Religion & Other Curiosities
St. Vitus’ Dance and the Rational Actor
Institutions, which are typically based on rational assumptions, are dams holding at bay the howling frenzies lurking in human souls. All institutions are fragile. Sometimes the dams break.
Compassion and Interests
A moral vision is important, but it helps greatly if you can appeal to hard interests as well as to conscience.
Church Picnics and the Communion of Saints
It is unrealistic to force people who have nothing in common in this world to enjoy relaxed sociability, and yet that has become the norm among American religious communities.
Editing the Past
ISIS is destroying Palmyra in order to murder history, in a manner of speaking. The past is not all that unchangeable—whether by eliminating its physical remains or by rewriting the “narrative.”
Why Not Polyamory?
In a society that is both pluralist and democratic different beliefs and values will have to co-exist. Does this mean that polyamorous arrangements should be sanctioned by the state?
Images of Rage and of Mercy
ISIS has become a widespread image of pure evil. Yet the global Muslim community can counter the jihadists with ideas—chief among them, perhaps, the centrality of mercy.
Dreams of Empire
Chinese President Xi has found in Confucianism (as he understands it) an ideology useful to the construction of a Chinese model of modernity—which is intended to contribute to the task of empire-building.
Is Turkey the Key?
Despite recent authoritarian backsliding, could Turkey supply the prototype for a successful synthesis of Islam and democracy?