Friday, November 30, 2012

Aquinas on Tyranny

St. Thomas Aquinas, II-II, Question 42:

Tyrannical governance is unjust, since it is ordered to the private good of the ruler, not to the common good, as the Philosopher makes clear in the Politics and the Ethics. And so disturbances of such governance does not have the character or rebellion, except, perhaps, in cases where the tyrant’s governance is so inordinately disturbed that the subject people suffer greater harm from the resulting disturbance than from the tyrant’s governance. Rather, tyrants, who by seeking greater domination incite discontent and rebellion in the people subject to them, are the rebels. For governance is tyrannical when ordered to the ruler’s own good to the detriment of the people.

HT to Joel Martin over at  Living Word.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Action: save this Wikipedia page!

One of my favorite Wikipedia pages, on ex-Muslim studies, is up for deletion! I like this page because it has some good material on the new field of study of ex-Muslims and also because it references one of my articles, Apostates of Islam, which you should really read if you haven't.

Anyway, there is a question as to whether 'ex-Muslim studies' is a hoax, because there are no departments of ex-Muslim studies out there. Duh.

There are all sorts of people engaged in ex-Muslim studies (myself included), but one does not advertise it. Why? A few reasons:

1) If you work for a secular institution it is politically incorrect.

2) If you live in the West, it is politically incorrect.

3) If you are in the mission field, it could get you kicked out of your country.

There are additional reasons, but that's a starter. In some ways much of this blog's content is related to the discipline of ex-Muslim studies, though of course I focus on the folks who convert to Christianity more than the ones who become atheist or whatever, though I have mentioned them a few times as well.

Anyway, drop by the Wikipedia discussion and voice your own opinion on the matter. It is the beauty of Wikipedia, after all. Drop by and voice your own opinion--is the field of study a hoax or not?

Discussion Board.

Emir Rishawi, ex-Muslim Christian, rejects penal substitution

Good quote here:

I have read some explanations on the death of our Redeemer and Saviour that represent it as a work that Christ did to appease the wrath of God, or as a ransom that Christ paid for man to free him from the bondage of Satan. But I believe that the wrath of God upon sinners and their bondage to Satan are moral images that aim at manifesting the true dimension and the deep contradiction between sin and God. The animal sacrifices that the Children of Israel offered to God expressed man's realisation of the distance that sin creates between him and God, and his conviction that death only can atone for sin, since sin is an uttermost offence against God.

This is from Rishawi's book A Struggle that led to Conversion. It is interesting to note how an Egyptian Christian, from an ex-Muslim background, accepts the doctrine of vicarious atonement, while rejecting the evangelical theory of penal substitution. Good for him!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

John Gray on Al Qaeda, terror and making a New World

Splendid little book here by John Gray, Al Qaeda and what it means to be modern.

I recommend it, though some of his left-leaning suggestions seem incorrect to me. Also, I do not think we can accept without qualification his conviction that Al Qaeda is completely part and parcel of modernity. The idea of Al Qaeda of using violence to cause a revolution is, granted. But the use of terror to coerce political and social change for the entire world is as old as the Prophet himself. Strong points are his treatment of Saint-Simon and Positivism. A few good quotes from this book:

[Al Qaeda is]...a by-product of globalisation. (1)

Totalitarianism follows wherever the goal of a world without conflict or power is consistently pursued. (9)

There was never any doubt in Hitler's mind that Nazism was a modern project. An ardent admirer of Henry Ford and American techniques of mass production, the Nazi leader saw technology as a means of enhancing human power. Science enabled humanity--or some portion of it--to take charge of evolution. A superior species would be bread from the best human types. As for the rest, they would be exterminated or enslaved. (11)

Embracing science and technology, Soviet Communism and Nazism were each animated by ambitions that derived from the Enlightenment. (14)

Enlightenment thinkers like to style themselves as modern pagans, but they are really latter-day Christians: they aim to save mankind. The ancient pagans did not believe that the mass of mankind could be saved. Or, for that matter, that it was worth saving. (104)

Take away this residue of [Christian] faith, and you will see that while science makes progress, humanity does not. (104)

Quotes Wittgenstein on p 110: "When all possible scientific questions have been answered, the problems of life remain completely untouched."

This reminded me of the Arab world, where they use technology so often: "For a society to be genuinely modern, it must have the capacity to generate new knowledge, and not merely use knowledge that has been acquired by others." (111)

...the twentieth century, industrial-scale killing by states of their own citizens has been practised in the belief that the survivors will live in a world better than any that has ever existed. (117)

Western societies are ruled by the myth that, as the rest of the world absorbs science and becomes modern, it is bound to become secular, enlightened an peaceful--as, contrary to all evidence, they imagine themselves to be. (118)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Orthodox outreach to Muslims in Indonesia

I have blogged from time to time on Indonesia. Click here to see some previous posts.

I ran across this article from SFM and it has a little synopsis of Orthodox outreach there. I know this blog has a few Orthodox readers, and I'm here in a city/country where the biggest Christian church is Orthodox. Just a few days ago I stepped into the local church to say a prayer for healing (back pains, ugh).

Anyway, here it is, by Darrell Jackson, "Mission and Orthodox Churches" in St Francis Magazine (September 2005), page 8:
The Orthodox Church in Indonesia started by the conversion of a young man of Muslim background who had converted to Protestant Christianity and was active in the Charismatic Movements of the 1970s. After studying at the Asian Center for Theological Studies and Mission, (ACTS) in Seoul, Korea, 1978, he picked up a copy of Timothy Ware’s book The Orthodox Church. In 1983 he converted to Orthodoxy and, after theological study in the US, returned as Priest in 1988 with four others. The first conversion occurred in 1989. The Church was legally established in 1991 and the first building completed in 1996 in Jakarta. The Church is part of the Archdiocese of Hong Kong and SE. Asia.
Good to see the Orthodox still engaged in mission somewhere. Heaven knows they don't do much here. And I know, one of my closest friends here is an Orthodox priest.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Ali Sina: the Prophet Muhammad and mental illness

Ali Sina, a vocal critique of Islam and ex-Muslim, has written what appears to be quite a fascinating book: Understanding Muhammad: a Psychobiography.

Here is a section of the book's website:

Muhammad was an orphan.  Spurned by his mother in his infancy and left in the care of a Bedouin couple, he had a loveless childhood.  He then passed to the care of his grandfather and uncle who took pity on him and spoiled him.  Not receiving love at a time he needed unconditional love and not receiving discipline when he needed to learn about boundaries, he developed narcissistic personality disorder, a trait that made him a megalomaniac bereft of conscience.  He fantasized about unlimited power, expected praise and admiration, believed he was special, and expected others to believe him and go along with his ideas and plans.  He took advantage of others, was jealous, yet believed others were jealous of him, and was extremely hurt when rejected, even killing those who deserted him.  He lied and deceived, feeling entitled and justified in doing so. All these are traits of narcissistic personality disorder.
Thanks to another mental illness, temporal lobe epilepsy, the prophet of Islam had vivid hallucinations he interpreted as mystical and divine intimations.   When he claimed he heard voices, saw angels and other ghostly entities, he was not lying.  His problem was that he could not distinguish reality from fantasy.   

He also suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder, causing his fixations on numbers, rituals and stringent rules.  This explains why he lived such an austere life and why his religion is filled with so many absurd rules. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Islam, religion of peace and religion of jihad...

Thus it has become unfathomable to the Arab mind to comprehend loving both Arabs and Jews and wishing both well. Our culture has deprived us for many centuries from loving all of humanity as equals, through intense religious indoctrination resulting in self-imposed isolation and non-integration with other cultures. This isolation and jihad against non-Muslims has become increasingly difficult to maintain. Muslims everywhere are trying desperately to save face, reform Islam’s image and deny the undeniable. But they also want to have their cake and eat it too. While they are telling the world Islam is a religion of peace, they still want to continue with the jihad against non-Muslim countries. While one leader says, let’s kill all the Jews and take over Rome, another says to Western media that Islam is a religion of peace and we are deeply offended by the anti-Islam rhetoric. To play [t]his sick game, Muslim culture must live a dysfunctional double life where everyone is deceived, including Muslims.
Powerful words there, from a blog I just discovered, Arabs for Israel. Here is the specific link. What do you think about this author's diagnosis?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Kenneth Cragg, Rest in Peace, some great quotes

From the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf website:

We mourn the death, give thanks for the life, and pray for the soul of the Rt Revd Kenneth Cragg, who has died in England at the age of 99. 
One of the greatest scholars of the relationship between Christianity and Islam, and one of the greatest workers in the field of Muslim-Christian understanding, Bishop Kenneth Cragg served both in Britain and in the Middle East, notably as Assistant Bishop in Jerusalem with particular oversight of Egypt, and in many other places too.
His scholarly and popular published works span more than 55 years and draw deeply on lived pastoral and human encounter. He was the most gracious and shrewd of Christians.
May he rise in glory.

Bp Cragg has been very influential to me and I have blogged on him from time to time. Here are some links to quotes on this blog that I think show his brilliance and skill:

On Islam and self-idolatry

Sacramentality and Islam

Cragg, Islam, and Prison

Liturgy and the Gospel for Muslims

Cragg on the Trinity for Muslims

Kenneth Cragg on the Crusades

Cragg's Call of the Minaret

On Mission to Muslims

Cragg on Muhammad and Culture

Check this out and enjoy, and remember a great scholar and Christian leader who has fallen asleep in the Lord and who awaits the day of the resurrection.

--Abu Daoud

Thursday, November 08, 2012

"Game Over, America" by Abu Daoud

Game Over, America
by Abu Daoud
November, 2012 

It was an interesting experiment, but all things come to an end. The American experiment is over now. The country is destined to decline and stagnate and there is no hope in the near or medium-term future for any sort of real recovery. Why do I say this? A few points:

1) A state is only as healthy as its families. American families have deteriorated very seriously. Unprecedented numbers of children are begotten out of wedlock and/or do not live in two-parent households. Want to know why American kids are doing so poorly in school? It's all about the family situation. Read more HERE.

2) A nation of takers. The stats are terrible. Read them all HERE. More and more Americans are consuming and not contributing to the government or common life of the country. There has been a huge rise in entitlement outlays and no one will talk about how to fix it.

3) Huge retirement costs. You know all about this already. (If not, check out this or this.)

4) An inferior generation of workers. People who are working now (my generation, I'm not a Boomer) are increasingly from the broken families of point 1. These people have lower educational skills and higher rates of drug abuse, imprisonment, and on and on. Yet this generation is supposed to foster a growing economy that will pay generous retirement benefits and (practically) free healthcare for old folks (Medicare)?

5) The transformation of marriage. Yes, gay marriage. It is here and is here to stay and will be enforced eventually by the Supreme Court. The value of marriage as an institution is already on the decline, with the proliferation of gay marriage, marriage will continue its slide into obscurity and away from the common good. Marriage will be increasingly seen as a contract between two people (or more, eventually) whose purpose is not the creation of and fostering of a family, but personal happiness. No fault divorce in the 70's was a big step toward this, and gay marriage (to be followed by polygamy--it's not a slippery slope, it's a matter of human rights) removes the last vestiges of Natural Law from the picture.

6) Immigration. Romney lost because he was forced to take such a hard position on immigration in the primaries (which are governed by old, white men). Republicans will soon realize that anything other than a liberal immigration policy, amnesty for illegal immigrants, and voluntarily not enforcing the laws on the books (like Obama), will mean no Latino vote (like Romney), and thus losing. The problem is the USA doesn't get skilled immigrants mostly, the USA gets 'family reunification' immigrants, including lots of people with few useful skills. The problem is not so much immigration, but the wrong kind of immigration. The wrong kind of immigration, and more of it, will continue, because it will get people votes.

7) The rise of childlessness: TFR must be at 2.1 for a steady population. After the economic wreck of the last few years TFR is now below that level, at 2.01. Nonetheless the USA population will continue to grow due to immigration (of the wrong kind, mostly, see point 6). With an economic recovery the TFR could recover as well, it is not disastrously low, like Spain or Japan, say. Still, given that the economic picture will not improve, and that each new US citizen is born with something like $43,000 in debt. And plus, when the price of raising children has gone up so much in a urbanized world, and there is no tangible benefit to having children, why bother?

Religious conservatives are now talking not about changing the culture. I think this election makes that impossible. Rather, they are forming strategies for surviving as the state deteriorates and becomes increasingly antagonistic towards Christian virtues and practices and freedom of religion. The home schooling movement is part of that, but just the beginning of it. Look for Christians do withdraw from society more, forming protective clusters of families, like monastics or the old Mormons. This is a reasonable strategy in my view. When Americans re-elected Obama they elected someone who is working hard at forcing Catholics to violate their conscience under the rubric of 'women's healthcare'. This is something new and insidious, yet many Catholics voted for him.

In the end the experiment is over. It will take a few decades for the city to decay into the wilderness. But when the wilderness is there, the Church will be there too, ready to forge a new nation and a new civilization, not based on the myths of the Enlightenment or the American strategy of taxing the unborn while simultaneously killing some of them.

It was an interesting experiment! Good run, America. But now it's Game Over for you.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Israel and the evangelicals

Many evangelicals naively support Israel, not understanding that the State of Israel treats Christians with disdain and discrimination just like her Muslim neighbors. Israel likes Christian money and Christian weapons and Christian tourists. Israel does not like Israeli Christians though.

Recently from Christianity Today:

Christians Fight Israel's Marriage Ban

Sunday, November 04, 2012

A new pope for the see of Alexandria!

The Coptic Orthodox Church is the largest indigenous Church in the entire Middle East. It also is based in the most populous Arab country in the world. All of this to say, this man will make decisions that have repercussions far beyond his country and Church. May God bless him and guide him!

Check out here for more info:

Oriental Orthodox Blog

PS: Tawadrus = Theodore

Saturday, November 03, 2012

What does 'Christian' mean in a Muslim context?

A rather arcane (1938) document has recently come to my attention. It is the Riggs Report from the Near East Christian Council (NECC) meeting in Beirut back in the day. They were trying to figure out why so few Muslims were converting. (Though most people are interested in how this relates or does not relate to the whole Insider Movement debate, several other interesting points are made.)

Anyway, here is a section I thought was quite interesting and wanted to share with you:
[...] the name Christian, in the Near East, has almost exclusively a racial, political and social group-connotation, and does not suggest either a new way of life nor a spiritual rebirth within. If a group of believers is to grow up as indigenous and not alien, they cannot take on themselves that particular name. Some other terminology must be developed.

So what do you think? Can we toss out the word 'Christian' because it is misunderstood by Muslims? If so, what should we use in its stead?

The whole document is HERE, if you are interested in reading it. He followed this up with a 1941 article in Moslem World on the topic, but to my knowledge that is not available anywhere on the internet.