Showing posts from September, 2008

Salman Rushdie, all over again

The American author Sherry Jones is either very brave or very foolhardy. She has written a novel about Mohammed, focusing on his relationship with his favourite wife, A'isha. A professor of Muslim history, Denise Spellberg of the University of Texas, has described the book as "very ugly, stupid … soft-core pornography". Miss Jones can turn the other cheek. The words of Anjem Choudhary, a one-time member of the extremist Islamist group al-Mujaharoun, are not so easy to brush aside. advertisement Speaking after a firebomb attack on the home of the book's London publisher, he describes the novel as "an attack on the honour of Mohammed" and adds: "It is clearly stipulated in Muslim law that any kind of attack on his honour carries the death penalty." [...] And then the last paragraph: Isn't it time that moderate Muslims spoke out loud and long against the way a tiny minority of zealots can dominate the political debate and constantly depict I

Haggis? Tried it.

Lots of folks ask me if I've tried it. The answer is yes, I have. Once. Was it OK? It was OK and I ate everything on my plate. Did I love it? No. From Wikipedia : Haggis is a traditional Scottish dish. There are many recipes, most of which have in common the following ingredients: sheep's 'pluck' (heart, liver and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally boiled in the animal's stomach for approximately three hours.

Ha! I liked this.

TV shows cause controversy in the Arab world

Very insightful article here from the IHT. TV is huge during Ramadan because people will stay inside most of the day just lounging around until iftar, when the fast breaks in the evening. A segment: The recent controversy over soap opera-style serials suggests that the Arab authorities, whether religious, tribal or political, are anxious about the extraordinary public reach of such muselselaat and their power to challenge accepted ideas or traditions. Perhaps the best example is "Noor," the popular Turkish series that ran over the summer. The show violated Arab cultural taboos in a number of ways: besides having Muslim characters who drank wine with dinner and had premarital sex, a cousin of the male protagonist, Muhannad, had an abortion. Perhaps more important, Muhannad treats his wife as an equal and supports her career as a fashion designer. The show and the liberties it displayed prompted unusual condemnations from hard-line clerics throughout the Middle East, incl

Looking for Home: Muslim-background believers in the West

Great article here from CT. Here is a section: Most new converts have no access to fellowships. Like Samir in Kansas City, they are loners. Their sanctuary is cyberspace. Their stories, usually told anonymously, reverberate on websites like and Samir helps manage the latter from his basement, tap-tapping words of counsel to Muslim seekers in closed countries. As an apostate, he's a target of fanatics—"I'd have beheaded you. Wait for your death; it will come from a source you don't know"—and a lifeline for isolated believers in America: "An ex-Muslim is always an ex-Muslim! I'll never get the new identity in Christ the Bible speaks of." Samir knows this gridlocked psyche. Once a Muslim proselytizer and Sunni spy for Saddam Hussein, he's now a Christian missionary who also trains U.S. Army officers in Islamic culture. He is the only Muslim-background believer in his American church, but he is discipli

Japan's new Prime Minister is a Catholic

Interesting considering the very tiny number of Christians in Japan. Link .

My response to Fr Greg

Dear Fr Greg, Thank you for the response and the comments on the Latin liturgy for the ordination of a priest. May I ask what are the readings assigned for the liturgy? A few comments though: the bishop’s sermon (or more precisely, the Cardinal Archbishop’s sermon) was not based on the homily which you commented on. Second, this was in context of a religious order, specifically the Dominicans. Is it possible they have their own liturgy for this occasion? And finally, this sentence I find confusing: “By consecration [the ordinand] will be made a true priest of the New Testament, to PREACH THE GOSPEL, sustain God’s people, and celebrate the liturgy, above all, the Lord’s sacrifice.” The words ‘above all’ entail that celebrating the Lord’s sacrifice (in the Mass) is a discrete act which can be separated from preaching the Gospel. I absolutely object to any such line of theological thought. The celebration of the holy Eucharist IS in its very essence and its most powerful form nothing

A Response to a post on Catholic ordination

I wrote about a recent ordination to the priesthood I attended here in Scotland. Fr Greg has posted a rebuttal/response which you are welcome to read HERE .

Legal Ruling on an Honor Killing in Jordan

Here is a great post from Jordan where honor killings happen on a regular basis. Read the whole thing please, but note specifically the section that contains the court's opinion and verdict on why this murderer only got a slap on the hand: “It is obvious that the defendant did not plot the murder and his actions came immediately after reading his sister’s confessions,” the court said, noting that the defendant benefits from a reduction in penalty because his sister was involved in extramarital affairs in return for money, which led to her divorce and “brought her family shame and disgrace”. “Her actions hurt her parents, brothers and unmarried sisters’ honour and reputation and are considered by the court as dangerous and unlawful, especially to the defendant, since in our customs and traditions a man is valued by his sister’s behaviour and honour among his community ,” the court ruled.

Library Coolness

I checked out a book at my college library today and asked about the check-out policy. She asked if I was post grad and I said yes. Her answer: you can have up to 25 books, they are checked out for 12 weeks at a time, and that can be renewed five times. Nice.

Early church in the cemetery

As has been pointed out by many writers--notably Sir William Ramsay--the early Christians earned their recognition as a legally constituted body in the eyes of the state by enrolling themselves as members of a Burial Club : their cemeteries were recognized as the lawful property of the community, and they themselves were allowed to assemble at the spot where their dead lay buried ; and so for North Africa at least the cemeteries -- areae -- became the first churches, and the tombs of martyrs the first altars: though it must be remembered that there was neither church nor altar proper, till a much later date. We find therefore that the first cry of the populace in time of persecution was "away with the cemeteries !" The Church in North Africa AD 200 , p. 15, 16 Stuart Donaldson, 1902 Cambridge U Press So next time you talk to someone who wants to go back to the pure, early church you can take them to the graveyard.

Attending a Catholic ordination: where's the the teaching ministry?

Today I attended the ordination to the presbyteral priesthood of a Dominican friar here in home-in-sojourn in Scotland. (I am, of course returning to the Middle East before the year's end--how could I stay away?) A few remarks. It was a beautiful service. The choir was excellent. The archbishop cardinal was there and while I don't know him seemed very engaged in the liturgy. What did trouble me--and this is the Protestant part of my Anglican heritage coming out--was the scant reference to teaching, preaching, and evangelizing connected to the priesthood. The priest is given--if I recall--only articles related to the Mass. During the readings and the sermon there were only a few incidental mentionings of the connection between the priesthood and the ministry of teaching. This is why I like Luther: his focus on the integral connection between the ministry of the Word qua sacrament and the Word qua proclamation is brilliant. This close connection is, of course, in theory prese

Epiclesis: guess which church

Read this epiclesis and guess what church or what kind of church it is from. And we thine unworthy servants beseech thee, Most merciful Father, to hear us, and to send thy Holy Spirit upon us and upon these thy gifts and creatures of bread and wine, that, being blessed and hallowed by his life-giving power, they may become the Body and Blood of thy most dearly beloved Son, to the end that all who shall receive the same may be sanctified both in body and soul, and preserved unto everlasting life. And we earnestly desire thy fatherly goodness, mercifully to accept this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, most humbly beseeching thee to grant, that by the merits and death of thy Son Jesus Christ, and through faith in his blood, we and all thy whole Church may obtain remission of our sins, and all other benefits of his passion.

Tom and Jerry and the Shari'a

From HERE . This is from a representative of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the staunch ally of the West in persecuting Christians (and Shi'a Muslims too). ...“The mouse is one of Satan's soldiers and is steered by him,” he explained, adding that should a mouse come in contact with food, the food must be disposed of as the mouse is an impure creature. “According to Islamic law, the mouse is a repulsive, corrupting creature,” al-Munajid said, adding that he was concerned that popular culture had given mice an undeserved positive image. “How do you think children view mice today – after Tom and Jerry?” he asked. “Even creatures that are repulsive by nature, by logic, and according to Islamic law have become wonderful and are loved by children. Even mice. Mickey Mouse has become an awesome character, even though according to Islamic law, Mickey Mouse should be killed in all cases.”

Day Three: What am I doing here?!?

I arrive at my college this morning for some miscellaneous little admin thing and the lady is like, oh they are in the hall for coffee, so she takes me up there and lo and behold it was the orientation day for people starting grad and post-grad work. Lucky I went there! It was a good day, really full and very tiring. Got to meet my DOS (Director of Studies) in person, finally, after being in touch with her by e-mail for months. We were all taken on a tour of the old and labyrinthine structure where folks study things like religion, church history, theology, and divinity. It was very good to meet other people in my specific program which focuses on Christianity outside of the Western world. One guy was interested in Japan, another in Zimbabwe, and so on. The building really is baffling. I mean I was totally lost. My favorite thing is that all the rooms are named after former professors and clergy except for one room, which is named, mysteriously, 1.07. There are no rooms 1.00 through 1

Hanging with Catholics in Scotland, Byzantine Rite (of Matriculation)

So I am not with the family (which trust me is not easy--but it is important to start this PhD) and don't really know anyone at all here. So I though, in addition to the Byzantine process of matriculation which, bi musaa3idat Allah, I completed today, I thought, I should check out the Christian groups on campus. I looked at the Anglicans and they had a) a female chaplain, and b) nothing going on for new students. I checked out the evangelical group and eventually learned that their leaders have to subscribe to six-day creationism. Now I don't mind six-day creationism, but making it an article of faith seems a little, um, unbiblical to me. So I went to the BBQ the Catholics were having, and guess what, I had a really good time. I met one young guy who wants to become a priest, and two others who are thinking about it. In Scotland. You don't know how odd that is for Scotland. If nothing else this indicates that we have here a serious community of faith. And people were real

Britain's Shari'a Courts given legal auhority

Kyrie Eleison in Greek. Miserere Nobis in Latin. Irhamna ya Rrab, in Arabic. Lord have mercy on us. Bad news from Britain: Britain's Shari`ah courts, have finally been given the powers to rule on civil cases. CAIRO — Britain's Shari`ah courts, which have operated for years in solving the Muslim community's legal disputes, have finally been given the powers to rule on civil cases. "We realized that under the Arbitration Act we can make rulings which can be enforced by county and high courts," Sheikh Faiz-ul-Aqtab Siddiqi, head of the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal, told the Sunday Times on September 14. According to the daily, the government has quietly sanctioned the powers for Shari`ah courts to rule on cases ranging from marital and financial disputes to those involving domestic violence. [...]

Take over UK by having babies...sounds like it might work!

Chilling...from the UK: [A Muslim spokesman] has boasted that Muslims will one day conquer Britain — by having more BABIES. Speaking at a rally marking 9/11, Anjem Choudary bragged that a birth explosion would let followers of Islam take control of the country. Undercover Sun investigators secretly recorded Choudary telling a young and impressionable audience that they would eventually rule under strict Sharia law. And our team listened in chilled silence as he predicted: “Islam is superior and will never be surpassed. The flag of Islam will rise over Downing Street.” [...] And note that this man receives welfare from the government. In other words, the UK is actively funding the islamization of its own nation state. Stupid. Read it all HERE .

Greetings from Scotland!

Yeay! I am here, and I am glad to be here notwithstanding a number of sacrifices and difficulties. I will be working with a university here on some research regarding, what else, Islam and Christianity. The details are obscure but I'll let you know when the books comes out some day in the distant future. I am here for fewer than three months but it will be enough to get used to the place and people. It was quite exciting, yesterday, waiting for the shuttle at the airport and talking to other new international students arriving for the new semester. There was the American girl starting a masters in archeology who talked a lot bc she was nervous. There was French girl studying law who didn't talk because she was nervous. There was a really geeky young Italian guy starting his BS in Physics. I was the only guy starting work on a PhD, and I felt, let me say it, OLD. I mean, not really old, but older. But hey, I felt like that when I started studying for my master's degree, an

Prayer for travel

Abu Daoud is traveling. Please keep me in your prayers. In the Middle East the concern is not so much safety or security in terms of accidents, but in terms of various governmental agencies who can make things very hard.

Energy Alert: turning waste into energy in San Antonio

Congrats to the sensible folks of San Antonio, Texas for this great news. We are seeing more and more things in the press about creative use of technology for energy generation. Let's just hope that oil stays expensive enough so that we don't have this return to sloth, like we did back in the 70's. The fact is that I don't want Americans going to the SUV's. I DO want to see people continue to buy hybrids and use public transportation. Let's hope we see many more projects like this around the country. "Solid waste" is produced by ever human being in the world of course. Some communities are using methane gas harvested from solid waste to power smaller facilities like sewage treatment plants , but San Antonio is the first to see large-scale conversion of methane gas from sewage into fuel for power generation, he said. Following the agreement, more than 90 percent of materials flushed down the toilets and sinks of San Antonio will be recycled, he

Doctoral Studies while on the mission field?

Here is an interesting option noted by Geoff over at sbcIMPACT ! (it's the one Baptist blog I read). He describes a non-residential program for an accredited Doctor of Missiology degree which is done by research. You can check out the program over at Western Seminary . And congrats to Pastor Geoff for starting his doctoral studies.

News Review

Lots of interesting little tidbits of news that all in some way or another indicate how things may turn out in the future. 1) HERE you can find pictures of the Chevy Volt, an electrical car from an American automaker (gasp!). Good for them. This is important because the West's addiction to oil absolutely binds our hands regarding political options. Example: Russia's recent foray into Georgia which has been met by--never mind, they have oil. 2) And HERE , a letter from the Catholic bishops of Denver publicly and clearly outlining Catholic (and catholic) teaching on abortion and telling Joe Biden he's wrong, why he's wrong, and why that's important. Wow, that sounds like prophetic ministry from bishops. Go Denver bishops. 3) And HERE we have a picture of the demographic decline of Hungary, which is now at about 1.35 children per woman, with emigration of young people, and plunging marriage rates. God save them.

Sarah Palin, Esther and the Muslims

I don't post a lot of stuff on US politics here, but every now and then there is something very interesting, and this is one of those things. Some folks will read this and find it very worrying--maybe this woman is a fundamentalist! That sort of thing. But in Islamic culture a woman who lives by the Word of God (even if it is corrupted according to Muslims) is commendable. I also thought her pastor's insight and ref. to Esther was very good. Good job Pastor Riley: She needed spiritual advice in how to do her new job, said Riley, who is 78 and retired from the church. "She asked for a biblical example of people who were great leaders and what was the secret of their leadership," Riley said. He wrote back that she should read again from the Old Testament the story of Esther, a beauty queen who became a real one, gaining the king's ear to avert the slaughter of the Jews and vanquish their enemies. When Esther is called to serve, God grants her a strength she nev

Mega-churches in Indonesia

Very interesting. Indonesia is famous for being the country with the most Muslims in the world, followed I think by India or maybe Pakistan...not sure. From the WSJ : [...]In Kemayoran, a business district of high-rise offices near the city center, the Reformed Millennium Cathedral is set to open officially on Sept. 20. It will seat 8,000 and house a seminary, a university and a museum of Chinese porcelain. Preacher Stephen Tong, a 69-year-old Chinese-born Indonesian, founded the Indonesian Reformed Evangelical Church in 1989 and says it took 16 years to persuade the central government to issue a permit to build the new church. In that time, hundreds of churches have been burned down by hard-liners across Indonesia, he estimates. "I've built a bigger one" than all the destroyed churches combined, says Mr. Tong, who used to hold his church's meetings in a hotel. "I want it to be an image that Indonesia still has freedom of religion." Mr. Tong acknowledges

The Jesuit mission to Fordham?

Well, I always thought if I were a Catholic monk I would want to be a Jesuit, especially after watching The Mission . Good to know they still have some fire in their belly, so to speak. Great article here, and not how if we do not GO TO THEM, God will BRING THEM TO US. So next time you want to complain about the mass migration of Muslims to the West, remember, it's our fault. We didn't go to them. But God will not be mocked. He will bring them to us . ...“That’s just it,” she exclaimed, as both her biography and her concern came pouring out of her. “I don’t know what I’m asking. Everything is in flux! I’ve gone to mosque every week. Everyone there always had answers. They told me they were God’s answers, and that if I didn’t accept them I would be damned. I’ve worn the hijab [the veil many Muslim women wear] since I was six. I’ve taught Arabic to small children so that they could read the Koran, and now I don’t want to take Arabic as my modern language in college! I’ve come t

CNN: Syria floats proposal for Israel talks

Whether you're in Morocco or Iran, the Israel-Palestine issue is always in everyone's mind. Normalizing Syrian-Israeli relations would be a huge step in the right direction. That's why this is significant news--unlike that ridiculous Annapolis "summit" a few months ago. DAMASCUS, Syria (CNN) -- The Syrian government has put forward a six-point proposal outlining goals for furthering indirect talks with Israel, a senior Syrian government official said Thursday. The Syrian government handed the proposal to Turkey to pass along to Israel, the senior official said. [...]

Apologetics: Why did the Messiah die?

My good friend From the Middle East has started writing on Islamic apologetics over at SBCImpact! He tackles the question of why did the Messiah die, and what does the Quran have to say about it. Check it out here . One section: Inconsistency with the Generous Qur’an: Many beliefs that Muslims hold are not actually consistent with the Book they hold so dear (I have found this to be no different than many “Christian” beliefs and the Bible). While it is my contention that God’s Messiah was not defeated by unbelievers, it is important to note that at least three times in the Generous Qur’an it is written that prophets and messengers of God were not only persecuted but also murdered. Truth: What really happened? Ultimately Jesus was not murdered or crucified by the Jews or Romans. Rather Jesus laid down His life and took it up again in accordance with the divine will. Did they put him on a cross? Did he die? Yes and yes. But it was his choice to follow the divine will, not theirs. There

The Glory of Islam in the UK's mosques

From HERE (HT to Amazing... In a large balcony above the beautiful main hall at Regent's Park Mosque in London - widely considered the most important mosque in Britain - I am filming undercover as the woman preacher gives her talk. What should be done to a Muslim who converts to another faith? "We kill him," she says, "kill him, kill, kill…You have to kill him, you understand?" Adulterers, she says, are to be stoned to death - and as for homosexuals, and women who "make themselves like a man, a woman like a man ... the punishment is kill, kill them, throw them from the highest place". These punishments, the preacher says, are to be implemented in a future Islamic state. "This is not to tell you to start killing people," she continues. "There must be a Muslim leader, when the Muslim army becomes stronger, when Islam has grown enough." A young female student from the group interrupts her: the punishment shoul