Saturday, June 20, 2009

Meander Where You May

Meander away....


  1. NY, this seems a perfect meander topic, although I know absolutely nothing about religion. This just struck me as an interesting point when I read it, given current events (and our reading about slavery):

    In his book on the Age of Revolution, 1789-1848, Hobsbawm has a chapter on religion. Two religions expanded during this period, Islam and sectarian Protestantism (which was fueled in part by aggressive missionary work).

    In the case of Islam, it moved eastwards into Indonesia and Northwestern China and westwards from the Sudan towards Senegal and from the shores of the Indian ocean inland, in a "silent, piecemeal and irreversible expansion unbacked by organized missionary endeavour or forcible conversion."

    "When traditional societies change something so fundamental as their religion, it is clear that they must be facing major new problems. The Moslem traders, who virtually monopolized the commerce of inner Africa with the outside world and multiplied with it, helped to bring Islam to the notice of new peoples. The slave-trade, which broke down communal life, made it attractive, for Islam is a powerful means of reintegrating social structures.... its sense of independence, militancy and superiority made it a useful counterweight to slavery. Moslem Negroes made bad slaves... The slavers learned to avoid imports from these areas...."

    Later he writes that the "ferment and expansion of Islam was such that in terms of purely religious history, we can perhaps best describe the period from 1789 to 1848 as that of a world Islamic revival."

  2. In the same paragraph about the expansion of Islam he brings in this for Bo:

    "In the United States the defeated Indian tribes began to develop religio-social prophetic movements of resistance to the whites, such as that which inspired the war of the largest recorded confederation of the Plains Indians under Tecumseh in the first decade of the century, and Handsome Lake's religion (1799), designed to preserve the Iroquois way of life against disruption by white American society. It is to the credit of Thomas Jefferson, a man of rare enlightenment, that he gave this prophet, who adopted some Christian and especially Quaker elements, his official blessing. However, the direct contact between an advanced capitalist civilization and animist peoples was still too rare to produce many of those prophetic and millenial movements which have become so typical of the twentieth century."

    This is what I love about reading Hobsbawn. Even if some of his back-to-back examples leave you scratching your head, he gives you a much broader perspective on events like religion - or the Civil War.

  3. Marti, add a coyote to my backyard list. He just ran through. I still can't quite believe it (although I've heard them at night).

  4. I see, thanks much for seeking that out and posting it, avrds. More Hobsbawm on the TBR list (she says wistfully as retirement seems to recede ever further...)

  5. It's a great series if you want the big picture, NY. And they aren't really long. I read the Age of Revolution and the Age of Capital, because those are the periods I"m interested in. I've also browsed through the Age of Extremes. It's definitely history in the grand scale.

    Marti, it was fun, but only because I knew the cat was inside. We've had foxes around here, too, but I've never seen one yet. And I really do live in town.

  6. But the fox just ran through the yard and left, right?

  7. I'm trying to download a 60-day trial of Microsoft Visio. Does anyone here use this? I may need to learn this for whenever I start working again.

  8. From what I heard, the fox was just walking down our street early in the morning. I live on the edge of an open space which leads to Forest Service land so hopefully it was walking home after a long night.

    Don't know Visio -- what is it? -- but I hope that doesn't mean you are another one of the unemployed. My work has also trickled down to next to nothing -- fortunately I have a big project in DC in July and blind faith that Obama knows what he's doing.