Over the past few days I have been making plans with the inspiring Senta German of the Ashmolean Museum for two new Object Handling Sessions in the Museum as part of the Objects of Love series sponsored by TORCH (the Oxford Research Centre for the Humanities), one this week and one in two weeks’ time. The theme […]


According to Agence France-Presse, over 2.5 million people gathered at the Place de la République earlier today for the Marche Républicaine, the largest demonstration in the history of France. The stated aim was to express solidarity and to mourn seventeen victims – fifteen men and two women; Jews, Muslims, Christians and atheists among them – of […]

Jacopo_Pontormo_040 - Visitation - Wikimedia_Fotor

One of the most charming coincidences of religious history involves  the city of Iconium (now Konya in western Turkey). Regular readers of this blog will know that the Anatolian city was the birth-place of the early Christian heroine Thecla of Iconium, but they may not be aware that one of the greatest writers of medieval Islam is buried there. […]

S Barbara - Sistine Madonna detail_Fotor

It is always surprising to discover how the early Christian saints have lived on in the cultures of Europe and the Mediterranean, and Saint Barbara is a perfect example of this. In Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Palestine, she is celebrated on 4 December as the protagonist of Eid-il-Bubara, a Hallowe’en-like festival in which children go […]

Resa Aslan - Does Islam Promote Violence?Screen Shot 2014-10-03 at 13_Fotor

The recently published Global Terrorism Index 2013 is being reported  as confirming that “religion has become the main driver of terrorism”, surpassing nationalist and other motives. But there is a problem with the analysis. The report tracks the justifications claimed by terrorists for their actions, but this is very different from identifying ‘drivers’. Between the scholarly research and the […]

NT; (c) Stourhead; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Saint Catherine of Alexandria is my name-saint, so I always stop to remember her on her Feast Day even though sadly I don’t come from the kind of family where you celebrate your name-saint’s feast with honey-cakes and sparklers. But this year, I am seeing things in Catherine’s story that I never thought to notice before – […]

Jesus, Muhammad and Gender Poster

I doubt you could have found a more inspiring place to be, this past Saturday, than the inter-faith chapel at Lancaster University, where Christian-Muslim Encounters in Lancashire had organized a day of inter-faith discussion about Jesus in Christianity and Islam. My own role, with the marvellous Dr Shuruq Naguib was to lead a workshop on ‘Jesus, Muhammad, and Gender’, considering […]


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