A question for Stoa-readers

Insofar as you can give content to the idea of religious fundamentalism, do you think there are or can be Roman Catholic fundamentalists or not? If you think there are, who are they, or who might they be? If you think there aren’t, or that there can’t be, is this because you think fundamentalists are textual literalists, and Catholicism isn’t especially bothered about the Bible, or for a different reason? Sort of relatedly, do you think there are Hindu fundamentalists or not? If you do, what is it about them that makes them fundamentalists? Answers in comments, please. Please don’t be inhibited by any lack of specialist knowledge about any of these subjects.


I thought that Nick Cohen’s What’s Left? was likely to be the worst book that I would be reading in 2007, but it’s already been beaten, by Gertrude Himmelfarb’s The Roads to Modernity (Knopf, 2004). Well, I spent twenty minutes flipping through it the other day, rather than actually reading it, but even the briefest of flip-throughs makes it clear what a shocker it is. So that’s Cohen off that particular hook.

(I suppose What’s Left? is also the best book that I’ve read that was published in 2007, but that’s for the pretty obvious reason that it’s the only 2007-vintage volume that I’ve read through so far this year.)

I finally got round to reading FĂ©nelon’s Telemachus over the weekend, which I should have done years ago (and it was splendid), but sitting on the sofa for quite so many hours on end seems to have given me a painful case of upper-arm cramp, so if you hear me barking in pained surprise over the next few hours, that’s probably what that’s about.


I think Mahmood Mamdani’s essay in the LRB is well worth a read. I say “I think”, because I don’t really know a great deal about the history and politics of Sudan, or what’s likely to make things better or worse in Darfur in the near future. But it seemed interesting to me, in a gloomy kind of a way.

In Memoriam

Chris Lightfoot, 1978-2007.

Chris was splendid, and one of the few bloggers whose contributions to the world stretched far beyond blogging. (Some details over here.)

Two trivial details: he’s the only person I’ve ever successfully identified in a pub, having only seen their South Park version of themselves ahead of time; and he will always be remembered at the Virtual Stoa for writing the code that powered the Melanie Phillips Naziometer, which used to adorn the sidebar.

UPDATE [6.3.2007]: More links, over here and here.