The Problem with Grace: Reconfiguring Political Theology

Stanford University Press
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This book develops a post-secular, post-sectarian political theology, taking that burgeoning field in a new direction. With his bold suggestion that political philosophy must begin with political theology, Vincent Lloyd investigates a series of religious concepts such as love, faith, liturgy, and revelation and explores their political relevance by extracting them from their Christian theological context while refusing to reduce them to secular terms. He assembles an unusual canon of thinkers "too Jewish to be Christian and too Christian to be Jewish"—Simone Weil, James Baldwin, Franz Kafka, and Gillian Rose—to aid him in his explorations. Unique in its serious attention to both theological writing about politics and the work of academic philosophers and theorists, The Problem with Grace deepens our understanding of political theological vocabulary as a way back to the everyday world. Politics is not about redemption, but about grappling with the ever-present difficulties, tragedies, and comedies of ordinary life.
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About the author

Vincent Lloyd is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Faculty Associate of African American Studies at Georgia State University. He is the author of Law and Transcendence: On the Unfinished Project of Gillian Rose (2009) and editor of Race and Political Theology (Stanford, forthcoming).
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Additional Information

Publisher
Stanford University Press
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Published on
Apr 4, 2011
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Pages
256
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ISBN
9780804777551
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Language
English
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Genres
Religion / Philosophy
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Black Natural Law offers a new way of understanding the African American political tradition. Iconoclastically attacking left (including James Baldwin and Audre Lorde), right (including Clarence Thomas and Ben Carson), and center (Barack Obama), Vincent William Lloyd charges that many Black leaders today embrace secular, white modes of political engagement, abandoning the deep connections between religious, philosophical, and political ideas that once animated Black politics. By telling the stories of Frederick Douglass, Anna Julia Cooper, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Martin Luther King, Jr., Lloyd shows how appeals to a higher law, or God's law, have long fueled Black political engagement. Such appeals do not seek to implement divine directives on earth; rather, they pose a challenge to the wisdom of the world, and they mobilize communities for collective action. Black natural law is deeply democratic: while charismatic leaders may provide the occasion for reflection and mobilization, all are capable of discerning the higher law using our human capacities for reason and emotion. At a time when continuing racial injustice poses a deep moral challenge, the most powerful intellectual resources in the struggle for justice have been abandoned. Black Natural Law recovers a rich tradition, and it examines just how this tradition was forgotten. A Black intellectual class emerged that was disconnected from social movement organizing and beholden to white interests. Appeals to higher law became politically impotent: overly rational or overly sentimental. Recovering the Black natural law tradition provides a powerful resource for confronting police violence, mass incarceration, and today's gross racial inequities. Black Natural Law will change the way we understand natural law, a topic central to the Western ethical and political tradition. While drawing particularly on African American resources, Black Natural Law speaks to all who seek politics animated by justice.
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