Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Abu Daoud: Short, Sharp and Shocking

Short, Sharp and Shocking
by Abu Daoud

Normally when I'm talking with M's I take an irenic approach, but I have also learned that sometimes you meet someone who wants to talk about religion with you but from a combative point of view. This happened the other day and I felt in my spirit that I should take a short, sharp, and shocking approach (I learned this from an Egyptian pastor). One can hope that something you say will stick in the person's head and over time lead to a genuine openness and questioning attitude. John the Baptist and Jesus used this approach quite often when they were talking with the self-righteous folks of their day.

Sitting in his shop this man started off with what he thought were the weaknesses of our faith. I had pulled up the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5-7) on his computer, in Arabic, and told him to read it, which he did not want to do. And then he pointed out how our book is translated, while his book is the same all over the world (in Arabic). Time for some apologetic judo-using his argument against him: Yes, I said, praise be to God that our book is translatable and people in any place can read it in their own language and pray to him in their own language, whereas his deity understood only Arabic. "You speak Arabic and another language, I speak three languages, and yet your god only hears prayers in Arabic." I responded (kindly, by the way).

Read the rest at VirtueOnline.

Spengler: Secularism is a 'prescription for despair'

Spengler at Asia Times writes:

Enlightened secular culture tells us that the brain is a machine, albeit a very sophisticated one, that ultimately will be decoded by the neuroscientists; that sin and salvation were sad imaginings of our ignorant ancestors; that the soul is an illusion of flickering neural impulses; that human life has nothing more to offer than fleshly satisfaction combined with a random sense of idiosyncratic spirituality; that our choices of lifestyle are ultimately arbitrary, such that every culture, quirk, and sexual subculture has equal rights to social esteem; that there is nothing sacred to human sexuality, such that we may enjoy our partner's bodies the that the only truth is that there is no truth; and that we are all one our own to seek whatever meaning we might eke out of the chaos. 

That is a prescription for despair, and to counteract the effects of postmodern despair we consume vast amounts antidepressants, tranquilizers and narcotics. Eleven percent of Americans take antidepressants, the most-prescribed drug in the US. 

Check it out here.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Excellent new church-planting resource

Well, I'm not doing church-planting in the West, but I must say I am impressed by this website and its content. Check it out and plant a church. Yes, I mean you Catholic and Orthodox readers too!

People of YES!

Also, leave a comment and let me know what you think.

PS: My favorite was this part about church-planting in a context of persecution.

The Wisdom of the Prophet Muhammad

The wisdom of the Prophet Muhammad (ص) on sleeping too much:

Sahiih al Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 54, Number 492:
Narrated 'Abdullah:
It was mentioned before the Prophet that there was a man who slept the night till morning (after sunrise). The Prophet said, "He is a man in whose ears (or ear) Satan had urinated."

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Daniel Ali: Kurdish convert to Catholicism

Recently read a review of Daniel Ali's book Out of Islam, Free at Last. So I decided to see if he had a website and sure enough he does. What is most interesting to me is that he is an evangelical Catholic. He became a Christian and only later joined the Catholic Church (with his wife). Here is the story of how he was attracted to Catholic Christianity:

Soon after my baptism, Sara and I began a neighborhood Bible study for anyone from any denomination who would come. To this Bible study came a nine-year-old neighbor boy, Joe Sobran, who would read questions and answers from his Baltimore Catechism. Sara and I were shocked at the unique questions and were floored by the simple and profound answers in the back of each chapter. 
Little Joey did not give up, asking us why we were not Catholic. He would plant seeds every time he spoke to us of the Catholic faith. 
One evening, Sara and I were watching television and happened upon a broadcast  of the Mass on EWTN at the exact moment of the Consecration when the priest was elevating the Host. We were shocked by this simple and beautiful respect for Jesus. Then the priest elevated the chalice, in its ornate beauty. 
The priest’s vestments had a beauty that showed that only the best we can offer is good enough for God. Sara and I suddenly understood that the beauty in the Catholic Church was there because it was truly the House of God. 
In 1996, Sara and I were introduced to the late Catholic theologian Father William G. Most, who taught us Catholic theology. He generously gave time every Sunday for a year and a half to bring these two fundamentalists around to joining the Catholic Church. We were received into the Catholic Church on July 13, 1998 at a special Mass.
I would really like to see some more studies on Catholic ex-Muslims. I know they're out there...I just don't know any myself. Here is his testimony if you want to read more and don't want to read his whole book.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Archeology and the Qur'an

From Does archeology support the Quran?

According to the Qur’an, Mecca was the first and most important city in the world. Adam placed the black stone in the original Ka’ba (sanctuary) there, while Abraham and Ishmael rebuilt the Meccan Ka’ba centuries later (Sura 2:125-127). Mecca was allegedly the centre of Arabian trading routes before Muhammad’s time.

Yet there is no archeological corroboration for this. Such a great ancient city would surely have received a mention in ancient history. However, the earliest reference to Mecca as a city is in the Continuato Byzantia Arabica, an 8th century document. Mecca is certainly not on the natural overland trade routes- it is a barren valley requiring a one hundred mile detour. Moreover, there was only maritime Graeco-Roman trade with India after the first century, controlled by the Ethiopian Red Sea port Adulis, not by the Arabs. If Mecca was not even a viable city, let alone a great commercial centre until after Muhammad’s time, the Qur’an is seriously in doubt.

Monday, December 03, 2012

St Francis Magazine Vol 8/6 is out

The December 2012 issue of St Francis Magazine is now out. Slimmer than some previous volumes, but still with some good material:

Evangelism through the eyes of Jesus in Luke 5:1-11 and holistic evangelism for the 21st century: Towards life, justice and equality… but not as we know it, by John Baxter-Brown

Translating ‘Son of God’: insights from the early church, by Donald Fairbairn

How does Christianity ‘subversively fulfil’ Islam? by Chris Flint 

The failure of multiculturalism: a review of Londonistan: How Briatin has created a terror state within, by Melanie Phillips, reviewed by Tony Foreman

Forming missionaries in Jordan: an interview with a former Anglican missionary to the Hashemite Kingdom, by Duane Alexander Miller

I am especially interested in Tony Foreman's review of Londonistan. I have spent time in London from time to time and feel that the future of the West is in many represented in fast forward and in miniature (if you can call London a miniature). Also, Fairbairn's article on 'Son of God' looks interesting. I am not in the area of translation myself, but I know full well how important this issue is for everyone involved (including Arab Christians who on the whole do NOT want the term 'Son of God' translated out of the NT).

Anyway, check out the material, and let me know what you think.

--Abu Daoud