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Peter Berger
Religion & Other Curiosities
August 31, 2010

Poland Between Rome and Brussels

During much of its modern history Poland was a ball of contention between three imperial centers: Moscow, Vienna and Berlin.  Vienna has long lost any imperial aspirations, Moscow would like to assert them again, and Berlin tries hard to hide them if it has any.  It turns out, though, that Poland is experiencing an internal contention […]

August 27, 2010

Is "Proselytizing" a Bad Word?

In its July 2010 issue, Christianity Today, the masthead publication of Evangelical Protestantism, reported the merger of two Evangelical organizations engaged in missionary work in the Muslim world: Pioneers USA and Arab World Ministries.  These have a combined total of 2,300 missionaries.  The report does not make clear how many of these are actually trying to […]

August 23, 2010

American National Interest and the Stoning of Women

On August 17, 2010 The New York Times carried on its first page a story about the stoning for adultery of a couple in a Taliban-controlled area of Afghanistan. (The Times deserves credit—the story hardly supports the anti-war position of the newspaper). The man (Khayyam, aged 25) was married, the woman (Siddiqa, aged 19) was […]

August 20, 2010

Evangelicals: Sentenced to Lower Case

I suppose that producing a blog makes little sense unless it provides an opportunity to vent personal complaints about the universe and peeves concerning the behavior of people. My list of complaints about the universe gets longer every morning after perusal of The New York Times. I also have a number of very idiosyncratic peeves […]

August 17, 2010

Counting Christians in China

We know that Christianity has been growing remarkably in recent decades—in China there is talk of “Christianity fever”. We don’t know just how many Christians there are in China at present. The reason for this is simple. Christian churches in China come in two groups: those that are registered and officially recognized by the government, […]

August 13, 2010

The Return of the Village Atheist

Over the last few years there was published a flurry of books marketed and discussed under the heading of “The New Atheism”.  The best-known authors are Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens.  While differing in emphasis and style, their books have in common an aggressive, indeed vituperative hostility to religion in all its forms (though […]

August 10, 2010

Veiled Women and Naked Monks

On July 13 the lower house of the French parliament banned all forms of headgear that hide the face, with the rationale that such garments are “contrary to the values of the French Republic”. One politician put it more poetically:  “The Republic has an open face”.  It was probably not an accident that this law […]

August 4, 2010

"A Sad Breeze through the Olive Trees"

On July 28 the regional legislature of Catalonia passed a law banning bullfights. The official rationale was that bullfights involve cruelty to animals. This is undoubtedly true (though I, for one, am not sure that killing in an abattoir is necessarily less cruel). It is widely assumed that there is a more relevant political rationale—to […]

August 3, 2010

Wisdom from the East

The prevailing view of the cultural aspect of globalization is that of a massive process of Westernization. It is producing a synthetic international culture. On the popular level it is sometimes called “McWorld” (a term felicitously coined by Benjamin Barber), sometimes “airport culture”. Here the world dances to American music, eats American fast food, affirms […]

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