Buddhist and Muslim Dialogue for the Earth

The word sacred has two related dimensions. One dimension of something sacred is that it connected to God, or whatever is the object of religious devotion, reflection, and faith. The second related dimension is that something sacred is worthy of veneration. And this second dimension is where we get into trouble when we talk about [Read More...]

ISIS and Religious Terror: To Report is not to Support

“By publicizing the views of ISIS as Islamic you are helping their cause.” That was more or less the accusation being made at the Council of Foreign Relations lunch at the Parliament of the World Religions. The target of the accusation was Graeme Wood, the journalist whose excellent article in the Atlantic on the Islamic [Read More...]

Mecca to Roseburg, Two Sides of the Same Hopeless Fatalism

Congress needs to get off its knees and back to work. Another shooter, another group of young people turned to corpses, and another group of American politicians feeling terrible sorry and praying for the families of the deceased. And as it turns out, more proof that American Christian congressmen are really no different from Saudi Muslim [Read More...]

Its God’s Will. The Hajj Tragedy and Dialogue

If your religion teaches you that under some circumstances you have no moral responsibility for the loss of life of people who entrust themselves to your care, those who do business with you need to know “buyer beware.” “It was God’s will.” Those were the words pronounced by the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia. It [Read More...]

Ahmed’s Clock, It Will Happen Again

We need to get out of the weeds of blame in the Ahmed Mohamed case, and over his sudden celebrity as well. He is a story, but not the story we need to understand. But we’ll start with him. In the week of September 11th the case of Ahmed Mohamed of Irving rocketed, in 48 [Read More...]

Fear of Death in Farmersville

Thus far the Islamophobia in Farmersville Texas, spurred on by a Christian pastor named David Meeks and others without name, hasn’t resulted in shed blood and has thus created little sense of outrage or concern at a national level. As a nation we are as comfortable with overt bigotry against Muslims today as we were [Read More...]

Muslims on the Rise? Misreading the Pew Report

AHHHHHH! The Muslims are coming the Muslims are coming. I’d barely seen the headlines before a reporter from Houston called me to comment. A new report by the Pew Charitable Trusts says “that the number of Muslims would exceed the number of Christians in the world by 2070!” At least that was the headline for NPR, [Read More...]

The Danger of Islam?

Well, I’ve been bombarded this week with email about the danger of Islam and Islamism. The recent Atlantic Monthly article that asserts unequivocally that ISIS is “Islamic, very Islamic” has stirred up the Islamophobes and given justification to their fears. Let’s start with some facts. Yes, both the Qur’an and traditions of the prophet valorize [Read More...]

Iconoclast or Jackass

It really depends. One of my favorite characters in fiction, Commissioner Brunetti in Donna Leon’s novels, is an ardent humanist. Faced with claims that sacred symbols and institutions trump human need Burnetti says, “nothing is sacred but humans.” I resonate with this belief. As do many other Christians. And the reason is obvious. The claim that people, [Read More...]

Outrage and Anxiety

A couple of weeks ago there was a brief outbreak of good ole American outrage here in Texas. It was well behind the wake of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks, but of course this is Dallas, where Milan 2012 is only now being seen on the streets and in the malls. First a couple of protesters decided [Read More...]


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