Haynes, Jeffrey, ed. 2010. Routledge Handbook of Religion and Politics. London, New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.
Handbook is the great guide for the beginner of the field, like me who are recently interested in the relationship between politics and religion. My approach (not yet self-assured) assume that religion is a machine of ethical messages which regulate or guide people’s judgment over social objects; and also assume that politics is a symbolic process created by political actors whose messages combine materialistic interests, moral superiority, and constructed social knowledge over the natural and cultural world. With the message as the conceptual link, I believe (or assume) that religion and politics reciprocally influence (actually, nearly all social scientists know that they are under mutual influence).
Anyway, the coverage of the handbook is so huge. Except the introduction chapter authored by the editor, there are four parts, as follow:
Part I: The world religions and politics
Part II: Religion and governance
Part III: Religion and international relations
Part IV: Religion security and development
I skipped all the chapters, but I do want to make an index what chapters might be re-read in the future (if my interest is maintained in the near or distance future)
Chapter 2: Buddhism and politics (by Peter Freidlander): Why? 1) S. Koran has lots of Buddhists. 2) Mostly known as its non-violent tendency (compared with other religions).
Chapter 3: Christianity: Protestantism (by Paul Fireston): Why? 1) the traditional topic since Max Weber’s intellectual invention. 2) the religious majority in US
Chapter 4: The Catholic church and Catholicism in global politics (Allen Hertzke): Why? 1) the biggest religious institution in the world 2) in S Korea, Catholic’s social contribution is most prominent (pro-democratization)
Chapter 5: Confucianism, from above and below (Michael Barr): 1) is it religion? (I don’t think so) It seems more likely to be an ideology like Liberalism, Maxism, etc. 2) basically ambivalent, and under-developed political ideology which can be both progressive and recessive.
Chapter 7: Islam and Islamism (Andrea Teti & Andrea Mura): 1) I am very ignorant of Islam and its culture
Chapter 10: Secularisation and politics (Steve Bruce): 1) Interesting and also important topic in the relationship between politics and religion, 2) secularization, in my view, is contested concept. Not sure what is secular and not sure whether ‘secular’ is distinguished from ‘sacred’ in terms of spirituality or religiosity.
Chapter 11: Religious fundamentalisms (Jeffrey Haynes): 1) Rising political tendency
Chapter 15: Religion and civil society (David Herbert): Personally, I read this chapter with the biggest interest and fun.
Chapter 16: Religious commitment and socio-political orientations: Different patterns of compartmentalism among Muslims and Christians? (Thorleif Petterson) 1) Model paper dealing with the effect of religion on politics using quantitative data. 2) good study to counter-argue over-exaggerated differences between Christians and Muslims.
Chapter 23: Religion and women: Canadian women’s religious volunteering: compassion, connections and comparisons (Brenda O’Neill): Good study showing the ambivalent characteristics of religion and its role in civil society (positive because it educates females as connected and communitarian citizens; negative because its role is highly concentrated in family and other conventionally women’s roles).
Chapter 25: Changing the climate of religious internationalism: evangelical responses to global warming and human suffering (Noah J. Toly): Dealing with the connection between religious messages and environmental issues (global warming). Personally more interesting because of the re-modeling four rivers in S. Korea despite the majority’s opposition, especially led by religious leaders who are Buddhist monks and Catholic priests including only a few Protestant pastors.