As a religious person, "The Faith of a Heretic" was hard to read because many if its criticisms were so accurate. But I think such criticisms can only be good as they help us identify the faults that may be invisible to us.
Following the storming of the Capitol this week, I chose to pull out Hoffer's "True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements." Definitely has a lot of explanatory power, but Hoffer strikes me as a pessimist. It left me with the impression all mass movements, regardless of their ideals, are inherently evil.
A Jew, a knights Templar, and a sultan walk into a bar... Perhaps a modern version of Nathan the Wise would begin like that. Written by the Enlightenment figure G. E. Lessing in response to a fight with his pastor, Lessing's play still feels very much relevant today.
In I-It relationships, you treat others something to be used, as means to your own ends. In I-Thou relationships, you encounter another being as unique and unlimited as yourself.
Rabbi Sacks' last book "Morality" is a deeply moving call to action to rediscover our shared responsibility to one another. If COVID-19 teaches us anything, it is that we need each other and our actions have direct consequences on those around us.
"If slavery is a manifest and universal evil, why did no one seem to realize this until relatively recently? What does that mean about our traditions of moral reasoning or divine guidance? Why do our scriptures condone slavery and why did our prophets practice it? How can we venerate people and texts-- the prophets, Founding Fathers, a scripture or founding document-- that considered slavery valid or normal? And, if we see clear and egregious moral wrongs that those people and texts so conspicuously missed, why are we venerating or honoring them in the first place?"
The memoirs of a Russian Orthodox monk in the last days of the Soviet Union. Truly a colorful cast of characters that shows how faith can shine even in the darkest of times.
What if the faith of others isn't a challenge to the legitimacy of your own, but an invitation for you to be a better Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc? In this wonderful book, Barbara Brown outlines how her faith has changed since stepping down from being an Episcopal priest to teach a world religions course.
Lewis and Chesterton were both authors that helped me realize that my own religious tradition doesn't have a monopoly on truth. Abraham Heschel (and Rabbi Jonathan Sacks) has helped me expand that sphere a little further into the Jewish tradition as well (if you have any recommendations from other faith traditions, please let me know).... Continue Reading →
Your knowledge of the Muslim World was probably Disney's Aladdin before 9/11. Then it became limited to the daily news cycle of the "war on terror." How did such a rich and diverse civilization become relegated to the dustbin of history? Ansary does a masterful job of putting modern conflicts in their historical context from Babylon to the Six Day War.