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…]

Civil Dialogue

The problem with the columnists, commentators, politicians, pundits, and pastors is that they honestly believe that they are the linchpins of civilization. It is amazing how quickly the intelligensia of the left and right moved from an attack on a satirical magazine by militant Islamists to the end of civilization as we know it. The [Read More…]

Speaking the Same Language

I was recently asked by a reporter to discuss why it is that Christians, Muslims, and Jews have so much tension between them. A complex question – but one for which at least one answer is emerging. We do not speak one another’s language, and indeed increasingly refuse to do so. Christians learn about Muslims and [Read More…]

Wonder and Dialogue

I decided to spend my Christmas holidays exploring a mystery. What, I wondered, is the Higgs boson about which we’ve heard so much? Having studied physics and astronomy seriously in the University, and having subsequently kept up with developments at a lay level as a lifelong reader of Scientific American I thought I knew a [Read More…]


In which I take a break from inter-religious relations to consider a breakdown in a different kind of dialogue. . . I met an old friend recently. He allowed as how he no longer attended church accept to receive Holy Communion, coming in only after the sermon. His reason was simply. He was tired of [Read More…]

The Most . . . .?

We need to get small to get real. . . . Flying back from Jerusalem one time I met an American Jewish leader of some repute, with whom I had a slight acquaintance. In casual conversation he referred to the Jews as “the most hated people in the world.” I was taken aback. There is [Read More…]

Moses at the Manger

Jesus comes with more baggage than Santa Clause. On my flight to Vienna Lufthansa offered, among other really small screen shows, a Christmas Oratorio in some fabulous German church setting. Behind the choir was a large nativity scene, with one (to a modern American) surprising feature. Overseeing it all was Moses, identifiable by his “horns,” a [Read More…]

Dialogue in Context – Israel/Palestine

A few days ago I received a number of emails concerning the speech the President of Israel gave at Kafr Qasim. These were emails from Jews both in Israel and the US. They saw his willingness to acknowledge injustices against Israeli Arabs and pledge to protect their rights as equal citizens of Israel as a [Read More…]

What ISIS Means?

When I think of ISIS I’m more inclined to think of “Political extremism and the religious justifications for terror.” Because I really don’t think Religious Extremism is a root cause of the ISIS phenomenon. On September 23rd I spoke on a panel about ISIS – my notes are found below. If we look across history, [Read More…]

Theological Education Inside Out

In a previous blog I suggested that the idea that the human relationship to religion is of questioner to provider of answers may ultimately destroy both religion and our humanity. If theological education is intended primarily to form leaders in Christian ministry, then within mainline denominations dominated by post-Schleiermachian liberal theology it may need to [Read More…]