Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Prayer, and recent news on Yemen

Hi All,

Am going in for a minor surgery tomorrow to get the screws in my leg removed. Please say a short prayer for me, and for the physicians. FYI, did you know that Sts. Michael the Archangel and Stanislaus are the patrons for folks with broken bones, and of course St. Luke is patron for doctors.

Also, a very good article here on Yemen, a country very close to my hear, and a place where I desire to see the good message flourish (Our Lady of Arabia being the patroness for that entire region):

Yemen: The Well Runs Dry

Stringer on Arab society and the resurgence of political Islam

This is really a fine article and I highly recommend it to everyone:

The emergence of militant Islamic opposition movements and the
general Islamization of society has been the most remarkable phe-
nomenon since the 1970s throughout the Arab region. It resulted
from the thwarted hopes of secular ideologies to achieve both so-
cio-economic progress and a strong international role for the
Arab nations. Millions of young people adopted radical, politi-
cized forms of Islam and began to call the Arab authorities to
adopt the Shari‘ah as the main source for legislation and to im-
plement it. For the Christians in the Arab World, that would
mean a return to dhimmitude.

Stringer, John. 'Christian Mission and Ecumenism' in Saint Francis Magazine, Vol. 5:1, Feb. 2009. p 11.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Ijtihad, malaise, Al Nahdah, the Maronites of Lebanon

The Arab World lacked the ability to revitalize itself until the
Renaissance (al-Nahdah) of the 19th century. The increasing role
of Europeans including their colonial rule in the Arab World and
the growing realization of Arab backwardness by many Arab in-
tellectuals, led to a desire for a renaissance. [...]

The thesis that the malaise of almost 1000 years in the Arab
World was related to the processes of Islamization, with its rule
against ijtihad, seems to be confirmed by the fact that the Renais-
sance was most vibrant in Lebanon where Christians formed a

Stringer, John. 'Christian Mission and Ecumenism' in Saint Francis Magazine, Vol 5:1, Feb. 2009. p 6.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Schineller's list of Papal Facts

So yeah, I'm not Roman Catholic (as you probably know), but I do love Papel trivia! Here is a great list of factoids from Peter Schineller, SJ. It was a little out of date so I had to revise it slightly and fix a number of formatting things, but the work is his:

Peter Schineller, SJ

• Peter started in Galilee, to Jerusalem, to Antioch and then to Rome, and martyred there perhaps around 68 AD
• Now 4500 bishops in 2700 dioceses
• 160 Cardinals, of which 120 will elect the next Pope
• 1 billion Catholics out of 6 billion inhabitants of earth. Another 1 billion Christians, who are not Catholic.
• 264 Popes and 266 Pontificates, because one pope, Benedict IX was pope three times
• Peter was succeeded by Linus, and then, church is uncertain if it was Clement to Cletus or Cletus to Clement
• 39 anti-popes in history, claiming to be popes. The most recent was Felix V (1439-49) One of the first of them, Hippolytus is a saint.
• Many popes are saints, canonized, but most are not. Most recent saint is Pius X.
• Most recent Blesseds are Pius IX and John XXIII. Causes of Pius XII and Paul VI are under consideration. From 1572 (St. Pius V) to Pius X – no saints, for over 300 years.
• Many of the popes in first centuries were married, with children. Two sets of popes who are saints, and whose sons became popes and are also saints.
o St. Anastasius I (399-401) is father of St. Innocent I (401-417)
o St. Hormisdas (514-23) is father of St. Silverius (536-37)
• 33 popes died by violence; 12 were martyred. 8 were definitely assassinated and 13 others were possibly assassinated. Attempts to assassinate Paul VI and John Paul II were made.
• The wife and daughter of Pope Hadrian II were murdered while he was pope (867-72) He was the last married pope although some later popes had children – like at least 20 since then.
• Low points of the papacy:
o John XII (955-64) pope when he was 18 or 20
o Died, possibly beaten for an adulterous relationship.
o John X (914-28) made a 5 year old archbishop of Reims
o Alexander VI - named his 18 year old son, Caesare bishop of several
o Dioceses, and then a cardinal
• Papacy was in:
o Avignon, France for 75 years, and for 3 years in Italy, but not Rome
o In the 19th century (1848-50) Pope fled Rome
o And in 1798 Siena and Florence
o And 1799 pope was in exile in France
• There have been 21 Universal Church Councils. At some of the early ones, the pope did not feature strongly. The three most recent ones – Trent, Vatican I and Vatican II.
• Pope John XIX was elected while he was a layperson (1024-32)
• Pope is chosen for life, but can submit his resignation. Otherwise, can’t be replaced even if he is in a coma.
• Celestine V resigned, went back to monastery, under house arrest, died 1 ½ years later and is canonized. Was pope from 5 July 1294 to 13 December of that year. Dante put him in hell for resigning.
• Most popular names: John XXIII, Gregory XVI, Benedict XVI, Clement XIV, Leo XIII, Pius XII. None took the name Peter.
• Shortest reign – Stephen II, elected March 752 and dies three days later, before being enthroned.
• Longest - Pius IX 31 years
• Pope Gregory I, later Gregory the Great (590-604), was chosen as a lawyer, layman One other pope was Great, namely Leo I (440-461)
• In 1861 – a priest was chosen, monk, Gregory XVI
• Gregory the Great introduced “servant of the servants of God. And Innocent III at peak of papal power introduced “Vicar of Christ” reserving this for Pope. Earlier, the pope was Vicar of Peter.
• Papacy is barely mentioned in Thomas Aquinas’ summa, and barely mentioned in the first catechisms around the Reformation. Is not in the Creeds.
• In 1829 Pope had power to appoint bishops in 24 dioceses outside the papal states. By 1980, only 24 dioceses out of 2500 dioceses had chapter elections for choice of bishops (centralization, and growth of papal power in 19th, 20 century)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Artificial Contraception, European Demographics

A reader left this as a comment on a post about European demographics here, and it was too good not to post.

17 "Responsible men can become more deeply convinced of the truth of the doctrine laid down by the Church on this issue if they reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection."

Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Prayer Request

Hi All,

As you know back in November I was hit by a car and the recovery has been long and difficult. I had been feeling that things were really getting better though, but now I am having some pretty substantial pain in my knee. Please do take a moment and say a prayer. Life in this region is challenging as it is, without the difficulties of not being able to walk well and feeling pain when I do.

Thank you all. I hope this blog is informative, but through your prayers you become part of our work and witness here.


Abu Daoud

Monday, February 16, 2009

Huge new mosque for Marseilles

Well, we have strict Islamic law in parts of Pakistan now, according to CNN. And it looks like Islamdom is growing nicely in France as well. I really think a semi-autonomous Islamic region in France is in the cards, quite possibly in Marseilles, in the coming decades.

Read all about it HERE. A taste:

A grand mosque measuring 2500 square meters, for 4000 persons, a Koranic school for 120 students, a restaurant accommodating 230, a library for 150 persons, an underground parking for 250 vehicles: the former stockyards will be converted into the largest Islamic site of the city and will spread out over 6500 square meters and will hold in all up to 8000 persons. The Mecca of Bouches-du-Rhône!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Genuine Reform in KSA?

Could it be? Genuine reform in KSA! Look at these items from the AP:

Another major change targets education. The king appointed Prince Faisal bin Abdullah, his son-in-law, as education minister. Khashoggi said Faisal has been working behind the scenes on plans to reform education. After the Sept. 11 attacks, carried out by 19 Arabs, including 15 Saudis, many in the U.S. blamed the Saudi educational system for helping create an atmosphere that justifies extremism.

Noura al-Fayez has been appointed Faisal's deputy for girls' education — the first time a woman has been appointed a deputy minister.

And this:

The Saudi Press Agency said Abdullah has ordered the re-establishment of the Grand Ulama Commission — a religious scholars body — with 21 members from all branches of Sunni Islam. This is a major shift for the kingdom because it will give more moderate Sunni schools representation in a body that has always been governed by the strict Hanbali sect. No minority Shiites, however, have been appointed to the commission.

Abdul-Aziz bin Humain will replace Sheikh Ibrahim al-Ghaith as head of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, which runs the religious police, according to the agency.

Bin Humain, who is believed to be more moderate than al-Ghaith, will head a body whose members have been criticized by Saudis for their harsh behavior.

Best wishes to King Abdullah. KSA is in dire need of reform.

Signs of life in the C of E?

The Church of England is, IMHO, uniquiely poised to make a great contribution to the church's mission to Islam, and I don't mean here in MENA, but there in the UK. Why? It has a nice combination of sensible liturgy and order, it is connected to the government (which makes sense to a lot of Muslims), and can be evangelical without being fundamentalist. So here is some good news, the C of E still has a sense of hte uniqueness of Christ (yeay!) and has publicly and offociailly endorsed evangelizing non-Christians and non-practicing Christians. This might seem like a no-brainer to evangelicals back in the USA, but trust me when I say that this is good news.

Bishop David James of Bradford introduced "Presence and Engagement" on ministry in multi-faith areas. He reminded Synod members of the overwhelming need to share the gospel of salvation through faith in Christ alone with all. He then challenged Synod members whether God might be calling them to do this by moving, living, and working in areas where there are those of many different faiths. Christians are called to relate to those of other faiths, to show love rather than hate, to make peace, to witness to Christ and to engage lovingly. The Bishop stated that we should build bridges of friendship, but bridges over which Christ can walk.

The debate that followed highlighted differing views about the nature of engagement. Several speakers also spoke about the problems faced by converts from other faiths and the apparent discrimination against Christians in modern day Britain. After debate, the motion to take note of the report was passed unanimously.

By its affirmation of the personhood and salvific work of Jesus, the Church of England affirmed the singular view that Jesus uniquely alone saves. While interfaith dialogue will continue, it cannot be pre-empted by a firm statement of the need of the gospel of Jesus Christ for all people.

From HERE. Note how this is quite different than the total lameness of The Episcopal Church (USA) (my denomination, incidentally) which has about the theological acumen of a half-empty bottle of flat Coke.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

UK and Terrorism

Hmm, doesn't look like very good news:

Then consider this: a few days ago, The Telegraph revealed that nearly half of all CIA operations – aimed at protecting the US from another 9/11 – are now conducted inside Britain. The CIA has informed president Obama that the most likely source of a terrorist attack on the US is “British-born Pakistani extremist[s]” traveling to the US from the UK.

From the Brussels Journal.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Muhammad: "You have been sent to make things easy..."

Al Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 73, Number 149:

Narrated Abu Huraira:

A bedouin urinated in the mosque, and the people rushed to beat him. Allah's Apostle ordered them to leave him and pour a bucket or a tumbler (full) of water over the place where he has passed urine. The Prophet then said, "You have been sent to make things easy (for the people) and you have not been sent to make things difficult for them."

Monday, February 09, 2009

Cragg on liturgy and the Gospel for Muslims

Call of the Minaret, Kenneth Cragg, 2001, p. 299:

Perhaps we have not been careful enough to let the Muslims see the Church in its sacramental communion with the living Christ. Though reverent words can explain the objective meaning of the service, only the reality of communion can show its fullness.

Kenneth Cragg on the Trinity for Muslims

Kenneth Cragg here, in his magisterial book on Islam and Christianity, The Call of the Minaret, is explaining why the classic doctrines of vicarious atonement and the Trinity co-inhere better with the doctrine of God as the most glorious (similar to Llull's strategy, but executed in a very different manner, obviously).

A God out of relation is certainly not theism, or monotheism... But God in relationship is precisely what we mean by the doctrine of the Trinity--God so truly and unmistakably in relation with us that we take the pattern of that relationship to us as the clue to the divine nature. What else, what better, should we take?

p. 285, Third Edition.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

The fate of the Apostates, from Al Bukhari

Al Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Number 261:

Narrated Anas bin Malik:

A group of eight men from the tribe of 'Ukil came to the Prophet and then they found the climate of Medina unsuitable for them. So, they said, "O Allah's Apostle! Provide us with some milk." Allah's Apostle said, "I recommend that you should join the herd of camels." So they went and drank the urine and the milk of the camels (as a medicine) till they became healthy and fat. Then they killed the shepherd and drove away the camels, and they became unbelievers after they were Muslims. When the Prophet was informed by a shouter for help, he sent some men in their pursuit, and before the sun rose high, they were brought, and he had their hands and feet cut off. Then he ordered for nails which were heated and passed over their eyes, and whey were left in the Harra (i.e. rocky land in Medina). They asked for water, and nobody provided them with water till they died (Abu Qilaba, a sub-narrator said, "They committed murder and theft and fought against Allah and His Apostle, and spread evil in the land.")

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Homily on the Parable fo the Wheat and the Tares: القمح، الزوان، والشر متى١٣

هذا ما مرات في الحياة نتعجب كيف يمكن اله صالح يسمح كم اشياء شريرة تحدث. هذا ما نسميه بقضيية الشر.

عندما بداءت دراساتي بالفلسفة تعلمت ان قضية الشر هي الحجة الرئيسية ضد وجود الله. اُفسر: ان كان الله صالح و عادل، منع الشر، ان كان الله قدير، استطاع ان يمنعه. لكن نلاحظ في كل مكان ان ذلك لا يحدث. لمذا يسمح الله بالشر في الدنيا؟ لماذا لا ياتي حتى يدين بين الابرار والاشرار؟ لحسن الحظ، فسر المثل المسيح، لنقراء التفسير:

ان تلك القضيية موضوع المثل الذي قراءنا اياه اليوم. مكتوب ان ابناء المملكة و ابناء الشرير مخلوطين، في هذا العصر الاشرار والابرار معاً. فنرى ان يسوع فسر ان دلك كان ضروري بسبب الزمان. وتلك النقطة مهمة كثيراً. بلفاعل نعلن كل اسبوع بكالمات العقيدة ان المسيح سوف يرجع من السماء ليحاكم بين الشعوب والامم. لكن نحن في الزمان المتواسط، بين مجئ المسيح الاول عندما بداء ان يدخل ملكوت الله في الدنية، وبين المجئ الثاني. فسر الرب أن الحقل هو كل العالم، ليس الكنيسة فقط. ما في انفصال بين الابرار والاشرار الان، احياناً واحد لا يقدر يميز بين الإثنين، و دلك ما قال الإنسان الزارع للخدام: إنتظروا حتى تسطيعو ان تميزوا بين القمح والزوان. الله في حكمته خلق الانسانية كخيوط في الكتان.

لكن نتعلم شيئاً ثانياً: بالحق يوم الدينونة قادم. من يقراء هذا المثل لا يمكن ان يرفض هذا الوجود. أنؤمن بالهٍ غير عادل؟ لا، وعندما نفكّر عن الدينونة، يجب علينا ان نكن ودعاء. إن فرحنا بعقاب الاخرين، لا رحمة فينا. و ما أمجد إرادة الله: دائماً في إمكانية لي النس يغيّروا الطريق. التبشير لكل المسيحيين، الإنسان مش لازم يكون رجل متشدد او مطران او قسيس ليشارك الإنجيل مع الجيران والاصدقاء. الكلمة انجيل تعني رسالة جيّدة، كيف طمكن ان نبقى ساكتين إذا وجدنا كنزاً ثميناً، كما ذكر الرب في مثل ثاني من نفس الإصحاح.

و ثالثاً، ينبغي أن نُدرك ان ملكوت الله ليس شؤون سياسي. من المحتمل ان التلاميذ فكروا ان مغزى المثل ضد الرومان، و ان الحقل يرمز إلى الياهودية والزوان الرومان. لكن يسوع رفض دلك التفسير. غالباً نسمع من التلڤيزيون او الراديو: لو امريكا عملت هيك، لو الاتحاد الاوروبي فعلت هذا، لو ... لكن فينا شي اقوى من سلطة السياسي. اين سفارة ملكوت الله؟ اين پارلامنت ملكوت الله؟ ما هو علمه؟ اين جنوده؟ الحق ان قوة المملكة تاتي من الروح، تاتي بسلام، و لا بالإجبار و لا بالعنف و لا بالسلاح. فعندما نحن فاشلين او متضيقين من رؤساء العالم و ممثلي الدنية يناصب لنا نتذكر ان إيمانا يشير إلى المدينة التي لن تفنى و التي لا يوجد فها ظلمة و لا دموع.

فيجب ان اذكر اخيراً ان لم يتركنا المسيح هنا بدون مساعدة، بل ارسل لنا الروح القدوس ليمكث فينا و ليقوينا. كما ان دلك ليس بكافي، هو يُغذينا اسبوع بعد اسبوع بواسطة هذا الخبز والخمرة، إنهما غذاء روحي. إن إنتظارنا صعب، لكن لنا كل ما نحتاجه لنخدم الرب بلفرح والامل، لمجد إلهنا، الاب، والإبن، والروح القدوس. امين.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Kenneth Cragg on the Crusades

The Crusades were served with a devotion that, had it been wise and true as it was fervent and undaunted, would have blessed the Eastern world. [...] The really important matter was not the possibility of pilgrimage but the obligation of witness. Christ's concern was, and is, for men not monuments, for souls, not sanctuaries.

Kenneth Cragg, The Call of the Minaret, Third Ed. pp. 238, 9
Oxford: Oneworld 1956, 2000

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Rumors of an Iranian coup

From HERE:

SMITH: The report mentions the claim by Mohammad-Javad Zarif, the former Iranian ambassador to the United Nations, that “the White House is taking essential measures to orchestrate a ‘Velvet Revolution’ in Iran.”

PHARES: It is a reminder of the last decade of the Soviet Union when Soviet citizens invited to the West were eager to learn about open and free societies. They were often punished by Moscow for concocting revolutions against the Communist regime. The Iranian establishment lives in the paranoia of a similar situation. They spy on their own citizens when they travel and accuse them of being recruited by the West. When the Khomeinists start talking about a so-called ‘American support’ of a so-called ‘Velvet Revolution’ inside Iran, it means they are indeed afraid that seeds have already been sown for such a revolution. In fact, what worries the regime are not these scientific conferences but the narrative on many Iranian web sites talking about ‘democratic revolution.’ Ali Khamenei’s Pasdaran can feel the sentiment inside Iran’s civil society. Thus they want to suppress these sentiments by connecting them to an alleged American and Western activity.

Books I'm Reading...

Haven't done this in a while, but here they are:

Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain. Am really impressed by this book, the language is wonderful and the story flows along well. I also love thst these kids are familiar with nature--they can cross the river and live alone on an island for a few days, they know how to fish and cook basic things. Wonderful.

New Paths in Muslim Evangelism, by Phil Parshall (Baker House 1980). See my blurb on this below. I just finished it yesterday, but still need to finish combing the bibliography.

The Anthropology of Religion, by Fiona Bowie (Blackwell Publishing 2000). As I try to expand my knowledge in the area of ethnography and anthropology this is what I've picked up. Am so far enjoying it. Really provides a great basic knowledge of the different areas out there, though the author does not usually firmly come down on one side or another.

It is time for me to start another book, but still have not made a decision on it...

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Phil Parshall on the Muslim-convert Church

This book is kinda old (1980) but really broke new ground in its day. It has been immensely influential.

If the Muslim-convert church is basically homogeneous [which Parshall advocates] and has had minimal contact with a Western type of Christianity, then it will have little or nor problem with contextualized worship. The convert is just following ritual he has known all his life. He appreciates the familiar. The church is then set up to draw and accommodate the Muslim inquirer. No new believer needs to feel culturally ashamed to invite a Muslim friend or relative to attend a service of worship.

Phil Parshall. 1980. New Paths in Muslim Evangelism. Baker House. p 235.

Llull on the body-soul duality

In what way do body and soul constitute a man? The answer is that in man bodily and spiritual goodness make up a single goodness[...]

Ars Breve, Part XI

Oh yeah, and very nice new article on Llull over at Saint Francis Magazine in the Feb. 2009 issue. Download it over there.