Archives for April 2010


When I was a kid, about thirty five or forty years ago, I remember that the political talk of my parents and their friends had a very Enlightenment flavor. Religious conservatism was reactionary, something that was a nuisance but would be swept away with progress. When they ran into, for example, a woman in full hijab (a less common sight in 1970s Istanbul than it is today), secularists would make a face and remark on how people "in this day and age" still behaved according to medieval religious … [Read more...]


I'm reading Bruce Bawer's Surrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom. So far it's unremarkable: standard issue right wing paranoia about Islam, obscuring what should be real concerns about the political implications of conservative Muslim religiosity.It's interesting, however, how Islamophobic literature distorts Muslim religious terminology. Jihad always means holy war. Dhimmi isn't a reference to historically "protected" non-Islamic minorities within Muslim empires, but a word used to … [Read more...]

Good Without God

I read Greg Epstein's Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe over the weekend.It's a decent enough book. Epstein isn't interested in criticizing religion or supernatural claims; he's concerned in describing how the godless might live as decent people and fellow citizens. Indeed, as the Humanist chaplain at Harvard, he represents an explicitly religious sort of "Humanism," where his point of view is a kind of ultraliberal limit of Reform Judaism or Unitarian Universalist … [Read more...]

A Not-So-Good Friday

Sorry, but I cannot let this Good Friday pass by without making a comment on my favorite topic: the resurrection of Jesus.I am uniquely qualified to write about Good Friday, because, unlike most human beings, I have been crucified. Actually, technically, I crucified myself. That probably sounds horrific, or at least a bit kinky, but it is true, and, obviously, I lived to tell the tale.In case you are not aware, nobody knows how crucifixion causes death. There are competing theories about this, … [Read more...]