Publications: Anthologies and Editions | Critical Histories of the Study of Religion and "Religion"
The Study of Religion as a Durkheimian Project | Intellectual Biography in Context
Conscience and the Public Intellectual | Religion, Power and Politics

Conscience and the Public Intellectual

At times, public life preys upon our consciences to such an extent that we feel compelled to address public issues directly. At first, I came to play this role of the public intellectual hesitantly, thinking it a distraction from more academic pursuits. Now, I play it both deliberately and with enthusiasm. I have found a kind of "public voice." Subjects like Islamophobia, cruelty in religion and politics, ethnocentrism, moralistic thinking's narrowing of the mind, cultural illiteracy, Christian exceptionalism's threat to public education, the theology - religious studies debate, secularist ignorance and contempt for religion, tabooed sexuality and Catholicism, academic anti-Semitism, the secret rhetoric of polemics, and such have drawn my interest. Can what I have learned from my historical and theoretical academic work contribute in any way to deepen understanding of these matters? That is the question that teases me into my role as a public intellectual.


  • 2011 "The Politics and Religion of Cruelty," (in Russian) (Ekaterinburg)
  • 2011 "The Myth of 'Institutional Violence'," in Terrorism, Identity, and Legitimacy: The Four Waves Theory and Political Violence, Jean Rosenfeld, ed., (London: Taylor & Francis), pp. 250-4.
  • 2010 "Saving the Sacred in a Secular Age," Religion Dispatches, online journal
  • 2010 "From Amerussia to Russiamerica?" (March) online journal, Moscow
  • 2010 "Meditations on the Politics and Religion of Cruelty: Part 1" (July)online journal, Moscow
  • 2010 "Meditations on the Politics and Religion of Cruelty: Part 2" (July) online journal, Moscow
  • 2007 "Stubborn Scandal" (RC Priests & Sexual Harassment) Riverside Press-Enterprise, Saturday, 11 August, Section D1
  • 2007 "Of Bumper Stickers and Benedict's 'Bubbles'" Riverside Press-Enterprise, 8 April: Section D5
  • 2006 "Those Danish Cartoons: An Uncivilized (Inevitable and Irresolvable) Clash of Cultures?" Riverside Press-Enterprise. February
  • 2005 "Engaging the Believer," Religion and Education 32/1 (Spring): 42-5.
  • 2004 "Nous et les Autres: Tzvetan Todorov's 'New Humansim'" French Politics 2/1: 1-12.
  • 2004 "Ad Hominem Reviews and Rejoinders: Uses and Abuses," Method and Theory in the Study of Religion, 16/4: 367-85.
  • 2001 "Why 'Theology' Won't Work," Religious Studies, Theology and the University: Conflicting Maps, Changing Terrain, Linell E. Cady and Delwin Brown, eds., (SUNY Press, Albany), pp. 31-44.
  • 1995 "The Ethics of Ethnocentrism," Post-Modern Culture 5, no. 3, May, on-line journal.
  • 1995 "Morality and Myth", International Journal of Comparative Religion and Philosophy 1/1: 1-12.
  • 1994 "Understanding Waco", rejoinder" to Stange and Rosenfeld, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 62/3 (1994): 938-46.
  • 1993 "Lessons for Religious Studies in Waco?" Journal of the American Academy of Religion 61/3: 567-74.
  • 1986 "Our Very Own 'Contras': A Reply to the St. Louis Project Report" Journal of the American Academy of Religion 65 (Summer): 323-35.
  • 1993 "Recapturing the Values that Promote Civility on Campus", The Chronicle of Higher Education 39/42 (23 June): A36
  • 1982 "Heidegger is No Hero", The Christian Century, 19 May: 598-601.