By Ian Buruma
For 8 years the president of the U.S. used to be a born-again Christian, subsidized through well-organized evangelicals who usually appeared rationale on erasing the church-state divide. In Europe, the expanding variety of radicalized Muslims is developing frequent worry that Islam is undermining Western-style liberal democracy. or even in polytheistic Asia, the improvement of democracy has been hindered in a few international locations, fairly China, through a protracted historical past within which faith was once tightly associated with the state.
Ian Buruma is the 1st author to supply a sharp-eyed examine the tensions among faith and politics on 3 continents. Drawing on many modern and ancient examples, he argues that the violent passions encouraged by means of faith needs to be tamed so as to make democracy work.
evaluating the us and Europe, Buruma asks why such a lot of Americans--and so few Europeans--see faith as a aid to democracy. Turning to China and Japan, he disputes the proposal that in simple terms monotheistic religions pose difficulties for secular politics. eventually, he reconsiders the tale of radical Islam in modern Europe, from the case of Salman Rushdie to the homicide of Theo van Gogh. Sparing nobody, Buruma exposes the follies of the present tradition warfare among defenders of "Western values" and "multiculturalists," and explains that the production of a democratic eu Islam isn't just attainable, yet necessary.
offering a problem to dogmatic believers and dogmatic secularists alike, Taming the Gods powerfully argues that faith and democracy will be compatible--but provided that spiritual and secular gurus are saved firmly apart.
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Additional info for Taming the Gods: Religion and Democracy on Three Continents
He obtained the style for preaching ever on account that he used to be caused by means of his religious mom in the course of Annual Prayer Week to get on his knees on the Baptist church and confess his sins: “He was once yes that he could by no means back are looking to guzzle, to persist with unfastened ladies, to blaspheme; he knew the rapture of salvation—yes, and of being the heart of curiosity within the crowd. ”1 Gantry is later ordained in Paris, Kansas, as minister of the gospel within the Baptist Church whereas learning on the Mizpah Theological Seminary until eventually he will get kicked out for spending Easter Sunday at a drunken orgy with a number of businessmen on the Ishawonga lodge within the city of Monarch. The profitable evangelical preacher combines a expertise for showmanship, company acumen, and a believable air of sincerity. Scholarship is a disadvantage during this line of labor. studying, if bought in any respect, may be disguised. the purpose is to be a guy of the folks, a typical man, and never a few stuck-up, college-educated snob who thinks he's higher than the remainder of us. The latter sort, in Lewis’s novel, is represented by means of the Reverend Cecil Aylston, a excessive Church guy, English (of course), trained at Oxford. he's actually no greater than Gantry: an adulterer, a forger, and a inebriated, pressured to hunt his fortune within the New global. yet he places on gentlemanly airs and is the committed assistant and instructor of Sharon Falconer, a gorgeous younger preacher whom he has urged within the use of right English grammar and inspired to tone down the histrionics. Gantry took one examine Sister Sharon and immediately turned Aylston’s rival for her affections. by way of then, after a stint as a salesperson of agricultural instruments, Gantry had taken up expert preaching back. he's promoted as “a energy within the equipment global. ” His sermon to the nice humans of Lincoln, marketed as “Increasing revenues with God and the Gideons,” supplies to be “a revelation of the hot global of higher enterprise. ” there's no have to vulgarize the flock, says Aylston, in his mincing English accessory. yet Gantry is familiar with that this is often accurately what's wanted, although he wouldn’t positioned it really that manner: “The sturdy outdated hell,” that’s what humans wish. Sister Sharon takes his suggestion and, as ordinary with Gantry, results in his mattress. Coached by way of her lover, she turns into wildly winning as a charismatic religion healer, telling humans to drop their crutches and stroll with the Lord (until they drop to the ground, out of sight of the ecstatic believers). jointly Brother Elmer and Sister Sharon rake within the funds. however it doesn’t final. Her global actually is going up in smoke, while a smoldering cigarette lighting up her prayer tent. She dies after attempting to guarantee the panic-stricken mob that the Lord can assist her lead them correctly during the flames. The demise of Sister Sharon marks the tip of the motion picture, yet now not the radical. Gantry is irrepressible. not anything will deter him in his ambition to attract higher crowds, to earn more cash. No tale approximately an American evangelical preacher is entire with out a severe scandal—usually through redemption.