Anyone involved in Buddhism today will nod in agreement upon hearing the claim that there has been a surprising number of Jews in modern Western Buddhism. This is particularly true for Buddhism in North America: not only has Buddhism been a popular choice among people from a Jewish background, but a seemingly disproportionate number have become leading lights of Western Buddhism, and have played a major role in shaping its evolution. It is quite natural to ask the question, why? What’s the connection?
I have a cynical friend who claims that there have been more books written about the Holocaust than there were people who perished in it. That is, no doubt, an exaggeration, but it is true that most of the books on this subject sound very much alike. Joshua Hammerman’s Embracing Auschwitz (Ben Yehuda Press) deserves our attention because it is by far the most original book on this subject that has come along in a great many years.
In our increasingly secular world, holy texts are at best seen as irrelevant, and at worst as an excuse to incite violence, hatred and division. So what value, if any, can scripture hold for us today? And if our world no longer seems compatible with scripture, is it perhaps because its original purpose has become lost? Read with Karen Armstrong as she explores the value of scripture in an increasingly secularised world and ponders whether we’ve lost our ability to engage with faith texts as spiritual tools rather than binding rules.
The prospects for peace in Afghanistan, dialogue between Washington and Tehran, the UN’s bid to stabilise nuclear-armed Pakistan, understanding the largest Muslim minority in the world’s largest democracy in India, or the largest Muslim population in the world in Indonesia – all require some knowledge of the traditional religious sectors in these countries and of what connection traditional religious schooling has (or not) to their geopolitical situations. Here, Adis Dujerija of Griffith University, Queensland, writes one book review.
The title of Professor Dov Waxman’s new book, The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: What Everyone Needs to Know, hides an important tension that gets explained in the course of reading this book, which addresses a most complex and confusing topic.
The conflict is not unitary. The make-up of the two sides has changed over time. From 1948-1972, it was known as the “Arab-Israeli” conflict. It involved the entire region and was not solely focused on the Palestinian question; the surrounding Arab states had territorial goals as well.
At interfaith gatherings Buddhists are wheeled out to present their views on everything from nuclear weapons to the ordination of women and then scheduled to drone Tibetan chants at the evening slot for collective worship. This transformation of Buddhism into a religion obscures and distorts the encounter of the dharma with contemporary agnostic culture. The dharma in fact might well have more in common with Godless secularism than with the bastions of religion.
The so-called War on Terror, in its many incarnations, has always been a war with gender at its heart. Once regarded as helpless victims waiting to be rescued, Muslim women are now widely regarded by both Muslim and non-Muslim disciplinarians as a potential threat to be kept under control. How did this shift in attitudes come about? Read about the conversations with Australian women the author has undertaken.
Religions are often thought of as distinct and competing traditions, but the phenomenon of people belonging to multiple religious traditions is widespread, according to a World Council of Churches (WCC) publication presented during the European Academy of Religion in Bologna, Italy.
In her autobiography, Josie Lacey tells of a remarkable life and the influence her ancestors had upon her. Some of her family were trapped in the Holocaust; others, like Josie, migrated to Australia. Here, Josie tells of her almost breathless life, with no time to lose.
I have, over the decades, read countless English translations of the Qur’an by many notable scholars, all of whom endeavoured to bring forth the meaning of the Qur’an in comprehensible English. The Majestic Qur’an: A Plain English Translation is translated by Dr Musharraf Hussain, a British Pakistani scholar with over 40 years expertise in Urdu translation of the Qur’an.
ISIS manipulates religion to brainwash angry young Muslims, who have little knowledge of Islamic theology and jurisprudence. Therefore, the Muslim scholars are obliged to respond with a counter-narrative that elucidates the reality of Islam and its commitment to tolerance.
This Kyoto Manifesto for Global Economics will take you to understand how the interdisciplinary approach of economy, community and spirituality will build a better and virtuous world. This book covers the new definition of an economy to make it sustainable for humanity, community and spirituality that is ever needed in this century.
Does the Bible offer us a singular vision of God and Jesus or is the text a far more complex beast of contrasting authorial visions and motivations? Rodney Eivers reviews John Dominic Crossan’s book How to Read the Bible and Still be a Christian to explore how we read the Good Book and what we should take from it.
The first volume of Science and Philosophy in the Indian Buddhist Classics, a new series by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Thupten Jinpa, is both a revelation and a precious resource on these civilizations that coinvented the scientific spirit. The editors define science as a form of knowledge of nature and its laws, based on empirical observations and striving to reach intersubjective agreement by shared rational principles.
Buddhism beyond Gender articulates Gross’s objectives as a Buddhist teacher and also more sharply and directly issues a call that will be controversial, particularly among feminists coming of age in this generation, to realize that clinging to gender identity subverts enlightenment. An early pioneer of feminist scholarship, Gross navigated hostile terrain as a graduate student at the University of Chicago in the 1970s, where she was shunned by “serious scholars” for writing her dissertation on women’s studies in religion.
Religious thinkers, political leaders, lawmakers, writers, and philosophers have shaped the 1,400-year-long development of the world’s second-largest religion. But who were these people? What do we know of their lives and the ways in which they influenced their societies?
In Islamic Civilization in Thirty Lives, the distinguished historian of Islam Chase F. Robinson draws on the long tradition in Muslim scholarship of commemorating in writing the biographies of notable figures, but he weaves these ambitious lives together to create a rich narrative of Islamic civilization, from the Prophet Muhammad in the seventh century to the era of the world conquerer Timur and the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II in the fifteenth.
The amplification of women’s voices has become an idee fixe of modern social media. Rightfully so. If anything has become clear since the 2016 presidential election and the recent #metoo exposure of rampant sexual assault, it’s the necessity and relevance of feminism in our society.
But for today’s fourth-wave feminists, an awareness and appreciation of the great forward leaps made by the second-wave feminists of the 1960s is imperative to maintain historical perspective and inform future action. Marcia R. Rudin’s historical novel, Hear My Voice, does just that.
Reza Aslan’s God: A Human History is of that genre. But it is an unusual specimen. Engagingly written, likely to appeal to “seekers”, it contains an often fascinating potted history of religion, from primitive animism to the multi-faith world of today. While Aslan questions the truth of all monotheistic and polytheistic belief systems, he is not a dismissive atheist in the Richard Dawkins mould. Indeed, he has lambasted Dawkins as “a buffoon, embarrassing himself every day”.