SRP Distinguished Lecture by Professor R. Scott Appleby, Marilyn Keough Dean, Keough School of Global Affairs, University of Notre Dame, at the 3rd SRP Distinguished Lecture and Symposium
3rd SRP Distinguished Lecture and Symposium on “The Ambivalence of the Sacred in an Uncertain World: A Global Dialogue on Religion, Conflict and Peacebuilding”
1 February 2017 | 4 pm
Marina Mandarin Singapore
SRP Distinguished Lecture by Professor R. Scott Appleby, Marilyn Keough Dean, Keough School of Global Affairs,
3rd SRP Distinguished Lecture and Symposium on “The Ambivalence of the Sacred in an Uncertain World: A Global Dialogue on Religion, Conflict and Peacebuilding”
1 February 2017 | 10.45 am
Marina Mandarin Singapore
The Ambivalence of the Sacred: Religion as a “Cause” of Peace and Violence
- I am honoured to be here and to have my work on religion recognised by this distinguished forum. I would like to thank Ambassador Mohd Alami Musa for his gracious invitation as the Head of Studies in the Interreligious Relations in Plural Societies (SRP) Programme. I am particularly indebted to the most gracious Suat Peng, who was extraordinarily patient and accommodating as I presented her with one travel and logistics headache after another.
- Ambassador Musa, distinguished minsters, diplomats, religious and community leaders, professors and students:
- How do we begin to account for the human act of violating another person? What are we to make of the brutalities of rape, torture, the slaughter of innocents? How do the advocates and perpetrators of violence justify unspeakable deeds? What of violence that falls short of “atrocity” but nonetheless seeks to harm, debase and possibly kill?
- Then again, how do we account for equally remarkable human behaviour that fosters forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration, often in the aftermath of unspeakable atrocities? What are we to make of those who sacrifice their fortunes, security and often their very lives in pursuit of justice, in service to their vulnerable, suffering neighbour? What of these peacemakers who are themselves nonviolent militants for peace?
- Before we can begin to address these questions we must ask what kinds of questions they are. On one level they are questions about agency “at the extremes,” in all its dimensions. Thus we are asking about the motivations of extreme or abnormal human acts, and how such motivations are connected to the “causes” of behaviour?
- Secular cognitive and behavioural psychologies offer a certain category of insight and even “answers” by way of explaining acts of extreme violence and radical self-risk, but each answer presupposes a norm: “sanity” (vs. insanity), the grounded or whole self (vs. the dispersed, fragmented self), and so on. By this metric, are those who enact deadly violence to be considered pathological and beyond the pale? Under what conditions, rather, can violence be considered legitimate, just, indeed valorous under certain circumstances? And who is to decide? Here, subtly, we move into the realm of political philosophy and public ethics. Does the modern nation-state have the legitimate monopoly on violence, as the father of the modern sociology of religion, Max Weber, famously asserted? Or may extra-legal protest movements, rebellions, and revolutions displace the state, and do so with compelling ethical and legal justification? If the latter is the case, we may need to de-pathologise certain acts. Soldiers of the state may intentionally or inadvertently conduct military campaigns that have the effect of terrorizing (killing, maiming) non-combatants. Does the practice of reserving the term of opprobrium “terrorist” for non-state actors imply that the state, ipso facto, has the monopoly on defining what constitutes justice? What about a state whose actions are manifestly unjust?
- Another set of questions must inform our discussion today. Is one’s motivation the cause of an extreme act? Or, rather, is motivation itself a complicated product of the impact of contextual circumstances and the application of interpretive lenses—privileged “readings” of the circumstances— that together provide the parameters within which our choices are made? If we answer yes to these questions, as I do, then it follows that social structures and inherited social patterns do not entirely determine the range of our responses; rather, we possess a modicum of freedom, to choose our responses to circumstances over which we otherwise have little or no control.
- To summarise: There are structures (e.g., unjust economic systems), chance events that trigger long-simmering resentment against oppressive and discriminatory structures (e.g., a bread riot), and the choices of individuals and their leaders who seize the openings provided by chance events to trigger violence, or to organise campaigns of nonviolent protest. “Causation” is indeed a complicated puzzled.
- Be reassured that I will not try to answer these questions for the ages in the next 40 minutes! But I raise them at the outset because I am about to complicate further an already complicated question by introducing a wild card into the mix of psychological, political-philosophical and ethical dimensions of human behaviour “at the extremes”— namely, human agency that is “motivated” or “inspired” or “guided” by religion.
- Note that I have not said that such acts are caused by religion. Rather, I will suggest that in many settings around the world extreme human behaviour such as terrorist violence or self-sacrificing peacebuilding is motivated or inspired by a religiously informed way of ‘reading’ or interpreting the world (its structures, actors, institutions and the like.) In addition to providing individuals or groups with finely formed sensibilities and interpretive lenses (hermeneutics) by which to read the world and to condition responses to triggering events, religions provide abundant resources, both symbolic and material, that guide and shape action “at the extremes.”
Ambiguity and Discord, Thy Name is Religion
- The symbolic resources include powerful myths of origins and ends, religious doctrines and precepts, religio-ethical codes and norms, and communal rituals and practices which, collectively and over time, inculcate a certain sensibility in the adherent, an orientation to the world including a conceptualisation of time (including sacred and mundane time) and space (including sacred and secular space) that is fundamentally different from that held by non-religious actors. The material resources include physical structures: parish churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, seminaries, faith-based universities; institutions such as a media empire or a local or national school system; the homes of adherents, which may become safe havens or centres of underground networks; and, last but not least, cold hard cash—financial resources, whether from congregations contributing their mite; wealthy believers dedicated to a specific cause (oil shaykhs, for example, whether from Texas or the Persion Gulf); or ill-gotten proceeds from gun smuggling or the drug trade, for example.
- All religious actors have access to symbolic and material resources that are, if not entirely unique, at least distinctive from those typically available to non-religious or purely secular communities, organisations and movements.
- But we are particularly interested in how these religiously derived interpretive lenses and resources tend an individual toward a certain orientation to the world and a certain proclivity for radical or militant action, violent or otherwise, and how some religious leaders deploy these symbolic and material resources to shape and support militant religious movements, organizations and the like. [I use the term “militant” as a canopy term for radical behaviour that puts the actor at risk—from the suicide bomber or other extremist perpetrator of deadly violence, to the nonviolent activist who avoids annihilation of the enemy. Gandhi described himself as a soldier for peace, a “spiritual militant,” willing to endure physical punishment and even death; such religious actors are no less militant than the violent extremist.]
- The transcendent or numinous character of the sacred or holy or exalted is a distinctive feature of religion which is put to particular use by religious militants; this feature of religiously inspired agency, I argue, also makes religious acts “at the extremes” different than most secular acts of violence or nonviolence. (Using inadequate and context-specific words like “transcendent,” “sacred,” and “holy” reminds me to beg your forbearance. I will not define “religion” in these formal remarks, lest the lecture be devoted to nothing else but that complex topic. But I will be happy to discuss the definition of religion in the discussion period, as you wish.)
- Here I draw upon the book that inspired this talk, The Ambivalence of the Sacred, which drew upon the concept of Das Heilige or the holy (the sacred) as formulated by the German theologian and philosopher of religion Rudolph Otto (1869- 1937). Otto argued that “the holy” is “a category of interpretation and valuation peculiar to the sphere of religion.” It is the sine qua non of religion—what remains of religion when its rational and ethical elements have been excluded. Neither “good” nor “evil” per se, the sacred manifests itself as the ultimate reality, the source of all being in the universe. Within its realm power is undifferentiated, neither creative nor destructive in itself, but capable both of generating and extinguishing life. According to Otto, the sacred projects a numinous quality (from the Latin numen, meaning “dynamic, spirit-filled, transhuman energy or force”) that inspires simultaneous dread and fascination in the subject. An utterly mysterious yet seductively intimate presence, the sacred evokes awe and compels the human spirit, drawing it beyond the ordinary range of imagination and desire. Otto wrote:
The feeling of it may at times come sweeping like a gentle tide, pervading the mind with a tranquil mood of gentle worship. It may pass over into a more set and lasting attitude of the soul, continuing, as it were, thrillingly vibrant and resonant, until at last it dies away and the soul resumes its “profane,” non-religious mood of everyday experience. It may burst in sudden eruption, up from the depths of the soul with spasms or convulsions, or lead to the strangest excitements, to intoxicated frenzy, to transport, and to ecstasy. It has wild and demonic forms and can sink to an almost grisly horror and shuddering. It has its crude barbaric antecedents and early manifestations, and again, it may be developed into something beautiful and pure and glorious. It may become the hushed, trembling, and speechless humility of the creature in the presence of whom or what? In the presence of that, which is a mystery expressible and above all creatures.
- The numinous quality of the sacred, Otto declared, is “the deepest and most fundamental element in . . . strong and sincerely felt religious emotion.” He coined the term mysterium tremendum et fascinans to describe it. The encounter with the sacred is always a dialectical experience of mystery (mysterium): the feeling of dread evoked by its overpowering and uncontrollable presence (tremendum) comes bound up together with feelings of awe, wonder, and fascination (fascinans). “These two qualities, the daunting and the fascinating, now combine in a strange harmony of contrasts,” he wrote, “and the resultant dual character of the numinous consciousness, to which the entire religious development bears witness . . . is at once the strangest and most noteworthy phenomenon in the whole history of religion.”
- What we call religion, by this account, is the ambivalent human response to this feeling of awe and dread, contingency and desire. Does the sacred bring life or death, creativity or destruction. “I set before you life and death,” Deuteronomy says, reflecting the raw experience of the holy. The text then adds, “Choose life” as an ethical imperative. Religion as an encounter with the sacred is at bottom an ambiguous experience, for it contains within itself the authority to kill or to heal, to unleash savagery or to pacify.
- Thus, religion understood as a human response is both powerfully disclosive of the sacred and radically limited in its ability to understand what it discloses. The sacred is perceived to encompass time and space; it is not contained therein. The ambivalence need not reside in the sacred itself, of course, only in the imperfect human perception of the sacred. The encounter with the Ultimate Reality we name as God, writes theologian David Tracy, discloses not so much a confusion in God as it does “the pluralistic and ambiguous reality of the self, at once finite, estranged, and needing of a power not its own.” The challenge that ambiguity poses to religious believers is “to interpret a changing, unfinished world of diverse and polyvalent experience, and to declare its relationship with God.”
- A plurality of plausible interpretations, leading to a diversity of religious responses, is the social-historical consequence of the attempt to meet this challenge. At a given moment, any two religious actors, each possessed of unimpeachable devotion and integrity, might reach diametrically opposed conclusions about the will of God and the path to follow: extremist violence intended to terrorize, no less than self-sacrificial witness to the divine character of mercy and peace, fall within its range. By Otto’s definition of religion as an authentic response to the sacred, both conclusions would be considered religious, although only one of them, presumably, could be “correct,” that is, penetrating the ambiguity to perceive the actual “will of God.” In short, it is important to recognize that an act judged to be immoral by a particular interpretive community (because it transgresses norms established by the community) may be a genuinely religious act.
- In other words, religion is always an interpretive act. It is the hermeneutical act beyond all others: one dies not contemplate a mere masterwork of art or literature, a beautiful sunset or the look in a lover’s eye. Such allusive but ultimately mundane encounters are not what is being “read”; rather, one seeks to discern the will of the ineffable (un-write-able) God. The sacred, despite the heady myth of Moses descending Mount Sinai with sacred tablets dictated to him directly by God, pre-fabricated, as it were, is not an instruction manual or a schematic document that can read as an engineer or architect reads a blueprint. Those we call “fundamentalists” do read the sacred texts this way, thereby draining the holy of its mystery, and, ironically, robbing tradition of its defining character as a life-giving, community-renewing argument about the meaning of the sacred that extends over generations. In short, they miss the point: the “God beyond God” (Meister Eckhart) is the only truly exalted “being” (or non-being) “in” (beyond) the universe—the only God worth subordinating all else to.
- A number of important insights and distinction flow from this line of argument. First, one cannot use one’s own moral compass to determine who and who is not a religious actor. It is inaccurate to say that an extremist is not “genuinely religious” because he has chosen death over life, violence over healing. If one is engaging the sacred texts and traditions, practicing what the community practices, invoking the community’s “God,” following the discipline enjoined by designated religious authority, who can judge that they are not religious? They may be immoral, unethical, or sloppily, confusedly religious, it is true, but we must acknowledge that they are religious. And this awareness and proper naming is crucial if we are to apprehend religious actors, whether they be extremists or peacebuilders, aright.
- Second, the important of religious leadership is paramount, especially when, as in the case of religious militants, the flock is being asked to behave in extraordinary ways that depart from the more routinized behaviors of the mainstream. The one who is given or assumes the authority to interprets the sacred texts and traditions for the adherents controls much, not least the innovations and injunctions that depart from the time-hallowed practices and behaviors. It is this interpreter, this hermeneut, who makes his interpretations ring with authenticity and appeal, thereby retaining followers and recruiting new ones. How, for example, did a spiritual leader like the Buddhist patriarch Maha Ghosananda persuade fellow Buddhists to risk life and limb on consecutive annual Dhammayietras (peace-walks) across war-torn Cambodia in protest against Khmer Rouge violence, and to ensure free and fair elections? Conversely, how did Osama Bin Laden persuade Muslims literate in Qur’anic injunctions to endorse suicide terrorist attacks killing innocent non-combatants? In both cases the answer is: by skillful manipulation of the symbolic and material resources of the host religion.
- Third, each religious tradition (traditio/traduce: to hand down/to betray) is internally plural, that is, its symbolic resources, the meaning of its teachings, precepts and practices are multiple, not univocal, and constantly being contested from within. (For example: There are more than 4 Islamic schools of jurisprudence, sacred Hindu or Christian texts that seem self-contradictory, 613 Jewish obligations or mitzvot order differently in priority depending on the Hasidic sect to which one belongs.) The philosopher Alasdair McIntyre defines a tradition as an ongoing argument wiithin a community, often conducted across generations and across time zones, about the meaning of the good. This being so especially in the case of religious traditions, it is important to recognize that the argument never ends and that it is never frozen, however much the fundamentalists would prefer to present a specific interpretation of the text as binding for all time. Rather, it is fluid, shifting, evolving, always open to new meanings or shades of meaning. This makes the study of religion and religions, and the experiential encounter with them and their consequences, anything but staid and uneventful. It has always been a matter of high drama, contesting these sacred runes, and it always will be. Our era, at least in that sense, is no different from the past.
Extremist and Nonviolent Movements, of Strong or Weak Religious Provenance
- In a review of Graeme Wood’s new book on ISIS (Graeme Wood,The Way of the Strangers: Encounter With the Islamic State, Random House), Dexter Filkins takes issue with Wood’s claim that ISIS fighters are motivated primarily by a particular theological interpretation of Islamic texts, Islamic law and Islamic history. Filkins writes:Assessing human motives is always a tricky game, even when we are trying to decipher our own. While I don’t deny that Islam provides the framework within which ISIS operates, describing the group as essentially a bunch of religious fanatics strikes me as simplistic. My own experience in the Muslim world, and especially in Iraq, was that the motivations for joining a militant organization were varied and complex. Some fighters joined because they hated a rival group—Shiites, say. Others took up arms because they were seeking revenge for a wrong done to their family—by the American Army, say. Still others became militant because doing so offered them an unparalleled chance to rob, rape and kill. Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, who found Al Qaeda in Iraq—ISIS’ precursor—was a thug and a gangster who used Islam to justify what he was doing anyway. (“On the Fringes of ISIS: Where do the militant group’s supporters find their values? The New York Times Book Review, January 22, 2017, p. 13).
- Both Filkins and Wood are correct, thought their positions seem contradictory. In fact, many religious movements “at the extremes,” whether of nonviolent or violent militance, include members who are motivated by profound religious convictions (as far as we can determine, not being able to peer into their souls), as well as by members for whom adherence to religious precepts is merely a guide for deeper, more basic and mundae motivations. (‘The Iranian revolution,’ a U.S. ambassador to Egypt told me in 1979, is nothing more than a socio-economic and political protest sugarcoated by religious fanaticism.”) I use the term Strong Religion to describe movements which exhibit a heavy dose of religious motivations, religious literacy and religious virtuosi, especially among the leadership. Such movements cast religion itself as the source of, or justification for, deadly violence or for militant peacemaking. Those extremist movements that emphasize distinctive religious practices, beliefs and ideologies as the decisive ingredients in violent movements may also draw on nationalist, ethnic or other motivations. My second category, Weak Religion, refers to movements that present religion as a dependent variable in deadly violence, or in peacebuilding, the primary source of which is secular in origin. (In light of my opening words about clinical psychological explanations for religious acts “on the extremes,” I note that a network of scholars explores what might be termed Pathological Religion, namely, religious actors whose embrace of fundamentalist or extremist religious modes of behavior reflect symptoms of psycho-social deviance.
- An example of a religious doctrine that informs strong religious movements, including one strain of Christian peace movement, is the notion of cosmic war. Religious militants—reveling in myths of a martial past, believing themselves to be enacting God’s will, and viewing the current military campaign as but a chapter in a glorious and protracted battle between good and evil—adopt a calculus of warfare that is radically different, and less strictly rational, than that governing the tactics of secular combatants. The true believers, Mark Juergensmeyer argues, see themselves engaged in a metaphysical struggle, the ultimate stakes of which dwarf mere territorial or political ambitions and justify endless, self-renewing, ultra-violent enactments of divine wrath. “What makes religious violence particularly savage and relentless is that its perpetrators have placed such religious images of divine struggle—cosmic war—in the service of worldly political battles,” he writes
- Religious narratives of martyrdom, sacrifice and conquest inform the notion of cosmic war, which in turn provides the script that is played out in the performative as well as the tactical violence of Al Qaeda, the Christian Identity militias and many more. Performative violence—extremist acts which are primarily symbolic in nature—gestures toward an infinite horizon of meaning beyond the immediate strategic or practical considerations of the present battle. (Such acts may also carry “demonstration effect,” which can deliver quite practical propaganda and recruiting results, as in: See what a few true believers/suicide plane hijackers, empowered by faith and equipped only with courage, zeal and a few box-cutters, can do—bring the mighty, pagan America to its knees in terror!) Cosmic war, Juergensmeyer contends, is central to a religious worldview and it thereby valorizes religious commitment as a path of honor and virtue, endows individuals as well as societies with nobility and meaning, justifies otherwise despicable acts, and provides political legitimization to its warriors.
- In underscoring the distinctively religious character of some expressions of religious violence, my approach accords with the “strong religion” explanatory framework. However, I find in “the ambivalence of the sacred”—that is, in the pre-moral, pre-interpreted, “raw” (if always mediated) experience of the radical mystery of the numinous—a powerful source of nonviolent peacebuilding, compassion and love of enemy as well. Martial themes and symbols abound in the religious imagination, as one would expect from peoples convinced that human existence is a never-ending face-off between the elect and the reprobate, the pure and impure. Religious “militance”—absolute and unconditional devotion to the sacred cause— makes compromise unlikely; this helps to explain why religious actors are among the major rejectionists of peace processes and agents of spoiler violence. Related motifs of divine wrath and judgment, rituals of purification, and contestations over sacred space also inhabit the religious imaginary and provide evidence for the “strong religion” interpretation of religious violence.
- [If time allows, allude to Violence and the Sacred, the influential text of the French literary critic René Girard, who sets forth his theory of mimetic desire, ritual sacrifice and the dual function of religion to authorize and contain violence.]
- “Strong religion” as an interpretive approach, as we have seen, encompasses works that underscore the capacity of religions themselves to enjoin, legitimate or oppose deadly violence, as well as studies of movements, group, networks and organizations driven primarily by religious goals and dynamics. Yet few movements that foment violence or sacrifice their members for peace are wholly or “purely” religious. As Filkins argues, most collectives are “mixed” in membership—composed, that is, of “true believers” as well as bureaucratic functionaries, armed militias, ideological fellow travelers, displaced youth and bandwagon-jumpers.
- Even more to the point is the fact that contemporary and recent reformist, revolutionary, fundamentalist and other politicized social movements have emerged in the context of “hyper-modernity,” an era characterized by unprecedented globalizing trends, ideologies of nationalism and the omnipresent “totalizing” nation-state. In this milieu, religion is seldom the sole player, and religious actors themselves are susceptible to worldviews and habits of mind embedded in structures and processes derived not from religious but from “worldly” (i.e. secular) trajectories. Accordingly, religious agency is often embedded within encompassing nationalist and ethnic narratives. I call these works examples of a “weak religion” interpretive approach, because many of these accounts subordinate the religious motivations and dynamics of militant actors and also because a recurrent explanation for the “dependent” role of religious actors within a “mixed” movement, or for the mixed motives of religious actors themselves, is the vulnerability of religious leaders and institutions to the manipulations of state, nationalist and ethnic forces in their societies. The religious element, that is, is relatively “weak.”
- A clarification is in order. Rather than construe “strong” and “weak” religious presences as two wholly separate, isolated realities, as if some movements are always or essentially “purely” religious, and others always or essentially diluted, it is more accurate to use these terms as indicators of points on a continuum of configurations across which religious actors move over time (in different directions). The interesting question is not (only): Which movements are religiously strong or weak at a given time? Rather, it is: Under what conditions are religious actors (leaders, individuals, movements, institutions) more and less vulnerable to non-religious forces?
- One of the themes of the vast theoretical literature on nationalism is the exclusionary nature of the process of national formation, which is linked to the sacralization of the nation itself. Befitting an interpretive approach to religious militance that emphasizes the susceptibility of religious militants to manipulation by nationalists, several recent studies focus on the pattern whereby, as the political scientist Scott Hibbard puts it, “ostensibly secular state actors sought to coopt the ideas and activists associated with religious fundamentalisms.” A small mountain of literature, much of it by social scientists, explores how politicians recruited religious actors in Sudan, Sri Lanka, Iran, Israel and elsewhere to do their “dirty work,” including the violent persecution of religious and ethnic minorities. Hibbard’s own recent book, Religious Politics and Secular States: Egypt, India and the United States, adds a new wrinkle to this interpretive camp by focusing on state actors and on the partly unintended consequences of their machinations. “The invocation of illiberal renderings of religious tradition provided state actors with a cultural basis for their claims to rule and an effective means of mobilizing popular sentiment behind traditional patterns of social and political hierarchy,” he writes. As a result, “secular norms were displaced by exclusive forms of religious politics.” “Weak” religion gains a boost of power, welcome or not, in this transition. Peter van der Veer writes:
Nationalism reinterprets religious discourse on gender, on the dialectics of masculinity and femininity, to convey a sense of belonging to the nation. It appropriates the disciplinary practices, connected to the theme of the management of desire, in the service of its own political project. Nationalism also grafts its notion of territory onto religious notions of sacred space. It develops a ritual repertoire, based on early rituals of pilgrimage, to sanctify the continuity of the territory.
- Indeed, some argue that the manipulation of South Asian communities of practice by colonial and imperial powers left them in a “weakened” religious condition—weakened, in no small part, by their reduction to the status of a “religion” differentiated from the political authority and from other local or regional communities of practice. Harjot Oberoi traces this disintegrative process in Sikhism, which ultimately led to the rupture of the Sikh community, the construction of religious boundaries, the (re) valorization of a warrior caste, and vicious intra- as well as inter-religious conflict.
- In this talk I have used the term “religious militance” to underscore my conviction that religion is indeed “something apart” from other modes of belief, behavior, practice and social organization, and that it can generate violence, as well as nonviolent activism, through (always internally contested) self-understandings excavated from the depths of an identifiably religious logic and religious dynamics. Yet I also resist—and the evidence does not support— the automatic identification of a fundamentalist or militant religious orientation, much less any intense religious sensibility whatsoever, with an inclination toward deadly violence, or with a deviant or pathological mindset (apart from the argument that any act of violation of another person might justifiably be considered “deviant.”) The paired words “religious violence,” however, might create the unfortunate (to my mind) impression of a natural connection between the two.
- And so we discuss “religion and militance,” and therefore ponder the question: When does religion become militant? The “strong religion” line of analysis reviewed above, granting decisive agency to the religious actors themselves, points to the calculations of religious leaders and their reading of the external environment. Is the struggle perceived as a defense of basic identity and dignity? Is the religious community threatened with extinction if it does not take up arms? Are there certain religious values that take priority over life itself (e.g., witness to the truth, the protection of innocents, etc.) and are these values at rick in the conflict? Is this, then, the time to retrieve elements of the religious imagination, scriptures, traditions that might transform worshippers into spiritual warriors?
- The “weak religion” line of analysis points, instead, to exogenous triggers, especially the encroachments of secular actors, the compelling identification of blood, land, birth with “sacred priorities.” Yet it does not ignore the contributions of structural or psychological aspects of the religious community itself. An ecclesiology that holds church and nation to be ontologically united, divinely twinned and thus inseparable; a lack of moral formation and religious instruction (catechetical training, preaching, practices, etc.) that cultivates a prophetic voice and fosters a measure of independence from external influences; a failure of religious leadership—such conditions, owing to internal dynamics, increase the vulnerability of the religious group or community to intervention by unsympathetic outsiders.
Last updated on 07/05/2019