William E. Connolly speaks about spirituality and politics

Saturday, October 18, 2008 | 5:55 p.m. CDT; updated 12:22 a.m. CDT, Sunday, October 19, 2008

COLUMBIA — To William E. Connolly, the nation is more of a symbol of what people want it to be than what it really is.

Connolly, a political science professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, presented "Spirituality, Time and Belief" in a lecture co-sponsored by the Department of German and Russian Studies at MU. The lecture was focused on his most recent book, "Capitalism and Christianity, American Style."

During the lecture, Connolly said the most pressing issue today is a call for "deep, multi-dimensional pluralism."

He thinks with the issues of globalization, travel and population movement, the world is not becoming more homogenized. Instead, the world is becoming a world of minorities that must find a way to co-exist. He said he thinks coexistence is fairly well established between Catholics, Jews and Protestants.

"By multi-dimensional pluralism, I mean a political culture in which differences of creed, ethnicity, first language, judge of practice and sexual affiliation find expression in a productive ethos of political engagement between participants," Connolly said.

But several minority creeds, a formal theology or philosophy one lives by, are emerging. These creeds are playing more of a role in political life than differences in class, race, age, ethnicity and gender.

Connolly said it is critical for politics to analyze these creed variations of constituencies.

"The secular tendency to maintain a disjunction between the private and the public realm, the religious and non-religious, have kept too many of us out of touch with this dimension of politics for far too long," he said.

Although he knows it is risky, Connolly thinks there is no risk-free way to proceed during the current historical conjuncture.

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