Without seeking to draw explicit conclusions about the current conflict in and over Libya, Harry Hagopian offers some observations and questions about what is going on, and proposes a cautious hopefulness about the 'Arab spring', even in the midst of winter.
People of faith have been on the streets of London over the weekend, as an act of prophecy against the greatest attack on the vulnerable in society for the last 50 years, says David Haslam. Those from many different belief backgrounds, including Christians, joined the 'March for the Alternative' - for good spiritual and theological reasons.
"In mourning the nine lives lost in Gaza and the one life lost in Jerusalem this week," says Jewish Voice for Peace, "we reject the pattern of condemning the deaths of Israelis while ignoring the deaths of Palestinians. We do not discriminate. One life lost is one life too many - whether Palestinian or Israeli." JVP also situate the events within the context of 44 years of the Israeli occupation of Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem.
Do not be fooled by the scraps from the table in Chancellor Osborne's 2011 budget, says Urban Forum chief executive, Toby Blume, analysing the implications for charities, enterprise, environment, planning and poverty. Sadly, the real damage has already been done.
Sweden, by some standards one of the world’s most secular countries, has passed a new education law stipulating that public schools must teach their subjects in a “non-confessional” and “objective” manner. Joseph Ballan explores the complex boundaries and definitions of secularity and religiosity in the public arena.
With the 'Critical Religion' agenda and blog, says Michael Marten, the intention is to question the category of 'religion' - but then, rather than just holding it to suspicion, or blame, or discredit, or incredulity – a growing tendency among certain public intellectuals, even if against the tide of global demographics – to examine the issues involved from a positive critical standpoint.
We need to search beyond politicians’ construction of multiculturalism, says Professor Robert Jackson. Research shows a much more complex picture of the ‘multicultural’ nature of society and of cultural relations, with constantly changing, complex and heterogeneous cultural groupings, exhibiting much diversity and some tension over issues such as identity. Religion, and our understanding of it, remains vital to all of this, not least within our schools. So where is it in PM David Cameron's vision and policy?
The military balance of Libya’s domestic conflict is raising debate about external intervention, says Professor Paul Rogers. But the strategy of the Gaddafi regime is also crucial to what happens next. If a long conflict follows, the resulting costs will be measured in human lives; but also in the prospects for deepening the 'Arab spring' that first bloomed in Tunisia and Egypt, the countries on either side of Libya.
Religion changes and mutates. Some of these religious mutations can be positively harmful in a changing Middle East. But other religious innovations can help religion accommodate itself to modernity, says Ahmad Sadri. It doesn’t matter whether a society has or does not have religion per se. What is important is what kind of religion or irreligion pervades in that society.
While the Middle East uprisings have not revolved around religion, faith has not been absent from Arab scenes of protest in the last two months, says Shatha Almutawa. God and scripture are invoked by revolutionaries and those who oppose them for the simple reason that Arab dialects and ways of life are infused with religion.