Religion and sexuality have been closely related in most cultures of the world throughout history. As a result, the images and vocabulary of human sexuality have often been used to express, and to experience, religion.
Priorities differ. Near the end of our time in Greece, I wanted to see the battlefield of Marathon, where the Greeks defeated the Persians in 490 BC. Marathon is an hour’s drive from Athens, and all that remains is a burial mound in a large field, and a few historical displays. Anna wanted to buy presents for friends and family, admittedly a higher priority. So I went to rent a car and Anna visited the Dimotiki Agora (Public Marketplace). Anna likes to shop, and is good at it. Amidst the panoply of scarves, table runners, wooden spoons, and other treasures, Anna encountered a rack of large, brightly painted, wooden penises, also known as phallic symbols. Amused, she took a photograph, and finished her shopping. I joined her at the market, and she joined me for the drive to Marathon.
Continue reading “Adventures in Athens – Sex, Imagery, and Religion”
A compendium of book reviews on common texts in Buddhism.
The sixth century BC was pivotal in the history of the world. Babylon conquered Jerusalem (586), thus ending the Israelite monarchy. Mahavira (599-527), also known as Vardhamāna, known to Jains as the 24th fordmaker, founded the Jain religion. Siddhartha Gautama (c. 563-480) founded Buddhism, one of the most prevalent religions in the world. Buddhism today boasts almost 500 million adherents worldwide, and others practice Buddhist meditation and hold Buddhist beliefs without self-identifying with the religion. Gautama is variously known as the Sakyamuni, the Tathagata, and the Buddha.
Any student of world religions should know something about the work of the Buddha. Christians should have an idea of what Buddhism is, and how to best minister to the followers of Gautama.
How do the religious practices of immigrants to the Western World affect their integration? How does the process of immigration affects their faith?
The Syrian Civil War and the advent of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have caused a human disaster of the highest degree. According to recent media estimates, 300,000 have died and 10 million have been made homeless since demonstrations began in the fateful “Arab Spring” of 2011. A terrible situation has become worse. US, Kurdish and Iranian forces are attacking ISIS, but Russian forces in Syria are also targeting US-backed Syrian rebels who are trying to overthrow Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad. There is no end in sight.
Unsurprisingly such misery has generated millions of refugees. Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan have accepted 3.5 million between them, but a tide of refugees is beginning to roll towards Europe. Many countries have absorbed some, and Germany has agreed to accept 800,000. Libya, sub-Saharan Africa, and many other failed states also send tens of thousands of migrants to Europe, and the United States, every year.
Continue reading “Immigration, Religion, and the West”
A compendium of book reviews on common texts in Islam.
Islam is one of the major forces in the modern world. It is the second largest religion in number of followers, surpassed only by Christianity. However Islam is not only a religion, it is also a political system and a way of life. As defined primarily by the Quran, the Hadiths, and the Shariah, the “spiritual” and “material” aspects of the Faith are inseparable. Muhammad was a prophet, but unlike Jesus, who said “my kingdom is not of this world”, Muhammad was also a political leader and conqueror. At his death he ruled over tens of thousands of Arab Muslim warriors that shortly injured the Byzantines, destroyed the Persians, and conquered much of the Middle East. Eventually the sword of Islam spread from Spain to India, from Africa to Central Asia. Below are some reviews on some of the key titles in the study of this fascinating and important faith.
Annotated Bibliography – Some Research Materials related to Islam
Book Review – God’s Battalions, the Case for the Crusades
Book Review – Islam in the World
Book Review – Islamic Philosophy
Book Review – Major Themes of the Quran
Book Review – The Islamic Conception of Justice
Book Review – The Middle East
Book Review – The Venture of Islam
Major Themes of the Quran – Discussion Guide