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peter laarman

Cali Dept of Corrections v. Peter Laarman On Prison Crowding

In response to Peter Laarman’s Sept. 3 editorial “Jerry Brown’s Cynical, Unethical Prison Plan,” RD received the following letter from Deborah Hoffman, assistant secretary of communications for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Laarman’s response immediately follows.  To The Editors, Peter Laarman waxes polemic in his ill-informed attack on California Gov. Jerry Brown,…

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Fighting Demons, Raising the Dead, Taking Over the World

What is happening to Christianity? In 1996 a team from Ted Haggard’s New Life Church flew to Mali and began furtively anointing entire towns with cooking oil. The strangeness of it gripped Dutch missionary René Holvast, who later wrote: “It was confusing and produced a growing uneasiness. It did not seem to fit our current evangelical theological and anthropological textbooks.” The team from Haggard’s church was a forerunner in a missionary…

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The Best Books Media of 2008

Annual “Best Book” lists should usually be read as a review of the best publicity work of the year—the books that make the list, as wonderful as they may be, are most often those backed up by dedicated publicists. Charles Taylor’s monumental A Secular Age, for instance, one of only two nonfiction titles about religion featured on The New York Times’ 2008 100 Notable Books list, is the kind of very dense, academic study that normally wouldn’t…

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Talking Prop. 8: Of Rites and Rights

The striking down of Proposition 8 in California comes for many as a welcome decision in the battle for marriage equality and equality for all people. For others, it is, in a word: “demoralizing.” For those of us who research and write about religion, beliefs and the people who hold them dearly, the written ruling by Chief District Judge Vaughn R. Walker (an appointee of President Reagan) holds important implications not only for…

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New York Times Columnist Peter Steinfels’ Letter To RD; With Author Response

 Next month’s RD redesign will feature a curated letters section in lieu of comments. Until then we will post selected letters to the blog. — ed. Peter Steinfels Writes: Mark D. Jordan, I have it on good authority, is a talented and conscientious scholar. If that is true, it makes the attack he launched on me in Religion Dispatches last month all the more puzzling [see ‘Traditional’ Christianity vs….

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4 (or 5) American Muslims For Ben Carson to Interrogate

Ben Carson was pushed, and pushed, until his campaign manager, Armstrong Williams, would have no more of it. “This interview is over,” Williams announced, from off-camera. Jake Tapper, host of CNN’s State of the Union, had gone too far. Though it’s Carson who’s gone too far. As he told Tapper (before the interview was cut), if American Muslims “are not willing to reject Sharia and all the portions of it that are talked about…

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Peter King, Visit My Class

It’s hard to believe that as far back as 2007, Peter King was saying that there were too many mosques in this country. Ostensibly, it is because he believes Muslims go to mosques to be radicalized. He believes that 80% of the mosques in this country are radical hotbeds. His evidence is a statement made by Hisham Kabbani back in 1999. The problem is that this zombie lie, to use the words of Media Matters, has been thoroughly debunked. I am…

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Peter Beinart’s Controversial The Crisis of Zionism: Right Diagnosis, Wrong Treatment

Not since 2007, when Stephen Walt and John Mearshimer’s The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy hit the shelves, has a Jewish book evoked so much ire and criticism from the American Jewish community as Peter Beinart’s The Crisis of Zionism. Sharp critiques were published even before the book was released. One could surmise some of these reviews could have been written well before the reviewers had even read…

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Peter Berger, Sociology’s Defender of God (1929-2017)

Years ago when I was co-directing the Berkeley-Harvard program in comparative religion our conference in Cambridge had divided into two camps, the ethical relativists and the ethical absolutists. Peter Berger was on the side of the absolutists. The discussion came to the case of sati, the practice in India of widow-burning, where the grieving widow was supposed to throw herself onto the funeral pyre of her departed husband and achieve a kind of…

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River Baptism

Will Church Attendance Reduce Bigotry? A Response to Peter Beinart

We’re studying theories of baptism in the college course I teach on prayer, worship, and the sacraments. Just yesterday we reviewed New Testament imagery for baptism: union with Christ, forgiveness of sin, the like. The one that really stands out at the moment, though, is incorporation into the church, otherwise known as Christ’s body. James F. White writes, Probably the most egalitarian statement in all of scripture is Paul’s…

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