Just over two years ago I wrote the following for the Huffington Post, and Sebastian Faulks’s book is still worth reading on the tenth anniversary of the London bombing of 7/7. I’d also suggest that it is more problematic than ever to adopt a dual standard which sees white Christian mass murderers as ‘mentally ill’ and others as ‘terrorists’. As […]

I have had the good fortune to travel back and forth across the American South more than once over the past few months, at a time when painful conversations have been taking place about racism and the legacy of American slavery, from the 50th anniversary of the Selma Marches in March, to  the tragedy at Charleston on […]

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 […]

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. […]

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 […]

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 […]