Thursday, June 11, 2009

Religion and the Market - John Gray on LSE

This is a lecture not just by John Gray, but I was drawn to it by the previous one in which Gray made a huge impression on me. At the London School of Economics (LSE Public Lectures and Events) John Micklethwait was invited to speak on the book he co-authored 'God is Back'. John Gray featured as discussant.

The resulting conversation was very interesting. The most important point that stuck with me is that the assumption there is ongoing secularization is false. Secularization never was much of a phenomenon outside Western Europe, but, so it seems, even there religion is marching back. Of course we hear a lot from fervent atheists, but as Gray points out: they wouldn't make so much uncompromising noise if they didn't feel they are in the defensive. My own private addition was: and the fervor also looks more like religion than anything else.

There is however something different, I noticed. The way people turn to religion is of a secular nature. That is, they turn by choice and they do not necessarily turn to the tradition they stem from. Research in the US, I am told on the podcast, shows that 44% of Americans has chosen their religion differently from their tradition. This does seem like a kind of secularization to me. In any case this podcast gave much food for thought and I highly recommend it.

More LSE Events:
John Gray's cultural pessimism,
Controversies in the Economics of Climate Change,
Nudge: decision architecture,
The EU and the Middle East.

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