Journalist Ben Judah, Author of This is London (2016): ‘I Found Faith Everywhere’

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According to the publisher, ‘This is London explodes fossilized myths and offers a fresh, exciting portrait of what it’s like to live, work, fall in love, raise children, grow old and die in London now’ (see more at: http://www.picador.com/books/this-is-london#sthash.ja63s8zF.dpuf). A Dutch translation of the book, entitled Dit is Londen, was published in January 2017.

In an article in The Big Issue (Feb. 16, 2016), author Ben Judah writes:

‘To my surprise, a hidden spirituality burst out. I never expected my quest for the city to reveal to me the immigrant mega-city’s prayers. Nigerian Peckham took me to a sacred seer, Russian Mayfair took me to its kabbalist, Pakistani Leyton told me of the love and secrets with which the faithful wash the dead.

At night London murmurs, a city of prayer. It is no longer haunted by Jack the Ripper but by the curses of Roma beggars and the amulets worn by Ghanaian witchdoctors. I found faith everywhere. The London of Karl Marx and empty pews is gone. Instead, a city of countless Nigerian street-preachers, Somali basement mosques and overflowing Polish churches. But the chapels of the other London are not like ours. London’s gods now live in converted bingo-halls and backrooms.’

The introduction of my new book contains the following passage: ‘To the extent that I had a particular location in mind while writing this book, it was New York City. At just a one-hour train ride away from Princeton, the “greatest city on earth” occasionally formed a welcome and highly inspirational escape from the sometimes rather too peaceful and quiet Princeton campus during the year in which I worked there. Obviously, New York City has its own fair share of problems and there is no reason to idealise life in the city, or in the United States for that matter, whatsoever. Still, to my mind, there is no better test case for social pluralist theory than this diverse place.’ The same goes for London.

This is the third post in a new series introducing my forthcoming book on Constitutionalism, Democracy and Religious Freedom. To be Fully Human (Routledge, 2017).

For the first two posts, please see:

The Washington Post on Why Religious Freedom Could Become the Major Religion Story of 2017;

 

Book on Constitutionalism, Democracy and Religious Freedom. To Be Fully Human (Routledge) now available for pre-order

Upcoming Speaking Engagement, Seventh International Conference on Religion & Spirituality in Society, 17-18 April 2017, Imperial College London, London, UK

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‘The Religion and Spirituality in Society knowledge community sets out in its conference, journal, book series and online community, to describe, analyze and interpret the role of religion in society. The community’s intellectual project is neutral with respect to the agendas of particular religions or explicit counterpoints to religion such as agnosticism or atheism.’

‘The Seventh International Conference on Religion & Spirituality in Society features research addressing the following annual themes and the 2017 Special Focus.

THEME 1: RELIGIOUS FOUNDATIONS THEME 2: RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY AND SOCIALIZATION THEME 3: RELIGIOUS COMMONALITIES AND DIFFERENCES THEME 4: THE POLITICS OF RELIGION​ 2017 Special Focus: Respecting Difference, Understanding Globalism’

Source, and more information: http://religioninsociety.com/2017-conference.

My own contribution is entitled ‘The Significance of Institutional Religious Freedom for Liberal Democracy’:

Questions surrounding the institutional dimension of religious freedom are among the most fundamental of our time. The reason for this is that they raise important issues regarding liberal democracy as such. As Jean L. Cohen pointed out, one of the reasons for this is because institutional religious freedom puts the sovereignty of the state, which has already eroded externally, also under pressure internally. As a result, the topic of institutional religious freedom is not just relevant to specialists in the right to freedom of religion or belief, or even human rights for that matter, but also from a more general religious studies point of view. Cohen considers it problematic that state sovereignty comes under pressure from communal religious freedom, because this constitutes a return to Medieval times. According to her, the idea of liberal democracy rests upon a monistic sovereignty conception. Although this is certainly a legitimate proposition, and probably the current dominant one, the proposed paper will argue in favour of a more inclusive conception of liberal democracy. According to this conception, within liberal democracy there is also room for those who adhere to a jurisdictional approach to religious freedom, i.e. recognise multiple sovereignties in a liberal democracy.

See: http://cgpublisher.com/conferences/384/proposals/50/index_html.