The first victims of the First Crusade, inspired in 1096 by the supposedly sacred mission of retaking Jerusalem from Muslims, were European Jews. Anyone who considers it religiously and politically transgressive to compare the behavior of medieval Christian soldiers to modern Islamic terrorism might find it enlightening to read this bloody story, as told in both Hebrew and Christian chronicles.
The message from the medieval past is that religious violence seldom limits itself to one target and expands to reach the maximum number of available victims.
Just as the Crusades were integrally linked to Roman Catholicism in the Middle Ages, terrorist movements today are immersed in a particular anti-modern interpretation of Islam.… Seguir leyendo »
I recently made what can best be described as a personal pilgrimage to Florence, Italy, where I wanted to gaze once again on Lorenzo Ghiberti’s recently restored golden Baptistery doors, known as the Gates of Paradise, and remember how they changed my life.
When I returned home, I was greeted by the news that parts of the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts might be sold to pay the bankrupt city’s creditors. Government-ordered estimates of the potential value of a collection containing works by, among others, Fra Angelico and Rembrandt, are due from Christie’s auction house in a few weeks.… Seguir leyendo »
In a recent conversation with a fellow journalist, I voiced my exasperation at the endless talk about faith in God as the only consolation for those devastated by the unfathomable murders in Newtown, Conn. Some of those grieving parents surely believe, as I do, that this is our one and only life. Atheists cannot find solace in the idea that dead children are now angels in heaven. “That only shows the limits of atheism,” my colleague replied. “It’s all about nonbelief and has nothing to offer when people are suffering.”
This widespread misapprehension that atheists believe in nothing positive is one of the main reasons secularly inclined Americans — roughly 20 percent of the population — do not wield public influence commensurate with their numbers.… Seguir leyendo »