Novak (novak) wrote,

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Theological Notebook: Reading Christopher Dawson-Religion, Culture and Islam

Stepping in from my continued reading of the historian Christopher Dawson. In his Religion and Culture he notes that "it is only when the religions of different cultures come into touch with one another ... that real contact is made" between the cultures. Despite the evangelicalism that is a big influence on Bush himself, I'd argue that American engagement with Iraq is really a function of secular America, with secular motivations and goals. However a problem with secularism--and American secularism in particular--is that, being an anti-religious philosophy, it fails to recognize itself as being effectively a religion unto itself. So when Muslim culture encounters a secularized Western culture you have the peculiar clash, as it were, between a religion and a religion that denies its own religiosity, as well as all other religions. Dawson argued that real contact between cultures is made in the contact of their religions, but what happens when a religion comes into contact with an anti-religion?

If you thought Christians in the West and the secularized had problems communicating with one another, I don't know that I can hold out any hope of Islam and the Secular West communicating. Islam will believe (more-or-less correctly) that their culture is under direct assault, and the Secular West will deny that it is doing anything so crass as being "culturally insensitive," and will keep on trying to convert Muslims through the missionaries of television and commerce to the Truth of Secularism, which will free Muslims' minds from their cruel Allah and allow them to embrace economic prosperity and themselves in freedom, "whatever that means for them." Sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll? Good luck.

In other words, I suspect we may have to settle in for a quagmire that will make the simple logistics and lack of national will of the Vietnam War look like a game of Risk.
Tags: america, atheism, books, church and state, cultural, europe, historical, interreligious, islam, media, political, secularism/modernity, theological notebook

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