Energion Publications is pleased to announce the release of a new book in its Politics category, Faith in the Public Square by Dr. Robert D. Cornwall. This 182 page book contains 55 essays that address current issues in government and the role that people of various faith traditions can play.
Decades ago a Harvard professor wrote a book entitled The Secular City, suggesting that America was moving into a new secular era, but in spite of claims that the public square is naked, religion continues to make itself felt in public life. Although many continue to push religion into the private sphere, there’s no evidence that this effort is succeeding. The secular could be domesticating the sacred, but the sacred remains present. If this is to be true, then how should faith express itself in public?
In his foreword to Robert Cornwall’s book Faith in the Public Square, Mark Toulouse responds to philosopher Richard Rorty’s claim that religion is a conversation stopper and thus must be kept private. Toulouse suggests that Rorty’s view of religion is distorted, though perhaps with good reason, because “he believes that religion can only speak in one way, the way that stops a conversation. But religion is far more complex and multifaceted than such a view would indicate. The damage religion can cause in public is when it enters in such a way as to claim sole ownership to the truth, and then seeks to legislate its view of the truth so that it affects the rights of others, whether at home or abroad.” In Faith in the Public Square Cornwall attempts to provide a model of conversation that opens dialog rather than closes it.
Cornwall brings together in this book a representative sampling of columns published by Lompoc Record from 2006 through 2008. Cornwall wrote them while serving as pastor of a Disciples of Christ congregation in Lompoc, California. Appearing on the Sunday Op-Ed page, rather than being relegated to the Friday church page, the author sought to use these essays to address important social, political, and religious issues, from the perspective that was formed by his Christian faith and his involvement with interfaith and social justice movements. The columns, now published with an introduction, appear largely as they were first published, though updated as necessary, so as to broaden the conversation in the present.
So, can a person of faith be involved in the public square with integrity? Is public policy made better by this action? Can faith remain whole and genuine following the encounter? Read these essays to discover the answers, and perhaps find a new optimism for the future as you do.
As you consider the question reflect on comments by readers of the book:
In this illuminating book, Bob Cornwall demonstrates the kind of thoughtfulness that should be the model for Christian engagement in American public life. Cornwall tackles a wide variety of topics, always intelligently but also accessibly, with evident conviction but also with humility and generosity. All Americans who care about matters of faith should read this book, and we Christians owe Cornwall a debt of gratitude for representing us sowell.Melissa RogersDirector, Center for Religion and Public Affairs at Wake Forest University Divinity SchoolNon-resident Senior Fellow, Governance Studies, Brookings Institution
Faith in the Public Square is a must-read for anyone and everyone concerned about the continuing role of religion in public life. Cautioning against both a religiously naked public square and public space dominated by a particular religion, the insightful essays in this important book invite readers to carefully reflect upon and then publicly act upon their faith–and to do so with authenticity, humility and effectiveness in an increasingly pluralistic society.Ken Brooker LangstonDirector, Disciples Justice Action Network
Bob Cornwall has accurately gauged the pulse of the nation with his excellent analysis of the role of faith in the public sphere. This timely contribution will greatly advance both scholarly and popular treatments of one of the most important movements in contemporary culture. Both accessible and insightful, Faith in the Public Square is a must read for anyone seeking greater understanding of societal trends in 21st century America.Saeed A. KhanLecturer, Wayne State UniversityFellow, Institute of Social Policy and Understanding
About the Author:
Robert D. is the Pastor of Central Woodward Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Troy, Michigan. He is also the editor of Sharing the Practice the journal of the Academy of Parish Clergy. He holds a M.Div. and a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary. This is his seventh book. Additionally he is a blogger and author of numerous articles and reviews in dictionaries, books, and journals including the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Church History, Christian Century, and Congregations.
Faith in the Public Square [ISBN10: 1-893729-46-X; ISBN13: 978-1-893729-46-9; Price: $16.99], is available through Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, most local bookstores, and direct from the publisher — Energion Direct.