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David Newheiser
Australian Catholic University
  1. Derrida and the Danger of Religion.David Newheiser - 2018 - Journal of the American Academy of Religion 1 (86):42-61.
    This paper argues that Jacques Derrida provides a compelling rebuttal to a secularism that seeks to exclude religion from the public sphere. Political theorists such as Mark Lilla claim that religion is a source of violence, and so they conclude that religion and politics should be strictly separated. In my reading, Derrida’s work entails that a secularism of this kind is both impossible (because religion remains influential in the wake of secularization) and unnecessary (because religious traditions are diverse and multivalent). (...)
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  2.  38
    Why the World Needs Negative Political Theology.David Newheiser - 2020 - Modern Theology 36 (1):5-12.
    Some theorists argue that religion relates to politics in one of two ways: either it asserts its authority over the public sphere or it withdraws from the world in preference for spiritual concerns. In response, this special issue offers an expanded vision of what political theology can contribute to public reflection. Against those who appropriate divine authority in support of a given regime, Jewish and Christian negative theology argues that God is radically elusive. Where resistance movements sometimes struggle to transition (...)
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  3.  38
    Desacralizing Political Theology: Dionysius the Areopagite and Giorgio Agamben.David Newheiser - 2020 - Modern Theology 36 (1):76-89.
    Giorgio Agamben argues that Christian thought provides the paradigm of modern governmental power, which reinforces mundane government by investing it with glory. Agamben claims that Dionysius the Areopagite exemplifies this structure; in his view, Dionysian negative theology serves to sacralize ecclesiastical power. In response, I argue that Dionysius desacralizes every authority, affirming that some things are sacred even as he subjects that affirmation to thoroughgoing critique. Against both dogmatic adherence and pure profanation, Dionysius models a politics that draws on the (...)
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  4. Normative Political Theology as Intensified Critique.David Newheiser - 2018 - Political Theology 19 (8):669-674.
    Some theorists are suspicious of normative political theology because they believe it undermines critical rationality. In my view, these theorists neglect theological traditions that resist dogmatism through intensified critique. Because authoritarian dogma is not unique to religion, theology offers sophisticated techniques that may be useful for those who are not themselves religious. A normative theology that intensifies critique represents a valuable resource for political reflection, and not only for the faithful.
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  5. Foucault, Gary Becker and the Critique of Neoliberalism.David Newheiser - 2016 - Theory, Culture and Society 33 (5):3-21.
    Although Foucault’s 1979 lectures on The Birth of Biopolitics promised to treat the theme of biopolitics, the course deals at length with neoliberalism while mentioning biopolitics hardly at all. Some scholars account for this elision by claiming that Foucault sympathized with neoliberalism; I argue on the contrary that Foucault develops a penetrating critique of the neoliberal claim to preserve individual liberty. Following Foucault, I show that the Chicago economist Gary Becker exemplifies what Foucault describes elsewhere as biopolitics: a form of (...)
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  6. Sexuality and Christian Tradition.David Newheiser - 2015 - Journal of Religious Ethics 43 (1):122-145.
    This essay aims to clarify the debate over same-sex unions by comparing it to the fourth-century conflict concerning the nature of Jesus Christ. Although some suppose that the council of Nicaea reiterated what Christians had always believed, the Nicene theology championed by Athanasius was a dramatic innovation that only won out through protracted struggle. Similarly, despite the widespread assumption that Christian tradition univocally condemns homosexuality, the concept of sexuality is a nineteenth-century invention with no exact analogue in the ancient world. (...)
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  7.  44
    Theology and the Secular.David Newheiser - 2016 - Political Theology 17:378-89.
    Sarah Coakley’s God, Sexuality, and the Self constitutes a major intervention in the debate over the role of religion in the modern world. Coakley criticizes Christians who reject modernity altogether, arguing that Christian thought should remain in conversation with secular sources. At the same time, she claims that only theology can solve difficulties of widespread concern - for instance, concerning gender and sexuality. Where this suggests that theology is still superior, I argue that the strict distinction Coakley draws between theology (...)
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