Sunday, April 18, 2010

Five best books about blasphemy

Diarmaid MacCulloch is Professor of the History of the Church and Fellow of St. Cross College in the University of Oxford. His latest book is Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years.

For the Wall Street Journal he named a five best list of books about blasphemy. One title on the list:
The Satanic Verses
by Salman Rushdie

In 1989, just when it seemed that blasphemy had toddled off to bed with a nice cup of hot chocolate, along came the biggest blasphemy row yet, the first to cause a global rumpus. This time the outrage was Muslim, and it was not about some grave work of theology or philosophy but about a novel. Drawing on India's entanglement with imperial Britain, Salman Rushdie meditated on the subject by relating the dreams of a handful of expatriate Indian Muslim actors. One motif in the novel was the existence of allegedly suppressed Quranic texts, "satanic verses," allowing the worship of pagan gods as well as Allah. Iran's Grand Ayatollah Khomeini apparently thought he found a parody of himself in "The Satanic Verses." Now, if you send up Billy Graham, he may be a little upset; the ayatollah wouldn't let it go. More surprisingly, countless Sunni Muslims, who would have otherwise treated the Shiite leader's pronouncements with contempt, agreed. The British had given Rushdie a Whitbread prize for fiction; Margaret Thatcher gave him a bodyguard. Funny old world.
Read about another book on the list.

The Satanic Verses
is one of Atul Gawande's favorite books and one of Karl O. Knausgaard's top ten angel books.

--Marshal Zeringue