Andalusia’s ambivalence: between convivencia and Islamophobia
The seven centuries of Islamic rule over the southern Spanish province of Andalusia are often romanticized for its convivencia: the peaceful coexistence of Muslims, Christians and Jews. Today, the region exploits this history for tourism, but is not devoid of Islamophobia.
I wrote this article for the Center for Intercultural Dialogue.
A Sunday in Delhi: the difficult case for inter-religious dialogue
Leaves falling from the trees, umbrellas appearing in the streets, and girls covering up their faces with scarfs: in New Delhi these are signs that the summer sun is arriving.
In India’s hottest season, mornings have to be put to good use. Many a Sunday I would get up at six o’clock to visit the weekly Old Delhi book market, returning before the heat would become unbearable and in time for my weekly Bible group.
On India, poverty and religion
Different religions deal with poverty differently, and in India you find a lot of both. At one point or another, the visitor of the subcontinent will inevitably be faced with more misery than one can bear and the challenging question how to approach it. What answers do religions provide?
Movie: Silence by Martin Scorsese
It is a mystery to me why Martin Scorsese’s 2016 movie Silence, about Christian missionaries in Japan, premiered at the Vatican. Although Scorsese is Catholic and at some point in his life even wanted to become a priest, it seems that more than just offering a historical account of an encounter between cultures and religions,…
Still(ed) waters: a very short history of Mexico City
How a lake turned into one of the largest cities in the world: this is the story of Mexico City.
Before the Spanish conquest, Mexico City was a kind of Venice in the middle of a couple of connected lakes, surrounded by volcanoes. It was called Tenochtitlan: ’the place of many tunas’ (notwithstanding the watery environment, a tuna here being the fruit of a cactus).
If only the world made sense
If only the world made sense. It’s a jumble of arbitrary events, a mess of moments, admittedly related, but few of them making any sense to us. It’s an age-old problem: we just can’t wrap our heads around life. Religion has traditionally been a good resort. It gives answers and explanations, an understanding of the world, certainty. And if…
The stories of Eskibahçe
This is an extra chapter for the book Birds without wings by Louis de Bernières. It provides a new perspective on the novel. “Lately, I have been having dreams about the former times of Eskibahçe. I have never had the habit to remind myself of those days, but it suddenly seems to be imposed to…