Tag Archives for religion


Do Atheists Celebrate Christmas?

Christmas tree at the Bellagio, Las Vegas, by Scott Ellis.

Procrastinating on Twitter the other day, I saw a thread about the “most irritating questions atheists are asked”, courtesy, of course, of Richard Dawkins, whose writing solidified my son’s absence of belief into actual, active atheism. Now, according to my spawn, who is a bona fide, card-carrying atheist, I’m not actually an atheist, but an […]


Everest Base Camp Day 3-4: Namche and Thame

Chorten with view of Kong De - Namche Bazar.

Everest Base Camp The Lazy Way Day 3-4 – Namche to Thame We have, both of us, familiarised ourselves with the symptoms of altitude sickness, both the mild type and the two serious types that are responsible for the not infrequent buzz of rescue helicopters above us. In fact, even if we hadn’t been to […]


The Biggest Stupa in Asia?

Bodhnath Stupa

“Look!” I say, coaxingly. “It’ll be interesting! It’s the biggest stupa in Asia! We have to see that, right?” “Oh, alright!” says my spawn. (Neither of us are at our best with colds.) “Yeah, I guess we do have to see that.” “And,” I interject rapidly. “There’s this other Hindu temple that’s very famous, on […]


A Very Small Atheist Does the Holy Land

Dome of the Rock

“You know, I think the least workable argument for the existence of God is the ontological argument,” spouts my spawn from the back seat. (He has abandoned all the kids’ books on various religions I bought him in favour of The God Delusion, which he borrowed from his grandparents, and has now read several times.) […]


HezbollahLand: The Middle East Writ Large

Mleeta HezbollahLand Lebanon

We wind our way up, and up, and up, along a narrow road through stark and beautiful moutains in the hinterlands of South Lebanon, within Katyusha range of the Israeli border. Brown signs mark the way. “Tourism Landmark of the Resistance.” Our destination? Mleeta, AKA HezbollahLand. Which is, even in this beautiful, strange, disturbing country, […]


The Village Where Time Just Stopped

View of golden broom, wildflowers and mountains in the Chouf, Lebanon.

Up in the Chouf, the mountains that are home to Lebanon’s biggest nature reserve, a whirl of cedars, cypresses, golden broom and wildflowers, we make our way by a route most charitably described as circuitous to the village of Maaser al Chouf. Our guesthouse is beautiful, a nineteenth-century stone house with cool, expansive, barrel-vaulted rooms […]


Voices from Post-Revolutionary Egypt 7: The Working Mother


I sits with her daughter, her son and her daughter-in-law in the shade of a Nubian mudbrick dome, looking out over the expanse of Lake Nasser, created after Egypt dammed the upper reaches of the Nile. We are drinking the Egyptian hibiscus called karkade. I is in her late 40s, early 50s, and, after a […]


Voices from Post-Revolutionary Egypt 6: The Taxi Driver


We screech to a halt in heavy traffic – a car has accelerated across our path. A overtakes the other driver, blocks him in, and yells his feelings out of the window, before pulling back onto the highway at speed. Other drivers, used to this sort of thing, veer around us without hooting noticeably more […]


The Friday Photo: The Oldest Mosque In Cairo


The tranquillity of Ahmed Ibn Tulun mosque came as a welcome relief from a city about which, if I’m honest, both of us have profoundly mixed feelings. There’s a sense of simmering, frustrated male rage in Cairo, which comes out not only in the demonstrations after Friday prayers — two large ones are happening today […]


Voices from Post-Revolutionary Egypt 5: The Businessman


A round, amiable man, J is in his 40s, and runs a business in Dahab, Sinai. He has a small son who lives with his mother overseas: his family background is Coptic Christian, but he last attended church for his son’s christening. J laughs. “Yes!” he says. “I have been to Saudi Arabia. It’s quite […]