MODERN HISTORY AND POLITICS-Artillery of Fire: American Missionaries and the Failed Conversion of the Middle East

By Sharkey, Heather J. | The Middle East Journal, Summer 2008 | Go to article overview

MODERN HISTORY AND POLITICS-Artillery of Fire: American Missionaries and the Failed Conversion of the Middle East


Sharkey, Heather J., The Middle East Journal


MODERN HISTORY AND POLITICS Artillery of Fire: American Missionaries and the Failed Conversion of the Middle East, by Ussama Makdisi. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2008. 262 pages. Illust. $35.

Reviewed by Heather J. Sharkey

Lucid and elegantly written, Ussama Makdisi's Artillery of Heaven accomplishes two big things. First, while examining 19thcentury American missionary encounters in the Arab Ottoman territories, it presents a model for a new kind of transnational history that sheds light on American engagement with the world. Second, and at a time when much of the Arab past has been "effectively demarcated as a forbidden no-man's land" because of fear of what "divisive narratives" of the past may dredge up (p. 219), it scrutinizes the raw history of the "multireligious world" in the Ottoman region that is now Lebanon.

The tragic experiences of As'ad Shidyaq (1798-1830) tie the book together. The first convert from Maronite Catholicism to evangelical Protestantism in Mount Lebanon, As'ad Shidyaq died in isolation, imprisoned and tortured by Maronite ecclesiastical authorities who feared that his rejection of church tradition (and by implication, of local power hierarchies) threatened the social order. His death testified to the inability of Maronite authorities to tolerate dissent. But his death also illuminated the ignorance of American missionaries, who converted him without having the power to protect him, and who "ignore[d] some of the most basic stipulations of religious discretion" (p. 88) as they meandered through the region. In some ways As'ad Shidyaq's life anticipated "a more modern Ottoman age that had not yet dawned," an age calling for "a new kind of freedom of conscience" as well as for a new ability to "dissent publicly [and] to privilege individual experience over community or rank" (p. 137).

Makdisi argues that American missionary overtures in Mount Lebanon after 1822 evolved out of very particular American experiences and attitudes that were built on encounters with . and often displacements and massacres of . Native Americans. He argues, too, that missionary efforts in Mount Lebanon constituted "a foundational encounter between Americans and Arabs" that was built on American misunderstandings of Ottoman hierarchies, in which social class and pedigree were often more important, in practice, than religious affiliation. Convinced that Ottoman and Islamic societies were violent, "segregated by religion and race, and unable to modernize of [their] own accord" (p. 170), American missionaries persisted in maintaining that the United States "constituted an unproblematic land of liberty" (p. 178). In reality, for the American evangelicals in Mount Lebanon, "The possibility of changing the world, a theme so evident in postrevolutionary American mission work, emanated from an experience of having imperfectly changed America" (p.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

MODERN HISTORY AND POLITICS-Artillery of Fire: American Missionaries and the Failed Conversion of the Middle East
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.