All entries by this author

Burundi: Journalist Jailed for ‘Insulting the President’ *

Nov 13th, 2008 | Filed by

Richard Wilson on why some thought Nkurunziza was not too bad. Wishful thinking, yes, but more.… Read the rest

Catholic Bishops Warn of Abortion Fight *

Nov 13th, 2008 | Filed by

Bishop Jaime Soto fumed, ‘There really is plenty of choice for women in this culture.’… Read the rest

Thailand: Prison for Lèse Majesté *

Nov 13th, 2008 | Filed by

Army warns it will not tolerate anything that could be interpreted as criticism of the royal family.… Read the rest

Acid Attack on Afghan Schoolgirls *

Nov 13th, 2008 | Filed by

Attackers have sprayed acid in the faces of at least 15 girls near a school in Kandahar.… Read the rest

Human Solidarity in a World Without God *

Nov 13th, 2008 | Filed by

Human solidarity is in fact a rational response to the ‘human condition,’ as Schopenhauer saw.… Read the rest

The Dogma of Halal and Haram

Nov 13th, 2008 | By Jahanshah Rashidian

If you walk at random in any Muslim district in Europe, you will certainly find somewhere an Islamic butcher with the word ”halal” written on its shop-window. For meat products, the word “halal” is a badge of Islamic quality.

Muslims believe that since blood is not ritually a pure substance, slaughter is necessary to inhibit the thorough draining of all of the animal’s blood. Furthermore, the verse” Bismillah al Rahman Al Rahim”, in the name of Allah the Beneficent the Merciful, is necessary to render the meat halal or lawful to eat.

The word halal refers, here, to meat killed and prepared in line with Islamic dietary laws. Jewish and Islamic religions demand that slaughter be carried out with a … Read the rest

Religious obligation

Nov 12th, 2008 4:18 pm | By

This is a familiar subject, but you know how it is – there’s always more to say.

About what? About religious law, religious obligation, religious duty, religious requirements, religious teachings, religious commandments.

Motl Brody of Brooklyn was pronounced dead this week after a half-year fight against a brain tumor, and doctors at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington say the seventh-grader’s brain has ceased functioning entirely. But for the past few days, a machine has continued to inflate and deflate his lungs. As of late Friday afternoon, his heart was still beating with the help of a cocktail of intravenous drugs and adrenaline. That heartbeat has prompted Motl’s parents, who are Orthodox Jews, to refuse the hospital’s request to

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Haredi Parents Demand Heart Machine for Corpse *

Nov 12th, 2008 | Filed by

They haven’t been to the hospital since July, but say ‘religious law’ decides when death occurs.… Read the rest

Daniel Drezner on Public Intellectuals and Blogs *

Nov 12th, 2008 | Filed by

‘The growth of the blogosphere erodes the barriers erected by a professionalized academy.… Read the rest

Garden Gnomes Banned From Church Cemetery *

Nov 12th, 2008 | Filed by

‘There is no such thing as a real gnome so why should we have such unnatural creatures in churchyards?’… Read the rest

Did McCain Lose More Than an Election? *

Nov 12th, 2008 | Filed by

He had presented himself as a figure who would never pander or betray his convictions.… Read the rest

A Good Night for the English Language *

Nov 12th, 2008 | Filed by

James Wood on the defeat of a politics hostile to words by a victory speech eloquent in echo, allusion, and counterpoint.… Read the rest

The New Atheists

Nov 12th, 2008 | By Max Dunbar

The cliché goes that atheism is a form of theism; Tina Beattie writes:

A professor of theology (Denys Turner) tells of how he makes a bet with his students that, if they can tell him why they do not believe in God, he will tell them which Christian denomination they were brought up in. He says he usually wins the bet.

I’d love to make that bet with Turner: being a liberal atheist born to liberal atheists, I suspect it’d be easy money for me. (Admittedly my great-grandfather was a Glaswegian missionary, and I’ve always regretted that he died before I was born.) But in this critique of the ‘New Atheists’ Beattie often treats unbelief the way that Turner apparently … Read the rest

Respect us or we’ll smash your art

Nov 11th, 2008 12:34 pm | By

Hey don’t forget, if that smelly guy grabs your jacket, give him your cashmere sweater too. If somebody belts you in the face, say thank you. Forgive people seventy times seven. Be generous, and more than generous. Like those super-nice people who worry about art works.

Christians have warned of a backlash of art world vandalism, following a decision to halt a private prosecution of a Gateshead gallery which exhibited a statue of Jesus with an erection…Christian Emily Mapfuwa…said the show…was offensive to her faith and instructed her lawyers to seek a private prosecution against the gallery…Mapfuwa’s supporters warned [the CPS decision] could lead some people to destroy similar art works. Her solicitor Michael Phillips said: “Although it is

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Christians Threaten ‘Art World Vandalism’ *

Nov 11th, 2008 | Filed by

‘Christians won’t tolerate insults to Jesus Christ,’ threatens Stephen Green.… Read the rest

Report on Intimidation of Critics of Islam *

Nov 11th, 2008 | Filed by

Stories of Europeans of Muslim background, believers and nonbelievers, threatened by Islamists.… Read the rest

Monks Brawl at ‘Church of the Holy Sepulchre’ *

Nov 11th, 2008 | Filed by

Two monks from each side were detained as dozens of worshippers traded kicks and punches.… Read the rest

Palin Will Run for President in 2012 Inshallah *

Nov 11th, 2008 | Filed by

Palin says she won’t hesitate to run for the presidency in four years if it’s God’s will.… Read the rest

The New York Times Has Lost its Mind *

Nov 11th, 2008 | Filed by

Runs a piece by a psychic about his excellent psychic adventure, no disclaimer in sight.… Read the rest

The Gospel of Matthew: A Book for Today?

Nov 11th, 2008 | By Edmund Standing

Earlier this month, the BBC reported that Pope Benedict XVI had opened a Synod of more than 200 cardinals and bishops from around the world to examine the modern lack of interest in the Bible.[1] As in many of his recent pronouncements, the Pope took the opportunity to repeat the same tired old claim that because modern Western society is apparently turning away from Christianity and the Bible, we are seeing the growth of ‘destructive influences’. Once again, secularism is blamed for the ills of modern society, while the Pope proposes that a return to ‘Scripture’ will solve our problems.

I decided it was time to take the Pope’s advice and re-read some ‘Scripture’.[2] Having previously come away from reading … Read the rest