Listening, Religion and Democracy

Team Members/Contributors

William W. Young Endicott College Contact Me

About this sabbatical grant for researchers

This project studies how religious listening shapes practices of democratic and civic engagement. Listening is a central if often overlooked dimension of authority, in terms of both authority’s reception and its appropriation, which has recently received renewed attention in philosophy and political theory. While listening is often conceived as passive obedience, musical listening amplifies its responsive and interpretive dimensions—dimensions particularly significant for democratic deliberation and practice. The resonances and dissonances between religious and musical listening accentuate how religious listening can enable improvisatory political alliances or reinforce barriers between sectarian enclaves. The forms of listening embodied within different American churches, as well as in their interfaith and civic relations, form a crucial topic for consideration of the relation between religion and politics. Ethnographically examining practices of religious listening through theological reflection, field work, and oral history can thus clarify the relationships between theology, religious practice, and politics, a central issue for religious communities, religious studies, and the broader humanities.