April 18, 2006
Welcome to the all new Tricycle blog. Our editorial staff will be posting all manner of interesting material here, from links to websites and stories that catch our eye to commentary on hot topics in the public eye, with free links to pieces in the Tricycle archives. Check back often, and let us know what you think!
Nothing has dominated public discourse like religion has in recent years, and in political life, we hear most often from the fundamentalist extremes. But a growing number of voices—from Tikkun magazine’s Michael Lerner to scholars Karen Armstrong, and Elaine Pagels—navigate the moderate middle, finding in the world’s greatest traditions an evolving ethos of tolerance and compassion. Tricycle has given airing to each of them, and in recent weeks, these thinkers have found themselves in the spotlight once again. (read the story on Michael Lerner and the Spiritual Activism Conference from the Winter 2005 issue)
The unveiling of a 1,700-year-old papyrus copy of the Gospel of Judas has been all over the press and has people asking: “Could Judas Iscariot have been Christ’s favored servant rather than the ultimate traitor we’ve know him as?” Composed no later than the 2nd century, the gospel describes Judas as JC’s confidant and loyal servant. One portion translates Jesus as saying, “You will be cursed by the other generations . . . But you will exceed all of them. For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me.”
In her recent Op-Ed piece for the New York Times, Princeton Professor Elaine Pagels writes “What is clear is that the Gospel of Judas has joined the other spectacular discoveries that are exploding the myth of a monolithic Christianity and showing how diverse and fascinating the early Christian movement really was.” Tricycle readers will remember our favorite Christian scholar from the Summer 2005 issue’s “Saved by History.” In Pagels’s conversation with editor-at-large Andrew Cooper we learn how understanding humankind’s religious past can pave the way for a more inclusive and open-minded understanding of religious life today.
The Axial Age
Renowned religious scholar Karen Armstrong argues for a nonviolent and tolerant approach to modern religious discourse by examining a more distant past, the Axial Age. Her new book The Great Transformation: The Beginning of our Religious Traditions, looks to 900–200 B.C.—the historical period that includes the budding of Buddhism and the expansion of Hinduism in India, the development of Confucianism and Daoism in China, the strengthening of monotheism in Israel, and the advancement of philosophical rationalism in Greece—to demonstrate that compassion lies at the heart of all of our religious traditions. Three years before publishing this book, Armstrong spoke with Tricycle’s Andrew Cooper about the Axial Age. In “The Freelance Monotheist” in the Summer 2003 issue , she tells Cooper: “We have never progressed beyond the insights achieved at this time, though they have often been restated and reinterpreted over the years . . . All of these world traditions stress the importance of inner life, of compassion; all put human suffering at the heart of their agenda and devised means of exploring the inner world…the spiritual approach of the Axial sages will challenge the way that many people are religious today.”