Source: The Washington Post
The first assignment I give the graduate students in my class at Chicago Theological Seminary is Samuel Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations. I figure it is only fair for them to do a thorough reading of perhaps the most prevalent theory of our times.
And then I spend the rest of the semester trying to dig out of that hole.
It’s not that my students – most of them bright, progressive, hopeful people of faith – want to believe that there is a clash of civilizations. It is that Huntington has created a framework that facts seem to fit in. And as our media continues to provide a microphone and a stage for religious totalitarians, the Huntington thesis that civilizations are inherently at odds with each other acquires the force of inevitability, which makes it the single most dangerous idea of our time.
So I am continually looking for resources that are as wide-ranging as Huntington’s book - that pull together history, politics, religious scholarship and personal narrative into a coherent framework which can counter the force of inevitability with the power of possibility.
I have found one such resource in Akbar Ahmed’s important new book, Journey Into Islam.