Could it be that a return to the past might provide a new way for the Islamic world to view and shape the future?
There has been much written and discussed about the contrast between contemporary, insular Muslim societies and the treasure of high intellectual and cultural achievement of Islam's ancient past.
The question that both Muslims and the broader world should be asking constantly is whether such a vision of Islamic civilization can be revived. And, if so, how?
The phrase ut laetificet cor, "that the heart might be made glad" (Psalm 103) is the motto of the brewery (birra nursia) of the Benedictine monks of Norcia, who established a community in 2000 in the city of Saint Benedict's birth. That phrase might be said to encapsulate an entire theory and practice of the Catholic understanding of the consumption of alcohol.
Although wine rather than beer is the beverage of choice in Italy, the brewery motto nicely sums up the Italian practice of consuming alcohol — in social settings, over long meals at gatherings of friends and family, and as a complement to the art of conversation.
We all understand poverty is a problem, one that can seem intractable and inevitable. But what if the way we have approached poverty has been wrong for years, for generations even?
There's evidence it might be.
The traditional model of the American social service industry has long been a one-size-fits-all approach that treats the symptoms of poverty — transportation, child care, food insecurity — but does nothing to address the cause. The result traps the poor in a never-ending cycle of dependency and stigma, creating repeat customers.
That scathing indictment comes not from a critic of the war on poverty but from one of its most passionate advocates.
In Thomas Aquinas' treatment of the virtue of courage, he argues that endurance—"which is the capacity to stand immovable in the face of dangers"—rather than attack, is the chief mark of courage. Among the reasons he cites are that endurance comes into play when we face a superior foe and that it implies length of time rather than the instantaneous action of attacking.
Courage as endurance is on splendid display in the latest Terrence Malick film, A Hidden Life, the fact-based story of Franz Jägerstätter (played by August Diehl), an Austrian farmer who refused conscription into Hitler's army, was imprisoned and executed, and who was eventually beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007.
Barbara Kellerman, The End of Leadership. From an industry insider who teaches leadership at Harvard comes a devastating critique of the leadership industry—both in universities and in corporate America. The book argues that the explosion of leadership training, instead of improving things, may actually be making matters worse. It also suggests that some versions of traditional liberal education may be a better starting point for educating leaders.
Michael Zantovsky, Havel: A Life. A gripping biography of the life of the great Czech dissident and politician, whose notion of "living in truth," a way of resisting the ideological distortions of communism, is remarkably germane to our own time.
Books by Thomas Hibbs