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This week's editor

Ray Filar

Ray Filar is co-editor of Transformation and a freelance journalist.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Here we host debates on values, ethics, philosophy, spirituality, religions, and belief systems. There has never been a more important time to understand ourselves and one another better.

Heartfelt rationality

The side effects of good intentions and tolerance can be more suffering. We must let our hearts set our goals, but use the mind to pursue them. Our former Editor-in-Chief, reflecting on rationality and the fallout of a TV-series. Archive: This article was first published on October 1, 2012.

Our fallible prophet

Rational reflection and reasoning should not be a threat to religion. Drawing on religious texts, the author argues Muslims should embrace the fallibility of the prophet, and so free themselves of the shackles of history and paralyzing dogmas.

Manchurian mormon?

Mitt Romney needs to answers basic questions about potential conflicts between his religious vows and his prospective presidential vows.

India is ready for change, but censorship, taxation and corruption plagued the Art Fair

Mixed news from the fine art scene in India. The fourth annual Indian Art Fair was hailed as a great success, but censorship issues can restrain artists and curators in subtle ways — logistically as well as creatively

The Great Partnership: multiculturalism, faith and citizenship

Do the supposedly civilised values of human rights and responsible citizenry become exclusionary, used to divide rather than unite? Is religion a partner of liberty? On the day the British parliament considers a bill proposing the banning of headscarves in public places, Robin Llewellyn reviews Jonathan Sacks' ‘The Great Partnership: God, Science, and the Search for Meaning’

2011, a year of wonder

A great scientific breakthrough is also a path to appreciating the core ingredient of our humanity, says Tina Beattie.

An arch-visionary of Canterbury

The leading religious authority of the Church of England has disappointed many of the hopes invested in him. Rowan Williams has indeed failed to address the challenges facing the Church and the Anglican Communion, not least its historic entanglement with state power. This is the project that his successor must understand, says Theo Hobson.

9/11: the identity-politics trap

The reaction to the attacks of 11 September 2001 included an instinctive veneration of their chief architect. Its deeper foundation is a regressive and widespread ethno-religious view of the world, says Sami Zubaida.

The dinner-party revolution

The dinner-party is a symbol of complacent presumption, the last occasion to be associated with genuine dialogue or the jolt of rethinking. But it’s possible to renew the ritual in surprising ways - and really caring about the food is just the start, says Keith Kahn-Harris.

Indonesia: pluralism vs vigilantism

A pattern of violence against the Ahmadiyah religious community, in which the perpetrators enjoy near-impunity and official indulgence, is disfiguring Indonesia. It also presents a wider challenge to the country’s vital search for a model of religious tolerance in public life, says Charles Reading.

Bin Laden, Dostoevsky and the reality principle: an interview with André Glucksmann

Europe is trapped by complacency and an all too human desire for oblivious contentment, says a leading French philosopher. This helps ensure the success of the nihilistic terror and extremist ideology exemplified by al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein. (From the archive, originally published 31 March 2003)

Moderate secularism: a European conception

The question of religion’s place in modern secular societies is intellectually contested and politically divisive. Here, the scholar Tariq Modood argues that European experience and institutional development can favour an accommodative model that respects religion yet goes beyond both toleration and even civic recognition. This moderate secularism, he says, meets the test of core democratic values while avoiding the dangers that fear-induced exclusion of religion from the public sphere would entail.

Egypt, and the post-Islamist middle east

The portrayal of Egypt’s uprising in terms of its potential capture by Islamists is doubly misleading, says Asef Bayat: for this misses both the true character of the people’s movement and the transformation of the Arab world’s religious politics.

Multiculturalism, Britishness, and Muslims

The idea of multiculturalism has been subjected to greater criticism in recent years, especially on the grounds that it is divisive and undercuts other solidarities of society, class or nation. But a fuller understanding of the context in which the arguments for multiculturalism arose and evolved can help both address some of the simplifications that now cluster around it and achieve a more nuanced view, says Tariq Modood.

The religious crisis of American liberalism

The extraordinary arc of Barack Obama’s popular appeal tells a deeper story of America: of how the relationship between liberalism and religion was forged, then frayed and broken, and how the president’s rhetoric offered the mirage of healing. Theo Hobson asks what, if anything, can be recovered from the ashes of a once-potent compact.

The “Islam” drumbeat: an Orwellian story

A reductive and tendentious portrayal of Islam and its followers is spreading across Europe and America. It is all too reminiscent of the chilling world imagined by George Orwell, says Arshin Adib-Moghaddam

Pope Benedict: the faith of authority

A delicate papal visit to Britain was in the end a diplomatic success. All the more reason to examine the ideas it advanced, says Michael Walsh.

Ayodhya: verdict and consequence

An Indian court’s ruling on the Hindu-Muslim dispute over the sacred site of Ayodhya sheds light on the relationship between two forms of rationality in India, says Deep K Datta-Ray.

Europe's Muslims: burqa laws, women's lives

Several European states - France, Italy, Belgium and Britain among them - are involved in legal, social or political disputes over the dress-codes of Muslim women. A detailed and alert survey of the variegated experiences and attitudes involved is the best way to understand a complex issue, says Sara Silvestri.

Siberian Shamans Come in From the Cold (part 3)

After decades of repression, Siberia’s shamans are re-emerging. Ken Hyder is a musician who performs with a Tuvan shaman. His novel describes the culture of contemporary shamanism as it emerges after decades of repression. Part three of three.

Siberian Shamans Come in From the Cold (part 2)

After decades of repression, Siberia’s shamans are re-emerging. Ken Hyder is a musician who performs with a Tuvan shaman. His novel describes the culture of contemporary shamanism as it emerges after decades of repression. Part two of three.

Siberian Shamans Come in From the Cold

After decades of repression, Siberia’s shamans are re-emerging. Ken Hyder is a musician who performs with a Tuvan shaman. His novel describes the culture of contemporary shamanism as it emerges after decades of repression. Part one of three.

The Catholic church’s scandal: modern crisis, ancient roots

The sexual violation of young people within the Catholic church is the poisonous legacy of a long tradition of contempt for human sexuality in an institution which has privileged secrecy and unaccountable power over transparency and participation. But the silence and darkness revealed by the scandal must not be allowed to define the majority of Catholics who are the living church, says Tina Beattie.

Iran: torch of fire, politics of fun

The doctrinal contempt of Islamist regimes for popular festivals such as the Iranian nowrooz (new year) extends to suspicion of every expression of spontaneous life. The result is to conjure the very rituals of resistance they fear, says Asef Bayat. 

Religion in schools, finally

Solovestky Monastery 

Russian Orthodox Solovetsky Monastery complex, founded in the second quarter of the 15th century 

 

Russia's Orthodox Church has finally won its battle to make religious education compulsory in schools, says Russian Orthodox Church official Viktor Malukhin. But the secularists have won concessions too

"Born-again" Muslims: cultural schizophrenia

The divine rage that sparked the attacks on New York and Washington was inspired by the collision between a particular interpretation of Islamic faith and disabling social experience, says Malise Ruthven.

(This article was first published on 27 September 2001)

Antichrist: the visual theology of Lars Von Trier

The Danish filmmaker’s compelling drama uses the moving image as a celluloid icon to explore the depths of the Christian unconscious and its metaphysical terrors and longings. Tina Beattie reflects on “Antichrist”.

[This essay reveals some key events in the film's narrative]

Leszek Kolakowski: thinker for our time

The Polish philosopher’s intellectual journey was marked by a lengthy, careful demolition of Marxism. The stifling influence of this ideology and its outgrowths and variants in the western academy make Leszek Kolakowski’s achievement all the greater - and more surprising, says Roger Scruton.   

(This article was first published on 28 July 2009)

Leszek Kolakowski, 1927-2009: a master figure

The great Polish intellectual was a voice for reason, truth and decency amid the deceits of the communist era, says Adam Szostkiewicz.

Musawah: solidarity in diversity

In her concluding report from the launch of a global initiative to reform Muslim Family Law, Cassandra Balchin finds solidarity in diversity and a growing convergence around human rights values. 

Musawah: there cannot be justice without equality

Muslim scholars and activists from forty eight countries are today launching a global initiative insisting that in the twenty first century "there cannot be justice without equality" between men and women,

Barack Obama and the American void

The president of the United States inaugurated on 20 January 2009 remains a political enigma. What are the true lineaments of his character, his vision, his faith, and his appeal? The philosopher Simon Critchley reflects.

(This article was first published on 22 January 2009)

The politics of ME, ME, ME

The shrillness and point-scoring of much internet-based discussion - on topics as diverse as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and chronic fatigue syndrome - is narrowing the space where a larger political dialogue should be, say Keith Kahn-Harris & David Hayes.

John Milton’s vision

To honour the English writer John Milton on the 400th anniversary of his birth is to acknowledge his persistent otherness in the country he tried to transform, says Theo Hobson.

Along the precipice: visions of atheism in London

The shallow and indulgent godlessness of the new atheists is thrown into stark relief by the real thing represented in the visceral work of the painter Francis Bacon, says Tina Beattie.

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