Synopses & Reviews
Masterful. This work is a major contribution to a field needing precisely this kind of approach and scholarly care. Its fresh and creative insights to the issues within the work provide the necessary foundation for the consideration of policy in the area, as well as a picture of excellence. The diversity of approaches and development and interplay of issues makes for an outstanding workone of the best I have read.”Gary D. Bouma, Emeritus Professor of Sociology and UNESCO Chair in Interreligious and Intercultural Relations at Monash University, Australia
Profane offers distinctive insights into the issue of blasphemy. The volume contains a unique blend of disciplines and methods that make it unlike any other work. Its significance draws from its engaging style, multidisciplinary approach, wide range of research and theoretical tactics, and the quality of the scholars involved in the project. Contributions from scholars outside of the United States give the volume an added appeal for those whose perspective is both national and international in scope."Lori G. Beaman, Professor of Classics and Religious Studies at the University of Ottawa, Canada
"Capably encompasses as many facets of this complex topic as possible, examining it on cultural, political, and personal levels . . . Powerful."
Humans have been uttering profane words and incurring the consequences for millennia. But contemporary eventsfrom the violence in 2006 that followed Danish newspaper cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed to the 2012 furor over the Innocence of Muslims
videoindicate that controversy concerning blasphemy has reemerged in explosive transnational form. In an age when electronic media transmit offense as rapidly as profane images and texts can be produced, blasphemy is bracingly relevant again.
In this volume, a distinguished cast of international scholars examines the profound difficulties blasphemy raises for modern societies. Contributors examine how the sacred is formed and maintained, how sacrilegious expression is conceived and regulated, and how the resulting conflicts resist easy adjudication. Their studies range across art, history, politics, law, literature, and theology. Because of the global nature of the problem, the volumes approach is comparative, examining blasphemy across cultural and geopolitical boundaries.
About the Author
Christopher S. Grenda
is Professor of History at Bronx Community College, City University of New York.
Chris Beneke is Associate Professor of History at Bentley University.
David Nash is Reader in History at Oxford Brookes University and Research Fellow at the Center for Inquiry, Amherst, New York.
Martin E. Marty is Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of the History of Modern Christianity at the University of Chicago Divinity School.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
Martin E. Marty
Introduction: On the Modern Confluence of Blasphemy, Free Expression, and Hate Speech
Christopher S. Grenda, Chris Beneke, and David Nash
PART ONE. CREATING SPACE FOR SACRILEGIOUS EXPRESSION
1. Thick-Skinned Tolerance: Satire, the Sacred, and the Rise of the Modern
Christopher S. Grenda
2. The Productive Obscene: Philip Roth and the Profanity Loop
3. Defaced: The Art of Blaspheming Texts and Images in the West
PART TWO. SACRILEGE AND DEMOCRATIC DEVELOPMENT
4. Blasphemy and Free Thought in Jacksonian America: The Case of Abner Kneeland
5. Secular Blasphemies: Symbolic Offense in Modern Democracy
Robert A. Yelle
PART THREE. CIVILITY, THE SACRED, AND HUMAN RIGHTS
6. Muslim Political Theology: Defamation, Apostasy, and Anathema
7. Protesting Sacrilege: Blasphemy and Violence in Muslim-Majority States
Ron E. Hassner
8. The Indonesian Blasphemy Act: A Legal and Social Analysis
Asma T. Uddin
9. Profound Offense and Religion in Secular Democracies: An Australian Perspective
Elizabeth Burns Coleman
10. Blasphemy versus Incitement: An International Law Perspective
Afterword: Blasphemy beyond Modernism
List of Contributors