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The hermeneutics of religious understanding in a postsecular age

Lewin, David (2017) The hermeneutics of religious understanding in a postsecular age. Ethics and Education, 12 (1). pp. 73-83. ISSN 1744-9650

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The argument of this article assumes that religious literacy is urgently needed in the present geo-political context. Its urgency increases the more religion is viewed in opposition to criticality, as though religion entails an irrational and inviolable commitment, or leap of faith. This narrow view of religion is reinforced by certain rather dogmatic secular framings of religion, which require any and all forms of religious expression to be excluded from public life. Excluding religion from the public has the unfortunate effect that religiosity can take extreme forms with little social mediation through political deliberative cultures. Such approaches do not support religious literacy, but tend to generate increasingly polarized and fractured debates about the place of religion in society and education. In contrast to the attitude that seeks to privatize religion, I argue that religions are fundamentally public-facing, not least because they act as social institutions that bind communities together. I argue that it is the hermeneutical traditions immanent to religions themselves that must inform the ways that religions can appropriately inform public life.