I came across a tabloid article today about educated western women who have converted to Islam. I can rationalize why a moslem woman might ditch her religion and take on a western way of life (freedom – to choose how to live, whom to marry, what to wear, what to say etc) but to go the other way seems, to me, rather absurd. I only skimmed the article but the main missive was that these bourgeois converts were tired of what Hannah Arendt, I think, called the “hypocritical, bent on pleasure” motive of occidental living. And it can be tempting to see why: people living on credit, living for a weekend of partying and drunkenness, loose sex, lax morals, zombie TV reality shows and so on. But that’s not everybody’s reality for there are just as many others who live for family, nature, ideals, dreams, career, their children, the arts, literature, academic study, in giving of themselves to helping other people and so forth. Why does looking for meaning in life entail covering oneself off from reality and humanity and being subjected to the totalitarianism of religion?