3 results
July 13, 2016

When I was a teenager I read a science-fiction short story about a bet between two supernatural beings: which of them, by meddling in human affairs, could create the largest effect by the smallest stimulus? One of the beings triumphed by convincing a man to change one letter in his last name, starting a causal chain that wound up averting a nuclear war. (Nuclear war being what my generation feared before sentient machines and zombie apocalypses.)

With the...

December 10, 2015

In the aftermath of the terror attacks in San Bernardino there has been a great deal of media chatter about how the two killers became “radicalized.” How, that is, they went from presumably normal, peaceful Muslims to the type of Muslims who would assemble an arsenal of guns and explosives and use it to slaughter innocent people in Allah’s name. What malign influence caused that transformation?

It’s interesting how we’re using “radical” in this context—to mean extreme, not-mainstream...

March 25, 2015

"Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and his name shall be called Emmanuel" (which means, God with us).

-Matthew 1:23

One of Islam’s admirable features is the adhan, or call to prayer. Five times a day, a signal goes out from a high place in a mosque alerting all Muslims within earshot that it’s time to pause from their activities and offer one of the short daily prayers...