Call for Papers for the 41th International Course on the “The Future of Religion: Civilization or Barbarism?”
We are writing this letter to you, in order to invite you wholeheartedly to our 41th international course on the Future of Religion: Civilization or Barbarism? to take place in the Inter-University Center for Post-Graduate Studies (IUC) in Dubrovnik, Croatia, from April 24 – 29, 2017. We invite you to our discourse, because we are convinced, that you as a scholar are most competent to contribute to the clarification, understanding, explanation, and comprehension, and praxis of our rather difficult new topic: The Future of Religion: Civilization or Barbarism?
Last year, in 2016, we celebrated with great enthusiasm the 40th Anniversary of our international course on the Future of Religion in the Inter-University Centre, Dubrovnik, Croatia . Throughout the past 4 decades we had explored every year in many most productive papers and heated discussions the evolution and revolutions, or pro-volutions, of the world religions, or pro-ligions, and their paradigm changes: from the original traditional, relative union of the sacred and the profane, through their modern disunion and all its many culture wars, toward their possible future reunion.
We had observed again and again, that the modern antagonism between the religious and the secular had produced splits also inside the religious communities, between those believers, who insisted on revelation and tradition in their pure form, on one side, and other believers, who were willing and able to open themselves up to secular modernity and its enlightenment movements and consequent revolutions, or pro-volutions, on the other.
We also had observed again and again, that the modern antagonism between the sacred and the profane caused likewise contradictions in the secular civil society and constitutional state between enlightened people, who considered religion to be a childhood affair of the human species, which was to be cancelled as fast as possible, so that men could grow up, and thus aimed at a totally secularized society, on one hand, and others, who were still open for the old world positive religions and their ethical values, and ready to supersede them not abstractly, but concretely, i. e, to criticize, rationalize, de-mythologize, de-demonize, and symbolize them.
But in this process also to preserve, whatever was good and humanistic in them, and thus to elevate and fulfill them in the form of a secular humanism, understood as religion in inheritance, on the other, and thus to tolerate the non-contemporaneous in the midst of the contemporaneous.
In our Dubrovnik discourses of the past 40 years, believers open for the modern enlightenment movements had met with enlighteners still open for religious faith in discourse, not closed up fundamentalistically, or positivistically and naturalistically, in order to discuss alternative futures of religion, and finally had decided, to speak about not only the future of religion, but also about a possible religion of the future.
A truly catholic, i.e. universal, natural, negative religion of reason and freedom, on which believers and enlighteners, not being any longer members of any positive religion, could nevertheless possibly agree, so that the present often bloody culture wars and the consequent mutual terrorism in the Near East, and Africa, and really all over the globe, could come to a peaceful end, and the great world religions would no longer have to defend themselves against secular Modernity and Post-Modernity, and modern, enlightened people would no longer have to defend themselves against the onslaught of religion.
At stake was, of course, not only the future of religion and the religion of the future, but also the future of the enlightenment and the enlightenment of the future, and the prevention of utter barbarism: both need to be rescued through reconstruction, before they can be truely reconciled.
The enlightener Karl Marx had predicted: it will either be socialism or barbarism! We had defined religion as the longing for the utterly Other than the horror and terror of nature and history; as the longing for perfect justice and unconditional love; as the longing, that the murderer shall not triumph over his innocent victim, at least not ultimately.
We had defined enlightenment as the exit of man from his own being underage, for which condition he himself was guilty and responsible; as the attempt to free people from their fears, and to make them into masters of their fate; as positing Ego, where Id was; and as making conscious, what was un-and sub-conscious.
The Sared and the Profane
Thus, also our new discourse of 2017 embraces both sides of the modern antagonism between the sacred and the profane, the religious and the secular, faith and autonomous reason, revelation and enlightenment. Religious as well as secular people have an ethics, which may motivate them in discourse: a communicative or discourse ethics. All religious people share the Golden Rule.
Many enlightened people share the translation and rationalization of the Golden Rule, i.e. the categorical imperative, or the communicative ethics, or the principle of the apriori of the unlimited communication community, and strive for personal autonomy and universal, i.e. anamnestic, present, and proleptic solidarity, in the on-going crisis-loaded transition situation between Modernity on one hand, and Post-Modernity, on the other.
Our new discourse wants once more to bring together religious and secular people, who are interested in the question, what the religion and the enlightenment of the future, and their new interrelationship, may possibly and probably look like, on the basis of 40years of research into the future of religion in the IUC, with the practical intent of cooperation concerning the solution of the present often bloody and in any case most painful national and international culture wars, and to create a civilization of life, or of love, or mercy, as suggested by Pope Francis I in remembrance of Saint Francis of Assissi, the greatest saint of the West, recognized by believers and non-believers. alike .
We want to explore, what a new religion and a new enlightenment may contribute to the moral improvement of individuals and nations: to a spiritual, as well as political, and economic revolution, or pro-volution, toward a truly humane civilization instead of an inhuman barbarism. We share with the humanistic theologian Hans Küng the conviction, that there can be no peace among nations without peace between the religions and the modern enlightenment movements.
There can be no peace between religion and secular enlightenment without discourse between them. There can be no discourse between the religions and the enlightenment movements without foundational research in them concerning their mutual interpretation of reality, and their mutual orientation of action. What may a future new religion and a future new enlightenment, and their global ethos, committed to build and maintain a sustainable, peaceful world civilization, possibly and probably look like?
Please, see our website : http: //www.rudolfjsiebert. org/.
The Pearl of Civilization
We hope very much, that you can follow our invitation, and that you can come to the IUC in beautiful Dubrovnik, a pearl of civilization, which for centuries was able to keep all barbarism outside of its walls, in the last week of April 2017, and that you can join us in our 41th international course on the Future of Religion: Civilization or Barbarism ?, and that you can present a paper to us out of the center of your own presently on-going research-activities, interests, competence, and teaching, be it concerning religion, or civilization, or barbarism, and in the framework of our general thematic of 2017.
Of course, you are also very welcome, if you do not want to be a resource person and to read a paper, but rather prefer to appear as a participant, and thus contribute as such to our, to be sure, very lively discourse. Our course will be part of a very rich IUC Program of courses and conferences in the Academic Year of 2016/ 2017, with some of which we may inter-act. Dubrovnik and the IUC are, indeed, alive and well, and have been rising again like the mythical Phoenix Bird out of the ashes, and have been growing again, in spite of all the tragic events of the past decades, and have been able heroically to resist and to survive a terrible wave of barbarism, which cost the lives of 200 000 people.
We shall read our papers and discuss in the hope, that in all parts of the world the Jus or Lex Talionis will be replaced by the Golden Rule, superseding the barbarous motive of retaliation and revenge – eye for eye, tooth for tooth, foot for foot, leg for leg, hand for hand, . etc. – which makes the whole world lame and blind, and by the categorical imperative, and by the principle of the apriori of the universal communication community of the discourse ethics, and by a global ethos, built on these religious and secular principles, and by an international law, which is rooted in them and will, therefore, never be without mercy and the power of at-one – ment, and of reconciliation, without which a true civilization can not exist, and barbarism will prevail.
All ethics and legality must, – in order to have real motivating power – , ultimately be rooted in the insatiable longing of people for the utterly Other than what is the case in nature and history, for the X-experience, and for the ultimate Reality. With such longing civilization begins, and it ends, and barbarism breaks through and prevails, when such longing disappears.
Toward a More Civilized World
In this year’s discourse, we shall once more remember the men and women, who in the present conflicts in the Near East, and in Africa, and in Europe, and elsewhere, stood up and were brave in the many, recent culture wars between religion and modern, secular enlightenment, and have confessed and witnessed, and became martyrs of freedom for a more civilized and reconciled world. We think, e.g., of the young Jordanian pilot, who was shot down by ISIS over Syria during a bombing run, and was then, on January 6, 2015, burned alive in a cage, while bravely standing up and praying, as once Jordano Bruno and Vanini, and many so called witches, and heretics, and atheists had done.
We remember the young American woman Kelly Mueller, who had spent her life in caring for the poor, the sick, and the wounded people in all parts of the world, and who was then kidnapped by ISIS in Aleppo, and was then killed on February 5, 2015, as so called collateral damage, by a Jordanian F 16 bomber, who in retaliation and revenche for the burned Jordanian pilote, bombed Raqqa, the capital of the new Islamic State, or Caliphate, where she had been held captive for months.
If ISIS wants really to revive the Arabic Empire Paradigm, including the Umaijadic Caliphate of Damascus from 661 to 750, and the Classical-Islamic World Religion Paradigm, including the Abbasid Caliphate of Baghdad from 750-1258, they must conquer both: Syria and Iraq, Damascus and Baghdad.They are presently held up in Mosul. But the barbarous war may, nevertheless, take a long time, depending on the resistance. We also think of the Charlie – journalists, and the Jewish people in the kosher store in Paris, who all were murdered by ISIS people in revenge for Mohammed in January 2015, and then again many others in December 2015: either because they practiced the freedom of speech, or simply because they were modern Europeans, or Jews.
The ISIS attacks happened, symbolically enough, in Paris: the city of the great secular bourgeois, and then socialist enlightenment movements and revolutions. We remember the pious Shiite Sheik Nimr al- Nimre, who was brutally executed by the Sunni-lead Saudi – Arabian Government on January 5, 2016, together with over 40 other martyrs, and whose violent death rocked the whole Mideast.
All that happens, while in the enlightened secular world of the West sometimes global stock plunges in the midst of fears of a new financial catastrophe like that in 2008. Democracy changes into plutocracy. Fascism, or corporatism, including nationalism and racism, rises once more its ugly head in Europe and America.
Social advancement slows down. A vicious cycle of wealth and power threatens capitalism. Barbarism threatens the Western civilization. In January 2016, in the nearby Flint, Michigan, the portray of an American city, residents died as a result of an outbreak of Legionaires desease, linked to the city’s lead – contaminated drinking water: in addition to the 9000 children who have been put at risk for lead poisoning.
The city’s spiraling public health disaster is the result of its move in April 2014, to draw the drinking water from the polluted Flint River, in order to save money, after the Detroit Water Department demanded higher rates in the aftermath of the Detroit bancruptcy. In America by-weekly mass shootings make Wallstreet see gold in gun companies, and in gun production, and in massive gun sales.
The theodicy, the defense of the highest Wisdom of the Creator against the accusation, which reason makes against it on the basis of the counter-purpose and counter-teleology in the world, this apology of the cause of God, which neither religious people, nor enlighteners can perform adequately any longer, at least not theoretically, becomes more and more unbearable in all these events and cases, and in many others.
The Trump Administration differentiates between three forms of capitalism:
Ayn Rand libertarian capitalism – greed and selfishness are good; State capitalism, which does not allow for personal autonomy; and Judeo-Christian capitalism, which is supposed to guarantee civilization and protect us against barbarism.
Is such Judeo-Christian capitalism really possible, or is it not rather a contradictio in adjecto. Please see John 2: 13-25; Rudolf J. Siebert, Moral Polemics and Revolution in Christianity and other World Religions. New Delhi: Sanbun Publishers 2017; Rudolf J. Siebert and Michael Ott. Future of Religion: Creation, Exodus, Son of Man and Kingdom. New Delhi: Sanbun Publishers 2016.