The Myth of Persecution

I'm a bit slow in my review of Candida Moss' The Myth of Persecution. It has received positive reviews from James McGrath, Thomas Verenna and Jim West. In my defense, I'm buying a house and finding that it's killed all my reading (and writing) time.Since I'm arriving late, I'll keep things short. Moss makes clear that this is a book with a political point. In the introduction and the last chapter, Moss dwells on the modern problems caused by Christianity's sense of being persecuted. … [Read more...]

Beliefs vs. Interests

I've been listening to an interview with Lawrence Wright about his new book examining Scientology, Going Clear (which grew out of his New Yorker article The Apostate which we've mentioned before). Wright is also the author of The Looming Tower, a Pullitzer winning history of Al-Qaeda.At the end of the interview, Wright is asked what he's learned about humanity over his career:I've been so struck by the power of belief to transform individuals in society for good or ill. I used to be … [Read more...]

Religion and Violence Monthly

The youtube contributor "ConversationsWithA" has been postin regular wrap-ups of news about religious violence, blasphemy cases, religious bigotry and other unpleasant religious news, all under the title of "What religion has contributed to the world this month." Here's mid-January through mid-February:!On one hand, "ConversationsWithA" claims that his channel is intended "to promote a positive view of atheism." This … [Read more...]

Six Religious Cliches

Jessica at Ask an Islamist is a doctoral candidate in theology at Oxford, studying early Islam and Christianity. She recently took the time to vent about six cliches that crop up in discussions of religion (rather than the study of religions) that irritate her. It's a wonderful list:1.) “But isn’t the religion really about …”2.) “But what about [insert episode of violence here]?”3.) “I like faith, it’s all the dogma I have a problem with.”4.) “I’m just really not into organized religi … [Read more...]

Hector Avalos on God and School Shootings

Hector Avalos, author of such works as Fighting Words: The Origins of Religious Violence, had a response in the Letter to the Editor column at the Des Moines Register. I think it's worth spreading around:In his letter of Dec. 21 (“We Need to Get God Back in Our Daily Loves”), the Rev. Charles Austin argues that a lack of prayer in schools, along with a refusal to display the Ten Commandments in schools, has removed restraints that could prevent mass shootings such as the one in Newtown, Con … [Read more...]