The Public Humanist

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Tu B’Shvat in the Anthropocene: Teshuva with the Earth

An almond tree in blossom near Urueña in Valladolid, Spain, during Tu BiShvat. Photo by Nicolás Pérez.

Is it time to apply the Jewish practice of teshuva to environmentalism?


What is a Terrorist?: The Difficulty in a Definition

Images via Google news

The standards by which we call someone a terrorist may be part religious and racial discrimination; hesitating to label individual or group violence as domestic terror appears wise when looking into history.


The Kurdish Experiment: Mandates that Made the Middle East

Arab nationalism may deserve more credit for shaping the Middle East following World War 1 than it sometime receives—especially in the case of the Kurds.


Crisis in Gaza: A Look to Quebecois History for Guidance

In 1763 Great Britain had won the Seven Years’ War against France. With the Treaty of Paris that followed, Britain maintained its American territories and all of Canada was surrendered by the French. This vast, newly-acquired area increased the size of British North America and the tiny island’s empire as a result. That is not to say, however, that Canada’s shift from France to Great Britain was an easy transaction.It was a precarious situation because of the social differences between the two powers.


Understanding Islam: Some Library Discussion Group-Tested Book Suggestions

Today’s news about U.S. Warplanes attacking Iraq has prompted me to dig into my files for an annotated bibliography listing the books selected by Mass Humanities for its “Understanding Islam” reading and discussion program that took place in dozens of public libraries in Massachusetts from 2002-2004.


Religious Roots of Liberal Ideas

Religion is obviously important to the political ideas of the Christian right. But political liberals might be surprised how many of their ideals have deep religious roots. John Adams is a good example of this connection that historians have long recognized. Adams was a religious man, a church-going animal (his words) all of his life. His religious views affected all aspects of his life and politics. But his religious views were not static; he moved from Puritanism toward a tolerant Unitarianism.


Creating Community through Film

What does “WIIFM” have to do with fostering interfaith and multicultural understanding? This is a question I asked myself when a public relations consultant volunteered to advise the Steering Committee of the Sharon Pluralism Network (SPN). “WIIFM,” or “What’s in it for me?” refers to the idea that people take interest in activities when they believe that paying attention leads to something of value for them.


Gaza, Why?

This month marks one year since Israeli land, sea, and air forces attacked the Gaza Strip, killing 1,434 men, women, and children and injuring upwards of 5000 according to the United Nations. The Gaza Strip became the Gaza Strip as a result of the creation of Israel in 1948. As a result of the 1948 war, refugees from the 78% of Palestine that became Israel crowded into the remaining portions of Palestine that then needed to be named. They were christened the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.


Religion and Democracy: The Muslim Veil Controversy

Every summer, the police in Iran crack down on “badhijab”—flimsy veils and skimpy head scarves. All women are required by law to cover their heads and to wear a coat that conceals their bodily form.This is a blatant violation of freedom—freedom of expression (to choose your clothing) and freedom of religion (to define for yourself how God wants you to behave). But consider the fact that in some democratic countries today the law is just as severe because it forbids Muslim women from covering their heads in public places.