Overheard at a Christian Triumphalist Soirée: Channeling the Qur’an’s Critics

I agree with the main themes and arguments advanced by Philip Jenkins, not only in his blog post for Contending Modernities, but also in his interesting and important new book, Laying Down the Sword, which I have reviewed at some length for a forthcoming issue of The National Interest. That said, let me play devil’s advocate here and develop a point of view with which I fundamentally disagree, but which Jenkins does not fully counter in his otherwise compelling rejection of the distorted logic of Islamophobes who describe the Qur’an as a “handbook for terrorists.”

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The Public Launch of Contending Modernities

On Nov. 18 and 19, 2010, dozens of scholars, religious leaders, business people, and friends and alumni of Notre Dame gathered in New York for the inauguration of Contending Modernities. On Nov. 18, Rev. John Jenkins, C.S.C., president of Notre Dame, introduced the keynote speakers: Shaykh Ali Gomaa, Grand Mufti of Egypt; Jane Dammen McAuliffe, president of Bryn Mawr College; and John T. McGreevy, professor of history and dean of Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters. The remarks of Shaykh Ali Gomaa and Jane Dammen McAuliffe are posted below; John McGreevy’s remarks are posted above.

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What is Contending Modernities?

What is “Contending Modernities”? In a sentence, it’s an effort to confront the fact that the relationship between religion and modernity is a lot more complex than many people anticipated. This relationship has proven more complex in at least two ways. One largely unanticipated complexity is that religion has proven pretty resilient in the face of modernity in all its forms. Religion and secularity are surviving and thriving together, creating a vast diversity of modern ways of life.

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