Five things that have changed since 9/11

Patron journalism is all the rage right now, and as part of the trend I’m attending a seminar called “Beyond 9/11” organized by the Templeton-Cambridge Journalism Fellowships in Science and Religion. It’s off to a spectacular start. We assembled journalists listened to Notre Dame historian Scott Appleby  talk us through some of the consequences of that event on international relations. He outlined five main consequences of 9/11:

  • Religion can no longer be ignored in global affairs. He noted that Henry Kissinger didn’t once discuss religion in his memoirs. The implication is that leaders in the post-9/11 world will not do the same thing.
  • Western leaders suffer from secular myopia. Whether in the avowedly religious U.S. or the distinctly secular nations of Western Europe, Western leaders view global politics through lenses like realism and liberalism, which give no role to religion. Our public/private distinction on the state and religion is a minority characteristic, and it prevents us from understanding most of the world’s countries.
  • Religious peace-building is on the rise. In the Philippines and elsewhere, religious ideas are being harnessed to encourage peaceful behavior, not war.
  • There is real dialogue across faiths. Lots of interfaith initiatives have occurred and do help people of different faiths feel less hostile towards one another.
  • There is such a thing as ‘healthy’ religion. That is, religion is not just a problem or a soft kind of story, and does not have to be reported that way. Appleby thinks that healthy religious behavior should be reported as a ‘hard’ news story.

He stimulated good conversation and likely provides a set-up for the next few days, as we discuss the world 10 years after 9-11.  I’m excited to be here.

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