Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

9780195301748

ISIS’s unpredictable revolution

Revolutions have been surprising experts for generations. After the Iranian Revolution of 1979, for example, the CIA commissioned a report into why it had predicted, 100 days before the fall of the monarchy, that the Shah’s regime would ride out the protests. During the “Arab Spring” uprisings in 2011, President Obama reportedly chastized the intelligence community for not having warned him in advance.

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World Religion Day 2015

Today, 18 January 2015 marks World Religion Day across the globe. The day was created by the Baha’i faith in 1950 to foster dialogue and to and improve understanding of religions worldwide and is now in its 64th year. The aim of World Religion Day is to unite everyone, whatever their faith, by showing us all that there are common foundations to all religions and that together we can help humanity and live in harmony. The day often includes activities and events calling the attention of the followers of world faiths.

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9780199390243

Is yoga Hindu?

Given that we see yoga practically every­where we turn, from strip-mall yoga studios to advertisements for the Gap, one might assume a blanket acceptance of yoga as an acceptable consumer choice. Yet, a growing movement courts fear of the popularization of yoga, warning that yoga is essentially Hindu.

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Tensions in French Muslim identities

The recent tragedies in France have reminded us of the tensions that are often associated with the relations between religious groups and the larger society. A recent article in Social Forces, explores whether Islam fundamentally conflicts with mainstream French society, and whether Muslims are more attached to their religion than they are to their French identity.

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9780195301748

Ideology and a conducive political environment

ISIS is a “revolutionary” organization in a way that al-Qaeda and other like-minded extremist groups never were, and never really wanted to be. The “caliphate” — the historical political entity governed by Islamic law and tradition — might have been an inspiration as well as an aspiration, but it wasn’t actually going to happen in real life.

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9780199390243

On the notion of a “creator” of modern yoga

Swami Vivekananda (1863–1902) was a nineteenth-century Hindu reformer, missionary to the United States, and Indian nationalist who constructed and disseminated a system of modern yoga, which he called raja yoga. Yoga insiders and certain scholars of the history of yoga have frequently identified him as the “creator” or “father” of modern yoga, but that is just not accurate.

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9780195301748

ISIS is an outcome of a much bigger problem

To answer this question, one has to go back to the roots of this organization. ISIS did not come from a vacuum, and it is not this shadowy bunch of militants that mysteriously managed to control large areas of Iraq and Syria. ISIS has been around for a very long time, and its roots go deeper than its current military achievements.

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Garrett - Entertaining Judgement

Speak of the Devil: Satan in imaginative literature

Al Pacino is John Milton. Not John Milton the writer of Paradise Lost, although that is the obvious in-joke of the movie The Devil’s Advocate (1997). No, this John Milton is an attorney and — in what thus might be another obvious in-joke — he is also Satan, the Prince of Darkness. In the movie, he hires a fine young defense attorney, Kevin Lomax (Keanu Reeves), and offers him an escalating set of heinous — and high-profile — cases to try, a set of ever-growing temptations if you will. What will happen to Kevin in the trials to come?

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9780199334582

Atheism: Above all a moral issue

The New Atheists – Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Dan Dennett, and the late Christopher Hitchens – are not particularly comfortable people. The fallacies in their arguments beg to be used in classes on informal reasoning. The narrowness of their perspectives are remarkable even by the standards of modern academia. The prejudices against those of other cultures would be breathtaking even in the era when Britannia ruled the waves. But there is a moral fervor unknown outside the pages of the Old Testament. And for this, we can forgive much.

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9780199390243

The commodification and anti-commodification of yoga

Nearly all of us who live in urban areas across the world know someone who “does yoga” as it is colloquially put. And should we choose to do it ourselves, we need not travel farther than a neighborhood strip mall to purchase a yoga mat or attend a yoga class.

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9780199390243

Is yoga religious?

Many outsiders to contemporary popularized yoga profoundly trivialize it by reducing it to a mere commodity of global market capitalism and to impotent borrowings from or “rebrandings” of traditional, authentic religious products. In other words, according to this account, popularized yoga can be reduced to mere commodities meant to fulfill utilitarian needs or meet hedonistic desires.

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9780195301403

Black Israelites and the meaning of Chanukah

The story that most Jewish children learn about the holiday of Chanukah is that it commemorates the Jews’ victory over foreign invaders and their sullying cultural influences. Around 200 B.C.E., Judea was the rope in a tug of war between two stronger powers: the Ptolemic dynasty of Egypt and the Seleucid Empire of Syria. The Seleucids, led by the kings Antiochus III & IV, won when Antiochus invaded Judea in 175 B.C.E.

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The longest night of the year

The winter solstice settles on 21 December this year, which means it’s the day with the least amount of sunlight. It’s the official first day of winter, although people have been braving the cold for weeks, huddled in coats and scarves and probably wool socks.

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Garrett - Entertaining Judgement

Almost paradise: heaven in imaginative literature

Paradise, a 1982 knock-off of the movie Blue Lagoon, stars Phoebe Cates and Willie Aames as teenagers who find themselves alone in a place of natural beauty and experiencing the ultimate joy together. Ann Wilson of Heart and Mike Reno of Loverboy can see forever in each other’s eyes in “Almost Paradise,” their Top Ten hit from the Footloose soundtrack (“Almost paradise / We’re knocking on Heaven’s door”). Ridley Scott’s Gladiator (2000) references the Elysian Fields, a paradise beyond this one where the blessed go when they die.

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9780199539406

Druids and nature

How far back in time European communities began to recognize and chart the movements of the sun, moon, and stars it is impossible to say, but for the mobile hunting bands of the Palaeolithic period, following large herds through the forests of Europe and returning to base camps when the hunt was over, the ability to navigate using the stars would have been vital to existence.

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9780195341119

Lifetime’s Women of the Bible and conservative Christian theology

On the surface, the Lifetime channel’s special Women of the Bible tells a very different story than The Red Tent. The two-hour program which aired just prior to the miniseries premiere claims to read with the Bible rather than against it, suggesting that the text itself depicts strong and faithful women—no retelling necessary.

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