Secular Calvinism + The party of love

Secular Calvinism

EXCERPT: Australia is one of the most secular of developed nations. At the last census, 22% of people marked “No religion” as their affiliation, and the attendance at religious services weekly dropped to 16%, from a high in 1950 of 44%. So why is it that a sizeable minority (around 30%) of Australians oppose gay marriage, blame the poor for their own plight, and treat drug usage as a moral issue? [...] At the same time, Australians, like the Irish and Americans, are reading daily about the moral failings of religious institutions [...] What is going on here? [...] I propose this has to do with what I call “secular Calvinism” [...] One classic instance of this was in the refusal of self-confessed atheist, unmarried former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who declared that she would not support marriage equality [...] She has since changed her mind, but what inspired her to adopt this view? Partly it has to do with the strong Catholic base of her party, but since most of them are cultural Catholics in any event, the question remains. Calvinism is a strictly moral theology that holds...


The party of love

EXCERPT: [...] With this understanding of love in place, it is now useful to say what I mean by ‘politics’. I’ll start with politics in practice. In my experience, politics means many things: the chaotic clamouring of politicians in a debating chamber; the organising, arguing, laughing in some small room a night before a protest; the subtle power play between two people in a conversation, jostling verbally for a particular decision to be made. In essence, though, politics is the set of activities, often undertaken collectively, that relate to how power should be exercised and disciplined.

How, then, are love and politics related? Some indigenous traditions have for centuries explored how love, or something akin to it, can play a part in collective decision-making. In the New Zealand indigenous Māori culture, aroha (loosely translated as ‘love’) has long been a key value in dispute resolution. Religious traditions have prized the practice of love in everyday ethics. Activists have referred to love in placards and slogans – for example, in organising to oppose war, support marriage equality, or fight for human rights.

Socialist and anti-colonial thinkers have also developed the idea of love as an animating political force over the 19th and 20th centuries....


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