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Showing posts from July, 2007

Consider Islamophobia

Whoever coined the term "Islamophobia" was quite shrewd. Notice the intellectual sleight of hand here. The term is not "Muslim-phobia" or "anti-Muslimist," it is Islam-ophobia – fear of Islam – yet fear of Islam is in no way the same as hatred of all Muslims. One can rightly or wrongly fear Islam, or more usually, aspects of Islam, and have absolutely no bias against all Muslims, let alone be a racist.

The equation of Islamophobia with racism is particularly dishonest. Muslims come in every racial group, and Islam has nothing to do with race. Nevertheless, mainstream Western media, Islamist groups calling themselves Muslim civil liberties groups and various Western organizations repeatedly declare that Islamophobia is racism.


--Dennis Prager

Prison and the Shoe Bomber

So this is not a great theological insight, but I'd just hate to get stuck in prison for life because I'm the "show bomber." I mean, isn't that a kind of ridiculous title? Son of Sam, Zodiac Killer, 9/11 hi-jackers--evil men no doubt--but they didn't get silly names like "the shoe bomber." Anyway, let's see how well name-it-and-claim-it works for the shoe bomber:

Failed shoe bomber Richard Reid fantasizes that Allah will free him from the Supermax prison cell where he lives in isolation - and in his socks.

"I had a couple of good dreams about my situation changing for the better in the not-so-distant future, so this is a blessing from Allah," Reid wrote in letters obtained by a British newspaper.

"I place my trust in Allah that he will bring that into fruition and ask him to give me patience until the time when that occurs."

The Mirror also secured exclusive photos of the 33-year-old Al Qaeda acolyte who tried to blow up a packe…

Islamic Prohibition on Suicide

You have heart that Islam prohibits suicide, here is the hadiith:

Al Bukhari
Volume 4, Book 56, Number 669:

Narrated Jundub:

Allah's Apostle said, "Amongst the nations before you there was a man who got a wound, and growing impatient (with its pain), he took a knife and cut his hand with it and the blood did not stop till he died. Allah said, 'My Slave hurried to bring death upon himself so I have forbidden him (to enter) Paradise.' "

Quantum Physics and Theology

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Every now and then I see a new book and just salivate--metaphorically speaking. One such book is here:

Quantum Physics and Theology: An Unexpected Kinship
By: John Polkinghorne
Yale University Press / 2007 / Hardcover

Truth-seeking in science and theology are not that different, says Polkinghorne, who discerns similarities between the perplexities in quantum physics and the problem of evil; the drive for a unified theory and Trinitarian theology; the way quantum theories and Christological controversies emerged historically. 128 pages, hardcover. Yale University.

Who tells a lie on me...

Hadiith al Bukhari
Volume 4, Book 56, Number 667:

Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Amr:

The Prophet said, "Convey (my teachings) to the people even if it were a single sentence, and tell others the stories of Bani Israel (which have been taught to you), for it is not sinful to do so. And whoever tells a lie on me intentionally, will surely take his place in the (Hell) Fire."

Justice?

There is a nice letter below from evangelical leaders to the US President. It is a nice gesture for a two-state solution. But it is, in my view, an impossible goal. A culture of hate and violence has been so profoundly embedded within Palestinian Arab minds that there will always be some who will launch attacks against Israel from their Islamic Palestinian state (and it will be Islamic, have no doubt).

Israel will be constantly distressed by these attacks and they will either have to re-occupy their neighbor or you will have a genuine war between two states.

But a war between two states, however sad and disastrous, may in fact be better though than the current situation of occupation because at least wars between states end eventually. The reasons is that states are sovereign, they are accountable to other states and the addiction to victimhood we find among many Palestinians may in fact shift slightly towards an actual recognition that blaming everyone else for your own problems is no…

Letter to President Bush from Evangelical Leaders

(Hat tip to Shawblog)

President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We write as evangelical Christian leaders in the United States to thank you for your efforts (including the major address on July 16) to reinvigorate the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations to achieve a lasting peace in the region. We affirm your clear call for a two-state solution. We urge that your administration not grow weary in the time it has left in office to utilize the vast influence of America to demonstrate creative, consistent and determined U.S. leadership to create a new future for Israelis and Palestinians. We pray to that end, Mr. President.

We also write to correct a serious misperception among some people including some U.S. policymakers that all American evangelicals are opposed to a two-state solution and creation of a new Palestinian state that includes the vast majority of the West Bank. Nothing could be further from the truth. We, who sign this l…

Pastoral Theology

Profound, insightful, heart-rending, deeply impacting and life-changing. How else can I describe this video?

RockTV

An Incident from the life of Billy Graham

When Billy Graham was driving through a small southern town, he was stopped by a policeman and charged with speeding. Graham admitted his quilt, but was told by the officer that he would have to appear in court.

The judge asked, "Guilty, or not guilty?" When Graham pleaded guilty, the judge replied, "That'll be ten dollars -- a dollar for every mile you went over the limit."
Suddenly the judge recognized the famous minister. "You have violated the law," he said. "The fine must be paid--but I am going to pay it for you." He took a ten dollar bill from his own wallet, attached it to the ticket, and then took Graham out and bought him a steak dinner! "That," said Billy Graham, "is how God treats repentant sinners!"

From TitusOneNine.

Laugh or Cry?

Qatari royals halt British flight

The British Airways flight was destined for Heathrow airport. A British Airways flight was delayed for several hours after women members of the Qatari royal family objected to sitting next to men they did not know. The three wives of Sheikh Badr Bin Khalifa al-Thani refused take up their seats on board Flight 563 from Milan's Linate airport to London Heathrow.

Police and Qatari diplomats became involved before the captain told Sheikh Badr's entourage to leave the aircraft. The Qatari royals eventually ended up getting an Alitalia flight to London. They had been on a shopping day-trip to the Italian city.

'Safety instructions'

In addition to his three wives, Sheikh Badr, a junior member of Qatar's 3,000-strong ruling family, was accompanied by a male relative, a cook and another servant on the flight. After boarding, the women complained about the seats they had been allocated because they were next to men they did not know, a spok…

Cathedral Church of Saint George the Martyr in Jerusalem

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The Anglican Cathedral in Jerusalem. Not ancient like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, but I always find it inspiring, and it is a place I try to visit every time I am in Jerusalem. Please continue to pray for Abu Daoud and his family as the government (the secret police) has notified us that we must leave the country.

Islamification of the West?

Another Islam-Christian Blow-up on the Horizon?

by Hillel Fendel

"While Christians respect Islam and desire to dialogue with Muslims," Pope Benedict XVI's private secretary says, "[we] must act to protect the Christian identity of Europe."

Msgr. Georg Ganswein, the Pope's secretary, was interviewed in the current edition of Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung Magazine. Though the interview covered many different issues, his comments about Islamic influence in Europe, and what Catholics should do about it, may prove to be the most controversial.

Msgr. Ganswein was asked about Pope Benedict's September 2006 speech in Regensburg, Germany, and its criticism of violent trends within Islam. Though the Pope may have intended to warn against religious terrorism, his remarks aroused fury throughout the Moslem world, developing into actual violence in several places. Arabs in Palestinian Authority-controlled areas attacked seven Christian churches, a nun was murder…

Eastern Orthodoxy (Part II)

by Frederica Mathewes-Green

2.) I have found that many Evangelicals are surprised to hear that the Holy Spirit is so central to the experience within the Orthodox Church. I think this is because they equate a "spirit-filled" church with a charismatic, Pentecostal context. Can you describe the Orthodox understanding of what the moving of the Holy Spirit amongst the community looks like?

It's funny, but I've noticed that people who come into Orthodoxy from a Pentecostal or charismatic background can be the ones who have the easiest transition. Orthodoxy is, after all, a premodern church--so it includes a natural expectation that there are miracles, healings, angels, and so forth. When you start expecting those things, they start to happen. A few years ago we had a family visiting that included a 3 yr old girl. During coffee hour she saw my husband (the pastor) and told her mom, "There's the man who was singing with the angels!"

We also have an ancient liturg…

1054 The East-West Schism

From Christian History:

[...]In 1048 a French bishop was elected as Pope Leo IX. He and the clerics who accompanied him to Rome were intent on reforming the papacy and the entire church. Five years earlier in Constantinople, the rigid and ambitious Michael Cerularius was named patriarch.

Problems arose in Southern Italy (then under Byzantine rule) in the 1040s, when Norman warriors conquered the region and replaced Greek [Eastern] bishops with Latin [Western] ones. People were confused, and they argued about the proper form of the liturgy and other external matters. Differences over clerical marriage, the bread used for the Eucharist, days of fasting, and other usages assumed an unprecedented importance.

When Cerularius heard that the Normans were forbidding Greek customs in Southern Italy, he retaliated, in 1052, by closing the Latin churches in Constantinople. He then induced bishop Leo of Ochrid to compose an attack on the Latin use of unleavened bread and other practices. In response…

Sweden's Rising Muslim Tide

"I know for a fact that there are small extremist groups in Malmo," says Arjumand Carlstein, a social worker at Malmo Islamic Centre, attached to the mosque. "And apart from the organized groups, you also have the Internet and extremists can easily communicate with each other in other parts of the world."

This global phenomenon appears to be spreading to Sweden. In August, several short video clips appeared on the Internet purporting to show experimental detonations of explosives in a wooded valley, supposedly in Sweden.

In September, another Islamist website claiming to speak for Ansar Al-Sunna, the Iraqi terrorist group, said the group had established "a small isolated training camp in southern Sweden."

"We wish to inform the Ummah," said the website, referring to the global Islamic community, "that the Army of Ansar Al-Sunnah in Sweden are well-trained to defend our holy countries ... having established a Mujahideen training camp, located i…

In Europe, skylines reflect the rise of Islam

Across Europe, the Continent's fastest-growing religion is establishing its public presence after decades in basements and courtyards, changing not only the architectural look of cities, but also their social fabrics.

Hailed by many as a sign of Muslim integration, the phenomenon is also feared as evidence of a parallel Islamic world threatening Europe's Christian culture.

"Muslims have come out ... and have become visible," says Claus Leggewie, a political scientist at Germany's University of Giessen who wrote a study on the evolution of the mosque landscape in Germany. "By building expensive, representative mosques, they're sending a message: we want to take part in the symbolic landscape of Germany. We are here and we'll stay here."

Major mosque projects from Cologne, Germany, to Amsterdam to Seville, Spain, have met with fierce opposition and fears that they will serve as breeding grounds for terrorists. Family members of two of the suspects in…

Two American Soldiers Convert to Islam, Marry in Afghanistan

From Here:

If the mainstream media picks this up at all, it will be as a heartwarming sidelight to the horror of war, and if the folks at State notice, they'll be showcasing these soldiers as proof that the U.S. is not at war with Islam. No one, but no one, will dare raise the small side issue of the fact that most likely they had to convert in order to marry their Afghan sweethearts, since Islamic law forbids a Muslim woman to marry a non-Muslim man -- although it allows a non-Muslim woman to marry a Muslim man. This double standard is vivid evidence of the supremacist element of Islam, since it is assumed that a woman will become part of her husband's household, such that the Islamic community will by such marriages always increase, and the non-Muslim community always decrease. And that same supremacist element, of course, fuels the jihad that these soldiers are in Afghanistan to fight. Bravo for life's little ironies.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre

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Abu Daoud and his family are passing right now through some truly extraordinary difficulties because of our decision to be a Christian witness in a Muslim land. At times like these I recall the beauty of this church which I have been so blessed to visit.

Salaam and Peace.

Muslim Online Social Networking

From ShawBlog:

Altmuslim is one of the most intriguing web communities/blogs that I know of. Why is it so cool? It presents a community of writing from (mostly western) Muslims who seek to be committed to their faith while embracing the modern world. They are, you could say, “alternative Muslims” - hence the site’s name. The founder of Altmuslim is actually another Austinite who is gaining rapid popularity as a statesmen of a new generation of progressive Muslims in the west not only before Muslims in the West but also before our US government.
I read their articles and, if you have any interest in keeping up with currents within Muslim thought or Muslims in the West, you should too.
As a taste, check out the immensely interesting feature story posted yesterday: “For Muslims, Social Networks Bring New Challenges“. Very simply put, this article acknowledges the incredible ascendancy of online social networking (ever heard of Facebook, Myspace, or Friendster?), and also asks the question…

"My Father was stronger than [Satan]"

Segment of a testimony from a convert from Islam, in this case a woman from a Turkish background. She heard the Gospel in Germany. Here is the section from moment of conversion but please read the whole thing:

One day this woman gave me a Turkish Injeel as a gift. I read the Injeel, didn't understand much, but I found it quite logical. Meanwhile my mom left, and went back to Turkey. I gave my boy to a child care center. I was working double shift everyday. I was exhausted.

One day this woman told me, "There is a vacation place I know of. Why don't you go there and spent a couple weeks there?" I accepted her offer. I was introduced to some Turkish believers before I left. We prayed together;

"Lord, If you are really Jesus the Messiah, help me, explain this to me, and answer my questions."

I was traveling in the train and thinking about all I heard, also reading my Injeel. Suddenly, I felt a big joy in my heart. I understood. Love, joy, peace, blessings, and the …

Jihad and Crusades? Forbidden Words

From The Brussels Journal. Scary when politicians are banned from using words, isn't it?

A glossocrat whose power is based on words is afraid of words. The EU has drawn up guidelines advising government spokesmen to use "non-offensive" phrases when talking about terrorism. The word Jihad should preferably not be used at all, or should be explained as a misunderstood term meaning peaceful struggle against oneself. These recommendations are being implemented. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, in an attempt to avoid offending Muslims, in the summer of 2007 banned his ministers from mentioning "Muslim" and "terrorism" in the same breath, following attempted terror attacks staged by Muslims - including several medical doctors - in Glasgow and London.

To quote Paul Fregosi's book Jihad in the West: "The Jihad, the Islamic so-called Holy War, has been a fact of life in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Near and Middle East for more than 1300 years, bu…

The Word of God at the Mercy of the Body

The Word of God at the Mercy of the Body
by Louis Marie Chauvet

This is a simplified version of the longer and quite challenging Symbol and Sacrament.

I have posted several items in the past few months about sacramentality, and specifically the relationship between faith and act, or belief and ritual if you prefer. Evangelicalism teaches that faith and salvation are primarily inward dispositions, they are about accepting the proposition that Jesus is "Lord and Savior" in "asking him into your heart." Not to say that any of this is necessarilly wrong, but let me say that in my view it simply does not account for the centrality of ritual in the OT, the NT, church history, or human history.

So you have kids? Tell me if they are not the most ritualistic creatures in the world! Don't you have a ritual for putting them to bed? And if you change it, well, won't they object? Or maybe they just won't go to sleep. Chauvet, who is Catholic, offers a profound and, to…

Whose Religion is Christianity? by Lamin Sanneh

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A prof who has taught at Harvard and Yale, a native of Africa but thoroughly conversant with Western scholarship and literature, and a former Muslim who converted to Christianity (Roman Catholicism specifically), it's hard to see who could be better qualified to tackle this topic.

Unlike Cragg's book, this one makes for a short, easy read. He grapples with questions about colonialism, Western guilt, translation and pluralism, but does so in an easy-to-understand format of question and answer.

Especially good to read along with The Next Christendom by Philip Jenkins.

Also available at Amazon.

Call of the Minaret by Kenneth Cragg

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I thought I'd post a few book recommendations. Cragg is a former Anglican bishop of Jerusalem and is one of the great scholars of Islam of the previous century. His prose is dense and challenging, and he may seem to treat Islam with kid gloves, but if you learn how to read his subdued style he offers some poignant and crucial criticisms of Islam. Also, his focus on approaching Islam from a Christian point of view is helpful. FInally, this book was written before 9/11 which means it still has a sort of innocence to it, and can thus avoid being an apologetic for Islam or a screed of denunciation.

Available at Amazon, among other places.

Arabic, the Divine Language; Questions about Jesus

Fascinating how Islam resists translation, unlike Christianity:

My parents made certain that I received thorough instruction in Islam. At the age of twelve I was sent to a mullah to study the Quran. One hour a day, every day, I was at the mosque learning the words of the Quran - but not its meaning. Although I memorized much of the Quran, it meant nothing to me because it was in a language I did not know.

The mullahs were afraid to translate the Quran into our own language. Such an attempt would have been considered a sin. Arabic was conceived to be the only divine language, and by learning to read the Quran in the original language in which it was given, I was making myself a better Muslim and I was adding to my chances of getting into paradise. For three years I was subjected to this grueling exercise in meaninglessness. In spite of the boredom and tedium that I and the other fifteen boys in the class felt, I endured it because I was afraid my father would beat me, or even kill me, if…

Ubaidullah bin Jash: First Apostate from Islam

Ubaidullah bin Jash was the first apostate from Islam. He converted to Christianity in Abyssinia (Ethiopia) and died there. I love his saying to the Muslims, which one might paraphrase thusly: "We (Christians) see clearly, but you (Muslims) have not yet learned to see completely." One might say the same today, no? From Answering-Islam:

Ubaidullah became a Muslim and married Umm Habiba, daughter of Abu Sufyan. Both he and his wife joined the first band of persecuted Muslims who sought refuge under the Christian King of Ethiopia (Abyssinia) in 615AD. Some time after coming to Ethiopia, he gave up Islam and became a Christian, and testified his new faith to the other Muslim refugees. Ubaidullah lived and died a Christian in Ethiopia. Muhammad married his widow. Ibn Ishaq relates:

"`Ubaydullah went on searching until Islam came; then he migrated with the Muslims to Abyssinia taking with him his wife who was a Muslim, Umm Habiba, d. Abu Sufyan. When he arrived there he adopted…

Why ex-Muslims Live in Fear--in America

From Human Events, back in 2004:

These people have to live in fear because of the long-entrenched and continuing unwillingness on the part of American authorities to face up to the realities of Islam. Law enforcement officials either haven't known or haven't cared that Islam mandates the death penalty for those who leave the religion. They assumed, if they knew that this provision existed at all, that Muslims who settled in the United States would discard it and accept the parameters and principles of American secularism. And many have. But many haven't, and it is time that fact be acknowledged. This is especially tough for Westerners, however, since the concept of apostasy is so foreign to today's secular society. As the great ex-Muslim Ibn Warraq noted in a statement read for him last year before the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (he could not appear in person because of threats on his life arising from the same Islamic principles): "The very notion o…

"Word and Sacrament"

(Abu Daoud: I have heard this often, that the focus on liturgical worship and sacrament was part of some kind of post-Constantinian corruption of the faith. Rubish, that focus on the sacramental nature of Christian worship predates the closing of the NT canon.)

Many younger evangelicals now argue that traditional marks of the church (word and sacrament) and the classic liturgy are products of Christendom—the era from Constantine to the late 20th century, when Christianity was the culturally dominant religion of the West. But in a post-Christian era, they say, we need to rethink the church completely, from the ground up. What is your response?

Historically, it is not true to say that the liturgy of word and sacrament is a post-Constantinian invention. We see the pattern in Acts 4:42 and in Justin Martyr (2nd century). But the more compelling evidence is the number of incidental details that suggest that by the time of the writing of the New Testament, the Lord's Supper was not only a…

Defining our Enemies

by Mike Liccione

The distinguishing feature of Islamic militancy is that it seeks to make Islam, precisely as such, the explicit basis of political authority wherever it is the dominant religion. For a long time, to be sure, Christians were wont to do the same with regard to their own religion; but save in a few isolated pockets, that approach has been given up, as it should be if Christianity is true. We've learned our lesson. Yet the Muslim world, the Umma, has not learned the lesson. Nor do I think it can. That is the main, underlying reason why the Umma has such a hard time repudiating al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups, such as Hezbollah and Hamas. It is the main reason why "Islamic" parties are gaining ground even in ostensibly secular states such as Turkey and Indonesia. All over the Muslim world, we hear more and more calls for imposing sharia, even on non-Muslims when possible. Even now, Christians in Iraq are reduced to the options of oppression or flight; Sunn…

"I found myself reading the Gospel of John..."

Another conversion story, wonderful and powerful. Please read it all. As I have noted before, the Gospels are convincing in and of themselves:

Then September 11, 2001, happened. As the towers collapsed, the last bit of respect I felt for Islam collapsed as well. This catapulted me into an all-out search for Truth.

I was laid off from a very good job as the result of the economic fallout of 9-11. As I was online every day searching for jobs, “for some reason” I frequently landed in Christian chatrooms. One day I even found the Bible in Arabic online.

One late wintry night I found myself reading the gospel of John. I never trusted the Bible, and I was taught my whole life that the Bible is corrupt and has been changed. As I started to read I was astonished. As I began reading about Jesus and his beautiful, pure, sinless, holy, amazing, miraculous life I couldn’t stop. I remember reading the whole Gospel from start to finish. I remember that it was early in the morning when I finished readi…

Persecution and Perseverance in India

India's Supreme Court heard a case July 19 about whether Dalits may continue to benefit from affirmative action if they convert to Christianity. Currently, only Hindus and converts to Buddhism and Sikhism can benefit. Although a preliminary report for the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities favored reservation benefits for Dalits regardless of religion, the federal government has done nothing to implement its recommendations. The court, instead of deciding the case, referred the issue to the government, giving it eight weeks to decide whether to implement the report's recommendations.
The Supreme Court's deferral was a disappointment to the Dalit Christian community, said Sam Pal, national secretary for public affairs of the All-India Christian Council. "We have big apprehensions that justice won't be done," he said. "In February, the leader of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes was on record saying that they do not want …

Christ died to save individuals?

Or did he die to redeem a community, which is formed of individuals? This is all linked to the question about the "invisible church" theory which I love to post about, especially since I don't know the answer to the riddle. Here is more from the AoG theologian who thinks and talks like a Catholic but is not. (You know, people have told me I think and talk like a Catholic, can you believe it?!?). All from Here:

Why should evangelicals care about something as arcane as the ontology of the church?

Evangelicals traditionally have been noted for their concern for the ontology of the person. They preach the gospel with the view to getting the individual transformed or "born again." Persons are spiritual entities who, because of sin, need to experience the miracle of conversion. Unfortunately, they have not extended this understanding to the church. They fail to see that conversion is not about transforming the individual, per se, but is incorporation into a spiritual r…

Angelic visit to a Former Muslim

Please read the whole thing, Mere Christianity was part of his conversion, of all things! Mere Christianity by CS Lewis, the gift that keeps on giving. Here is one particularly wonderful part, after he has left Islam for atheism, and before he has embraced Christianity:

Now I am stuck, talking to my self, I know that there’s a God but why He does not reveal Himself to me, I was talking to God saying that I can not be an atheist I know you are there in Quran you said that you are closer to us than the vain cord but I can not feel your presence.

I remember I was crying and praying for God to straight me up and show me himself, but he was not there to answer.

Again at work I got so angry and just left, it was cold and snowing, 17inches are on the ground already, with very fast wind, I realized that in my anger I left my coat at work, but also I was not to go back and pick it up, my pride wont let me do that, I started to feel the cold I no longer able to feel my toes, my nose running, my ey…

"Ability to Adapt": Mission and History

From and interview with Assemblies of God theologian Simon Chan:

If liturgical worship is such a good preparation for mission, why are Pentecostalism and evangelicalism, which hardly follow the ancient structure of worship, growing so fast?

In the modern age, the free churches are evangelistically successful, but in the broader history of mission that hasn't always been true. Europe was evangelized in the early centuries by missionaries who were certainly not free-church evangelicals. And think of the spread of the Orthodox Church from Russia to northern Africa.

In Singapore, we keep very close statistics about the growth of the Assemblies of God, which is currently the second-largest Protestant denomination in the country. We are good at evangelizing, bringing people in, but we have also noticed that many of those people that we have brought into our churches would over time go to more traditional churches and seeker-friendly megachurches. Our net growth isn't really that much, …

Good news for Religious freedom in KSA?

Probably a very small step, but hopefully in the right direction. From SaudiJeans:

So the government have cautioned the the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. “The Ministry of Interior has instructed commission members to strictly abide by the law and hand suspects immediately over to the custody of police,” Arab News reported today.

The statement comes after a July 1 royal directive stating that commission field members must abide by a 1982 order that they have no authority to detain or process suspects. How come this order has been ignored for this long time is beyond my comprehension, but it is obvious that the Commission and those who support them are finally feeling the heat. They should. Unfortunately, it has taken the death of two innocent men for such thing to happen.

I should say, however, that such statement does not necessarily mean that members of the Commission will abide. I mean it has been there since 1982, right? What happens when you put a low…

"It's all quite embarrassing"

There is something beautiful in seeing Christian humility that is genuine. It reminds me of what TS Eliot said, "Humility is endless."

Mike Liccione, upon being asked, Why do you love Jesus? prefaced his answer (which you can read at his blog) like this:

I confess to some reluctance. For one thing, the theme reminds me that I am a sinner, which I am already reminded of rather more than I care to be. Thus, not only do I not love Jesus as much as he loves me, which is a given and inevitable; I don't even love myself as much as he loves me. In fact, I sometimes find myself questioning his judgment for loving me as much as he does; he's a fool for me, with a wisdom greater than I can fathom, let alone muster; and so the truth that I ought to love myself more—or at least more genuinely—than I do is an obligation I need him to help me meet. Then there's the all-too-evident fact that I don't love others as I ought, largely because I don't love him as I ought. It&#…

"Deport all Muslims..."

Wow, but check out the source--he's a Muslim in the USA. Thanks to MEMRI. These are strange days indeed:

Khudayr Taher: Europe and America Should Deport All Muslims - Including Myself

Khudayr Taher, an Iraqi Shi'ite writer living in the U.S. and a regular contributor to the liberal Elaph website, had a quite illiberal suggestion - he asked why Europe and America shouldn't deport their Muslim populations. He wrote:

"Countries have the right to defend themselves and assure their citizens' safety from terrorism. Likewise, it is clear that the source of the terrorist crimes in Europe and America is the Muslims who live in these countries.

"The security services cannot know people's intentions and sort out who is the noble immigrant and who is a terrorist criminal. [But] wherever there are Muslims, their presence has produced crimes of terrorism and murder.

"Among those Muslims in Europe and America who do not practice terrorism, most of them do not have loyal…

Eastern Orthodoxy (Part I)

Have found a wonderful article by the talented writer Frederica Mathewes-Green about Orthodoxy,
and she answers questions about that tradition of Christianity. It is,
of course, here in the Middle East, the main church. Numerically theRussian
Orthodox Church is one of the largest in the world. The Orthodox sent
early missionaries to America (Alaska) and were somewhat successful in
converting the indigenous tribes there. So Orthodoxy, while we often
think of it as being Eastern, also has a long presence in the West.

Since
this blog is about Islam and Christianity, and Orthodoxy has been
through good times and bad the Christians living with the Muslims, I
think it is important to learn about it. I will be posting sections
from her article in the coming weeks, though you are welcome to simply
read it all href="http://www.directionstoorthodoxy.org/mod/news/view.php?article_id=667">here.
The topic is ostensibly the emerging church, a genuinely uninteresting
movement to me, and I think her v…

Eastern Orthodox or Oriental Orthodox?!?!

Yes, there are two families of Eastern Churches: Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox. And what is the difference? Pretty straightforward: the Eastern Orthodox, like the Catholic and Reformed churches, accepts the Definition of Chalcedon.

Ah, so that doeesn't help much? Well the Definition of Chalcedon, promulgated in 451, stipulates not so much the explanation, but the mystery of the incarnation: That Jesus Christ is at once fully God and fully man. Not a mixture of the two, nor did his divinity consume his humanity. He was both at the same time. 100% human. 100% divine. Wrap your mind around that. But some churches did not accept it, those are what we call the Oriental Orthodox churches. The largest of which are three:

Aremnian Apostolic Church
Ethiopian Orthodox Church
Coptic Orthodox Church

They are each based in their respective countries (Copts in Egypt of course). So here is a statement of "unity of faith" betweeen two of those three churches (though there are othe…

Thinking about Seminary?

I'm not sure if you have thought about going to seminary. SSome people do it just to learn more about the Bible, theology, church history, or what have you. Some people do it as part of their church community, with the goal of discerning together if he should be ordained as a deacon, and perhaps later a priest/presbyter, and maybe even (Subhaan Allah) a bishop.

Here's a great post from a new blog by an anonymous seminarian. He happens to be Anglican (like your truly--though I did not attend an Anglican seminary), but I think his observations will hold ttrue for folks from most any tradition--Baptist, Pentecostal, Methodist, maybe even to a certain degree Catholic?

From Anglican Student US:

The more interesting dynamic in the class is the young, straight-out-of-college seminarians versus the older, already-been-in-ministry seminarians and the oldest, this-is-my-second-career seminarians. Let me tell you about how this breaks down:

1. I am in the second, middle group, and I am ve…

Is London the new Kabul?

From What's Up in Jordan?

(Abu Daoud: An excellent Jordanian blog!)

Years back, security experts and ordinary people were worried about the return of young mujahideen from Afghanistan and Pakistan. Under US watch and patronage, Osama Bin Laden and many other young Arab and Muslim youth were indoctrinated and trained to fight the Soviet army in Afghanistan, using heavy doses of religious dogma to increase their zeal.

After paying dearly for this short sighted policy on September 11, 2001, the US was supposed to have learnt its lesson. However, their close allies, the British, continued to try to exploit and appease Islamic extremists, even after a group of them bombed the London subway system on July 7, 2005, killing 52 people. London continues to be the home for the most extreme religious fanatics, operating in total freedom.

So, when a brilliant young doctor and his wife left Jordan two years ago, it might not have been too far fetched that he may become a target for the preachers of…

Preventing the West from Understanding Jihad

Preventing the West from Understanding Jihad
By Walid Phares

In the years that followed 9/11, two phenomena characterized the Western public's understanding of the terrorists' ideology. The first characteristic stemmed from the statements made by the jihadists themselves. More than ever, Islamist militants and jihadi cadres didn't waste any opportunity to declare, clarify, explain, and detail the meaning of their aqida (doctrine) and their intentions to apply Jihadism by all means possible. Unfortunately for them, though, those extremely violent means changed the international public opinion: the public now was convinced that there was an ideology of Jihadism, and that its adherents meant business worldwide.

From Ayman al Zawahiri in Arabic to Azzam al Amriki in American English, via all of the videotapes made by "martyrs" in Britain, Iraq, and Afghanistan, the public obtained all the evidence necessary. Against all the faulty academic literature of the 1990's, …

Islamdom Rising in UK

Abu Daoud: And you thought terrorism was not working, but it is! The more Islamic terror in the UK, the more the government goes out of its way to destroy itself and its great educational traditions to pacify a group that is so violent that even when everyone is Muslim (Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen) violence only grows even further. Pathetic leadership in the UK.

But aside from the rant, Islamic education is very weak. No more will people be able to wonder...'Hmmm, that Muhammad guy having sex with a nine-year old girl--maybe that was, like, bad.' Haram! I don't even want to get started. Suffice to say there is no place for criticism or analysis in Islamic education. Creativity and critical thoughts are simply not values within the culture.


Report on the Teaching of Islam in Universities
Barnabas Fund

A recent government report on how Islam is taught in British universities signals another step towards the Islamisation of Britain and its education system. It was launched by the…

Polycarp: Saint, Bishop, Martyr

He lived during the most formative era of the church, at the end of the age of the original apostles, when the church was making the critical transition to the second generation of believers. Tradition has it that he was personally discipled by the apostle John and that he was appointed as bishop of Smyrna (in modern Izmir in Turkey) by some of the original apostles.

Timeline
48 Council of Jerusalem
57 Paul's Letter To The Romans
65 Peter and Paul Executed
69 Polycarp born
156 Polycarp dies
168 Martyrdom of Justin Martyr

In his later years, he tried to settle disputes about the date to celebrate Easter, and he confronted one of the church's most troublesome heretics, the Gnostic Marcion, calling him "the first born of Satan," when he ran into him in Rome. Polycarp was also responsible for converting many from Gnosticism. His only existing writing, a pastoral letter to the church at Philippi, shows he had little formal education, and was unpretentious, humble, and direct.

Such…