English

I don't understand E.L. Doctorow's essay "Why We Are Infidels". Please help me understand it, because I have to compare and contrast this essay with Salman Rushdie's "Imagine There's No Heaven." Thanks for the help!

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20030526/doctorow

Here it is, in my opinion:

<<The term, however, may be justly applied to all of us, including the most pious and monogamous among us, because of a major sin committed over 200 years ago, when religion and the American state were rent asunder and all worship was consigned to private life. It was Jefferson who said, "Our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry." And while it is precisely because of this principle of religious freedom that we enjoy such a continual uproar of praying and singing and studying and fasting and confessing and atoning and praising and preaching and dancing and dunking and vowing and quaking and shaking and abstaining and ordaining, a paradox arises from this expression of our religious democracy: If you have extracted the basic ethics of religious invention and found the mechanism for installing them in the statutes of the secular civil order, as we have with our Constitution and our Bill of Rights, but have consigned all the doctrine and rite and ritual, all the symbols and traditional practices to the precincts of private life, you are saying there is no one proven path to salvation, there are only traditions. If you relegate the old stories to the personal choices of private worship, you admit the ineffable is ineffable, and in terms of a possible theological triumphalism, everything is up for grabs.>>

Is this the meaning you took from the essay?

that's directly from the text

I read "Why We Are Infidels" several times, but I still don't understand it.

The link Bob posted didn't have the whole article on it. But the first paragraph probably gives us the best example of what the whole thing means:

"But I think, given the variety of religious practices in our country, including that of Islam, that the term infidel as it has lately been applied to us probably does not refer to any particular religion we may as a nation subscribe to but to the fact that we subscribe, within our population of 290 million, to all of them."

He's saying the reason some might find America as a nation of Infidels is because we aren't a nation of one religion. We're a nation of many and, as he points out in what little I read, we are a nation that even was arrogant enough to invent some of our own.

If what was said here does not clear it up, what I would do is read through it and the moment you come to something you don't understand, ask about that particular line/phrase/paragraph. It may help you understand the rest of it. I've noticed this in reading. If I don't understand one point, it's almost like my mind is subconsciously thinking about what that meant even as I read on and I don't understand anything else.

Once I go back and clear up what that one part means, I can read and understand it more easily.

Matt

That's strange. If you google "Why We Are Infidels" and click on the same link, it gives you the whole paper.

  1. 👍 0
  2. 👎 0
  3. 👁 431

Respond to this Question

First Name

Your Response

Similar Questions

  1. English

    Hey, i am not doing good in my English 102 class, my professor says i address my writing prompt in the wrong direction. So i was hoping if someone can help break down my writing prompt, and give me a direction to write my essay.

    asked by Bakr on March 15, 2010
  2. language arts

    i so i have to right an essay but i don't really understand hoe can someone please right an compare and contrast essay on the finish of patsy barns and Raymond's run to help me understand how to do it and then i can re-wright my

    asked by anna on November 12, 2018
  3. Language arts

    anyways, the question I need help with is, Harriet Tubman risked her life to lead others to freedom. Do you think that the essay "Harriet Tubman" explains why Tubman took such risks? In an essay, discuss whether you understand her

    asked by the grinch on December 28, 2018
  4. 10 grade English

    Write an essay comparing Baldwin's account of the Titanic with Rosenthal's account of his visit to Auschwitz. In your paragraph, explain how the tone and purpose of each essay is different. Support your argument with at least one

    asked by Randell on November 7, 2010
  5. about Engineering

    Electronic and Communication Engineering is mainly Mathematical analysis, implemented in practical circuits. You have to understand higher forms of math, and think in those terms. You have to understand the imperfect models used

    asked by bobpursley on May 24, 2007
  6. World History

    What can we learn about the limited freedoms during the McCarthy era? I need to write 5 - 10 sentences. I don't understand the topic very well so could you help me understand? Is there anything that I can read that will help me

    asked by Anon on June 6, 2015
  7. Chem Urgency

    Can you explain what the pseudo-gas configuration is? I have the definition but I still don't understand. I have the example.. Sn([Kr] 5s24d105p2) Sn4+ ([Kr]4d10)+4e- I understand the first part but I don't understand the second.

    asked by Sami on November 24, 2007
  8. English

    I need help with my essay for the book things fall apart The prompt is: what happens when different cultures collide. I don't know how to actually do an essay I need an attention grabber, connector, thesis so basically a ACT also

    asked by Brittany on March 18, 2015
  9. History

    Is this better? If you do not know the impact of the Industrial revolution, you will not understand anything in this essay. By the end of the essay you will understand that life was different before the Revolution and after. You

    asked by Ruth on March 3, 2010
  10. Literature

    i have to write an evaluative essay on a work of literature. i have chosen Hiroshima; The Noiseless Flash. in this essay i will write my own statement about the value of a work of literature ( ? ) and then provide reasons why your

    asked by Bella on February 5, 2009

More Similar Questions