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Desecrating Scriptures, James W. Watts Jan 2009

Desecrating Scriptures, James W. Watts

Religion

Desecrations of books of scripture appear regularly in media coverage of religious and political conflicts. Twenty-first century news media have reported scripture desecrations in various Western, Middle Eastern, African, and South Asian countries. Though political tensions also arise from the desecration of sacred sites, objects, and persons, books of scripture have emerged as particularly potent objects of contestation. That is because, as a (very) old form of media themselves, scriptures encapsulate the religious experiences of many people who are used to handling the physical book with veneration. News of such a book’s desecration thus inverts a common religious experience ...