Posts

Showing posts from April, 2008

Mark Gabriel: Islam, a river of blood

Islam is full of discrimination-against women, against non-Muslims, against Christians and most especially against Jews. Hatred is built into the religion. The history of Islam, which was my special area of study, could only be characterized as a river of blood.

Mark Gabriel, former Muslim, former professor of Islamics at al Azhar University

Utopianism of the Muslim Brotherhood (Al Ikhwaan)

The Birth of the Muslim Brotherhood changed everything:

Founded in 1928 by a then-obscure figure called Hassan al-Banna, the Muslim Brotherhood proclaimed the revival of an imaginary original purity in religion, asserting that a diluted and distorted Muslim devotion had undermined Islamic resistance to European imperialism. Yet the Muslim Brotherhood was modernistic in its reaction against modernity, adopting the characteristics of competing leftist and rightist militias in Mussolini's Italy and Hitler's Germany. It flourished as an aggressive, paramilitary formation, and established a network in the Arab East, India, Turkey, and Indonesia. While some of these branches were no more than fantasies typical of radical conspiracies, the Muslim Brotherhood did become an open ally of Hitler in seeking enhanced German influence in the Islamic world. Decades later, its Palestinian wing gave birth to Hamas, one of its most successful offshoots, and it has grown very powerful in many Mus…

The Dealbreaker List

If you have hung around with 20-something (or 30-something) single American evangelicals, this will be hilarious. If not, then please just ignore this video.

Hugh Fitzgerald on the governments of the West and Islam

Hugh Fitzgerald says:

...Western governments simply will not stop to examine, will not dare even to discuss, the nature, the meaning, the menace of Islam and Jihad. Those whose duty it is to protect us will continue to pretend that what goes on in mosques is as "religious" in nature as what goes on in churches or synagogues. But it isn't. Visits to mosques, or tapes of what goes on, or the testimony of those who have jettisoned Islam but can still recall what they heard (or if their faces are not recognized, enter mosques still) confirm that what goes on is dangerous to Infidels, to their legal and political institutions, to their physical security....

Faith, Works, and Logomachy

And you thought I only blogged about Anglicans, Catholics and Orthodox. Ya haram!

Southern Baptist extraordinaire David Rogers asks questions about how to square Paul and James:

As I have thought about faith and works, and their relationship to salvation, I have struggled with the apparent conflict between the teaching of Paul and James. If we are honest, and have thought much about it at all, I think we all would admit to struggling with this very same thing.

He then proposes a hypothetical situation which I will let you read. But here is what I wrote:

A good place to start is by realizing that Catholics and Protestants use the word justification quite differently. In Protestantism we view in a very forensic sense, that is, like in a court room. It is the beginning of our salvation when our present, past, and future sins (that last is debated among evangelicals) are forgiven and we move into a curious status that Luther called simul justus et pecatur–at once just and a sinner. After that…

First ever oil paintings found, defaced by Muslims

Image
Interesting stuff here:

Murals found on cave walls in Afghanistan prove that painting with oil had been going on in Asia for centuries before artists used the technique in Europe, scientists said this week.

Until now, art historians believed that oil painting started in Europe in the 15th century.

Just check out this picture from the CNN website.

But guess what? This important work done by Buddhist monks in the 7th C. has been defaced, quite literally. The faces of the people have been destroyed.

Why? Allahu Akbar.

Bamiyan, about 130 kilometers (80 miles) northwest of Kabul, was once a thriving center of commerce and Buddhism. The paintings, scientists say, were probably the work of artists who traveled along the Silk Road, the ancient trade route between China, across Central Asia's desert to the West.

The Taliban used dozens of explosives to demolish the Buddha statues in Bamiyan.

Imagine what Afghanistan could be today if it were not for Islam. Imagine what Afghanistan can be some d…

Evangelii Nuntiandi 44-46: Catechesis, media, and personal witness (sorts)

Paul talks about catechesis (§44) then as another form of evangelism. Is this not more of the same? I suspect that Vatican II blew a whole in rigorous catechesis and I have heard of people being confirmed after attending one or two classes. Which is better than nothing. But not much better.

He then discusses (§45) using the media--mass communication--to reach people. This goes on here in the Middle East, but not by Catholics. Only by evangelicals, and they do a great job at it too. (Obviously the intrepid and indomitable Abouna Zacarias is a fine exception among the Oriental Orthodox; though I would in all honest call him evangelical Orthodox.) So there is an opening there, waiting for someone to step through.

I have long said that some Muslims find the free-church, do-what-you-wanna-do model of worship unattractive even if they are attracted to Christian doctrine and the person of Christ--this point is incontrovertible. They might well be attracted to Catholicism. But no one is expos…

How Benedict XVI Will Make History

Great stuff from Newsweek:

[...] By quoting a Byzantine emperor's sharp critique of Islam, Benedict XVI drew worldwide criticism. Others, however, including significant personalities in the complex worlds of Islam, took the pope's point about the dangers of faith detached from reason quite seriously. And over the ensuing 19 months, there have been potentially historic tectonic shifts going on, both within Islam and in the world of interreligious dialogue.

Benedict has received two open letters from Muslim leaders; the October 2007 letter, "An Open Word Between Us and You," proposed a new dialogue between Islam and the Vatican. That dialogue will now be conducted through a Catholic-Muslim Forum that will meet twice yearly, in Rome and in Amman, Jordan. The forum will address two issues that Benedict XVI has insisted be the focus of conversation: religious freedom, understood as a human right that everyone can grasp by reason, and the separation of religious and politica…

Project Sermon on the Mount

So a few days ago, I, with no intention to do this, set out in the streets of my city here with a copy of the Sermon on the Mount in both Arabic and English. I wasn't passing literature out or anything like that. I was mostly talking with people I already had met before, which is usually more effective. I would just drop by someone's hops and ask them to listen to me read something in Arabic and tell me if I was reading it well. I would read it, or they would read it. And we'd just see what happened.

One Muslim guy read the beautitudes and said, yes, this is really good. I asked the guy at the sandwich shop about "love your enemies"--is that even possible for people like us? The guy I was going to give the Sermon to was busy so I didn't even get to talk to him, which is ok. I ended up giving it away today to another guy I hadn't spoken with in a while. We talked for a good while. He is normally a very mellow person but he was upset about some local problem…

Madha taqra', ya abu daoud? Churches and Ijtihad

First of all, great link here, where you can listen to a reading of 1st Clement:

Open Source Audio

The sentence above is Arabic for "What are you reading Abu Daoud?" So since the blogosphere is all abuzz with sundry articles about the Pope's American sojourn, I just want to do this thing, where I inexplicably and self-centeredly tell you what I'm reading:

1) Narrow Gate Churches, by Atallah Mansour. Just started it, but so far I really like his writing style. Few books exist about Arab Christianity, few of those are written by Arab Christians. This is one such book. Regarding the name:

To protect their ancient churches from desecrating marauders on horseback, worshipers in the Holy Lands centuries ago sealed off most of their doors to keep the invaders outside their sacred halls, so the term, "narrow gate churches" began to be used to describe Christian churches in the land of our savior’s birth. This history of how Christians have survived for two millennia u…

Anyone in the Minneapolis area?

To my dear eight readers:

Are any of you in the Minneapolis area? If so please e-mail me: winterlightning [at] safe-mail [D0T] net

Abu Daoud

EN 43: Apostolic Ardor, homilies and Amaretto Sours

Paul VI now moves on from the first 'how' of evangelism which is the authentic Christian life, to preaching. He makes a few points that I will not discuss in detail: preaching is necessary, people are tired of empty talk so we need to be creative in how we preach, and that, you know, wouldn't it be nice if we had good sermons at mass? (I cannot tell you how many times I've heard people complain about that last point, and quite rightly I have to say.)

So the next time your pastor asks you about his sermons, say, I would like to see more sermons that are "simple, clear, direct, well-adapted, profoundly dependent on Gospel teaching and faithful to the magisterium, animated by a balanced apostolic ardor coming from its own characteristic nature, full of hope, fostering belief, and productive of peace and unity." §43

Apostolic ardor. I like that. He then goes on to mention what seems to be a great insight for Catholic outreach, that the homily can be used on…

Progress in Egypt, plans for Rome

One of the hardest things these days it to gauge progress. Who is making more progress? One thing is clear, the secularists are not winning any important battles. The battles they fight against Christians ultimately will turn against them because they will not resist Islamization. Islamization is good, Christianity is bad. Just ask the ACLU.

But here is some positive news from Egypt, mentioning the well-known Abouna Zakarias as well as some evangelical and Anglican leaders. The whole article is worth a read, but here is one significant section:

Surveying the big picture, Sameh believes a religious earthquake is shaking the Middle East, leading to many new conversions from Islam. "For years, there were only hundreds converting from Islam to Christianity. Very confidential, very low key," he said. "Now [converts] are writing their stories. They are in chatrooms. The voice of converts for the first time is being heard. The numbers are beyond estimation. It's an icebe…

Muhammad and the caravan raids, old and new

Muhammad funded the early expansion of Islam by raiding caravans traveling between Mecca and Damascus. The idea is to at once make yourself rich from your enemies goods, and also bleed your enemy dry of resources. (Below I will give you a nice quote about Muhammad's raids.)

But I want to suggest the parallel today, that the these raids, as in the days of Muhammad and the various Islamic Caliphates afterwards--when Muslim horsemen would raid Christian and Jewish villages, killing the men and taking the women and children to be sold as slaves as well as their agricultural produce, are still going on, just in a different form.

The parallel is in emigration, both legal and illegal. Whereby Muslim mujaahidiin gain entry to countries with jobs and resources that Muslims countries don't have, and benefit from the rule of law and freedoms afforded there. But at the same time the resources of those societies are being bled dry by the constant threat of terrorism. Consider the example…

EN 41: indestructible witness and martyrdom

§40 is the beginning of Section IV, and sets up the question: how to evangelize? Paul makes some comments about how it is especially the role of the bishop to decide how to evangelize, which is ironic because the evangelism I have seen in the Catholic church usually happens despite the hierarchy, not because of it. Of course my experience is quite limited and I'm guessing there are bishops out there who wake up and ask, how can I seek the conversion of the people in this city?

But the central question has turned to one of method, after discussing the definition of evangelism, and then its relation to liberation and politics and human rights.

§41 stipulates that "the first means of evangelization is the witness of an authentically Christian life, given over to God in a communion that nothing should destroy and at the same time given to one's neighbor with limitless zeal." Again we note the personal-communal balance which Paul has so carefully preserved, quite explicitly…

A raw deal for families in the UK and Yemen

I ran across both of these today while reading through my reader.google.com collection of feeds. (If you read more than three or four blogs, and are not using Google Reader, i highly recommend you give it a try.)

First we have some bad news about marriages in the UK:

UK loses interest in marriage
By: Matt Cresswell.

THE DECLINING interest in marriage, revealed in official figures last week, has been blamed on economic pressure by leading Christian marriage experts.

Financial worries are a particular concern, with fewer and fewer young couples even able to afford a wedding after battling rising house prices and student loans.

Their comments come after the figures released by the Office of National Statistics revealed marriage rates in England and Wales for 2006 are the lowest since records began in 1862.

Various factors are blamed, especially the high price of housing and the UK's tax system which actually treatss a cohabitating couple more favorably than a married couple.

And on the other…

Thanks for commenting

Hey all, I just wanted to say thanks for leaving comments, I wish more readers would. It makes blogging funner (if 'blogging' is a word then 'funner' should be too).

So yeah, thank you.

Orate Fratres, and, Trouble in the Vatican

I have taken too long to link to this fine blog:

Orate Fratres, a blog on prayer and fasting.

Once on Orate Fratres they even prayed for yours truly, what a blessing and encouragement that is.

Also, it sounds like the pope is having a hard time keeping some of his cardinals in line over in the Eternal City. Listen to it HERE.

Muslim conversions and money?

I wonder if the rosy numbers you often hear about Muslim conversions to Christianity are artificially inflated "to keep the donors donating." How much of that practice is there?

This question is from an anonymous reader.

This is a really good question, so let me just make a couple of points.

1) Some ministries are way more guilty of number inflation than others. I would say this is especially true of radio and TV ministries and probably more true in the charismatic ministries. Why? Because when your ministry is based on the premise that you are special because the Holy Spirit is more active with YOU then you have to produce better numbers.

2) Numbers are very hard to come by. Converting from Islam is illegal in most every Arab country so it is not the kind of thing that you can easily get info about, so we have to do the best we can with the information we have. Some ministries and individuals exaggerate, some probably under-estimate numbers. It is one thing to high-ball an est…

Largest Church in the World: Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro

Image
This is very bizarre. The largest church building in the world is in a fairly small city with a tiny Catholic population. But it looks like a fascinating place, so enjoy the pictures and some good info from The Epoch Times:

The world's largest Christian church has 7,000 individually air-conditioned seats, standing-room for 11,000 in a surrounding 3ha marble plaza, and enough room for 100,000 more – 300,000 at a squeeze – beyond that.

Yet the chances of even the 7,000 seats ever all being occupied at one time are about nil, because rather than finding this church in one of the great cities of the world, you'll discover it in a community of just 120,000 people in the middle of the jungled hills, arid plains and farmlands of Africa's Ivory Coast.

And poverty, for few homes away from this city's strange CBD have even the basics of running water and sanitation.

We're talking about Yamoussoukro, the Ivory Coast's capital, and it's unusual Roman Catholic Basilica of O…

Report on Sept. 6 strike to show Saddam transferred WMDs to Syria

Who knows if this is true, but if it is then it's big news:

Report on Sept. 6 strike to show Saddam transferred WMDs to Syria

An upcoming joint US-Israel report on the September 6 IAF strike on a Syrian facility will claim that former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein transferred weapons of mass destruction to the country, Channel 2 stated Monday.

Furthermore, according to a report leaked to the TV channel, Syria has arrested 10 intelligence officials following the assassination of Hizbullah terror chief Imad Mughniyeh.

[Jerusalem Post]

Christianity Today: Jordan evicts evangelicals

Jordan's Eviction Notice Country hailed for tolerance deports at least 27 Christians.

[...]
Jordan said through its U.S. embassy that the deportations came in response to complaints from Catholic and Orthodox bishops about evangelicals' proselytizing. Much of evangelicals' growth has come from the conversion of nominal Catholic and Orthodox believers.
However, one evangelical leader in Jordan said multiple factors, including new pastors with better training, increased access to satellite TV and the Internet, and prayer are combining to draw Jordanians to the Christian faith.
"I wish what the government accuses us of doing was true, that we are doing evangelism, giving Bibles away, going to the streets," he said. "But these people are just coming to us, and they have a hunger."
Jordan's moderate government is facing growing political pressure from at least three sources: Islamic fundamentalism, turmoil in surrounding nations, and the economic strain of ho…

Inter-Christian relations in the Middle East

One of the most contentious issues right now among the small Christian communities throughout the Middle East concerns the relationship between evangelicals and the traditional Orthodox and Catholic churches. There is an article on it at CT but here is the section I found interesting:
5. The need for cooperation between evangelicals and non-evangelicals. It was indeed shocking and sad that the council of the Catholic and Orthodox bishops in Jordan denounced the presence of the evangelical churches and their institutions in the newspapers and television, resulting in further media backlash. This has brought pain and confusion to the average Jordanian citizen and shame to Christians in the eyes of Arabs in the region. It is difficult to understand how the Catholics and Orthodox churches call on the cessation of all evangelical activity in the country when they and the evangelical churches are equally registered as churches in the country; both have the same common foundation of the Lord …

"Organised crusade...to demonize Islam"

Notice how there is no evidence that Muslims or Islam or the Quran might actually be responsible for the increasingly negative perceptions of Islam in the West. Rather we have an organized crusade! I only wish we had the organizational proqess that Dr. Khan attributes to us. Notice also how we lumps BXVI's baptism of Magdi Cristiano Allam in there as part of a smear campaign against Islam:

Countering Western anti-Islam media spin

Dr Adalat Khan

It is sad to note that now a days in the Western Media Islam bashing has become fashionable and oft and on we see provocative articles, cartoons, videos and other propaganda items against Islam and the Muslims. A latest slur is the fifteen minutes video by the racist anti-immigration right wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders called fitna. This film features violent imagery of terrorist attacks in New York and Madrid set against passages from the Holy Quran that are distorted and taken out of context. Under the gui…

EN 38: The Church, liberation, and loss of identity

32. We must not ignore the fact that many, even generous Christians who are sensitive to the dramatic questions involved in the problem of liberation, in their wish to commit the Church to the liberation effort are frequently tempted to reduce her mission to the dimensions of a simply temporal project.

§32 comes after a discussion of how the act of evangelism, which let us remember, has been explained essentially as seeking conversion, cannot be separated from the search for justice and, a word that will come back to haunt the Vatican, liberation.

What we find in §32 is an attempt to temper the previous statements in favor of liberation and equality. But it ended up not being strong enough language, or perhaps it simply was ignored after pope Paul's glowing remarks about liberation and justice.

Thee clash between orthodoxy and some of the more radical liberation theologians and liberation practitioners (for lack of a better word) came to a head with the issuance of Splendor of Trut…

Tidbits: Food Prices, Freedom not Dead Yet

I've said this before, but food prices will just keep going up and up, largely because of a confluence of several factors:

-increasing fuel prices
-poor agricultural use of land
-increasing consumption of meat
-population growth

There are more reasons than that, but those are some of the big ones. As tension continues to rise look for attempts to overthrow local governments. Providing basic, cheap food supplies is really one of the main things governments are expected to do, and not doing it is one of the things that makes the masses of the poor rise up:

Price shock in global food

And here, a Dutch court has refused to ban Fitna: the movie. Freedom is still alive, for now.

Mark Bowers: Why Anglicanism?

Well, between Erik Twist's "Why Catholic?" series and my blogging on Evangelii Nuntiandi, and my defense of icons against a (sorta) fellow Anglican, you all must be wondering, "Now is Abu Daoud really Anglican?" The answer is yes, my friends. Yes, I am. Not always happy about it, but like any big family we have our share of problems and (I think) we're trying to figure out how to deal with them. (In sha'allah we will cut off the fruitless branches soon and cast them into the fire where they will be totally consumed, God be praised.)

So, I was encouraged to read Mark Bowers' short tale of how he ended up in Anglicanism, and he has given me permission to share it with you all. For the sake of context you should know he is answering the question, "How do we get more young adults into our Anglican churches?"

This is a good topic, but as good topic usually go, one with no easy answer. I was personally raised in what I consider to be an extreme fu…

Why do I spend time talking to people like JMW?

JMW had posted some material about icons, saying that the veneration of icons is exactly identical to the worship of idols. I disagreed. While I don't think that the veneration of icons is required of anyone, it is certainly not idolatry. We went back and forth at his blog arguing about it, including questions of historical councils, Anglican authority, and--my main point--hermeneutics.

In any case, James, a reader of this blog posted this question in the comment thread to a post:

Abu Daoud:

Just read your exchanges with JMW. I have to ask, why bother arguing with him? The man is obviously hyper-Protestant (Calvinist maybe?) and is not going to be convinced. From a quick reading he appears to be citing some things out of context and trying to get other quotes to mean things that they clearly do not. He also appears to have found the only Latin Iconoclast there was to quote from.

They have not known nor understood: for he hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see; and their hearts, th…

EN 28: a communion of signs

§27: salvation is not about fulfilling material needs but is "transcendent and eschatological" and is "fulfilled in eternity."

§28 speaks of the sacraments, which is a particular area of interest to me since evangelical missions to Muslims have tended to be (not surprisingly) almost entirely empty from a sacramental point of view. Here is the statement:

The preaching likewise [...] of the search for God Himself through prayer which is principally that of adoration and thanksgiving, but also through communion with the visible sign of the encounter with God which is the Church of Jesus Christ; and this communion in its turn is expressed by the application of those other signs of Christ living and acting in the Church which are the sacraments.

Here we have the theme of the search for God, which is in itself a response to God's already-present grace and revelation, and we find that our search for God takes place primarily in two ways: through prayer, and through comm…

Evangelii Nuntiandi §26 and Personal Jesus

I know I've pointed out that IMHO EN is a very evangelical document (pr Apostolic Exhortation to be precise), but after reading §26 I have to reiterate the point.

§25 starts by acknowledging that there are secondary points to evangelism which are conditioned by time, place, and culture--all things that have been mentioned before in the encyclical. But then it goes on in §26 to delineate the factors that "cannot be modified or ignored."

We find the following, which is what caught my attention:

But it is fully evangelizing in manifesting the fact that for man the Creator is not an anonymous and remote power; He is the Father: "...that we should be called children of God; and so we are."

Can we say 'personal relationship'? That phrase seems to come quite easily to mind after reading this. Or we can also point out that favorite and venerable evangelistic tool: the God-shaped whole in our hearts, which is also mentioned:

Perhaps this attestation of God will …

BXVI and Magdi: called to discover Christ

[...] The fact that Benedict XVI accepted to personally celebrate the baptism of Magdi Allam is surprising. It must also be said that he did so without ostentation, giving the same importance to all 7 baptised, and not giving precedence to the Muslim convert. This emphasis on the Islamic convert is the work of the press, overly used to attributing political meanings.

But Benedict XVI wanted to underline that everyone, Muslim, Atheist, Christians who have abandoned the faith, are all called to the faith. He wanted to affirm the universality of the Christian calling, not because we Christians are the largest group, but to underline that every human being is called by Jesus. Everyone has the right to know Christ. No-one is excluded.

Of course, the presence of a Muslim among the catechumens is a sign for the Islamic world. It is the most recalcitrant group to recognise this step. The pope, without violence or acridity seems to be saying: You too are called to discover Christ and to e…

Diluting the Concept of Mission

Lausanne World Pulse has just published their most recent articles which you can check out at http://www.LausanneWorldPulse.com. Here is one section that caught my attention:

The broadened concept of “mission” which seems prevalent in our day equates all that the Church does as mission. We might ask ourselves if we have so diluted the term “missionary” that it has become a catch-all word with accrued baggage that allows for almost any kind of overseas work or anything vaguely connected with the gospel to be called “mission.”

As a result, we have career “missionaries” who bear little resemblance to the New Testament apostle or evangelist (perhaps the closest counterpart to the non-biblical term “missionary”). This is not to criticize the good work they have done, nor to impugn their motives; however, when “missionaries” are engaged in ministry that does not result in planting reproductive fellowships of saved, baptized disciple, then we do well to reevaluate our present situation. What …

"The Church of Oprah" or "I liked it better when it was called gnosticism"

For those of you interested in USA pop-culture stuff and the victory of gnosticism (%$# Zwingli):

Ayatolla Khatami on Fitna: The Movie

Khatami stressed, "The fact that rather than sound logic they have begun swearing and insulting proves that the anti-Islamic figures have no sound, logical point worth proper presentation, which has accidentally been the case ever since the advent of Islam." He added, "They notice that the plans they had devised for hundreds of years have borne absolutely no fruit, which is the reason why they have begun conducting such wretched moves."

From HERE.

EN and Church Planting Movements

I have been blogging on Evangelii Nuntiandi for a week or so now and I have found that it in many ways portended trends in evangelical missions to the Muslim world. (I wish I could say the same for Catholic missions to the Muslim world, but I don't know of any Catholics in MENA who have expressed a desire to see Muslims converting, and I have talked with a good number of them.)

The first trend is at the end of EN21:

"All Christians are called to this witness, and in this way they can be real evangelizers. We are thinking especially of the responsibility incumbent on immigrants in the country that receives them."

In fact this does and has happened, more and more intentionally in recent years. In fact one might call it evangelistic emigration, where Christians from places in S. Asia and E. Asia emigrate to places like the Gulf States with the intention of spreading the Gospel and with the blessing of their churches. Often times this migrants are working in very humbles positi…

MacGyver meets Islamic Terror

I was just impressed by the ingenuity involved here. But first, the plot:

"These men were actively engaged in a deadly plan designed to bring about what would have been, had they been successful, a civilian death toll from an act of terrorism on an almost unprecedented scale.

"If each of these aircraft was successfully blown up the potential for loss of life was indeed considerable.

"And there would be little if any chance of saving any of them from their impending disaster.

"For when the mid-flight explosions began the authorities would be unable to prevent the other flights from meeting a similar fate as they would already be in mid air and carrying their deadly cargo."

And here is the ingenuity:

Ali, 27, married with a young son, also had a pocket notebook in which a "blueprint" for making the bombs and carrying out the plot was written.

Plastic Oasis and Lucozade bottles were to be used by the plotters to make their liquid bombs.

A hypodermic syringe wo…

A father of the Church in Spain: Isidore of Seville

St. Isidore of Seville
(560?-636)

The 76 years of Isidore's life were a time of conflict and growth for the Church in Spain. The Visigoths had invaded the land a century and a half earlier and shortly before Isidore's birth they set up their own capital. They were Arians—Christians who said Christ was not God. Thus Spain was split in two: One people (Catholic Romans) struggled with another (Arian Goths).
Isidore reunited Spain, making it a center of culture and learning, a teacher and guide for other European countries whose culture was also threatened by barbarian invaders.

Born in Cartagena of a family that included three other saints, he was educated (severely) by his elder brother, whom he succeeded as bishop of Seville.

An amazingly learned man, he was sometimes called "The Schoolmaster of the Middle Ages" because the encyclopedia he wrote was used as a textbook for nine centuries. He required seminaries to be built in every diocese, wrote a Rule for religious orde…

I was right about icons, ok?

If you need to be convinced further read this about the agreement of the Orthodox and Anglicans regarding icons. I'm not posting a chunk of it since a lot of you are neither Anglican nor Orthodox, but if you are it is well worth the read:

The Confessing Reader on icons
.

EN 20: "to evangelize man's ... cultures"

Evangelii Nuntiandi 20:

20. All this could he expressed in the following words: what matters is to evangelize man's culture and cultures (not in a purely decorative way, as it were, by applying a thin veneer, but in a vital way, in depth and right to their very roots), in the wide and rich sense which these terms have in Gaudium et spes, always taking the person as one's starting-point and always coming back to the relationships of people among themselves and with God.

The Gospel, and therefore evangelization, are certainly not identical with culture, and they are independent in regard to all cultures. Nevertheless, the kingdom which the Gospel proclaims is lived by men who are profoundly linked to a culture, and the building up of the kingdom cannot avoid borrowing the elements of human culture or cultures. Though independent of cultures, the Gospel and evangelization are not necessarily incompatible with them; rather they are capable of permeating them all without becoming sub…

Dispatch from the Eurabian Front: Austria

Depressing. Absolutely depressing:

The Austrian authorities have indicted politician Susanne Winter on charges of incitement and degradation of religious symbols and religious agitation. This offence carries a maximum sentence of two years. Last January, Ms Winter said that the prophet Muhammad was “a child molester” because he had married a six-year-old girl. She also said he was “a warlord” who had written the Koran during “epileptic fits.”

The politician, a member of the Austrian Freedom Party FPÖ, an anti-immigration party which is in opposition, added that Islam is “a totalitarian system of domination that should be cast back to its birthplace on the other side of the Mediterranean.” She also warned for “a Muslim immigration tsunami,” saying that “in 20 or 30 years, half the population of Austria will be Muslim” if the present immigration policies continue.

Following her remarks, Muslim extremists threatened to kill Susanne Winter and she was placed under police protection. Today, t…

"Abject Dhimmitude"

Wow, a first class rant:

Great cartoon :-)

Image

England: "No more mosques"

ENGLAND: 'No more mosques' says Synod member
Alison Ruoff claims that building mega-mosques could help turn Britian into an Islamic state

by Ruth Gledhill
From Times Online
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article3662450.ece
April 1, 2008

A prominent evangelical member of the Church of England's General Synod has called for a ban on the building of any more mosques in Britain.

Alison Ruoff also claimed that Sharia law is inevitable in this country if mosques continue to be built here.

Mrs Ruoff, a former magistrate, said in an interview with London's Premier Christian Radio that no more mosques should be built in Britain until all persecution of Christians in Muslim nations had ceased.

She said: "No more mosques in the UK. We are constantly building new mosques, which are paid for by the money that comes from oil states.

"We have only in this country as far as we know, 3.5 to four million Muslims. There are enough mosques for Muslims in this country, they…

Paddy on liturgy, church, and time

From HERE:

[...] In one way, this recognition has heightened my appreciation for Church practices all the more. Through the daily office, Morning and Evening Prayer, I find myself more attuned to the rhythm of living in dependent relation to God from day to day (Mt. 6:34). Through following the liturgical calendar, my life is set more to the seasonal rhythm of the life of Christ. Through honoring the Sabbath, I come to recognize the importance of rest--not for the sake of "efficiency"--but for a whole host of theological reasons, from recognizing my own limitations and dependence on God, to acknowledging my relation to the divine, and being a "co-creator", to a foretaste of the true rest offered in Christ.

Without these or other, similar disciplines (and no mistake, they require attention and effort!), I fear the Church runs the risk not only of becoming chronologically indistinguishable from the world, but also of becoming wholly incapable of understanding--and livi…

Guidelines for hitting one's wife in Islam

From islamqa.com:

Question:
Husband and wife were quarreling because of the second wife. in anger during the fight he held her head and hit it on the wall. she went into coma and never recovered until she died. Is he doomed, or will he be saved by intention.

Answer:
What the husband did, holding his wife’s head and hitting it against the wall, is an evil act and is not permissible, because Allaah has not permitted striking the wife in this manner. Rather there is a concession allowing hitting her to discipline her, after exhorting her and forsaking her in bed, on the basis that it should not be a painful blow, and should not leave a mark or break a bone, and it should not be done with motives of revenge or to express one’s anger. [...]

Spending on the family

In al-Bukhaari (55) and Muslim (1002) it is narrated from Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:

“When a man spends on his family, hoping for reward, that is (counted as) an act of charity for him.”

In Muslim (2630) it is also narrated that ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) said:

“A poor woman came to me carrying her two daughters, and I gave her three dates. She gave each of them a date, and raised one date to her mouth to eat it. Then her daughters asked her for more food, so she split the date that she had wanted to eat between them. I was impressed by her action and I told the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) what she had done. He said, ‘Because of that, Allaah has guaranteed Paradise for her, or saved her from Hell.’”

Evangelii Nuntiandi 18: evangelization and conversion

Evangelii Nuntiandi 18. For the Church, evangelizing means bringing the Good News into all the strata of humanity, and through its influence transforming humanity from within and making it new: "Now I am making the whole of creation new." But there is no new humanity if there are not first of all new persons renewed by Baptism and by lives lived according to the Gospel. The purpose of evangelization is therefore precisely this interior change, and if it had to be expressed in one sentence the best way of stating it would be to say that the Church evangelizes when she seeks to convert, solely through the divine power of the message she proclaims, both the personal and collective consciences of people, the activities in which they engage, and the lives and concrete milieu which are theirs.

To some the emphasis on Baptism might seem like shallow sacramentalism or ritualism and if we are honest we all know people who have been baptized who are far from devout Christians and certa…

Eastern Orthodoxy: Part IX

by Frederica Mathewes-Green:

What do you personally find the most challenging about Orthodoxy?

I keep finding that I have so much further to go. Well, to step back, the most challenging thing about Orthodoxy is that it dumps you right out at the place where it's you and Jesus and nowhere to hide. You have to deal with him. No excuses, no lies -- lies come from the evil one. As I continue to use the "workout routine" of the spiritual disciplines, I continue to discover that I am still lying to myself about so many things, I am still afraid, I am still lonely, and stubbornly choosing lonely freedom over loved humility. It's an endless struggle. I have been practicing the Jesus Prayer for twelve years, and I am still so far from "pray constantly." It's not a matter of feeling guilty, but more like recognizing that you are still flabby and out of shape and not ready to run the race. Orthodoxy keeps emphasizing God's compassion--that's another thing I …