The Thinking 
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Why Burning Even One Copy of the Koran is a Nazi-like Act of Aggression

April 14, 2011


PETER S. writes:

In the preface to the Islamic scholar Carl Ernst’s valuable book, Following Muhammad: Rethinking Islam in the Contemporary World, he makes an astonishing statement:

 [T]he task of Islamic studies described as minimal.  In 1992 I participated in a workshop discussing images of Islam in America.  The educational goal that we finally settled on in the workshop was very basic: to convince Americans that Muslims are human beings.  This might sound like an absurdly simple point, but the Islamic religion is perhaps the one remaining subject about which educated people are content to demonstrate outright prejudice and bias.  Ten years later a workshop on critical issues in Islamic studies came to the same conclusion, but more forcefully: the real issue is to humanize Muslims in the eyes of non-Muslims.  [p.xvii]

In this, as might be judged by many of the recent statements on this blog, he would appear to be entirely correct.  Read More »


A Mother Explains Evolution

April 14, 2011

Ralph Vaughan Williams

Ralph Vaughan Williams

THE MOTHER of the British composer Ralph Vaughan Williams was a niece of Charles Darwin. Vaughan Williams was seven years old when Darwin’s Origin of Species was published. One day the child asked his mother what the famous book was about. According to an anecdote I heard on the radio yesterday, his mother replied: “The Bible says the world was created in seven days. Uncle Charles thinks it took a lot longer. Either way, the world is wonderful.”

If you have never listened to Vaughan William’s beautiful meditation on a bird rising to the skies, “A Lark Ascending,” you can listen to it here.  Vaughan Williams was said to have been inspired by George Meredith’s poem To A Skylark:

O skylark! I see thee and call thee joy!
Thy wings bear thee up to the breast of the dawn;
I see thee no more, but thy song is still
The tongue of the heavens to me!

Thus are the days when I was a boy;
Sweet while I lived in them, dear now they’re gone:
I feel them no longer, but still, O still
They tell of the heavens to me.

Read More »


Hello, and a Request

April 14, 2011



THIS WEBSITE is produced on a small table in our living room. It’s a wooden game table, a hand-me-down from a relative, with a top that is 19 inches long and 21 inches wide. A chess board is inscribed on the wood. If I remove my laptop, I can lift up the chess board. There are checkers and chess pieces inside. My son sometimes uses the table to play games with a friend. 

From where I sit, I can see out the front window and the back window too. The other day, there was a torrential spring downpour in the back yard. “Look,” my son said. In the front yard, it was not raining at all.

Virginia Woolf was wrong. A woman does not need a room of her own – or even a desk of her own – to have a mind of her own. That’s because truth is everywhere, sending its roots into the ground, watered from above. She needn’t pursue life. It knocks at the front door. The drama of existence is all around. Unimportant things are brimming with importance. 

I am hoping you will support the counter-revolution, the movement that can only arise within hearts and minds like yours. Please subsidize the daily labor that goes into this tabletop enterprise by donating to this website today. Thank you for whatever you can do to keep it going.


A Young Woman Alone in a Laboratory

April 14, 2011


JANE writes:

This is a sad story! I’m sending it to you because of the “perfect girl” angle – plasma physics, mentoring other girls, sax player, in the marching band no less – almost a caricature of what I imagine the typical elite college resumé to be – and yet, somehow, someone with long hair allowed near a lathe! Sad. Read More »

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