Posted by | December 30, 2010 14:52 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

In the Sunday New York Times Book Review, Alan Wolfe reviews a new book by Olivier Roy, Holy Ignorance.  The part I found the most interesting:

Over the past few years, a number of theories have been offered about the rise of fundamentalism. Roy proposes the most original — and the most persuasive. Fundamentalism, in his view, is a symptom of, rather than a reaction against, the increasing secularization of society. Whether it takes the form of the Christian right in the United States or Salafist purity in the Muslim world, fundamentalism is not about restoring a more authentic and deeply spiritual religious experience. It is instead a manifestation of holy ignorance, Roy’s biting term meant to characterize the worldview of those who, having lost both their theology and their roots, subscribe to ideas as incoherent as they are ultimately futile.

The analogy between American Fundamentalism and Islamic Fundamentalism has been made many times before (notably in this book).  What I found even more compelling is that both strains of fundamentalism are part of the increasing secularization of the world.  Roy seems to be concerned about secularization (if the review correctly captures the book) as not only does it lead to the ignorant fundamentalists but it also leads to a decline in culture.  I’m not sure I agree, but the idea is provocative enough to make me want to read the book.

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Copyright 2010 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.