Susan Jacoby is a writer and author whose works have focused on atheism, secularism, American history and public discourse. She is the author of thirteen books, and spent much of her career as a reporter for various publications including The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The American Prospect, Mother Jones, The Nation, Glamour, and the AARP Bulletin and AARP Magazine. Susan Jacoby is a member of the honorary boards of the Freedom from Religion Foundation and the Center for Inquiry, a secular think tank.
Susan Jacoby joins Atheists Talk radio on Sunday to discuss her newest book, Strange Gods: A Secular History of Conversion.
Focusing on the long, tense convergence of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—each claiming possession of absolute truth—Jacoby examines conversions within a social and economic framework that includes theocratic coercion (unto torture and death) and the more friendly persuasion of political advantage, economic opportunism, and interreligious marriage. Moving through time, continents, and cultures—the triumph of Christianity over paganism in late antiquity, the Spanish Inquisition, John Calvin’s dour theocracy, Southern plantations where African slaves had to accept their masters’ religion—the narrative is punctuated by portraits of individual converts embodying the sacred and profane.
Finally, Jacoby offers a powerful case for religious choice as a product of the secular Enlightenment. In a forthright and unsettling conclusion linking the present with the most violent parts of the West’s religious past, she reminds us that in the absence of Enlightenment values, radical Islamists are persecuting Christians, many other Muslims, and atheists in ways that recall the worst of the Middle Ages.
Tune in this Sunday for our discussion with Susan Jacoby!
- Strange Gods: A Secular History of Conversion - Amazon
- The website of Susan Jacoby
- NPR Interview with Susan Jacoby about Strange Gods
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