Iconic books are texts revered as objects of power rather than just as words of instruction, information, or insight. In religious and secular rituals around the globe, people carry, show, wave, touch and kiss books and other texts, as well as read them. This blog chronicles such events and activities. (For more about iconic books, see the links to the Iconic Books Project at left.)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Desecrating Scriptures

My case study, "Desecrating Scriptures," has been published online by the Luce Project in Religion, Media and International Relations here at Syracuse University.

The case study analyzes news media reports of scripture desecrations from the last decade through the lens of my three-dimensional theory of scriptures. The stories show how iconic books get used in inter- and intra-religious conflicts in Muslim, Sikh, Jewish and Christian cultures. Their comparison reveals many common features, but also a notable difference: the iconicity of scriptures tends to be more controversial among Christians. I trace this difference to the fact that, unlike Jewish, Muslim and Sikh scriptures,
there is no common language and its recognizable sounds and no common text and its recognizable script to distinguish the Christian scriptures from other books and texts. Though the external binding may take stereotypical forms, the look and sound of the contents vary from culture to culture and denomination to denomination. ... linguistic diversity reinforces among Christians the notion that the essential nature of the Bible lies in its semantic meaning alone.

The Iconic Books Blog provided much of the material for writing this case study. It was my first test of the usefulnes of this research blog, and I'm quite happy with the experience. By listing here stories of scripture desecration as we've noticed them over the last two years, I had a ready database to start from. The blog's label function and Blogger's search feature made it very easy to pull the material together. It really made doing this kind of comparative case study feasible. So the blog passed its first test as a research tool with flying colors!

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