Islam


Gracia Burnham-former hostage survivor.

I finally heard the chapel presentation this week of Gracia Burnham, speaking at my alma mater. She is an amazing addition to my collection of ‘BraveHearts’ striving in this dangerous world for peace and unity; just another Kansas girl caught in a wirlwind.

If your interest is stirred, you may want to hear the live chapel presentation at Calvary Bible College & Seminary in Kansas City. It is among other things, a very transparent transformation that took place in Gracia’s own spirit towards “the enemy”; a revealing look at a Christian’s attitude change toward muslim militants.

Listen to the audio

One of the ads set to be shown during the SuperBowl next Sunday involves the testimony of Tim Tebow and his mother concerning her courageous choice to give birth inspite of her Doctor’s warning of possible serious consequences. The sponsor of the ad, Focus on the Family, has been under attack from certain sections including NOW.

Here is a another story that I really believe has a tremendous message. It is also about a football player, a former player in the NFL. It is about a mother whose baby was taken from her shortly before she died after she had been shot four times. It’s about the man who killed her who has become a muslim in prison and now talks of “judgment”. It’s about a courageous grandmother and about forgiveness and about much much more.

http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=4874549

Oh yes, about that SuperBowl ad. Check out this video from the Washington Post about another pro-life ad from players of the New York Giants winner of the SuperBowl in 1989.

I don’t know, but I have my doubts, especially this year.

Thanksgiving is a North American civil holiday and not an actual religious holiday per se. Thanks to the nature of our American tradition and the function of religion in that tradition, for many it is the time that all faith traditions emphasize the importance of thanksgiving to the Creator and ultimate source of all blessing in life. So in theory, Muslims in the United States could easily embrace this American tradition and the function that it plays in our National identity and culture.

Did you know that there is another celebration, very significant to Muslims world-wide, that begins the day after Thanksgiving (this year) and this is the main reason for my doubts. It is simply a matter of the “prior” engagement that Muslims no doubt will be occupied with, much like my wife is now occupied with as she prepares for a house full of relatives for Thanksgiving. The Muslim festival I’m referring to is not just one day, but four days, and is called the “Festival of Sacrifice“.

This week Mohammedans celebrate their “Festival of the Sacrifice,” their Id al-adha, with slaying of animals and donations of the flesh to the poor. In New York City the festival has an unusual significance. It is due to the fact that the city has some 18,000 Moslems—Polish Tartars, Albanians, Turks, Hindus, Arabs, Malays, Filipinos. Some 700 assembled at Brooklyn last year for the first time for prayer, prostration and sacrifice. See the link above for more information of this festival which has some similiar features so prominent in our Thanksgiving activities, though we usually don’t refer to the slaughter of so many turkeys as a religious sacrifice. One final picture from Pakistan which is so prominent in our daily news, may be worth a “thousand words”.

Largely unknown in the west, the Ancient Persian empire which pre-dates the Islamic State of Iran by thousands of years, is crucial for understanding the proud heritage of Iranians. I was fortunate enough early in this blog, to discover a blogging mate from Iran who would remind me of this Persian heritage. Tragically, the armed assault on political resistance of large numbers of Iranians this summer has delayed that profitable inter-change.

After observing the veneration on Persia1 blog of Cyrus the Great, I was able to share my own admiration for the one in the Hebrew Bible who is referred to as “Anointed of God”. Now, there is an exposition of Ancient Persia in the British Museum and much available on the internet for all in the west to learn of this heritage and give it the respect that it deserves.

Tony Blair Speaking at Westminster Cathedral -2008

Excellent Statement about people of Faith

Here is one of the best statements I have encountered speaking into the present public square from an unashamed perspective of faith. Though Mr.Blair is obviously speaking from his own faith tradition in one of its hallowed temples, I believe what he says is applicable to all  faith traditions and is why he can promote a solidarity among such traditions as we face the challenges of our world. I posted this so it would be here at E4Unity to refer to in future blogs. Be sure to let me know what you thought as you listened to it.

I’ve already heard some comments reminding me that Tony is campaigning for the Presidency in the European Common Market.

A Related Post on E4Unity: “Why Does Faith Matter?”

That All Depends on WHO we pray to, doesn’t it?

As I was preparing my mind and heart to spend time in intercession for my country, I found myself asking this question: Is the Bible sufficient to give me the guidance I need to pray intelligently at this time for my country?

I had read a blog of my friend MoSop on the Bible’s influence as one of the sacred books that guides her own Mormon faith. All of the Christian traditions, whether they realize it or not, have those other sacred texts or creeds in addition to the Bible. But is the Bible alone  sufficient   at a time like this? Let me give you a small sample, taken from the Lectionary readings for today, including Psalm 50, and see if you can figure out, based on the context in Israel’s future, if this gives us any guidance at all in thinking about the One I pray to:

But to the wicked God says:
“What right have you to recite my statutes
or take my covenant on your lips?
 For you hate discipline,
and you cast my words behind you.

Read the entire Psalm 50 

I have certainly read and greatly benefited from those other books, the commentaries, and the covenants from the diverse Christian traditions, the Orthodox, the Roman Catholic, the Lutheran, the Reformed, and a host of others including Seventh Day Adventists and now the Latter Day Saints. But when it comes right down to the bottom line, it’s always the Bible that has the final Word as God’s voice that this sheep recognizes and is dedicated to hearing in order to obey from a heart of passion for Him.

I did receive real orientation in Psalm 50 as to how I must pray today for my country. For one thing, I was reminded that I could not take for granted that I had any hope of being heard and my petitions answered if my own heart was not right in my relationship with Him to whom I had the audacity to present requests. I have to alter my own attitude first at His altar. There is a wonderful text in the New Testament, recognizing we are now on this side of the Christ event and His victory, awaiting Pentecost in the Biblical narrative, that assures us that if we ask anything according to His will, we know He has heard us and He has given us what we asked of Him.

May you participate in the National Day of Prayer with others from different faith traditions of your own in a meaningful way-just keep the Biblical narrative in your thoughts and hearts.

In The Shadow of History- A Time To Break Silence (again)

Dr. King gave this speech at Riverside Church, New York City, 4 April 1967
I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join with you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization which has brought us together: Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam. The recent statement of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.

The truth of these words is beyond doubt but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. . .(continue reading/listening)

A name from the Virtual Wall- Viet Nam War Memorial

ARCHBISHOP ELIAS CHACOUR of The Melkite Greek Catholic Church

chacour

The author of Blood Brothers- which is the unforgettable story of a Palestinian Christian who has been working for peace in Israel for as many years as he has been in the Priesthood, came to Berea College this week. He was the honored guest for the International Focus sponsored by the International Center of Berea College.

Besides speaking to the students at a campus wide convocation yesterday, he also spoke a number of other times as well. Imagine my great delight when I was able to attend a luncheon today for area ministers, watch a video showing the remarkable achievement God has allowed him to bring into existence in Israel, and then have the privilege of talking informally with him for over an hour. My special thanks to Richard Cahill, the Director of International Education, for the invitation extended to the Ministers.

I read the 1984 edition of Father Chacour’s book some years ago and was greatly encouraged to learn of his life work as another of God’s peacemakers working in the midst of conflict. In the foreword to the recent 2003 edition, former U.S.Secretary of State James Baker writes,

From my perspective, both as a believer and as a diplomat, I take hope and comfort in knowing that amid all the hatred, destruction and death, Father Chacour continues his patient work, softening one heart at a time.

There are many things we can learn from this humble man including that not all Palestinians are “terrorists”, many are christians and citizens of Israel. But for the “great hearts” around the world which are working for peace, he provides a model that will instruct and inspire all. The schools that he has founded are the only ones in Israel where Jews, Muslims, and Christians can study together. see Mar-Elias Schools

Read his profile on wikipedia 

Buy the book, Blood Brothers

National Day of Prayer

 

 

Now is an excellent time to discuss religion in America and to get a basic understanding for what has been called America’s “civil religion”.

 

When I’ve used this phrase recently, I was surprised to hear from otherwise educated adults, “what is civil religion? Is that something you invented?” No, I assured them, I stole it from someone else. Actually it has been around a long time in certain areas of study such as The Sociology of Religion, etc. It is a very helpful concept for anyone trying to get a handle on how religion in general actually functions, and has functioned almost from the beginning, in These United States of America. It is not a very good idea to get into a discussion, at least in public, on such themes as “Separation of Church and State” and a host of other contemporary issues without having a basic understanding of America’s only real religion.

 

I want to blog this week as I said about The National Day of Prayer and this is an excellent time to discuss the concept of civil religion with my blogroll partners. So please, leave your comments and let me know if you’ve already encountered this in your own life experience or not. Here is as good a place to start as any. As you can see it is from a course that is taught in various universities and has been for sometime. It is so fundamental that I think it should be taught at every middle school in America.                     

 

                                                            

“While some have argued that Christianity is the national faith, and others that church and synagogue celebrate only the generalized religion of “the American Way of Life,” few have realized that there actually exists alongside of and rather clearly differentiated from the churches an elaborate and well-institutionalized civil religion in America. This article argues not only that there is such a thing, but also that this religion–or perhaps better, this religious dimension–has its own seriousness and integrity and requires the same care in understanding that any other religion does.” -Robert Bellah,Civil Religion in America

 

(read the article)

 

Related essay by Harry Stout: Baptism-in-Blood

Next Page »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.