This afternoon, I sat at my parent's kitchen table working on notes for an upcoming paper I'm writing on Salman Rushdie, Christianity, and the Magic Real (which also may end up being the paper's title). As I was reading through Rushdie's collection of essays, released in 1991, I found myself lost in my literary thoughts.
Rushdie's essay, "In God We Trust," paints religion as a dream; first as a creation of a reality that suits us better than the reality we experience (which tends towards Plato's Cave and the Philosopher King), and ends with a discussion of the dangers of religion. As a Christian, I find Rushdie's views to be incredibly interesting, frightening, and a product of the actions of fundamentalism in a postmodern world.
Context: Salman Rusdie, for those of you who have not paid substantial amounts of attention to literary world news, is a writer who was educated in England with ethnic roots in the Muslim world. His experiences with religion have shaped his writing most profoundly. Rushdie's book, 'Satanic Verses' was read by the Muslim world as a parody of Mohammad, and thus, in 1989, a fatwa (or death sentence) was issued by the Islamic world. Rushdie was forced to go into hiding, since Islamic fatwas are recognized by the greater Muslim community, and so he took refuge in England. For the next 8 years, the UN worked to end this death warrant, and in 1997, the fatwa was finally lifted.
But Rushdie still lives in danger. For those practising radical Islam, a fatwa is a lifetime decree, and so still hold this death warrant over his head.
A religion has done this. For Rushdie, his writings are a reflection of his experiences. And that makes them even more difficult to contend with. I adhere to the Christian faith, meaning I find my identity within the greater narrative that God has written. My history has been created, and I don't belong to the socio-political ideology of 'make my own history' that drives Western consumerism and cosmology. My religion is one that leans toward the mysticism of love and goodness that modernism rendered untrue.
I do believe that my meta-narrative has given me a distinct purpose. This, I'm beginning to realize, is where I feel most awakened and inspired. I find myself thinking back to moments in elementary and high school when I would write instead of producing math equations, or grappling with the writings of John Barth at age 17, while normal teenagers played basketball, or planned weekend parties. These were the moments when I felt a profound vitality in my soul. That vitality is what causes me to interact with the philosophical implications of writings, evaluate popular culture, and critique social movements like Invisible Children's Kony 2o12 (to cite something recent). I'm an academic. I'm a writer. It's a calling that has been placed in my soul by the God I serve.
My literary thoughts love conversing with the critics, writers, and thinkers of my time. I love being a part of the academic sphere studying postmodernism as we live it. Perhaps some way, I'll be able to be of some use. And above all things, may I strive to do it all in the name of God, no matter what dangers that may lead to.
Word of the Day: Concord
Quote of the Day: "When you're shopping on Madison Avenue, you don't want to skimp on the swank." Seinfeld