Back in the 12th century, the famous Spanish-Jewish poet and philosopher Judah Ha-Levi wrote a dialogue, the Kuzari, in which a Muslim, a Christian, a Jew, and a philosopher each seek to convince the pagan King of the Khazars that he should adopt their faith. (The work is based on the historical fact of the conversion to Judaism of the Khazars, a Turkic people who briefly held imperial sway in Central Asia and the Caucasus–so naturally the Jew wins.)
Well, now the latter-day Turks have come up with a new, democratized, reality-based version of the Kuzari. CNN’s got the story:
The show, called “Tovbekarlar Yarisiyor,” or “Penitents Compete,”
features a Muslim imam, a Catholic priest, a Jewish rabbi and a
Buddhist monk attempting to persuade 10 atheists of the merits of their
religion, according to CNN Turk.
If they succeed, the
contestants are rewarded with a pilgrimage to one of their chosen
faith’s most sacred sites — Mecca for Muslims, Jerusalem for converts
to Judaism, a trip to Tibet for Buddhists and the chance to visit
Ephesus and the Vatican for Christians.
The show is set to air in September, but if it does, it will be over the objections of Turkey’s religious leaders. “To do such a thing for the sake of ratings, not only with Islam but
with all religions is disrespectful,” Hamza Aktan, the head of the country’s supreme council of religious affairs, told CNN Turk. “Religion should not
be the subject of this type of program.”
Maybe Aktan should reread Kuzari.