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JUST DO IT?: THE DILEMMA OF ENGAGEMENT

Michelangelo Buonarroti, The Torment of Saint Anthony, ca. 1487–88, oil and tempera on wooden panel, 18 1/2 × 13 1/4".

ONE BRIEF ANECDOTE amid the carnage; possibly a parable.

A few weeks back, I was involved—against my inclination, probably out of a misplaced sense of duty to students—in a debate with two theologians about the limits of secularism. This took place at the New School for Social Research in New York, where I have my day job. My intent was to say as little as possible, just respond politely to the theologians and make my excuses and leave to get a drink. (After all, it was Friday evening.) Inevitably, everyone started to talk about Trump and how depressed they are and what we should all do, etc., etc., etc. Inwardly, I sighed. I was tired. I’ve been tired a lot recently.

One of the theologians made a forceful argument that people like her, on the religious Left, should “reach out” (as Americans like to say) to Christian swing voters by quoting radical statements from the New

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