Morgan Meis at Killing the Buddha [via 3qd]:
They call it the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, this island of Sri Lanka. But you could just as well call it Religion Island. There are no less than four major religions practiced here, and that doesn’t count the people in villages that make offerings to the local tree gods. Buddhists dominate the religious landscape, but there are Hindus and Muslims and Christians in abundance. I’ve heard that over 98 percent of this island’s population consists of active worshippers of one religion or another. My wife and I have been living here for the last four months, and from our home outside of Colombo, the capital city, you can hear the rites of the local Buddhist temples being performed early in the mornings and late at night. On full moon nights, processions of white-clad worshippers wind through the poorly paved roads. This is far from a godless place.
It was with some anticipation, then, that those of us inhabiting Religion Island awaited the coming of Richard Dawkins. His book The God Delusion is, after all, meant to be the definitive scientific debunking of religion for our time. Dawkins came to attend the Sixth Annual Galle Literary Festival, which was started by an English ex-pat named Geoffrey Dobbs and has become a major stopping point for international literary types. These days, the festival attracts big names from all over the world. Galle is a beautiful little city at the southern end of Sri Lanka possessing a Portuguese-Dutch colonial fort jutting out from a rocky promontory into the tropical splendor of the Indian Ocean. It is a damn nice place for a literary festival. More: