By Jacques D. Berlinerblau
Today marks the launch of Faith Complex–a show about the collision of religion, politics and art. Faith Complex is a joint production of Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs and Program for Jewish Civilization. We are delighted to be teaming up again with our old ale-house cronies at the Washington Post “On Faith” page.
Today we invite you to view Part I of our interview with Asra Nomani, entitled “A Bad Girl of Islam.” This is the prelude to Part II, “Take Back Your Mosque!,” which airs this Friday.
Over the next few weeks you will learn a lot about our intellectual turn-ons. You know, pretty standard stuff: heresy, groovy theologians, literature, foreign policy, music, Disestablishment, Beltway intrigue, Wars of Ideas, long walks in the rain, and antiquing for mid-century modern furniture with that Special Someone.
We are just getting started and trying to better understand that emerging genre known as Short Interview Videos Geared To Web Audiences. There is a lot we don’t yet understand about the idiom (For example: how many people a year commit suicide in post-production studios?). But at least we are amusing ourselves as we figure it all out.
Much of the fun is generated by our guests. Ms. Nomani is the central protagonist in the forthcoming documentary, “The Mosque in Morgantown,” which will be shown on PBS, June 15th. It’s a fascinating, sober and visually compelling portrait of an American-Muslim community grappling (rather earnestly, I would say) with its own burgeoning pluralism.
In person, Ms. Nomani is every bit as intelligent, intense and witty as she is on film. Having spent the first half of my scholarly career writing about heretics, let me assure you that she is the real deal!
Two things about our interview are especially intriguing. The first is her discussion of a sudden ideological and theological shift that occurred in American-Muslim communities in the 1970s. The second concerns an exchange we had about the need for denominationalism in contemporary Islam (see Part Two).
Next week’s episode of Faith Complex features Mr. David Friedman of the Anti-Defamation League who will discuss the vexing phenomenon of Cyber Anti-Semitism. After that, we host Professor Abdullahi an-Naim, author of Islam and the Secular State–a book so visionary that I promise to voluntary revoke my own tenure if it does not set the scholarly agenda about Sharia law for years to come.
So there we go. All of us at Faith Complex, including my co-producer Dr. Tom Banchoff and our crack team of student research assistants, hope these short segments are elucidating and enjoyable. Now please go ahead, click and get complex.
Watch Part I of my interview with Asra Nomani.
Watch Part II of my interview with Asra Nomani.
Jacques Berlinerblau is associate Professor and Director of the Program for Jewish Civilization at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He is the author of several books including, “Thumpin’ It: The Use and Abuse of the Bible in Today’s Presidential Politics” (Westminster John Knox).
By Jacques D. Berlinerblau |
May 20, 2009; 9:19 AM ET
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