Archive for the ‘islam’ Category

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on 60 Minutes

December 18, 2009

This Sunday, December 20th at 7 p.m. EST / 6 p.m. CST, His Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew will be interviewed on 60 Minutes about the Church and the difficulties it faces in Turkey.   The short trailer   surprised me and I hope it reflects the tone of the whole segment.  I’ve never heard His Holiness speak so directly about the oppression the Church endures.   Patriarch Bartholomew, aside from being a religious leader, is a well-versed politician.  His politically sensitive words always seem chosen to keep him balanced between drawn knives.  This interview is sure to raise someone’s blood pressure.

While I’m at odds with the Patriarch’s moves to control the American diaspora and his media-fueled elevation to the role of Orthodox “pope”, I still respect him as an Orthodox Patriarch and can certainly understand where he’s coming from on this issue.  This is a fight for the very survival of the Christian faith in one of its oldest communities, and fighting these days is about media presence.

I hope this news story will do some small part to expose the true nature of the Turkish government even while it scrambles to put its best face on for the EU admission process.  What I think is obvious is that the Turkish government and the country’s rising Muslim fanaticism will finish off the Turkish Christian minority in the 21st century if something drastic is not done soon. 

If you’re thinking this is overreaction, how about a plot by Turkish naval personnel to kill a target list of approximately 939 non-muslims and to bomb homes and places of worship.  Or  the Syriac Orthodox priest ordered under threat of death by muslim extremists  to tear down his church’s bell tower as reparation for the Swiss minaret ban.  I’ve got a limit here or I could give you a hundred more examples of threats, attacks, vandalism, and discrimination directed against Christians in Turkey.    

So by all means, European Union, admit Turkey and see what you get.  

Our National Dilemma

November 10, 2009

I am posting Rod Dreher’s very interesting article on the response of Virginia based Muslim cleric Iman Anwar al Alwaki to the actions of Nidal Hasan, 2009 front-runner nominee for Most Distinguished American Muslim, and the  US military’s commitment to diversity policies despite the threat of radical Islamic societies on our own soil.  

The Fort Hood shooting has left me shaking my head at yet  another example of the threat of radical Islam to this country and our refusal to see the world as it is.   Sometimes I think our American character is just too open, friendly and willing to accept everyone as they are in a big ‘ol group hug.   We just simply can’t understand why someone who calls themselves an American would also like to harm or radically change  this country. 

What’s the government to do at this point?   American principles cannot be violated again like they were during the Japanese internments of WWII, but we can’t also let radicalism go unchecked.   It’s  time for people who preach hate and violence to be called out.  Our own Constitution has given us a freedom of expression that’s unheard of in oppressive areas of the world, but the irony is how far we let that freedom be used before it becomes a threat against that very same country.   This is a confusing time to be an American.    That’s all I’m going to say. 

Roland Emmerich Dodges A Big Fat-Wa(n)

November 4, 2009

Kaaba

I really thought I was going to avoid writing about the whole stupid Mayan calendar/2012 nonsense, at least not until the director of the upcoming end-of-the-world film ‘2012’ opened his mouth to talk about his medical problems with fear-induced testicular diminishment syndrome. 

And may I say – give me a freakin’ break! 

This has to be the stupidest condescension to the uber-delicate feelings and ‘oh-so-easily provoked sensibilities’ of Muslim clerics I’ve ever seen.  It’s OK to obliterate to smithereens the religious landmarks of Christians or Buddhists, but God forbid  the Kaaba bites it.   

And why was it ok for director Roland Emmerich to trash iconic Christian symbols, such as St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro?   Says Emmerich

Because I’m against organized religion.

(Insert head scratch here, because I thought Islam was a pretty organized religion already.)   Mr. Emmerich continues on…

You can actually … let … Christian symbols fall apart, but if you would do this with [an] Arab symbol, you would have … a fatwa, and that sounds a little bit like what the state of this world is.  So it’s just something which I kind of didn’t [think] was [an] important element, anyway, in the film, so I kind of left it out.”

Oh, I get it.  He’s only against organized religions that won’t put a religiously-mandated hit out on him.  

I say let’s have a little equal opportunity world destruction here.  Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Pagans and atheists.  That’s what the confraternity of man is all about – we all die together.   Unless you’re John Cusack and can outdrive seismic faults and collapsing buildings in the most amazing road-jamming limo that Detroit, sadly, could never have produced – and that’s why this movie is science-fiction!

Obama’s Field Trip to Hagia Sophia

April 7, 2009

Come along this week on the official Obama tour of Hagia Sophia – the greatest cathedral the world has ever seen.   (Bet no one bothered to ask the Ecumenical Patriarch if he wanted to go along for the bus ride.)   Wouldn’t you love to have heard the #*%! spin they put on the Fall of Constantinople and the wonderful way in which they’ve respected the rights and religious freedom of their Orthodox subjects.  It has been reported that  President Obama mentioned to the Prime Minister Erdogan that it would be a nice reflection of Turkey’s readiness for EU membership if they allowed the re-opening of the Halki Theological School .  (Isn’t he like the third US President to bring this up?)

Mr. President - as you can see, we respect our Orthodox minority - they can come to visit here anytime they want.

"Mr. President - as you can see, we respect our Orthodox minority - they can visit here anytime they want. As long as they don't pray."

"Look there Mr. President, that is the exact spot where the infidel Patriarch was butchered in 1453."

"The gift shop is right over there Mr. President. We have a nice selection of commemorative prayer rugs and t-shirts. My personal favorite is the one that says 'Keeping it real since 1453'.

"Well, Mr. President, how do you like what we've done with the place?"

"Well, Mr. President, how do you like what we've done with the place?"

Mumbai Terror Attacks

November 27, 2008

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I’d love to see a day go by that wasn’t defined by evil and hatred.  The news is reporting wide-scale attacks and bombings against hotels and a train station in Mumbai, India, and the taking of many hostages.  This world is truly going crazy. 

Roman Catholic Church – Your Tithes At Work

November 4, 2008

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Did you get your invitation to the Papal Meet-and-Greet this week at the Vatican?  If you’re a moderate Muslim scholar you got one in your mailbox.  I don’t know if any of the invitations were sent to the hardcore madrassas, but I’m sure they had to send their regrets.   This meeting was spurred by the October 2007 issuance of A Common Word, an invitation to dialogue by 138 Islamic scholars.  Since that time dozens of written responses , including Patriarch Alexei of the Russian Orthodox Church, have been made and some meetings have been held with various religious bodies. 

Not that my opinion matters one bit, but do these kinds of talks ever work, despite all the time, money and effort put into them?   It’s the same reason all ecumenical talks fail at some level.  The end result of this hoopla is a diplomatically worded official statement that says “We love God, we pray to the same God, let’s try and get along, ok”.   In the meantime, has there been a drop in Islamic extremism?  Have fewer Christians been harassed, persecuted or killed in Islamic countries?  Have Islamic countries changed their laws to reflect a new tolerance for conversion away from Islam?  Nope, didn’t think so.

I honestly think that any effort to find common beliefs is always going to fail because at it’s most basic, we – Christians and Muslims – do not worship the same God, and to say so is doing a disservice to both faiths.   Tell me we don’t have a totally different view of who God is, the nature of his revelation to the world and what that means for salvation.  The most realistic expectation is for a statement that simply says “we respect each other’s right to worship, but we are going to agree to disagree”.   End of story – 1400 years of trouble and bloodshed all wrapped up.

This Is America Isn’t It – Part 2

October 9, 2008

Four days ago, a clandestine operation took place in bookstores across America.  Cloaked in secrecy, operatives salespeople hurriedly rushed the release of the single most dangerous symbol of the Western world onto shelves and received last minute instructions on security awareness and safety protocols.  The target – an historical novel. 

Yes, apparently history is a very dangerous thing to speculate on, at least for Sherry Jones and her new novel “The Jewel of Medina“.  Amazon’s reviews run the gamut about its literary worth, but there aren’t as many outright slams as I thought there would be.    The U.S. publisher, Beaufort Books, not one to necessarily flinch from publishing crappy or controversial books (if you go by their willingness to publish O.J. Simpson’s confessional tome, “If I Did It”), decided to take on the Jewel project for the cause of free speech, but they’ve also received lots of free, pre-publication publicity.   The increased sales should help to defray the costs of added security.

The issue regarding this book is not whether it’s worthwhile reading, historically accurate or just takes huge swats at the religious feelings of Muslims (yeah, yeah, I know, most Muslims are peace-loving practitioners of a peaceful religion – I saw that on Oprah too).  It’s a contrast between two very different ideologies here. 

Ideology A– if something is offensive and distubing to your faith or beliefs, you write letters of protest, you preach a sermon, you boycott the product or distributor, you exercise your constitutionally-guaranteed right to free speech.  And likewise, others have the right to exercise their right to free speech by reading it.  (Look what we had to put up with when the Da Vinci Code came out.)

Ideology B – given the same situation, you cause people to fear for their lives,  you act on that fear and torch or blow-up things to prove your point, and you do everything possible to reinforce people’s “misconceptions” about your faith.  

 Sounds very reasonable to me.  So when I have to go through a metal-detector at Barnes & Noble, I will feel reassured that those people who practice Ideology B have only threatened or done violent acts out of a big misunderstanding.

Are You Willing To Die For Christ?

October 3, 2008

Am I?  I would pray I am, but when it really comes down to it, I don’t know.  In the face of what threat would I sacrifice my family, my comfortable life and my self-interest to die for the truth of Christ and the Gospel message?  I measure my own cowardice by those Christians who live and preach with a boldness for the faith they know could one day lead to their martyrdom. 

My new hero is Father Zakaria Botros, Coptic priest and Christian apologist.   So threatening is his message of love and truth that Al Qaeda has offered a $60 million bounty on his head.   This is the face of true fearlessness in Christ.  

Christian martyrdom is an extreme act of self-denial done out of love for our enemies.  How different that is from the message of hate and death preached around the world today.   Martyrdom is not murder by decree; it is not car bombers and waist belts full of C-4 and ball bearings.  But most of us will only live Christian martyrdom in a figurative way – dying to self, dying to our sinful passions, being crucified in humbleness and obedience to the Cross.   It isn’t as dramatic but who said there isn’t power in that?

Please pray for Fr. Botros’ safety, the Godly work he is doing, and pray for those touched by the message of Jesus Christ.  These new Christians have not only accepted the Gospel but the heavy weight of possible martyrdom.