The American Religion

In light of the plans of the miniscule Dove World Outreach Center to burn Qur’ans on this September 11, now might be a good time to read or reread Harold Bloom’s 1992 book The American Religion: The Emergence of the Post-Christian Nation, because Bloom recognized back then symptoms that are now hard to ignore.

As of today, the pastor of this evangelical church in Florida is waving off pleas from the many and the mighty and is still holding to his plan: “Fla. pastor: Buring [sic] Quran Is ‘Direction God Wants Us to Go'”

In The American Religion Bloom, a self-described gnostic Jew, says this:

Something of the rocky strength of Southern Baptist Fundamentalism is interestingly similar to Islamic Fundamentalism. “Inerrancy” for both movements is an unconscious metaphor for the repression of all individuality. (221)

Uh huh. I could go on about the psychological aspects of projection and such, but I’m sure others are better qualified. I’ll just add something that I do know about: reading skills.

Bloom also noted that for American fundamentalists actually READING their sacred text was secondary at best:

What Fundamentalists cannot understand is that their attempted literalization of Scripture is itself a giant metaphor: a conversion of the Bible into a statue or an icon. It is in itself a restrictive interpretation, with not the slightest relation to the Bible’s actual text.” (221)

That is, actually studying and contemplating their own sacred text or anyone else’s isn’t close to as important as waving theirs and burning someone else’s.

That they haven’t carefully read, contemplated, or researched either sacred text should be apparent from reading the Dove Outreach blog. For example, there’s “Ten Reasons to Burn a Koran.”

The errors here are so glaring that I’d like to use this as a final exam for a college level intermediate comp class. Grammar, punctuation, factual errors, logic fallacies, anachronisms–it’s got it all.

On the other hand, my copy of the Qur’an, translated by M. H. Shakir, does contain some mighty strange tales. For example, there’s the story of the birth of the second greatest prophet in Islam. In Surah XIX, a messenger of the Lord tells a virgin she will have a pure boy. In response, Marium says, “When shall I have a boy and no mortal has yet touched me, nor have I been unchaste?” (20). The messenger says, “Even so, your Lord says, It is easy to Me; and it is a matter which has been decreed” (21). So Mary–excuse me, Marium–conceived and gave birth to Isa. Not only does a virgin give birth, but the infant talks from the cradle, telling her that when Allah “has decreed a matter He only says to it ‘Be,” and it is (35). And surely Allah is my Lord and your Lord, therefore serve Him; this is the right path (36).”

Ah, yes, I can see that the “right path” means “Burn, baby, burn.”

Cassandra

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