JOHN  INAZU’S

CONFIDENT PLURALISM

SURVIVING AND THRIVING THROUGH DEEP DIFFERENCE

Available Now

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In recent years, the United States seems more polarized and divided than ever. We see this in the public debate over LGBTQ rights, in challenges to religious liberty, in clashes over abortion, and in tension between law enforcement and minority communities. With all of this turmoil in law and society and such seemingly irresolvable differences in our beliefs, values, and identities, we are forced to ask—can we really live in peace together?

Confident Pluralism argues that we can and must live together peaceably in spite of deep and sometimes irresolvable differences over politics, religion, sexuality, and other important matters. We can do so in two important ways – by insisting on constitutional commitments that honor and protect difference and by embodying tolerance, humility, and patience in our speech, our collective action (protests, strikes, and boycotts), and our relationships across difference. Confident Pluralism suggests that it is often better to tolerate than to protest, better to project humility than defensiveness, and better to wait patiently for the fruits of persuasion than to force the consequences of coercion. Confident Pluralism will not give us the American Dream. But it might help avoid an American Nightmare.

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About John Inazu

John Inazu is the Sally D. Danforth Distinguished Professor of Law and Religion at Washington University in St. Louis and a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia. He teaches courses in criminal law, law and religion, and the First Amendment. His scholarship focuses on the First Amendment freedoms of speech, assembly, and religion, and related issues of political and legal theory. John’s first book, Liberty’s Refuge: The Forgotten Freedom of Assembly, was published by Yale University Press in 2012. He has written broadly for mainstream audiences in publications including USA Today, CNN, The Hedgehog Review, The Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post. Despite the confident pluralism of his academic training (BSE and JD from Duke and PhD from UNC-Chapel Hill), he remains an avid Duke fan. Click here to learn more about the concepts behind Confident Pluralism in John’s own words, and here to see John’s Q Talk about leaving our echo chambers and engaging across difference.

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    Articles & Essays

    James K.A. Smith on Confident Pluralism

    James K.A. Smith, the Gary & Henrietta Byker Chair in Applied Reformed Theology & Worldview at Calvin College, engages with Confident Pluralism in his recent Bavinck Lecture, “Reforming Public Theology: Neocalvinism and Pluralism.”  Professor Smith raises some important challenges to both Neocalvinist and liberal accounts of pluralism.  Some of those challenges relate to my argument for…

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    Liz McCloskey on Confident Pluralism

    This is a guest post by Liz McCloskey, a Danforth Visiting Scholar at the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University. With support from the Templeton Foundation and Washington University, Liz is working on a collection of spiritual narratives drawn from the United States Senate called “Profiles in Spirit.” Primarily through…

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    Kevin den Dulk on Confident Pluralism

    Kevin den Dulk, the Paul B. Henry Chair in Political Science at Calvin College, has a thoughtful review of Confident Pluralism in Comment. I found his discussion of trust particularly illuminating. One of Professor den Dulk’s main critiques is that I haven’t offered a sufficient theory for why people in this country ought to embrace…

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    Phil Vischer on Confident Pluralism

    I enjoyed talking about Confident Pluralism this week on the Phil Vischer podcast. Here’s Phil’s musical take on the book (complete with a cameo from one of my kids): You can watch the whole podcast here.  And while I’m at it, here’s the other Vischer with some thoughts on Confident Pluralism.  

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    We’re Right, They’re Wrong, That’s the End of the Story

    This is a guest post by Ken Stern, the President and co-founder of Palisades Media and the former CEO of NPR. Ken is the author of With Charity For All (Doubleday, 2013) and of a forthcoming book on political polarization in this country, tentatively entitled “Republican Like Me” (HarperCollins, 2017). The title of this blog…

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    Anne Snyder on Confident Pluralism and the Elusive Middle Ring

    This is a guest post by Anne Snyder, director of The Philanthropy Roundtable’s new “Character Initiative,” which seeks to guide and build a critical mass of philanthropists committed to character formation in our time. Anne has spent the last two and a half years as a writer studying the intersections of social class, immigrants, and…

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    Michael Wear on Confident Pluralism

    This is a guest post by Michael Wear, author of Reclaiming Hope: Lessons Learned in the Obama White House About the Future of Faith in America, which will be published in January 2017. Michael is the Founder of Public Square Strategies LLC. These are not confident times. The stridency of today’s rhetoric, the desperate certitude,…

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    Christian Witness in an Anxious Age (with Tim Keller)

    How should Christians in the United States bear witness in an anxious age? We start by understanding the context in which we live. That begins by understanding the context from which we have come and the ways in which that context has contributed to some of our current anxieties.  You can read my article with…

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    Interview with Canon and Culture

    I enjoyed being interviewed by Josh Wester for Canon and Culture, a project of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.  You can read the full interview here.

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    Jordan Ballor on Confident Pluralism

    Jordan Ballor, the executive editor of the Journal of Markets & Morality and research fellow at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty, reviews Confident Pluralism for The Gospel Coalition.  Ballor rightly observes that “confident pluralism is, in fact, morally principled, even though it may appear at times to be exceedingly accommodating of hostile…

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    Michael Gerson on Confident Pluralism

    Michael Gerson discusses Confident Pluralism in his latest Washington Post column.  He suggests that I am “proposing a national cleanup effort to make our public life more pleasant and productive.”  And he concludes with this: “We should not play down the stakes. Tolerance, humility and patience are not the ornaments of a democracy, they are its essence.” Read…

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    Mark Tushnet on Confident Pluralism

    Mark Tushnet, the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, has a series of (mostly critical) posts about Confident Pluralism on the law professor blog, Balkinization. Professor Tushnet’s first post addresses my critique of the Supreme Court’s expressive association doctrine. His second post explores the implications of my constitutional argument for association…

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    Eboo Patel on Confident Pluralism

    This is a guest post by Eboo Patel, founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core, a Chicago-based international nonprofit that aims to promote interfaith cooperation. Eboo is the author of two books, Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, in the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation and Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and…

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    Carl Trueman on Confident Pluralism

    Carl Trueman, the Paul Woolley Professor of Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary, has a review of Confident Pluralism at First Things. I am grateful for Professor Trueman’s engagement, even though, as his review makes clear, his pessimism runs deeper than mine. For example, I do not think that “people simply do not operate in…

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    Confident Pluralism Study Guide

    I’m delighted to share a free study guide to accompany Confident Pluralism.  Like most authors, part of my goal in writing this book is to get people to talk about its ideas.  But I think the topics I address may be particularly well-suited to consider with a group of people rather than in isolation–this is,…

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    Some Shorter Pieces on Confident Pluralism

    Now that Confident Pluralism is available on Amazon, I thought it would be useful to compile a list of (freely accessible) articles and essays that fold into the book or explore some of its themes in greater detail.  I’ve arranged them topically. These are mostly shorter pieces written for general audiences.  For free downloads of…

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    Pete Wehner on Confident Pluralism

    A number of people have observed to me that the current political season is giving us lots of illustrations of the need for a more confident pluralism that allows for us to engage in genuine disagreement without abusing each other.  Pete Wehner, a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times makes the connection explicit in…

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    Tim Keller on Confident Pluralism

      Pastor and author Tim Keller joins me for a short video discussion about Confident Pluralism in my second post previewing the release of the book. I first met Tim a few years ago, and I’ve appreciated the ways that his own writing and speaking echo similar themes. Here’s a bit of our discussion: And here’s…

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    Confident Pluralism Across Deep Difference

    We Americans like to talk about unity. We see ourselves as “one nation, indivisible,” and in pursuit of “a more perfect union.” But much of our actual existence is characterized more by difference and disagreement than by unity. We disagree about significant issues surrounding race, religion, sexuality, immigration, abortion, education, foreign policy, and criminal law.…

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