Spirituality and politics

Authored by: Wolfgang Palaver

The Routledge International Handbook of Spirituality in Society and the Professions

Print publication date:  March  2019
Online publication date:  March  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138214675
eBook ISBN: 9781315445489
Adobe ISBN:


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Today, the widely held Western attitude toward politics is that it has to be free from religion. Church and State have to be separate, politics is a completely secular matter and religion should stay out of politics. Taking such a secularist position would not give a lot of reasons to reflect on the relationship between spirituality and politics. This much too simplistic approach, however, does not really understand the complex relationship between religion and politics or between spirituality and politics. The first part of this essay demonstrates, with the help of Augustine, that there is no way out of political theology broadly understood. A further part will therefore introduce Louis Dumont’s concept of a tangled hierarchy between religion and politics that will lead to a substantial discussion of religion and spirituality in regard to politics by following insights of Simone Weil, who emphasized an overcoming of idolatry as a precondition for a genuine spirituality opening up toward the universe. A final part will introduce several representatives of a genuine political spirituality taken from different denominational, religious and even nonreligious backgrounds.

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