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Other titles in the Manifestos for the 21st Century series:
Offence: The Christian Case (Manifestos for the Twenty-First Century)by Irena Maryniak
Synopses & Reviews
During the cold-war years, Western Christians basked in a sense that they were living on the right side of the ideological divide, harboring humane values, freedom, democracy and the right to irrationality, belief and non-belief. The atheist Communist world was seen as intellectually and politically oppressive, dishonest, impoverished and dangerous. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, however, the old division gave way to the spectacle of religious believers vying for ascendancy with skeptics and with each other.
In formerly Communist countries, the sense of sacred identity among newly powerful religious communities has never been stronger. New Russian artists experimenting with religious imagery have faced legal action and been forced to remove their work from public display. In Poland, over 90 per cent of the population is Roman Catholic and smaller communities of believers — Protestant or Jewish, for example — have been exposed to a range of symbolic attacks. In parts of the U.S., books by Golding, Twain and Conrad have been banned after interventions by the new Christian right. Meanwhile, in the U.K., a screening of the musical Jerry Springer: The Opera led to street protests and attempts to prosecute the BBC for blasphemy.
With a look at notions of the sacred, and how Christianity takes offence and gives it, this essay explores what outrages and challenges Christians most in the new world order.
What is the relationship between superstition, religious belief, identity and the urge to social order? And where does the desire to validate, persuade and convert overcome any ethical sensibility of what is reasonable and humane? Where identity is affronted, offense is declared. But are we holding the beliefs of others in contempt when we call for the right to blaspheme and offend? What of the psychological hurt to those whose faith is a lifeline, and who are powerless to speak out? Or is there a serious, present danger to intellectual diversity, personal autonomy and moral freedom in the desire to create a society ruled by respect and what Britain's culture minister recently called "collective cultural belonging?" With a look back at the history of Christian heresies, witch hunts, and notions of Anti-Christ, this volume considers what has caused Church outrage in the past, and attempts to identify what offends and threatens Christianity most in the new world order. This book is in collaboration with the Index on Censorship.
About the Author
Irena Maryniak is a specialist on religion and Eastern Europe. She has written and translated numerous articles on culture and society in Russia and Central Europe, and is the author of Spirit of the Totem (Modern Humanities Research Association, 1995)--a survey of mythological and religious ideas in Soviet Russian fiction. She is currently a freelance writer and translator, living in London.
Table of Contents
Feast of Fools
Who is She Anyway?
A Liminal World
The Cross Triumphant
Communion and Conflict
The Uses of Offence
What Our Readers Are Saying