American Idolatry

“We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” It is an [Read More...]

True Religion at the Parliament of World Religions – Not What you Think

Now that I’ve seen people shouted down, I’m certainly not speaking up.  “There is one true religion. . . . “ It is a phrase I heard a hundred times if I’ve heard it once at the Parliament of the World’s Religions. Now if that phrase were followed by “It is Islam” or “It is [Read More...]

How to Stop ISIS Recruiting

At the Council for Foreign Relations lunch there was a vigorous and useful discussion about the need to amplify the voices of peaceful and socially conscious Islam so as to drown out the shouts of the extremists. Since I promised to report: 1. Wood spoke the classic language of hard power and soft power. While [Read More...]

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...]

Fear, Loathing and the Parliament of the World’s Religions

One role of religion in human society is to continually affirm that the fears and anxieties about those outside a society are uniquely real, to use the expression of Clifford Geertz. I sit at the Parliament of the World’s Religions; a gathering of those dedicated in the name of religion to overcoming hatred among peoples. [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...]

On Obama’s Win and the Iran Nuclear Deal: The Wrong Time to Celebrate

Yesterday I learned from the Washington Post and New York Times that President Obama got the votes necessary for the multi-nation treaty with Iran over its nuclear program to stand. It was heralded as a victory for Obama’s foreign policy and I personally was glad to see it happen. But I’m not celebrating. First because [Read More...]

Wouldn’t I, Wooden Eye, Hairlip Hairlip

There is an old and rather ugly joke about two people on a cruise. They who both want and need each others love. But there is a misunderstanding. She says, “wouldn’t I, wouldn’t I” in response to his invitation to dance. But obsessed with self consciousness about his wooden eye he offers an ugly retort [Read More...]


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