Job’s Visitors

The blood hadn’t dried and the bodies were still warm when Job’s visitors arrived. A few immediately took the classic lines. Condolences and all that, but really Job its your fault. You didn’t take the threat seriously, manage security for your children, close the borders to the foreign pestilence, and of course cleanse your own [Read More...]

A Level Playing Field in Missouri?

Offensive racial, ethnic, and religious slurs are means of asserting power and privilege, and thus creating a social space in which there are distinctive power differentials. The person being offensive is essentially asserting his or her power over others, whether it is Donald Trump or some other faceless drive-by bigot. In the same way taking [Read More...]

Do Unto Others . . . ? Not so much.

Imagine for a minute that you live in a country where Christians are a small minority and Muslims are a majority. Would you want to be forced to resolve business disputes according to Shari’a law even though you don’t believe in it, and clearly don’t have any friends in a Shari’a court? Many Christians face [Read More...]

Activists versus Dialogue at the Parliament.

“Would the fundamentalists have shown up for a pluralistic conference that respects multiple viewpoints anyway” This was a recent posting I saw regarding the Parliament of the World’s Religions failure to engage Christian conservatives as well as many other groups. It makes a big assumption: that conservative religious groups aren’t interested in dialogue, which really [Read More...]

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...]

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...]


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