Culture & Criticism Since 2003
The Middle East is probably the most misunderstood region in the world. And the recent events that have transpired (9-11; the war in Iraq) have only widened the gap between it and other countries. However, this text (Continuum) is a major stepping-stone towards bridging that gulf. Religious Arts, written by independent lecturer/researcher Patricia Baker, is a wonderful study which illuminates many of the styles and motivations that fuel the art and people of Islam. Baker begins her study with a succinct but thorough overview of the history of the Islamic World, detailing its many fascinating aspects. From there, a thorough exploration of the interplay between this religious movement and its art takes place – demonstrating that the starkly brilliant visions of these people come steeped in a deep relationship with God. There is so much rich information here, and it is presented in an accessible way that will not intimidate the student unfamiliar with these subjects. Outstanding chapters include The Maker, The Law and Creativity (examining the complex structures of the Muslim belief system) and Visions of Paradise (analyzing the journey into death). In short, this is an outstanding text that sheds light on a most misunderstood and volatile area of our world.
Appropriate teaching text for any course that looks at the Middle East outside the concepts of war. Also would be a worthy choice for a supporting text for University-level Religions of The World courses. Recommended to libraries in the college and public sector as a general reference text.