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
The “Vergangenheit” episode of season 2 of Netflix’ critically acclaimed series The Crown dwelt at length on the treachery of the ex-King Edward VIII’s and his wife Wallis Simpson’s collaboration with Hitler to restore Edward to the Throne following the supposedly imminent and, at the time, the all-too-possible fall of England and the establishment of a Nazi regime in the United Kingdom. (Incidentally and not unexpectedly, the Prime Minister of a fascist UK would allegedly have been Oswald Mosley, head of the British Union of Fascists.) The true extent of the treason came to light with the publication, in the United States, of what Americans called the “Marburg files,” after the castle in the German state of Hesse, where the documents were discovered – which the English more appropriat