The Philos Project, a think tank that promotes positive Christian engagement in the Middle East, hosting a briefing last week on the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. I participated, along with the Project’s Founder and Executive Director, Robert Nicholson, Research Fellow Van Der Megerdichian, and Armen Sahakyan, Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of America. I covered the history of the Karabakh conflict, its religious implications, and why Christians in the West should care. A link is now available:
Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:
- Br. John-Sebastian Laird-Hammond, a fifty-nine-year-old Franciscan friar who has been battling leukemia, is the first known person to have died from COVID-19 in the Washington D.C. area.
- Cardinal Raymond Burke, who resides in Italy, said churches should remain open and urged priests to continue celebrating mass despite COVID-19.
- Pope Francis has asked Christians around the world to pray the Our Father prayer at noon on March 25, the Solemnity of the Annunciation, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Orthodox Jewish organizations jointly urged their members to practice social distancing to fight COVID-19.
At the Liberty Law blog this morning, I have an essay on historian Charles Laderman’s fine new book, Sharing the Burden: The Armenian Question, Humanitarian Intervention, and Anglo-American Visions of Global Order. At the turn of the 20th Century, American officials repeatedly voiced support for an independent Armenian state in Anatolia. The state was meant to compensate Armenians for the effects of genocide and offer them protection from hostile forces that surrounded them. Laderman explores why, notwithstanding the best intentions, the US Government ultimately abandoned Armenians and other persecuted Mideast Christians at the end of World War I. In my review, I explain what this history suggests for Mideast Christians today:
Congressional resolutions are very welcome, but history suggests that these Christians should not expect much more from America. Just as in the last century, despite the best intentions, America’s commitment to Christians in the Middle East today is limited: well wishes, exhortations for equality and tolerance, some humanitarian assistance—though nothing like the massive humanitarian campaign that took place in the last century and saved so many lives. Ultimately, nations act in their political and economic interests, and America does not perceive long-term interests that would justify putting at risk the large number of troops necessary to defend Mideast Christians on an ongoing basis. Many private citizens and charities continue to help Mideast Christians, thank God. But the sad lesson of Laderman’s book is this: if Christians in Syria expect the American government to do more to help them, they will find themselves on their own.
The full essay is available here.
For those who are interested, Fordham’s Orthodox Christian Studies Center has posted a video of last week’s panel on the the persecution of Mideast Christians, in which I participated, along with Sidney Griffith (Catholic University), James Skedros (Hellenic College/Holy Cross Seminary), and Samuel Tadros (Hudson Institute). Fordham’s George Demacopoulous served as moderator. Have a look:
In June, Routledge will release “Religious Interactions in Europe and the Mediterranean World: Coexistence and Dialogue from the 12th to the 20th Centuries,” edited by Katsumi Fukasawa (Kyoto-Sangyo University), Benjamin J. Kaplan (University College London), and Pierre-Yves Beaurepaire (University of Nice Sophia Antipolis). The publisher’s description follows:
The religious histories of Christian and Muslim countries in Europe and Western Asia are often treated in isolation from one another. This can lead to a limited and simplistic understanding of the international and interreligious interactions currently taking place. This edited collection brings these national and religious narratives into conversation with each other, helping readers to formulate a more sophisticated comprehension of the social and cultural factors involved in the tolerance and intolerance that has taken place in these areas, and continues today.
Part One of this volume examines the history of relations between people of different Christian confessions in western and central Europe. Part Two then looks at the relations between Western and Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Islam and Judaism in the vast area that extends around the Mediterranean from the Iberian Peninsula to western Asia. Each Part ends with a Conclusion that considers the wider implications of the preceding essays and points the way toward future research.
Bringing together scholars from Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and America this volume embodies an international collaboration of unusual range. Its comparative approach will be of interest to scholars of Religion and History, particularly those with an emphasis on interreligious relations and religious tolerance.
In June, the Cornell University Press will release “Where Three World Met: Sicily in the Early Medieval Mediterranean,” by Sarah Davis-Secord (University of New Mexico). The publisher’s description follows:
Sicily is a lush and culturally rich island at the center of the Mediterranean Sea. Throughout its history, the island has been conquered and colonized by successive waves of peoples from across the Mediterranean region. In the early and central Middle Ages, the island was ruled and occupied in turn by Greek Christians, Muslims, and Latin Christians.
In Where Three Worlds Met, Sarah Davis-Secord investigates Sicily’s place within the religious, diplomatic, military, commercial, and intellectual networks of the Mediterranean by tracing the patterns of travel, trade, and communication among Christians (Latin and Greek), Muslims, and Jews. By looking at the island across this long expanse of time and during the periods of transition from one dominant culture to another, Davis-Secord uncovers the patterns that defined and redefined the broader Muslim-Christian encounter in the Middle Ages.
Sicily was a nexus for cross-cultural communication not because of its geographical placement at the center of the Mediterranean but because of the specific roles the island played in a variety of travel and trade networks in the Mediterranean region. Complex combinations of political, cultural, and economic need transformed Sicily’s patterns of connection to other nearby regions—transformations that were representative of the fundamental shifts that took place in the larger Mediterranean system during the Middle Ages. The meanings and functions of Sicily’s positioning within these larger Mediterranean communications networks depended on the purposes to which the island was being put and how it functioned at the boundaries of the Greek, Latin, and Muslim worlds.
On April 20, the Religious Freedom Institute and the Center for Ethics and Culture at the University of Notre Dame are hosting a symposium titled “What Is To Be Done?: Responding to the Global Persecution of Christians” at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. as part of the Under Ceasar’s Sword Project. A brief description of the event follows:
This one-day symposium will feature the launch of the report, In Response to Persecution, of the Under Caesar’s Sword Project.
How do Christians respond to persecution? How can the rest of the world exercise solidarity with them? This day-long public symposium will propose concrete recommendations for action in response to these questions. It will feature globally prominent speakers on religious freedom and leading scholars of global Christianity. A highlight will be the launch of the report, In Response to Persecution, which conveys the results of the Under Caesar’s Sword project, the world’s first systematic global investigation of Christian responses to persecution, featuring findings from over 25 of the world’s most repressive countries. In attendance at the symposium will be government officials, business leaders, academics, and religious leaders, as well as representatives of non-governmental, human rights, and news organizations.
More information on the symposium can be found here.
Last month, Hachette Book Group released My Brother’s Keeper: Christians Who Risked All to Protect Jewish Targets of the Nazi Holocaust by Rod Gragg (Coastal Carolina University). The publisher’s description follows:
Thirty captivating profiles of Christians who risked everything to rescue their Jewish neighbors from Nazi terror during the Holocaust.
In October, Baylor University Press will release Lynched: the Power of Memory in a Culture of Terror by Angela Sims (Saint Paul School of Theology). The publisher’s description follows:
Lynched chronicles the history and aftermath of lynching in America. By rooting her work in oral histories, Angela D. Sims gives voice to the memories of African American elders who remember lynching not only as individual acts but as a culture of violence, domination, and fear.
Lynched preserves memory even while it provides an analysis of the meaning of those memories. Sims examines the relationship between lynching and the interconnected realities of race, gender, class, and other social fragmentations that ultimately shape a person’s—and a community’s—religious self-understanding. Through this understanding, she explores how the narrators reconcile their personal and communal memory of lynching with their lived Christian experience. Moreover, Sims unearths the community’s truth that this is sometimes a story of words and at other times a story of silence.
Revealing the bond between memory and moral formation, Sims discovers the courage and hope inherent in the power of recall. By tending to the words of these witnesses, Lynched exposes not only a culture of fear and violence but the practice of story and memory, as well as the narrative of hope within a renewed possibility for justice.
In August, Oxford University Press will release “London Youth, Religion, and Politics: Engagement and Activism from Brixton to Brick Lane,” by Daniel Nilsson DeHanas (King’s College London). The publisher’s description follows:
For more than a decade the “Muslim question” on integration and alleged extremism has vexed Europe, revealing cracks in long-held certainties about the role of religion in public life. Secular assumptions are being tested not only by the growing presence of Muslims but also by other fervent new arrivals such as Pentecostal Christians. London Youth, Religion, and Politics focuses on young adults of immigrant parents in two inner-city London areas: the East End and Brixton. It paints vivid portraits of dozens of young men and women met at local cafes, on park benches, and in council estate stairwells, and provides reason for a measured hope.
In East End streets like Brick Lane, revivalist Islam has been generating more civic integration although this comes at a price that includes generational conflict and cultural amnesia. In Brixton, while the influence of Pentecostal and traditional churches can be limited to family and individual renewal, there are signs that this may be changing. This groundbreaking work offers insight into the lives of urban Muslim, Christian, and non-religious youth. In times when the politics of immigration and diversity are in flux, it offers a candid appraisal of multiculturalism in practice.