Political theology

Työryhmä kokoontuu torstaina 27.3. 14.30-18.00 SS7 tarvittaessa perjantaina 28.3.  9.00-11.00 SS5

Over the last few decades religion has resurfaced as one of key points of consideration in political studies. The wars in former Yugoslavia and the on going War against Terror have imposed us with a challenge to redefine our relation with religion. For some, this challenge implies a redefinition of political science itself. That is: a critical interrogation of the secular, occidental and rational foundations of the state of the art. The purpose of the panel is to make excursions to the political theology in the 21st century. Papers can be written either in English or in Finnish.

Coordinators: Vilho Harle (Vilho.harle@uta.fi)
                    Mika Luoma-aho (Mika.luoma-aho@ulapland.fi)


States are Gods Too: Political Theology, Anthropomorphism and  International Relations
Mika Luoma-aho (Lapin yliopisto)

In this article I will identify the discipline of IR and the  international relations it entails in terms of religion. My  identification takes two epistemological paths. The first one has  been cleared by political theologians such as Carl Schmitt, who  teaches that ’’secular’’ political authority not only has a divine  origin, but a highly developed religious symbolism at its disposal. I  will clear the second path myself with help from a cognitive theory  of religion that identifies systematic anthropomorphism as a defining  criteria of religion. With all its different flavours, IR is a system  of  fictitious group-persons looked upon as deities by academics and  practitioners of international relations alike.

Theological background of profane politics: Paul, Luther, Hobbes and beyond
Mika Ojakangas (Helsingin yliopisto)

In Profanations, published in 2005 and translated in English in 2007, Giorgio Agamben introduces a useful distinction for the study of religion from the political point of view. This distinction is that between profanation and secularization. Agamben’s idea of profanation stands in opposition to what Carl Schmitt calls ’secularization’ in Political Theology. Whereas the latter names the process in which theological concepts and conceptions are transformed into the profane sphere of law and

politics, profanation names a process in which these concepts and conceptions are made unworkable. Hence, whereas the secularization of theological concept of sovereignty, for example, displaces the sacred heavenly sovereignty onto an earthly juridical sovereignty, profanation neutralizes what it profanes, deactivating the operation of the sovereign. In Agamben’s view, both of these operations are political: the first guarantees the exercise of power by carrying it back to a sacred model, whereas the second deactivates the apparatuses of power and returns to common use the spaces that power had seized. In this paper, I will examine the ways how the law (nomos) is profaned in the Christian tradition, first by apostle Paul and then by Martin Luther. For both of them, I will argue, it is the sacredness of the Mosaic (as well as natural) law that constitutes one of the main theological problems, although for different reasons. For Paul, the sacredness of the law means exclusion of the Gentiles from salvation. For Luther, it means exclusion of everybody from salvation, since by observing the law nobody is saved. From the political point of view, however, more interesting than this purely theological speculation (whether the law’s sacredness impedes salvation) is the way how these two authors deactivate the law (not by abolishing it but by making it an instrument of pragmatic calculations) and the consequences of this deactivation for Western politics. In the end of the paper, I indeed argue that early modern political theory assumed the Pauline-Lutheran view of the law, and that this paved the way for the profanation of politics and the state, at least in the liberal tradition of the West.

Kosovo and the Perspective of Serbian Orthodox Churches
Krista Berglund (Helsingin yliopisto, yl. valtio-opin laitos) & Teuvo Laitila (Joensuun yliopisto,)

It is often repeated in the West that the Serbs have been stubbornly refusing to let go of Kosovo primarily because of the Kosovo polje battle which the Serbs lost in 1389 to the Ottomans. This rather banal Western claim justifies the cynical cliché about Serbian nationalism as hopelessly unreasonable and unrealistic. In truth important for the Serbs are Kosovo’s medieval churches with their magnificent frescoes, with four of these churches included in the UNESCO world heritage list. Indeed, “Metohija” of Kosovo’s full Serbian name Kosovo-Metohija denotes its significance for the Serbs as hereditary land of Serbian monasteries.

            An interconnected factor having made the Kosovo issue particularly sensitive to the Serbian Orthodox nation is the fact that during the eight years of the international administration of Kosovo as many as over 150 Serbian churches have been either entirely destroyed or severely looted in Kosovo by Albanian extremists in the aftermath of the war. As recently as in 2007 there was a missile attack on the historical monastery of Decani. In March 2004 dozens of Kosovo’s Serbian churches were burnt.

Our paper sheds light, firstly, on Kosovo’s history as church land and, secondly, on the shortcomings in the solutions of the Kosovo issue to take into account the religious challenges of the region.

Democratic Islam?
Elena Kataja (Lapin yliopisto)

The aim of my paper is to explore the possibility of finding some evidence of the compatibility of islamic thinking and democratic system. The ongoing War on Terror has managed to polarize these political  phenomenons as opposite to eachother. However, there are attempts by countries such as Turkey to combine these elements by keeping the political system secular despite of having a strong Islamic religious background. The secular system there was grounded by Atatürk already 1923 in the aftermath of the First World War according to Western European and especially French models. Now Turkey is living an interesting period of change when an Islamic political party AKP has managed to takeover the traditional secular political forces by a popular upswing in the elections. A very recent and symbolic sign of this transformation was the lift of the ban on the women covering their head in  Turkish Universities.

In this paper however I am not going deeper into the Turkish example. Rather I will try to take a look at the complex relation between islamic and democratic based on the writings concerning these issues  I have studied for my dissertation so far. This relation, and discourse referring to it, can not but include the controversial concept of secular as well. The concept of secular has been critisized for it’s « westernity » by many scholars, and indeed secular state system has a deep connection to Christianity in the Western European countries and especially in the United States . It has been claimed that this close tie would be one of the reasons for Islamists to overlook the possibility of establishing a secularist political system in their homecountries. However, taken into account the dominantly secular political systems in the emerging economies of Far East, take forinstance India and Thailand as examples, it would be in my opinion too narrow a scope to look at secularism as purely western phenomenon in the modern world. Perhaps there is something profoundly different in the Hindu and Buddhist religions compared to Islamic to allow them to flourish despite operating separately alongside a seemingly democratic political system. If that is the case it would be interesting to explore which values exactly cause the so said clash between islamic and democratic thinking. One seminar paper for sure can not give profound answers to these broad questions, but this is the conversation and thematic scope I will try to take a deeper look into.

Prophetic Politics: Stories of a Golden Past and a Glorious Future
Jan Hanska

Prophetic politics is a concept which often is understood only as the infusion of religiosity into politics. My intention is to argue that  with the use of narratives a political leader is able to communicate a  grand vision of a glorious future and at the same time portray each moment as a time when important choices need to be made and thus is  able to make events in the political realm more signifigant and  interesting for the average citizen to participate in. Well-told narratives enable the politician to ignite political passions better  than more conventional means. As an example of such a politician I  have chosen Ronald Reagan, whose storylines guide the Republican politics even today.

Vilho Harle (Tampereen yliopisto)
Non-Western IR ja poliittisen teologian eurosentristisyys

Artikkelin tarkoituksena on pohtia poliittisen teologian ja IR:n suhdetta pääsääntöisesti kristinuskoon (ehkä ml. juutalaisuus) liittyvänä asiana. Tutkittaessa poliittista teologiaa muiden kuin kristinuskon piirissä voidaan havaita että jossain tapauksessa alkuaan sekulaari politiikan teoria saa ”uskonnon” merkityksen, minkä vuoksi asianomaista ajattelua ei tarvitse ottaa vakavasti ”Lännessä” huolimatta monista yhtäläisyyksistä asianomaisen ajattelun ja läntisen poliittisen ajattelun/kansainvälisen teorian kanssa (esim. kungfutselaisuus). Luonnollisestikaan ei tarvita ottaa vakavasti myöskään semmoista ajattelua jossa uskonnolinen ja poliittinen ajattelu muodostavat tietoisesti yhden kokonaisuuden (esim. Islam). Tämä viittaa siihen, että IR:n poliittinen teologia (eli vain kristinuskon/juutalaisuuden hyväksyminen ”Western IR:n” piirissä ja sekularisoutumisen myytistä huolimatta vain tämän uskontoperinteen mukaisen IR:n pitäminen tieteellisenä) merkitsee ”Non-Western IR:n” torjumista näennäisesti epätieteellisyyttä korostavin argumentein tai pelkällä hiljaisuudella, mutta että ei epätieteellisyys vaan väärä uskonnollisuus on torjunnan varsiainen syy. Väitän, että samoin kuin kristinusko on ottanut muiden uskontojen yläpuolella olevan aseman, myös ”Western IR” määrittelee mikä on hyväksyttävää IR tutkimusta. Western IR toisin sanoen sulkee pois Non-Western IR:n samoin perustein tai ainakin samaan tapaan kuin kristinusko sulkee pois muut uskonnot. Tämä viittaa siihen, että Western IR:n suhde Non-Western IR:ään saattaa olla pohjimmiltaan uskonnollinen tai ainakin poliittisen teologian kautta selitettävissä oleva ilmiö.

Vastacasena voidaan ajatella Gandhia (buddhalaisuutta) – joka innoitti sekä Martin Luther Kingin poliittista toimintaa että Johan Galtungin rauhantutkimusta. Gandhin suosio ja hyväksyttävyys lännessä selittyy kuitenkin ainakin osittain sillä, että gandhilaisuus sisältää eksplisiittisesti ei vain buddhalaisia vaan myös varhaiskristillisiä piirteitä.

Mika Luoma-aho (Lapin yliopisto)
Kuinka monta miekkaa tarvitaan pimeässä laaksossa?: oppihistoriallinen ekskursio kuulumisen ja kuuliaisuuden poliittiseen teologiaan

Tarkoitus on ottaa tarkasteltavaksi Schmittin argumentti valtio-opin käsitteistä maallistuneina teologisina käsitteinä lukemalla kristillistä teologiaa. Merkkihenkilöksi tässä nousee Martti Luther, joka määritteli ihmisen (1) osaksi Kristuksen ruumista ja (2) palvelijaksi valtion poliittiselle keholle. Tätä kautta pohdiskelen sitten sekularismia.

Jan Hanska (Tampereen yliopisto)
Profeetallinen politiikka - tarinoita tuomiosta ja tulevasta

Paperissa tarkastellaan Ronald Reaganin uskonnollista narratiivia profeetallisen politiikan näkökulmasta. Tavoitteena on korostaa Reaganin roolia profeetallisena puhujana, joka kuitenkin muodostaa oman tapauksensa kertomalla myönteisestä tulevaisuudesta ja sen saavuttamisen mahdollisuudeta. Reagan ei toisin sanoen puhu vain ja korostetusti epäkohdista, vaan pikemmin ihmisen hallittavissa olevasta tulevaisuudesta. Pelastus ei toisin sanoen tule paluusta Jumalan ohjaukseen, vaan pikemmin siitä jumalallisesta roolista jonka ihminen ottaa itselleen oman tulevaisuutensa muokkaajana.

Poliittista toimintaa Jumalan mandaatilla- Uskovien poliittisen toiminnan mahdollisuudet Left Behind -romaanien lopun aikojen visiossa
Henna Hakkarainen (Lapin yliopisto)

Left Behind novels tell a pre-millennial end-time story of Jesus calling for his church (the Rapture) before the rest of the world faces the seven years of Tribulation during which the Antichrist will rule the world. The Tribulation comes to an end at Christ’s second coming and the establishment of the millennial kingdom on Earth. The best-selling novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins offer popular prophecy beliefs taken seriously by many American evangelical Christians. Christians believing in pre-millennial end-time scenario are often described as being passive observers of the evil world with no trust in human capabilities to change the state of affaires. This article, however, submits an interpretation of believers’ chances to political action in Left Behind novels. It argues that possibilities of political action are defined in relation to the boundaries of the society of believers and knowledge on God’s end-time schedule. The second part of the article directs the attention to environmental disasters foretold to take place during the Tribulation. It examines the role environmental threats play in the end-time scenario and the ways believers act upon the eschatological knowledge on the environment. Plagues with environmental consequences are discussed to illustrate the way the authors define the possibility as well as the limits of political action.