Monday, June 28, 2010

Emily is a pro-life advocate....

Even though she does not spout anti abortion rhetoric or march in rallies carrying a sign with one the popular anti abortion slogans, Emily supports the pro-life agenda in a very real way.  Instead of a lot of lip service about the rights of the unborn and the sanctity of life, she often spends her weekends helping a single mom care for her young daughter. 

She gets up early...sometimes even drives her friend to work...and then takes care of Kaya all day.  She takes her to church...sometimes to youth group gatherings...brings her here to hang swim.  She is making a real life difference to a very cute little girl. 

"Sidewalk Counselors" demonstrate their beliefs by camping out near the entrance of abortion clinics, carrying signs with pictures of mangled, aborted fetuses, reciting "Abortion Kills Children" to the women headed into the clinic.  Emily "chooses life" in a way that is no less impacting. 

Go put your creed into your deed....Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Keep your eyes on the goal....

Recently annie posted the following quote by Henri Nouwein on EU.

Growing into the Truth We Speak

Can we only speak when we are fully living what we are saying? If all our words had to cover all our actions, we would be doomed to permanent silence! Sometimes we are called to proclaim God's love even when we are not yet fully able to live it. Does that mean we are hypocrites? Only when our own words no longer call us to conversion. Nobody completely lives up to his or her own ideals and visions. But by proclaiming our ideals and visions with great conviction and great humility, we may gradually grow into the truth we speak. As long as we know that our lives always will speak louder than our words, we can trust that our words will remain humble.

Sometimes I do feel a bit...ah...hypocritical...writing about peace and love and acceptance and tolerance when I am so "not there yet" in so many ways.

The other day, Keith told me about a driving tip he heard on the radio.  The gist of it...look at where you want to go.  what you look at....focus on.... is what you will automatically steer toward.  Pass an accident....don't rubberneck the crash scene because if you do, you will automatically steer in that direction.  Making a tight turn? Direct your attention to where you want your vehicle to end up....and not on the car sitting at the intersection....the one you are trying not to hit. 


It occurs to me that this is more than just a good driving tip. The principle carries over into our daily lives. Noel Peebles said:

What you choose to focus your mind on is critical because you will become what you think about most of the time.

And Hannah Whitall Smith said:

Keep your mind on the things you want and off the things you don't want. 

Because what we focus on, we automatically steer toward.

The vision that you glorify in your mind, the ideal that you enthrone in your heart. This you will build your life by, and this you will become James Lane Allen

Didn't the Apostle Paul say the same thing???

Philipians 4:8 ....... whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].



Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Her Father's Eyes....

"There is a road from the eye to the heart that does not go through the intellect." -Gilbert Keith Chesterton

I noticed the above quote in a signature line on the Now2 yahoo email list this morning. The post was in response to a discussion about the ego vs. the "real you." Interesting discussion about how we are sleeping or hypnotized and are too groggy to realize who we really are.  I tend to Christianize a lot of what I come across...finding its equivalent in the Bible---or Christian music--or some other medium one might find at a Christian bookstore.   

About the groggy reminds me that in Genesis it talks about God putting Adam into a deep sleep...and guess what?  It never says anywhere in scripture that he woke up. And we, as members of the Adamic race, are still wondering around in a dreamlike state (and the dream is often perceived as a nightmare)  

And the quote...that the road to the heart does not go through the intellect. It reminds me of an old Amy Grant song that I am very fond of..Father's Eyes.  If we look at things through our Father's Eyes, they do not pass through the intellect and they slip right by our thinker.  Lyrics follow....

I may not be every mother's dream for her little girl.
And my face may not grace the mind of everyone in the world.
But that's all right as long as I can have one wish I pray.
When people look inside my life, I want to hear them say.

She's got her Father's eyes, her Father's eyes
Eyes that find the good in things, When good is not around.
Eyes that find the source of help, When help just can't be found.
Eyes full of compassion, seeing every pain.
Knowin' what you're going through, and feeling it the same.
Just like my Father's eyes, my Father's eyes, my Father's eyes
Just like my Father's eyes.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Tafsir or Ta'wil??

You know when I was thinking about and pondering a spiritual interpretation of the Qu'ran, I forgot about the Islamic mystics...the Sufi. They have been interpreting the Qu'ran spiritually for centuries.  The following excerpt from an article I read discussing the spiritual or esoteric interpretation of the Qu'ran....

An esoteric interpretation of the Qur'an is an interpretation of the Qur’an which includes attribution of esoteric or mystic meanings to the text by the interpreter. In this respect, its method is different from the conventional exegesis of the Qur’an, called tafsir. Esoteric interpretations do not usually contradict the conventional (in this context called exoteric) interpretations; instead, they discuss the inner levels of meaning of the Qur'an. A hadith from Prophet Muhammad which states that the Qur’an has an inner meaning, and that this inner meaning conceals a yet deeper inner meaning, and so on (up to seven levels of meaning), has sometimes been used in support of this view. Some Islamic sects impose strict limitations on esoteric interpretations.

Yeah' well, there are many Christian sects that impose strict limitations on esoteric interpretation, too.

The video by John Dominic Crossan that I mentioned in my last post talked about the difference between literalism and fundamentalism.  Literalism is taking everything that can possibly be taken literally...literally. The Islamic equivalent is called Tafsir...and does not allow for esoteric or mystical (spiritual) interpretations of the text.  It is akin to "God said it, I believe it, that settles it." 

It is a surface view symbolism (or very little) and it is what it is.  This is the interpretation method of choice for radical Muslims....those who spur on the islamic nut cases who fly planes into towers and hide bombs in their tighty whities.  It is not the literal interpretation by itself that causes violence, but rather when it slips into fundamentalism. Fundamentalism (in Islam or in Christianity...or any religion for that matter) says that not only do I believe that a literal interpretation is the ONLY possible way to interpret scripture but that that I have the ONLY possible correct interpretation...and (this is when it slips into fundamentalism) YOU have to believe it too.  And I will do anything in my power to convince you to see it that way using a vast array of methods, employing varying degrees of violence. (all the way from shunning to bombings)   

Yet not all Muslims (contrary to popular opinion) take the Qu'ran at an entry level interpretation.

In Arabic, batin refers to the inner or esoteric meaning of a sacred text, and zahir to the apparent or exoteric meaning. Batin is defined as the interior or hidden meaning of the Quran. This is in contrast to the Quran's exterior or apparent meaning (the Zahir). Some Muslim groups believe that the Batin can only be fully understood and interpreted by a figure with esoteric knowledge, who for Shi'a Muslims is the Imam of the Time.

So then "Tafsir" is the Arabic word for exegesis or commentary, usually of the Qur'an. It does not include esoteric or mystical interpretations.  And the word for the esoteric, metaphysical, spiritual, mystical interpretation?  Ta'wil

Esoteric and mystical interpretations are often referred to as ta' wil. They rely on distinguishing between the surface meaning (zahir) and the deeper sense (batin)

Some have held ta'wil to mean the finding of a second meaning for the text which is called its inward or esoteric sense (batn) as opposed to its apparent and literal meaning (zahr).The Qur'an itself speaks about the necessity of ta'wil and so have the Imams, the Companions and Qur'anic scholars of later eras.

More on this in my next post. 

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Interview with Rene' Girard....

I digress...again.  This morning I followed a link on someone's facebook page to a you tube video of John Dominic Crossan discussing the differences between literalism and fundamentalism.  From there I clicked on some of the you tube videos in the side bar...always an eclectic mix there....and eventually ended up at a site called Fora TV.  I watched an interview with Rene' Girard....a recent interview that mentions text from his most recent book, Battling to the End.

He is difficult to listen to because of his strong French accent. I think that may be the reason his books are difficult to read.  They begin if French and are translated to English so they sometimes seem a bit stilted or awkwardly phrased.  I have gotten a lot more clarity from the writings of those who write about the anthropological discovery of Girard....mimesis and mimetic rivalry that leads to scapegoating. 

And Girard seems to be a "glass half empty" kind of guy too. He seems to have a pessimistic view of how it will all eventually work out.  In the interview he says:

Mankind has the truth and the reality of Christianity....and the truth has been there for 2000 years, but instead of moving ahead and becoming more widespread it is becoming more restricted.  Christianity is less and less popular every day.  It is accused of all sorts of things that smell very much like a scapegoating process.

He does not focus on positive mimesis which seems to me might work just as well as the negative.  Since we are mimetic creatures....born with this propensity to unconsciously copy the desires of  enables us to participate in positive mimesis. 

I have read several articles that focus on the positive....and plan to write about it.  It is in the queue.

There was nothing really nothing startlingly new in this interview.  He pointed out that people not only imitate each other in their desires, but that they imitate each other in their dislikes and their feelings.  So when one member of a community caught in the throes of escalating violence caused by mimetic rivalry identifies one they feel is guilty of causing the crisis, it can spread quickly among the community.  It finally reaches a point where the community unanimously selects and converges on the scapegoat who  must be killed, banished or gotten rid of in some way. 

He also pointed out that even though in the ancient world the objects of desire were different, the structure of desire, the triangular relationship of desire object, model, subject are the same today. As is so rightly penned in Ecclesiastes which also seems to take a pessimistic view of thing...

What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.

Back to the spiritual side of Islam and the Quran...soon.....

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Kill the Infidel?

From the same article I quoted from yesterday....a very telling discussion of the term..."infidel"

I, as a Muslim, have never called a non-Muslim an "Infidel", so this word was actually foreign to my vocabulary, until I have heard it mentioned several time by Christian and Zionist so-called "experts" on Islam. As a matter of fact, I took the liberty of going through several widely used translations of the Quran to find this oft-spoken "infidel" term. The translations of the Quran of which I researched included: M. Khan, Yusuf Ali, Shakir, and Pickthal, only to find out that in all of these translations, I did not find this word "infidel" in any of them! The Arabic word "Kaafir, Kafir, Kufar" was translated as Disbelievers or Unbelievers.

What's more interesting, after digging deeper, we discovered this term was being used centuries before the advent of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The term infidel comes from the Latin word infidelis, which means "unbelieving" or "unfaithful."

During the Middle Ages ( A.D.c. 450–c. 1500), the Catholic Church (Christians) used the term to describe Muslims (followers of Islam, the religion founded by the prophet Muhammad; c. A.D.570–632).

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary states the following on the term "infidel":

Main Entry: in·fi·del
Pronunciation: 'in-f&-d & l, -f&-"del
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English infidele, from Middle French, from Late Latin infidelis unbelieving, from Latin, unfaithful, from in- + fidelis faithful -- more at
1: one who is not a Christian or who opposes Christianity
2 a: an unbeliever with respect to a particular religion b : one who acknowledges no religious belief
3: a disbeliever in something specified or understood
- infidel adjective

To coin a Grandma Payne phrase...."doesn't that just take the cake?!"  This much bandied about word....virtually always negatively associated with Islam....actually had its roots in Christianity.  It was first used as a slur by Christians...against Muslims!!!  Well, well, well.  Another phrase Grandma used comes to mind...."turn around is fair play."


But is that the only explanation? What if...what if...the Quran, like the Bible, is a SPIRITUAL BOOK...and what if...what if...there is a SPIRITUAL explanation for the term. 

More on this spiritual view of the Quran in my next post and followed soon after by a look at who is the infidel? 

Sunday, June 13, 2010


I digress..

Last night Keith watched the movie, Billy, the Early Years.  Well, to be technically correct....Keith watched AND listened the movie. I watched. I diverted my attention (back and forth) between my computer screen and the TV screen.  No sound. 

At my request (and wearied by the countless times he heard the words "Can you please turn that down") Keith opted for a wireless headset for almost all his TV viewing.  I think he may have ulterior motives, though, because when the house is loud and there are distractions he can jack up the sound...and not be disturbed. Poof...none of us exist.  Either 

But often my attention is drawn to the big screen...and it is a big screen...48 inches or so and hard to ignore since it sits directly across the room from where I usually hang out with my lap top.  And I have watched a lot of movies...sans the sound.  Keith is usually reluctantly willing (who can blame him) to fill me in on any details that pique my curiosity and cannot be discerned without the sound track.  The story line of Billy was about the early years of Billy Graham's ministry and his friendship and shared ministry with Charles Templeton, the Canadian evangelist who later renounced Christianity and remained an agnostic until his death. The story was told through the perspective of Charles an old man, very sick with Alzhemers....using flashbacks...and his commentary on the events. 

His bitch with God? Same old same old--the timeless, oft cited reasons people give for disbelief.  The inerrancy of the scriptures - the contradictions and statements that don't make sense...that defy the facts of science...that violate our moral code.  At least from a surface view.  And, of course, the biggie...the one that I struggled with for several years...theodicy...the problem of evil....suffering.  I think the Holocaust particularly bothered him.  The movie showed scenes of some of the cleanup at the prison camps.  Pretty hard to look at. 

So he left the faith...and stayed gone the rest of his life. 

As is often my habit, after something piques my interest, I spend a chunk of time researching it on the internet.  There is not as much about Charles Templeton as I expected....but I did come across a story about him on the Christian Courier in an article called "A Skeptic Reflects upon Jesus Christ." This is the author's view of an incident included in one of Lee Strobel's books, The Case For Faith"

Strobel interviewed Templeton in his high rise apartment overlooking Toronto.  The following excerpt is from the Christian Courier article. 


During the course of their conversation, Charles Templeton had again vigorously defended his disavowal of God and his rejection of the Bible. There was no apparent chink in the armor of his callused soul. Then, Strobel directed the old gentleman’s attention to Christ. How would he now assess Jesus at this stage of his life?

Strobel says that, amazingly, Templeton’s “body language softened.” His voice took on a “melancholy and reflective tone.” And then, incredibly, he said:

“He was the greatest human being who has ever lived. He was a moral genius. His ethical sense was unique. He was the intrinsically wisest person that I’ve ever encountered in my life or in my reading. His commitment was total and led to his own death, much to the detriment of the world.”

Strobel quietly commented: “You sound like you really care about him.”

“Well, yes,” Templeton acknowledged, “he’s the most important thing in my life.” He stammered: “I . . . I . . . I adore him . . . Everything good I know, everything decent I know, everything pure I know, I learned from Jesus.”

Strobel was stunned. He listened in shock. He says that Templeton’s voice began to crack. He then said, “I . . . miss . . . him!” With that the old man burst into tears; with shaking frame, he wept bitterly.

Finally, Templeton gained control of his emotions and wiped away the tears. “Enough of that,” he said, as he waved his hand, as if to suggest that there would be no more questions along that line.


More tomorrow...on the Quran. 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The "occasion of revelation"

Taking a verse in context is referred to in Islam as the occasion of revelation.  I like that phrase...and it might work well with the Bible since it is put together in...for the most part....chronological order. But the Koran is not arranged in any particular chronological order...which makes discerning the occasion of revelation....or the context of a verse..... a bit trickier.  An article I read about discerning the truth in the Quran says the following

(1) The Quran is not classified subject-wise. Verses on various topics appear in dispersed places in the Quran and no order can be ascertained from the sequence of its text.  The first verses revealed in the Quran was in
chapter (surah) 96. the Quran is not arranged topically.... 

The structure of the Quran makes it necessary to approach it using the dialectic "both and" methodology of reasoning.

Not either/or?

This means that to investigate a certain issue, the verses pertaining to the issue should be gathered together. The verses are then analyzed comprehensively while paying attention to the historical context (in Islamic terminology called the "occasion of revelation") of each verse. The truth is considered to be found in all the relevant verses, because if the Quran is divine as the vast majority of Muslims believe, it should be free from real contradictions and inconsistencies.

Yeah' should the Bible, but we know how that goes.  There are inconsistencies and contradictions in the Bible (and the Quran too...whether the author of this article wants to admit it or not) Christians have come up with all kinds of ways to reconcile the vast inconsistencies in the Bible.  There is the dispensational view...the Old Testament/New Testament....the different covenants. The methods used to explain vary with one's outlook.




They have all found their inerrancy comfort zones and from their particular vantage points they explain the inconsistencies.  Do Muslims do the same thing? 

Apparent contradictions are not only reconciled and transcended but are thoroughly investigated because they actually reflect deep meanings and paradigms. (This is akin, for example, to the process of understanding the Chinese idiom, "a man is stronger than iron and weaker than a fly." Although the wise saying is superficially self-contradictory, it reveals a deep fact about humans who, in some situations, are very strong. Yet, in other contexts, these same people are very weak.

A koan!  I wrote about those a while back....

If the reductionist approach to the Quran is valid, then all ideas, from violence to absolute pacifism, can be justified and rationalized using the Quran. For the Quran does not only contain verses about war, it is also replete with verses about forgiveness and countering evil with good.

Couldn't the same thing be said about the Bible?  Read the article...which is not very long...if you want a more thorough explanation of this reductionist approach. The article closes with

The worst thing to do with the Quran is to approach it seeking confirmation for what one already believes in and turning a blind eye to any evidence that is inconsistent with his/her pre-conceived attitudes and biases. Anyone can find in the Quran whatever he/she wants to prove. Anyone can do the same thing with the Bible. The challenge, however, is to make a judgment only after a thorough and exhaustive investigation of all available Quranic evidence. 

More to come.....hopefully I can stay on track long enough to tackle two of the concepts associated with the Muslim religion.....kill the infidel and jihad.....

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Qu'ran...a spiritual book?

So I did some reading about the Quran.  Right off the top of my head...I am thinking that, like the Bible, it is a spiritual book written to the spiritual man.  I've read/heard enough of the teachings of Preston Eby, Ray Prinzing and other kingdom teachers to know that the clear meaning of the text is oftentimes not the clear meaning at all.  An example? 

Well, when the Bible commands that women not teach etc. the deeper meaning is more of a spiritual thing than an actual rule for women to shut up in church.  The soul is female.  The soul must be in subjection to the spirit...which is male.  Thus...all those verses that seem to indicate women cannot teach and must submit to the authority of men may not mean that on a spiritual level at all. 

I've been taught that so much in the Bible is sort of code for the story of the killing off of Adam and the quickening of the Christ within.  I could cite more examples...and may in another post somewhere down the road.  No promises though...which probably does not come as a surprise since you know how flighty I am. 

So...the Bible is a spiritual book...written to the spiritual man.  I have heard Keith say that many, many times.  

Preston Eby says it this way:

The Bible is not written in the style of an ordinary book.  It has a method all its own of conveying spiritual realities through picturesque symbols, which is the language of spirit communicated to the mind of man, wisdom expressed in terms comprehensible by people in all ages and in different parts of the world and of different degrees of spiritual development.

So why can't the Quran also be a spiritual book written to the spirit man?  Was it meant to be taken literally any more than the Bible was meant to be taken literally? Yes, it talks about jihad and the infidel but is the real meaning of those words really what mainstream Christianity believes?  Could there be a deep spiritual meaning buried beneath the surface?  Jesus said, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith!” Are there meanings in the Quran that only the spiritual ear can hear? 

More to come.....

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Truth is Truth...

In a post entitled Truth is Truth, annie quoted the the following verse from the Quran....

Before He created life, the Almighty Allah declared, "My Mercy shall surpass My Wrath." Thus was it written.

- Hadith The Prophet Muhammad, as reported by Abu Hurairah

And then...since it was the list I mentioned in my last post, she added the following disclaimer....

no, i haven't converted to islam LOL.  this was in my inbox and i thought it was a good example that truth is truth no matter whose mouth it proceeds from.  it is the height of arrogance for christians to think that they and their judeo-christian bible have a corner market on truth.  who can deny that, in this instance, muhammad has voiced the same truth that james did when he wrote, "Mercy triumphs over justice"...?  i can place the full weight of my trust in the person of Christ without rejecting or denigrating those sincere men of other faiths.  peter learned this lesson with cornelius.  "then peter opened his mouth and said, 'in truth, i perceive that God shows no partiality.  but in every nation, whoever fears him and works righteousness is accepted by him'" (acts 10.34-35).  when cornelius was praying and heard from the Spirit, he had not, as of yet, even heard of Jesus.  though indoctrinated to the contrary, peter followed the Voice of Spirit he heard to reach out in the love of Christ and meet cornelius right where he was.  we see paul doing the same in acts 17, where he even quotes from two of the athenians' pagan poets and philosophers.  merely offered for consideration...   "for he himself is our peace who has made us one and broken down every wall of division between us" (ephesians 2.14)       blessed be - annie

In response, someone posted a page from a website with some of the hate texts from the Quran...from the perspective of conservative Christian party line belief about Muslims...all Muslims.  Not just the radical islamic whackos.  From the website....

 Does Islam teach hatred of non-believers?

Summary Answer:

There is no place in the Qur'an where Muhammad commands Muslims to love people of other religions.  By contrast there are at least three dozen verses that tell Muslims to fight against non-Muslims and about 500 that speak of their place in Hell.  They are from each period in Muhammad's life, scattered across 87 of the Qur'an's 114 chapters. 

To put this in perspective, nearly one out of twelve verses in the Qur'an says that Allah hates non-Muslims to the extent that he will torment them for eternity in horrible ways.  The Suras that make reference to this comprise about 95% of the Qur'an's total volume.  If Allah creates infidels merely to fuel the fires of Hell, then there is little reason for Muslims to believe that such lives are of any worth in this world either. 

Hmmmmm.....doesn't your normal run of the mill Christian believe that God will fuel the fires of hell with nonbelievers too? Including, of course, Muslims since they are not Christians. Doesn't your normal run of the mill Christian believe...wholeheartedly...that Jesus spoke more about hell than (take your pick)....1) any one else in Scripture. 2) any other subject 3) than he did about heaven. It has been said that Jesus was the greatest hellfire preacher that ever lived. Many Christians believe that. And using human beings as fodder to fuel  the fires of hell? ? Well, for Christians it's really just ssdd. It should not put off the majority of Christians since our God also consigns just about everyone who ever lived to hell. 

And don't Christians believe that their God ordered mass annihilation of the various groups of nonbelievers in the Promised Land...and other assorted and varied killings ranging from the mass slaughter of the 450 priests of Baal to the beheading of the 70 sons of Ahab.  And there are many, many more examples.  So Allah gets a bad rap for expecting his followers to kill nonbelievers ....but it's okay for the Christian God to order mass slaughter.  That's because he's the C..H..R..I..S..T..I..A...N God.  Makes all the difference in the world.  Right?

And following the examples from the OT, good Christians have killed the infidel in the name of their God down through the ages....


More tomorrow....