Holy Wars



These days, the term “holy war” brings to mind the conflict between Islamic terrorists and western cultures. Although the so-called Islamic Jihad is not the topic of this essay, there are some parallels between Islamic activism and American social movements.  Those social movements are the topic, but first we need to distinguish those movements from the Islamic Jihad.  I will paraphrase a description of the Jihad as given by James Turner Johnson, an academic scholar who has written several books on Islam and the west. Continue reading

Conservative and Liberal–Two Cultures


 (adapted from lectures, 2007-08)

One day a friend remarked to me that he had been talking with a neighbor, when my name came up in the conversation. The second man let out an expression like, “Humph, he’s a liberal.” I found this amusing. I wondered what, exactly, did the second man mean? The media use the terms, “liberal” and “conservative,” or “left” and “right,” without ever defining them. I want to look at the meaning and implication of the terms, because the country is divided politically, socially, and religiously into two camps labeled as “liberal” and “conservative.” States are identified as either blue or red. I see a nation divided not so much by money as by different ways of life that are generated and shaped by beliefs. And if you think this polarity is entirely new, see the epilog at the end. Continue reading