Below is an overview of one of Sarah's current projects, including a brief description, a link to a radio interview, a description of 2 book projects in progress, and links to 2 essays.
Project: Hate & Protect
"To cultivate best outcomes in a pluralist American democracy, look to responsibility--not friendship--as your best civic strategy."
This goes hand-in-hand with what Sarah calls the "INTRAfaith SUPPLEMENT," a series of civic & spiritual exercises she has designed for intra (not inter) group reflection. [Just as not every relationship issue is best addressed by couples' therapy, so too not every civic religious / spiritual issue is best addressed by interfaith dialogue; Sarah thinks we put too much weight on interfaith work for dealing with our interfaith differences when what we need is much more intra-faith work for dealing with our interfaith differences]
Sarah explains the broad frame of her "Hate and Protect" project on Colorado Public Radio...
My current project, "HATE & PROTECT", interrogates the limits of American discourses of love, hope, and friendship. I argue that healthy civic and political futures demand a call to responsibility, not friendship. We need to develop robust civic and religious discourses that move us directly from hating our neighbors to protecting them anyway.
Sarah is currently working on a book-length treatment of this point: Hate and Protect: A Call to Trembling, Resignation, and Agency in American Pluralism (or: On a Levinasian Politics of Responsibility).
She is also currently working on an interfaith guidebook informed by this point: Making Interfaith More Uncomfortable: A Handbook.
A Pitfall to Avoid...
Myth: Because Sarah explores modalities other than friendship, and because she warns of the ways much of our current interfaith work reveals (and fosters) our deep "allergy to difference," that means that she wants us to organize more "head-on" collision-course interfaith dialogues in which people argue directly over their main ideological differences and really let their hair down in terms of shoving differences in each others' faces. Fact: No, not at all! Sarah's "Hate & Protect" project is not about fostering hate, and her call to non-friendship modalities is NOT a call to organize rancorous meet ups where we "let our differences all hang out" at some new set of Mad Max style deeply divisive interfaith events. She views rancorous interfaith events as civically dangerous (and unwise) (and as fostering a different form of "allergy to difference," viz. the feeling that "I hate your ideas so much that I don't have to protect you after all..."). On the contrary, Sarah's Hate & Protect project centers on a more pronounced INTRAfaith set of reflections in which we come to more strictly train ourselves to live in a pluralist American context in which people will ALWAYS hold views that we find offensive; we need to work much harder on cultivating ways of living with this fact, and Sarah argues that this is where an INTRAfaith (not interfaith) supplement is needed.
Sarah's writing on these themes for a general readership is coming soon. Meanwhile, if you have a taste for more academic writing in continental philosophy and political theology, you can read her two more technical essays on related ideas...
Technical essay 1: Why love in politics breeds violence:
Technical Essay 2: Agonisms in Connolly and Levinas and the need for "trembling generosity" in American interfaith civics:
Contact Sarah at: email@example.com.
Visit Sarah's webpage at: sarahpessin.com