The New Western Plurality and Citizen Co-Existence

Over the past generation the unprecedented expansion of migration to Western countries has coincided with the global revitalization of religion. These two developments have raised deep questions about received values and practices of pluralist co-existence in Western societies—questions that are likely to remain at the heart of political and social debate in Western societies for some years to come. Read the full article »

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A New Beginning

Evangelii Gaudium goes beyond providing an introduction to interreligious dialogue from the perspective of the new “Poverello” of Rome, Pope Francis. It is, and I feel sure of this, an emphatic proposal for interreligious dialogue to be reframed as a duty for religious communities, and an essential condition to the establishment and maintenance of peace in the world. Read the full article »

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Dialogue Between the Catholic Church and the Modern World

Since his election in March 2013, Pope Francis has aroused enthusiasm and raised the hopes of many through the articulation and lived example of his vision of a Church open to dialogue with the modern world. Pope Francis’ recent Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, is no exception, delivering an even more explicit invitation for the Church to avoid entrenchment. Read the full article »

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A Case of Imperial Aggression, Not Contending Modernities

There may be examples of a “clash between modernities,” but the recent wave of protests in several Muslim majority countries against the so-called “innocence of Muslims” film was not one of them. Indeed, protests by Muslims should be accepted as part of the process of “negotiating” the appropriate limits of two varieties of free speech. If the movie maker in this case is exercising his right to free speech, so are Muslims who are protesting the excessively vulgar ways in which he expressed his views. But it is equally clear that violence is never justified.

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An Honest Conversation about Benghazi and Beyond

“[T]he events of the last two weeks…speak to the need for all of us to honestly address the tensions between the West and the Arab World…” Those words were spoken by President Obama in his speech to the UN General Assembly on September 25, 2012. Indeed, all the events swirling around a crude video insulting the Prophet Muhammad demand an honest conversation about the tensions between the West and the predominantly Muslim cultures of the Arab World — not to mention Muslim cultures beyond the Arab World. A logical forum for such a conversation is Contending Modernities. And the ideal host for such a conversation is Dr. Paola Bernardini, the new Associate Director for Research for Contending Modernities.

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Contending Conceptions of Democracy

The recent wave of violent reactions in Africa, Asia and the Middle East to the online video mocking the Prophet Muhammad may be taken as the most recent example of a clash between “contending modernities.” The US-based moviemaker is sometimes taken to represent the values of “Western democracy” and “free speech,” while the protesters in places such as Libya and Pakistan are taken to represent “extremism” and “illiberalism.” Arguably, though, they represent not a clash of “democracy” vs. “extremism” but a clash between rival conceptions of democracy.

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