How Christians Destroyed the Ancient World


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A book review of – THE DARKENING AGE The Christian Destruction of the Classical World By Catherine Nixey

Actions were extreme because paganism was considered not just a psychological but a physical miasma. Christianity appeared on a planet that had been, for at least 70,000 years, animist. (Asking the women and men of antiquity whether they believed in spirits, nymphs, djinns would have been as odd as asking them whether they believed in the sea.) But for Christians, the food that pagans produced, the bathwater they washed in, their very breaths were thought to be infected by demons. Pollution was said to make its way into the lungs of bystanders during animal sacrifice. And once Christianity became championed by Rome, one of the most militaristic civilizations the world has known, philosophical discussions on the nature of good and evil became martial instructions for purges and pugilism.

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Bettany Hughes — The New York Times

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How oppressed are Muslims in India?


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View from the other side.

Additionally, India is still officially a secular state where the rights of religious minorities are enshrined in the constitution, despite Modi government’s best efforts to the contrary. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of Pakistan where the Objectives Resolution solidified a second-class constitutional status for non-Muslim Pakistanis and where the definition of ‘Muslim’ itself is continuously shrinking. Rightly or wrongly, for many secular-minded Indians who are concerned about the deteriorating situation of religious minorities in their country, Pakistan stands as a warning of what might be in store for them in the not-too-distant future if they fail to quickly correct their path.

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Nida Kirmani — Herald

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My Jewish Encounter With Hinduism


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My encounter with individuals like Swami Chidananda, in Hinduism and in other faiths – certainly within Judaism as well, has informed my view of what religion is. It has led me to consider how to present what I consider the finest aspects of the religious life, as these come to expression in the lives of great individuals, and how to make these speak to the world at large, even beyond the boundaries of their native tradition. This has led to the thinking expressed in my recently published Religious Genius: Appreciating Exemplary Individuals Across Religious Traditions. Individuals such as Swami Chidananda have the capacity to touch others because they themselves have touched a plane of existence that gives meaning to their religion, while also transcending it and making something of it available to others. It is such individuals who not only represent the spirit of a religion; they also have the capacity to awaken the power of spirit in those who are in contact with them and are exposed to their person and teachings.

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Alon Goshen-Gottstein — Tablet

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Wild Wild Country’s white American provincialism


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The other side of the story.

Yet by framing Rajneeshpuram as a “sex cult” without this historical context, Wild Wild Country elides the fact that plenty of middle-class Indians had the same reaction to the “sex cult” as did citizens of Antelope. Not only that, we also miss out on a crucial irony: that India’s first godless and capitalist guru merely claimed to be a religious teacher for U.S. immigration purposes. Even worse, Wild Wild Countryremoves the capitalist-elitist substrate of the “material spirituality” Rajneesh espoused. Always a smooth operator, Rajneesh tracked his newspaper and magazine coverage, and though his lectures were designed to outrage the Indian masses (in order to ramp up publicity), he often appealed to elite venues such as the Rotary Club and the “cocktail circuit” of Mumbai.

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Noopur Raval & Phalguni Desai — The Baffler

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Why atheists are true believers too


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He makes this point again and again. These modern atheists’ view of the world is “inherited” from Christianity. Their belief in progress is “a secular avatar of a religious idea of redemption”. Jacobinism and Bolshevism were “channels” for the millenarian myths of Christianity. Bolshevism was in a “lineage” going back to medieval millenarianism. The apocalyptic myths of radical Christian movements “renewed themselves” in secular, political forms.

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Noel Malcolm — New Statesman

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A Personal Journey Through the Mental Map of Bharat


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Spirituality is still the core strength of India.

For the next two weeks, I travel all around, exploring every sculpture, touching pillars and stones, applying on my forehead every bit of sacred ash that is offered to me. I recite hymns that I learnt from my grandfather. But it is the sum total of the journey that I am hoping will provide the scaffolding. As Diana L Eck writes in her book, India: A Sacred Geography: ‘The mental map of India envisioned in the narratives of the sages, enlivened by the eruptions of the divine, and imprinted in the soil with the footsteps of millions of pilgrims is still a powerful and compelling force in India today.’

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Rahul Pandita — OPEN

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TERRORISM IS NOT ABOUT TERROR


A detailed look on terrorism.

One commenter suggested that Abrahms almost has it right. Terrorists are seeking social ties, but only as a substitute for female companionship. The specific example was the American novel/movie Fight Club; certainly, when one thinks about it, it’s hard to not notice that the narrator goes–thanks to leading a terrorist organization–from being a single loser who has to pretend to be ill (mentally and physically) to get any attention or social interaction, to being an incredibly popular guy with dozens of subordinates to hang out with day and night and a girlfriend.

The complete article

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