Sinterklaas, Zwarte Piet and the Ethics of Public Debate

Sinterklaas and his somewhat controversial helper Zwarte Piet arrive in the Netherlands tomorrow, marking the start of the festive season. In today’s post, Erik Meinema and Erin Wilson offer thoughts from both Dutch and non-Dutch perspectives on various dimensions of what has become an annual discussion over whether Zwarte Piet is racist or not. It’s …

Allergic Reaction to “The Religious Other” or just a Neurobiological Fact?

  Neurobiology, Social influence and its impact on our capacity to empathize. Today’s post shows Carine Nijenhuis’ reflection on the human (dis)ability to show empathy towards the religious unknown. An exploration of our lack of empathy from a neurological point of view sheds a completely different light on this cultural phenomenon.  Three years ago in June …

Religious authority and social media: old wine in new bags?

The Protestant Church in the Netherlands recently added a ‘social media guide for ministers and pastoral workers’ to its professional code. The guide encourages the use of social media like Facebook and Twitter as a communication channel, acknowledging its potential to reach new audiences. But it also highlights certain risks - in particular, the difficulty …