Sunday, January 29, 2012

Evangelii Nuntiandi §55: Secularism and Secularization

Well, I had left this project off some time ago, a running commentary on the great writing of Pope Paul VI (Servant of God, I think?) on the Church's mission in the world. But I felt like I should take it up again for a season.

So, without further ado, here a section on the difference between secularization and secularism:
On the one hand one is forced to note in the very heart of this contemporary world the phenomenon which is becoming almost its most striking characteristic: secularism. We are not speaking of secularization, which is the effort, in itself just and legitimate and in no way incompatible with faith or religion, to discover in creation, in each thing or each happening in the universe, the laws which regulate them with a certain autonomy, but with the inner conviction that the Creator has placed these laws there. [...] Here we are thinking of a true secularism: a concept of the world according to which the latter is self-explanatory, without any need for recourse to God, who thus becomes superfluous and an encumbrance. This sort of secularism, in order to recognize the power of man, therefore ends up by doing without God and even by denying Him.
I think this differentiation is pretty useful. I will say that I don't think the definition of secularization is totally successful. I mean, it is only related to science, and secularization is not just about science and the identification of scientific 'laws'. 

That minor point aside, though, secularism is indeed properly defined. I think that what we are now facing is the confrontation of secularism and Islam, though. The intelligentsia of the West have  long whined about how un-scientific and backward Christianity is. Well, "Wait until they get a hold of me!" (Me being Islam...) This is already starting to happen. Christians might resort to civil disobedience or protests, but they rarely will start to kill off political leaders or cartoonists or what have you.

The question is this though: will the forces of secularism focus on the easy target and ignore the harder one, and thus convince themselves that they are moving into their brave new world? Or will they realize that Christians are culturally so weak and insignificant (and non-violent), that they will aim their guns at Islam sooner rather than later? I think this is the great question for the first half of the 21st Century. Thanks Paul VI for bringing up this topic of secularism. I'm still waiting on a papal encyclical about Islam though. It's been a few centuries since we had one of those!

Previous sections:
Evangelii Nuntiandi §53: Respect other religions, but evangelize anyway
Evangelii Nuntiandi §51, 52
Evangelii Nuntiandi §44-46
Evangelii Nuntiandi and Personal Jesus (§25, 26)
Evangelii Nuntiandi and Church Planting (§21, 24)
Evangelii Nuntiandi §20
Evangelii Nuntiandi §18
Evangelii Nuntiandi §16
Evangelii Nuntiandi §5
Evangelii Nuntiandi's Author, Pope Paul VI       

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Demographics in the USA and Europe

As many of you know, demographics is, in my opinion, the key factor in determining the future cultural direction of the West. As much as I am interested in religious conversion (here, and here, and here), and as much as I advocate welcoming Muslims into the household of God, the numbers of converts are just not large enough to make a big difference on a longterm societal level (right now).

So I was interested to find this article, about immigration and birth rates in the USA and Europe. The author says that most American babies will be Latinos. And that Europeans are also not having babies, but Muslim immigrants are, thus making 'Muhammad' the most popular male baby name in various european countries:
Europe is dying as its nations run out of babies. Three-quarters of Europeans live in societies with fertility rates below 1.5. In the 14th century, the bubonic plague wiped out 75 million people; and in the 21st century, a larger number will be lost in Europe through demographic suicide. 
Europe's demographic meltdown means it has to turn to immigrants for its workforce, and the vacuum is being filled by Muslims. From 1990 to 2010, the Muslim population of Europe grew from 30 million to 44 million. It will reach 58 million by 2030 and 10 European countries will be more than 10% Muslim.
His overall conclusion, which you can take or leave, is that immigration into the USA of Latinos (and mostly Mexicans), is an overall good deal for the country, especially when compared to Europe's situation.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Egypt, the Shari'a, and the rights of non-Muslims

There is a fine article at the blog Free Orthodox Mind on the topic of the Islam being the basis of Egyptian law. The writer (a Copt) argues persuasively that it is impossible for Shari'a and Human Rights to co-exist.

Egypt today, England tomorrow, my friends. Read it all HERE. A sample:

- Gender inequality, the Islamic law hinders women from being judges, and from testifying in courts. A woman can't be a judge and can't testify in a court because she is inferior to man.

- Apostates (riddah) lose their possessions; a convert from Islam would lose his/her worldly possessions as well as other rights. In addition it's nearly impossible for them to change their religion in their IDs, and they have to be hidden from people in order not to be killed as according the Quran and the Islamic law the apostate should be killed (Quran 2:217) 
- Witnessing in courts, A “Just” witness has to be a “free Muslim, i.e. not a slave Muslim”; non-Muslims witness in court is not admissible according to Islamic law. (Quran 2:282), on example happened in Shubra El Kehma court (case number 1824/year 2008), when the judge refused to hear the testimony of a Christian person Samy Farag in the case of  a death of a Muslim old man.
- The killing of Non-Muslim does not lead to the same punishment as killing a Muslim; this requires taking a look at some modern history. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Muslims torturing and raping Christian children in Pakistan

By David Virtue

Christian children have become the victims of recent violence. The shocking protest of a Catholic Member of Parliament in Pakistan: "In Karachi children are being raped and tortured to eliminate the presence of Christians."

Children raped and tortured, families extorted, abuse and violence taking place at the expense of terrified victims who remain silent: this is the reality of what is happening to the Christian community in some suburban quarters of Karachi, Southern Pakistan's biggest city and the capital of the Sindh province.

Speaking to Catholic news agency Fides, Michael Shind, a Catholic MP working in Pakistan's Sindh province, gave a shocking statement condemning the situation for Christians in the Country. A statement by Vatican Radio, warned that for months now, Christians in the areas of EssaNagri, Ayub Goth and Bhittaiabad, have suffered indescribable violence perpetrated by members of political movements, such as the Pashtuns that are characterized by a strong ethnic and Islamic identity. Christian families are going through living hell but "people are not reporting the abuse for fear of retaliation.

Just last month, 15 cases of rape were reported. In EssaNagri there are real "torture cells" where Christian children are imprisoned and tortured. "Captors ask for ransoms of up to 100.000 rupees and if families cannot pay, the little ones are tortured until they are beyond recognition." The result of the violence that has been going on over the past six months is that numerous families have decided to leave Karachi. "These acts of violence are aimed at eliminating Christian presence in the area; it constitutes a kind of ethnic cleansing: we are seen as slaves who are unworthy of setting foot on Pakistani soil."

In another case reported, a so-called "house of tolerance" was opened near a Catholic Church in Ayub Goth where "Christian girls from destitute families are forced into prostitution." Although the authorities have been made aware of this, they have not taken any action yet. Javed is launching an appeal to ask "for an end to the oppression of our community."

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ramon Llull and the 100 names of God

For anyone who has been reading the blog for a while, you know that my great hero is Ramon Llull. He is the father of the Church's mission to Muslims, and in all the 700 or so years since his ministry we have not seen anyone like him arise, though there are some who came close (Temple Gairdner of Cairo being the only one I can think of).

I just noticed that Lullian Arts now has made available Llull on the 100 names of God. Check out that website (see my blogroll) or just download the PDF by clicking here.

I love how Llull can take very simple ideas like 'God is infinitely glorious' and work very simply up to the logical necessity of the Holy Trinity. I mean, who else can do that?

Still hoping he will become officially canonized one of these days too...meanwhile, Blessed Ramon Llull, we share in your intercessions for the conversion of the Saracens whom God loves with a perfect love.


Muhammad's argument against the divinity of Christ

Here is Muhammad's argument against the divinity of Christ. Let me know what you think:
The Christians came to Muhammad and argued with him about Jesus, son of Mary. They asked him who his father was and uttered many lies and slanderous things about Allah - he is the only god; he has neither wife nor child. Muhammad said to them: "Do you not know that our lord is living and that he will not die? Jesus, however, was exposed to mortality." They said, "Yes." He asked them, "Was there a reason for Jesus being different?" They said, "No." He said, "Do you not know that nothing is hidden from Allah, whether on earth or in heaven?" They said, "Yes." He said to them, "Did Jesus know more than Allah taught him?" They said, "No." He said: "Our Lord fashioned Jesus as he pleased, in his mother's womb. Do you not know that our Lord neither eats nor drinks nor eliminates anything unclean?" They answered, "Yes." He said: "Do you not know that Jesus' mother was pregnant with him and bore him as every mother does her child; that he was nourished like every child, and that he ate, drank, and relieved himself of impurities?" They said, "Yes." He said, "How can what you claim be true?"
Source: Ibn Hisham, as-Siratu'n-nabawiyya, Cairo 1955, Vol. 1, pp. 224-225.

HT to

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Abu Daoud on the Arab Spring

From Part II of my interview with Don Warrington. Read it all at his blog and leave some comments already! Here is one of the questions:

6) Where do you see MENA going, especially in view of events such as the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and the Arab Spring?

This is the million-dollar question, isn’t it? First, the people who protested didn’t take political control, so as much as they wanted freedom and democracy, they just won’t get it, I’m sorry to say. The Egyptian elections were demonstrably corrupt, though the international press has not said so—I have no idea why. The Islamists will take power and they will not let it go. And why is this surprising? That is precisely what Muhammad did—engaged in diplomacy and compromise and so on, but once he had power he was ruthless. In the end, an Islamic society cannot be a free society. Islam and freedom are mutually exclusive.

The question I have is this: will it be like Iran? After the revolution in `79 Islam had a chance to prove itself in the political arena, and Islam, unlike Christianity, makes substantial guarantees in this area. Hundreds of thousands of Iranians have concluded that Islam failed—it did not deliver politically so it must be false in terms of its religious and spiritual claims too. They have turned to Christianity some of them, and some to secular humanism or atheism. Will this happen in these newly Islamist states? Perhaps. I pray it will. Islam’s love of political power may well be its Achilles’ heel. Meanwhile, that means the native Christians need to stay as long as they can, and foreign missionaries like me need to stay no matter what. I will do it. Maybe the kids and wife need to go back to the US, I will do everything I can to stay here even if all hell breaks loose.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Don Warrington interview Abu Daoud, Part i

Don Warrington over at Positive Infinity keeps a fine blog which has been on my blogroll for years here at Islam & Christianity. Don interviewed me about being in the mission field in the Middle East, and the first part of the interview has been posted. Check it out HERE.

Here is one section of the interview:

2) What type of training did you obtain for this? Was it helpful? For others who might be considering this, what kind of training is best?

My own training was largely on my own. I will say that having a background in philosophy from a secular university is great. I mean, philosophy is all about listening very carefully to what people say and write, to the point where you understand them better than they understand themselves even. We debated and thought about the big questions—the relation of the soul to the body, the existence of God, the nature of good and evil, and so on. With that sort of background you are really able to interact with Muslims on a whole different level than what folks learn at the local bible college or what have you. Also, Muslims are aware that in the distant past they produced a couple of outstanding philosophers. I mean, these were the people with whom Thomas Aquinas was interacting! So when you say you are a scholar of philosophy and religions, which is what I am, and what I tell people when they ask me, ‘What do you do?’ they really respect it.

For more Click Here.

Also, if you know anyone interested in mission to Muslims please pass this on to them or link to it from your blog. I am not purporting to be a super-Christian or an example to everyone else, but even then, with my limited experience, I hope that there is something helpful in there!

Friday, January 06, 2012

Eliot on the Epiphany: Journey of the Magi

One of the best poems ever. You can hear him read it himself at Poetry Archive.

Journey of the Magi
by T.S. Eliot

A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The was deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter."
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires gong out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty, and charging high prices.:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we lead all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I have seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Schmemann on the Eucharist

See how excellent Orthodoxy is? Some words from Schmemann to start the year:

He is our bread—because from the very beginning all our hunger was our hunger for Him and all our bread was but a symbol of Him, a symbol that had to become reality.

Aside from the fact that the New Year started at Advent, happy New Year to all of you. May God make us all fruitful and wise in 2012, and fill us with a great desire to share his grace and love with all around us.

--Abu Daoud