June 11, 2011
June 10, 2011
The musical feast at the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music
, in hundreds of events over 10 days, is about the beauty and spirituality of sacred music, but it also drums in a constant a message of the joys of diversity.
The Fes Festival faced pouring rain early this week but that did not dampen the spirits of the tens of thousands of people who mill around this beautiful old city in search of beauty and the inspiration that comes from a rich menu of sacred music. In a world where interfaith dialogue rarely makes headlines and provokes not a few cynical asides, it is heartening to see both large audiences and a forest of cameras and recorders at the Festival's "idea" segment, the Fes Forum. Why? The notion of...
March 2, 2011
In the wake of the tragic shooting in Tucson, Arizona, a chorus of voices - mainly, if not exclusively on the political Left - arose in denunciation of the decline of "civility" in contemporary political life. Somewhat incredibly, some of the more prominent voices on the political Right - such as Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin - denounced these calls for civility. There were efforts - often successful, in fact - to point out that the Left was just as likely to be uncivil in its words and deeds....
November 15, 2010
May 21, 2010
Damon Linker - former editor of "First Things" and author of the book Theocons
- has written a new book entitled The Religious Test
. In the book, he argues on behalf of several "tests" whereby the belief of political leaders can be measured and assessed by the polity. He argues that religious expressions are to stand before the bar of liberalism, and where found wanting, should be rejected by the electorate and even curtailed by the liberal state.
French political scientist Frédéric Encel speaks about the complex triangulation between Israel, Iran, and the Arab world, and a pragmatic shift in French Middle Eastern foreign policy.
April 27, 2010
A conversation between Jacque Berlinerblau and Dr. Melanie Adrian on the headscarf debates in France.
February 9, 2010
On February 1, 1979, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned to his native land aboard an Air France jumbo jet. Ten tumultuous days later the Islamic Republic was born.
September 28, 2009
Imagine if the Knight of Columbus decided to give an award to a pedophile priest who had fled the country to avoid prison. The outcry would be universal. Victim groups would demand the award be withdrawn and that the organization apologize. Religion reporters would be on the case with the encouragement of their editors. Editorial writers and columnist would denounce the Knights as another example of the insensitivity of the Catholic Church to sexual abuse.
September 28, 2009
June 4, 2009
Newsweek has some edgy covers these days. How about, "The Case for Killing Granny"? Sure catches the eye. But "Is your Baby Racist?" on September 14, with an adorable little face staring innocently out, is equally disturbing.
Who is responsible for the crash of Air France Flight 447 on Sunday?
April 20, 2009
Now with confirmation that the Brazilian military has found the wreckage field, the sad recovery efforts will begin to determine a physical cause. The search will focus on the flight data and cockpit voice recorders which will help piece together why this reliably safe aircraft vanished into the water. Remote-controlled submersibles will descend into thousands of feet of water but questions will remain for months or years....
"Vatican Unhappy with Obama Ambassador Picks," scream the headlines. The only problem is that the stories are totally false.
October 27, 2008
First the stories were about Douglas Kmiec, a law professor at Pepperdine University, who supported Obama for president even though Kmiec is pro-life. Then the stories moved on to Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of President Kennedy, who was said to be rejected because she is pro-choice. Why both a pro-life and a pro-choice candidate would be rejected was never...
October 22, 2008
A remarkable woman died this week - Soeur Emmanuelle, an indomitable nun who topped surveys time and again as France's most admired woman. Nora Boustany wrote a wonderful obituary in Friday's Washington Post. If you want to know what Faith in Action is about, look at her life and work.
Soeur Emmanuelle was a beacon at interfaith meetings, especially the annual Prayer for Peace that the Community of Sant'Egidio organizes each year (the next in Cyprus November 16-18). There, among somber and...
October 16, 2008
Barring a Late October Surprise, it seems likely that after November 4 American Conservatism is going to have a couple of years to just sit back and reflect.
While it spends 2008-2012 lounging about in sweat pants and thumbing through newspapers at the local coffee shop, it might notice a disheveled American Secularism blogging at the next table over. It too will be in something of a funk; 2008 was not a good year for nonbelievers and Church/State separatists.
August 7, 2008
If you knew absolutely nothing about the United States (but wanted to know) and predicated your quest for knowledge solely on the three 2008 presidential debates between John McCain and Barack Obama you might come to the conclusion that American politicians have no desire to infuse their politics with religion. Events like last night's encounter at Hofstra University were so bereft of reference to faith-based issues, you might conclude that the United States was France!
What does it all...
Turkey's Constitutional Court has decided against disbanding the Justice and Development Party (AKP), and ruled instead to cut the party's public funding. This sent a clear signal that the AKP is now on probation, and may yet be shut down if it pursues what ardent secularists view as a policy of creeping Islamization.
July 30, 2008
June 6, 2008
Tolstoy wrote that every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. The same could be said about the ethnic and religious conflicts that cause so much strife in the world--in Burundi, Sri Lanka, the Ivory Coast and the Middle East. Memories run deep, and anyone who attempts to mediate finds bitterness, conflicting narratives and wounded people. Efforts to find common threads that could lead to solutions can be slow, fitful, and full of pain.
May 5, 2008
I participated as a panelist (theme, cultural dialogue and media roles) in a large international conference in Fes, Morocco that ran June 3-6. It involved a lively and sometimes quite fractious debate about the proposed new Union, and was a lead up to the planned meeting of Mediterranean heads of state in Paris on July 13. The meeting was timed to conclude just on the eve of the opening of the Fes Festival of Global Sacred Music, now in its 14th year, and a substantial draw. However, there...
March 27, 2008
Music is a well known path for crossing wide cultural divides. Music speaks without words. It can epitomize a mood as well as a culture. And it can stir up emotions and preconceptions. There's a fascinating venture afoot in Fes, Morocco, to use those very qualities to bridge divides between the Muslim world and western cultures and faiths. The idea is that people can, through their love of music, explore new realms and appreciate the world's wonderful diversity. But even more, the hope is...
March 18, 2008
Although I had initially conjured up the idea only to reject it as undemocratic
, perhaps it is high time that we as a nation, believers and nonbelievers alike, consider the establishment of the 28th Amendment. Its majestic words would read as follows:
Section 1. The right of presidential aspirants to discuss religion, invoke sacred texts, or mention God on the campaign trail is hereby repealed
Section 2. Whenever a religious figure endorses any candidate for the presidency that candidate must...
Some years back my wife and I befriended three Moroccan brothers who had been summarily locked up for 10 years by the late king of Morocco. Tossed into a cell with little light and a ceiling so low that one of the brothers developed a hunched back, they were only released after a human rights campaign in France secured their freedom. One brother finally came to America, where he settled down in a small town in Texas. There he wrote his memoirs and discovered a kind of happiness, surrounded by...
What holds us together
January 10, 2008
November 27, 2007
Robert Bellah writes on the Immanent Frame: In his response to my concern about whether “post-Durkheimian” is a viable category, Charles Taylor goes part way in answering my query, but, in my view, not far enough. When he writes “I don’t think it’s possible to have a successful, modern democratic society without some strong sense of what unites us as citizens,” he is conceding my basic Durkheimian point, that a society without common values is not a viable...
It is my opinion -- and I’ll concede that I am probably not inner-tube floating in the American mainstream here -- that persons of questionable moral scruples can make perfectly good presidents. I will refer to this way of thinking about national leaders as The French Model in honor of François Mitterrand. When the president of France died in 1996 his long-time mistress was in attendance at his funeral. Anne Pingeot’s appearance at his grave (with her child by Mitterrand)...
November 23, 2007
Robert Bellah writes on the Immanent Frame: I continue, as I reread it, to have the highest opinion of A Secular Age and to believe that it is among the handful of the most important books I have ever read, to the point where The Chronicle of Higher Education speaks of my “effusive” praise. So it was with some surprise that I found there was a point where, if I didn’t entirely differ from Taylor, I had at least some serious questions to raise.
The scope and uses of secularity
November 19, 2007
John Bowen writes on the Immanent Frame: Charles Taylor’s remarkable account of developments within Latin Christendom situates contemporary religious or non-religious commitments within what he calls the “immanent frame,” the key to which is the secular condition (his third meaning of secularity), in which belief is an option, and religion a distinct domain. Early in his study, he remarks that such is not the case everywhere: in Muslim societies generally, and for people in...
What inspires us & what holds us together
January 21, 2007
Charles Taylor writes on the Immanent Frame: Having escaped for a few seconds from the Commission, I had a chance to read many of the very interesting posts to the blog. With many I agree, others not. But there are two points where I obviously failed to communicate what I wanted to say (possibly because that is incoherent, though I hope not).
Elizabeth Hurd headed off a series of entries with “The slipstream of disenchantment and the place of fullness”. “Fullness” is a...