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Michael Kennedy: The Need for Inter-generational Friendships

Michael Kennedy: The Need for Inter-generational Friendships

When one thinks of their friends and their most lasting friendships, they often think of someone their own age. However, there lies great personal and political possibility in intergenerational friendships. Often, intergenerational relationships or programs are conceived as care-giving models that are meant to help older people socialize and function. Such thinking is problematic in(…)

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Michael Kennedy: Reflecting on Friendship and the Gift of Art

Michael Kennedy: Reflecting on Friendship and the Gift of Art

The Loing Canal at Moret c. 1892 was a painting by Alfred Sisley (d.1899), a French impressionist. The piece first drew my eye because it reminded me of the paths by the lakefront in my hometown of Chicago. It was on those walks that I made and strengthened many friendships; for instance, I met my current(…)

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Michael Kennedy: Approaches to Encourage Friendship as a Worldview

Michael Kennedy: Approaches to Encourage Friendship as a Worldview

On the Artwork: The art that makes the banner of this response was a piece I created in winter of 2017. Inspired by the idea of friendship as a worldview and approach that is the ultimate end of peacemaking, it has many symbolic components. Each mountain range represents a different, unique landscape. Both are rocky(…)

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Michael Kennedy: Vulnerability and Trust Can Build International Community

Michael Kennedy: Vulnerability and Trust Can Build International Community

When I think of examples of international friendship, many examples that come to mind are dark and sinister. For example, I think about how when George H.W. Bush was inaugurated as President, the first foreign head of State he invited to the White House was Mobutu Sese Seko, the dictator of Zaire (now the Democratic(…)

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Michael Kennedy: Goodbye Anxiety, Making Room for Trust in the U.S.

Michael Kennedy: Goodbye Anxiety, Making Room for Trust in the U.S.

In my previous piece, “The Gap in American Political Philosophy and an Ethical Return,” I have argued that American political philosophy has bred antagonisms and self-interest rather than associated people through friendship. Greed and self-interest have infiltrated the highest political institutions by catering to these feelings. American democracy has increased the value of capital, which(…)

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Michael Kennedy: The Gap in American Political Philosophy and an Ethical Return

Michael Kennedy: The Gap in American Political Philosophy and an Ethical Return

At the contemporary moment, the people of the United States are in a period of uncertainty and deep self-reflection. While Americans have been studying and actively opposing environmental injustice, wealth inequality, personal and institutional racism, patriarchy, etc., peoples’ faith in American political institutions to address these issues is faltering. The supposed checks of democracy have(…)

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Michael Kennedy: Friendship Making Self and Society

Michael Kennedy: Friendship Making Self and Society

Over thousands of years, numerous philosophies and theologies have praised friendship as one of the highest and most necessary virtues in life. While in the contemporary age, one may envision friendship as a private, individual experience, prominent thinkers of different cultures have recognized friendship as a foundational to civilization as well. The notable similarities in(…)

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Michael Kennedy: Staring into the Black Mirror and Re-assessing the Need for Friendship

Michael Kennedy: Staring into the Black Mirror and Re-assessing the Need for Friendship

In the contemporary moment, a significant portion of humanity is facing a deeply personal and paradoxical issue. Despite a globalized world with countless mediums of communication accessible at one’s finger tips, people are feeling lonelier and isolated from others. A 2014 study concluded that common mental disorders- related to mood, anxiety, and substance abuse- are(…)

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Michael Kennedy: The Roots of Sectarian Conflict in Bahrain

Michael Kennedy: The Roots of Sectarian Conflict in Bahrain

Of the movements that gained international attention during the Arab Spring of 2011, the push for democratization and equal rights for Shi’ites in Bahrain has been one of the least successful efforts. In their textbook on the history and politics of the Middle East, William Cleveland and Martin Bunton summarize: “The forceful repression of any(…)

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Michael Kennedy: Deconstructing Notions of Difference as Necessary for Conflict Resolution

Michael Kennedy: Deconstructing Notions of Difference as Necessary for Conflict Resolution

The ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine is heavily characterized in religious terms. Leaders of Muslim-majority States have garnered legitimacy through their support for Palestine and the United States has claimed shared “Judeo-Christian” values in explaining its financial and military support for Israel. While religion plays an important role in the region, it is important(…)

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Michael Kennedy: Islam and State Projects in East-Asian and West-Asian Countries

Michael Kennedy: Islam and State Projects in East-Asian and West-Asian Countries

The Muslim-majority countries in east Asia and west Asia have embarked on very different political projects with contrasting results. However, it is important to recognize that these differences have derived from separate historical political circumstances and very different approaches to Islam’s role within the State. East-Asian Success in Secularization Scholar Bahtiar Effendy argues that in(…)

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Michael Kennedy: The Exploitation of Sectarianism in the Middle Eastern Cold War

Michael Kennedy: The Exploitation of Sectarianism in the Middle Eastern Cold War

Wahhabi and Shi’i relations have been confrontational on the international level, chiefly due to the politicizing of religion by the governments of Saudi Arabia and Iran. While the religious sects are different in ideology, they are not as oppositional on an ideological basis as they have been on a historical basis. The governments of Iran(…)

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Michael Kennedy: Islam and the Modern State

Michael Kennedy: Islam and the Modern State

Scholars across disciplines have debated the relationships between Muslims and the Modern State; across geographic, temporal, and demographic circumstances, majority Muslim states have faced unique challenges both international and domestic. To some political scientists, these issues stem from Muslim’s hesitancy to adopt the secularization and centralization of Western modern powers. Others have argued that state-building(…)

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Michael Kennedy: The Creation of Interfaith Societies Under Muslim Rule

Michael Kennedy: The Creation of Interfaith Societies Under Muslim Rule

Although the term “Muslim World” often renders images of the Middle East, historically and contemporarily, this is not accurate. Not only were Muslim governments in power from Europe to southeast Asia, but long-lasting Muslim empires highly influenced generations of politics, culture, and advances in the sciences and arts. Spaces of interreligious co-existence and cooperation not(…)

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Michael Kennedy: Shaping State for Religious Community

Michael Kennedy: Shaping State for Religious Community

Early Muslim political thought and practice can easily be misrepresented by histories of the early caliphate as religiously zealous, militaristic, and imperial-minded. While early Muslim Arabs were deeply committed to their religion, participated in militaristic ventures, and were zealously supportive of state-expansion, the formation and of the Muslim state and its development was an unprecedented(…)

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Michael Kennedy: Qur’anic Implications for Modern Environmentalism

Michael Kennedy: Qur’anic Implications for Modern Environmentalism

*This post is a Final for Oberlin College’s Religion 272 Course* Before I begin, I would like to thank Professor Jafar Mahallati for the privilege to learn, reflect, and write about my perspective on Qur’anic themes, exegesis, and values. This semester has contributed to my own understandings of faith, paradigms of ethics, and has shifted(…)

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