Conservative christian activists have often been unwise or shortsighted in pushing their moral and religious claims in the public square, but their efforts have reminded secular folk that religious belief is decisive for individuals, institutions and societies. They have persuasively made the case that the constitutional disestablishment of religion does not mean the establishment of irreligion.
How shall we speak about Islam in the aftermath of September 11? Three recent books by scholars with long track records in interpreting the Islamic world present us with three highly distinctive answers.
Tucked away in an account of the Jewish resistance to Antiochus Epiphanes is the story of a hero’s sacrifice. The Book of 1 Maccabees describes the prebattle scene. Jewish forces are encamped at Bethzechariah with the enemy directly opposite them, fully armed and ready to fight.
In the wake of the terrorist fury unleashed by Osama bin Laden and his Islamic al-Qaeda organization on September 11, Western analysts have been scrambling to analyze the competing ideologies that have brought about a violent collision between two cultures.
One of the objectives of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent pro-Western diplomacy is to reduce instability along Russia’s southern borders. In the troubled area to the north of Afghanistan are five predominantly Muslim countries—Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
By now we are all too familiar not only with the major terrorist attacks on the World Trade towers and the Pentagon, but also with the smaller terrorist attacks on Muslims, Sikhs and Arab-Americans in the weeks since then. At the time of this writing, the murder of an Arizona Sikh man named Balbir Singh Sodhi is the latest deadly case of mistaken identity.
When 25 Muslims walked out of a meeting at the White House last month, the Bush administration had an embarrassing but correctable public relations problem on its hands. Of more long-range significance is what the action said about the political consciousness and activity of the millions of Muslims—the figure may be as high as 6 million—living in the U.S.
Newness always poses a threat. Whereas the old and familiar is reassuring and offers at least the semblance of personal control, the new is unpredictable. The shepherds knew of the possibility of a messiah, but they certainly didn't anticipate God's arrival in the form of a baby in a cave.