It seems indisputable that the way we define and classify texts influences the way we read texts. My concern is to develop methods for reading and understanding texts that are influenced by distinctions between the secular and the sacred, and then draw out some preliminary implications of these methods and distinctions for relationships between church and state in liberal democracies. Distinctions between sacred and secular texts can be tracked with the conjecture that a full textual reading of a sacred text requires a kind of interior commitment. I develop the conjecture, and then argue that this requirement increases the distance between scepticism and religious belief. The upshot of such distinctions and implications is that we cannot read sacred texts as sacred while maintaining the secular consciousness that defines liberal democracies. Acknowledging these textual differences between religion and politics lays to rest, permanently, the popular creed of exceptionalism, the belief that secular patterns of thought, grounded in compromise and toleration, can scan and comprehend religious beliefs from some impartial perspective.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science