What are the principal lessons of the ten years of war since the 11 September 2001 attacks? Paul Rogers, professor in the department of peace studies at Bradford University, gives some crisp answers. He has played a prominent role in the Oxford Research Group, has written extensively on related global and regional issues, and his first openDemocracy column was published a few days after 9/11.
Events in Syria, though making headlines across the globe, and impacting the lives of everyone inside the country have left the Church in Lebanon tongue-tied it appears. Aline Sara, news editor of NOW Lebanon reflects on the political, religious, social and cultural issues which have led many Lebanese and Syrian Christians to refrain from criticising the regime for its crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.
The recent disturbances in England show that fundamental issues concerning the legitimation of government, social justice, and societal stability need to be addressed ever more urgently, says Professor Richard Roberts. He argues that scholars of religion should not simply remain reluctant but paid tools of an industrialised system of defective socialisation that initiates students into informed passivity, but rather the source of a truly critical discourse that broadens the imagination and enhances personal agency.
What started in Tunisia simply cannot stop now in Libya, says Harry Hagopian. It should not only grow but also improve incrementally so that we all stop talking romantically about a one-season 'Arab Spring' and think more pragmatically in terms of an Arab Awakening from a long slumber - a stubborn challenge against those rulers and elites who would prefer their co-citizens to remain dormant.
The visit to Britain of Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, from the Cordoba Initiative in New York, resonates not just with our reflections on the impending tenth anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy, but with the continuing quest for interreligious understanding in a conflictual world, says Professor Hugh Goddard.
If we can take anything positive from the days of destruction and division in England recently, says Chris Bain, perhaps it should be a dedication to tackle fear and exclusion wherever it exists around the world, and to stand by the women and children in the poorest countries who currently stand afraid on their own.
Today Syria is a lesson about how motivated citizens can challenge governments that act violently and seem invincible, says Harry Hagopian. But we also need to be wary towards religious radicalism or fanaticism on the one hand, and military arrogance or political kleptocracy on the other, infiltrating movements for change and co-opting them in order to impose new forms of dictatorships, totalitarian control, subjugation and discrimination.
When it comes to evil, says Alison Jasper, we have a tendency to mystify it - that is reproduce unchallenging representations of it, from the monster in the movie with unclean appetites for human flesh and blood, right through to the 'monstrous perverts' of the tabloid press. Much more careful analysis and understanding is required to discover what lies behind the routine (but often imprecise) label 'evil'.
Noting that much of the critical energy and revolt arising from the six-month old 'Arab Spring' has been directed internally rather than externally, respected scholar Elizabeth Kassab, who has a particular focus on post-colonial debates on cultural malaise, looks behind the headlines and media glare to examine features of the newly emerging landscape in the Arab world. Recovering a balanced, healthy and empowering sense of self has not been and will not be an easy task, she suggests.
Dr Jorge Ramirez Reyna, president of Asociación Negra de Defensa y Promoción de Derechos Humanos (Black Association for Human Rights Defence and Promotion, ASONEDH) in Peru, reflects on the issue of racism in his country and the role of the conference on the Violence of Racism in Latin America, backed by the churches regionally and internationally, which took place in June 2011 in Managua, Nicaragua.
In recognising the human endurance, perseverance, vision, humility, lack of bitterness and political ability that characterised Nelson Mandela, analyst and Ekklesia associate Dr Harry Hagopian looks at the response of Palestinians and others from the Middle East and North Africa region to his passing. There are uncomfortable truths to be faced in all this, he suggests.
History was made at the UN climate talks last week – not by the achievement of a breakthrough in negotiations, unfortunately, but by the unprecedented walk-out by 800 civil society groups and trade unions, says Caroline Lucas MP, assessing what has happened and what needs to happen next.