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Blasphemy and Heresy: The Modernist Challenge. A Review Article

  • Gauri Viswanathan (a1)


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1 Levy, Leonard W., Blasphemy: Verbal Offense against the Sacred from Moses to Salman Rushdie (New York:Knopf, 1993);Lawton, David, Blasphemy (Philadelphia:University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993).

2 Lawton, , Blasphemy, 7.

3 Carter, Stephen, The Culture of Disbelief: How American Law and Politics Trivialize Religious Devotion (New York:Basic Books, 1993). See also Asad, Talal, Genealogies of Religion: Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam (Baltimore:The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993), for a powerful criticique of secular culture, Islam, and modernity.

4 Kuhn, Thomas, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 2d ed. (Chicago:University of Chicago Press, 1970). See also Banner, Michael C., The Justification of Science and the Rationality of Religious Belief (Oxford:Clarendon Press, 1990), which extends Kuhn's understanding of how interpretive communities govern scientific knowledge to a consideration of the controlled growth of religious knowledge. One of the more interesting series on television to appear in recent years, the British Broadcasting Corporation's program, “Heretics,” employs the language of religious heresy to describe scientific innovation and its resistance by mainstream establishments.

5 Lawton, , Blasphemy, 179. The cited text of Bhabha, Homi is the essay “DissemiNation: Time, Narrative, and the Margins of the Modern Nation,” in Bhabha, Homi, ed., Nation and Narration (London:Routledge), 291322.

6 Kee, Howard Clark, “From the Jesus Movement toward Institutional Church,” Hefner, Robert W., ed., Conversion to Christianity: Historical and Anthropological Perspectives on a Great Transformation (Berkeley:University of California Press, 1993), 4764.

7 Levy, , Blasphemy: Verbal Offense, 32.

8 Thomas, Stephen, Newman and Heresy (Cambridge:Cambridge University Press, 1991), 3.

9 Levy, , Blasphemy: Verbal Offense, 484. See also Toohey, Timothy J., “Blasphemy in Nineteenth-Century England: The Pooley Case and Its Background,” Victorian Studies, 30:3 (1987), 315–33. Arguing that the Pooley case became a crucial test case for distinguishing between rationality and eccentricity as the bases of the freedom of expression, Toohey's essay moves toward the conclusion that, after the Pooley case, “England slowly moved out of an age when men were successfully prosecuted for blasphemy. If sane they were reasonable enquirers, if insane they needed treatment” (p. 316).

10 Quoted in Levy, Blasphemy: Verbal Offense, 484.

11 Lawton, , Blasphemy, 120.

12 Pattison, Robert, The Great Dissent: John Henry Newman and the Liberal Heresy (New York:Oxford University Press, 1991), 6.

13 Kurtz, Lester, The Politics of Heresy: The Modernist Crisis in Roman Catholicism (Berkeley:University of California Press, 1986), 147.

14 Eliot, T. S., The Idea of a Christian Society, and Other Writings (1939; rpt., London:Faber and Faber, 1982), 5455. See also his After Strange Gods (London:Faber and Faber, 1934).

15 Locke, John, A Letter Concerning Toleration, Tully, James, ed. (1689; rpt., Indianapolis:Hackett Publishing Co., 1983), 46.

16 The Works of Lord Macaulay, Trevelya, Lady, ed. (London, 1866, 8 vols.), vol. 8, speech of April 17, 1833, pp. 104–5; quoted in Levy, Blasphemy: Verbal Offense, 494.

17 See Newma's, An Essay in Aid of A Grammar of Assent (Notre Dame:University of Notre Dame Press, 1979) for an elaboration of belief as critical practice.

18 Nandy, Ashis, “The Politics of Secularism and the Recovery of Religious Tolerance,” Mirrors of Violence: Communities, Riots, and Survivors in South Asia, Das, Veena, ed. (Delhi:Oxford University Press, 1990), 70.

19 Levy, , Blasphemy: Verbal Offense, 566.

20 Ibid.,

21 King, Preston, Toleration (London:George Allen and Unwin Ltd., 1976), 25.

Blasphemy and Heresy: The Modernist Challenge. A Review Article

  • Gauri Viswanathan (a1)


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