Tag Archives: Religion
A visiting professor and “terrorism expert” said that religion has been, and continues to be, a major part of how people view the world, even as it becomes more globalized.
“Who among us doesn’t lead an ordinary, boring, messy life?” Mark Juergensmeyer, Ph.D., asked the audience during his PLACE lecture. “For many people religion provides a spiritual battle based on the contemporary social structures of our time.”
Religion, Juergensmeyer said, answers three of the fundamental questions all people ask: who are we? Who is in charge? How can we be safe?
During an interview with Mahmud Abouhalima, the man convicted of the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing, Juergensmeyer discovered how deeply engrained the tenets of religious warfare can be. Juergensmeyer asked Abouhalima, after he had described how Americans were like sheep, shielded by the government and ignorant to the war around them, whether this was the reason people bombed buildings.
“Now you know,” was Abouhalima’s reply.
Years later, Juergensmeyer would recall this conversation when the two towers of the World Trade Center fell after a terrorist attack.
“On 9/11 I remember thinking, ‘I hope people don’t overreact,’” Juergensmeyer said with a sad smile. This event led to the invasion of Afghanistan and the beginning of the “War on Terror,” which he believes is linked to the politics of religion.
Juergensmeyer does not, however, think that religion is inherently bad. Although at times it inspires violence and evil, it does also gives us a “global moral critique.”
He spoke to the Grand Mufti, leader of the Muslim clergy in Cairo, after the events of the Arab Spring in 2010 brought about a new kind of non-violent revolution through modern technology. Even in this era of globalization, the religious leader spoke of the necessity of religion because “In this world, we are lost without it.”
Juergensmeyer has become a leading expert in religion, terrorism and conflict resolution during his long career as a professor, author and social activist. However, he is not entirely comfortable with the title of “terrorism expert.”
“I certainly didn’t start out that way,” Juergensmeyer said. “Whenever I hear myself described like this I think ‘Who is this guy?’”
Remaining humble throughout his lecture, Juergensmeyer described his childhood summers in Illinois when the only entertainment came from attending gospel revivals. The sermons gave him a feeling of purpose and passion through his religious beliefs. It was a feeling he remembered years later when he met with Sikh leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale in Punjab, India during 1984. Bhindranwale was a revolutionary leader, reviving the fundamentalist beliefs of his religion in response to an increasingly secular world.
“This was no ordinary politician,” Juergensmeyer said of Bhindranwale. “He spoke of rising up as soldiers, a time for battle and not giving in to the easy way of life.”
The idea of a world at war is key, Juergensmeyer said, to understanding how religion can be used in our contemporary world. He spoke of how every major world religion, from Christianity to Buddhism, has roots of using violence to protect righteousness. While the basis for many religions is peace, there is also a call to action and necessity to fight for your beliefs against corruption of values.
Olivia Marovich / News editor
Olivia Marovich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Respecting others and working on a team fueled his successes as chancellor at the University of Mississippi, Robert Khayat told an audience at the Lee County Library on Sunday.
Khayat charmed a full house when he spoke as a part of the Helen Foster Lecture Series about his new book, “The Education of a Lifetime.”
Khayat, who served as chancellor from 1995 to 2009, saw jumps in enrollment, increased numbers of honors stvudents, the addition of a Phi Beta Kappa chapter and a growing operating budget under his leadership.
One of his biggest challenges, he said, was the removal of the Confederate flag.
Ole Miss’ image suffered because of the flag, and he received death threats and hate mail over the controversy.
“My parents believed in treating people with respect,” Khayat said.
His recalled when his Lebanese-American father was asked to move to the back pews of the church when he was a child, and said he strove to treat others with respect because of moments like that one.
“The way [Ole Miss] was perceived had to change; we had to be inviting, and open, and warm,” he said. Disagreements may happen, he said, “but at least do it with respect. That’s not hard.”
He looked on his fellow administrators at Ole Miss as a football player looks at his teammates.
“I was chancellor, but I was on a team. They had authority to make decisions, and when they did well, they were credited,” he said. “Responsibility, authority and respect were the rules we tried to follow.”
He also spoke about his upbringing in Moss Point– “I’ve had a different kind of life, kind of like Huck Finn,” he said–to his education, from his time playing for the Washington Redskins to the biggest challenges he faced at Ole Miss.
The audience chuckled as he recalled stories from his early years as an Ole Miss student trying to understand chemistry and going to an Elvis Presley concert.
Khayat said he sees Ole Miss, and Mississippi, improving every day, especially in race relations.
“The love and affection between black and white people is extraordinary. The anger and resentment between black and white people is extraordinary. We’ve got to meet in the middle of that, and I think we can,” he said.
“I grew up in Mississippi, and I wanted us to feel good about ourselves, and wanted others to feel good about us.”
Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, Tupelo
Dawn Nowacki, Elizabeth and Morris Glicksman chair in political science, took the audience through an exploration of Spain’s religious history in a lecture on Sept. 24.
Nowacki used her first-hand experience touring many of Spain’s churches and cathedrals this summer to illustrate the often violent history of religion in the country.
She then explained the dangers of using religion to justify violence, an idea we see often in the world today.
“I don’t want to disparage religiosity,” Nowacki said. “I understand that for many people religion fills an essential longing for understanding that humans have. The problems arise when people view other religions as an existential threat to them.”
Nowacki referred to a 1992 lecture by political scientist Samuel P. Huntington that was later turned into a book titled “A Clash of Civilizations” to explain how she agreed with the author’s idea on how conflict post-Cold War had changed.
Huntington believes that the major source of conflict in this era will come from people’s differing forms of religious identity.
“It is this existential threat based on religion that makes the other an enemy that needs to be expelled,” Nowacki said.
“People need to ask themselves questions like: why do they hate us? Who are they? Religion, at times, can cloud the judgment and make people not think clearly.”
Tying this information back to her trip to Spain, Nowacki briefly explained the history of the Moors, who have inhabited Spain for more than 800 years.
“They were just as much Spanish as the other,” Nowacki said.
In places of higher learning, like the Alhambra in Granada, Muslims and Catholics studied together in peace for many years.
Religious persecution of Muslims by the Catholic church and monarchy; however, in the form of inquisitions, eventually drove most of the Moors out of Spain.
Much of the architecture Nowacki saw on her trip included old mosques that had been turned into cathedrals after the Moors had been expelled.
The violent depictions of this expulsion in the cathedrals is what especially shocked Nowacki.
Using her own photographs, Nowacki explained her trip along 60 miles of the El Camino de Santiago trail in Spain.
Translated to “The Way of Saint James,” the trail is a pilgrimage ending at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia.
Nowacki’s lecture was sponsored by the International Programs Office, which organizes all study abroad programs at Linfield.
Michelle Tomseth, International Programs Office Assistant Director, provided insight as to why these events are important for students to attend.
“Linfield has a 71 percent rate of students studying abroad before they graduate,” Tomseth said. “We hope that presentations like the one Dawn Nowacki will be giving today, sparks students to think and be interested in what is going on in the world around them. She addressed a topic that is centuries old, yet it is a reflection of what is happening currently. We are still being affected by events that are history.”
Olivia Marovich can be reached at
YuCheng Zhang/Senior photographer
Dawn Nowacki, Elizabeth and Morris Glicksman chair in political science, discusses the issues of Spain’s relationship with the Muslim world.
Students and members of the community gathered for the annual, traditional Celtic worship in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, Tuesday, March 19 in the Pioneer Reading Room.
“The Celtic tradition is a rich, expressive form of the Christian religion,” Chaplain Dave Massey.
Massey and members of the chaplain’s team organized the candlelight service and invited musicians from around the community to perform traditional hymns and reels.
“We’re delighted to be here and celebrate Saint Patrick and the Celtic Christian tradition,” Ted Yuen, pastor of the McMinnville Covenant Church, said.
Yuen, who arranged the service’s music program, performed the mandolin and fiddle, as well as vocals.
“This is probably our fourth or fifth year doing this here,” Yuen said,
Accompanying Yuen on the guitar was Howie Harkema, operations Manager of St. Barnabas Soup Kitchen in McMinnville.
Locals Melanie Jansen on bass, Angela Jansen on vocals and fiddle, Bill Nippoldt on guitar and a handmade Irish drum and Jeff Elliott on vocals, completed the group of performers.
“We’re delighted to be here and celebrate Saint Patrick and the Celtic Christian tradition,” Yuen said,
“Because, before corned beef and cabbage and great beer, there was Saint Patrick and he was given a lot of credit for bringing the gospel to Ireland.”
Song sheets were provided to audience members that featured participatory prayers that were read between song performances.
Several students of the chaplain’s team read lectionary lectionary readings for Saint Patrick’s Day, followed by a moment of silent meditation that was concluded by instrumental reflection.
The participants were invited to prayer around the cross as the musicians played Caim Dé.
The musicians continued to play traditional Irish songs after the service concluded.
“I was invited and I came because I thought it would be a really wonderful experience,” freshman Jenny Gorman said,
“I really like that we had the lyrics.”
For more information about services and the chaplain’s team, contact Chaplain Dave Massey at email@example.com
Chrissy Shane/Features editor
Chrissy Shane can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Does anyone else find it fascinating that every religion has its own way of explaining how the world works? I think it’s a
wonderful thing. Each person is able to explain the world in his or her own way. It’s one of the beauties, and downsides, of religion.
Most people believe their way is the right way. The question remains: What is the right way? My answer: every way.
Imagine that someone was trying to tell you his or her religion is the only way to believe or you would go to hell. How would you feel? You probably wouldn’t listen because, honestly, who wants to believe his or her life is worthless?
This is one example of someone thinking his or her way is the right way. If you are the type of person who believes everyone who is different from you is going to hell, how would you feel if someone told that to you? You wouldn’t like it.
Think about those you love who have died. What kind of life are you living if you think they are burning in hell? Aren’t all religions supposed to be about finding a purpose in life and explaining what happens when you die? That shouldn’t be depressing.
In reality, no one is going to change his or her beliefs because someone else told him or her to. Life shouldn’t be about comparing who is right and who is wrong. It’s a terrible thing for someone to think that every person who doesn’t have similar beliefs is destined to eternal despair.
Every person who has grown up with a different religion doesn’t have the same beliefs, and why should they? Why would you say he or she is wrong? No one is wrong regarding his or her beliefs. Regardless of how you feel, it is never your job to tell
someone what to believe.
I don’t understand why any religion would think it is better than another because religions are all essentially the same. They all find explanations for the world.
I think people should listen to their friends who have different beliefs. Even if you believe your way is right, take some time and think about someone else’s beliefs. You might learn something.
Everyone must find his or her own way of thinking and believing because no two people are exactly the same, and no two people have exactly the same beliefs. Every person is right in his or her own way because, honestly, there is no way to determine which way is right, and we’ll probably never know.
Religion is about explaining the world, not comparing which belief is better than the other, and religion is definitely not about telling someone what to believe
Sarah Hansen/Photo Editor
Sarah Hansen can be reached at email@example.com