To "more fully understand why conservative [American] politics [has] become synonymous with no-questions-asked support of Israel," Author Tom Bissell went on a ten day “Stand with Israel Tour” hosted by right-wing Jewish Conservative talk show pundit Dennis Prager. My Holy Land Vacation: Touring Israel with 450 Christian Zionists, is this month’s Harper’s Magazine cover story. [more inside]
The Faithful. "René and Juan Carlos set out to convert their Colombian megachurch to Orthodox Judaism. This is what happened."
Hitler's World by Timothy Snyder [New York Review of Books]
In Hitler’s world, the law of the jungle was the only law. People were to suppress any inclination to be merciful and were to be as rapacious as they could. Hitler thus broke with the traditions of political thought that presented human beings as distinct from nature in their capacity to imagine and create new forms of association. Beginning from that assumption, political thinkers tried to describe not only the possible but the most just forms of society. For Hitler, however, nature was the singular, brutal, and overwhelming truth, and the whole history of attempting to think otherwise was an illusion. Carl Schmitt, a leading Nazi legal theorist, explained that politics arose not from history or concepts but from our sense of enmity. Our racial enemies were chosen by nature, and our task was to struggle and kill and die.
Leaving the Witness. "In one of the most restrictive, totalitarian countries in the world, for the first time in my life, I had the freedom to think." [more inside]
"Confessions of an Ex-Mormon: A personal history of America’s most misunderstood religion." by Walter Kirn, author of Up in the Air and Lost in the Meritocracy. (Via)
President Jonah --an essay/history lesson/bible lesson/etc by Gore Vidal. ...We have also come to a point in this dark age where there is not only no hero in view but no alternative road unblocked. We are trapped terribly in a now that few foresaw and even fewer can define ...
How Important Is Religious Belief In The Definition Of Our Personality? I would say not at all, but Bernard Lewis's essay gave me pause. Bringing it all back home and wondering about MetaFilter's religious breakdown, does the fact that there are far more atheists, Jews (like me) and Mormons here than in the Western population at large, make any difference? Christians get a hard time here, in my opinion. Is it because, as Lewis says: "Tolerance was a much more difficult question for Christians"? Atheists, Jews and Buddhists seem to have a disproportionately large influence. Whereas Muslims, sadly, hardly get a look-in. What does this mean? That is, if it means anything?
Essay by Richard Dawkins (the scientist, not the game show host) on the supposed convergence on science and religion.