Strange Gods: A Secular History of Conversion

Strange Gods: A Secular History of Conversion


In a groundbreaking old paintings that addresses non secular conversion within the West from an uncompromisingly secular standpoint, Susan Jacoby demanding situations the normal narrative of conversion as a in basic terms non secular trip. From the transformation at the street to Damascus of the Jew Saul into the Christian evangelist Paul to a twenty-first-century “religious market” during which 1/2 american citizens have replaced faiths once or more, not anything has been extra vital within the fight for cause than the perfect to think within the God of one’s selection or to reject trust in God altogether.
 
concentrating on the lengthy, stressful convergence of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—each claiming ownership of absolute truth—Jacoby examines conversions inside a social and fiscal framework that comes with theocratic coercion (unto torture and dying) and the extra pleasant persuasion of political virtue, fiscal opportunism, and interreligious marriage. relocating via time, continents, and cultures—the triumph of Christianity over paganism in past due antiquity, the Spanish Inquisition, John Calvin’s dour theocracy, Southern plantations the place African slaves needed to settle for their masters’ religion—the narrative is punctuated through images of person converts embodying the sacred and profane. the forged comprises Augustine of Hippo; John Donne; the German Jew Edith Stein, whose conversion to Catholicism didn't retailer her from Auschwitz; boxing champion Muhammad Ali; and previous President George W. Bush. the tale additionally encompasses conversions to inflexible secular ideologies, particularly Stalinist Communism, with their very own fact claims.
 
ultimately, Jacoby bargains a strong case for non secular selection as a manufactured from the secular Enlightenment. In a forthright and unsettling end linking the current with the main violent components of the West’s non secular previous, she reminds us that during the absence of Enlightenment values, radical Islamists are persecuting Christians, many different Muslims, and atheists in ways in which remember the worst of the center Ages.

(With eight pages of black-and-white illustrations.)

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