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Taming the Gods with Ian Buruma

Ian Buruma, author of Taming the Gods: Religion and Democracy on Three Continents, sat with Columbia University professor Andrew Delbanco during the Pen World Voices Festival. The two intellectuals met head-to-head at  powerHouse Arena in Dumbo, Brooklyn and hashed out some of the most important and highly controversial topics in modern discourse both in America and Europe: religion, freedom, immigration and democracy.

Stream and download the entire conversation here.

Bon Mots.

On Europe's changing anti-American attitudes: "Let's take just the anti-American attitudes in Europe. It's changed considerably because before the war, most people who were anti-American were people on the right who thought America was shallow and materialistic and hedonistic and a place without culture, basically. Whereas now, if you talk to people who have a problem with America, religion comes up as one of the objections. Religion and the death penalty, often . . . What they forget is how recent it was that most countries In Europe were still profoundly religious."

On why young people may turn to religion and extremism: "It's when one too many doors get slammed in your face. For whatever reason you feel rejected by the society you grew up in, you're alientated from the culture of your parents and suddenly this religious cause seems to have all the answers. You feel empowered, you have a family, you have a whatever it is. But it's not a tradition. It;s a modern phenomenon. It's a revolutionary movement in political guise, in religious guise."

On soccer and nationalism: "Soccer is the last legitimate form of nationalist expression in postwar Europe. Waving flags, let alone hand on the heart, that kind of thing, admiration of the military, that was really taboo after World War II."