Category: Religion

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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The ‘gay cake’ controversy

In July 2014 a gay rights activist named Gareth Lee ordered a cake from Ashers bakery in Belfast. The commission was for a large square sponge bearing the legend ‘Support Gay Marriage’ and the logo of an organisation called QueerSpace. It was also to feature Bert and Ernie, the Sesame Street characters whose sexuality is the subject of much affectionate […]

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More shade, please, in the ‘burqa’ debate

There used to be a convention at the seamier end of the pornography market whereby models would be de-identified by way of a dark strip across their eyes. The aim of this strip, presumably, was to protect the honour of the featured models – these being the days before the internet had made us all a little less chaste. Its […]

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Fissures in reality: a review of Barbara Ehrenreich’s Living with a Wild God

In a career spanning nearly half a century, the US journalist Barbara Ehrenreich has sought to expose economic inequality and to critique the utopian and delusional character of the arguments used to justify it. In Nickel and Dimed (2001) she revealed how the lives of unskilled workers give the lie to ‘trickledown’ economics, while in Bait and Switch (2005) she […]

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Shorten plays politics while Iraq burns

It fell to Labor leader Bill Shorten, doing his usual impression of a hole in the air, to encapsulate this week’s mini debate around the Abbott government’s intentions (or lack of them) regarding the unfolding situation in Iraq, where, if this morning’s reports are correct, 80 men have just been massacred (and their wives and children taken as prisoners) in […]

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No honour in killing debate

The organisers of the 2014 Festival of Dangerous Ideas have made two mistakes in the last week. The first was to call an upcoming talk ‘Honour Killings are Morally Justified’; and the second was to cancel it. The first mistake shows a lack of judgment; the second shows a lack of nerve, plus an almost Neville Chamberlain-like faith in the […]

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Bad Faith: on Ronald Dworkin’s Religion without God

For all that he tried to extend the scope of human sympathy in his influential oeuvre, Professor Ronald Dworkin, who died last year at the age of 81, was a divisive figure. To his critics, the US philosopher and scholar of constitutional law was the theorist-in-chief of ‘rights culture’ and the poster boy for an anti-democratic (and always progressive) judicial […]

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Philip Dodd and I go head to head

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Talking about offence with the ABC’s Richard Fidler

http://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/local/brisbane/conversations/201311/r1203534_15602380.mp3

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Generation Ex

Considered in theoretical terms, the modern ideal of ‘marriage for love’ has never been more popular. In traditional societies such as India and China, arranged marriages (and certainly forced marriages) are less common than they used to be, while for many artists and activists in Muslim-majority communities the freedom to choose one’s life partner has become the emblem of freedom […]

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