Tag Archives: religion

The power of dissent

At certain times in history, sometimes protracted events have occurred that demonstrated the power of dissent – that (as far as we know) uniquely human capacity to express strong disagreement with some or other aspect of the political, social or cultural status quo, whether this is done peacefully or, in some cases, violently, in a…

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The biggest cover-up of all time?

After seeing the film based on Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, and not having read the novel, I was somewhat prejudiced against his work as being just another kind of thriller, spruced up with a high-art context in which the action unfolds. Until I read his novel, Inferno, named after the first part of…

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Islamic fundamentalism in the information age

In the second volume of his monumental three-volume study on the information age titled The Power of Identity (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), Manuel Castells addresses (as the book’s title indicates) the different ways in which a sense of collective identity is configured at a time when the so-called “network society” has emerged, concomitantly with the global communication-technological…

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Paris again: Has Huntington’s thesis been vindicated?

The recent events in Paris (not long after the Charlie Hebdo attacks), which have understandably shocked everyone who values peaceful interaction between people of different cultural orientations, will no doubt fuel renewed intercultural distrust instead. This is to be expected, particularly after reports that one of the attackers might have entered France a few weeks…

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Gardening, religion and the magic of sex

I shove my filthy hands into the soil and claw out roots and weeds, savouring the mess. A waft of mulch, half-dead weeds, decomposed worms and God knows what sweetens the air. Soon this muddle will be in order: scooped out flowerbeds surrounded by clipped squares of lawn which I will lay down on this…

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#ChapelHillShooting: Lives lost, senselessly

By Shireen Mukadam Ever heard of Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha and Razan Abu-Salha? Probably not. Two days ago, they were killed, execution style, in their apartment in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, on the east coast of the US. Deah (23) was a second-year dentistry student at the University of North Carolina. He was married to…

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African cities: When Christianity and sorcery meet

Christianity side by side with the occult as one belief system? The juxtaposition is interesting. There is a noticeable resurgence of the occult (sorcery and witchcraft beliefs) in contemporary cities like Harare, Accra or Lagos adjacent with a growth of charismatic evangelist churches. Conversations, rumours and gossip about witchcraft, sorcery and miracles (works of God)…

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Charlie Hebdo, laughter, dogma and ‘truth’

The recent “terrorist” attacks at the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, in Paris, France, is a stark reminder of something that the Italian semiotician, philosopher, novelist and universal scholar Umberto Eco thematised in his first novel, The Name of the Rose (1998), namely, the supposedly negative, mutually exclusive relationship between what is taken to be absolute,…

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Killing in the name of God

No thinking person can escape being horrified by the actions carried out in the name of God by religious fanatics across the world today. Killings, rapes, executions, wholesale slaughter, genocide, torture, and sometimes just ordinary nastiness — a litany of horrors that deny humankind the right to claim ourselves to be a uniformly emotionally intelligent…

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Max Weber on capitalism and religion

What must surely count as one of the shrewdest, albeit debatable, accounts of the distinctive traits of capitalism was penned by the justly famous German sociologist Max Weber in his controversial book, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism of 1930 (London: Routledge Classics, 2001). The reasons for its controversial status are summarised as…

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