Motherland Lost

Motherland Lost

The Egyptian and Coptic Quest for Modernity

Author: Samuel Tadros
ISBN: 978-0-8179-1644-2
Publication Date: 7/22/2013
Pages: 236

In Motherland Lost, Samuel Tadros provides a clear understanding of the Copts—the native Egyptian Christians—and their crisis of modernity in conjunction with the overall developments in Egypt as it faced its own struggles with modernity. He argues against the dominating narratives that have up to now shaped our understanding of the Coptic predicament--their eternal persecution, from the Roman and Byzantine emperors to the rule of Islam, and the National Unity discourse--asserting rather that it is due to the crisis of modernity.

Linking the Egyptian and Coptic stories, the book argues that the plight of Copts today is inseparable from the crisis of modernity and the answers developed to address that crisis by the Egyptian state and intellectuals, as well as by the Coptic Church and laypeople. The author asserts that the answers developed by Egyptian intellectuals and state modernizers to the challenge modernity poses revolved around the problem of Islam. The Copts, then, although affected, like their fellow Egyptians, by the challenge of modernity, were faced with a separate crisis: a specific challenge to their ancient church and the need for a new orientation and revival to be able to deal with modernity and its discontents. Tadros concludes that the prospects for Copts in Egypt appear bleak and are leading to a massive Coptic exodus from Egypt.

Samuel Tadros is a research fellow at the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom and a professorial lecturer at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. Before joining Hudson in 2011, Tadros was a senior partner at the Egyptian Union of Liberal Youth, an organization that aims to spread the ideas of classical liberalism in Egypt. His current research focuses on the rise of Islamist movements in Egypt and the implications for religious freedom and regional politics. Born and raised in Egypt, he received him MA in democracy and governance from Georgetown University and his BA in political science from the American University in Cairo. He has also studied at the Coptic Theological Seminary in Cairo.


REVIEWS

"Motherland Lost: The Egyptian and Coptic Quest for Modernity, is a scholarly yet riveting account... the author takes us on a grim tour through the modern history of Egypt, chronicling the rise and fall of its Coptic minority, the country's largest Christian community."
—Michael J. Totten, Wall Street Journal, For the complete review, click here.

"Tadros' book corrects both the mainstream journalistic conceit regarding Arab liberalism as well as the accepted scholarly narrative."
—Lee Smith, Tablet, For the complete review, click here.

"It is an excellent book, but one that is difficult to classify. It warrants multiple readings on account of its kaleidoscopic nature. It is not a history of the Copts, although it provides a precise and scholarly thumbnail of 2000 years of their unique history. It is not a work of political science, although any scholar of Egypt's recent turbulent history would benefit enormously from reading it. It is a work of intellectual history of Egypt's struggle with modernity, and although claiming to focus on the Copts, it in fact provides great many insights into the nature and origin of political Islamism. Its most powerful appeal is more universal than just the 'Coptic question', as it is a meditation on identity from a young scholar who remains in search of an ultimate destination, having made the arc from the political left to the right and yet retained a principled belief in liberalism."
Salama Moussa, For the complete review, click here.

"By no means does Tadros offer a solely political account. He pays due attention to the modern Coptic cultural revival and sketches the genuinely exciting spiritual rebirth of modern times, a phenomenon that clamors to be better known among Western Christians. Regrettably, though, most of his readers will be searching for clues to what looks like the early stages of a potentially catastrophic national and religious conflict."
—Philip Jenkins, Books & Culture, For a preview of this review, click here.


LINKS

Coptic Christianity Meets the Modern World, An interview with Samuel Tadros by Robert Joustra, Christianity Today

A Coptic Monument to Survival, Destroyed, Samuel Tadros reflects on the destruction of the Virgin Mary Church in Delga

The Dangerous Life of Christianity in Egypt, An interview with Samuel Tadros by Kathryn Lopez, National Review Online


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Samuel Tadros

Samuel Tadros is a contributor to the Hoover Institution's Herbert and Jane Dwight Working Group on Islamism and the International Order. He is also a research fellow at the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom and a professorial lecturer at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. Before joining Hudson in 2011, Tadros was a senior partner at the Egyptian Union of Liberal Youth, an organization that aims to spread the ideas of classical liberalism in Egypt.




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