Friday, September 25, 2009

Dr. Cornel West on "The Crisis of Contemporary American Religion"

"American religious life - despite its weekly rituals and everyday practices - is shot through with existential emptiness. This emptiness - or lack of spiritual depth - results from the excessive preoccupation with isolated personal interests and atomistic individual concerns in American religious life. These interests and concerns unduly accommodate the status quo by mirroring the privatism and careerism rampant in American society. Like so much of American culture, exorbitant personalistic and individualistic preoccupations in America religion yield momentary stimulation rather than spiritual sustenance, sentimental self-flagellation rather than sacrificial self-denial. Needless to say, these accomodationalist forms of religion fit well with the thriving consumerism, narcissism and hedonism in the country. Religion becomes one more stimulant in a culture addicted to stimulation - a stimulation that fuels consumption and breeds existential emptiness. In this way, postmodern American culture attempts to eliminate spiritual depth, disseminate stimulatory surfaces, flatten out transcendence into titillation and replace the sense of the mystery of existence with that of the self's feelings of intensity (usually of the orgiastic sort). Accomodationalist forms of religion usually aid and abet this postmodern condition, thereby surreptitiously prohibiting the very existential state they claim to produce - namely, spiritual depth."
-from the introductory remarks to Prophetic Fragments by Dr. Cornel West and also quoted on pg. 357-8 of The Cornel West Reader

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

ethnic consciousness

I came across this quote from my readings for a class I'm taking called the U.S. Constitution and Communities of Color :

"There is a failure to recognize that for racial minorities, ethnic consciousness is a defense against the exploitation and discrimination they have been subjected to in U.S. society, and a way of validating themselves and improving their collective self-esteem."
Acosta-Belen, Edna, "From Settlers to Newcomers: The Hispanic Legacy in the United States", The Hispanic Experience in the United States, ed. Edna Acosta-Belen and Barbara R. Sjostrom, Praeger Publications, 1988, Chapter 3, pg. 97

Dr. Jackson on approaches to Muslim intellectual history

"The challenge, rather, has been and remains to produce approaches to Muslim intellectual history that can locate and monitor through time and space the semantic contributions of both the secular and the transcendent."-pg. 133

footnote no. 26:

"In my view, neither of the two contemporary tendencies, progressivism and conservatism, achieves this balance. Progressives (as well as some called liberals) tend toward impugning if not dismissing the entire past as well as the perspective of the ancients as entirely secular, that is, devoid of transcendent meaning, and this entirely-or almost entirely-nonnormative. "Conservatives," on the other hand, tend toward enshrining the entire past and the perspective of the ancients as the repository of nothing but transcendent meaning and this of totally (and totalizing) normative understandings of revelation." -pg. 207

from Dr. Sherman Abdal-Hakim Jackson's Islam and the Problem of Black Suffering