“The Jury is Out”: WikiLeaks shows U.S. trying to understand Islam in Turkey

November 29, 2010

turkey 3 (Photo: A commuter ferry sails past the Blue Mosque in Istanbul September 4, 2010/Osman Orsal)

The WikiLeaks documents from the U.S. embassy in Ankara show several attempts by American diplomats to understand the role of Islam and the Islamic world in the political stand of the governing AK Party of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. Their efforts can be summarised in a subtitle of a cable in 2007 purporting to show “the truth behind the AKP’s “secret Islamic agenda.” It said simply: The Jury is Out.”

The slow death of multiculturalism in Europe

By Guest Contributor
November 1, 2010

The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the authors’ alone. Ibrahim Kalin is senior advisor to Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. This article first appeared in Today’s Zaman in Istanbul and is reprinted with its permission.

Israel Museum takes a new look at the history of the Holy Land

August 9, 2010

jerusalem museumA new Jerusalem exhibit displaying a million years of history in the Holy Land offers Bible buffs and skeptics alike a chance to say: “I told you so!”  The Israel Museum, fresh-faced after a three-year, $100 million upgrade, offers an unparalleled look into the development of monotheistic religions, while leaving plenty of room for both science and faith.

“Last Supper” paintings show how food portions grew over millenium

March 23, 2010
The Last Supper, by Leonardo da Vinci

The Last Supper, by Leonardo da Vinci

We’ve been overeating our way through ever-larger portions over the past 1,000 years, a U.S. study revealed after studying more than 50 paintings of the Biblical Last Supper.

Religion now hottest topic of study for U.S. historians – AHA survey

December 31, 2009

nypl 1Religion has become the hottest topic of study for U. S. historians, overtaking the previous favourite — cultural studies — and pulling ahead of women’s studies in the latest annual survey by the American Historical Association. Younger historians are more likely than older ones to turn their sights on faith issues.

“The Evolution of God” — a purpose-driven history?

September 14, 2009

U.S. author Robert Wright traces the history of God and suggests that it might all point to the unfolding of something divine, though perhaps not in the sense that most people of faith would envision.

Can policymakers use Darwin’s insights? New twist on old debate

December 26, 2008

The latest issue of The Economist has a provocative essay on Darwinism asking if Charles Darwin’s insights can be used profitably by policymakers. You can read it online here.

Did climate change stoke past religious persecution?

December 1, 2008

A thought-provoking new book on Christianity’s “lost history” holds that one of the central causes of 14th century religious persecution may well have been climate change. You can read my interview with author Philip Jenkins about “The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa and Asia — and How It Died” on the Reuters website here.

Rome looks at Pius XII papacy as death anniversary nears

September 22, 2008

pdf_scantest.jpgOn October 9, Pope Benedict will lead the Roman Catholic Church in marking the 50th anniversary of the death of Pope Pius XII. There is a lot of interest in what Benedict will say in his homily about his predecessor, arguably the most controversial pontiff of the 20th century because of what he did or did not do to save Jews during the Holocaust. On October 21, the Vatican will open a photographic exhibition on his papacy and on Nov 6-8, two pontifical universities in Rome, the Lateran and the Gregorian, will jointly sponsor a conference on his papacy.

Pope balances church and state in Paris speech

September 12, 2008

President Nicolas Sarkozy and Pope Benedict arrive at Elysee Palace, 12 Sept 2008/Philippe WojazerThe French are a tough audience to please and speaking to them about church-state relations is a tall order. Pope Benedict got right down to it at the start of his visit to France, using his courtesy call on President Nicolas Sarkozy to outline his view of the role religion should play in the public sphere. Fluent in French and well-read in the country’s history and culture, he made several interesting points in his short speech.