Many of us have heard that the first universities were in Europe, growing often out of monastic education. The second part only is accurate. Actually the first universities, or centers of learning, were in Asia. They were in places like Taxila in what is now Pakistan, Nalanda in Eastern India (ruins are in the photo… Read More The First Universities were in Asia, not Europe
Wondering what my favorite movie is? Not interested? I’ll tell you anyway. It’s Gladiator, the Oscar-winning blockbuster starring Russell Crowe as a Roman General in 180 A.D. He serves loyally the Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, but runs afoul of the wicked son and becomes a slave and gladiator. I’ve seen it many times, as recently as… Read More An ‘Imperial’ View of History
It is the first few days of Ramadan, the month of fasting that Muslims all over the world are participating in. As an act of love, faith and hope, an estimated one million Christians are praying for their Muslim friends and neighbours during these same 30 days. What is not often considered is that those… Read More Praying Not Only For Muslims But With Them
Some years ago in Delhi, India, I listened to a Muslim friend describing how he had only seen his wife-to-be through a veil before the wedding night. He had also shared only a few words with her. In a minority culture of Northwest China as pictured in the scene above, the bridegroom uses a stick… Read More Do You Have a Flawed View of History?
Peter Frankopan and the Sogdians? Sounds like an Indie music group that would appear at international music festivals in places like Coachella, Croatia, and the Isle of Wight. Wrong. Peter Frankopan is an Oxford-based researcher who wrote in 2015 perhaps the most comprehensive book to date on trade routes in Asia, titled The Silk Roads:… Read More Peter Frankopan and the Sogdians
Have you reached for your smartphone in the last six and a half minutes? In my last post on Isaac the Qatari, I wrote that according to one study, people are checking their phones over 150 times a day! I ended the post reaching for my own phone once again. Much of the earth is… Read More The Antidote to 24/7 Connectivity: Isaac the Qatari, Part 2
Ever been to Qatar? It is a small nation state that sits on the southwestern side of the Persian Gulf in the Middle East. Shaped like an oversized thumb, it is becoming a crossroads of global finance and trade in competition with places like Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the nearby United Arab Emirates. Qatar… Read More What Can a 7th Century Qatari Mystic Teach a World of Constant Noise?
Last week I got to be the former Bishop of Constantinople, Nestorius, who died in 450 A.D. Really. Yes, it was only for a little while, as part of a “friends of the past” presentation at a Masters program I’m helping with in Switzerland. To play the part of this man, condemned as a heretic… Read More Being Nestorius
Imagine being present at a dinner party, where around the table were people who had lived at different periods over two hundred years. People who considered each other “heretics” and would have eliminated the other viewpoints if given a chance. What kind of dinner party would this be? Last week while visiting Geneva I went… Read More A Dinner Party for “Heretics”
Have you ever had your writings burned? Probably not, but many have been silenced, ignored or patronized by those in power positions. I have seen seven of my articles and three chapters for books published, and am presently working on my first book on the Church of the East. I can’t imagine the pain of… Read More Have You Ever Had Your Writings Burned?