With its long coastline, rugged mountains and haunting sand dunes, Oman is a paradise for desert lovers, hikers and boaters. Muscat, the capital city, is a gem—its arched white buildings and flat roofs squeezed between the blue ocean and black mountains. Yet call me an egghead, but what I remember most from a trip to Oman is a booklet I read there with an ominous title: Body Count: A Quantitative Review of Political Violence Across World Civilizations (2009). In it, author Naveed Sheikh claims that “the Christian civilization emerges as the most violent and genocidal in the world history.” Compared to Islam, Christianity is a clear winner: 31.94 million deaths by Muslims to 177.94 million deaths by Christians.
A Wisconsin-based group of atheists and agnostics has filed suit against President Bush over the federal law designating a National Day of Prayer. The Freedom from Religion Foundation maintains that the law violates the First Amendment’s prohibition against an official establishment of religion.
Andalusia, the vibrant, southernmost region of Spain, is famous for its party culture, bullfighting and oceans of sunshine. The cathedral spire in the largest city, Seville, which towers over the old quarter, guides pedestrians to the third-largest church in Christendom.
September 11, the war in Afghanistan, the impending war in Iraq, the devastating conflict between Israel and Palestine, the crisis in the Roman Catholic Church, the crisis in big business, children missing, snipers shooting, politicians sniping, ethnic cleansing, famines: it’s one of those times when one wishes it were possible to return to the beginning, unravel the ancient enmities and start the