Catholicism and economic life in the Arabian Peninsula (Part 2)

BRANDON VAIDYANATHAN

In my previous post I examined some of the ways in which the Catholic Church in the Arabian Peninsula helps cultivate skills and competencies that enable its members to achieve successful economic outcomes. A second set of resources it offers could be called ideational resources — ideals, attitudes, beliefs, and values that have a long-standing, habitual nature. Here, the classic example of how ideas or values contribute to economic outcomes is Weber’s argument, in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Does Catholicism impart a distinctive “Catholic ethic” among its adherents in Gulf cities?

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Catholicism and economic life in the Arabian Peninsula (Part 1)

BRANDON VAIDYANATHAN

The Arabian/Persian Gulf region is home to some of the fastest-developing cities in the world. In my research into these new hubs of global capitalism, one issue I examine is the role of Catholicism. While official statistics on foreign populations are not available, estimates from various sources (including embassies and churches) place the Catholic population in these cities at — astonishingly — between 10-30 percent, with a contributing factor being the increasing Filipino emigration to cities such as Dubai and Doha. One crucial way Catholicism shapes modern life in the Gulf is by serving as a source of “technical” competencies or cultural capital—technical in the sense of having to do with techniques, skills, and practices that contribute to economic outcomes and social mobility.

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Indian Catholics responding to globalization

BRANDON VAIDYANATHAN

When I first began researching call center workers in India, I was surprised to come across an article on a British news website about how the Catholic Archbishop of Bangalore had expressed public concern about rapidly mushrooming call centers. While most people outside India assume that call centers and “outsourcing” must be an unqualified boon for the country, the Archbishop fretted about their impact on the lifestyles of Indian youth.

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Catholics in the call center

BRANDON VAIDYANATHAN

In 2005, I visited Bangalore for the first time in ten years, and was astonished at the major facelift the city had undergone. The once quiet and easy-going “garden city” was now a thriving metropolis, dotted with an ever-growing number of shopping malls, coffee shops, glass-paneled office towers, KFC and McDonald’s franchises, and Pepsi billboards. Besides these usual symbols heralding the arrival of globalization, one new development struck me as peculiar: the outsourcing industry. I soon discovered that outsourcing highlights some of the important tensions between new modes of secularity and new religious modernities—including Catholic ones—emerging around the world.

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Catholic contributions to modern peacebuilding

GERARD POWERS

Some people say that Catholic Social Teaching is the Church’s Best Kept Secret. If that is true, Catholic peacebuilding may be Catholic Social Teaching’s Best Kept Secret. From South Sudan and Central America to Congo and Colombia, the Catholic Church is a powerful force for peace, freedom, justice and reconciliation. But that impressive and courageous peacebuilding work of the Catholic community is often unknown, unheralded and under-analyzed.

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Pakistan: between betrayed dream and desire to rebuild

PETER JACOB

Pakistan’s polity today does not reflect the ideals set by her founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, outlining a pluralistic democracy and religious freedom. But the undying spirit of the Pakistani people and their enduring commitment to true democracy—which braved executions, imprisonments, flogging and torture to oppose and defeat four despotic military regimes in 60 years—demonstrate that a new Pakistan can be built.

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A forgotten episode in the history of Interreligious Dialogue

KARSTEN LEHMANN

One often gets the impression that the history of Interreligious Dialogue is told in the form of hagiography, starting with “mystical figures” such as Akbar the Great or the Emirs of Granada and leading up to “present-day saints” such as Hans Küng, the Dalai Lama, and Mother Maya. There is, however, an important history of interreligious encounters that is generally excluded from the hagiography—a history that does not focus exclusively on shining examples and peaceful saints, that includes failure and dissent as well as understanding and comprehension, and that has to be rediscovered in order to grasp the structures, potentials and losses of Interreligious Dialogue.

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Monks in Algeria: loving thy neighbor at gunpoint

JENNIFER S. BRYSON

A review of the film “Of Gods and Men.”

What does it mean to love your neighbor? What does it mean to love your neighbor when a neighbor is pointing a gun at you and your other neighbors? The film “Of Gods and Men,” which won “best film” at France’s equivalent of the Oscars on February 25th, is based on a true story. It follows the lives of French Catholic monks in Algeria in the 1990s as the country descends into violent conflict between a secularist state and radical Islamists.

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“Mooz-lum”: faith flourishing in freedom

JENNIFER S. BRYSON

A review of the film “Mooz-lum.

In the new film “Mooz-lum,” an American school teacher tells a Muslim pupil his name is spelled wrong because there is no “u” after the “q.” Another little boy, relishing the chance to make fun of the kid sitting next to him, shouts, “It’s a Mooz-lum name!”

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