Category: Religion

  • Review of Who’s Black and Why?

    Review of Who’s Black and Why?

    In 1741, the exalted members of the Bordeaux Royal Academy of Sciences met to consider sixteen essays written in response to the following question: ‘What is the physical cause of the Negro’s color, the quality of [the Negro’s] hair, and the degeneration of both [Negro hair and skin]?’

  • Review of The First Astronomers

    Review of The First Astronomers

    ‘When profound ideas are introduced to the world for the first time,’ writes Professor Marcia Langton, in her foreword to The First Astronomers, ‘our world is fundamentally changed and the previous understandings consigned to history. There are those who continue to deny the intelligence and scientific traditions of Indigenous people. The idea that the only true science is that of Western thinking must be consigned to history.’

  • Review of On Life’s Lottery, by Glyn Davis

    Review of On Life’s Lottery, by Glyn Davis

    In Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison assures us, ‘if you have a go, you will get a go’. In other words, those who make an effort are guaranteed a shot at success. It follows that if you don’t make an effort, you only have yourself to blame when success remains stubbornly out of reach.  

  • Tim Winton’s The Shepherd’s Hut: A Review

    “Anything with blood in it can probably go bad. Like meat. And it’s the blood that makes me worry. It carries things you don’t even know you got.” So thinks Jaxie Clackton as he hides out in the Western Australian wheatbelt, casing a corrugated iron shack. He’s on the run, having found his father crushed […]

  • 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’ […]

  • 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 […]

  • 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 […]

  • 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 […]

  • 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 […]

  • 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, […]