Monday, August 19, 2019

Religion, Barnard College Women, War, and Evangelical Biblical Interpretation after 9.11 :: September 11 Terrorism Essays

Religion, Barnard College Women, War, and Evangelical Biblical Interpretation after 9.11 One of the most disturbing things about living in New York City since 9.11 has been the way in which the U.S. has been able to wage war on Afghanistan and now maybe Iraq, with very little public outcry. I’d like to suggest that behind the apathy, certain traditions of Christian biblical interpretation may be at work, traditions that feature feminine figures in very particular ways. These are interpretive traditions around salvation history, and apocalypse. Of course, one of the reasons that many people, particularly liberals, have not opposed the war is the discourse of saving Afghan women. There have been a number of insightful postcolonial critiques of this discourse and how it harms Afghan and Muslim women—for example, Lila Abu-Lughod’s talk given at Columbia University, â€Å"Responding to War,† which built on Gayatri Spivak’s critique that so often white men feel they have to save brown women from brown men. I would like to take these critiques as a premise, but move in a slightly different direction to consider where white men get their savior-complexes. I am interested in how interpretations of the bible shape political events and how the interpretive traditions of salvation history and apocalypse may be grounding this neo-colonial discourse of saving women. Here I’m not just talking about media rhetoric, but also about how people respond to that rhetoric and how certain ways of reading the bi ble position them to respond to that rhetoric. Given that evangelicalism and fundamentalism are alive and well in the U.S, I think its important to consider how common interpretations of the bible are part of the political calculus. This might be an obvious point, but I think that those of us on the left might bemoan the Christian Right without paying attention to precisely how biblical interpretations get incorporated mainstream discourse. However, my comments here are meant to be more suggestive than conclusive. The trope of Israel as a woman gets taken up in salvation history oriented interpretations of the Hebrew Bible in predictable ways. Israel is commonly read as woman who must alternately be punished and saved, and then ultimately led into dominion over other nations. For instance, I’ve documented some examples of these kinds of reading in my work on

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