Category: Religion

Losing the Plot: On the Liberal Reaction to Hulu’s Handmaid

Losing the Plot: On the Liberal Reaction to Hulu’s Handmaid

I’ll say one thing for the Cheeto Jesus: he’s done wonders for the journalistic trade in specious literary comparisons. In the year or so since Donald Trump became the GOP’s presidential nominee, I must have read hundreds of articles comparing his rise and behaviour in office to dystopias and alternative histories such as Sinclair Lewis’ It Can’t Happen Here, Philip […]

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On Terry Eagleton and Roger Scruton: What Kind of Thing Is Humankind?

On Terry Eagleton and Roger Scruton: What Kind of Thing Is Humankind?

Roger Scruton and Terry Eagleton aren’t natural bedfellows. As a conservative philosopher in the Burkean mould, Scruton tends to regard the past as a country from which we have strayed too far, while the Marxist Eagleton looks forward to a world that has broken free from oppression and exploitation. But while certain fundamental differences emerge from a reading of these […]

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Blessed are the moderate: how not to talk about religious violence

Blessed are the moderate: how not to talk about religious violence

BEARDED MAN: Could you be quiet, please? What was that? WISEGUY: I don’t know; I was too busy talking to Big-nose. SPECTATOR: I think it was “Blessed are the cheesemakers”. BEARDED MAN’S WIFE: What’s so special about the cheesemakers? BEARDED MAN: Well obviously it’s not meant to be taken literally; it refers to any manufacturers of dairy products.                                                 –– […]

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Future Perfect: Beyond the Delusional Present

Future Perfect: Beyond the Delusional Present

This essay was first published in Griffith Review: Imagining the Future. You can purchase a copy here. In ‘The Soul of Man under Socialism’ (1891), Oscar Wilde wrote that ‘A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing.’ Certainly it […]

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On Anti-Semitism, by Frederic Raphael

On Anti-Semitism, by Frederic Raphael

The first thing you find when you open Anti-Semitism is an Errata slip informing you that its author, Frederic Raphael, has mistaken D. H. Lawrence for T. E. Lawrence, Arthur Koestler for Arthur Schnitzler and the figure of 16,000 for 1,600 (the number of Jews killed in Jedwabne, Poland, in 1941). This is not a great start; one is entitled […]

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Lone wolves in search of a pack: some thoughts on ‘home-grown’ terrorism

Lone wolves in search of a pack: some thoughts on ‘home-grown’ terrorism

In the wake of the San Bernardino shootings last week, speculation about the killers’ motives was, not unreasonably in the circumstances, rife. Were the killings related to a workplace dispute – to a personal or professional grievance – or were they terroristic in nature? US President Barack Obama was careful to differentiate the two possibilities, to caution against jumping to […]

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In defence of the New Atheism

In defence of the New Atheism

‘Another day, another tweet from Richard Dawkins’ wrote Eleanor Robertson last July, in response to the controversial professor’s latest foray into the twittersphere. Ah yes, I can remember thinking, and another article on Richard Dawkins and how he and his fellow New Atheists are disappointing progressive expectations! Not that he didn’t deserve it, mind, having just used a moral taxonomy […]

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How should we talk about multi-ethnic democracy?

How should we talk about multi-ethnic democracy?

Listening to the discussions on Q&A last week, and observing Malcolm Turnbull in Canberra meeting with Muslim community leaders, it became clear that the public discourse around Islamic extremism in Australia has undergone a major shift, which is to say a major elevation. ‘Team Australia’ is now conspicuous by its absence, while Tony Abbott’s ‘they’re coming to get us’ shtick […]

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Review: David Brooks’ The Road to Character

Review: David Brooks’ The Road to Character

‘I was born with a natural disposition toward shallowness’ writes New York Times columnist David Brooks in his introduction to The Road to Character. As Brooks would be the first to admit, this isn’t a bad quality for a columnist to have: the demands of regular opinion writing are such that the big-name commentator is bound to sail close to […]

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This stoplight was on an opportunistic corner.

Hating Scientology

East Grinstead in the 1980s was not the most fascinating place for a teenager. Its historic buildings; its pioneering hospital; the fact that it adjoins the Ashdown Forest, one of the finest examples of heathland in England and the model for the Hundred Acre Wood, in which Pooh and Christopher Robin were wont to frolic: all of these were points […]

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