Profane: Sacrilegious Expression in a Multicultural Age
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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 volume’s approach is comparative, examining blasphemy across cultural and geopolitical boundaries.
religions and religious persons, the actual effects of such policies are unambiguously discriminatory, belying the claims of evenhandedness. The Blasphemy Act promotes not respect but religious intolerance, which has devastating repercussions for dissenters and adherents of minority faiths. It is also detrimental to the building of a democratic culture guided by pluralist values and respect for different faiths. In the absence of such a civic culture, democratic legal procedures face a difficult
to be view’d, in order to a thorow Recognition, is Ridicule.”45 His objects of ridicule included confessional uniformity,46 religious intolerance,47 and Christian revelation.48 He undermined belief in the accuracy of biblical text49 and mocked popular understandings of its basis for morality,50 all “without fearing what disturbance I might possibly give to some formal Censors of the Age.”51 Shaftesbury also celebrated the virtue of ridicule in A Letter Concerning Enthusiasm. It was particularly
becoming a preacher in that denomination in 1801. He also taught school and published some well-regarded spelling books.6 He became the official town minister in Langdon, New Hampshire, in 1805 and served in that state’s legislature in 1810–11. He left New Hampshire and the Baptist church at the end of his legislative term and moved back to Massachusetts, where he became a Universalist minister in Charlestown. In 1814 he abandoned the church, in part because he no longer accepted the Bible as a
to the idea that such a relation is more remote or even entirely arbitrary.21 Mahmood and Keane emphasize the performative and pragmatic—that is, worklike and effective—dimensions of linguistic and other signs as an effort of recovery against a centuries-long process of repression. This scholarly effort is ongoing and incomplete. It will require that far more attention be paid to the semiotic ideologies of other cultures and historical periods. For example, in the English liturgy on the eve of
necessary and is required today, to protect a key symbol of their faith. Therefore, in political terms, the one who insults Mohammed becomes a damned person. To use the language of the Italian political theorist Giorgio Agamben, such an offender or damned person must be killed but not sacrificed.14 In his view, such a person would be a homo sacer. Any change or rethinking in the question especially of blasphemy, and to a lesser degree apostasy, would require reconfiguring an established Muslim