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CANCELLED – Sherb Talk: Ryan Murphy

July 12, 2023 @ 7:30 pm 9:00 pm

This talk introduces the key ideas from his forthcoming book on democracy as a social technology and its relationship with religion.

With the fall of fascism in the mid-twentieth century and the fall of Soviet communism at that century’s end, liberal democracy seemed like a global inevitability. Global trade, multi-lateral foreign policy, universal human rights, and growing prosperity were to be the central characteristic of the open society, what George H. W. Bush called “the new world order.” But as the twenty-first century comes of age, that new order shows signs of significant stress. The vanquished foes of nationalism, populism, and anti-liberalism are once again on the march, not just in places haunted by authoritarian past, but even among democracy’s Western advocates.

Religion’s role in democracy and relationship to the liberal tradition has always been complicated. In America, Christians tend either to reject democracy’s legitimacy to retreat into sectarian, apocalyptic community, or to assert the right of Christians to rule. In An All-Pervading and Restless Activity, Ryan Murphy argues for a quite distinct vision. He maintains that modern liberal democracy, and the secularism that defines it, is a product of a Christian theological imagination, and that there are compelling theological reasons for Christians to labor to maintain this arrangement. Murphy insists that an authentic and vibrant Christianity can both express itself and influence worldly affairs through the liberal political project, while rejecting efforts to politicize the faith that have deeply distorted the faith and failed to achieve their political aims.

After serving as a college professor for ten years, Ryan Murphy is currently Director of Educational Programs at Development Associates International, a nonprofit that provides consulting and education in developing countries. His interests include the intersection of politics, religion, and culture. He holds a Phd in philosophy and social ethics from King’s College London.

604 Clinton St
Ridgway, Colorado 81432 United States