What Would Plato Say?
When we discussed the Ancient Greeks, we observed that Plato wasn't exactly enthusiastic about democracy as a form of government. It's a beautiful thing that "the people" get to choose their own leaders and legislators. But "the people" don't always make the best choice. (Education, as you will recall, was Plato's solution. If the electorate is educated, the chance they'll make good choices is improved at least somewhat.)
Well, however you feel about the election, this clip from Conan offers a little historical perspective. Watch it to the end, which offers a useful perspective on our democratic form of government.
If you'd like to learn more about Irshad Manji and her view that contemporary Islam is in need of a reformation, check out this interview with Imran Siddiqui about her PBS documentary Faith without Fear.
And in a brand new documentary from the series Frontline, the practices of the "religion police" in Saudi Arabia are captured with undercover cameras. An important question: Is faith really faith if it is coerced?
From the film "Alexander Revisited," check out this scene in which Aristotle instructors young Alexander and his friends.
It is impossible to reflect on what it means to be a Jew today without reflecting on the Holocaust, the Nazi state's systematic effort to exterminate the Jews, an effort that claimed over six million lives. In this film, Oprah Winfrey travels with the great author Elie Wiesel to the concentration camp at Auschwitz in Poland, where Wiesel shares deeply personal reflections on his experience as a child.
Fire: A Universal Religious Symbol
Orthodox Christians with candles and cell phones in hand crowded into Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre on the Saturday before Orthodox Easter Sunday, which this year is celebrated one week after Christianity in the West. The devout waited for religious leaders to emerge with the "Holy Fire," which, as the video above shows, quickly spread throughout the church. The fire is then taken on planes to Greece and other Orthodox Christian communities around the world.
Not exactly the same as the Vedic Fire Rituals of Hinduism that we've been discussing, but interesting to see how many religions use fire as a divine symbol.Oprah and Elie Wiesel on the Holocaust
Here's the first part of a memorable interview that Oprah Winfrey conducted with Elie Weisel at the Nazi death camp Auschwitz. The Holocaust is a fundamental element of modern Jewish consciousness
The Story of the Jews
The Story of the Jews
PBS has just released a brand new series about Judaism, The Story of the Jews. It's a beautifully-filmed, well-told story of the history of the Jewish people and the diverse face of Judaism today. Highly recommended. The trailer is above. The full series may be viewed online.
The Life of Muhammad
This 2007 documentary was produced for PBS in order to introduce the great prophet of Islam to non-Muslims. It uses footage from the Arab Peninsula--the world in which Muhammad was born and carried out his mission--to set the birth of Islam into its proper historical and geographical context. It uses interviews from ordinary American Muslims to explore his significance today.
The NYTimes columnist David Brooks writes of Audrey Assad: "She had an idyllic childhood in a Protestant sect prone to black-or-white dichotomies. But when she was in her 20s, life’s tragedies and complexities inevitably mounted, and she experienced a gradual erosion of certainty." How do you find yourself responding to her music?
Life of Muhammad
This film produced for PBS in the wake of September 11's bombing of the World Trade Center endeavors both to tell a factual story about the Prophet Muhammad and to shed light on the lives of American Muslims today and their religion of justice and peace.