc., or alternative global Future II - the entirely militarized society continually engaged in conventional wars and civil wars, and in the preparation of ABC wars, and the consequent environmental disasters, maybe in the framework of a collision of religion-guided civilizations as predicted by the late Samuel Huntington - a disciple of Carl Schmitt, Adolf Hitler’s main jurist and general council, and political theologian - and a former Pentagon advisor during the Vietnam war and the Iraq wars. The following suggestions are, of course, only that - suggestions - and you may feel entirely free, to follow your own dialectical imagination and creativity, and to move in other directions as well, inside, of course, of the wider framwork of the general thematic of 2011. (See website http: //www.rudolfjsiebert, org/).
Throughout our discourses in Dubrovnik since 1977 we were guided to a large extend by the critical theory of society and religion, or by the dialectical religiology. From its very start in 1947, the critical religiology as we derived it from the critical theory of society of the Frankfurt School, responding to our experiences with fascism, and with World War II, and with the cold war between the capitalist and socialist block, and more recently with the global war on terror, was constituted by a three fold dialectic:
1. the dialectic between the religious and the secular;
2. the dialectic in the secular; and
3. the dialectic in the religious.
This three - fold dialectic constituted the very core of our comparative, dialectical religiology as it evolved from 1947 on to the present. We traced the dialectical movement: of religion from the original, traditional, medieval, relative union between the sacred and the profane, through their modern separation, to their possible post-modern reunion in one form or the other. Of course, there had existed a separation between the religious and the secular already in primitive, archaic, and historical-intermediate societies. Already the Tobriand Islanders differentiated between their work in the lacunae, where they could depend on their profane fishing technology, on one hand, and their work out on the ocean, where they depended on religion: on the help of the Baloonae, the Spirits, and on magic and fetishism. The Torah’s, and the New Testament’s, and the Holy Qur’an’s differentiation between the religious dimension of God on one hand, and the profane sphere of the Emperor, or of money, on the other, or between the children of God and the children of this world, was not yet completely exclusive, and did not yet disturb the fundamental union between the sacred and the profane language, thought and action, art and politics. In the Western Middle Ages, the scholastics, particularly Thomas Aquinas, Albertus Magnus, and Bonaventura, produced an ingenious balance between religious faith and secular knowledge with the help of Plato and then of Aristotle, mediated to some extent through the Islamic Arabs, like Averroes Only in the late Middle Ages, the nominalists began to announce a double truth: a religious and a profane truth - the truth of. Divine revelation on one hand, and a truth of human autonomous reason, art and politics (See website http: //www.rudolfjsiebert.org
Only in the West, with the beginning of Modernity, with the Renaissance, with the de-hellinization during the Reformation, the bourgeois and socialist revolutions, and the present multi-culturalism, the traditional relative separation between the sacred and the profane began to turn into a more and more radical contradiction and an antagonism with deep tensions and explosions, which continue in the culture wars of today - in 2011 - not only in Europe and America and in the Near East, but all around the globe, as secular Modernity catches up with all continents and civilizations and world religions: particularly the three Abrahamic religions. There were beginnings of Modernity before in ancient China, when the Chinese invented the gunpowder, and in ancient Greece, when the Greeks constructed the first steam engine. But while Modernity did not take off in China or in Greece. it took deep roots in the West, in Europe. Obviously Christianity had something to do with it as it united in itself religious faith from Jerusalem, philosophy and science from Athens, and political and legal structures from Rome, and provided the theology and metaphysics, which was demanded by the new modern rational world view. Paradoxically enough, Christianity was also the first of the three Abrahamic religions to be hit by the onslaught of the modern enlightenment movements: then followed Judaism, and finally Islam. While the Evangelical Reformation was a deeply religious event, it contributed, nevertheless, also paradoxically enough, to the modern secularization process: particularly Martin Luther’s idea, that not only clergymen but all people had a vocation, and Calvin’s notion, that wealth was the sign for divine predestination to bliss in eternal life. The modern disunion between the religious and the secular carried conflict into the religious communities themselves, as some of their members emphasized their religious identities in a most radical orthodox way, while other members were more open toward secular Modernity and more willing to adjust to it be it in the sphere of religion, art, or politics. Thus, in Judaism orthodox Rabbis opposed the conservative and reform Rabbis. In Christianity the conservative Pope Benedict XVI is not able to allow the liberal Hans Küng to teach theology in the name of the Catholic Church. In Islam radical Imams oppose the more liberal Professor Ramadan and the modern bourgeois as well as socialist enlightenment movements and revolutions and waves of modernization, to which he would like to open up without sacrificing his Islamic identity. The onslaught of secular Modernity on the Abrahamic religions also pulls the particular religious communities into the national and international classtruggle on different levels. Some believers side with the ruling classes and others with the poor classes. Some believers stand on the Right and others on the Left. Also this way religious communities are divided in themselves and thus participate in the guilt - connection of late capitalist society. Most importantly, the modern antagonism between the religious and the secular also brought the more and more radical differentiation between religion, art, and politics: the radically secular, autonomous art and politics, separation of religion and the profane state..
As we developed the critical theory of religion in our Dubrovnik discourses, we were not only aware of the original traditional union of the sacred and the profane, and their modern disunion, but also looked foreword to their possible post-modern reunion. We remembered, that the great idealists from Kant to Hegel, including poets like Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and musicians like Ludwig van Beethoven, had an affirmative attitude toward Modernity and the modern separation of the religious and the secular. But they anticipated, that dialectical human reason would dialectically return to a reformed religious faith. After Hegel had described most adequately in his philosophy of religion the modern dissonance and antagonism between the religious and the secular, he arrived at a new reconciliation between reformed religious faith and secular dialectical reason. His whole philosophy of religion was devoted to this goal. At the same time, Hegel was aware that this reconciliation was only partial, and that it was limited to philosophy, and that it would not help sociologically the common man in modern civil society – particularly the working classes - to resolve the problem, since he could not have a demythologized faith and could not reach the highest levels of dialectical reason. After Goethe let in his master work Faust, an imitation of the Book of Job, his hero leave religion behind and devote himself to modern secular science, he brought him, nevertheless, back again to the sacred at the end of Volume II. But Goethe’s reconciliation remained limited to poetry and did not reach the masses in secular civil society: particularly the fourth estate. After Beethoven had worked hard to liberate music from the religious cult and to secularize it most powerfully, he wrote, nevertheless, his Missa solemnis, and even believed it to be his best work. But Beethoven’s reconciliation of faith and knowledge remained limited to music, and did not reach the reality of antagonistic civil society, the secularization of which continued unhindered in art as well as in politics. The critical theorists of society became fully aware of the deficiency and failure of the idealistic attempts to resolve the modern problem of the antagonism between the religious and the secular in bourgeois or socialist society. Driven by their deep yearning for the totally Other and perfect justice and unconditional love, the critical theorists of society could not be satisfied by the failure of idealism to return to theism or by an abstract atheism a la Bertholt Brecht taking its place, and therefore made the attempt at a historical-materialistic reconciliation of faith and knowledge in the form of Adorno’s and Benjamin’s negative, inverse, cipher or semblance theology/theodicy.
In our international courses in Dubrovnik in the past three and a half decades we have taken into consideration the possibility of post-modern alternative Future III – a reconciled society. In such a society a non-fundamentalist, reformed religious faith would newly be reconciled with a non-secularist, but rather reflective enlightenment. The contradiction between the sacred and the profane, as well as in the secular enlightenment and in religion would be resolved not on the religious side, as the idealists tried to do, but rather on the secular side in humanistic form. In Dubrovnik secular scholars, who had reflected on the dialectic of enlightenment, and religious scholars who had repented the dialectic of religion would meet each other in open discourse, which was not closed up dogmatically or fundamentalistically on the religious side, or positvistically and naturalisticalle on the secular side. They approached topics of the ongoing culture war: stem cell research, religious and secular terror, abortion, homosexuality, eugenics, euthanasia, separation of Church and state, etc. The task of the neutral secular state was to guarantee both religious and secular people equal entrance to the public sphere. In public discourse the best argument was to prevail, Both sides will try to come closer to each other e.g., in case of stem cell research. Religiou and secular people are interested in finding cures for diseases like cancer or Alzheimer’s. Both sides can agree, that the human embryo is different from even the chimpanzee embryo. But there remains still disagreement in that for the religious people intersubjectivity presupposes subjectivity, and for secular people subjectivity presupposes intersubjective. Thus, for the religious people the human embryo is a person with all its rights already before birth and even since conception, while for the secular people the human embryo becomes an ego, which differentiates itself from id and super-ego only after birth through interaction with mother, father, doctors, nurses, siblings, etc., and only then becomes the carrier of human and civil rights,. While for the time being, religious and secular people may have to agree sometimes to disagree, it must not be forgotten that not only science but also religion is an open human project, and that both change from one paradigm to the other, and that therefore in the future an agreement may become possible.
Connection between Religion, Politics, and Art
In the present transition period between Modernity and Post-Modernity several thinkers tried to connect religion with politics and art, and vice versa: Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Franz Kaka, Martin Heidegger, Helmut Plessner, Eric Voegelin, Gerhard Scholem, Hannah Arendt, Hans Jonas, Walter Benjamin,Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Ernst Bloch, Herbert Marcuse, ,Georg Lukacs, Norbert Elias, Michael Theunissen, Ernst Cassirer, Alexander Kluge, Karl Jaspers, Karl Otto Apel, Henrik vion Wright, Jürgen Habermas, Johann Baptist Metz, Hans Küng, etc.. Benjamin was interested in the paradigmatic breaking points in the continuity of the political, religious and artistic history. His student and friend Adorno confessed to the fragment as form of knowledge in his rejection of the systematic in politics, art and religion. Scholem searched for the innovative political and aesthetical energies in the religious foundations of civilization, and tried to discover the totally Other of nature and history. A life long, Scholem was devoted to Zionism. Scholem mediated philosophical notions with the seemingly ephemeric, with the everyday contingencies, with fleeting biographical experiences, with religious, artistic and political aspects of the spirit of the time, which reflected themselves in paradigmatc turns as well as in the slowly densifying risicoes and the historical catastrophies. Bloch had a deep, micrological sense for the political, religious, or aesthetical utopian element still even in the most banal and insignificant residuals of life. Bloch’s philosophy happened since the beginning of WorldWar I in the context of his political publicistic. Bloch and Scholem approach - the former materialistically and the latter idealistically the same phenomenon of a change of the religious beyond mere secularization Both see that the melting of religious tradition into a profane historical consciousness opens for it a new tension of remembrance and anticipation, tradition and utopia. Marcuse hoped in the political productivity of religious and artistic groups. Marcuse had great significance for the political, revolutionary student movement of the 1960ties. Marcuse and Arendt arrive from opposite positions at a similar diagnosis of the de-stateification of politics. Adorno and Benjamin did not only share their negative, dialectical inverse cipher or semblance theology as theodicy, but they have also achieved at least indirect political effects. particularly in the way of an aestetical critique. Adorno and Benjamin come from similar positions to an opposite estimation of the de-artification of that, what had differentated itself out in Modernity as a realm of autonomius reason. Arendt had a passion for those rare historical moments, when the masses were still fluent, out of which political, aesthetical, or religious institutions were formed. Her political engagement shows itself in her books about totalitarianism, about Rahel Varnhagen, about revoliution and counter-revolution, as well as in her polemical articles about the Adolf Eichmann trial, about Vietnam, about the student rebellion and protest.. Cassirer discovered in humanistic perspective the liberating power of aesthetical-, or religious- or political- symbolical formations. Jaspers spoke about the powers of religious, political and aesthetical faith in the conflict of cultures. Henrik von Wright stood as mediator among the religious, artistic, and political traditions. Apel had a strong hermeneutical sense not only for philosophical, but also for religious, aesthetical, and political texts and contexts. .Metz searched for the roots of the anamnestic communicative rationality in Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome: the religious, philosophical, aesthetical and political seedbed societies of the Western civilization, and for the unity in the present multicultural diversity. Theunissen connected the communicative aesthetical and political freedom with the negative theology. Kluge, the discursive writer and movie maker, described political, aesthetical and religious learning processes with deadly results, without however giving up ideas of the right and undamaged life. Habermas has devoted many discourses, articles, and books to politics and religion, and has also spoken about art, as well as about their modern differentiation, and new interconnection. Irritable intellectuality can explain, why we can observe in the writings of all these authors how the philosophical thought communicates with experiences of other realms: with experiences of politics, art, and religion. Because the constellations among politics, art and religion change themselves today - in 2011- in a specific way, communications beyond the once well defined boundaries gain a surprisingly seismographic value. We want to move beyond these old boundaries in our discourse on religion, art and politics in beautiful Dubrovnik between May 2 - 7, 2011.
We hope very much, that those few concretizing suggestions about religion, art, and politics may give you some general orientation for your own preparatory work for our international course on The Future of Religion: Politics. Art . Religion. You can make your own comments and objections to those suggestions and to this general orientation, when we come together in Dubrovnik in the first week of May 2011. We hope very much, that you shall be able and willing to come to our discourse, and that you shall, if possible, present a paper, or papers, concerning aspects of our general theme, unfolded in the above suggestions and orientation, or not. The general theme is broad and gives you much freedom to adjust your paper to it. If you have a hard time to connect your paper to our general theme, we shall do that for and with you in our discourse. Please, let me know as soon as possible, if you shall join us in Dubrovnik, and if you like to give a paper during the first week of May available to us in the IUC Building? Tell me also, if you desire to give your paper at a specific day and hour, and how much time you would like to have. I shall do what I can, to give you as much time as possible.
Rudolf J. Siebert
Professor of Religion and Society
IUC Course Director
Director of the WMU Center for Humanistic Future Studies
Professor. Siebert and his colleagues will conduct a course, entitled Future of Religion:Politics,Art,Religion, at the Inter - University Centre, Dubrovnik, from May 2-7 , 2011. You arevery much invited! If you would like to read the Call for Papers, please follow this link