Religion in The Olympics… and The Olympics as Religion

Surveying the complicated history of Christians, Muslims, and Jews in the modern Olympics, whose founder meant them to represent “humanity’s superior religion.” [Read more…]

Fertility, Faith and Islam

I have been posting about declining fertility rates around the world, specifically about their impact on religiosity and secularization. Beyond that, those rates also serve as excellent indicators of trends in gender roles and relationships, and a wide range of social and cultural themes. Tell me a country’s total fertility rate (TFR) and I will [Read More…]

Fertility and Faith

I have written a good deal about the relationship between demographics and religious loyalties, and this theme has critical implications for the future development of all the world’s faiths. This topic will probably be the theme of my next book, so let me take the opportunity offered by the blog format to lay out some [Read More…]

Two Sides of One Coin? Mapping Buddhist and Christian Decline

Although it’s a world religion, in a sense it is multiply cut off from its roots. While its key early figures used one language, its scriptures are translations of those early words. And although it was once very strong in the land of its birth, it subsequently became much more numerous in lands far afield, [Read More…]

This Orient Isle

Back in February, I posted about the tight alliance that bound (Protestant) Elizabethan England with Muslim Morocco, and what that suggested about the limitations of religious or confessional politics in that era. A very good book on that theme is Jerry Brotton, This Orient Isle: Elizabethan England and the Islamic World (London: Allen Lane, 2016), and [Read More…]

The Enoch Seminar

One of the most exciting areas today in Biblical scholarship (broadly defined) is the Enoch Seminar. Founded in 2001, it originally focused on the literature associated with the patriarch Enoch, but has since branched out massively, almost to become a field in its own right. The changing limits of that field are fascinating, both for [Read More…]

The Hadith and the Jews

I have been discussing the Islamic Hadith, and the apocalyptic traditions found in the section on “Turmoil and Portents” in the collection Sahih Muslim, “Pertaining To Turmoil And Portents Of The Last Hour” (Kitab Al-Fitan Wa Ashrat As-Sa’Ah). Specifically, I have suggested that many of these ideas stem from Christian sources, from the late seventh [Read More…]

Dueling Apocalypses

I have been posting about some apocalyptic sayings attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, which are found in the collections known as the Hadith. Such sayings are numerous, and at so many points, they echo the lore found among contemporary Christians. Taken with those Christian documents, in fact, they suggest the depth of the apocalyptic fascination [Read More…]

Jesus at Dabiq

The Hadith are sayings attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, and some address apocalyptic themes. One in particular has attracted a lot of attention recently because it refers to the North Syrian city of Dabiq, and that name and the associated story have inspired the murderous sect known as ISIS/Daesh. Despite that connection, though, the passage [Read More…]

Apocalypse at Dabiq

Over the past year, the word Dabiq has come to be associated with some horrendous deeds. That is the name of the emetic publication of the group ISIS/Daesh, in which it presents its propaganda and advocates acts of terror worldwide. Here, though, in a series of posts, I want to describe where the name comes [Read More…]


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