Medieval Christian polygamy, sanctioned by the Pope?

Graf von Gleichen mit seinen zwei Frauen

  All the way back in the 1990s, I wrote a few lines in the book Offenders for a Word about Christian polygamy: The sixth century Arab Christian kings of Lakhm and Ghassan were polygamists, for instance, as were the contemporary Christians of Ethiopia. Pope Clement VII, faced with the threat of a continent-dividing divorce, considered bigamy as a solution to the problem of Henry VIII. Was he, with such thoughts, flirting with becoming a non-Christian? Did M … [Read more...]

A report from the conference’s second full day

M. M. Kaplan at 34

   One of the sessions that we attended today focused on “Authority in Islam.” I was most interested in a paper by Johannes Rosenbaum, a young German scholar who recently finished his doctoral dissertation. He focused on contemporary Muslim “advice manuals” from South Asia (essentially India/Pakistan)—written by Islamic clerics but also, sometimes, by physicians—as a window into contemporary Islamic thinking on marriage. It’s an interesting and fresh ap … [Read more...]

A fun faith-promoting tale

Lucknow miscellany

  Faith-promoting folk tales abound among Latter-day Saints. Did you know, for example, that Alice Cooper and Steve Martin are Mormons?  Have you heard that Albert Einstein once said that “Next to me, James Talmage is the greatest scientist in the world”? But we have no monopoly on such bogus anecdotes. And, for what it's worth, for example, I've observed similar things among such subgroups as atheists, gays, and so forth. … [Read more...]

“A modern-day Oskar Schindler”

Memorial to a great but very flawed man I'm thinking about this one.  Quite seriously. Should I join in?  Should you? Do such efforts reward and fund ISIS? Will such payments actually encourage the taking of more hostages? On the other hand, can we simply sit back and do nothing? The plaque shown above reads as follows: Oskar Schindler saved more than 1200 Jews f … [Read more...]

“The widening world of hand-picked truths”

Luddism, at its origin

   I might quibble at one or two points, but I share his overall concern -- regarding science and other areas, too:  Posted from Erfurt, Germany    … [Read more...]

“The Long Rise of the Secular Faith”

1902 John Dewey, U of Chicago

  And why it's a growing threat to religious liberty and to freedom generally:  Posted from Erfurt, Germany    … [Read more...]

The first full day of the conference

Erfurter Universität Haupteingang

  The University of Erfurt, which has about 5500 students today, was founded in the fourteenth century. But it was refounded only in the late twentieth century, and so its campus is quite unromantically modern-functional. The conference is almost entirely located on the university campus. We began the day by listening to a keynote lecture on “The Biographical Trajectories of Political Islam,” by Abdulkader Tayob of the University of Cape Tow … [Read more...]

Two from Meister Eckhart

A door dedicated to Meister Eckhart in Erfurt

  "The more we have the less we own."  "To be full of things is to be empty of God. To be empty of things is to be full of God." Meister Eckhart  The inscription on the door above, dedicated to a native son of the region, reads, in English translation, "The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness didn't comprehend it.  In memoriam Meister Eckhart 1260-1327": das Licht leuchtet in der Finsternisund die Finsternis hat es nicht erfasstin m … [Read more...]