If the modern secular state has depended for its conceptualisation on the related concept of 'religion' as a private right of faith in unseen mystical powers separated from the state, then so have those modern discourses which construct “political and socio-economic forces”, and are thereby in danger of reifying them, says Timothy Fitzgerald. He assesses some key arguments in Scott M. Thomas's widely praised book The Global Resurgence of Religion and the Transformation of International Relations: The Struggle for the Soul of the Twenty-First Century.
The breadth and quality of education universities once offered is now being seriously eroded by underfunding, says Dr Andrew W. Hass from the University of Stirling. But funding is not where the deeper crisis lies, he suggests. Cutbacks are just the symptom of a greater underlying problem. The real problem is an identity crisis. What is 'the university' for?
If the motion for recognition of the Armenian Genocide was successful this year in the Israeli Knesset, despite his misgivings, Harry Hagopian - alongside scores of other Armenian and non-Armenian scholars, activists, sympathisers and grassroots - will rejoice at this moral and equitable achievement.
The Church of Scotland General Assembly agreed, under threat, to withdraw a resolution calling for a UK ban on goods from Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. Paraic Reamonn says that the ethnically-defined nature of the current Israeli state, its treatment of Palestinians and what its policies are doing to the identity of Jewish people should be a matter of priority concern to Christians and others of goodwill.
The International Ecumenical Peace Convocation in Jamaica symbolises the emergence of a remarkable consensus among Christian churches on issues of war, peace and justice, says Stephen Brown. Yet the task facing the ecumenical movement in the 21st century is now to work for a consensus on justice and peace that transcends cultural and religious boundaries.
This week, the Church of Scotland has been discussing a specially commissioned report on Same Sex Relationships and the Ministry at its General Assembly in Edinburgh. Alison Jasper from the University of Stirling unpacks the issues, as part of the Critical Religion series.
There are plenty of grounds for a paradoxical 'pessoptimism' about developments in the Middle East and North Africa, writes Harry Hagopian. The huge Arab struggles for dignity and freedom are vital but will take a long time. History in Europe and the USA should surely teach us that revolutions are never made in one swoop, but take time and cause pain.
Whatever happens in Libya in the coming weeks, the dichotomy in western policy between armed intervention in one situation and lack of an adequate response elsewhere will continue, casting a shadow over humanitarian claims and undermining other proclaimed purposes, says Professor Paul Rogers. The damage and the lost opportunities produced will be measured for years to come. The west's military-political strategy prolongs the war in Libya and gives space to authoritarian regimes elsewhere in the region.
In his speeches at the demonstrations of the citizens’ protest movement in the Kurdish Region of northeastern Iraq, Mullah Kamaran has called for a revolution without violence—a jihad. He has urged the armed militias to put down their guns. He appealed to the demonstrators to see the soldiers as their brothers and not throw rocks or hurt them, and has twice been arrested for his stand. Peggy Gish of Christian Peacemaker Teams reports.
There are serious questions to be asked about the unity pact between the two Palestinian factions of Fatah and Hamas, says Harry Hagopian. But meanwhile the Israeli prime minister remains dwarfed by the real significance of the Arab Spring, and a huge block to progress towards a just peace for all. He is still a tactician at best, with precious little strategic foresight.