I doubt anyone will ever write a rap musical about the European Union – the idea of overpaid technocrats engaging in rap battles about banana regulations is somehow not very appealing. But there is more to this story than meets the eye. The EU is a tale of post-war quixotic dreams, and the corruption of these ideals by greed, arrogance, and unaccountability.
A few years ago, my grandmother remarked that “talking about immigration in Sweden feels like screaming in church”. Openness is in many ways Sweden’s national religion, and so any debate surrounding immigration is seen as racist, sinful almost, by the mostly left-leaning political class. This unwillingness to engage with immigration has produced deeply negative results.
The platitude “Do not discuss religion or politics at the dinner table” is so ingrained into the American psyche that we rarely discuss religion in a serious manner. This hesitation is understandable given the current political and cultural climate. Whenever we do hear about religion, it’s usually in the unpalatable form of a Fox News diatribe against Muslims, or an aggressive attack on faith by Richard Dawkins. Perhaps in reaction to such tongue-lashing, respect for religion has been conflated with a fear of religion, or at least an unwillingness to discuss it. According to a Pew Research Center survey on religion in everyday life, roughly half of American adults rarely or never discuss religion outside their immediate family. Given that religion continues to play – for better or for worse – such a large cultural and political role, it is a shame that we relegate the conversation to the media’s all too often simplistic narrative. We owe much of what we take for granted in the modern world to questioning religious dogma and practices. So on the 500th anniversary of the Protestant reformation, it is worth examining how censuring and debating religion in the past resulted in profoundly positive changes.