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← Subjection and Escape - Parts 2 and 3

Lisa Bauer's Avatar Jump to comment 23 by Lisa Bauer

Thanks to everybody, again. I'm very touched by your kind words. And thanks to Richard, again, for being so kind.

There's one thing I might change about Part 3 if I wrote it today -- I spend a lot of time talking about "Islam," or as I clarify it, "Islam as I then understood it." Well...I tend towards the view that there is no "Islam" (or "Christianity," or any other religion) outside of what believers do and believe. Even as a believer, I was always pretty laid-back; I never saw any reason as a Sunni to condemn Shi'ites as "heretical." To me they were not necessarily wrong, just different. (I suppose my propensity to looking at religion through sociologial/anthropological lenses is heavily influencing this view!)

Of course, this position tends to be rather untenable to a true believer, unless you either never think about the matter or your religion is a pretty lukewarm mishmash. After all, one of the biggest power plays in any of the monotheistic religions is defining who is and is not a believer and what is or is not correct doctrine and practice, and this gives the clerics/scholars enormous power, especially in states where religion wields temporal power. Think Inquisition or Iran or Saudi Arabia, or even the Orthodox establishment in Israel, who refuse to accept any other denomination as legitimate.

It's quite odd -- on the one hand, I hear all the time about how awful it is to "essentialize" Islam and portray it as this monolithic, immutable thing, and how we need to learn to see Islam in all its diverse glory. Then, sometimes in the next breath, they'll start going on about how "Islam" forbids terrorism, is egalitarian in matters between the sexes, is peaceful, etc. How, exactly does THAT work?! Many of the writers most sympathetic to Islam are the worst at this, like Karen Armstrong and John Esposito.

OK, that's enough intellectual stuff...if you've read Part 1 you know I have a propensity for going on about that kind of thing! ;-)

Thu, 04 Feb 2010 15:02:00 UTC | #438476