City of Brass

City of Brass

Can you be a muslim and a christian?

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

This is unusual, to say the least:

A Seattle Episcopal priest who claims to be both Christian and Muslim
has been restricted from public ministry and will be defrocked unless
she “reclaims” Christianity by next April, the Episcopal Church
announced.

Redding, who teaches at a Jesuit seminary in Seattle, according to
Episcopal News Service, told ENS that “I do not believe the canons were
written with this situation in mind. … My situation gives the church
an opportunity to re-examine what it means to be in communion.”

You know, I have to say I am much more sympathetic to the church here. I agree that Islam and Christianity are very similar in many ways, but the differences in basic doctrine are just too stark – the obvious issue being the status of Jesus AS as prophet or god, and the validity of the whole of the Qur’an as a divine text or not.

I am reminded of the main character in the novel Life of Pi, who embraced Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity all at once as a child growing up in India, triggering an angry confrontation between his three spiritual advisers. It is an incongruous, absurd situation.

Powell: So what if Obama were muslim?

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

I have been saying this as far back as February during the primaries – the correct response to the “Obama muslim” smear was not just to deny it, but also to ask, “so what?” Colin Powell rises to the occasion by saying what Obama still has not said:

“Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.” Well, the correctanswer is, he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian. He’s always been aChristian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is theresomething wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no,that’s not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-oldMuslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, Ihave heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, “He’s aMuslim and he might be associated terrorists.” This is not the way weshould be doing it in America.

I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture Isaw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who are serving inIraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photoessay was of a mother in Arlington Cemetery, and she had her head onthe headstone of her son’s grave. And as the picture focused in, youcould see the writing on the headstone. And it gave his awards-PurpleHeart, Bronze Star-showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth,date of death. He was 20 years old. And then, at the very top of theheadstone, it didn’t have a Christian cross, it didn’t have the Star ofDavid, it had crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And his namewas Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, and he was an American. He was born inNew Jersey. He was 14 years old at the time of 9/11, and he waiteduntil he can go serve his country, and he gave his life. Now, we havegot to stop polarizing ourself in this way.

The full story of Kareem Rashad Sultan is indeed moving. But the photo of his mother at his grave – to which Powell refers, is even more so:

080929_slideshowplaton16_p465.jpg

Given the – ahem – Obsession with muslims in our political sphere, it is tragic that Barack Obama has consistently failed to say such a simple thing. I don’t think Obama needs Powell
s endorsement to win the Presidency, but perhaps he will draw some inspiration, and courage, from Powell’s example instead.

UPDATE: here’s the video of Powell’s remarks above:

Colin Powell endorses Barack Obama

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

As I predicted yesterday, Colin Powell has endorsed Barack Obama for President. I think that Powell cuts right to the heart of the matter here:

“We have two wars. We have economic problems. We have health
problems. We have education problems. We have infrastructure problems.
We have problems around the world without allies,” he said. “And so
those are the problems the American people want to hear about, not
about Mr. Ayers, not about who is a Muslim and who is not a Muslim.”

Powell endorsement imminent?

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Colin Powell is going to be on Meet The Press on Sunday morning, and speculation is rife that he will endorse Barack Obama:

Retired Gen. Colin Powell, once considered a potential running mate for
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), now may endorse his opponent, Sen. Barack
Obama (D-Ill.), according to Republican sources. But an air of mystery
surrounds Powell’s planned live appearance Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the
Press,” and no one is sure what he will say.

Powell’s unassailable national security credentials could sway voters
who are vacillating about whether Obama is ready to be commander in
chief, and his endorsement of the Illinois senator would make a
national security emphasis by McCain in the election’s closing days
extremely difficult.

Powell, 71, a professional soldier for 35 years, has advised the last three Republican presidents.

The general’s camp is being coy about what he might or might not say on
Sunday. But some McCain advisers suspect, without being sure, that
Powell will endorse Obama.

“It’s going to make a lot of news, and certainly be personally
embarrassing for McCain,” a McCain official said. “It comes at a time
when we need momentum, and it would create momentum against us.”

Powell has certainly been very high-visibility of late. In an African-American festival in London past Tuesday, he was seen on stage doing an impromptu hip-hop dance, which is an image that my brain has difficulty processing. More importantly, he also made a equally rare statement about racial self-identity:

Powell
– who has yet to back a candidate — told the audience: “I stand before you as an African-American. Many people have said
to me you became secretary of state of the USA, is it still necessary to say that you are an African American or that you
are black? And I say yes, so that we can remind our children.”

“It
took a lot of people struggling to bring me to this point in history,”
Powell told the audience. “I didn’t just drop out of the sky. People
came from my continent in chains.”

It’s likely that Powell is also thinking about his legacy – after all, he was once considered a front-runner for the GOP nomination back in 2000, only to decide not to run. Bush was elected instead, and tapped Powell’s credibility to buttress the WMD-driven case for war against Iraq. Since it is now known that there were no WMD, Powell’s credibility practically vanished overnight. I think he may see endorsing Obama as a kind of redemption, a chance to play kingmaker of sorts.Let’s see what happens tomorrow morning… I haven’t had the urge to watch MTP in years, but the prospect of Powell’s endorsement is going to give MTO a solid ratings boost, I suspect…

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