- Hardcover: 215 pages
- Publisher: Pennsylvania State Univ Pr (Trd); 1 edition (December 13, 1994)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0271013133
- ISBN-13: 978-0271013138
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,401,841 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Revenge of God: The Resurgence of Islam, Christianity and Judaism in the Modern World 1st Edition
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From Kirkus Reviews
An informative history, previously published (1991) in France, of one of this century's more unexpected developments-- the explosive popularity of religious orthodoxy. Kepel, an authority on Islamic fundamentalism, surveys the outburst of conservatism in major Western religions, and the effects of this movement on the secular state. Contradicting earlier studies that depict orthodoxy as a simple ``no'' to modernism, Kepel paints a more complex portrait of adherents who are often young, well-educated technocrats. The new conservatism (of which only a fraction is fundamentalist) is, he argues, ``evidence of a deep malaise in society.'' The harbingers came 15 years ago, with the rise of Israel's Likkud party in 1977, the election of John Paul II in 1978, and the Iranian revolution in 1979. Kepel traces the roots of the Islamic revolt to the pre-WW II Muslim Brotherhood, whose followers preached a total break with the secular state. Their influence can be seen in the Intifada, the Shi'ite revolution in Iran, and the Rushdie affair. Christian conservatism has two components: Catholic aspirations for the ``re-Christianization of Europe,'' tied to the fall of Communism and John Paul II's pontificate; and Protestant evangelism, especially strong in America, which has given rise not only to televangelism but, more recently, to a proliferation of evangelical universities. In Judaism, the emphasis is on returning secular Jews to the orthodox fold, epitomized by the proselytizing of the Lubavitch Hasidim. Kepel points out that all these movements share a rejection of the ``secular city,'' but that they disagree on alternatives, with Christian conservatives loyal to democracy but at least some of the Jewish and Islamic orthodox favoring theocracy. Belongs alongside Martin Marty and R. Scott Appleby's The Glory and the Power (1992) as a notable study of orthodoxy and its political ramifications. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
An astonishing book on one of the burning issues of the day. --Le Parisien
Stimulating, remarkably well-informed, and completely unpartisan, The Revenge of God paints a disturbing picture of our world at the end of the millennium when, once again, apocalyptic voices are making themselves heard. --La Quinzaine Litteraire
This book is well-informed and written in a precise and accessible way. . . . Rather than take sides, Kepel concentrates on describing and analyzing a major phenomenon of our time. --Le Figaro
Top customer reviews
For although by the early 1970's it seemed that a modern liberal secularity was becoming everywhere more dominant, by the late 1970's, the tide began to turn.
Kepel locates his account of this turning in four streams: Protestant and Catholic Christianity, Judaism and Islam. He begins with the late 70's founding of Falwell's Moral Majority, the 1978 election of Pope John Paul II, Begin's 1977 victory over nearly thirty years of secular Zionism and Khomeini's 1979 revolution in Iran, and goes on to marshal, an amazing amount of facts and insights from the following years illustrating a continued activity in all of these domains to establish cultures that break from secularism in decisive ways and mount challenges to the secularist state.
I give this book high praise on numerous accounts. Its subject is incredibly important and still so overlooked in many attempts to understand our contemporary world. Kepel's marshalling of evidence is prodigious. It is very well written and accessible. Its tone is balanced, fair and non-polemical. It cries out to read and absorbed - deeply - by anyone seeking to understand our times. I can hardly recommend it highly enough.
Thus, I am not prepared to dock this book a single star. Yet, as far as I am concerned, it has serious faults. As a point of disclosure, I will say I am a Catholic traditionalist of the kind that arouses Kepel's concern. From my perspective, the book misrepresents aspects of Christianity and no doubt, it also misrepresents Judaism and Islam. As I am not qualified to comment on these latter, however, I will mostly restrict myself to the field of Christianity.
Thus, I will say that my main critique of Kepel's account of religious resurgence, is that it is too monolithic, too homogeneous. He seems to assume that the return to religion, is a more or less single phenomenon in response to secularism's failures, though varying from culture to culture. However such variations in culture are not sufficient to explain the fact that there is a world of difference between the Ayatollah ordering the execution of Rushdie and John Paul II proclaiming - with deep sincerity, I believe - that `the Church must propose, it must not impose'.
There is a world of difference between John Paul II declaring that other religions constitute the `normal' way of salvation for those involved in them, and being unsure `whether' any one is in hell and Protestant fundamentalism. There is a world of difference between a kind of Christianity - and I believe Judaism and Islam, as well - that weeps for the entire way secularism degrades humanity and that which focusses on a few limited issues, such as, say, abortion. Certainly John Paul was concerned with abortion too - but his critique of modernity was hardly limited to a few `flash-points'. It extended to include the entire way capitalism and communism debases the human being as a means, not an end, the way our culture of arid commercialism manipulates the desires of millions and the cultural deserts that results from utilitarianism and functionalism. You will not hear Jerry Falwell taking about these things ...
My point is that resurgent religion may encompass at least two distinct types of phenomena. On the one hand, a simplistic fundamentalist backlash. On the other hand, a profound meditative seeking for a higher order of values than secularism permits - an order of values that does not permit the tragedies of either laissez faire capitalism or communism. Moreover, although Kepel is understandably concerned with the way resurgent religion can compromise freedom, he does not consider nearly enough the way secularist ideology may do exactly the same - except perhaps unconsciously, as when he notes how the new religious resurgence is `an attempt to loosen the grip of secularism'. Yes, secularism has a powerful `grip' ... all the more effective and insidious, because it manages to disguise itself as `value-neutral'.
Whatever my qualms, I repeat: five stars. This book is incredibly useful for understanding matters of fundamental import to our times.
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