Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Triumph of the 'Christianists' -- and other links on religion

It just so happens that today is a great day for posts and articles relating to religion online.

William Safire on the advent of the pejorative term "Christianist"/"Christianism" to describe members of America's religious right. Andrew Sullivan claims credit for it; Hendrik Hertzberg recently used it in The New Yorker.

I think this might be a pretty useful term to have, especially when discussing global religion politics with people who have an anti-Muslim bias. I still have my doubts as to whether it will take off in the mainstream media. If it does, it will probably start in Europe.

The blogger who calls himself Abdul-Walid has a brilliant post on belief. He is basically doing something like negative theology, except his goal is to distinguish religious belief ("I believe in God") from a more intellectual and secular conception of divinity. Ironically, the latter may take the idea of God more seriously than standard affirmations of religious belief do. (Read it...)

Chapati Mystery has a great post on Kingdom of Heaven, which refers to earlier representations of Salahuddin (aka Saladin and Salah ud Din) in Hollywood. Apparently Cecil B. DeMille's 1937 film The Crusades was very popular in Egypt back in the day. I'm a little torn about whether to bother with KoH. Paradoxically, I would be more likely to go see it if there were more controversy about the film's portrayal of Islam. Perhaps Ridley Scott should have thrown in some gratuitous anti-Islamic, anti-Eastern Orthodox Christian, and anti-Semitic sentiments? A Kingdom of Heaven without any semblance of political correctness would be both more historically accurate and -- in certain obvious ways -- more in touch with George W. Bush's America.

Moorish Girl links to a great interview with Tariq Ramadan in Egypt Today. The only odd thing is, they remove the interviewer's questions from the piece, so you have to speculate on what he's responding to (though it's not hard to guess). Ramadan comes off pretty well here. He seems to have a reasonable perspective on the Hijab ban in France ("France is still not a racist country"). I was also happy to see he is against the advent of Sharia courts in Canada for family law (along the lines of the differential civil codes in India). It was being discussed a fair amount last year (read this BBC article for more background)

Dilip D'Souza has an interesting piece in Tehelka on Kashmiri Pandits, exiled from Srinagar, who have ended up in permanent relief camps in places like Delhi. These folks don't get a lot of attention these days, partly because any sympathy for their plight runs the risk of being interpreted in political terms.

7 comments:

Chrysostomos said...

I just finished reading another blogger's review of KOH. I thought it was quite right in his observation from a Christian point of view. I plan on writing about his post in a few days at my own blog. Here's the link: http://americaninquisition.blogspot.com/2005/05/kingdom-of-purgatory.html

Having said that, you said:" Perhaps Ridley Scott should have thrown in some gratuitous anti-Islamic, anti-Eastern Orthodox Christian, and anti-Semitic sentiments? A Kingdom of Heaven without any semblance of political correctness would be both more historically accurate and -- in certain obvious ways -- more in touch with George W. Bush's America."

Your observation is correct as well. Away with Political correctness. I think the KOH movie was full of political correctness. It was a good movie, for entertainment purposes, but otherwise, not accurate.

Rd. Chrysostomos
Eastern Orthodox Christian Business Blog

Amardeep said...

When I said perhaps he should have had some un-PC elements, I meant he should have done it to get media attention and people in movie theaters.

I don't think it would be a good thing overall.

It is important to be historically accurate, but Hollywood movies don't do this well.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Singh:

Your observation that the plight of KP refugees is effectively ignored for fear of "...being interpreted in political terms.." is, sadly, all too true. But, of course, much of the responsibility for that comes from Mr. D'Souza's faction in Indian politics.

Mr. D'Souza mentions, en passant, that KP's were "... were driven from their homes.. by a perverted idea of Islam." But Mr. D'Souza's lament focuses--no surprise here--on his usual suspects, India/Indians etc.

Those KP's who are especially uncharitable would suggest that his statements on "...perverted...Islam['s]..." responsibility is merely 'CYA'. But I think it best to welcome and thank Mr. D'Souza for his acknowledgement, however slight--too many of his fellow lefties are reluctant to do even this.


Kumar

Manish said...

Kingdom of Heaven was a total PC whitewash. The Muslims are noble, the Christian hero (and director's voice) is deeply atheist. As the NYT reviewer said, it's a Crusades movie without a Crusader. Not to mention Bloom's lack of charisma, he's no Russell Crowe.

Anonymous said...

Thanks very much for the kind words and the link, Amardeep.

Abdul-Walid

Dilip D'Souza said...

Amardeep, thanks for the pointer. I aprpeciate it.

I should say to Kumar, I have no idea who my "fellow lefties" are, nor who my "faction in Indian politics" is. Why that is of any relevance here bemuses me, but that's not an issue. What is an issue is how few of the people who express outrage about the Pandits actually go spend time with them and hear what they have to say themselves about their plight, especially after 15 years. It might open their eyes. It opened mine.

Anonymous said...

Mr. D'Souza:

I am a Kashmiri Pandit and quite well aware of the plight of Kashmiri Pandit refugees. You may think me ungrateful for what follows--after all, the mere fact that your presence graced a KP refugee camp should leave me quivering with gratitude. But the 'I felt their pain' defense of your reportage on J&K is a non-sequitur and tiresome to boot.

Let me spell it out for you Mr. D'Souza. What counts is the rigor of your analysis, not how deeply you've felt our pain. And your analysis, I fear, comes nowhere close to meeting that standard.

You're far too coy about your left-wing sensibility Mr. D'Souza. I'm not quite sure why, but I really don't want to devote space to unraveling that minor puzzle.

Btw, Mr. D'Souza read Dr. Singh's post again. Notice his remark that the "...inattention [to KP refugees is]...partly because any sympathy for their plight runs the risk of being interpreted in political terms." Yeah, that one, right at the very end of his post.

My remark about the extent of the left-wing's responsibility for that state of affairs came in response to that comment. Read before you post, Mr. D'Souza.

Kumar