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Peter Berger
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Religion & Other Curiosities
September 30, 2010

Turkish Generals and American Judges

On September 12, 58% of voters in a referendum approved changes in the constitution of Turkey which significantly reduced the power of the military—the staunchest supporter of the secularism which had from the beginning characterized the republic established  by Kemal Ataturk in 1923.  The outcome of the referendum is another victory for the AKP, the […]

September 27, 2010

Three Cheers for Kansas

In 2004 Thomas Frank, a liberal journalist and writer, published a book entitled What’s the Matter with Kansas? He was trying to explain why some people, notably in Kansas, voted Republican in obvious defiance of reason and morality. In this exercise, of course, he reflected the worldview of a cultural elite confident of its superior […]

September 24, 2010

How to Keep a Closed Community Closed

On September 3 The New York Times carried a story about a twenty-six-year old man being charged in Curryville, Missouri, with two sexual assaults on under-age girls and suspected of several more over a period of ten years. I am not clear why the Times found this event newsworthy. Because it did not involve a […]

September 21, 2010

Do Dogs Go To Heaven?

First Things is a journal published by the Institute on Religion and Public Life in New York, founded by the late Catholic theologian Richard John Neuhaus and now edited by Joseph Bottum. At the end of every issue there is a section headed “While we’re at it”, containing various tidbits, some quite amusing, from the […]

September 17, 2010

A Postscript on Democracy and Ethnic Culture

After finishing the last post on Islamophobia in Europe an unexpected association occurred to me—I thought of an earlier post in which I discussed problems with democracy in Israel. In both cases there is a tension between democratic principles and the desire to preserve an ethnic culture. Of course there are significant differences between the […]

September 14, 2010

Islamophobia

If there is such a thing as Islamophobia, this summer would seem to be the season for it. In the United States the plan to build a mosque near Ground Zero under the auspices of what is the most tolerant and peaceful version of Islam, has been escalated into widespread anti-Muslim hysteria by a few […]

September 10, 2010

Dancing with the Gods

As students of mine soon discover (some admiringly, some with irritation), my favorite mode of thinking is free association. A few days ago a news item reminded me of one of the more fascinating individuals I met very early in my career, an individual who challenged the approach in the social sciences in which I […]

September 7, 2010

The Buddha and the Gallows

On August 28, 2010, The New York Times had a story about a tour for journalists of the major execution chamber in Tokyo. The tour was initiated by Keiko Chiba, the minister of justice, who is personally opposed to the death penalty. This opposition was apparently intensified last July when, as part of her official […]

September 3, 2010

Christians, Same-Sex Marriage and Slavery

The Puritan heritage still casts its long shadow over American culture, even if very few Protestants today would identify with Puritan theology in its original form. Puritanism survives in its moral rigidity, its legalism, and its exaggerated notions about the historic mission of the United States. At least among American Protestants, it also survives in […]

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