Religion & Other Curiosities
"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 […]
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 […]
Pentecostalism – Protestant Ethic or Cargo Cult?
On June 22, 2010, a crowd of some 35,000 Evangelical Christians gathered in a football stadium in Manaus, the Brazilian city located in the heart of the Amazonian rainforest. They met about two hours after Brazil beat Ivory Coast at the World Cup. But the purpose of the rally was only partly to celebrate this […]
May One Joke About Religion?
Religion is, almost by definition, a rejection of tragedy in favor of comedy. Tragedy occurs in the context of an unredeemed, perhaps unredeemable world. The clown is a figure of redemption.
Democracy and Judaism in Israel
Israel was established as both a democratic and a Jewish state. Both qualities continue to be real enough. But there have been increasing tensions between these two definitions of the state, and some (in Israel and outside it) have questioned whether there is not an inherent contradiction that cannot be resolved—Israel can be one or […]
Sex and Schism in the Anglican Communion
Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and symbolic (though in actuality rather powerless) leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, is by all accounts a very pleasant individual. He has been trying valiantly to keep within the sprawling Anglican fold, estimated to be between 70-80 million adherents worldwide, the progressives and traditionalists who have been in […]
Who are "We"?
A Chinese sage defined a wise person as one who sees things together which others see as apart. Writing a blog implies the presumption of at least a measure of wisdom. So here we go:In an earlier effusion of wisdom, in reference to conflicts between secularist elites and religious voters, I compared the Supreme Court […]
Who are the Belgians?
On June 27, 2010, Belgian police raided the offices of the Roman Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Brussels while a meeting of that organization was going on. The police was looking for evidence of cover-ups of crimes of child abuse by members of the clergy. While a search of the premises was undertaken, a group of […]
A Chinese sage wrote to an elderly scholar retired from official duties with two suggestions—to acquire a young concubine, or to learn how to paint dragons on red silk. I am an elderly scholar and I have now retired from most of my official duties. I have given serious thought to the two suggestions and […]