Richard A. Horsley

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The separation of religion from politics ... did not develop until late antiquity; these institutions are a long-range result of the Romans’ use of political and military power to ensure that indigenous peoples’ commitment to their traditional way of life not interfere with their submission to the imperial order.

Richard A. Horsley was Distinguished Professor of Liberal Arts and the Study of Religion at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

Quotes[edit]

  • Even though leading scholars ... recognize that Paul's letters were not theological treatises, they still construct Pauline Christianity as if it were an already existing definable religion. And apparently because religion in the modern West is separate from political and economic affairs—indeed, more or less subject to an agreement not to conflict with political and economic affairs—scholarly constructions often simply ignore (or avoid) implications in the sources of engagement with political-economic affairs, particularly any implications of conflict with the dominant political-economic order.
    • "Paul's assembly in Corinth: an alternative society," in Urban Religion in Corinth (Harvard: 2005), pp. 374-375.

Religion and Empire: People, Power, and the Life of the Spirit (2003)[edit]

  • Cultural elites in countries that dominate peoples have adapted subject people’s religion for their own purposes.
    • p. 12
  • A key factor in [the revival of Shiite Islam in Iran] was the Iranians’ refusal to accept the western reduction of religion to individual faith, which would have enabled an easier imposition of a global capitalist political economy.
    • p. 48
  • Frightened by the specter of “Islamic fundamentalism” we readily reject the “extremism” of “fundamentalists” and identify with “moderation” and “rationality,” the ostensible “values” of “western civilization.” We thus acquiesce in the practices of the global corporations and western political power.
    • p. 48
  • Mosques provided the only possible meeting places in which the coalition of resistance forces could meet, and they provided a ready platform for the communication of Islamic ideology. With civic space eliminated by the Shah in order to force development upon resistant Iranians, civil society moved into the mosques.
    • p. 51
  • Islamic revival sought the reunification of the spiritual with the social-political, and of contemporary life with cultural traditions, against the western imperialism that was forcing their separation.
    • p. 52
  • Since God himself is just and commands justice, the Muslim community (umma) cannot tolerate a tyrannical law or a tyrannical ruler.
    • p. 60
  • Khomeini ... was a paradigm of asceticism, which in Islam was not a withdrawal from worldly affairs but a refusal to be seduced by materialism. He was incorruptible.
    • p. 64
  • Since the U.S. had previously seemed to be a protector of the right to self-determination, Iranians felt terribly betrayed when the CIA overthrew the democratically elected constitutional government headed by Mosaddeq and installed the Shah. Then, with increasing visibility and high-handedness, both “American government and business interests acted the role of the exploiter and corrupter.”[1] They treated Iran as an economic gold mine. The U.S. Embassy served mainly as a kind of brokerage firm, arranging lucrative deals and contracts for American corporations. Hundreds of American entrepreneurs and businesses made many millions in Iran in the 1970s, and not just by extracting the country's oil. Economic exploitation was aggravated by cultural imperialism. "For the bulk of the population the foreign orientation of everything around them--television, architecture, film, clothing, social attitudes, educational goals, and economic development aims--seemed to resemble a strange, alien growth on the society that was sapping it of all its former values and worth."[2]
    • pp. 68-69
  • Shiite Islam was revived and transformed by Iranians in direct reaction not only against western separation of religion from political-economic life, but more comprehensively against the transformation of their way of life by western political-economic power.
    • p. 72
  • Against the U.S.-sponsored program to deny subject peoples their own cultural heritage as well as participation in shaping their own social and economic life, Iranian opposition took the form of a revival of the only sphere of life that remained available, Shiite cultural tradition and the ritual space and symbols of the mosques.
    • p. 72-73
  • Intensive measures of repression taken by the Shah to enforce his westernizing development program nearly eliminated effective political parties and forms of civil society other than activities in the mosques.
    • p. 73
  • The separation of religion from politics, and the historical emergence of Judaism and its spin-off, Christianity, however, did not develop until late antiquity; these institutions are a long-range result of the Romans’ use of political and military power to ensure that indigenous peoples’ commitment to their traditional way of life not interfere with their submission to the imperial order.
    • pp. 74-75

References[edit]

  1. William Beeman, "Images of the Great Satan: Representations of the United States in the Iranian Revolution," Religion and Politics in Iran, pp. 202-203.
  2. ibid., pp. 209-210

External links[edit]

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