Fighting Over God’s Image

That’s the title of my New York Times editorial piece, co-authored with Edward J. Blum, published Thursday, September 27, available online here. The short op-ed tries to contextualize contemporary controversies over representations of the divine (specifically, the violence abroad over the stupid film about the Prophet Mohammed). A short excerpt:

THE murders of four Americans over an amateurish online video about Muhammad, like the attempted murder of a Danish cartoonist who in 2005 had depicted the prophet with a bomb in his turban, have left many Americans confused, angry and fearful about the rage that some Muslims feel about visual representations of their sacred figures.

The confusion stems, in part, from the ubiquity of sacred images in American culture. God, Jesus, Moses, Buddha and other holy figures are displayed in movies, cartoons and churches and on living room walls. We place them on T-shirts and bumper stickers — and even tattoo them on our skin.

But Americans have had their own history of conflict, some of it deadly, over displays of the sacred. The path toward civil debate over such representation is neither short nor easy.

Read the rest here.

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