Foreign Policy Blogs

A Stillborn Debate?

Good day everyone, I am Patrick Frost, the FPA blogger for Central Asia, and Karin has been kind enough to let me do a post on this site from time to time. Please feel free to send me comments, critiques, and questions at [email protected] or just post them on this site.

Today, I would like to talk about a book I read about six months ago that challenged the way I saw the West's political society based on secularization, other societies, civilizations, and political systems throughout the world, especially in Muslim dominated lands, and the current "war on terror.' It is Mark Lilla's, professor of the Humanities at Columbia University, The Stillborn God; Religion, Politics, and the Modern West. At its most basic, it is a philosophical history of Europe/US advancement from a society ruled by political theology to one ruled by secularization. But the book is about much more, in fact it is a warning against complacency of this type of political/societal system in the West.

Here is Lilla's dramatic message;
‘Intellectual complacency, nursed by implicit faith in the inevitability of secularization, has blinded us to the persistence of political theology and its manifest power to shape human life at any moment.’

Lilla warns us in the West to not feel so safe and cozy with our secular system, for he argues that we are the "exception', not the rest of the world, and that we are in fact still living in an "experiment.' These are strong words and statements, but they are important for all to ponder. This is a pertinent book because it is based on a question not often asked; "Why don't we understand the ‘enduring attraction of political theology?’ Instead of "why don't they understand our (and copy) our political system and way of life?'

Lilla strongly believes that the argument over politics and religion will not end, and in fact "could not end,' because it concerns the enduring question that all societies must answer and face, whether "to order their political affairs in light of a divine revelation, or to make their way alone.'



Patrick Frost
Patrick Frost

Patrick Frost recently graduated from New York University's Masters Program in Political Science - International Relations. His MA thesis analyzed the capabilities and objectives of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Central Asia and beyond and explored how these affected U.S. interests and policy.

Areas of Focus:
Eurasia, American Foreign Policy, Ideology, SCO