ANXIETY AND THE NEW TRIBES

Despite the fact that the emerging tribes in the US seek to secure their identity with primal narratives, narratives similar to those that secure the identity of all primal human groups, they and their members remain deeply anxious. This anxiety arises in part because although the narratives claim to be primal, they are in fact [Read More...]

Christian Witness among Anxious New Tribes 1

There is in the modern world, even beyond the North Atlantic realm, a deep consciousness that public identities, the ways in which we are known not only to ourselves, but others, are chosen, not given. And they are chosen in the midst of uncertainty and instability. And these two things: the breakdown of stable public identities, and [Read More...]

Extremists versus Free Speech

Recently the American Freedom Defense Initiative (http://freedomdefense.typepad.com/) led by the famous bikini blogger Pamela Geller, (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHBEYgfW5kA) organized an “art contest” of caricatures of the prophet Muhammad. The ostensible reason was to defend free speech against its terrorist enemies in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shootings. The idea was to be provocative, drawing a violent response, and [Read More...]

Same Kind of Different

An inter-religious dialogue on sex, marriage, and homosexuality raised more questions that it answered. At a May 19th Faiths in Coversation Dialogue, held at Synagogue Beth Torah, we hear that all three religious leaders agree on this point: The God who created humanity has also established and revealed a normative social order. Thus each religion [Read More...]

The Stakes in Inter-Religious Relations

Those who follow this blog may have noticed a recurrent theme in the discussions. It is a disagreement over whether religion is primarily a personal path that each individual pursues with whatever resources or companions are amenable, or a community endeavor that requires some level of exclusive devotion and commitment to a community. Related to [Read More...]

Real Evangelism for the 21st Century

When the world changes, all commitments must be renewed. Our churches are filled primarily with members driven by inertia, social acceptance, entertainment, and available member services rather than a commitment to God put into practice through worship and service. John Lennon’s great song, Imagine, is often played at Christmas time (apparently without irony) to remember [Read More...]

Human Nature and its Clueless Detractors

The fantasy filled fear-mongers like Louie Gohmert and Wayne LaPierre don’t just misrepresnt Muslims or the dangers of fiscal chaos, they misrepresent human nature. And this is far more dangerous to the United States than any terrorist threat because this misrepresentation destroys the fabric of human society in the name of defending it. “The American [Read More...]

Global Religion and Isolationist Dialogue

As I read through various newspapers these last few weeks the news brought me this: Christian churches burned in India, with pastors and members terrorized by Hindu nationalists while the police did nothing. More threats by Arab and Iranian Muslims against Israel, with a backdrop of hatred for Jews stoked by Muslim leaders. Shi’ite and [Read More...]

Faith, Religion, Dialogue, and Exclusion

Yesterday I attended a meeting to discuss the study of interfaith and/or inter-eligious relations and dialogue. Very quickly the discussion turned to the problem of how these terms include and exclude. For example the word “faith” excluded people who are religious,but whose religion doesn’t typically see being religious in terms of faith. They say “interfaith” [Read More...]

Religious Obligations, Morality, and the Modern Pluralistic State

States should only enforce those social obligations that are shared by all members of a society and which can be justified on the basis of publicly and universally available facts. In my last blog I showed how the classical Muslim interpretation of the Qur’anic verse, “there is no compulsion in religion” is different from the [Read More...]


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