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Pollster Ronald F. Inglehart on the Recent Decline in Religion (REVIEW ESSAY)

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Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) February 12, 2021: On the world stage today, Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pope, is arguably one of the most widely known public intellectuals today because of his widely read 2015 eco-encyclical and because of his widely publicized pointed critique of the capitalist economic system and trickle-down economic theory. Briefly, he critiques maximizing economic growth above all other considerations.

But his critique of maximizing economic growth above all other considerations is complemented by his admittedly visionary advocacy of the common good. For example, in Pope Francis' new 2020 book Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future, articulated by Pope Francis in conversation with the English journalist Dr. Austen Ivereigh (New York: Simon & Schuster), Pope Francis reiterates his widely known critique of maximizing economic growth above all other considerations when he says that "a neoliberal economy ends up with no real objective other than growth" (page 110).

Pope Francis also says, "The issue that must be confronted is human fragility, the inclination to close ourselves off in our own narrow interests. That is why we need an economy with goals beyond the narrow focus on growth, that puts human dignity, jobs, and ecological regeneration at its core" (page 111).

In addition, Pope Francis says, "Too often we have thought of society as a subset of the economy and democracy as a function of the market. . . . Profits are a sign of business health, but we need broader measures of profit that take into account social and environmental goals" (page 112).

Fair enough. Not surprisingly, Pope Francis aligns himself and his thought with staples of Roman Catholic social teaching such as the common good and human dignity.

For further discussion of Pope Francis' new 2020 book, see my short OEN article "Pope Francis' Let Us Dream" (dated December 4, 2020):

Click Here

However, we should also note that the late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks in his role as public intellectual also advocates taking the common good into account - most notably in his first new 2020 book Morality: Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times (New York: Basic Books).

On the topic of human dignity, see Rabbi Sacks' earlier book The Dignity of Difference: How to Avoid the Clash of Civilizations, rev. 2nd ed. (London and New York: Bloomsbury, 2003).

For further discussion of Rabbi Sacks' first new 2020 book, see my short OEN article "Who Is Looking Out for the Common Good?" (dated October 22, 2020):

Click Here

For further discussion of Rabbi Sacks' 2003 book, see my short OEN article "The Call to Exorcise Plato's Ghost" (dated October 29, 2020):

Click Here

Now, In the American pollster and anti-religion polemicist Ronald F. Inglehart's new 2021 book Religion's Sudden Decline: What's Causing It, and What Comes Next? (New York: Oxford University Press), the author says, "In knowledge societies, the top priority would logically shift from maximizing economic growth to maximizing subjective well-being [of just the rich and powerful, or of everybody?] - which has very different implications from the goals of traditional and industrial societies" (page 34).

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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)

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