Cool thoughts on a hot topic

1. via Planet Irf

Do note the shameful comment on Irfan’s post by an Australian dickhead called Douglas Darby, formerly a member of the Young Liberals and then of the Christian Democratic Party.

2. from Jim Wallis, US Evangelical

This Saturday, we commemorate the ninth anniversary of 9/11. It is with pain and sadness that we remember the day the towers fell, the Pentagon was attacked, and another plane full of passengers crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after brave citizens stopped the terrorists from hitting their target. For nine years the anguish of lost loved ones and the feeling of vulnerability we all felt as terrible acts of violence were perpetrated on our soil have stuck with us all.

At this time, it is also appropriate to ask, What have we learned? How have we grown as a country? How have we healed, or how have we, in our hurt, turned around and hurt others? These are not either/or questions. We have, in fact, done both: healed and wounded, learned and regressed, grown and shrunk back from the challenges before us. The challenges before us today lie in our ability to move forward in healing and building the cause of peace while remembering the lessons and lives lost in the past.

But rather than showing that we have grown in understanding, this anniversary has been marred by two events that show how the extremes can still control the discourse, both in America and around the world.

First, there has been near-universal condemnation of the Quran burning planned for this Saturday by Terry Jones and his Florida church. Opposition has come from Muslims, Christians, Jews; Republicans and Democrats; civilians, politicians (including the president), and generals.

What Jones doesn’t seem to understand is that the message he is really sending is a sacrilegious slap in the face of Jesus Christ. If Jones and his followers go through with their plans to burn the Quran, they might as well burn some Bibles too, because they are already destroying the teachings of Jesus. Jesus called his followers to be peacemakers, and to love not only their neighbors, but also their enemies; instead Jones and his church have decided to become agents of conflict and division. Jones needs someone to tell him that Americans should not judge all Muslims by the actions of a small group of terrorists — and I hope somebody tells Muslims around the world not to judge Christians, or all of America, by the actions of a radical fringe like the members of Dove World Outreach Center.

But just as the proclaimed faith of the terrorists bears no resemblance to the faith of most Muslims, the actions of Jones and his followers bear no resemblance to the faith of most Christians. Jones knows that his actions are legally protected, but if he follows through he should know that he makes a mockery of the teachings of Jesus and even puts our country and U.S. troops in danger.

If you are a pastor, especially an evangelical or charismatic pastor who might have a way to connect with Terry Jones, please contact him and tell him you are praying that he won’t do this. If you are a Christian (and especially those who are members of a church in the Gainesville, Florida, area), please look into some of the other events that are being planned that day. Use this as an opportunity to be a prayerful presence for peace, love, and reconciliation — for Jesus’ sake. And send a message to the world about what our faith is truly about.

Second, an issue that many people are much more mixed about: Will building an Islamic community center within two blocks of Ground Zero help bring healing? Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who had the vision for the center, is a good friend I have known for many years. I’ve had the pleasure of working beside him in building bridges between Muslims, Christians, and Jews. His heart and commitment to the work of reconciliation between people of different faiths and backgrounds has always shone through in everything that Feisal and his wife, Daisy Khan, do. They are genuine peacemakers, and I know this controversy about their dream of a community center pains them deeply. I do not doubt for a second that every action they have taken toward building this Islamic community center has been with peace and reconciliation in mind.

When the story first broke in The New York Times this past December, it was met with little interest. The fact that a moderate Muslim leader, who had lived and worked in the community of lower Manhattan for 25 years, was planning to build a community center was not considered controversial. Unfortunately, there were those who saw this as a political opportunity to create conflict and division and stir up ideological passions by distorting Imam Feisal’s mission and purpose. He told the nation last night that if he had ever imagined that his plans would cause this much hurt and distress, he never would have proposed building the center at that location.

I do not believe the center of the debate is merely the community center’s proximity to Ground Zero. Across the country, the building (and even existence) of mosques is being protested, others mosques are being vandalized, alarming attacks on individual Muslims are occurring, and now, an obscure and marginal group in Florida is planning to burn the Quran in the name of their extreme brand of Christianity — getting the pastor’s face on the front page of USA Today.

This conflict is really about the role that faith will play in America. It is about whether or not we will accept Muslim Americans as true Americans or second-class citizens. It is about whether we will blame millions of American Muslims and 1 billion Muslims worldwide for the actions of a small number of Muslims who try to use their brand of faith to murder innocent people. It is about whether or not the country will embrace a Muslim who seeks peace and wants to help rebuild lower Manhattan or reject him because of his religious beliefs.

This is a test of our character; and we dare not fail it.

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29 thoughts on “Cool thoughts on a hot topic

  1. See more cool thoughts from Tikno in Indonesia. 🙂

    …Any negative actions will produce another negative reactions as opposed to you. If we really want to give a small contribution for peace and harmony, at least at around you, I think the best way that we can do is to calm the opposite reaction using a very simple way called “restrain ourselves to react negatively”. Indeed a little thing but it will create an extraordinary effect if more and more people realize it. Just think of it before you really want to burn Koran (Quran).

    Through this post I appeal to all Muslims, especially in Indonesia, not to be provoked by the plan of a handful irresponsible people in a tiny church to burns Koran (Quran). Let’s just say they’re looking for popularity because their church did not grow (according to the news their member only about 2-3 dozen)….

  2. The thing that really gets me…is whatever happened to “Do unto others as you would have them do to you”? How would that Pastor feel if I proposed to burn a Bible outside his church (not that I would do such a disrespectful thing to someone’s beliefs). I hope he really thought about that.

  3. Great video. I too am glad that the muslim firefighter doesn’t practice islam as described in the murderous koran. Ler’s hope he never reads the thing and then decides to do as it commands.

    That evangelical guy doesn’t seem to know much about islam. “But just as the proclaimed faith of the terrorists bears no resemblance to the faith of most Muslims…”. That is quite a misleading statement. It’s true that a majority of muslims don’t condone or support terrorism, but it’s also true that the muslims who follow the koran explicitly, DO support terrorism. That’s much more important than his statement. I mean, the majority of muslims have never even read the koran, or anything else for that matter. They don’t play a part in the world peace equation.

    I know that you are all huggy-feely with that cruel tome, but it’s high-time you start asking yourself why. Why do you spend such effort trying to get someone to not burn it instead of trying to get someone to not kill/injure people over the burning? I assume that you know that 11 people have already been injured in Afghanistan over this. Isn’t it just a little more sleazy to harm someone than to burn a book? It’s not like it was the last copy. I see an article on your site about the book burner being a bad guy, but none about the muslims who harm people over it. Why?

    I’m against the burning, but it’s clearly going to happen in a number of places across America. Now would be a good time to chastise the muslims who believe it to be a good reason to hurt someone.

  4. Legal Eagle makes a great point. How WOULD a Christian feel if some dude in another country burned a Bible? Would he be incited to violence like muslims always are? Fortunately, we know the answer. Christians don’t murder or maim people when their God is blasphemed. We know this because, among hundreds of other examples, of the time that guy put a crucifix in a bottle of urine that he was saving for whatever reason he saves his urine, and from the time those muslims in Gaza attacked and destroyed a church filled with at least 87 bibles, or all of those times when bibles were brought to Saudi Arabia and burned at the airport.

    Gee, it’s starting to look like islam is not as peaceful as other religions, isn’t it?

  5. Fortunately, we know the answer. Christians don’t murder or maim people when their God is blasphemed.

    They sure did on all sides during the Reformation, and all the torturing, burning and such was justified from the Bible. E.g. “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live”. Islam at the moment is going through its own Reformation-like period.

    See The following passages are a very small percentage of the total passages approving of murder in the Bible.

    Burn Nonbelievers

    “Suppose you hear in one of the towns the LORD your God is giving you that some worthless rabble among you have led their fellow citizens astray by encouraging them to worship foreign gods. In such cases, you must examine the facts carefully. If you find it is true and can prove that such a detestable act has occurred among you, you must attack that town and completely destroy all its inhabitants, as well as all the livestock. Then you must pile all the plunder in the middle of the street and burn it. Put the entire town to the torch as a burnt offering to the LORD your God. That town must remain a ruin forever; it may never be rebuilt. Keep none of the plunder that has been set apart for destruction. Then the LORD will turn from his fierce anger and be merciful to you. He will have compassion on you and make you a great nation, just as he solemnly promised your ancestors. “The LORD your God will be merciful only if you obey him and keep all the commands I am giving you today, doing what is pleasing to him.” (Deuteronomy 13:13-19 NLT)

    Supporting the voices of reason and peace within Islam is the best response we can make.

  6. They sure did on all sides during the Reformation, and all the torturing, burning and such was justified from the Bible.

    Wow. How many decades did you have to go back to find an example of Christians being as murderous as today’s muslims? Thirty decades? Forty? FIFTY!?!? That’s a long time, Neil.

    Are you trying to say that islam is as barbaric as Christianity was 500 years ago? If so, you win. I agree with you!

  7. Also, I don’t like that sentence from a gramatical standpoint. I’m just an engineer, but something about that sentence seems wrong.

    “They sure did on all sides during the Reformation, and all the torturing, burning and such was justified from the Bible.”

    Should it have been written:

    “They sure did! On all sides: during the Reformation, and all the torturing, burning and such was justified from the Bible.”

    No. It still doesn’t flow from the lips. The whole thing needs to be rewritten. I’ll do it for you:

    “Christians killed lots of people in ancient times. As few as five hundred years ago, Christians tortured and burned non-believers.”

    There. Fixed. All politics aside, Neil, I’m amazed at your continued slights to the English language. The fact that you were an English teacher fills me with fear. Are you the reason that Australian women in the US pronounce February ‘Fib-you-wee’? If so, cut it out.

  8. Hmm. I think if I went down to some areas of the Bible Belt in the USA and burned a Bible, I’d be risking serious bodily harm, at the least. I wouldn’t dare try it. Would you?! Maybe you are a braver person than me.

    In some other areas of the US, I’m sure I’d be okay, but I’d also probably be risking death threats. No one likes a person who burns their holy book. Kind of understandable, really, if you ask me – it is pretty rude.

    • Not to mention the “Christians” in the KKK much more recently than 500 years, or “The Lord’s Resistance Army” in Africa today…

      Or that World War I and all that led to (Hitler, the USSR) was a product of Western Europeans having the Christian God on “our side”.

  9. That’s quite possible, Mr. Eagle. I live in the Bible Belt, and I imagine that if you came here and burned a Bible in anger, you might get beaten up. Or if you burned a New Orleans’ Saints jersey in anger, you might get beaten up. Or if you were extremely derogatory about that boring sport Nascar, you might get beaten up.

    But that’s not really the same thing as what the islam followers are doing, is it? To keep it the same, you would have to burn the Bible in Australia, and Americans would have to riot and attack/kill some other Americans who were non-Christian. Do you think that would happen? Try it – I’ve no doubt it’s a safe experiment. At worst, you might get 5 or 10 people boycotting Australia.

    And jeez, Neil. Now you are calling a political organization and a racist group examples of Christians? Get real. I suppose the German CDU is a Christian organization to you? It’s in their name, so that’s good enough for you, right?

  10. Check your history, Kevin; I am referring to WWI, not WWII which was however a result of WWI. WWI on both sides was fought for “God and Country”.

    The KKK was only political? Not what its members thought.

    Soon you’ll be seeing Al Qaeda as a political organisation (or loosely organised movement) too, and that may be a good thing! You may even come to acknowledge that Al Qaeda (and similar groups) don’t represent the totality of Islam.

    By the way, you did ignore the fact that Deuteronomy is every bit as evil as anything in the Koran — in fact the Koran owes its evil to the earlier book in the Abrahamic tradition. Of course there are good bits in Deuteronomy, but so there are in the Koran.

    See Holy Wars, Holy Texts, Holy Living by Rev. Jeremy Smith. “May our future hope shine brighter than the flames of intolerance and hatred.”

  11. It’s just so hard talking to someone so painfully politically correct as you, Neil. You are trying to tell me that the Bible or Talmud commands its followers to murder like the koran demands? You should really be embarrassed by making such a ridiculous and easily disprovable point. But you’re not, are you?

    Add up the number of people who were murdered last year, and the culprit said, “It was because allah told me to.” Then divide that by the number of people who were murdered last year, and the culprit said, “It was because Christ told me to.”

    You’ll create an undefined number if you do. Math lesson: dividing by zero does that.

    I’m embarrassed to have wasted so much time here. Numbers of dead, heck, numbers in general, mean nothing to you. All that is important to you is the pc lie that all cultures are equal. I wish you’d live another 100 years to see what that lie brings your offspring.

  12. Yes, what I have shown, not told, is that the tradition of murdering in the name of God is older than Islam and derives directly from the Abrahamic tradition.

    Look at Holy Horror for a thought-provoking look at the record.

    Killing in the name of Christ tailed off as people in the west came to take their religion less seriously. Unfortunately for us, and them, the Muslim world still takes religion seriously. Like for them it’s real, not some cosy lifestyle choice, or something to do to pass as respectable. Fortunately for us, and them, they are not all insane. The hope is in that proposition, and in our accepting and encouraging those of all faiths who are sane enough to reject the idea that God (all-powerful, after all) needs human help when it comes to smiting the ungodly.

    But don’t kid yourself that murder and mayhem have not been part of the Christian tradition: more often than not, over its 2,000 year history, in fact,

    Ironic given that all three Abrahamic religions have the golden rule (yes it is in Islamic tradition) and that God is love.

  13. Oh, shoot. I’m an idiot. Please remove the last sentence from my previous comment and this comment as well please, Neil. I went into ‘rant’ and forgot your preferences and what they preclude. I apologize. Just for that last sentence though. The rest is spot on (as they say in England, and New Zealand, at least).

  14. Hey, pc Neil, let’s look at what’s happened in the last month. Even someone poor at math can realize the relationship between islam and killing, no?

    I know that you WANT all cultures to be equal, but you have to wake up to the truth, Neil. They’re not. They never were. Hitler’s Germany was a culture. Pol Pot’s Cambodia was a culture. Kevin Rudd’s Australia was a culture. Are they all the same to you?

  15. No.

    None of your examples are cultures. What had Hitler to do with Beethoven or Goethe? What had Pol Pot to do with Angkor Wat? What you had in both cases is fanatics running a totalitarian state, wrecking their cultures in the process,

    Kevin Rudd (now back and about to visit the US) wasn’t a “culture” either.

    Islamic culture comes in many varieties, as you would expect from something spanning continents and many traditions and histories. You’ve heard of the Taj Mahal? Of the Alhambra? Of algebra? Of Avicenna?

    Go and read Irfan Yusuf, a very smart Oz lawyer and a Muslim who manages, like many others, to be a Muslim and a full participant in our life and culture and is about as threatening as the tooth fairy…

    You should listen to Barack Obama more. He got 9/11 spot on and exhibited the very best American values.

  16. Jeez, now you won’t even admit that the cultures even exist? That seems to be going too far even for a multi-culti whackjob.

    In any event, I’m happy that Irfan decided to leave the culture of sharia and join the much better culture or Aussieland.

  17. cul·ture   [kuhl-cher] Show IPA noun, verb, -tured, -tur·ing.
    –noun
    1. the quality in a person or society that arises from a concern for what is regarded as excellent in arts, letters, manners, scholarly pursuits, etc.
    2. that which is excellent in the arts, manners, etc.
    3. a particular form or stage of civilization, as that of a certain nation or period: Greek culture.
    4. development or improvement of the mind by education or training.
    5. the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group: the youth culture; the drug culture.
    6. Anthropology . the sum total of ways of living built up by a group of human beings and transmitted from one generation to another.
    7.Biology . a. the cultivation of microorganisms, as bacteria, or of tissues, for scientific study, medicinal use, etc.
    b. the product or growth resulting from such cultivation.
    8. the act or practice of cultivating the soil; tillage.
    9. the raising of plants or animals, esp. with a view to their improvement.
    10. the product or growth resulting from such cultivation.

    Which sense of “culture” do I apparently not admit?

    None of your examples are cultures. What had Hitler to do with Beethoven or Goethe? What had Pol Pot to do with Angkor Wat? What you had in both cases is fanatics running a totalitarian state, wrecking their cultures in the process,

  18. Hmm. We’re getting pretty far out in left field here. All I’ve been saying is that islam is a culture of evil. But I’ll play along with you claiming to not understand what a culture is.

    What had Hitler to do with Beethoven or Goethe?

    Not sure, but off-hand I would guess ‘very little’. On the other hand, he had a great deal to do with Leni Riefenstahl, another german artist. He also played a large part in the culture of anti-semitism that Germany went through in the last century, and still goes through today it seems. His influence on German culture was quite dramatic. Lastly, I don’t consider Beethoven or Goethe to be cultures. They’re just a musician and a poet. Do you think American culture is personified by Lady GaGa? Crap, maybe you do :).

    What had Pol Pot to do with Angkor Wat?

    Again, I don’t know. I’ve never even heard of Mr. Wat. What I DO know is that the culture created by Pol Pot is almost as bad as islam. Almost.

  19. Hrm. That was me above, in case you didn’t know. Not sure why I became ‘blogagog’, but I have a guess. Neil is horrible at math, so I suspect he’s horrible at using computers too. I’m fairly confident the error is on his side. As it always seems to be.

  20. Antisemitism:

    …Before closing it is important to point out that Christian anti-Semitism is not simply a shameful blemish on the early Church, but is an underlying element of its theology that has endured through the centuries and into modern times. It is tragic that in later times even the well known Church reformer, Martin Luther, was finally seduced by all the anti-Jewish propaganda of his time. Although in his earlier ministry Luther sympathetically acknowledged the shameful way the Church had treated the Jews and urged kind treatment of them, in later life he was to write the complete opposite. Here in part is what Luther wrote in C.E. 1543. Note that Adolf Hitler seemed to use it as a general guide for implementing the earlier phase of his “final solution” against the Jews…

    Lady Gaga does represent aspects of US culture… Some Christians think so anyway. They may have a point. Many Muslims would agree with that assessment.

  21. Hey, I just watched a movie where the guy who played Aragorn in TLOTR played allah. Very impressive performance. You should check it out.

    As for claiming that lady Gaga is representative of US culture, it should be noted that I never claimed that you were very smart. So don’t include me in such idiocy.

  22. Actually, I’d like to retract that. After watching H. R. Puffenstuff this morning, as I’m wont to do, there was a scene where Witchiepoo learned that nothing rhymes with oranges. I realized that since Witchiepoo is an example of Australian culture, or at least a cultural icon, why can’t Lady Gaga be the same for America?

    With great humility, I retract my previous statement. Lady Gaga is as good of an example of American culture as Witchiepoo is of Australian culture. You win… kinda :).

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