Youcef Nadarkhani, an Iranian and a Christian pastor, was sentenced to death after being convicted of apostasy from Islam in November of 2010. Since then, international pressure and attention has kept him alive.
Amnesty International has taken up his case. Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said:
It is shocking that the Iranian authorities would even consider killing a man simply for exercising his right to choose a religion other than Islam.
(Later he was overheard expressing shock on learning that slot machines had been discovered in Las Vegas.) Continue reading Youcef Nadarkhani: A Christian pastor sentenced to death in Iran
The writer Ron Rosenbaum—who is working on his own biography of Bob Dylan—was interviewed by JWeekly.com. He had recently given a lecture at Stanford University called “Bob Dylan’s God Problem—and Ours.” He’s asked in the article whether he thinks Bob Dylan is an observant Jew or not.
“It’s a difficult question to answer,” Rosenbaum said. “If you read the Internet, there are all sorts of sightings of Dylan at Chabad-Lubavitcher services. Does that mean he’s become one of them? I don’t know. Does that mean any of [the sightings] are verifiable? There are enough of them to make you think there’s something to it. But who knows? He could be exploring, experimenting, whatever. He’s certainly no longer the scolding Christian that he was for a few years.”
Dylan’s departure from Christianity “was sort of gradual,” he said. “It’s not like he formally abjured it. It just seemed to slip into the past.” In fact, Rosenbaum sees a profoundly Jewish thread woven throughout Dylan’s life, including the ’60s years.
It’s kind of amazing, when you think about it, that it even needs to be said that there is a “profoundly Jewish thread woven throughout Dylan’s life.” Isn’t that pretty hard to miss? But then the Jewish experience in America includes the phenomenon of those who try to run away from their Jewishness, in a variety of senses, and Dylan has given some reason to believe that he might be doing this at different times. This article also includes a quote from an interview Dylan gave to Rosenbaum in 1977, where he said, “I’ve never felt Jewish. I don’t really consider myself Jewish or non-Jewish.” That sounds like a flat-out rejection, but I would suggest that (aside from Dylan’s knee-jerk hatred of labels) it was more an expression of frustration at that particular time with his failure up to that date to find answers in Judaism as he then knew it, based on his upbringing and life experiences. The whole subject of faith in Dylan’s life was to undergo an earthquake not long thereafter, and comments from him that touch on his Jewishness post-1979 are quite different. Continue reading Ron Rosenbaum on Bob Dylan, Judaism, Christianity etc
It’s impossible to humanly comprehend the carnage that was wrought in Norway yesterday. With a population of less than 5 million, the murder of more than 90 people on a single day is even worse for that society than it would be in the United States, and it would be horrific enough here, or anywhere. Continue reading Evil in Norway (and a Christian Killer?)
Anne Rice, famous for her novels about vampires, underwent a spiritual conversion and returned to her Roman Catholic faith over ten years ago, as she described in her recent book Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession. She wrote a novel called Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt about the young Jesus from his own point of view, and it was quite well received by many. Continue reading Anne Rice quits Christianity