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Religious "Sincerity" as a Political Campaign Issue

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  • khealey237
    Hi Group, I m studying the religious left in American politics from a Habermasian perspective. It occurs to me that as progressive religious leaders have
    Message 1 of 7 , Aug 8, 2007
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      Hi Group,

      I'm studying the "religious left" in American politics from a
      Habermasian perspective.

      It occurs to me that as progressive religious leaders have teamed up
      with Democratic political candidates (for 2004, 2006, and now 2008)
      one of the most important issues has been that of sincerity. Since
      2004, Democrats have begun to employ religious language more openly.
      As they have done so, they've come under fire as being insincere in
      their faith. (Of course, the counter-claim has been made against the
      Christian Right as well).

      Some questions:
      - How does this issue relate to Habermas' notion of sincerity as one
      of the three main types of validity claims?

      - Can/should we distinguish between sincerity and authenticity, as
      Amanda Anderson has done in her excellent defense of Habermas ("The
      Way We Argue Now")? And if so, does the mass media tend to emphasize
      the issue of sincerity (as a legitimizing force) while ignoring the
      question of authenticity (as a transformative force)?

      - Is there a general trend among both conservative and progressive
      religious leaders to move away from the instrumental/strategic
      communication of the Christian Right towards an ethic of debate that
      resembles Habermas' communicative action? (E.g., note the many books
      that have decried the politicization of religion - including Jim
      Wallis' book as well as Richard Land's.)

      - Did anyone else notice how closely Barack Obama's 2006 speech on
      religion resembles Habermas' position on the issue - especially
      regarding the idea that religiously inspired politicians must be able
      to "translate" their positions for a wider audience?
    • Gary E. Davis
      khealey I m studying the religious left in American politics from a Habermasian perspective. Hi! You ve created a delightful context! Could you say a little
      Message 2 of 7 , Aug 8, 2007
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        khealey> I'm studying the "religious left" in American politics from a Habermasian perspective.

        Hi! You've created a delightful context! Could you say a little more about this (i.e., the studying) generally, beyond the specific issue that you're mentioning? For example, are you familiar with Habermas' recent lecture on "Religion in the Public Sphere?":

        http://groups.yahoo.com/group/habermas/files/JH_Texts/ReligPubSph.pdf

        [...]

        K> - How does [the indicated campaign '08] issue relate to Habermas' notion of sincerity as one of the three main types of validity claims?

        G: In _Pragmatics of Communication_ (1998 paperback), the Index lists quite a few places where Habermas gives attention to the validity claim to "truthfulness" (which is perhaps his most common sense of sincerity or genuineness—and he uses 'genuineness' more than sincerity, I believe.) Page 81 is a good example, noting the relation of a claim to truthfulness with the "avowal" of intentions and representation of intentions (or implied "seriousness" in speech acts generally).

        Commonly, Habermas refers to the validity claim to genuineness as a matter of self-representation's *lack* of apparent deception, as we do presume genuineness of each other unless there's good reason to question this. (A value associated with genuineness in *interaction*---deserving of normativity---is that we trust "going in" until we have good reason to distrust, rather than distrusting at first untill someone "proves" worthy of trust. One may have good reason to generally distrust, due to a history of being victim of betrayal, but the desired way of life is, even then, to be able to trust, until this becomes untenable.)

        So, the campaign '08 issue could be read as a matter of what *specifically* causes someone to question the intentions and self-representational implications of claims about faith, etc., of a particular candidate. One would have to get specific about scenes and clarify why the self-representation is suspect.

        Intentions usually require time to actualize themselves, such that a thematization of one's lifeworld context is the venue for evaluating truthfulness of intentions. Someone who advocates worship but never appears to worship would be questionable.

        Typically, the at-least-tacit claim to truthfulness is *shown* by what one has done and does over time. It's what's meant in clichés such as "practice what you preach," "walk the talk," and "proof is in the pudding."

        Immanently, truthfulness can be addressed relative to performative contradiction (where p.c. can be compelling evidence of ingenuineness): Belief that B---or "belief in" B---implies actional correlates, such that performative *undermining* of those actional correlates. over time, raises suspicians of a speakers relation to B. For example, "I care about what you say," but repeatedly "I" doesn't listen to what "you" says.

        -----------------------------------------------------

        K> - Can/should we distinguish between sincerity and authenticity, as Amanda Anderson has done in her excellent defense of Habermas ("The Way We Argue Now")?

        G: Yes. Habermas would, I think, explicate this distinction in terms of the difference between (a) a way of life ("ethical life" in chapter 1 of _Justification and Application_, implicating one's whole exemplification of lifeworldliness, so to speak), which may be variably authentic/inauthentic; and (b) one's self-representation in communicative action, relative to one's fidelity to asserted beliefs or values regarded as normative for interaction. Authenticity tends to pertain to living a life; genuineness pertains, for Habermas, to intentional stances in interaction.

        -----------------------------------------------------

        K> And if so, does the mass media tend to emphasize the issue of sincerity (as a legitimizing force) while ignoring the question of authenticity (as a transformative force)?

        G: Another relevant relation is that between private (the domain especially of authenticity) and public, such that one can claim that matters of authenticity aren't the business of mass media, in the first place, except inasmuch as a public figure genuinely makes his/her private life relevant to "our" public life. (Maybe Bill Clinton authentically cared for Monica Lewinsky; in any case, he was insincere about the publicity, to the camera. Whether or not he really still loved his wife is none of our business, but his sincerity about what he WAS publically accountable for—lying under oath, for example—was "fair game".)

        -----------------------------------------------------

        K> - Is there a general trend among both conservative and progressive religious leaders to move away from the instrumental/strategic communication of the Christian Right towards an ethic of debate that resembles Habermas' communicative action? (E.g., note the many books that have decried the politicization of religion - including Jim Wallis' book as well as Richard Land's.)

        G: I suppose you have lots to say about this.

        "General trends" are the kind of sociological thing that the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life addresses: http://pewforum.org/ What does *their* information indicate? What other resources might one turn to? I suppose that both conservative and progressive religious leaders would object to the implication that they were *ever* manipulative, so one would need to be specific about *actions* and *behaviors* in order to pursue your question, in terms of specific examples.

        -----------------------------------------------------

        K> - Did anyone else notice how closely Barack Obama's 2006 speech on religion resembles Habermas' position on the issue - especially regarding the idea that religiously inspired politicians must be able to "translate" their positions for a wider audience?

        G: Say more about this. Obama on reconciling faith and politics:

        --- video: http://www.barackobama.com/issues/faith/

        --- transcript: http://www.barackobama.com/2006/06/28/call_to_renewal_keynote_address.php

        How about relating this to Habermas' lecture cited above?


        You've initiated a great context for further discussion via the group, and I suggest the above contexts for further attention.

        best regards,

        Gary



        .


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • khealey237
        [Forgive me if my formatting is off] G Could you say a little more about this (i.e., the studying) generally, beyond the specific issue that you re
        Message 3 of 7 , Aug 9, 2007
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          [Forgive me if my formatting is off]

          G> Could you say a little more about this (i.e., the studying)
          generally, beyond the specific issue that you're mentioning? For
          example, are you familiar with Habermas' recent lecture on "Religion
          in the Public Sphere?":

          K: I am working on a disseration proposal that will examine
          developments in American religious discourse during the last 8 years
          or so. The project will include an emphasis on the "religious left,"
          but I am also interested in some common ground that has emerged
          between conservative and progressive religious leaders who are unhappy
          with the state of religious discourse in the public sphere (especially
          as dominated by leaders of the so-called Christian Right).

          Yes I recently read Habermas' essay "Religion in the Public Sphere,"
          and I was very pleased to find that he articulated my own position
          very closely. Democratic pluralism places certain demands or
          responsibilities on the shoulders of religiously-oriented politicians
          that "independent" religious leaders do not have to bear - namely,
          that while religious narratives may inform a politician's position on
          certain issues, he or she has an obligation to "translate" his
          position into secular terms that is accessible to the widest possible
          audience. Interestingly, Habermas has a concern that this burden is
          ot asymmetrical, and calls for non-religious parties to do similar
          cognitive work in an effort to reach an understanding with religious
          followers.

          -----

          G> [...] So, the campaign '08 issue could be read as a matter of what
          *specifically* causes someone to question the intentions and
          self-representational implications of claims about faith, etc., of a
          particular candidate. One would have to get specific about scenes and
          clarify why the self-representation is suspect.

          K: The general narrative (as I've read it in various journalistic
          and/or scholarly accounts) is that for the last several decades, the
          Replican party has more closely aligned itself with Protestant
          evangelicals, and has been very willing to use religious rhetoric in
          speeches and elsewhere - and has done so skillfully. The Democrats, on
          the other hand, have generally remained silent on religious issues,
          considering them a private matter that has no substantial place in
          political debate - save for a few stump speeches on the campaign
          trail. So during the 2000 and 2004 elections, after the Bush
          administration enjoyed considerable success by adopting religious
          rhetoric, the Democrats (with the help of progressive religious
          leaders) scrambled to re-frame their messages in religious terms. (For
          example, Jim Wallis famously counseled Democratic congressmen on how
          to speak about the budget in moral terms.) Since this use of religious
          rhetoric was out of character for the Democrats, it has been viewed
          with considerable skepticism by religious conservatives and some on
          the mainstream media. In some cases a Democrat has put a foot in his
          mouth, as when Howard Dean suggested that the book of Job was in the
          New Testament. For these reasons there is a general suspicion of
          insincerity on the part of Democrats who claim religious values.

          This narrative would explain why suspicions about the Democrats'
          sincerity may have some justification. But I also think that
          accusations of insincerity are deliberately invoked as part of a
          strategy to discredit political opponents. Sincerity is possibly the
          weakest spot for the Democrats and for progressive religious leaders,
          especially compared to the other types of validity claims they may
          make - e.g., the scientific truth of climate change and the moral
          imperatives of poverty. In fact I think that as the science around
          global warming is reaching a tipping point (beyond which denial is
          unreasonable), the Christian Right must focus on the issue of
          sincerity with extra determination. Scientific truth (as a type of
          validity claim) is the weak spot for evangelicals of the Christian
          Right (who tend to deny or ignore global warming), while sincerity is
          the weak spot for progressive evangelicals and religiously-oriented
          Democrats.

          G> Immanently, truthfulness can be addressed relative to performative
          contradiction(where p.c. can be compelling evidence of ingenuineness):
          Belief that B---or "belief in" B---implies actional correlates, such
          that performative *undermining* of those actional correlates. over
          time, raises suspicians of a speakers relation to B. For example, "I
          care about what you say," but repeatedly "I" doesn't listen to what
          "you" says.

          K: As the tension between conservative and moderate/progressive
          religious leaders has developed in the last few years, I have seen
          each make these kinds of accusations against the other. For example,
          Jim Wallis and Randall Balmer have faulted conservatives like Pat
          Robertson for claiming to follow the word of the Bible while ignoring
          the fact that scripture contains more references to poverty than to
          abortion or homosexuality. The implication is that if religious
          conservatives were true to their word (i.e., that they follow moral
          guidelines as found in scripture) they would not be concentrating on
          "hot button" issues like abortion and gay marriage but rather would be
          attending to issues of poverty and sickness.


          -----------------------------------------------------

          K>> - Can/should we distinguish between sincerity and authenticity, as
          Amanda Anderson has done in her excellent defense of Habermas ("The
          Way We Argue Now")?

          G> Yes. Habermas would, I think, explicate this distinction in terms
          of the difference between (a) a way of life ("ethical life" in chapter
          1 of _Justification and Application_, implicating one's whole
          exemplification of lifeworldliness, so to speak), which may be
          variably authentic/inauthentic; and (b) one's self-representation in
          communicative action, relative to one's fidelity to asserted beliefs
          or values regarded as normative for interaction. Authenticity tends to
          pertain to living a life; genuineness pertains, for Habermas, to
          intentional stances in interaction.

          K: Here I found Amanda Anderson's discussion very interesting. She
          claims that sincerity functions more as a legitimating factor for
          existing norms, which is why postmodern theorists reject it as simply
          re-inscribing dominant power structures. Postmodern theory tends to
          favor authenticity, she claims, in the sense of rejecting existing
          norms (and assigned identity categories) and challenging the status
          quo. Anderson suggests that Habermas' theory actually allows for a
          healthy dynamic between both sincerity and authenticity.

          In the case of religion specifically, Anderson's distinction seems to
          map onto onto Ken Wilber's distinction between "legitimate" and
          "authentic" religious pratice, where the former reinforces existing
          norms and the latter agitates for social transformation. Each is
          necessary, but the latter tends to be repressed or restricted. In the
          case of American religious history, I have been wondering whether the
          so-called "prophetic" voice of religious liberalism (e.g., the Social
          Gospel and contemporary religious progressivism) represents the
          "authentic" aspect of this dynamic. Gary your definition of
          authenticity here seems much more limited, so I wonder if I'm trying
          to read too much into Habermas here?

          -----------------------------------------------------

          K>> And if so, does the mass media tend to emphasize the issue of
          sincerity (as a legitimizing force) while ignoring the question of
          authenticity (as a transformative force)?

          G> Another relevant relation is that between private (the domain
          especially of authenticity) and public, such that one can claim that
          matters of authenticity aren't the business of mass media, in the
          first place, except inasmuch as a public figure genuinely makes
          his/her private life relevant to "our" public life. (Maybe Bill
          Clinton authentically cared for Monica Lewinsky; in any case,
          he was insincere about the publicity, to the camera. Whether or not he
          really still loved his wife is none of our business, but his sincerity
          about what he WAS publically accountable for—lying under oath, for
          example—was "fair game".)

          K: I see your point with regard to Clinton. One could make similar
          argument about Larry Flynt's attempts to expose the sexual
          improprieties of various Congressmen, right? But generally speaking
          doesn't the role of journalism include investigation and analysis of
          discrepancies between publicly stated goals/objectives/policies and
          actual behavior - of politicians, corporations, and even religious
          institutions? Of course, maybe the question only applies to public
          behavior, not private behavior - for example, the publicly stated
          goals/policies of corporate executives from Enron did not match their
          actual behavior - but one could argue that their behavior was public,
          not private?

          But in the question I originally posed, the hypothesis I was
          suggesting is a bit different: I am thinking of "authenticity" here as
          a secular distinction that is parallel to the religious distinction of
          the "prophetic" voice - that is, an impulse to challenge an existing
          order for the sake of social justice. In Habermasian terms (in my
          understanding) this would include the ongoing expansion of horizons of
          meaning through communicative action. I am suggesting that mass media
          is geared towards issues of sincerity/legitimacy but tends to exclude
          the "prophetic" voice. Here the work of some media scholars like
          Quentin Schultze, Lawrence Moore, and others are relevant.
          Commercially-driven media (both entertainment and journalism) reflect
          the institutional constraints of advertising and political
          bureaucracy. This is why, as groups like Fairness and Accuracy in
          Reporting have noted, so little air time was given to war critics in
          the lead-up to the Iraq invasion. It is also why, as reported by Media
          Matters, conservative religious leaders have recently enjoyed
          disproportionately more air time than progressive religious leaders.


          -----------------------------------------------------


          G> I suppose you have lots to say about [the general trend of
          criticism of the Christian Right].

          "General trends" are the kind of sociological thing that the Pew Forum
          on Religion & Public Life addresses: http://pewforum.org/ What does
          *their* information indicate? What other resources might one turn to?
          I suppose that both conservative and progressive religious leaders
          would object to the implication that they were *ever* manipulative, so
          one would need to be specific about *actions* and *behaviors* in order
          to pursue your question, in terms of specific examples.


          K: Offhand, I can't cite any empirical date from Pew. But the
          criticism of the Christian Right that has emerged - from both
          conservatives and progressives - clearly includes reference to the
          strategic/instrumental use of media for political ends.

          For example, Joel Hunter is a (very successful) conservative
          evangelical who recently turned down a nomination to the presidency of
          the Christian Coalition. In a new book, he criticizes the Christian
          Right in the following manner:

          "Creating emergencies and enemies is good for media ratings and
          fundraising, but it is a turnoff to reasonable people who want a
          solution rather than a shouting match" (Hunter, 2006, p.6).

          Likewise David Kuo, a conservative evangelical who served in the Bush
          administration's Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, complained as
          follows: "I feel like [my political involvement] was more spiritually
          wrong. You're taking the sacred and you're making it profane. You're
          taking Jesus and reducing him to some precinct captain, to some
          get-out-the-vote guy." (From an interview with 60 Minutes).

          You're correct that religious leaders generally don't admit to being
          manipulative. But some religious leaders have been remarkably candid
          on the issue. For example, Jerry Falwell has openly admitted that he
          often make provocative statements in an effort to "work" the media.
          This is an issue that goes back to the days of George Whitefield in
          the 1740s.

          Billy Graham famously regretted his involvement with the Nixon
          administration, revealing that "When I [learned] about [the memos
          circulating in the Nixon Whitehouse about me], I felt like a sheep
          being led to the slaughter." His regret was that he had allowed his
          religious prestige to be manipulated for strategic political ends.

          -----------------------------------------------------


          G> Say more about... Obama on reconciling faith and politics:

          K: Here is a relevant quote from Obama's speech:

          "Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their
          concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It
          requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to
          reason. I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, but if I
          seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the
          teachings of my church or evoke God's will. I have to explain why
          abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all
          faiths, including those with no faith at all."

          Here is a related point from Habermas:

          "The truth content of religious contributions can enter into the
          institutionalized practice of deliberation and decision-making only if
          the necessary translation already occurs in the pre-parliamentarian
          domain, i.e., in the political public sphere itself. This requirement
          of translation is even a cooperative task in which the non-religious
          citizens must likewise participate, if their religious fellow citizens
          are not to be encumbered with an asymmetrical burden.

          [...]

          "Remember, the content of political decisions that can be enforced by
          the state must be formulated in a language that is equally accessible
          to all citizens and it must be possible to justify them in this language."
        • Gary E. Davis
          K, Thanks for the elaboration and discussion—very interesting. It all provides a good example of putting aspects of Habermasian social theory to practical
          Message 4 of 7 , Aug 9, 2007
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            K,

            Thanks for the elaboration and discussion—very interesting. It all provides a good example of putting aspects of Habermasian social theory to practical interpretive use; so, I’m glad your comments are in the archive. I hope you’ll share more, specific to Habermasian interests, as your dissertation topic develops. Especially, it would be interesting to get into details of Habermas’ 2006 lecture, relative to the current political season.

            My comments here are only about what seems especially relevant to working with Habermasian themes, so my quoting and attention is selective. Again, your entire posting was very interesting. Thanks again.

            ------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- -----

            I would have to disagree that K> “Sincerity is possibly the weakest spot for the Democrats and for progressive religious leaders,…” relative to a party (the Republicans) that seeks to collapse the distinction between corporate marketing and political legitimation. You mean to focus on the aspect relevant to a religious public, but part of the “translation” issue is to appreciate the locus of validity outside of parochial interests; i.e., the sincerity of “the” Democrats is located in what they generally intend to be about (the locus of what it means to be a Democrat, in terms of programmatic proposals), such that stumbling efforts to show that the tent really was already bigger than perceived by some religious groups can be read as a sincere effort to communicate in relatively foreign territory (being “out there” with the reality of the Democratic learning curve), rather than a mark of insincerity. Analogously, that one speaks Spanish badly (and has the courage to do it)
            doesn’t imply that one isn’t sincere about really appreciating Spanish interests.

            K>… especially compared to the other types of validity claims they may make - e.g., the scientific truth of climate change and the moral imperatives of poverty.

            G: Again, I would argue that Democratic sincerity stands up well as a validity domain, relative to other validity domains. A keynote of sincerity is reliability, coherence, and consistency over time about what one claims to intend. I think that the Democrats have an admirable record in that regard. This, for me, is less a matter of defending the Democrats (which I would do) and more a matter of focusing on what an implied validity claim to sincerity is about, i.e., how it’s evidenced.

            ------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- -----

            Re: performative contradition….

            K> As the tension between conservative and moderate/progressive religious leaders has developed in the last few years, I have seen each make these kinds of accusations against the other.

            G: I realized, after my earlier response, that I misrepresented the notion of performative contradiction and should distinguish this from existential contradiction. It’s an existential contradiction to claim, in situation S1, that “I care about what you say,” then, in situation S2, not listen to what you say (or read carelessly is S2, but lecture about close reading in S1). That’s what I indicated yesterday: an existential contradiction. A performative contradiction would only require a single, self-betraying situation (an S1). An example would be to not listen *by way of* saying “I care…,” i.e., cutting you off *by* exclaiming that I care.

            ------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- -----

            K> Amanda Anderson[…] claims that sincerity functions more as a legitimating factor for existing norms, which is why postmodern theorists reject it as simply re-inscribing dominant power structures. Postmodern theory tends to favor authenticity, she claims, in the sense of rejecting existing norms (and assigned identity categories) and challenging the status quo.

            G: Interesting. It appears that Anderson isn’t distinguishing “norm” in the factical sense (inherited regulatives that are taken for granted without recertification or critical review/revision) and “normativity” in Habermas’ sense (which requires genuine legislation). Sincerity is, as such, contrary to “simply re-inscribing dominant power structures.” Sincerity is as a matter of intentions *really* guiding choices. If those intentions are inauthentic, that's a separate matter. Sincerity is about my *really having chosen* C. One could argue that "really having chosen" is an issue of authenticity: the degree to which my choices are "really" My Own. But an inauthentic intention is a separate kind of matter from whether one's manifest intentions guide choices (vs. someone else's intentions)--or that the professed intention is the actually-guiding intention. Sincerity is necessary for real norm formation (i.e., real agreement, certification or legitimation of proposed
            regulatives as all-around *really* acceptably normative; “principle D” in Habermas’ discourse ethics, _MCCA_, 1993?). But it's easy to see questions of sincerity dissolve into questions of authenticity.

            K> Anderson suggests that Habermas' theory actually allows for a healthy dynamic between both sincerity and authenticity.

            G: I surely agree. But favoring authenticity over sincerity (which you claimed of Anderson above) is like favoring private over public life. They’re complements, not alternatives. Favoring one over the other is either symptomatic or a matter of taste. As a matter of policy, they must be seen as complements.

            K> In the case of religion specifically, Anderson's distinction seems to map onto Ken Wilber's distinction between "legitimate" and "authentic" religious pratice, where the former reinforces existing norms and the latter agitates for social transformation.

            G: This looks like an emancipatory sense of the difference between social and existential life, where unfairly constrained human potential is confronted with unjustified conventions. But an emancipatory interest is derivative (a constrained version) of the healthy interest in individuation that motivates emancipation. (After the emancipatory interest is met and dissolves, the interest in individuation or flourishing remains, as it did before the need for emancipation, as we're born "in love with" learning.) A “translation” for religious life might involve, in short, appreciating that the interest in human flourishing originates from our natural humanity, from which religion itself originated, such that religious and non-religious life are equally privileged for appreciating what motivates social transformation. A translation for non-religious culture may involve, in short, appreciating a richer sense of our historicality, as expressed by religious life. Together, religious
            and non-religious life may shape a richer appreciation of our shared humanity AS diversely historical.

            K> Gary your definition of authenticity [earlier] seems much more limited, so I wonder if I'm trying to read too much into Habermas here?

            G: Please don’t regard my short set of earlier comments about authenticity as comprehensive of what is tenable relative to Habermas’ work. I was offhand sketching a kind of distinction (lifeworld-based considerations vis-à-vis speech-situational considerations), not constituting a sense of authentic life. But Habermas’ supplementary sense of authenticity (supplementary to his sociocentric interest in public spherical communication) IS based, I think, on the influence of existential thought on his own. (This is strongly corroborated at the beginning of _Justification & Application_ and later work, such as _Future of Human Nature_)

            K> But in the question I originally posed, the hypothesis I was suggesting is a bit different: I am thinking of "authenticity" here as a secular distinction that is parallel to the religious distinction of the "prophetic" voice - that is, an impulse to challenge an existing order for the sake of social justice.

            G: That seems to be very constructive. But if it’s really a parallel, then one would ask: Is the secular interest in authenticity basically about social justice; or is it about actualizing one’s potential? The history of humanism argues for the latter, so a parallel would find that in the prophetic voice, too. What does the prophetic voice want in social justice, if not the opportunity for human flourishing that is integral to secular authenticity? Pursuing the parallel, then, can disclose that the prophetic voice gains its motive from the potential of humanity “written” into each life’s potential, which is quite explicable in terms of humanistic educational psychology, human rights underwriting the demand for civil rigths, and so on. The inspiration of the prophetic voice for secular life can be a greater appreciation of our shared potential for humanity as *also* divined in additional historical idioms, in culturally unique ways that have much to teach about human
            diversity and resourcefulness.

            K> In Habermasian terms (in my understanding) this would include the ongoing expansion of horizons of meaning through communicative action.

            G: I agree.

            K> I am suggesting that mass media is geared towards issues of sincerity/legitimacy but tends to exclude the "prophetic" voice.

            G: But given a parallel to secular authenticity, media attention to *that* (secular authenticity) could cover what is also addressed through the prophetic voice, as a matter of addressing the public interest that is shared by both religious and non-religious interest in human flourishing and social transformation. Media coverage of human rights, for example, can be this kind of issue. Is the media excluding appreciation of what the prophetic voice calls for by covering human rights issues in non-prophetic terms? Is the matter at hand that which the prophetic voice calls for or is it just recognition of the prophetic voice in the calling? If the prophetic voice's motivation by the human interest is fairly covered by covering the human interest in non-religious terms, what is it that the prophetic voice is calling for that's excluded? Is this a matter of the culture of calling represented by the voice, or is it merely a matter of recognizing prophesy as unique?

            My questioning here is just that, not rejection of your inquiry, but collaboration in it. It seems that we read/hear a lot about the involvement of religious groups with human rights. I don’t see systematic exclusion *there*. What’s notable to me is that religious groups are finding their way into leading causes and getting recognition for that, but they are not originating or leading those causes. The media tends to look for the leading sources of trends. Relgious life appears to be renewing itself in light of secular humanization of values, but not originating new callings.

            K> Here the work of some media scholars like Quentin Schultze, Lawrence Moore, and others are relevant. Commercially- driven media (both entertainment and journalism) reflect the institutional constraints of advertising and political bureaucracy.

            G: Yes and no. It’s a mistake to *generally* lump entertainment and journalism together, as (no doubt) some media entities seek to do non-generally (i.e., within their market segments). But that’s a different matter from the diversity of media available and the quality of professional journalism generally (e.g., the “wall” between editorial and business units at newspapers which is considered sacred---operative in the recent Murdoch deal, by the way).

            K> [Institutional constraints] is why, as groups like Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting have noted, so little air time was given to war critics in the lead-up to the Iraq invasion.

            G: That wasn’t my experience. As a news junkie, I was quite impressed by the degree of controversy leading up to the event. One should need to distinguish the demography of choices made among available media by “the public” (that emergent organon) and the media diversity that is available. Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting is concerned, I believe, with bias in specific media venues, not generalizing about global bias of the media. The fact that more people watch Fox News than CNN (if that’s the case) is not a matter of unavailability of CNN or some power that Fox has over lemmings that CNN doesn’t have. An insufficient degree of public interest in fairness (or excessive interest in entertainment) is, arguably, not caused by the media; rather by the complex political economics of culture, especially lack of access to educational activity across stages of human development, where more education increases expectations of accountability and transparency, etc. and decreases the
            power of emotional appeals to trump cognitive appeals. It's all so complex. My point, I guess, is that media appeal is only as strong as receptiveness to it.

            K> [Institutional constraints] is also why, as reported by Media Matters, conservative religious leaders have recently enjoyed disproportionately more air time than progressive religious leaders.

            G: But this may only mean that radio is preferred by Conservative religious culture. The Progressive religious culture probably reads far more than Conservative religious culture. Whatsmore, what qualifies as “Progressive” is more likely to be covered outside of religious culture than what qualifies as “Conservative,” inasmuch as the whole demography that concerns itself with being “religious” tends to be politically "Conservative".

            Thanks for the stimulation!

            Gary E Davis




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          • Gary E. Davis
            ... Ken, Your posting seems very self-possessed, rather than responsive. You begin: K The criticism is a cheap one, but common enough.... G: *What* criticism?
            Message 5 of 7 , Aug 9, 2007
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              Ken, your response to khealey237's first posting surprised me enough (as disconnected from khealey237's query and my response) that I was trying to formulate a response before I forwarded it, which turns out to have been a good choice, because khealey237 responded to me at length, very pertinently; and I got a chance to respond in turn (now posted), as a matter of a establishing a dialogue with a welcome new subscriber without crossfire from my old friend. Now, I'll forward your posting---your annotated bibliography?---in its entirety, but here first is what I wrote earlier:

              --------------------------------------------------------------------------

              Ken,

              Your posting seems very self-possessed, rather than responsive. You begin:

              K>The criticism is a cheap one, but common enough....

              G: *What* criticism? Presumably you're beginning by referring to khealey237's point that, as "Democrats have begun to employ religious language more openly[,....] they've come under fire as being insincere in their faith." Your beginning *point*, though, is about extremes of pathology, very contrary to khealey237's concerns:

              K> ...The most effective way to caricature your opponent as an enemy / fiend is to question their sanity, hygiene, habits, sexual mores, etiquette, or religion. Checking into the dynamics of shame and shaming might be an excellent place to start:

              G: Here you begin a valuable bibliography, but never respond to either khealey237 or to my reply to khealey237. It was the obscurity of the beginning of your posting that caused me to want to do this posting.

              "An excellent place to start" is with the Habermasian context, which you eventually get to, briefly. So, let's get to that up front. (I wish that you had written about that at the top of your posting.) In the following, I’m not deleting any of what you write, just commenting prior to forwarding your annotated bibliography.

              K> Given what Habermas has written about religion I think we have to consider that "religious claims" are not properly considered along the same lines as validity claims concerning the objective or normative sphere(s).

              G: Given what *Habermas* has written about religion, I think we DO have to consider that “religious claims” ARE properly accountable, in the public sphere, along the same lines as other aspects of the public sphere, in which faith-based positions are proffered. Indeed, a claim to authenticity in one’s faith is *made*, i.e., *communicated* for a wide variety of purposes, including justifications of political supports (e.g., Creationist curriculae in public schools) and—so done—is accountable for its engagements on common ground, in seeking political influence, if not appreciation as political action expecting respect and hoping for public responsibility. Besides, commonly, faith must “witness” in the public sphere and hopes for (if not expects) much from others in doing so.

              K> "Thank God for that!" is expressive - if we follow the logic of the relation between religious experience and ritual (i.e. all religious claims are from the cult).

              G: Such an expression commonly has the same meaning as “Thank goodness for that!” Inasmuch as it *is* “expressive,” then it’s quite accessible as self-representation, implying the validity claim to genuineness. (Besides, one might argue, what else is God but the Good? Here may be intimations of the common ground of humanity that bridges faith and reason: Goodgod, it’s gut gott we’ve inherited!)

              K> Thus, it isn't a matter of "authenticity" in a substantive sense but of style, rhetoric, expression, effect.

              G: Yet, much *is* a matter of authenticity, and the issue of the relation of genuineness to issues of authenticity is quite appropriate, as matter of inquiry, as distinction discernible in Habermas’ work, and as theme of Anderson’s _The Way We Argue Now_, which was noted as Habermasian resource a while ago:

              http://groups.yahoo.com/group/habermas/message/1699

              K> As for measuring the religiosity of... anyone. It can't be done.

              G: *Sure*, it can!---(But what's this got to do with what either khealey237 or I wrote?)---unless you’re setting up the situation in terms that *nobody* measures: “religiosity”? People of faith all the time “take the measure” of each other’s faithfulness. (It can seem that many do little else!)

              K> Religiosity refers to an interior state of affairs which - from some theological points of view - is wholly unconnected to this sinful mortal realm, an absolute break: render under Caesar what is....

              G: Yet, from some theological points of view, nearness to God is *shown* IN the mortal realm (this is a keynote of Christian love), just not by making the temple into a market!

              K> Even the most diabolical scoundrel can have their heart right with God, so the doctrine goes.

              G: “the” doctrine? But nearness to God isn’t about doctrine. You’re apparently concerned about a pathogeny of inauthenticity, rather than with understanding authenticity or the difference between that and genuineness (a point of khealey237’s posting that I emphasized).

              K> "The flesh is weak" don't you know...

              G: Yes, so staying near to God is vital for such persons. (This is all slumming for you, isn’t it?)

              K> The cry "You're a hypocrite" (e.g. reaction to Jim Baker) will always be successful for those that already hold that the person is a hypocrite (it has the operating effect of pre-theoretical knowledge).

              G: So typical of pathogenic projection: existential contradictions afoot. (I misrepresented the character of performative contradiction yesterday, for the sake of making a more accessible point. Performative contradiction is more immanently implicative than I characterized. What I was rendering is better called existential contradiction. Performative contradiction would be: Cutting off another speaker by exclaiming “I care about what you say!”)

              K> The claim "I believe" will always be met with a kind heart for those that already believe (e.g. the reaction to Jim Baker). Jim Baker is an excellent case study of authenticity.

              G: You mean *inauthenticity* (or *should* be talking about that).

              K> Is he for real? He's a cad and a fraud and a manipulator of men.

              G: Yes, *see*? You ARE talking about inauthenticity. (Are you genuinely attuned to what you’re writing here, or are you on automatic pilot from some recent lecturing over the heads of your students?)

              K> But he's also a devout man of God.

              G: More properly: a “devout” man of “God” (i.e., so-called “devout” man of so-called “God”). There was no “also” about Baker that was authentic, because authentic nearness to God is incompatible with being a cad and a fraud, etc.

              K> Most Christians would identify this as hypocritical,…

              G: bingo.

              K>… but if you're part of his cult (charisma) then it all folds together.

              G: So, a distinction between *inauthentic cult* of faith and authentic faith is very discernible. Understanding authentic faith relative to genuine participation in political life seems to be khealey237’s interest.

              K> Here's a fun article on an American faith healer I've seen in person and the campaign to stigmatize their arrival in England:…

              G: And this relates *how* to khealey237’s association of Obama’s “translation” of faith and Habermas’ work?

              K> And, for an essay that outlines what the youth of today are thinking (and potentially why they vote the way they do)….[…] For an interesting book, which argues that everything is authentic, see David Chidester, Authentic Fakes. Fun read, includes a section on baseball if you're into it. See also Timothy Beal, Roadside Religion for the real stuff (biblical mini-golf, etc).

              G: And when you die, you’ll ask to be buried next to Jean Baudrillard.

              K> If the Democrats hold on tightly to any kind of religious orthodoxy then we'll see a Green party finding successes in America over the next generation or so.

              G: But the Democrats are not inclined to hold onto religiously orthodox at all, rather they're highly pluralist—with a tent so open to being “green” that no green party may be necessary. (The greens have remains marginal in California, of all places, as the Democratic party is very progressive.) Besides, the greens in the U.S. don’t connote a religion of nature (some religious orthodoxy) as much as they connote a Gaic science of planetary fragility.

              K> Just a few impressions. ken

              G: *Thanks*, master of religious studies! That was fun.

              -----------------------------

              This August 24 marks the 10th anniversary of my online involvement discussing Habermas’ concepts, ideas, whatever. It began as a careful response to a series of postings by Ken, back at the Spoons list via a University of Virginia server. So, we do go way back (to his graduate school days).



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            • Gary E. Davis
              This is a follow-up on my two responses last Thursday, re: Religious Sincerity as a Political Campaign Issue . I returned to parts of khealey237 s
              Message 6 of 7 , Aug 11, 2007
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                This is a follow-up on my two responses last Thursday, re: "Religious 'Sincerity' as a Political Campaign Issue". I returned to parts of khealey237's preface-to-a-prospectus, if you will, because I needed to, and I gained the satisfaction I needed. So, now I might as well share the result (parts 2 - 4 below). The revisable and linkable blog medium is *so* preferable to basic email. But greatest common ground in cyberspace is greatest common ground.

                1 --------------------------------------------

                A nihilistic overtone of the critical spirit can show from a passion for framing pathology with no overtone of constructive (post-critical and preventive) engagement. This kind of dynamic migh relate to what caused some scholars in the late '60s to refer to the original Frankfurt School as constructing "a hotel over The Abyss," i.e., an intellectualism that was useless for progressive practice. The dark complement of this was a militancy that was self-defeating: By 1980, the obituary of the New Left could be written. Habermas was eager to make a thoroughly new beginning, methodically leaving behind "Critical Theory" as such. Some people may be still desiring some fantastic outcome for "Critical Theory," but, as James Bohman has recently concluded [footnote A below], "Critical Theory" (capped) within critical social science doesn't have anything special about it anymore. This is also, I suspect, the conclusion of Habermas protégé Andreas Niederberge [footnote B] who's
                teaching a seminar on this exact issue, in the upcoming semester (quarter?) at Northwestern [footnote C].

                2 --------------------------------------------

                A hermeneutical aspect of intellectualism is reading that uses the other as foil for one's own inspiration (e.g., constructing a "Habermas" behind the text that is demonstrably unrelated to the text at hand. There's much evidence of this).

                I regularly worry about that kind of thing in my own writing practices, and I felt a haunting of that in recalling my Thursday postings (talk about self-possession). Here's a note on that:

                "a note of conscience in conceptual adventuring"
                http://cohering.net/blog/2007/08/a_note_of_conscience_in_concep.html

                3 --------------------------------------------

                Accordingly, I've gone back to some comments I made in response to khealey237 on authenticity vis-à-vis sincereity relative to a sense of the lifeworld, and have taken that further, *now* overtly for the sake of my own interest, but maybe you'll find it interesting, too (link cited after the next paragraph preface).

                I regularly don't attempt to be orthodox toward Habermas' work, in my own conceptual adventuring, but I'm a stickler for others getting orthodox before they get imaginative toward his work (especially when their interest is apparently to quickly justify not dwelling with the text). I'm ready to be orthodox when that's tacitly called for (though usually I'm not willing anymore, unless my correspondent seems genuinely engaged and genuine about getting into details, since I've been at this posting business too long, and I'm usually very tired of it). I'm so aware that I have my own agenda, that I have no trouble keeping it out of postings done here in and for an especially Habermasian interest. I do that pretty well most of the time.

                "a note on authenticity vis-à-vis sincerity"
                http://cohering.net/blog/2007/08/a_note_on_authenticity_visavis.html

                4 --------------------------------------------

                Then, I returned to the motivating context for all of this: a feeling of having misread khealey237 on Anderson---a small matter about a brief exchange, you say (more self-possession, you say?)---that stayed with me because I'm so interested in the context, not as a matter of an archaeology of religious sensibility, but as a matter of constructing bridges from our secular humanity to our religious humanity. (It's up to religious sensibilities to work on the bridge in the converse direction. I welcome being told I don't understand the authentic religious sensibility, if that's done with authentic insight, as there are no ensurances that come with being the child of a Protestant minister, schooled in philosophy with seminary students as gadflying pals (long ago)---to which the following is *totally unrelated* (can you tell I'm "on holiday," as the Brits say?):

                "a secularization of prophetic calling"
                http://cohering.net/blog/2007/08/a_secularization_of_prophetic.html

                --------------------------------------------

                Thank you for your indulgence.

                (Now, in an hour, I'll grieve that I can't revise my posting.)

                Gary


                ---------------------------------
                A: "...it is likely that Critical Theory is no longer a unique approach....," penultimate paragraph of "Critical Theory": http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/critical-theory/

                B: Andreas Niederberger:
                http://www.german.northwestern.edu/faculty/niederberger.html

                C: "Seminar in German Philosophy : Habermas & Critical Theory":
                http://aquavite.northwestern.edu/cdesc/course-desc.cgi?school_id=400&dept_id=439&course_id=8317&quarter=F07


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              • khealey237
                Gary you ve written quite a lot, and I ll have to respond in small pieces. [G: I hope it s OK to insert comments in your own posting, in a purely supportive
                Message 7 of 7 , Aug 13, 2007
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                  Gary you've written quite a lot, and I'll have to respond in small
                  pieces.

                  [G: I hope it's OK to insert comments in your own posting, in a purely supportive vein. Responding in pieces is good. But, then, the reader of the archive is helped if the subject line is made a little more specific, with clarification early in the body of the message about which subject-lined email you're responding to. This is expected, but I've felt it's useful for exchanges that are subtopical, relative to an earlier set of issues. ]

                  [K: As a side note, I know that you want to keep the discussion focused
                  primarily on Habermasian concepts. I will try to do this as much as
                  possible, although I am a relative novice so you'll have to tell me
                  whether some of these issues are indeed relevant and how so.]

                  [G: Don't worry. I do appreciate that fleshing out issues is the only way to make a substantive point. My concern has been with postings that evidently are using passing allusion to Habermas to warrant posting that's unrelated to Habermasian issues or to any specifics of the posting they're "responding" to.]

                  G> I would have to disagree that K> "Sincerity is possibly the weakest
                  spot for the Democrats and for progressive religious leaders,…"
                  relative to a party (the Republicans) that seeks to collapse the
                  distinction between corporate marketing and political legitimation.
                  You mean to focus on the aspect relevant to a religious public, but
                  part of the "translation" issue is to appreciate the locus of validity
                  outside of parochial interests; i.e., the sincerity of "the" Democrats
                  is located in what they generally intend to be about (the locus of
                  what it means to be a Democrat, in terms of programmatic proposals),
                  such that stumbling efforts to show that the tent really was already
                  bigger than perceived by some religious groups can be read as a
                  sincere effort to communicate in relatively foreign territory (being
                  "out there" with the reality of the Democratic learning curve), rather
                  than a mark of insincerity. Analogously, that one speaks Spanish badly
                  (and has the courage to do it)doesn't imply that one isn't sincere
                  about really appreciating Spanish interests.

                  K: I agree that the Republican party can be criticized (and perhaps is
                  better deserving of criticism) for its strategic/instrumental use of
                  religious rhetoric. Indeed one of the emerging critiques of the
                  Christian Right (among conservative and progressives alike) is
                  precisely that it's use of religious for political ends is often
                  insincere, disingenuous, or inauthentic.

                  But my point is that while Democratic politicians (and progressives
                  religious leaders) may indeed be genuine in their religious claims,
                  there is a very well-managed *perception* to the contrary.

                  Let me give a recent example. Here is an excerpt from a recent (Aug.
                  10) report from the People for the American Way:

                  "The Family Research Council is launching a project aimed at
                  convincing its supporters before the 2008 election that liberal
                  politicians 'are spouting God-talk' in order to 'confuse people of
                  faith' and hide their 'true agenda.' Invoking the Religious Right's
                  recent favored phrase for its imagined constituency – as well as the
                  'Swift Boat' campaign of 2004 – the so-called 'Values Voters for
                  Truth' campaign is an attempt to vilify liberals – and, obviously,
                  Democratic candidates – as enemies of Christianity who are undertaking
                  a conspiracy to 'deceive and split values voters.'"

                  [Link:
                  http://www.faithinpubliclife.org/content/news/2007/08/religious_right_claims_others.html%5d

                  If such a campaign is successful (as it was in the 2004 elections),
                  then it doesn't matter whether Democratic candidates are *actually*
                  sincere/genuine - it only matters if groups like the FRC can convince
                  people that they are not. And since such groups are much better funded
                  than the nascent groups on the left (e.g., the Network of Spiritual
                  Progressives), Democratic candidates are vulnerable on this front.

                  [G: This touches on an important issue: Money buys "exposure" of views and buys the emotional power of slick productions directed to persons who respond to this better than to evidentiary appeals. Increased social literacy decreases receptiveness to this, for opinion formation; so the corporate/marketing Conservative has a vested interest in footdragging on educational reform, though they may not have connected these "dots").

                  > K>… especially compared to the other types of validity claims they
                  may make - e.g., the scientific truth of climate change and the moral
                  imperatives of poverty.
                  >
                  > G Again, I would argue that Democratic sincerity stands up well as a
                  validity domain, relative to other validity domains. A keynote of
                  sincerity is reliability, coherence, and consistency over time about
                  what one claims to intend. I think that the Democrats have an
                  admirable record in that regard. This, for me, is less a matter of
                  defending the Democrats (which I would do) and more a matter of
                  focusing on what an implied validity claim to sincerity is about,
                  i.e., how it's evidenced.


                  K: I mentioned the domain of empirical truth as the weak spot for the
                  Christian Right, namely in the areas of global warming and evolution.
                  Though the scientific evidence in each area is overwhelming, the
                  Christian Right has nevertheless waged similar campaigns to discredit
                  each and to establish alternate (pseudo-)scientific claims (see for
                  example the Institute for Creation Research). Especially with regard
                  to global warming, the collusion of the Christian Right with corporate
                  interests is clear (a problem to which you alluded earlier).

                  Interestingly, in a report to Republicans that was meant to remain
                  secret, the Republican strategist Frank Luntz basically admitted that
                  on the issue of global warming, progressives have science on their
                  side, and that fact would continue to be a problem for the Republican
                  party. (I think Al Gore mentioned this in his documentary).

                  The reason these debates are interesting to me is that they seem to
                  map out directly onto Habermas' notion of differentiated validity
                  claims. But this is a case where a virtual culture war is being waged,
                  with each validity domain serving as a distinct front. Would you agree?

                  [G: That's an excellent kind of point.]

                  One of my working hypotheses is this: The reason why there is an
                  emergent pattern of criticism of the Christian Right from across the
                  political spectrum is that in recent years the strength of these
                  validity claims has decreased for the Christian Right as scientific
                  evidence has accumulated and as insiders and outsiders have become
                  weary of the sometimes brazen strategic communication tactics of
                  conservative evangelical groups like the Christian Coalition. Within
                  the Christian Right movement concern is growing over the authenticity
                  of the movement's goals - as evidenced by Joel Hunter's rejection of
                  his nomination to head the Christian Coalition.

                  [G: As the relevant public--the *marginal* public, I'll call them--shapes its opinion in response to emotional appeal, it could be argued that the success of the scientific case has been, not an effect of science on the emotion-marketable public itself, but an increased dramatic exposure of the view that happens to be well-backed scientifically, *because* the credibility of the scientific view wins backing to get its case Out There dramatically. Well-funded dramatic publicity has served the scientific case, not as science, but as more-greatly exposed view. The scientific case has gotten that dramatic exposure because interested financial backing responds to credible cases (arguments). But the relevant public just responds to being exposed to dramatically-posed views. If Progressives can win financial backing, they can counter Conversative backing, of course. So, the need for effective argumentation is with financial backers in a competition for dramatic opportunity to advance one's case among "marginal" voters, in a battle of exposure campaigns. Much of the public does respond to arguments, but Big Money in campaigns is about the marginal voter--"marginal" in a sense of political passivity, though big in electoral numbers.]

                  Here is a question for you: If there is an emergent common ground
                  across the political spectrum on an issue like global warming (e.g.,
                  Al Gore and the Evangelical Climate Initiative are working toward the
                  same goal), is this an example of social evolution unfolding through a
                  shift in the relative strength and weaknesses of validity claims held
                  by different social groups?

                  [G: I wouldn't make an inference about social evolution from one kind of issue venue. But one might hypothesize that a measurable increase in "postconventional" structures in measureably increasing collaborations indicates factors very favorable to generalizations about social evolution going on (I don't know about "unfolding". By the way, K, do you have a name?).
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