(RNS) Deah Barakat took my class “Islam in the Modern World” at North Carolina State University a few years ago. He was curious about Islamic history and contemporary spiritual and political movements, and he was great in class discussions. I’ve taught thousands of students in the last 11 years here, but Deah stood out for his enthusiasm, kindness, calm demeanor, and obvious charisma.
Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha, and Razan Abu-Salha were the very best of people.
Why is it that the book of Mark, unlike the other Gospels, is so short and fast-paced and contains so little of the teachings of Jesus and so few miracle stories? About a third of the Gospel is preoccupied with the passion of Jesus, and yet the author has little interest in dwelling on the question of why Jesus had to die.
(RNS) When I was a young girl, my mother taught me to add “x” and “o” — a kiss and a hug — after my signature. So deeply embedded was this English-language tradition that it never crossed her mind that these symbols had anything to do with religion.
New York City mayor Bill de Blasio announced recently that the city’s public school system would add two Islamic holy days to the number of religious holidays recognized. Why stop there? asked Stephen Prothero, religion professor at Boston University. Why not mark the winter solstice for Wiccans or celebrate Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights? Adding more religious holidays would recognize the nation’s diversity, but it would not be practical, said Prothero. He urged a move in the other direction: no religious holidays on the school calendar (Wall Street Journal, March 10).