On Thursday, 1 February 2018, Jamie Dedes honored me by publishing my review of the new book by Paul Moses, The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam, and Francis of Assisi’s Mission of Peace. I found the book engrossing. In fact, even its omissions were engrossing. And Moses' entire text was provocative, touching issues on history, ethics, religion, and the psychology thereof. In fact, Paul Moses' book was too good to keep. So -- with Jamie's permission -- I am taking the liberty of reprinting my review here.
For a religious person who is “seeking God’s will,” the most reliable indicator that you are in serious trouble is the belief that you have found it. Paul Moses has, perhaps unintentionally, written a brief but fascinating account of a case in point: The Saint and the Su
This is going to sound really strange coming from me, i.e., coming from someone who has been a life-long fairly radical devotee of the First Amendment, in particular, of both the Amendment’s religion clauses: the “establishment” clause and the “free exercise” clause. But the recent publication of the grand jury’s findings regarding six Pennsylvania dioceses in the matter of priest pedophilia has caused me to radically reassess my attitude toward the latter clause, especially given that two of the six dioceses in question attempted to have judges quash the grand jury proceedings. In particular, I now believe that, for the most part and because of an arguably well-intentioned but exaggerated deference toward the “free exercise” clause, the Nation has pretty much allowed the Church to r
In a recent “Skeptic’s Collection” column, I used the “Vergangenheit” episode of the critically acclaimed Netflix series The Crown as a springboard to a broader discussion of the relationship, within the Christian tradition, of forgiveness and trust. Implicit in my discussion was a critique of the conception of this relationship among, not all, but broad segments of the progressive-Christian community, which seems to often believe that the two are, if not strictly synonymous, then at least closely related. I argued to the contrary: that trust is always, at best, conditional, even on those occasions when forgiveness is absolutely required. My question is this: if we transpose that transaction between the Queen and the former King (now Duke) from a human to a theological key, is the Qu