The “Da Vinci Code” sapping some Christians’ faith in orthodoxy

Perhaps Ahmed Deedat needs to start writing novels.Reading "Da Vinci Code" does alter beliefs: survey People are now twice as likely to believe Jesus Christ fathered children after reading the Dan Brown blockbuster and four times as likely to think the conservative Catholic group Opus Dei is a murderous sect.Were I a Christian, the unkindest cut of all would definitely be the casting of Tom Hanks as the face of heresy.  He's just too slight of talent and lacking in gravitas to be heading … [Read more...]

GK Chesterton on rationality

A bon mot from G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy (which I've been listening to, since it's conveniently available in MP3 format) concerning scriptural interpretation and rationalism:"Everywhere we see that men do not go mad by dreaming.  Critics are much madder than poets.  [...]  Though Saint John the Evangelist saw many strange monsters in his vision, he saw no creature so wild as one of his own commentators." Many Muslims would take this observation as a witty vindication … [Read more...]

Hurricane Katrina and religion in America (article by me)

I have an article in the current issue of Islamica Magazine, "Comprehending Catastrophe", on the Hurricane Katrina tragedy and what it says about American political and religious life.Don't let my presence in its pages fool you.  This magazine has some heavy hitters.  Please support it. … [Read more...]

NYT on children, sex & the media

Speaking of the saturation of American pop culture with sex that I lamented in a recent post, Faisal  was nice enough to alert me to a particularly germane piece in the New York Times, "Children, Media and Sex: A Big Book of Blank Pages - New York Times".  ----------------------------------------- January 31, 2006 Personal Health Children, Media and Sex: A Big Book of Blank PagesBy JANE E. BRODYIn last summer's prize-winning R-rated film "Me and You and Everyone We … [Read more...]

God talking to Bush Junior

Alright, I know this is old news, but I thought I'd comment on discussions in the media a while back about how George W Bush appears to have confided in Palestinian leaders in June 2003 that'I'm driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, "George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan." And I did, and then God would tell me, "George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq …"As happy as I am to criticize this sorry excuse for a leader--and, boy, how the mighty (and c … [Read more...]

Uneven “Kingdom of Heaven”

Finally rented "Kingdom of Heaven". It was a gorgeous, lovingly filmed pageant, with great production values, stirring battle scenes, convincing acting and exotic backdrops. Unfortunately, the plot was pretty thin and at times dull.  Also, as much as I like Orlando Bloom, his boyish persona just didn't measure up in this role, especially opposite the august Ghassan Massoud (Saladin) or Marton Csockas (who plays his rival and the story's villain).  The Independent   … [Read more...]

Cultural identity: the new religion

After my father's conversion to Islam in the late 1950s, my grandmother, a devout Catholic, never questioned his right to make that choice.  Granted, she worried till the her final days for his immortal soul, but she never viewed him as less American or a part of the family for leaving the Church.  I think more than a mother's love was at work there--I think it was the result of an intuitive understanding of religious faith and the spiritual and emotion imperative to follow one's … [Read more...]

Must Sufis be Muslims?

In the West, there are many who identify themselves as Sufi but not Muslim. Kabir Helminski questions whether Sufism can be disconnected from the Islamic faith and tradition in which it developed over the centuries in  "What is Truly Universal Spirituality". … [Read more...]