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In the US, capitalism and religion, or religiosity, are almost indivisible. The churches that thrive are those with a business model, while the corporate sector exudes its own plastic spirituality — positively cult-like in the case of Apple. One consequence of this fusion is that the globalisation of American culture carries with it American ways of "doing religion". The evangelical Christianity of Brazil and Nigeria is heavily Americanised (and much more successful than neocolonial experiments in liberation theology or "inculturation"). But the Americanisation of religion extends beyond the Christian world. Across the Middle East and Asia, we learn, "a younger generation of religious innovators are looking to America not just for signs of the devil's work but also for models of how to adapt a traditional religious message to modern audiences". In Bangalore, a Hindu "megatemple" creates the sounds and smells of eternal India. Yet it was founded by software titans as recently as 1997. Islam, too, has its "pastorpreneurs", who dress in blazers and whip up a mainly female audience with wireless mikes, a backing quartet and dry ice. But, like evangelical preachers, the trappings of showbusiness conceal a conservative message: these new Muslim preachers want women to wear the veil and favour sharia. Admittedly, this exuberant style of Islam has not spread to the Arab world. But then, as Micklethwait and Wooldridge remind us, only 20 per cent of Muslims worldwide are Arabs.

God is Back does not suggest that Islam is smoothly embarking on the road to modernisation. On the contrary, the religion's concept of equality — equal submission to Allah — is radically unsuited to a dynamic religious marketplace, just as modern Christianity's emphasis on the equal liberty of believers under God is suited to it. The revival of traditional Islam in the Middle East, Africa and south-east Asia is a ghastly omen, creating the way for unimaginable social collapse in countries whose rulers' reaction to modernity is to try to blow it up. Micklethwait and Wooldridge rightly conclude that neocon prophecies of "Eurabia" are based on dodgy forecasts. They also suggest that conflict between Muslims may ultimately prove more disastrous than terrorist threats against the West, which is why the US government's continuing ignorance of Islam is so alarming. But we are left with the strong impression that God's "return" to developing societies will ensure that they never become developed.

The book avoids broad-brush conclusions. Partly, I suspect, this is a function of its dual authorship: there's a definite sense of cut and paste about some chapters, and one of the pair (I don't know which) is a much better writer than the other. But there is no shame in acknowledging a degree of confusion, because religion morphs faster than secular ideology and we have no idea where we will be in ten years' time. There's a strong case to be made, for example, that the commodification of American spirituality, its heavy reliance on the techniques of the entertainment industry, is actually leading religion out of the public square and into the realm of fashion. 

Yes, God is back, but then again, so are flared jeans. 

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August 9th, 2009
10:08 AM
The aHadith expand upon and explain the verses of the Koran, as I'm sure 'Anonymous' knows: Koran 3:10 "You (the Muslims) are the noblest community ever raised up for mankind" Sahih Bukhari, Vol 6, Bk 60, No 80: 'Narrated Abu Huraira, "The verse, 'You (the Muslims) are the best of people ever raised up for mankind', means, the best of peoples for the people, as you bring them with chains on their necks, till they embrace Islam." Does the verse: "Britons never, never, shall be slaves" still resound in England?

August 1st, 2009
9:08 AM
Islam, that may easily conquer Europe, Britain and the entire West, without ever having to fire a shot. And that has been prophesied centuries ago when Europe was in the Dark Ages, and the civilisation of Islam flourished in the East. They aim to extinguish God's light with their utterances: but God has willed to spread His light in all its fullness, however hateful this may be to all who deny the truth He it is who has sent forth His Apostle with [the task of] spreading guidance and the religion of truth, to the end that He make it prevail over all [false] religion, however hateful this may be to those who ascribe divinity to aught but God. The Holy Qur'an 61:8-61:9 I understand that prophecies don't matter to most in the modern secular West, however,Islam isn't just another religion like Christianity.Church has treated it throughout history as the enemy of Christ.

June 30th, 2009
5:06 PM
"neocon prophecies of 'Eurabia' are based on dodgy forecasts". Really??? As in the news published just yesterday that, unbeknown to the British people, at least 85 Sharia courts are in existence in Britain, carrying out Sharia law which, in every respect, is antithetical to Western law, Christian values and modern concepts of justice and humanity? Bat Ye'or's EURABIA, to which I assume the reviewer refers, was a well-documented book of the agreements, records and decisions taken, entirely without recourse to public opinion, by unelected, undemocratic bodies to so alter the political, religious, racial, legal and cultural makeup of the European Continent, as to amount to genocide. Why else would President Sarkozy of France have said, only recently, that "the Islamisation of France is inevitable"? We can withstand worthless politicians, irreligious clergy, ignorant academia, but writers who fail to confront the truth, deliver the facts or write the unpalatable, are the enablers of a political ideology, Islam, that may easily conquer Europe, Britain and the entire West, without ever having to fire a shot.

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