Muslim political thinker Shadi Hamid and Christian theologian Matthew Kaemingk interrogate the future of democracy and the role of religion—charting out a new paradigm for navigating difference.
How do you disagree with substance, respect, and a spot of laughter? Is it possible for deep difference to be the uncanny glue of a free society, and not the spark for its conflagration? What does good-faith persuasion look like anymore?
Zealots at the Gate is a new podcast created by Comment magazine to explore these questions through the friendship of two men: Muslim political thinker Shadi Hamid and Christian theologian Matthew Kaemingk. Through frank, unapologetic dialogue interrogating the future of democracy and the role of religion in North American cultural life, this is a conversation bent on charting out a new paradigm for navigating philosophical and even tribal difference with openness, good humour, and convicted humility.
It’s time to do pluralism differently. Democracy is in fragile shape the world over. While its integrity rests on the procedural tenets of classical liberalism holding, too often those tenets of individual agency, rule of law, and diversity don’t adequately address our more primordial longing for moral rectitude, belonging, and coherent community. Shadi and Matt will use the resources of Islamic and Christian political theology to critique the ways in which modern liberalism fails to understand and accommodate these desires and their religious and political backdrop, even as they will also explore the ways in which two ancient monotheistic faiths might point a new way forward for participating in a democracy where cultural and political divides often seem insurmountable.
Building on Comment’s project to embody Christian humanism, Hamid and Kaemingk seek to nourish not a naked multiculturalism but rather an ongoing pursuit of truth—the truth of the gospel, and the truth of what it means to be human. The mischievous turn here is: One cannot discover such truth alone. We only discover our own humanity and the reality of something beyond us through encountering another not like us.
“Zealots at the Gate will be a dialogue of wisdoms that pushes against both the cultural triumphalism and the cultural relativism suffocating our common life. It will be a dialogue anchored in the conviction that there is a truth and a way of life to find, but one that we can better discover together. In purposeful friendship,” said Comment magazine editor-in-chief Anne Snyder, host of Comment’s podcast The Whole Person Revolution.
Interested? Zealots will launch on November 2 on all the major podcast channels and on YouTube. The conversation between Matt and Shadi will be a fun, provocative, and at times electric focal point for listeners’ driving, walking, dishwasher-emptying, and more.
More information: Comment.org/zealots
Comment is a magazine of public theology and one of the core publications of Cardus, a non-partisan think tank dedicated to clarifying and strengthening, through research and dialogue, the ways in which society’s institutions can work together for the common good. Learn more at comment.org.
About Shadi Hamid
Shadi Hamid is a senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings and an assistant research professor of Islamic studies at Fuller Seminary. He is the author of several books. His latest is The Problem of Democracy: America, the Middle East, and the Rise and Fall of an Idea (Oxford University Press, 2022). He is a contributing writer for The Atlantic.
About Matthew Kaemingk
Matthew Kaemingk is the Richard John Mouw Assistant Professor of Faith and Public Life at Fuller Theological Seminary, where he also serves as the director of the Richard John Mouw Institute of Faith and Public Life. His research and teaching focus on marketplace theology, Islam and political ethics, and public theology. His latest book is Reformed Public Theology (Baker Academic, 2021).
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Religion News Service or Religion News Foundation.