The Future or Death of Religion: an Interfaith Discussion

An Interfaith Discussion, The Future or Death of Religion

February 25, 1pm PST.Mark your calendars.I will be speaking with three amazing representatives of different religions, hosted by Mark W. Gura, on the topic of the future of religion. Here is the official blurb:An Interfaith Discussion About The Future Or Death Of Religion Hosted By Mark W. Gura With the turn of the new year and recent depictions of religion in the media, many are asking where religion is heading in 2014. The Rise of the Nones, the recent Pew Study on Religious … [Read more...]

Announcing the Death of the International 969 Movement

969_twitter_last tweet

As of now:The 969movement website is down. The 969movement twitter account hasn't been updated since Oct 29. The "inspirational" Islamophobic video, apparently from an Australian 969movement supporter (linked here) is down, as are others by the same individual.Although it may simply be dormant at the moment, it seems that the international 969 Movement (as opposed to the Burmese 969 Movement which inspired it) is no more.In a post written in August, I discussed my interactions wi … [Read more...]

The Onion satirizes Buddhism: “Extremist Cell Vows to Unleash Tranquility On West”

Onion - buddhism

You can read the full story for yourself at The Onion.But after settling in for what I thought would be a light-hearted parody on Buddhism's ever-so-peaceful image in the West, I began to feel a bit uneasy. The article is clever enough (although the mish-mash of Buddhist traditions leaves much to be desired) but the parody instead is on the Western image of Islamic terrorism (principally that of al-Qaeda).It may just be that I recently finished a grueling up-and-down week of teaching … [Read more...]

We were fighting in Egypt… Leonard Cohen and hope for the future

morgan freeman on homophobia

In 1985, Leonard Cohen sang his newly-written song, "The Night Comes On," for an audience in Warsaw, Poland, then still behind the Iron Curtain slowly crumbling amidst the last death throes of soviet socialism. It came on my radio today and the lyrics, highlighted below, caught my ear. Given recent events in Egypt (Death toll in Egypt crackdown hits 525) it felt timely that this song would play. I remember watching the first days of the 'Arab Spring' from India and then various hotel lobbies in B … [Read more...]

Ethnicity, Ideologies, and the unraveling of modern Burma

pagan burma

This Thursday marks the 25th anniversary of the 8/8/88 uprising in Burma, which will hopefully spur some much needed discussion about the situation in the country (officially renamed Myanmar by the military junta in 1989, but still called Burma by those who deny the legitimacy of that government).Three articles have already popped up in the last few days that deserve mention, if only for the varying perspectives in them - all dealing specifically with recent Buddhist-Muslim violence. The … [Read more...]

How Reza Aslan made a book about religion a best-seller and what we can learn from it


As an educator in religious studies I was intrigued by Reza Aslan's book Zealot: the Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth when I first heard about it 2 or 3 weeks ago. I listened to a couple interviews (NPR and HuffPo) and thought, "this is interesting enough, but I don't know if a) this is really groundbreaking work, or b) this is sound scholarship."So I asked some scholars closer to the field and received at best lukewarm responses. I'm not an expert, I haven't read the book, and this is a … [Read more...]

My second Ramadan fast


For a quick recap: I am taking part in The Fasting Project, created by Dilshad D. Ali of MuslimiaNextDoor and supported by a host of other Muslim Bloggers here at Patheos (I'm paired up with the wonderful Hind Makki who writes at Hindtrospectives). Check out their blogs - and around the Muslim channel - to learn more about Islam, Ramadan, fasting, and more.This week I undertook my second day of fasting for Ramadan, meaning no food or water from  the first light of dawn (in my case 3:28am; y … [Read more...]

Burma, Imperialism, and the Buddhist-Muslim violence

Shan Buddhist Monks in Burma

The Irrawaddy Newspaper reports today that fighting has resumed in northern Shan State between government troops and ethnic militias. This fighting, and outbreaks of similar violence throughout the country should underscore the fractious nature of Burma today and the fragility of its movement toward democracy. The Shan are devout Buddhists* and currently spread mostly through northern Thailand and in the Shan State of Burma. The Bamar, the numerically largest ethnic group in Burma, are also … [Read more...]