Understanding fundamentalism : Christian, Islamic, and Jewish movements /

Main Author: Antoun, Richard T.
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Walnut Creek, CA : AltaMira Press, c2001.
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Review by Choice Review

Antoun (anthropology, SUNY Binghamton) cogently argues "that the worldview and ethos of fundamentalism is the same across cultures but that the cultural content and historical circumstances of its emergence are not." That worldview "places God and his sacred scriptures, as well as the struggle of good and evil, at the center of both individual and group concern. Its ethos is one of minoritarian protest and outrage at the progressive displacement of religion from one institution after another in an increasingly secularized society." The cultural context of Christian fundamentalism is the growth and dominance of "progressive, patriotic Protestantism;" of Jewish fundamentalism, it was antisemitism in eastern and central Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, while the context of Muslim fundamentalism was "outrage at western cultural and economic penetration ... as a result of western colonialism." Antoun devotes a chapter each to six themes uniting all three expressions of fundamentalism: protest against change; the quest for purity (through flight, separation, or militant struggle); the search for authenticity and control; the necessity of certainty (based on scripture, often but not always taken literally); selective modernization; and the desire to reinstitute the "sacred" past in the present. His presentation of Islamic and American Protestant reactions to modernization and reinstituting the sacred is well nuanced and well balanced. All readership levels and groups. P. L. Redditt Georgetown College

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.