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
Even if you reject the “metaphysics” of Christianity – the Incarnation, the miracles, the bodily Resurrection, etc. -- you still have to deal with Christianity as an ethical system, and by that measure there are Gospel texts that, perhaps because of their very simplicity, challenge the current conservative ethic of “I’ve got mine, Jack, so screw you”. One such text is the story of Jesus’ encounter with the blind beggar, Bartimaeus, on the road leaving Jericho. But matters are not that straightforward. For it is easy enough, in fact, borderline-trivial, to understand the story as a critique of contemporary conservative Republican attitudes toward any form of material assistance to the indigent. What is usually overlooked is that the story contains a very recessed and implicit critique
As of today, it has been 17 years since two Boeing colleagues, whom I will call Roger and Ted, and I traveled on Boeing business to Salt Lake City to spend a few days working at the small Boeing engineering office there. We had flown in the previous day, 10 September, and spent that day walking around the city, four-wheeling around the rough terrain surrounding the Lake, taking a hair-raising drive up into the front range of the Wasatch Mountains, visiting the Mormon Tabernacle, and strolling around Park City, before going to dinner at a local steak house. Next morning, 11 September, I turned on the TV in my room to watch the news as I got dressed. I was mildly surprised at being greeted by what appeared to be a picture of the World Trade Center towers burning. I say only “mildly surp