THE GLORY AND THE POWER: The Fundamentalist Challenge to the Modern World by Martin E. & R. Scott Appleby Marty

THE GLORY AND THE POWER: The Fundamentalist Challenge to the Modern World

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Something rare: a fair-minded assessment of religious fundamentalism. In this companion volume to a three-part PBS series, Many (History of Modern Christianity/University of Chicago; Modern American Religion, 1986-91, etc.) and Appleby--codirectors of the Fundamentalism Project at the Univ. of Chicago--aim to dissipate the fog of ignorance that surrounds the average understanding of fundamentalism. By and large, they succeed--and come up with a surprise as well: Fundamentalist groups are not ""fossilized, vestigial, and static"" but, rather, ""innovative...and usually dynamic""--which helps to explain their galloping popularity around the globe. The authors work hard at defining the phenomenon: Fundamentalists of all stripes, they report, converge in rejecting rationalism, in seeing history as a battle between good and evil, and in favoring ways of life considered ""scandalous"" by secular society (witness the millions of Islamic women who don the veil and chador). Fundamentalists are, in a nutshell, traditionalists who ""fight back."" Three movements receive special attention here: American Protestant fundamentalism, which continues to swell, establishing its own culture that offers ultraconservative alternatives to evolution, secular humanism, and ecumenism; Israel's Gush Emunim, a tiny minority of right-wing activists who populate the occupied territories and commit terrorist acts; and Islamic fundamentalism, winning hearts and minds by restoring a sense of the divine through strict adherence to Islamic law. Despite prose that's as dry as Melba toast (""indeed, the attempt to characterize fundamentalisms across cultures leads to generalizations that must be examined in each case for exceptions and modifications""): a useful guide to what is proving to be--who would have guessed?--a historical movement at least as important as Marxist-Leninism.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1992
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: "Beacon--dist. by Farrar, Straus & Giroux"