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Peter Berger
Religion & Other Curiosities
January 30, 2013

Hallelujah, I’m a Bum!

As readers of my blog have discovered (perhaps with a measure of irritation) my favorite cognitive style is free association. The following post is an exercise in putting together bits and pieces—in the event: flea markets, cowboys, hobos and the root insight of anarchism. This exercise was triggered by the issue of The Christian Century […]

December 12, 2012

The First Amendment: An Icon Sometimes Erected in Curious Places

The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States is an icon of religious freedom, and rightly so. It contains a double prohibition: no establishment of religion and no hindrance to the free exercise of religion. The two clauses often grind against each other. Adopted by Congress in 1791, the Amendment still comes up […]

November 14, 2012

Are Presbyterians anti-Semitic?

As was widely reported in both religious and secular media, on October 5, 2012, a letter highly critical of Israel was sent to Congress by leaders of most of the major mainline Protestant denominations and the National Council of Churches (which is dominated by them). The denominations include the biggies—the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United […]

September 26, 2012

An Instruction Manual for the Radical Transformation of Identity

In the October 2012 issue of First Things there is an article by Stanton Jones and Mark Yarhouse, respectively on the faculties of Wheaton College and Regent University (two banner institutions in the vanguard of the Evangelical intellectual resurgence). The article deals with a curious event in the world of “reparative therapy”, which seeks to […]

May 9, 2012

If it’s December, I’m Presbyterian

On April 13, 2012 Religion News Service carried a story about Andrew Bowen, a 29-year old resident of Lumberton, North Carolina. Throughout the year 2011 he practiced a different religion each month—Hindu in January, Baha’i in February, Zoroastrian in March, and so on. Bowen had what he called a teenage experience of “Christian fundamentalism”. Married […]

May 2, 2012

Capital Punishment and the Deficit

Reading the New York Times at breakfast is more than a habit. It is a sort of addiction. One experiences withdrawal symptoms in places where the paper is not available (especially when the only alternative is USA Today). At least in this country, the Times has no serious rival for good international news coverage, by […]

January 25, 2012

Stubborn Amish and Stubborn Atheists

One of my earliest memories is of an incident in the kindergarten of my childhood in Vienna. I must have been at most five years old. I was supposed to speak a line in a play about which I have no memory. All I remember is that I was wearing a top hat and was […]

November 2, 2011


We are awash in movements. The Arab Spring is one long series of movements, like a row of candles, each one igniting the next one in the row—Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, then back to Benghazi, and so on across the Middle East. Even Israel has caught a spark, as protesters camped out on Dizengoff Boulevard in […]

October 26, 2011

Christians and the Death Penalty

The cross has been the foremost symbol of Christianity for so long that we easily forget that it was an instrument of execution. Subjects of the Roman Empire at the time could hardly forget this, and the spectacle of a religion using this symbol must have been shocking indeed, if not downright obscene. To achieve […]

August 10, 2011

Veils and Beards

Leila Ahmed, who teaches at the Harvard Divinity School, is the author of a recently published book, A Quiet Revolution: The Veil’s Resurgence, from the Middle East to America. She tells a very interesting story. Ahmed originally comes from a middle-class background in Egypt. In her early years no women in her circle were veiled, […]

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