Christianity & Politics

The Tocqueville Program will continue its examination of what St. Augustine called the “two cities:” the “earthly city” and the “city of God.” For two thousand years, Christianity has existed in a tense, changing, sometimes fruitful, and sometimes explosive relationship with the political communities that have been its earthly home. Our course and lecture series this year will ask, What is the true nature of the relationship between Christianity and politics? Is Christianity a religion for slaves, as Jean-Jacques Rousseau argues? Or, as Alexis de Tocqueville suggests, is it the deepest source of human equality, liberty, and dignity—the moral and political pillars of modern democracy?

2016 Lecturers

Robert P. George & Cornel R. West: "A Conversation About Christianity and Politics"

Robert P. George is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University.  He has served on the President’s Council on Bioethics and as a presidential appointee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights.  His recent honors include the United States Presidential Citizens Medal and the Honorific Medal for the Defense of Human Rights of the Republic of Poland.  In July, 2013, he was elected Chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.  A graduate of Swarthmore College and Harvard Law School, he earned a doctorate in legal philosophy from Oxford University.   He is the author of In Defense of Natural LawMaking Men Moral: Civil Liberties and Public MoralityThe Clash of Orthodoxies: Law, Religion and Morality in Crisis, and Conscience and Its Enemies: Confronting the Dogmas of Liberal Secularism, and co-author of Embryo: A Defense of Human Life, Body-Self Dualism in Contemporary Ethics and Politics, and What is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense.

Cornel West is a prominent and provocative democratic intellectual.  He is a Professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice at Union Theological Seminary and Professor Emeritus at Princeton University. He has also taught at Yale, Harvard, and the University of Paris. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard in three years and obtained his MA and PhD. in Philosophy at Princeton. He has written 20 books and has edited 13. He is best known for his classics Race Matters and Democracy Matters, and his new memoir, Brother West:  Living and Loving Out Loud.  He appears frequently on the Bill Maher Show, Colbert Report, CNN and C-Span as well as on the Tavis Smiley PBS TV Show.  He can be heard weekly on public radio with Tavis Smiley on “Smiley & West.”  He has appeared as Councillor West in two Matrix films and has done hip hop, soul, and spoken word recordings.  His work seeks to keep alive the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. – a legacy of telling the truth and bearing witness to love and justice.

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Charles Mathewes: "Christian Citizenship in the 21st Century"​

Charles Mathewes is the Carolyn M. Barbour Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia. He is the author of Evil and the Augustinian Tradition, A Theology of Public Life, Understanding Religious Ethics, and The Republic of Grace. He has edited several volumes and is the Senior Editor for a four-volume collection on Comparative Religious Ethics: The Major Works.

From 2006 to 2010, he was Editor of The Journal of the American Academy of Religion, the flagship journal in the field of religious studies, and was the inaugural Director of the Virginia Center for the Study of Religion. He was Chair of the Committee on the Future of Christian Ethics for the Society of Christian Ethics, and he currently serves on the House of Bishops Theology Committee of the Episcopal Church. With his wife Jennifer Geddes, he served a four-year term as Co-Principal of one of UVA’s residential colleges, Brown College at Monroe Hill.

Mathewes spent much of his childhood in Saudi Arabia, and was educated at Georgetown University and the University of Chicago. He lives with his family outside Charlottesville, Virginia, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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Mark Lilla: "The Return to Political Theology"

Mark Lilla is a journalist and professor of humanities at Columbia joined the faculty at Columbia after holding professorships at New York University and the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. A frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books, the New Republic, and the New York Times, he is best known for his books The Reckless Mind: Intellectuals in Politics and The Stillborn God: Religion, Politics, and the Modern West. The Stillborn God was named one of the “100 best books of the year” by The New York Times Book Review and one of the 150 best books of the year by Publisher’s Weekly. Lilla has delivered the Weizmann Memorial Lecture in Israel, the Carlyle Lectures at Oxford University, and the MacMillan Lectures on Religion, Politics, and Society at Yale University. Lilla holds a Master of Public Policy degree from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and a Ph.D. from Harvard’s Government department.

Clifford Orwin: "Abraham's Confrontation with God (Genesis 17-19)"

Clifford Orwin is Professor of Political Science, Classics, and Jewish Studies and a Fellow of St. Michael’s College and a Senior Fellow of Massey College at the University of Toronto. He is also Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University, and Senior Fellow of the Berlin Thucydides Center at the Free University of Berlin. He is the author of The Humanity of Thucydides and has written dozens of chapters and articles on classical, modern, contemporary, and Jewish political thought. He also contributes a monthly column on political and cultural issues to the Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper of record. His major current project is a book on the role of compassion in modern politics and thought. He has argued that professors should put teaching first and has won three major teaching awards at the University, including the inaugural J.J. Berry Smith Prize for Excellence in Doctoral Supervision (2013).

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2015 Lecturers

Patrick Deneen: "How I Became a Christian Scholar"

Patrick Deneen is David A. Potenziani Memorial Associate Professor of Constitutional Studies at the University of Notre Dame. He holds a B.A. in English literature and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Rutgers University. From 1995-1997, he was Speechwriter and Special Advisor to the Director of the United States Information Agency. From 1997-2005, he was Assistant Professor of Government at Princeton University. From 2005-2012, he was Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis Associate Professor of Government at Georgetown University, before joining the faculty of Notre Dame in Fall 2012. His books include The Odyssey of Political Theory, Democratic Faith, Democracy’s Literature, The Democratic Soul, and Redeeming Democracy in America.

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Ross Douthat: "The Futures of Christianity in 21st Century America"

Ross Douthat is an Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times, having taken that post in 2009. Previously, he was a senior editor at The Atlantic. His most recent book is “Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics.” He is also the author of “Privilege: Harvard and the Education of the Ruling Class” and co-author, with Reihan Salam, of “Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream.” He is a film critic for National Review and has also contributed to The Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, the Claremont Review of Books, GQ, Slate, and other publications.

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John T. Scott: "God and Man in Rousseau"

John T. Scott is Professor and Chair of the Political Science Department at the University of California at Davis.  He received his BA from Dartmouth College and his MA and PhD from the University of Chicago.  His primary research is in the history of political philosophy, with a specialization in early modern political thought. Most of his work in this area has focused on the thought of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, although he has also published studies of Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, and Hume.  His articles have appeared in such leading venues as the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, Journal of the History of Ideas, and History of Political Thought.  He is the author of The Philosophers’ Quarrel: Rousseau, Hume, and the Limits of Human Understanding (with Robert Zartesky); the editor of Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Critical Assessments; and translator of Tzvetan Todorov’s Frail Happiness: An Essay on Rousseau (with Robert Zartesky), Rousseau’s Essay on the Origin of Languages and Writings Related to Music, and, most recently, Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Major Political Writings.

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Daniel J. Mahoney: "Christianity and the Religion of Humanity"

Daniel J. Mahoney is Professor of Political Science at Assumption College in Worcester, MA. His areas of scholarly expertise include statesmanship, religion and politics, French political philosophy, and antitotalitarian thought. He currently serves as the Augustine Chair in Distinguished Scholarship.  He earned his BA from the College of the Holy Cross and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Catholic University.  He is the author of books on Raymond Aron, Charles de Gaulle, Bertrand de Jouvenel, and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and has edited or co-edited many books, including The Solzhenitsyn Reader: New and Essential Writings, 1947-2005, and Conservative Foundations of the Liberal Order.. His essays, articles, and reviews have appeared in a wide range of public and scholarly journals in the United States as well as abroad. In 1999 he was the recipient of the Prix Raymond Aron, an award named after the distinguished French political thinker who renewed Tocqueville’s conservative-minded liberalism and vigorously opposed totalitarianism in all its forms.

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