Category: Other Religions

The spiritual disconnect in Imagine Dragons’ Smoke + Mirrors

Credit Imagine Dragons and front man Dan Reynolds for truth in advertising with Smoke + Mirrors. Behind its bombastic hooks and designed-for-arenas lyricism is … who knows what. Like Oz’s great and powerful wizard, the truth behind this multi-platinum act’s vaguely spiritual angst is hard to ascertain. The smoke is cool, though. The mirrors are definitely working. This is arena rock at its bloated…  [more]

The problem with Obama’s Crusades comment

Last week, President Barack Obama’s National Prayer Breakfast remarks about religious violence were not well-received. Noting the relationship between violence and religion in various times and places, he referenced Christianity’s connection with the Crusades, the Inquisition and American slavery and segregation. It’s true that Christians and the church have been complicit in violence –…  [more]

The missed opportunity of Duke’s Muslim call to prayer

Last week, Duke University reversed its decision to allow the traditional Muslim call to prayer to be broadcast from its historic chapel tower. The permission for Muslim students to recite the prayer on Fridays for three minutes from the bell tower was rescinded following strong criticisms from Christians and a “serious and credible security threat.” Evangelical public figure Franklin Graham, in…  [more]

Why I’m not surprised Ryan Bell turned atheist after his year without God

At the beginning of 2014, former pastor Ryan Bell decided to try out atheism for a year (and blog about it, of course). As he put it, “For the next 12 months I will live as if there is no God. I will not pray, read the Bible for inspiration, refer to God as the cause of things or hope that God might intervene and change my own or someone else’s circumstances.” At the beginning of 2015, Bell…  [more]

Reading between the rhetoric after the Charlie Hebdo attacks

How do you respond when a small group of zealots kills and terrorizes a country where you used to live? How can justice be satisfied without any hint of revenge? Does Christianity have anything to say to a world where a trip to the supermarket or a day at work can end in a massacre? These were the questions that bounced around my head as I sat down to dinner with my wife and two children last week in the wake of the…  [more]

Homegrown terrorists and the human need to belong

What if a Western Islamic man knocking on the door of a terrorist organization is really looking for the love of God? I don’t even want to think about the possibility. Those who join the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) are our enemies and have sworn to destroy us. Attempting to understand them feels like betrayal. Anyone who chooses ISIS is 100% evil. Period. United States President Barack Obama…  [more]

Salvaging sacred music in Syria

As the horrifying actions of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) reached mainstream consciousness last month, I found myself driving my car angry and unsettled. The gravity of this situation defied my capacity for understanding. Then the NPR station I had on played some modern-day Syrian men singing the Lord’s Prayer in ancient Aramaic, and I lost it. That afternoon, the deeply spiritual power…  [more]

Praying with yoginis: when public prayer isn’t the Christian kind

Earlier this month, the United States Supreme Court narrowly ruled in Town of Greece v. Galloway that local governmental entities may open their meetings with Christian prayers, despite the exclusion felt by the complainants. The court’s 5-4 decision - and its various dissenting opinions - reflects well my own conflicted views on the subject. As a Christian in a country in which the majority of people claim…  [more]

What airports reveal about religious pluralism

In his Easter reception for Christian leaders, Prime Minister David Cameron called the United Kingdom a “Christian country” and asked faith organizations to play a greater role in society. While his speech and follow-up article are worthy of analysis, I want to look at what the reaction, notably a protest from 50 prominent atheists, tells us about the nature of secularism. The main point of the protest…  [more]

Why ‘teaching religion’ will only take students so far

A recent article in The Atlantic by Marshall Poe suggests that religion should be taught in secular universities. What makes this article fascinating is that Poe, a former history professor, is not religious but a “confirmed atheist.” Furthermore, he is advocating for religious leaders (priests, imams and rabbis) to teach their religions to undergraduates in the hope that this will give students, in his…  [more]

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