Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms
Former diplomat Gerard Russell spent years living alongside people who are largely unknown in the West: the Yazidis of Iraq, the Zoroastrians of Iran, the Druze of Lebanon, and others. Many of these tiny traditions–already teetering on extinction–are now facing grave threats to their existence. Russell’s new book is a record of their customs and beliefs, and a prayer for their continued survival.
Songs, Chants and Prayers of Ancient Syria
The news out of Syria is grim: ISIS is advancing, the death toll is rising, refugees are fleeing. But this week, we’re going to recall the Syria that came before all that. Historically, it’s been a deeply spiritual country, full of Sufi Muslims and Orthodox Christians, whose songs and prayers represent some of the most beautiful examples of religious music in the world. Jason Hamacher recorded some of these sounds, just months before the civil war erupted.
A New American History
Writer Peter Manseau has a bone to pick with our history books. He says that the story of our nation’s founding has been “whitewashed” as uniformly Christian, to the point where about half of Americans incorrectly believe the U.S. Constitution establishes a Christian nation. In a new book, he tells another side of our founding: a kaleodescope of Buddhists, Hindus, Witches, African-American Muslims and others