Those [of us] who are expected to monitor religious trends have reason to find talk of blasphemy a complex challenge to commentators and responsible citizens.
Islam is an international supplier of reasons for pondering and arguing themes associated with blasphemy. Most terrorism by factions in or at the edges of the Islamic world(s) is usually occasioned by fanatics who act in defense of Allah against heretics, the religious “other,” and “infidels” who are seen or claimed to be blasphemers.
Is it time to rethink blasphemy?
The dictionary can be succinct: blasphemy is radical irreverence or disrespect shown to that which is sacred, holy—especially when deity is involved. But the borderline between hard-core blasphemy and mere irreverence is blurry, and often seen by “the eyes of the beholder.”
This week’s New Yorker prompted reflection on the borderline. Was it crossed or only tip-toed-toward in Simon Rich’s piece, “Day of Judgment” (January 8), illustrated by a Jesus-looking figure gesturing past a score of microphones to an unseen audience.
Irreverent to the core, yes: but was it blasphemous? The star of the article is named “the Messiah,” a proper name in Judaism and Christianity alike. Continue reading “Martin Marty – Blasphemy”