Stuff Christian Culture Likes

Stuff Christian Culture Likes


#183 Not the mosque at Ground Zero

posted by Stephanie Drury

zero3.JPGMuch of American Christian culture opposes the Ground Zero mosque. They say their main problem with it is the disrespectful locale, but they often go on to say that Islam is probably going to annihilate America (a.k.a. “God’s nation” in Christian culture) before long and they’d feel a lot better if those sneaky Muslims weren’t setting up shop underfoot. As is their wont, they tie their Christianity to this argument, however tenuously.

The Christ whom these people purport to follow taught embracing and honoring of all people (including Muslims), but Christian culture seems to have swept that nugget under the rug.

zero4.JPGThis segment of Christian culture is ready to hold all Muslims reponsible for the actions of extremists, but if extremists’ actions don’t align with what Islam teaches then it seems their religion wouldn’t actually be Islam. By the same token, people who call themselves Christians but don’t practice what Christ taught often aren’t Christians at all, and even though they claim to do things in his name, their actions speak much more loudly. Funny thing, that.



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Valerie

posted August 23, 2010 at 7:14 pm


Those images make me want to puke.



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Andrew

posted August 23, 2010 at 7:18 pm


Yep, yep, yep!!! I am going to hurl if I see one more Christian on Facebook post something like “I love Jesus, click like if you do too!” Later followed by “No Muslim Mosques at Ground Zero.”
Love your enemies! Except Muslims… Jesus just had no idea what we were going to have to put up with…. ;)



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Laura F

posted August 23, 2010 at 7:25 pm


I don’t buy this “it’s just the location’s so disrespectful” argument for a second. Not when people are protesting building other mosques across the US in such “hallowed” places as Murfreesboro, TN.



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toujoursdan

posted August 23, 2010 at 7:40 pm


As someone who lives in New York City, I can tell you that it’s delapidated neighbourhood surrounded by porn shops, “Gentlemen’s” clubs and an electronic warehouse store run by Orthodox Jews. It’s probably the last place in Manhattan where land is relatively cheap, which is why the Imam’s development company bought and leased the property over a year ago. Cheap property is probably the only real symbolism here.
And can we say the obvious? Christian culture HATES New York City because we’re too elitist, too liberal, too European, too Jewish, too homosexual, too secular, too comfortably diverse, too worldly and WAY too socialist UNLESS they can use New York City to score patriotic points by turning us into symbols of “real” America (instead of actually respecting the too elitist, too liberal, too European, too Jewish, too homosexual, too secular, too diverse, too worldly, too socialist (as well as the many Muslim) office workers and first responders who actually perished that day.)
Christian culture may go to Times Square to see “Lion King” and eat at the same Chili’s restaurants they have in Dallas, but you don’t see many people from middle America anywhere else here.



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Meghan

posted August 23, 2010 at 8:23 pm


I’d really like to start an “American Christians FOR The Manhattan Muslim Cultural Center” (sorry, refusing to call it a “ground zero mosque”) movement.
You have to at least give them credit for following American historical precedent, though: http://fc06.deviantart.net/fs70/i/2010/232/8/1/Land_of_the_Free_by_EmpressFunk.jpg



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Lee

posted August 23, 2010 at 9:10 pm


I think you’re taking the whole Christian martyr thing a little too seriously if you believe Jesus would support this project or Islam at all. May I suggest you do your research on how Christians are treated in Muslim lands and how they are described in the Koran (hint: the two go hand in hand).
The mosque at Ground Zero is a slap in the face to freedom loving people everywhere. I have to say I’m quite shocked by this post.



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kenneth

posted August 23, 2010 at 9:23 pm


Fundamentalist Christians and Muslims are like twins who hate each other because they’re so alike. Other than details in scripture, there’s really no difference between the mosque protesters and the guys we’re fighting in Afghanistan. They have the same outlooks on spirituality and social engineering.



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stephanie drury

posted August 23, 2010 at 9:23 pm


Lee: so what you are saying is that Christians should treat Muslims badly because some Christians are treated badly in Muslim lands? Does that line up with Jesus’ teachings? Not at all. It’s just the opposite.
Disallowing a group to build a worship center within the United States of America is a slap in the face to freedom loving people everywhere. You have it exactly backwards.



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toujoursdan

posted August 23, 2010 at 9:24 pm


Lee:
Thank God we aren’t in a Christian theocracy, but a multicultural democracy where people can do what they want, even if WE don’t believe Jesus doesn’t like it. Thank God this country has a First Amendment and that minorities aren’t subject to the whipped-up emo of the mob. (Or at least I think they do.)
May I suggest you do your research on how Christians treated people of other faiths in Europe, Africa and the Americas over the centuries? The Muslims treated religious minorities with far more tolerance than we did.
You will find American staffed Episcopal and Lutheran churches in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. You will find McDonald’s Restaurants in Dresden and Berlin. You will find (German cultural) Goethe Institutes in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. You will find Japanese restaurants, video stores and markets in Nanking, Beijing and Seoul. There are American oil and pharmaceutical companies doing business in Vietnam with their logos on billboards everywhere. Heck, you will even see Shinto shrines and a huge Japanese cultural center on the drive from Honolulu to Pearl Harbor. How is it that the Japanese, Germans, Israelis, Chinese, Vietnamese and Hawaiians can tolerate the symbols of their enemies (who killed far more civilians than died in 9/11, if you want to play that game) yet “real” Americans, who are supposed to be “the light to the world” can’t?
And for the zillionth time: It isn’t a mosque. It isn’t at Ground Zero. It can’t even be seen from Ground Zero.



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Rob the Rev

posted August 23, 2010 at 9:25 pm


Get used to being shocked Lee because you’re going to hear a lot more like it as a reasonable, sane America wakes up and smells the coffee of what the un American radical fundi right bigots are trying to do.
However Christians are treated in other countries does not dictate how we treat people in this country who are not Christians. Have you not heard of the golden rule: Do onto others as you would have them do onto you.”
You and your ilk are the slap in the face of religious freedom loving people everywhere. Go crawl back under your rock, please.
I had to refresh this page three times before I got a captcha that I could figure out.



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Sarah

posted August 23, 2010 at 9:26 pm


By the same token, it could be said that trying to prevent the Park51 project is a slap in the face to freedom-loving people everywhere, Lee.
And I don’t see how Christians’ treatment anywhere has anything whatsoever to do with how we treat anyone here.
We know from the Gospels that Jesus supported love and kindness, and had no problem with Samaritans and vocalized no demonization of the Roman pantheon. Not sure how this translates into him not supporting the peaceful practice of another religion.



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Lee

posted August 23, 2010 at 9:33 pm


Sigh,
I’m not even going to defend myself against the ridiculous onslaught I just received because I know there is no point.
Hope it all works out for you.



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toujoursdan

posted August 23, 2010 at 9:34 pm


What is disturbing is how this is based on nothing by primitive tribalism: us versus them.
Up to 300 Muslims died in the WTC on 9/11 and their families are in mourning just like the rest of us. Muslims were amongst the first responders to the tragedy as firefighters, police and EMTs. Some gave their lives when the buildlings collapsed. Many of the doctors, nurses and therapists who cared for the injured are Muslim. They are overrepresented in these professions in NYC. An estimated 4,000 Muslims serve in the U.S. Armed Forces in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as work in counterterrorism and Arabic translation services. What do you say to these people who are putting their lives on the line for this country? They aren’t “real” Americans? What is shocking.
This is a religion of 1 billion people who are as diverse as the Jewish and Christian worlds. Many of those Muslims are “real” Americans just like everyone else is.



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Frank

posted August 23, 2010 at 10:15 pm


I find nearly all religion offensive and tedious, but that doesn’t mean I want to curtail religious freedom. I’m for allowing this cultural center to be built for the same reason I was for the publication of the Mohammed cartoons.
We are not savages. We are Americans. We don’t let our passions rule us.



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stephanie drury

posted August 23, 2010 at 10:33 pm


Beautifully said, toujoursdan.



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Lynn

posted August 23, 2010 at 10:33 pm


I don’t want to gang up on Lee, but I do want to respond to one thing he mentioned, that I’m sure is a common refrain among those who are against the mosque at ground zero: “The mosque at Ground Zero is a slap in the face to freedom loving people everywhere.” But shouldn’t discrimination against Muslims be the slap in the face to freedom loving people everywhere? That would be the opposite of freedom of religion, a tenet of our system that Christians should appreciate more than anyone. It seems like many Christians today either take it for granted or have forgotten why it’s important.



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Meghan

posted August 23, 2010 at 10:35 pm


I think sometime around the point wherein it became the policy of Christianity to do unto others as they’ve done unto us is about the same point it became good old Christian culture and no longer Christianity.
Lee, I’m the daughter of Christian missionaries who have served in communities rocked by anti-Christian violence perpetuated by people who profess Islam. I’m an American woman with a degree in writing who has had to come face to face, repeatedly, with the more conservative elements of Islam who would have me silenced based on my sex alone, though my nationality, skin color, religious background, and outspoken personality don’t seem to help much.
But I worship and love Christ, who came to set us free. And I hold a passport from a nation that gave me and my sex the right to vote ninety years ago, a nation that was founded in part because we needed to build a place in the world where people who worshiped differently, or people who didn’t want to worship at all, could still be free to do as they were moved to do. I enjoy the freedom of expression, religious and otherwise, because that is what we have as privileges here; that is what we have always chosen, as Americans, to value above all else. And if they are privileges we wish only to bestow upon those with whom we agree then they are no freedoms at all.
Out of gratitude to the Christ who set all people free from the burden of unforgiveness, out of gratitude to the Christ who said through Saint Paul that in Him there are no distinctions of gender or property or nationality, out of gratitude to the Christ who calls us all to Him, I am a white, American, Christian woman who supports unequivocally the building of a community center near Ground Zero, as a tribute to the freedom we enjoy in Christ and in America, and as an act of forgiveness.



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stephanie drury

posted August 23, 2010 at 10:36 pm


Totally, Lynn. I don’t want Lee to feel ganged up on, either. It has been really hard for me to separate what Christian culture tells me Christianity looks like from what Jesus actually taught. It’s a scary and unsettling place to be in places. I’m guessing Lee is in a southern state as well, which doesn’t make it any easier, or at least not in my experience.
We love you, Lee!



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Eli

posted August 23, 2010 at 10:43 pm


A few thoughts: A) I don’t think jumping down Lee’s throat is a very loving way to disagree. One or two comments makes sense, but by comment 5 when all are mostly using the same arguements to “slam dunk” her, I would call that overkill. Particularly when the comments make it personal (not all of them, but at least one did, I am not going to go back & check who wrote it because that would be doing the same thing). Lee is not your enemy, just as human beings practicing Islam are not.
B) I was against the center at first when I was told it was ON ground zero. NOT because it was specifically Muslim, but becaue it was specifically ANYTHING. I don’t think it would be appropriate to put any kind of specific group’s monument/worship center/cultural cener etc on the site of a place that represents everyone’s pain & tragedy. But honestly, now that I realize it is not on the site, I think the opposition (and especially those opposed are treating the issue & the people involved)is pointless and hurtful.



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Meghan

posted August 23, 2010 at 10:51 pm


Apologies if my comment came off as a personal attack: it wasn’t intended that way at all. I mentioned your name, Lee, because I was addressing something you brought up specifically: the treatment Christians have received at the hands of Muslims in other parts of the world. As someone who’s experienced it fairly close at hand, I understand where you’re coming from, but can’t espouse it.



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Meghan

posted August 23, 2010 at 10:54 pm


And Eli- when I started typing, there weren’t so many comments here. :) Just took me a while to think of how I wanted to say what I wanted to say! I think a lot of people simultaneously posted, so I hope you’ll give us the benefit of the doubt that we weren’t all trying to be unloving and jump down Lee’s throat. In retrospect it looks like overkill, but I promise [my] intent was positive.



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Eli

posted August 23, 2010 at 11:15 pm


Meghan. :) My comment wasn’t intended for you, actually. Your last comment and mine posted simultaneously along with those inbetween them. You also explain your thoughts more eloquently than simply switching words around in a way that seemed to be throwing things in Lee’s face, as a few earlier comments did. I mostly just read 2-3 in a row that seemed to be saying exactly the same thing in uneloquent & accusing ways. Didn’t seem constructive.
Your comments, seem quite constructive to me, actually. As do some of the others. I simplly didn’t want to go back & pick out names of those I felt had been rude. I thought that would be rude & accusing of me, and not constructive. :)



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Miriam

posted August 23, 2010 at 11:26 pm


I would just like to add my 2 cents about how ridiculous it is that most of the people who are so opposed to the Ground Zero center live far away from Ground Zero – in some cases thousands of miles away. Were any of them there? Please take it from someone who was less than 10 miles away that day, who could see the smoke from the backyard … we all wish the rest of the country would stop telling us what’s good for us.



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Jon

posted August 24, 2010 at 12:09 am


Of the groups opposed to the proposed Muslim community center and Mosque in lower Manhattan, what are we to do?
Should government on some level step in (NYC, NY or Federal) and block this from happening?
And if that were to happen, under different circumstances would not these very same groups protest “big government” intruding upon our freedoms and bemoaning the erosion of constitutionally guaranteed liberties?
And what of Masjid Manhattan, which is just 4 blocks from the ground zero area, and has been since 1970? Should it too be forced to move?
How close to ground zero is ok? 10 blocks? 20 blocks? 10 miles? 50 miles?



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Jeremy

posted August 24, 2010 at 12:16 am


Wait, wait, wait. Someone is teaching fourteen-year-olds how to fist??



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Meghan

posted August 24, 2010 at 12:17 am


No worries, Eli. Thanks for clarifying. :)



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Judah Gabriel Himango

posted August 24, 2010 at 2:23 am


>> The Christ whom these people purport to follow taught embracing and honoring of all people (including Muslims), but Christian culture seems to have swept that nugget under the rug.
Oh, what a load of universalist trash.
Christian Culture may not be following Christ’s teachings, it’s true, but this idea that Jesus was a pacifist who tolerated everyone and everything is trash.
People forget Jesus was violent in his intolerance of the moneychangers in the Temple. He was vicious in his criticism of the religious establishment. He embraced sinners, sure, but told them “go sin no more.”



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Still Breathing

posted August 24, 2010 at 6:46 am


Judah Gabriel Himango, Please don’t forget that the Jesus who cleared the temple of the money changers (a symbolic act that stopped people coming in to make sacrifices as He, the ulitimate sacrifice, was present)also told the parable of the good Samaritan which would have shocked and scandalised those who heard it. To a Jew the Samaritans were a hated unclean race but Jesus didn’t just include them he used one as an example of goodness. My experience of Muslims is of generous, friendly people who regard doing good for others as a central tenet of their faith; how many Christians (myself included) would be described as that?
Just in case Lee is still reading my understanding is that the Koran condems infidels by which they mean people who do not believe in the God of Abraham – by definition Christians and Jews are not infidels but fellow believers! Mind you that’s hard to believe given how we treat each others



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Sarah

posted August 24, 2010 at 6:49 am


Lee, Eli, everyone generally,
I was thinking as I fell asleep last night that the issues facing us in our country right now are almost completely polarizing, and it made me sad.
FWIW, Lee, when I started responding yours was the last comment on the thread. I think about eight of us read and responded all at once, which is unfortunate coincidence. (Seriously, I thought mine would be comment 7 and it was comment 11.)
But what I was thinking was this. There isn’t dialogue anymore. (I’m not standing up for or accusing anyone.) We have strong opinions and feel strongly about issues like this one, from both sides of the argument, and our country right now is a very angry one, where people are good at arguing — I mean, these things are so IMPORTANT, how can we not react strongly? — but not so good at discussing, except maybe among our own groups.
I’m obviously no exception. It’s gotten to the point where I hear a viewpoint that is conservative a/o evangelical and something pops in my head. I’m not going to varnish it over; I hate these opinions. But it would probably be much more productive for me to swallow the wrath (which I do believe is justified, but acting on it maybe isn’t) and ask more questions and try to have more patient conversations with people who, for instance, support SB 1070, oppose the cultural center in Manhattan and oppose the overturning of Proposition 8.
The problem is that almost no one is taking a questioning mind to the table. Lee, what if you had said something along the lines of the following? “I don’t understand your post, Stephy. Haven’t Muslims killed a lot of Christians in other countries? Isn’t it offensive to the memory of the people who died on 9/11 to build a center nearby that celebrates the culture that gave rise to the extremism that killed a lot of Americans? How would Jesus support this?”
Granted, we still might have jumped down your throat, but I’m thinking we can probably work on that here. I might, for instance, have said, “Yes, a lot of Christians in other countries have died at the hands of extremists. A lot of animists have, too. But isn’t that one of the great things about our country — that that can’t, by the Constitution, happen here? I don’t really understand — are you saying that we should treat Muslims differently in American because Christians are killed in Islamic countries? If that’s what you’re saying, what’s your justification?” etc. Which might have opened up discussion a little more, or at least the possibility.
So, I’m sorry for expressing my opinion at the expense of open discussion. I’ve been getting increasingly worried for some time that our national consciousness is one of polarities and absolutes, and that we’re losing the ability to dialogue and cooperate and possibly compromise, to keep peace. That’s not an American spirit, either.
I can’t promise not to get upset when opinions that strike me as ignorant, emotionally-based, oppressive, privileged and flawed come up. But I can definitely work on being more focused on building mutual understanding in response.
By the way, Lee, if you’re still reading, and I hope you are, would you mind sharing the basis for your opinions? To talk about them. I hear that about the Manhattan cultural center being an appalling affront to American freedom, and I’m really confused by the reasoning, which seems to me to be more sentimental than logical. Where are you coming from?



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Billy

posted August 24, 2010 at 8:31 am


toujoursdan: 4,000 Muslims in the Military is a relatively small number considering the size of our military. Also, your view of Christians hating NYC is a very subjective assumption. My wife and I would move to Manhattan (from NC) if we won the lottery. I actually thought the contrary; most Christians from modern churches (see the previous post on swank buildings) are drawn to NYC for it’s culture and style. Don’t get me wrong, you’ve said some pretty good stuff, but you’re way off base on those two.
With that said, what I think about the most here is how Jesus reached out to the Samaritan woman. Not only was her nationality despised by the Jews, she had been married multiple times and at that current time she had been living with a man who was not her husband. Not to mention that the Samaritan worship style wasn’t exactly Kosher for Jewish standards. However, Jesus didn’t let this stop him.



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Rollo Tomassi

posted August 24, 2010 at 8:45 am


With all due respect, this “christian” nation has been illegally building Ground Zeroes next to Iraqi mosques since March of 2003.
Building what amounts to an Islamic YMCA in a blighted stretch of inner-city New York that happens to be within 10 miles of where the WTC used to be is hardly what I’d call a Muslim victory lap. But hey, it’s an election year and there’s not a lot of cogent plans or ideas coming out of conservatives to do much of anything so they’ve got to find some traction in polarization rooted in religio-extremist fear.



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toujoursdan

posted August 24, 2010 at 8:54 am


How many Muslims (who are generally first or second generation immigrants and are ineligible to serve anyway) are needed to be “enough”?
And please read a bit more carefully. I said “Christian culture” hates New York City, not Christians.
It’s so predictable (yet sad) to see America play its age old game of bashing the latest round of immigrants who move here. At least Muslims can take their place with the Irish, Italian, Eastern European, Jewish and Catholic baiting that preceded the generations before them.



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Sarah

posted August 24, 2010 at 8:58 am


Also, toujoursdan, I love your comments. Particularly the one about the “us vs. them” mentality that has become increasingly prevalent here.
I’ve been thinking for a long time about religion as it applies to the human hard-wiring (some among Christians call it evolutionary, some call it a result of the Fall, some call it a combination of both) for aggression, self-interest and banding together in social groups against other social groups. In our history, that was necessary for survival. But at this point in time, our wars and conflicts shouldn’t be necessary, since there is, in theory, plenty of resources to go around — except that as a species we are still living according to that hard-wiring, and conflict occurs, and reactions become necessary. But none of our conflicts, violent or otherwise, are truly necessary anymore. We have the capability to be philanthropic and peaceful; we have reason and technology and resources. We just haven’t evolved past our throwback natures.
In light of that, the only religion that is good is religion that teaches and inspires people to move past that biological programming. All of the major world religions that I can think of, at their core, teach exactly that — to live in peace, to forgive, to move beyond the aggressive, us-vs.-them, persecutory drives inherent to our species’ psychology.
But too often people use their religion, at least here, to sanction the all-too-natural aggression against the Other. And that is always bad religion, no matter in whose name it’s done.
(These captchas are becoming impossible.)



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toujoursdan

posted August 24, 2010 at 9:04 am


I believe the whole concept of “taking offence” at other people is rooted in the sin of pride anyway. It’s completely self centred, focused more on our ego than on loving others.
God’s kingdom isn’t of this world. The WTC, Statue of Liberty, Capitol and America itself are man-made structures which will fall in time. Only God’s love and our response to it is eternal. Turning these structures and objects into sacred objects that can somehow be polluted by letting the “wrong” people get too close is a form of idolatry.



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stephanie drury

posted August 24, 2010 at 10:57 am


Christians worship a triune God who chose to rescue the world by way of humility. God sent his Son into the world to empty himself in the obedience of a slave, humbling himself to suffer throughout his entire life and dying the worst of deaths on our behalf. He did not come to be solving the world’s problems in any sense that the world could understand, which is why turning a cheek and giving to those who take from you is such a foreign idea to us. It goes completely against our human nature and logical sensibilities.
Jeremy – I was wondering when someone was going to mention that!



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Matt Green

posted August 24, 2010 at 12:34 pm


Sarah: good points. I don’t trust any institution that cultivates us-vs-them mentality. There’s too much work to be done on Earth to be preoccupied with whether someone is a Mets or Yankees fan. I use the ‘trivial’ example of sports teams because, from an eternal perspective, that’s how significant our differences are.
To continue the tribalism discussion, isn’t there also a lot of projection going on here? What I mean is that the worry that Muslims are going to push Christianity out relies on a fear of the Other plus the belief that the Other will oppress them. What does that belief say about the people that hold it? Do they believe certain views will be ‘forced’ on them? Ultimately, it is a scathing indictment of their own position in the “culture wars.”
Also, that site makes me feel kind of bad :(. Seems like it is perpetuates a worldview of fear and insulation.



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Sara

posted August 24, 2010 at 1:34 pm


This whole blog- You’re seriously helping save my spiritual sanity.



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Dave H.

posted August 24, 2010 at 1:47 pm


I’m curious if anyone has any ideas for how this might end well?7



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Rocky Presley

posted August 24, 2010 at 2:06 pm


Eli, thank you for pointing out our often times hypocritically laden intolerant approach to those who deemed intolerant. I was thinking the same thing. It’s ironic when people rally for the cause of loving Muslims as Christ loves all and then in the next sentence, tell someone to crawl under a rock. However inappropriate or incorrect we believe someone’s statement would be, we further the problem rather then becoming the solution by responding with the same spirit.
My captcha had a Spanish word with a tilde (`). Seriously?



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George, American

posted August 24, 2010 at 2:59 pm


Steph,
Did you make those graphics? I really hope so, I’ve been having such a good day thus far and finding out that they are from an actual website would just send my blood pressure through the roof.



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Kevin

posted August 24, 2010 at 3:02 pm


So lee, my mother-in-law is a Muslim woman. I can say without a doubt that she is the single most caring and honorable person I have ever met. She fled Iran for holland to find peace and safety for her children. I met her at the height of the Iraq war. She worried that all Americans hate Muslims, a stereotype you are sadly reinforcing. Despite her fear, she welcomed me into her amazing family. Her whole family has shown me more love, generosity, tolerance, and grace than anyone I’ve ever met. That is the Islam I know.
Your disgusting and hateful comment not only insults the people who died on 9/11, but it equates my kind, loving, funny, gracious, welcoming, tolerant family with the hateful monsters who committed that heinous act. You should be ashamed of yourself for saying that kind of filth.
Sorry for the rage folks, but that just burns me up.



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stephanie drury

posted August 24, 2010 at 3:05 pm


Geroge, the graphics are real. They’re from the site http://www.nowtheendbegins.com
The captchas are getting absolutely ridiculous.



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Sarah

posted August 24, 2010 at 3:25 pm


Does anybody else have a stomachache from this? I don’t understand why people are becoming so vehemently unkind. And I don’t just mean here in this comment thread or on this blog, either, I mean the whole country. What’s going on?



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silent k

posted August 24, 2010 at 4:01 pm


them folks are right that the end of times are near…especially when the gospel is being completely removed from “Christianity” in favor of a warmongering message of hate. it saddens me that i grew up in this same culture- i’m happy by the grace of god, he tapped me on the shoulder in my youth and said, don’t follow this bullshit, come follow me.



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David

posted August 24, 2010 at 4:11 pm


I’m a Christian and I hate New York, but it’s because of the Yankees.
America is not really a Christian nation. It has Christian roots – but those are pretty much gone.



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Meghan

posted August 24, 2010 at 4:23 pm


Kevin- that’s the Islam I’ve been privileged to know in this country, too. Thanks for sharing. :)
David: LOL. The Yankees! Groan. I thought America’s roots were mostly Deist anyway?



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Matt Green

posted August 24, 2010 at 4:27 pm


Sarah, these sorts of issues almost destroyed my faith completely. I had to walk away from church for a time. I had to remove myself from the culture. I still believed, but it really hurt to see what people do in the name of Christ. At this point, faith became horribly messy. But I think at that point it also started to come into its own. It stops being a group affiliation and becomes more of something you have to strive toward daily.
Nowadays I feel for people that live their lives in fear. I used to be there, in a sense. Maybe it is because I’m young, but I still believe the Gospel is one of the most subversive works ever published, at least from the perspective of society.



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Becky

posted August 24, 2010 at 4:34 pm


Matt – You’re right, there is a whole lot of projection going on. It has everything to do with ‘the Other’ and really nothing to do with any specific religion. I’m writing a PhD on Simone de Beauvoir and CC’s concept of lust and if I understand it correctly, Beauvoir hit the nail on the head. Bear with me I do have a point that’s actually related to the blog.
Beauvoir said that woman is considered Other by man. Basically saying that everything in the category of Other is like a black hole – completely unknowable. Yet, paradoxically, that which is placed in an Other category is completely similar to the one doing the placing. Beauvoir goes on forever talking about how this is true in relation to man and woman. She also says that in placing woman in an Other category, man is at once making himself an ultimate Subject and woman ultimate Object (i.e. nothing). Yet, man needs woman to define himself (as something other than woman).
My point is that I find it amazing how often CC does this with things it finds scary, unknowable, or ununderstandable. In this case Muslims. Islam is incredibly like Christianity, but different and unknown which is why Islam and Muslims go into an easily pushed away black hole – Other. Furthermore, in a way, I would argue that CC often puts itself in a position where it defines itself by what it isn’t. It isn’t Islam, it isn’t Left, it isn’t this that or the other. Unfortunately this has been done to a point where CC doesn’t even know what it is…it can only see (and usually complain loudly about) what it isn’t.
It’s a lot easy to presume, project, and marginalize something you don’t have to actually consider because you’ve put impossible boundaries on it. In the end, I don’t think it’s about culture wars, forcing a belief system on another, or anything other than fear – an unfortunate and dangerous motivator.



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mjonthemove

posted August 24, 2010 at 6:18 pm


1) http://www.masjidmanhattan.com/
This Muslim prayer center has been around since 1970 and is mere blocks from ground zero.
2) Thank you.



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Rocky Presley

posted August 24, 2010 at 8:51 pm


Becky, that was a killer post. Thanks for the “other” perspective.
This time, I believe my captcha had a gecko in it. Is there a key for gecko?



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Spinning

posted August 24, 2010 at 10:08 pm


Oh boy – that mention of fisting shows just how truly low (imo) the mentality of so many of the kinds of sites Stephy’s talking about can get.
@ Meghan: while I do’t know where you lived, or what particular strains of radical Islamist thinking you were facing… I do know that there are plenty of majority Muslim countries where things aren’t like that. I also have Muslim friends, as well as former co-workers and neighbors, who faced terrible difficulties (even reprisals) because they didn’t/don’t agree with whatever the political regimes in their respective countries were trying to push, or because they refused to compromise their religious beliefs and ideals by acting in bigoted ways toward other people, and…
Let me tell you a true story about what happened to a woman I met once when she was visiting her sister. (The sister and i lived in the same apartment building; the woman in question lives in England.) The entire family are Sudanese Arab emigrés. The woman in question is a primary school teacher in the UK, and she does sometimes wear a hijab (headscarf) when off work.
On 9/11 she stopped into a grocery store to pick up toms food to take home for her family’s evening meal. And… the World Trade Center and the Pentagon had just been hit. Another customer – a white Englishwoman – stepped in front of the woman, called her a murderer and a devil, and spat right in her face.
The woman stood perfectly still and did not react.
Maybe the Englishwoman has changed her views since then (I hope so). But you know who I’d rather hang with? this Sudanese woman and her family. fwiw, their religious beliefs are important to them… as is respecting the beliefs of others. (Like me.)
You might be surprised – should you ever get into conversations with Muslims (from all over the world) to find that most of them are far more open to having conversations about religion and religious beliefs than are most Born in the USA-type folks. I’ve found that to be pretty refreshing, and (on a personal note0 really miss the Arab Musilm women and girls who were, at one time, my ESL students… more than I want to think about.
It makes me sick to feel that so many people here in the US hate them without cause.
@ Dan: great comments, ditto for Jeremy.



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Spinning

posted August 24, 2010 at 10:11 pm


@ Rocky: funny thing – I thought I saw a tadpole-shaped mark in mine! (Not kidding.)



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Meghan

posted August 24, 2010 at 11:21 pm


Spinning: if in some way my post came off as implying that all Muslim-majority locations are places that are oppressive to Christians, I must have phrased very, very badly indeed. I was responding to the earlier post in which it was suggested that we ought not to support the building of mosques etc. due to the persecution Christians have suffered at the hands of Muslim [extremists] globally. My point was not that this was a worldwide norm, nor that I in any way harbor hatred or disrespect for Muslims. (See my later response to Kevin in agreement with his experience of Muslim family members as peaceful, loving, wonderful people.)
My point was, in responding to the person who’d expressed such an angry response, that while in SOME places SOME Christians DO suffer persecution from Muslims, holding onto the bitterness that might result from those experiences would have been WRONG. I responded the way I did because it HAS been personal for me, and I didn’t want the person to whom I was replying to think that I take the suffering of Christians lightly. I’m saying I’ve looked in the face a mother whose children were locked in a church and burned alive, and I still believe we have to forgive, and not misdirect our anger at those who are not responsible for this suffering.
I’ve been blessed with many positive relationships with Muslims as well, and I feel really distressed that I left my comment in any way open to the interpretation that I believe that Muslim-majority countries are somehow universally oppressive to Christians, or that all Muslims are extremists. I think, in fact, that my point was precisely the opposite: that building policy with broad brush strokes against a people group based on the abhorrent actions of extremists who claim to be members of said group is dangerous and wrong, no matter how intimately affected one may be by the extremist actions.
I hope that makes more sense and helps to clarify my position. Far from surprised at the openness available upon meeting with and discussing faith with Muslims (and folks of other faiths) from around the world, I’ve had the privilege of enjoying that for much of my life. My comment earlier wasn’t intended as any kind of bash-on-Muslims comment (and I really, really don’t think it did); it was intended as a don’t-bash-on-Muslims response to someone else. I’m pretty horrified that it could have come off any other way, but hopefully, within the context of the comment to which I was responding, as well as the other comments I’ve made here, this will help to clarify.



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Spinning

posted August 24, 2010 at 11:37 pm


@ Meghan: My apologies – I didn’t intend to sound like I thought your comments were about bashing Muslims. and the story you just told… well, let’s just say that it’s extremely sobering.
I was also unclear (I think) in stating that I only intended that one bit (about Muslim majority countries) as a reference to your 1st post here.
It would be nice if keyboard communication was easier!
And I do think we’re pretty much on the same page.



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Meghan

posted August 24, 2010 at 11:43 pm


@ Spinning: Phew! I hate giving people the wrong impression. There’s enough intolerance in the world without unintended intolerance adding to the pile! :) We are completely on the same page.
I’m glad you got the chance to know your friend’s sister, and hear her stories. I listened to this gorgeous TED talk (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9Ihs241zeg) by Chimamanda Adichie about “the danger of a single story,” which basically is about how important it is to hear multiple stories about a culture or group of people, because no single story about each group or culture will tell the WHOLE story. Beautiful speech, and I think, so in line with what you shared with us.
Thank you- very much- for sharing. :)



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Kevin

posted August 25, 2010 at 12:29 am


@spinning and Meghan,
Civil exchanges on the internet? I’m shocked and happy. There’s a reason I love this blog.



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Andre John

posted August 25, 2010 at 5:18 am


OBAMA vs OSAMA?
I heard somethin on the news that Mr. Barack Obama maybe the AntiChrist? i wouldn’t could not believe it at first, but until recently on the news, uknow, about the new proposal for a Muslim Mosque to be built, guess what, in all places, at WTC ground zero 9.11.2001, under the guise of PEACEFUL TOLERANCE toward all people’s religions and/or beliefs?!
2012 here we come, true or not, May G=D have mercy on us all. +AMDG+
Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/deaconsbench/2010/08/our-muslim-president-the-story-behind-the-numbers_comments.html#ixzz0xbjiS06d



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Meghan

posted August 25, 2010 at 9:54 am


(I took one look at the above comment and HOWLED.)
Kevin- mais oui. By the way, I’ve very much enjoyed the comments you’ve made on this blog and the previous one. Hi!



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Kimmisue

posted August 25, 2010 at 12:53 pm


I love the cool in site in get from this blog. I’m posting mostly because I have this huge report due for work and I’m unmotivated to do it. :)
My opinion about this subject? Well since you asked, I don’t think it’s an abomination to Jesus or the Christian church to put a Mosque on ground zero or any place else. It’s in poor taste and I have a feeling there will be violence all around that place that has less to do with extremist and more to do with angry New Yorkers. (Boy that was a long sentence)
Jesus called us all to a love that is not in our human nature. It’s so sad that his children are known for their misdeeds and missteps then for their extravagant love.
Just as a side note if I get one more stupid email about how Obama is a Muslim I may barf. Thinking about it I barfed a little in my mouth. TMI I know, but I’ll never see any of you guys in person, so it’s cool.



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Karen

posted August 25, 2010 at 12:57 pm


aaaugh, thanks for posting on this.
I totally don’t understand why Christians don’t see Muslims as their allies against the Godless elements in this country. They worship the One God! They don’t believe in premarital sex! They have strong & nurturing families, strong women (yes), give to charity, pray wholeheartedly…
etc.
I know this has been said, but I wanted to say it too.



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stephanie drury

posted August 25, 2010 at 1:05 pm


Does this whole mosque thing remind anyone of the Grand Inquisitor in “The Brothers Karamozov”? The upshot of that chapter was that an atheist told a story about how he saw the way the corporate Church operates. (He was speaking specifically about the Catholic church in this story but it goes for all corporate churches if you ask me.) So he told this hypothetical story about Jesus coming in the midst of the Spanish Inquisition and was healing and loving on people and everyone was following him around and wanted to be with him. And in this story the Grand Inquisitor (a pope-type figure) had Jesus arrested and explained why. He sat with Jesus in his prison cell and told him “Look, you’re great and all, but you’re messing with our business enterprise and little culture we’ve got going here. We have to keep a carrot dangling in front of these people so they’ll give us money and repent to a priest every day and be dependent on us. We’ve got a business to run here and you’re messing it up.” In the story Jesus kissed the inquisitor on the mouth and walked out of the cell.
The upshot of the chapter was that the story was told by an atheist who didn’t want to have faith in Jesus, and he was telling it about the Church who also didn’t want to have faith in Jesus.
Anyway. So much of Christian culture reminds me of this story.



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Rob the Rev

posted August 25, 2010 at 1:07 pm


Today’s fundamentalist Christians want to claim that Islam is the most violent religion. Howerver, they ought to look to the past of Christianity. This op ed piece from Religious Disptaches and the book it promotes is a good reminder of the history of violence and destructiveness of Christianity. This is why it that the “fundamentalist Christian parachurch-military-corporate-proselytizing complex,” as Mikey Weinstien calls it, is so dangerious. They would have lethal weapontry to enforce their religious beliefs on others and would feel justified in doing so because they see themselves as “God’s warriors.”
http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/politics/3138/dangerous_religion/
Dangerous Religion Which religion has proved the most violent and destructive in US history? The answer should not be a surprise. By Gary Laderman
“Christianity” of course is a meaningless label, as I’ve written before. Like “Islam” it is too broad a category to cover the radically diverse practices, beliefs, and interpretive communities associated with it. So let me be even bolder and say that Protestants, and even more specifically, Anglo-European Protestant men, would appear to be the most dangerous religious individuals in American history. Without question white Protestant males from the colonial era to the dawn of the twenty-first century have inflicted more pain, more suffering, more terror than any other individuals in this so-called “city on a hill.”
Religious Intolerance in America: A Documentary History, edited by John Corrigan and Lynn S. Neal



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Kevin

posted August 25, 2010 at 1:31 pm


@Meghan-Thanks for the niceness.
I parsed through your chat and was reminded of two amazing books on the subject. One is called “The Poetics of Military Occupation” (a terrible title I know), about an Israeli woman who works her way into a Bedouin camp. One of the many themes of the book is the Muslim practice of Generosity towards guests, a policy that is hard to come to grips with when the guests in your land are also military occupiers. I talk about this book often with my military pals and they agree that they are treated like family by people that, in truth, have every reason to hate them.
The other is a book called “From the Holy Mountain” by a monk who goes on a tour of the oldest Christian communities in the world. Some of these communities are thriving, others are crushed under the boots of Israeli military campaigns, terrorist groups, and political a-holes.
Neither of these books are as good as The Brothers Karamazov though. Well spotted Steph.



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meghan

posted August 25, 2010 at 2:34 pm


Stephanie, yes! Yes absolutely.
Kimmisue- (and I hope this comes off with all the respect I intend with it)- the New Yorkers don’t seem too angry about the existing mosque in the neighborhood, and from what I’ve seen, most of the people who have complained about the site location haven’t actually been from New York. Have you heard otherwise? I’d be very interested- sincerely, I don’t mean this as an attack- in hearing an opposing viewpoint from a person who actually interacts with the site on a regular basis.
All: I just found this paragraph on the Wikipedia site for Park 51 (the “ground zero mosque”), and I thought it was really interesting, as I hadn’t heard these details before:
“Plans to build Cordoba House were noted in December 2009, at a location that was already in use for Muslim worship. The plans were reviewed by the local community board in May, 2010, at which time they attracted some national media attention. The project’s organizers state that it is intended to be “a platform for multi-faith dialogue. It will strive to promote inter-community peace, tolerance and understanding locally in New York City, nationally in America, and globally,” and have stated that it is modeled on the noted Manhattan Jewish community and cultural center, the 92nd Street Y. The project’s sponsors explained that the original name of the center was meant to invoke 8th–11th century Córdoba, which they call a model of peaceful coexistence between Muslims, Christians, and Jews.”
What do you think?



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Meghan

posted August 25, 2010 at 2:36 pm


Also, Kevin! Thanks for the book recommendations. They’re going on my to-read list.



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Rachel

posted August 25, 2010 at 4:50 pm


Kevin just seems to drop book recommendations all over the place. He’s just awesome like that.
Also, I’ll be picking up one of the Tillich books at my library today. Squee!



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Kimmisue

posted August 25, 2010 at 5:24 pm


Meghan- No worries, you didn’t come off as disrespectful at all! I am in California but I work for a clothing manufacturer and I deal with east coast customers almost exclusively. I don’t bring any of this up to them, for obvious reasons. But I have quite a few that have very strong opinions about the whole deal. These people that I talk to have given me the overall impression that they are not happy campers at all. I once customer in particular that loves to give me expletive ridden tirades about it every time we speak. So I appologise if it seemed I was talking to be talking. :)



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Kevin

posted August 25, 2010 at 5:35 pm


@ Rachel. I can’t help it. I’m irreducibly nerdy. Please let me know what you think about Tillich.



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Lee

posted August 25, 2010 at 5:56 pm


Hey everyone,
The Hatey Hater from Hateville is back. Not here to respond to your ad hominem or irrational “gotcha” attacks, but thought I would provide something that I hope you would find useful. But beware, it might just shake some of you way out of your need for cultural and moral relevance.
The author of the following link (you may have to insert the link into your brower yourself) is Mosab Hassan Yousef. You may recognize the name: he is the author of a most excellent book called “Son of Hamas”. He is a former Muslim turned Christian who’s father, an imam, was one of the founders of Hamas, the Gaza terrorist organization. Mosab is now in the U.S. and recently won over a deportation order that would have sent him back to the Middle East where he surely would have been killed for not only his apostasy, but also his work with the Israelis. I like his take on the Ground Zero Mosque and many other things. Read if you dare.
http://sonofhamas.wordpress.com/2010/
And for the record Stephanie, I am not from the southern states, not even close. Not that it matters to me, but I just found your assumption quite hysterical.



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stephanie drury

posted August 25, 2010 at 6:00 pm


I’m sorry. I just thought you might be southern (I am).



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Lee

posted August 25, 2010 at 6:10 pm


No need to apologize, I’m not offended in the slightest. I would love to live in one of the southern states :)



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Lee

posted August 25, 2010 at 6:13 pm


If it didn’t have so many troubles, I think Louisiana would be a cool choice.



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Meghan

posted August 25, 2010 at 6:14 pm


Kimmisue: You didn’t come off that way at all! I just had never heard anyone actually FROM New York City express discontent over the plan. Mostly I’d heard New Yorkers laugh at the idea of the neighborhood being “hallowed ground” – considering the proliferation of strip clubs, tourist shops, and fast food joints in that particular cluster of blocks. That there are New Yorkers with opposing viewpoints isn’t surprising, I just hadn’t heard it before. Thanks for sharing!



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stephanie drury

posted August 25, 2010 at 6:17 pm


Louisiana is good times! I haven’t been back since Katrina but my husband has. He said it was like being on a different planet, totally bereft and just trashed.
I’m interested in what you thought about Meghan’s account of living in Islamic countries as a missionaries’ daughter, and of what Kevin had to say about his mother-in-law.



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Lee

posted August 25, 2010 at 6:17 pm


Sorry if this is a repeat. My last post flew off to Neverland.
I was just saying that Louisiana would be a cool choice (especially for the alligators and the barbeque – not together, of course). Too bad its had so many problems as of late (giant hurricanes and oil spills).



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Kevin

posted August 25, 2010 at 6:25 pm


Ugh. More hateful non-sense.



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Kevin

posted August 25, 2010 at 6:36 pm


Louisiana, pah! Georgia all the way.
BTW, can anyone else tell that I’m on vacation, and that my vacation has been an extended SCCL jag?



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stephanie drury

posted August 25, 2010 at 6:37 pm


All right there Kevin, simmer down partner, that’s not going to make Lee feel comfortable discussing this stuff with us. But I understand your feeling that way. I will still bake you cookies. (And Lee too.)



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Kevin

posted August 25, 2010 at 6:47 pm


I know. I know. Lee, I apologize.
I hate when people say anything like, “this offends me,” I find such comments to be actually saying, “you must speak with my delicate sensibilities in mind”. But, Lee, I found your initial comment, about the mistreatment of Christians by Muslims, and the Koranic roots of that mistreatment to be insulting and inaccurate. I found it to be insulting to my family, and to the millions of Muslims who want nothing more than to be allowed to practice their faith along with everyone else.
Indonesia is by far the largest Muslim nation in the world, and they have an incredibly harmonious coexistence with their Christian/Jewish/Buddhist countrymen. That doesn’t seem to validate your point that “Muslims treat Christians badly.” I am still waiting to read what you have to say in response to everyone here.
I stand by my comment though. Louisiana



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Lee

posted August 25, 2010 at 6:51 pm


Hey Stephanie,
Just for the record, I am not against the freedom of religion. In fact, the less government in all our lives, the better off we are as history has shown the bigger a government, the less freedom people have. So my objection is not about that. I think the building of the Ground Zero Mosque (and yes, I will call it that) is an insensitive provocation to the feelings of many, particulary those who lost loved ones in 9/11. I have huge concerns about the funding for this project, the imam’s supposed support of sharia law in America (like it or not, America is the Guiding Light of Hope and Freedom for the world – what happens to America effects everyone else, particularly in the West), the sly PR techniques (was called the Cordoba House now its called Park51) and this retoric about building bridges. Bull. You want to build bridges, add a synogogue and a church at least. Then it could truly be called a community center.
I don`t really have any strong thoughts about Meghan`s experience either way, except that it is my understanding that her parents took a considerable risk for their faith and I think that is commendable.
One thing, that did stand out for me though was when Meghan said:
I’m saying I’ve looked in the face a mother whose children were locked in a church and burned alive, and I still believe we have to forgive, and not misdirect our anger at those who are not responsible for this suffering`
Perhaps, Meghan, you could respond to this, if you like. Had the mother forgiven those who killed her children (sorry, I can`t make a question mark here as my keyboard is going psycho again).
As for Kevin, I think he`s being silly, provocative and deliberately missing the forest for the trees. I won`t stand for it which is why I didn`t respond to him.



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Lee

posted August 25, 2010 at 7:03 pm


For the record, I was busy typing while Kevin was apparently posting.
I`m going to say this once and once only. No, Christians should not mistreat Muslims because Muslims mistreat Christians in Muslim lands. That was not the point.
Mosab Hassan Yousef invites Muslims to truly study the Koran for what it actually says. May I suggest you do so as well.



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Kevin

posted August 25, 2010 at 7:07 pm


Which part was silly and provocative? I’d just like to know…you can return to ignoring me afterwards.



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Lee

posted August 25, 2010 at 7:10 pm


Well, you asked for it Kevin, so here you go:
http://www.persecution.net/indonesia.htm
If you don`t like what you`ve read yell at them, not me.
Cookies! Cool, thanks Stephanie :)



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Meghan

posted August 25, 2010 at 7:16 pm


When I met her, Lee, I was a pretty hot-headed teenager, and I was frustrated that she could continue to provide food and clothing to Muslim neighbors after their community had done this to her. (She participated in a ministry that gave food and clothing to those who were poverty-stricken, which many of her Muslim neighbors were.) This ministry was her very simple, and very telling, way of showing forgiveness. As far as I have heard, Muslim/Christian tensions continue to flare up from time to time in that village, sometimes perpetuated by one side, other times perpetuated by the other.
I learned a lot about forgiveness from that woman, chiefly that forgiveness is not a one-time, permanent act, but a daily or even momentary decision that one has to make continuously; an attitude to cultivate over time. Most of the time, she believed that forgiveness was what both Jesus and her children had died for, and that if she did not forgive her neighbors, she- not the people who lit that church on fire- was responsible for their deaths. Occasionally something would remind her of what she’d lost and she’d be very angry, or very sad, or very silent.
She wasn’t zen about it (who could be?), but her general attitude was that forgiveness was the best choice she had left. “HAD” she forgiven? She was in the process of forgiving. I assume she still is. I assume we will be in the process of forgiving our enemies for a long time to come, but I still maintain that it is our job to do that.
(My Captcha is a fun one this time, and looks like one of my to-do lists: “Saturday’s Borges”!)



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Lee

posted August 25, 2010 at 7:22 pm


Wait Kevin, there`s more!
http://www.indonesiamatters.com/1571/persecuted-churches/
Again, I`m just the messenger, so direct the anger at the source, not at me, please.



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Sensible Joe

posted August 25, 2010 at 7:33 pm


There is no proposed “mosque at Ground Zero.” The site of the proposed Muslim community center, which would include a mosque as well other amenities (meeting rooms, gym, pool, etc.) open to non-Muslim use too, is a few blocks away from Ground Zero. That “Christians” would lie and ignore facts to push an agenda does Christianity no good. And it’s certainly not in sync with the actual values of Jesus Christ’s gospel.



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Kevin

posted August 25, 2010 at 7:34 pm


So, “Voice of the Martyrs” (not exactly peer-reviewed or objective) depiction of what happened in a single province of a Major nation should say something? Not a chance.
I do not forget, or excuse the Moluccas conflict in the slightest. It was abhorrent, disgusting and runs contrary to everything I hold to be important. I do though put such conflicts into context. First, Christians make up less than 10% of Indonesia’s population. Second, Protestantism and Catholicism are officially recognized and protected by Indonesian law, meaning that those who tried to intimidate them are criminals. Third, Christian Evangelism is legally sanctioned in Indonesia. Fourth, Indonesia’s central (not provincial, as is the case in the VOTM page you listed) government officially sanctions Christianity. So much so that their new (and utterly deplorable) anti-blasphemy law would punish anyone who speaks out against Christianity. In fact, the Indonesian constitution dictates that “every person shall be free to choose and to practice the religion of his/her choice” and “guarantees all persons the freedom of worship, each according to his/her own religion or belief.” Meaning, that anyone in Indonesia acting against the practice of other religions is as criminal as anyone here trying to stop the building of an Islamic community center in America.
But look, I’m not yelling at anyone, or being silly. In fact, I’m deadly serious. I think your initial comment was insulting, derogatory, and inaccurate. I answered by saying that I actually know Muslims. I am related to them. I’ve met them, drank with them, ate with them. They are not the anti-christian horde that you characterized them as being. They want peace and freedom like we do. They hate terror. In your own defense you have produced an Israeli spy and a not un-biased website.
So, how again was I being silly/provocative/short-sighted?



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Lee

posted August 25, 2010 at 7:36 pm


Thanks, Meghan.
As a natural scrapper (and defender of others sometimes), I`m not so sure I could have done what she did, but I certainly admire her for her striving towards forgiveness. I hope her neighbors gave her a break.
Sometimes I find the whole `love your neighbors` thing a masochistic message. I stuggle to find balance, but I cannot ignore what I perceive as injustice.
I didn`t mean that to sound self-centered, but that`s why I think what you said stood out for me and why I posed the question to you. In any case, thank you for your thoughtful answer.



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Kevin

posted August 25, 2010 at 7:39 pm


Again, people used Indonesian law, which protects religious freedom, to fight hate campaigns in Indonesia. What does this prove?
You are finding a hilarious parallel. Indonesia official recognizes freedom of conscience in their constitution. Radical fringe groups want to intimidate minority populations. Sounds like the brouhaha over the Cordoba house.
But seriously, how does this prove I’m being silly/provocative/short-sighted?



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Lee

posted August 25, 2010 at 8:03 pm


Kevin, you said:
Indonesia is by far the largest Muslim nation in the world, and they have an incredibly harmonious coexistence with their Christian/Jewish/Buddhist countrymen.
I provided some information that seems to suggest that`s not the case. And I also told you not to yell at the messenger. It may come as a surprise to you, but I`m not an expert in Indonesian constitutional law and nor do I ever plan to be. If you have a beef with the information presented take it up with the original sources please.
I love how you dismiss Mosab Hassan Yousef as an `Isreali spy`. He`s a lot more than that and you know it. Besides, what part of Mosab`s blog would you characterize as `hateful non-sense`. Again, your words.
As for the rest, I think you know the attitude from which you come. And for the record, I`m glad you know nice people who happen to be Muslims. I have too. I even dated one once.



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Lee

posted August 25, 2010 at 8:30 pm


For those who are interested,
Here’s some fascinating imput on the Ground Zero Mosque from two Muslims who sit on the board of the Muslim Canadian Congress:
http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Mischief+Manhattan/3370303/story.html#ixzz0xLSbru6B



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Kevin

posted August 25, 2010 at 8:35 pm


You provided a Christian website that took issue with an incident of violence in an Indonesian province, not evidence that Indonesia that refutes Indonesia’s broad religious tolerance. If I were to take the Cordoba house ruckas as an example of American religious intolerance, certainly thoughtful people would refute me, saying that we have a constitution which supports religious freedom, and a long, though somewhat inconsistent, history of religious freedom. This is what I have done.
Mosab Hassan Yousef was a an Israeli spy. That much is certainly not in doubt, as he published this fact in his biography. I do not understand how an Israeli spy should be a source in a discussion of religious tolerance. The Israeli government has presided over the destruction of some of the most ancient christian communities in existence (Kafr Bur’om, Haifa, The Church of St. Saviour, etc), and anti-Christian sentiment grows daily in Israel. I don’t exactly look to Israel, or their spys, as paragons of religious tolerance.
As for what he says in his blog? Well, I find his characterization of the Cordoba house as “a shrine to terrorism” hateful and partisan. He compares Mohammad to Hitler, and not just in passing, but in a lengthy diatribe. Here’s a rather telling quotation from it:
“The Prophet and his book are not merely mistaken; they are wicked. Hitler killed countless millions on the battlefields and in his extermination camps in six years, but Muhammad has been killing steadily since the seventh century—Jews, Christians and other non-Muslims. The Qur’an commands even the slaughter of its own.” Sounds like hate to me.
He further denies, against all sense of logic and tolerance, that the people of Palestine should have a homeland. And just to clarify, he is not merely against Palestinians reclaiming their homeland, he is actually against them having any home at all.
“The attitude from which I come.” Care to explain?



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Mar

posted August 25, 2010 at 8:50 pm


Anger and fear are dangerous fans to flame:
A crowd at an anti-mosque rally harasses a man because they think he is a Muslim. He is actually a construction worker for the project to rebuild on Ground Zero: http://thinkprogress.org/2010/08/23/ground-zero-hate/
A young man asked a taxi driver is the driver was Muslim, and then stabbed a taxi driver. The young man had actually previously done volunteer work in Afghanistan with an organization that happens to support the lower Manhattan mosque.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/25/AR2010082503949.html?hpid=topnews
The anti-mosque rally/mob reminds me of the anti-America mobs where people burn the American flag and have anti-America slogans. An angry mob is worrisome no matter what the setting. I’m sure not all anti-mosquers are angry mob extremists. But just as people want moderate Muslims (or whatever group) to discourage their extremists, we should in turn discourage our own.



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Kevin

posted August 25, 2010 at 9:04 pm


I’m sorry my sentence should say “He further denies, against all sense of logic and tolerance, that the people of Palestine should NOT have a homeland.”
I apologize for the typo, I was still reeling from being called silly by a person who thinks that Louisiana is better than Georgia. C’mon people, Georgia rules!



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Kevin

posted August 25, 2010 at 9:06 pm


dammit, forget my clarification. too much argument for one day. Clearly I need a breather.
Lee, I hope we can continue to hash this out, but please forgive my typos, and my deep, deep hatred of Louisiana.



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Lee

posted August 25, 2010 at 9:55 pm


Kevin,
You’re starting to bore me with your red herrings and high school debating techniques and for that reason this will be my last response to you.
Yes, Mosab Hassan Yousef was a spy for the Shin Bet (the Israelis). He was also part of Hamas, in fact, I will repeat, his father – an imam – was one of the founding members of Hamas, thus giving Mosab tremendous status within the organization. He had originally became a spy for the Shin Bet in order to infiltrate and kill them. But as time went on as well an introduction to Christianity his heart softened and he ended up, through his intelligence work, saving the lives of many Palestinians and Israelis. He is a hero.
Nice anti-Israeli stance by the way.
Kevin said:
I do not understand how an Israeli spy should be a source in a discussion of religious tolerance.
Kevin, if you read his book, which you probably never will, you will see that he says that the only way there will be peace in the Middle East is if both sides learn to forgive each other. He’s coming from that perspective as a CHRISTIAN.
Besides I mentioned in my previous post that you dismissed as “hateful non-sense” that Mosab was a convert to Christianity. No excuses. See, told you (again) that he’s more than just a (now former) Israeli spy. He’s free and happy in the beautiful U.S.A.
Do you actually read anything, Kevin or do you just scan for “hate” and anything that you think confirms your own mindset?



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Spinning

posted August 25, 2010 at 10:26 pm


This is getting ugly now.
could you gents please take it outside? (if you intend to keep it up, that is.)
Lee, I think you’re demonstrating the points Stephy was making in her post, also that Doestoevsky was making in the “Grand Inquisitor” chapter of The Brothers Karamazov.
IIRC, someone once said something about he who is without sin being the 1st to throw a stone… It was a deal-breaker, too.



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Kevin

posted August 25, 2010 at 10:36 pm


Lee,
Earlier you bemoaned the ad-hominem attacks you felt were lobbed against you but now you describe me as a purveyor of “red-herrings” and “high school debating techniques” who doesn’t read, and is anti-Israel. Classy.
You said that Christians are persecuted in the Islamic world, and that this persecution goes hand in hand with the teachings of the Koran. You have failed to defend your original position. You said that the non-mosque that is not at ground-zero is an affront to “freedom loving” people, but when freedom of religion and property rights were brought into the discussion, you said nothing. You have failed to to defend your original position.
When I answered your question ( “what part of Mosab`s blog would you characterize as `hateful non-sense”) I answered. First, his dubious remark that the Cordoba house is a “shrine to terror.” Second his remark diatribe that Islam is equivalent to NAZIism. Third, his insistence that the Palestinian people should not have a country. Your response was, get this, ad hominem attacks! You have failed to defend your position.
Now, as for your rather dubious claim that I am anti-Israel. Hogwash. I am no more anti-Israel than I am anti-Denmark. Stating as a mater of fact and history that Israel has done some immoral stuff is by no means “anti-israel.” Israel has a history of the same kind of anti-Christian extremism that you claim the entire Muslim world has. I am patently and definitively against religious persecution, Period. I agree that Israel has a right to exist and to defend itself, but not to be a tyrant. But what if I was anti-Israel, would that mean that Israel didn’t commit those reprehensible attacks?
Yes Lee, I do read. Quite a bit as a matter of fact, and not just things I agree with. But, that doesn’t change the fact that you’re right, I will never read his book. But why should I? There are plenty of other books out there, and many of them are not written by folks who equate entire religions with NAZIism. But, did I read his entire blog, from the post you delivered all the way down to his first post? Yes. And thoroughly. That’s how I managed to find all of the hateful garbage you seem to have overlooked. He may be a hero to you, but from where I stand, he seems a lot more like a bigot.
I recommend you follow your own rules and come to this debate ready to defend your positions with facts and logic, rather than resorting to ad hominem attacks in which your debate adversaries are no more than silly, provocative, short-sighted, anti-Israel, high-school, solipsistic, non-readers.



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Lee

posted August 25, 2010 at 10:58 pm


I never claimed sainthood, Spinning. And I’ll let Kevin have the last word, as promised.



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Sarah

posted August 25, 2010 at 11:08 pm


I’m not really sure what you’re arguing, Lee. What I’m hearing from your remarks is a lot of fear and suspicion toward Islam and its followers, and without much basis in good evidence.
I was raised in a vein of Christianity that hates Islam, and it took me a long, long time to begin to work through that upbringing and see where it was based in misinformation and fear of the Other — and, as Becky said, fear of oppression by the Other (and yet Christian culture does a good job believing itself to be the unknowable Other feared and persecuted by everyone else, so there’s a twisting that happens there too). People being killed for their faith is tragic, no matter what faith they die for. And I am extremely wary of Christian culture’s tendency to turn these tragedies into political symbols, especially political symbols that keep people rooted in fear without fact. We had a “Voices of the Martyrs” story in our church bulletin every week (I had forgotten about that until now), and all I remember about it was that those stories were used to encourage “prayer” for the “persecuting nations” (mostly under Islamic rule), but encouraged nothing along the lines of lobbying for social justice in those nations, or giving to good charities that assist decimated villages. The stories were roughly half about white missionaries who had been killed, and half about Muslim converts to Christianity who were imprisoned or murdered by their family members. Looking back, I see an agenda, and it wasn’t to find a way to work for peace so that these kinds of things don’t happen again. It was to fuel a certain perspective toward any country that we didn’t consider to be “Christian” (as in, every country but America).
Matt, thanks for your comments — yes, Christian culture’s callousness toward and discomfort with human suffering almost cost me my faith as well. I think there’s hope, but things are looking really discouraging right now across the bigger picture.
What troubles me the most about this entire debate is that it’s not about the Park51 project anymore — it’s about Islam. Maybe the majority of the people who object aren’t committing or even contemplating any acts of violence, but there’s a building anti-Muslim sentiment that is in no way limited to the location of Park51, and won’t be limited to vocal objections for very long. The argument about location seems to be a springboard for a simmering cultural resentment that America as a whole has harbored since 9/11.
9/11 was a terrible tragedy. At some point the best way to honor the people who died that day and in the days that followed is to heal — which means, mainly, to forgive. And healing is difficult. Forgiveness is difficult. It’s something you have to fight for. It seems counterintuitive and it seems like giving in to something that isn’t fair. But it’s absolutely necessary in order not to be crippled anymore by tragedy.
What frightens me the most is the Muslims in our country who are suffering, and will continue to suffer, from this boiling-up resentment; and not just in New York, either. Why don’t people see that their objections to the cultural center a.) aren’t really about the cultural center and b.) are only fueling something ugly and evil in our attitude toward and treatment of Muslims?



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Sarah

posted August 25, 2010 at 11:09 pm


Oh, and Lee, only the first paragraph of that last comment was directed specifically toward you.



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Lee

posted August 25, 2010 at 11:21 pm


Sarah, I think I’ve made myself pretty clear through the numerous posts I’ve made and I’m not going to repeat myself. And you are free to see things how you will.



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Spinning

posted August 26, 2010 at 12:05 am


@ Lee (and all): I was living less than 4 miles from the Pentagon on 9/11; I worked on the street (well, main road) where a lot of traffic was diverted on that day and many days to follow. Driving past the Pentagon and seeing the facade that had been destroyed was – for me – a gut-wrenching experience.
Even harder to process: several D.C.-area children died in that crash.
To say that what happened on 9/11 was a terrible tragedy is … an understatement.
But to villianize all Muslim people – and Islam itself – in its wake is not only wrong (imo); it completely misses the point.
You might know (or not) that the 2 Afghan restaurant owners who lived in D.c. at the time started getting death threats via phone. In one case, a 5 (or was it 6?) year old child picked up the phone and got blasted with that. The families are refugees who came to the US – as so many others have come – hoping for some peace and a better life. They were no more responsible for the attacks than you are.
Neither were my many former ESL students, business colleagues, neighbors and friends who are Muslim. But they got it in the neck. (One of them had been up on the WTC observation deck with her extended family less than 2 weeks prior to 9/11… she was fully aware that they could have been among the dead. sobering, to say the least.)
It pains me deeply to see blame being heaped on people who have values and ideals – and religious beliefs – so similar to that of most other Americans. (And people in other countries, too: see my “true story” post above about a Sudanese friend’s sister and what happened to her – in England – on 9/11.)
There’s so much deliberate misinformation in the media right now – outright hate-mongering, too. I have no way of convincing anyone who believes in those distortion and lies to reconsider or think differently. but I hope – and pray – that you will.



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Kevin

posted August 26, 2010 at 12:11 am


@spinning, I totally agree with your level-headed and compassionate post. You’ve certainly got more patience than I have.
While I usually hate Ron Paul, his statement about the Cordoba House echoes your words against the hate-fueled mis-information that informs this ridiculous debate.
http://www.ronpaul.com/2010-08-20/ron-paul-sunshine-patriots-stop-your-demagogy-about-the-nyc-mosque/



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Eli

posted August 26, 2010 at 12:21 am


I find it sad that these discussions often turn downward into nastiness & namecalling. Kudos to Meghan & Spinning for making things turn out differently! They will know who we serve by our love for each other, isn’t that it? :)



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Spinning

posted August 26, 2010 at 12:46 am


@ Kevin: oh, thanks (ditto to Eli!), but really, I’m not nearly as patient as you think. It’s personal for me, too but… I guess I’m trying to learn to be like Muna (my friend’s sister; the one who was verbally and physically threatened on 9/11).
To my mind, Muna showed incredible courage. and i’m sure it wasn’t the 1st time she’d been harassed; lots of immigrants in the UK live with that kind of shit. And yet… Muna’s sister and mom and whole family always welcomed me as if I were a long-lost cousin. (they’re Muslim; I’m Christian – in their part of Sudan, “mixed” neighborhoods – even mixed marriages – were the norm, not the exception. Also true of some of my Iraqi friends and acquaintances.)
I moved away from the D.C. area in 2003 and really miss hearing Arabic (and many other languages). Writing about my friends and former ESL students is a very bittersweet thing… in most cases, I’ll never see them again, because they’ve gone back to their own countries and I doubt I’ll ever get to travel to those places.



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cd

posted August 26, 2010 at 3:14 am


I struggle to find balance, but I cannot ignore what I perceive as injustice.
Yet another variation on “I forgive, but I can’t forget.”
Which means “I can’t forgive.”



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Steve

posted August 26, 2010 at 9:25 am


@ Sarah, 8/25/10, 11:08 pm:
Excellent comment, Sarah. I agree completely.



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wwjd

posted August 26, 2010 at 11:01 am


wwjd??? No where is it written that the Jewish Carpenter, our Lord and Savior built a temple for his enemies-The temples that his people worshipped in were not some gigantic brick and mortar building, but from the shores of rivers, mountaintops and roadways that he came to in his travels-Don’t try to construe the religions to fit your needs people, because like it or not, Jesus never made it any clearer that he would not condone or tolerate the acts of vengeance from his enemies on his people. If anything should be built at ground zero, it should be a Jewish Temple for the Jewish and Christian Jews if you wish to build a religious gathering place for Jesus’ followers!



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stephanie drury

posted August 26, 2010 at 11:03 am


I really feel privileged that I’m able to host a forum where people can share their thoughts and feel safe doing it, even though other people may not agree with them. I thought I’d say this though, that if you want to be heard by someone, it helps so much to say how their comment made you feel, rather than kind of applying a label to them and their viewpoint (like silly, short-sighted, red herring, ignorant, etc.). If you can say “When you said this it made me feel frustrated because I have had this experience with this situation” and then go on to explain a little more, it really increases the chances you will be heard because it’s cased in softness and the other person has less reason to feel defensive. It just fosters more understanding and reminds us we all speak from our experiences which others may not have shared.
/end therapist-speak



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wwjd

posted August 26, 2010 at 11:13 am


Why do we need a religious “anything” built at Ground zero anyway?? I am sure that the thousands of people killed on 09-11 were of many faiths, and should all be recognized and a memorial built for them, not a certain faith or religion specifically-Of all the memorials built around this great country, why can’t it be a memorial without regard to race, RELIGION, whatever, just to appease a few, why can’t it be built for all to come and be reverant and memorialize ALL lives lost??



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Joel

posted August 26, 2010 at 11:19 am


It seems people have a hard time separating the individual from the religion. For instance, Islam is a dirty, violent, chauvinistic religion. This does not mean all adherents are that way – there are MANY moderate to liberal Muslims around the world, especially in America. I am friends with quite a few Muslims. The city I grew up in has one of the biggest mosques in America and I remember the Muslim community’s reaction on 9/11 – they wanted revenge against the terrorists. They were upset that someone would attack their country.
But that local Mosque has had a problem as of late, one that bothers my Muslim friends. While they’ve always had an influx of immigrants attempting to escape the more traditional Islam of the Middle East, they’ve recently been getting immigrants who are attempting to transport that more traditional element of Islam to the US. This isn’t fear-mongoring, this isn’t rabble-rousing in an attempt to ban Muslim immigration (which is an absurd over-reaction), but instead a concern coming from many of my Muslim friends who attend this mosque.
You see, what has been called “radical Islam” in the West is simply known as “Islam” in the Middle East. To act as though Christians or anyone from any other religion are treated with tolerance and respect in such nations is burying one’s head on the proverbial sand. Even in Turkey, the most modern of all Muslim nations, Christians face deep persecution (look up the segment on 60 Minutes that talked about it). While their lives are not in danger, they do have problems worshipping as they desire. The same stands true in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, and many other nations. My information on this doesn’t come from second-hand information, but rather from people who were there. The church I attend is composed of a majority of people from the Middle East who grew up there. We still have Arabic in the service (even though I don’t speak or understand a word of it) mixed with English. All of them came here to escape the religious persecution they were facing under these Muslim nations.
Now, we can say that such actions are against the Qur’an and the Hadith (and some passages condemn it, other passages support it), but this misses the point. It ignores the history of Islam from its foundation up to the modern day. From the foundation of Islam (632AD if memory serves me correctly) to 1096, Islam was on the offensive. How many of you realize that Muslims invaded Spain, unprovoked, simply to spread Islam in 711AD? How many of you realize that Muslims got all the way to Tours, France by 732, where they were turned back by Charles Martel? How many of you realize that as horrible as the Crusades were (and condemned by many Christians, especially in the East), they actually saved Western civilization. Although the Crusades were emphatically anti-Christian in nature and went against the Bible and message of Christ, it put the Muslims on the defensive spectrum of the battle….until 1453 when Constantinople fell to the Turks. Then, up until about 1700 the Muslim invaders continued to invade eastern Europe (they were kicked out of Western Europe in 1492).
But all of this comes from their prophet Muhammad. They didn’t misunderstand him; they lived like him. Muhammad conquered by and converted all of Arabia via the sword before his death. In a paraphrase of Muhammad taken from the Hadith, he told his followers to “go and do likewise.” While many things have been done in the name of Christ that are evil we can always look to the life of Christ and the teachings of Christ and show that such actions are incompatible with Christ. We can look to the Crusades and point out that Christ was against the Crusades. We can look to the Oklahoma City bombing, the American Revolution, the Hutu murders of the Tutsi in Africa, the Christian genocide militias of Africa, to the racism of America, or to many other crimes perpetuated in Christ’s name and prove that such crimes do not match up with Christ’s life and teachings and in fact run contradictory to His teachings.
But what about flying a plane into a building to be a martyr? What about killing a young woman because she brought dishonor on the family? What about stoning to death a convert to Christianity (which is common in many Muslim nations)? Are these inconsistent with the life and teachings of Muhammad? Unfortunately they are not. In fact, what we call “radical Islam” is simply Islam as it has been practiced since its conception. An “extremist” in Islam is someone who allows a woman to participate in Jihad (which is not an internal struggle – that comes from Sufism, but was not the original meaning of the term; if it were an internal struggle then why are women forbidden from engaging in it within the Hadith and why does the Hadith explicitly spell out that it’s actual warfare?). A radical Muslim is someone who is willing to forgo the life and teachings of Muhammad to live at peace with his fellow man.
I am not against the Manhattan Muslim Community Center nor am I against Muslim immigration nor am I against the Muslim people. I do not fear them because I am friends with many. But we must realize that those who are peaceful and wish us no harm are moderate to liberal in their beliefs. We should not paint Islam as a peaceful religion or a religion of tolerance. If for no other reason, we should simply be honest with ourselves and recognize Islam as violent.
P.S. Jesus didn’t embrace Muslims because there were no Muslims to embrace. Islam didn’t arise for another 600 after Christ. But more to the point, Jesus doesn’t embrace pagans, Jews, Zoroastrians, cultural-Christians, atheists, or anyone until they’ve embraced Him. He laid His life down for them, He will embrace them regardless of their past, but the fact is, we conform to Christ, He doesn’t conform to us.



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Joel

posted August 26, 2010 at 11:47 am


After re-reading what I wrote, I feel I need to add a few things:
1) I do think there is much good that we can get out of Islam, including the Qur’an and the Hadith. While I found many abhorrent aspects in both, there were also some gems. It is my belief that Truth belongs to those filled with the Holy Spirit, thus wherever Truth is found it should be utilized (similar to Justin Maryr’s, “We claim all truth as our own”).
2) I shudder at what the world would look like were it not for some key Islamic philosophers. I’m particular to Ibn Sina (for his work on metaphysics) and Al-Farabi (who is my favorite Muslim philosopher, only because he leans more toward Plato than Aristotle, which I do the same). Both of these men – and other philosophers – have contributed greatly to my knowledge of philosophy.
3) Islam can be a peaceful religion. But to do so requires it to shuck not only its history, but many teachings of its leader. This, of course, is asking quite a bit, but it can be done. The fact that so many Muslims have peacefully co-existed with non-Muslims in America stands as proof to this.



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stephanie drury

posted August 26, 2010 at 12:05 pm


Oh my goodness gracious.



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stephanie drury

posted August 26, 2010 at 12:12 pm


I will only respond to the last part of Joel’s first comment where he said “Jesus doesn’t embrace pagans, Jews, Zoroastrians, cultural-Christians, atheists, or anyone until they’ve embraced Him.” This could not be more false. God always initiates with us and it’s never the other way around. While we were yet sinners he died for us. By Joel’s logic, Jesus wouldn’t have come to us unless the whole human race begged God to send his word in the flesh. Get thee behind me, Joel.



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Amarantine

posted August 26, 2010 at 12:50 pm


Kevin, “From the Holy Mountain” is just about my favourite travel book, but its author William Dalrymple is no monk!
It’s an educated (and well-connected) young Brit journalist’s modern pilgrimage from the all-male community on Mount Athos in Greece (a place so untouched by modern life that he finds a thousand-year-old Byzantine emperor’s coat still hanging on its peg) to the Great Kharg Oasis in southern Egypt via Turkey and the Levant.
Some of the Christian communities that he visits on the way date almost from the dawn of Christianity, and the passages on monasticism are particularly interesting, especially the links between the Desert Fathers of north Africa and early Celtic monasteries. Some of these communities have lived peacefully side by side with Muslims and Jews for over a thousand years, but the tensions are being fanned there just as much as they are in Europe and the US.
The whole book is basically a threnody for the slow ethnic cleansing of minorities and ancient religious sects in the Middle East, but he packs a lot of history into a very entertaining traveller’s tale.
Joel, from my readings both the Bible and the Quran contain contradictory verses that alternately enjoin violence and peacefulness, and for the continuation of ‘civilisation’ I believe that we are dependent on those who interpret scripture for themselves (without relying on a yelling minister or imam to do it for them) in a way that is liberal and moderate. When such liberal moderation does not prevail, religious and political leaders can invoke the fear of the Other (using cherry-picked scripture to back them up), and war breaks out. Then everyone involved has to work out why exactly they are risking their lives, whether it be to defend family, faith, life, land and liberty or just to maintain a regular supply of oil.
Depressingly, a lot of religious ‘conversions’ have historically been achieved at the point of a sword. I guess those medieval rulers were just impatient folks who tended to find this method quicker than years of loving prayerful witness….



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Meghan

posted August 26, 2010 at 1:01 pm


Amarantine, I think the “monk” confusion came from the fact that Dalrymple (from what I’ve read so far) followed the path of 6th century monk John Moschos. So, it was a monk’s journey, just not a monk MAKING the journey this time around. :)



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Joel

posted August 26, 2010 at 1:15 pm


Stephanie,
You couldn’t have misunderstood me more if you had tried. The fact is, Jesus DOESN’T embrace us until we have embraced Him. Him coming into the world didn’t automatically mean everyone was saved and had a relationship with Him. Him coming into the world did not force us into a relationship with Him. We must still make that choice. Yet, He WILL embrace us, but we must choose to be embraced.
Did He love us? Yes. Was it love that brought Him here? Yes. Was it love for everyone, including Muslims, that caused Him to open His arms for us? Yes. But to say He embraces us gives off the image of a relationship, but such a relationship is a two-way street. Though initiated by Christ we still have quite a bit of choice in the matter of whether or not to accept that embrace.
Please, next time you decide to misquote someone at least do a better job at it.



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Joel

posted August 26, 2010 at 1:20 pm


Amarantine,
The problem is the “cherry-picked” passages from the Qur’an don’t technically have a context, such as the Bible. The Bible is a record of progressive revelation up to Christ and a little bit after Christ. Thus, God is slowly revealing Himself and dealing with the people in an appropriate fashion. How He chose to deal with early Israel as opposed to dealing with early Christians is different because these are different people groups. While there have been attempts to hijack the Scriptures for violence (even in modern contexts…such as Iraq), traditional “Bible-Believing” Christians have tended to show an aversion to violence, such as the Church Fathers.
The same cannot be said of the Qur’an. While there are contradictions within the Qur’an, this was written to one people group. Likewise, the actions of Muhammad seem to suggest that what we call “radical Islam” is closer to the authorial intent of the Qur’an than the moderate Muslims.
Let us also not forget that it was Christians who take the Bible literally – such as Mother Theresa or WIlliam Wilberforce – that effected the most good in the world. Christians who distort Scriptures or attempt to mix Christianity with worldly philosophies tend to be ineffective and useless or violent and oppressive. True Christianity has always been positive for a culture (look up the history of the early Church).



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Kevin

posted August 26, 2010 at 1:53 pm


People in the west, American in particular, often think of Islam as a homogeneous monolith. This line of thinking allows many people to say that “radical Islam” (Qutbism/Wahabism) is no different than any other kind of Islam. The truth is, even in the most repressive Islamic societies, there are disagreeing factions who claim that the other is not a true Muslim. These fissures expand when one examines other parts of the Muslim world. My wife, for example, spent some time in Africa with a group of folks who, I’m not making this up, were Christian Muslims. Not ex-Muslim converts, Christian Muslims.
Like some Christians, some Muslims who use religion to justify feminism (see Dr. Aihwa Ong’s “Neoliberalism as Exception”). Like some Christians, some Muslims use religion to justify their belief that women, though “equal,” are fundamentally “different.” (See Dr Lila Abu-Lughod’s Veiled Sentiments). I know that there are Muslims who think that women are simply lesser than men (see again Dr. Aihwa Ong’s “Neoliberalism as Exception”). I know some Christians who think the same way.
There are Muslims who practice a form of Islam that is almost like magic. There are Muslims who think that Islam is a total system with its own laws, economic doctrines, and systems of government. There are Muslims who want nothing more than to go to the club and get drunk. The point is, to hold up any one of these and claim that it IS Islam is simply inaccurate.



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Kevin

posted August 26, 2010 at 2:00 pm


@Amarantine
You’re totally right. And @Meghan, you totally got the “why” of my mistake. I apologize for the confusion. I get a little excited sometimes when I talk books.
There is one thing I learned from that book which is important for this conversation. The Christianity practiced in those ancient Christian communities that Dalrymple visits would look like Islam to any Western observer.



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Spinning

posted August 26, 2010 at 2:20 pm


@ Kevin (and everyone else discussing “From the Holy Mountain”): not only that… many of the Christians in the region (that he interviewed) are extremely superstitious. He does a great job, I think, of showing that there are still a lot of pre-Christian/pre-Islamic beliefs in that region… pretty much the same as in Europe, actually. ;)
The funny thing is – to me, at least – the kinds of superstitions I’m referring to would be right at home in most American charismatic and Pentecostal circles, though you’d certainly have a tough time convincing the people in question that they hold a lot of “pagan” beliefs themselves. (am saying this as a walkaway from some of the more extreme types of charismatic circles, from the early 70s-present.)
Back to Dalrymple: Am reading his latest book – Nine Lives – right now. It’s terrific! (Interviews with 9 people from the Indian subcontinent.)
fwiw, Dalrymple is married and has 3 kids.



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Rob the Rev

posted August 26, 2010 at 2:50 pm


Donna March O’Connor is a victim of 9-11 having lost a daughter and unborn grandchild in the destruction of the WTC. She heads an organization that supports the building of the Islamic Community Center two blocks from ground zero. She makes clear that there are many others like her who lost loved ones in 9-11 who support the building of the Islamic Community Center.
Stop the hate and religious intolerance. Donna March O’Connor, of the coalition New York Neighbors for American Values, explains to Keith Olbermann of Countdown on MSNBC why she supports the Park 51 Islamic Center.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036677/vp/38857745#38857745



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Becky

posted August 26, 2010 at 3:03 pm


“True Christianity has always been positive for a culture (look up the history of the early Church).”
I have to disagree with you on that one Joel. The Church Fathers were bastards (and this is from a girl who is trying to ‘reclaim’ one of them). Tertullian called all women ‘the devil’s gateway’, blaming women for Christ’s death (On the Apparel of Women Book I chapter 1). Augustine had nothing good to say about his pagan father (unless you want to call beating his wife and using your son for political/monetary gain positive attributes) until the father converted to Christianity and even then had little if anything to say about him (c.f. Cofessions Book IV I believe). And that’s a huge omission when you remember that he lived in a very patriarchal society where the father was next to God. The Church Fathers weren’t swell guys. Overall they were misogynistic and hateful toward anyone who did not agree with ‘orthodox’ Christianity. Imho these are not positive attributes for an emerging Christian culture or any other.
You’re right that the Crusades were a horrible time and that they were begun by Muslims, but Christians certainly held their own and killed everything in their wake during that time (including children c.f. Children’s crusade in 1212) just to be assured of going to heaven, or for more power and wealth.
The Bible ‘may’ have a context, but since it’s been written down, it’s been cherry-picked for evil just like the Qur’an and Hadith. And after all, if you’re cherry-picking, it doesn’t really matter whether or not there’s a context because pulling out a line from anything automatically takes away the context.



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Kevin

posted August 26, 2010 at 3:13 pm


Joel, what exactly do you mean when you say “culture”?



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Spinning

posted August 26, 2010 at 3:38 pm


Yeah… when the Crusaders reached Jerusalem, they burned the entire Jewish community alive in a synagogue while singing hymns to Jesus. (I’m not exaggerating one bit; check any good history of the Crusades).
The Jewish community in Jerusalem was actually defending the city against the Westerners – side by side with Muslims.
And… there was a wave of persecution (of Jews) in France and Germany (mainly in the Rhineland) by Crusaders who were on their way to the east. Some of the people who died (Jewish people, that is) were revered as martyrs for their faith.
And on the Fourth Crusade, the Westerners sacked Constantinople (capital of the Christian East). As the Orthodox were considered heretical by Roman Catholics, the Westerners felt justified in committing wholesale slaughter. (Again, check any good history of the Crusades.)
It seems to me that the Crusades were motivated primarily by greed (let’s get that land! let’s nail the East-West trade routes for ourselves!) and hate – not to mention an incredible amount of wrong “information regarding the Middle East and the people who lived there. (Tons of Eastern Christians included.)



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Spinning

posted August 26, 2010 at 3:44 pm


Yikes – I meant to put “First Crusade” at the beginning of my last post.
Good book: Amin Maalouf’s The Crusades Through Arab Eyes, a compilation of contemporary texts written by Muslim and Christian Arabs… (His novel Leo Africanus is great, too.)



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Spinning

posted August 26, 2010 at 3:58 pm


@ Becky: homegirl!



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Joel

posted August 26, 2010 at 4:05 pm


Kevin,
I’m aware of the differences in beliefs among the Muslims (thought not in any intimate detail – like most Westerners, I have only met people of the Sunni background while my exposure to other elements in Islam has been through reading), but that’s not the point I’m making.
If you look to the founder of Islam, Muhammad, and look at how he lived and what he taught, THAT is the Islam I am speaking about. What came afterwards certainly changed, but to say that Islam is a religion of peace when considering the founder of Islam is quite disingenuous. While there might be a debate on what truly constitutes Islam, one cannot debate the history of Islam, which was founded in blood.
As for “culture,” I mean the people who compose a society. The mannerisms, language(s), foods, belief systems, etc. When true Christianity – that which is found in the Bible and the early church – comes in contact with culture then that culture is always bettered by it. The same cannot be said for original Islam…
Becky,
It is true that the Church Fathers, especially of the Latin variant, had their flaws (although Tertullian is considered the father of Latin theology and covered in Patristic studies,he is not often considered a Church Father, at least not in the East). They said things that were either morally wrong or scientifically wrong. On the moral aspect, one can simply turn to Scripture or to other Church Fathers and see how the one was at odds with the others. We can also see where pagan beliefs may have interfered with one writer in particular, but overall this hardly justifies calling them “bastards.”
These are the same group of people who sold their things to give to the poor, who baffled Roman emperors because they would treat women, slaves, and children as equals. These are well-documented facts. When you read the Church Fathers you see that such actions are what they encouraged their followers to perform (specifically the Cappadocian Fathers).
Regardless, they weren’t “hateful” towards those who disagreed. They simply stood up for the truth. You’re right that they wouldn’t back down in their beliefs and that they weren’t very tolerant – this is why so many were killed by the Roman authorities. But Christians follow Christ, who is the Truth, so we are not called to be accepting of other beliefs (except in a civil manner, but certainly not in a personal manner) because such beliefs are at odds with Truth. We should applaud the Church Fathers for taking such a hardlined stance when they did, not condemn them for it. After all, an unwillingness to get along with culture and let everyone have their beliefs is what got Jesus and His disciples killed.
Spinning,
I couldn’t agree more with your assessment of the motive behind the Crusades. But keep in mind that the Jews were forced to fight alongside the Muslims – although I’m sure they weren’t too opposed to the idea. However, it wasn’t uncommon for Jews to be killed by Muslims, but it was more common for the Western Church to kill Jews than it was for Muslims to kill Jews, so they simply picked the lesser of two evils.
But pointing to the Crusades doesn’t do much. As evil as they were we can easily point to Scripture and the teachings of the Fathers and show how the Crusades are inconsistent with Christianity. We can’t do the same in Islam though. We can’t turn to the genocide against the Visigoths in 711Ad or the forced conversion of the Berbers because such actions were sanctioned by Muhammad.
That’s the point I’m getting at.



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Spinning

posted August 26, 2010 at 4:16 pm


@ Jeol: “forced,” my ass. it was wher they lived, so of course they’d fight for it!!!
As for branding all of Islam bad without knowing anything about the different strains of it (there are so many it’s not funny!), you’re doing the same thing that many people in other parts of the world do when they think of all things in the US as emanating from “Christians.” (Like porn, and no, I’m not kidding – there are many Arab and Berber Muslims who have that impression.)
I think some more reading – but in different books! – would help a lot.
I’m through here, generally speaking – at least, through with arguing back at you and Lee.



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Sarah

posted August 26, 2010 at 4:17 pm


So, truth at the expense of love? I wonder why “defenders of truth” wasn’t a category in the Beatitudes.



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Spinning

posted August 26, 2010 at 4:17 pm


Joel – apologies for misspelling your name. That wasn’t intentional. (am not the world’s best typist.)
cheers,
Spinning



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Joel

posted August 26, 2010 at 4:34 pm


Spinning,
Again, where did I say I know “nothing” about different forms of Islam? I’ve only had experience with one form (the most predominant) while the others have come from what I’ve read in books. And what books do you suggest I read? I’ve read about these different forms in your basic run downs of Islam, pretty mundane stuff (nothing explaining why Islam is wrong or anything like that.)
Regardless, I HAVE studied the origins of Islam. I find it quite upsetting that thus far no one has even attempted to refute the fact that Muhammad was a pretty violent guy and that Islam was founded that way. I’ve made it abundantly clear that I do not attribute violence or intolerance to all Muslims, but rather I’m attempting to point out that the foundation of Islam was both violent and intolerant. No one has – or can – disproven that point, which is an important point to realize.
Yes, the overreaction to the Mosque is at best annoying and at worse a grave threat to the freedom of religion, but it doesn’t do us any good to say, “Well I know Muslims and they’re not violent, so Islam isn’t violent.” Just as it’s wrong to stereotype a religion based on anecdotal evidence, it’s equally illogical to summarize a religion based upon your personal experiences.
As a side note – yes, the Jews were forced to fight for the Muslims in the Crusades. Then again, I’m sure they weren’t all too upset about that. It was either keep the status quo (your daughters can be raped without the rapist getting in trouble, you can be beaten on a whim, you can be used as a scapegoat, you have to pay a tax for not being a Muslim) or accept the new change (murder for being Jewish). But keep in mind that Jews did not do well under Muslim occupation. Then again, Jews haven’t done well under anyone, so maybe it’s a useless point.
Again, I don’t hate Muslims. It would seem I’m going to be lumped into a group of people. It’s okay, I expect it. After my various interactions with this site I’ve learned that I’ll be stereotyped, mocked, and personally attacked. But in my defense before any of that begins, let me say that I don’t hate Muslims nor do I call for anyone to take actions against Muslims. I’m simply saying we should be honest about the religion and realize that while sects are peaceful, pure Islam as it was in its foundation is very violent and oppressive.



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Joel

posted August 26, 2010 at 4:36 pm


Sarah,
What do you mean by “love”? I happen to find truth and love are the same thing and that love for humanity involves more than, “Oh, if that’s what you believe that’s okay.” Sometimes love requires you to tell people they’re wrong and to do so in a stubborn fashion.
After all, isn’t that what all of you do to conservative Christians? Or are you saying you don’t love conservatives?



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Spinning

posted August 26, 2010 at 4:54 pm


the people who lived in Jerusalem fought against the Western invaders in the 1st Crusade because they chose to.
Do you really think the Jewish community there *wanted* the Crusaders to invade?! They knew damned well that they were going to die if and when the Crusaders conquered Jerusalem.
Which is – sadly – exactly what happened, in one of the most cruel ways possible.
To my mind, that was an act of terrorism on the part of the European invaders. And they sang hymns in praise of Jesus while they watched and listened to the entire Jewish community after they lit the fires that destroyed them – men, women and children. No exceptions were made.
I don’t think Mohammed did anything half as brutal.
[/finis]



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Joel

posted August 26, 2010 at 5:02 pm


Spinning,
Please quote me where I said the Jewish community *wanted* the Crusaders to invade. Again, I went to great lengths to point out that the Jews had it better under Muslims than they did under “Christians.”
As for if Muhammad did anything worse (he did…read the Hadith…), that’s irrelevant. The fact is, the Crusaders went against the teachings of Christ. Muhammad founded a religion. The fact that we could debate over whether or not Muhammad was worse than the Crusaders actually proves my point that Islam was founded in violence…



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Spinning

posted August 26, 2010 at 5:07 pm


Joel – nope. It’s not that important, and I really don’t want to get into a long, drawn-out argument with you or anyone else.
apologies for snapping at you.
best,
Spinning
Capcha: ?] ofmars – somehow seems apropriate, the ? especially.



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Kevin

posted August 26, 2010 at 5:20 pm


@Joel, I understand what you’re saying about Mohommad. But when you said that “Islam is a dirty, violent, chauvinistic religion,” and that what we call “radical Islam” is simply called Islam in the Muslim world, you implied a homogeneous and uniform Islam where none exists. Believe it or not, “radical Islam” specifically Wahabism/Qutbism is still seen as radical in the Muslim world.
If I’m wrong about what you’re saying it wouldn’t be the first time. Suffice it to say I’ve certainly met more Muslims who felt that their religion dictated that they show me kindness, hospitality, and love than I have met who said that they were commanded to be at war with me. It could be that I’m lucky, but I don’t think so.
It might be overly-simplistic to say this, but it seems like we can look to any scripture or any set of religious founders or any tract of religious history and find plenty that we would deem pretty rotten. The point is not that we can, with the benefit of hindsight, look to scripture to see how these interpretations were wrong, rather the point is that, at the time people looked to scripture to see how they were right.
Thank you for clarifying your use of the term culture, in anthropology one learns to automatically get clarification from anyone who uses that word. I disagree with your definition, but that is academic and not worth going into here unless you really want a long, dry, boring series of distinctions and citations. For now, your term will do. I will say that there are a great many people whose lives/civilizations were not improved by their contact with Christianity, be it “true” Christianity or whatever the opposite might be.



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Meghan

posted August 26, 2010 at 5:32 pm


I’m really learning a lot from the various perspectives here. I think it’s apparent how well read so many of you are, and though I can’t agree with every perspective expressed, I can respect the intelligence behind each and every one. Thanks, all, for sharing your insight and perspectives!



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Spinning

posted August 26, 2010 at 5:36 pm


@ Meghan: You’re a gem! Please keep coming here; we need you – and other people like you, too.



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Becky

posted August 26, 2010 at 6:15 pm


Joel – I would call them bastards. Not in the technical sense, but they certainly were not nice folks. They had serious sexual lust issues and 99% of the time blamed it on women. But when they couldn’t blame it on women anymore because they’d cloistered themselves away from everyone, they cut off their balls (see Origin). That shows serious issues at best and massive misogyny at worst. They may have ‘loved’ the marginalized such as women but they certainly didn’t do it out of the goodness of their hearts. They did it because they felt they had to. Fair enough, I haven’t read the Cappadocian Fathers very much, and perhaps they weren’t bound by an inherited pagan patriarchy as much as their Latin counterparts. But I have a hard time believing that there wasn’t at least some misogyny going on which shows a serious lack of love. Speaking of pagan beliefs, its influence depends on what you consider pagan. Aristotle and Plato were pagans and they certainly influenced the Latin Fathers at least through the incredible dualism that can still be seen today.
And they certainly were hateful towards those they disagreed with. The great schism between the East and the West originated from the argument about how the Spirit proceeded from the Father (how stupid a reason to split the Church!). The councils and creeds only allowed one side of major arguments – arguments attempting to define or fence in ‘Truth’ that you take for granted like the virginity of Mary, how Christ was resurrected, ideas regarding the Trinity, etc. Furthermore, those in so-called ‘orthodoxy’ famously declared differing ideas heresy and once someone was branded a heretic, they were outcasts, abused and often killed for their beliefs. This is including Pelagian who Augustine fought with. I specifically mention Pelagian because from your earlier argument with Stephy, it sounds like you are a mild-Pelagian (don’t worry, most Evangelicals are). Any notion that you have the ability to choose God? Ya, that’s mildly Pelagian. While I’m not going to get into a debate as to whether or not Pelagian was right, I just thought you should know that before you applaud the Church Fathers because they would have branded you a heretic in the 4th century.



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Joel

posted August 26, 2010 at 8:21 pm


Spinning,
Not a problem. The point in asking was to show that you were reading into much of what I was saying. When that occurs – and I do it too – it’s nearly impossible to have a good discussion.
Kevin,
It would appear I wasn’t careful with my word choice. I tend to write in a hyperbolic way. What I meant (in a more literal way) is that the radical Islam we see today is the Islam Muhammad would have recognized because he practiced it. The more passive forms would be recognizable, but they would lack quite a bit of his teachings.
Becky,
Where are you getting your Church history from? It sounds like you had a course in it that flew over Church history, because much of what you’re saying is, well, wrong.
First, Origen was condemned for his act of castration since Christians were against self-mutilation. Likewise, while women were told to dress appropriately (how is that wrong?) ultimately the blame of lust was placed upon the one who chose to lust. If you read John Chrysostom’s various homilies on marriage you’ll see that men are held responsible for lusting.
You then say that they loved out of obligation? But what do you base that upon? Is it because their beliefs on men and women fly in the fact of your modern Enlightenment ideal? How do you know they aren’t right and you’re wrong? Regardless, that’s quite the judgment to make considering that Christians were known for treating women and slaves with dignity and respect. Something tells me that’s hardly forced.
It’s funny you bring up the issue of the filioque, because that shows how Plato and Aristotle negatively influenced some of the Fathers. Overall though, the influences of Plato and Aristotle are minimal and auxiliary to the beliefs of the Fathers. Regardless, the filioque is important because it deals with some heresies that were floating around at that point. It may not be as important now, but due to the translation error from taking the Nicaean Creed and putting it in the Latin language gave credence to many modalists in the West. Even to this day how the Roman Catholic Church approaches the Trinity as opposed to the Eastern Church is different. Regardless, the controversy over the filioque didn’t occur until 589 when it was added into the Creed – that’s towards the end of what is considered the “early church.” Likewise, while added into some French creeds via the Council of Toledo in 589, it didn’t become official Church doctrine until 1014, which helped contribute to the Great Schism of 1054 (but even then it wasn’t the sole contributing factor). Regardless, all of this occurs towards the end of what is considered the “early Church.” Scholars in the West would put the beginning of this controversy in the early Medieval period while scholars in the east would put it at the late early church period – but both would agree that the Schism didn’t occur until the Medieval period. Either way, pointing to the filioque doesn’t prove your point that the early church fathers were “bastards.”
Finally, your notion of heretics being hunted and killed or persecuted is false. Such acts didn’t take place until much later in Christianity. For instance, the Council of Nicaea passed its creed in 325, but Arians controlled most of the Antiochean and Alexandrian churches until the early 5th century. In fact, after Nicaea there was one pagan Emperor and then a succession of Arian emperors so that those who adhered to the Creed suffered persecution. Even once the orthodox took back control of the throne, Arians were handled by church authorities. Their persecution? They weren’t allowed to be bishops or priests, but could still attend church. That hardly constitutes killing people, wouldn’t you agree?
Finally, as for the Pelagian controversy, I am what is considered a semi-Pelagian. But so were the Church Fathers. The reason Pelagianism was condemned is it treated humanity’s original sin as a “bad example” and that it had no effect on us. Though I disagree with the Roman Catholic’s definition of original sin, I do believe that the sin of the first humans had an impact on the human race (I simply deny that we inherited a sin nature). Likewise, free will is not indicative of pelagianism, mostly because Pelagians taught that salvation was through human free will alone. Even semipelagians (such as myself) say that the Holy Spirit is needed. Without the calling of the Holy Spirit we could not accept Christ. We just believe that calling is made to all people and it is up to us whether to accept that calling. No matter what your Calvinist friends might say, this does not make me a Pelagian. Regardless, the pelagian controversy tends to be a Western controversy and doesn’t deal with the whole of the church. While I wouldn’t have been BFF’s with Augustine, I could easily turn towards other Church Councils and Church Fathers to back up what I was saying (not to mention Scripture and logic).
Again, your attempt to defame the early Church and the Fathers of the Church has failed. If you’ve had a class where you read portions of the Church Fathers or if you’ve read a few, you owe it to yourself to read the Church Fathers as a whole unit. And don’t read it through a Western mindset – that’s one of the biggest mistakes proponents and opponents of the Church Fathers make.
P.S. I’m not an evangelical.



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Becky

posted August 26, 2010 at 9:50 pm


Joel – It’s 2:45am where I’m at and it’s been an incredibly long day, preceded by an incredibly long week. To answer very briefly, I’m getting my Church history from a good 13 years of studying Church History professionally (from a BA from an Evangelical college to a Masters in Theology to a [hopefully] PhD). My perceived flyby approach was due to the fact that I was recalling from memory because quite frankly I didn’t have the time to look up each source at the moment. Apologies. Next week I will be happy to take the time. If you want to continue the conversation, I would be happy to, but may I suggest that we stop filling up Stephy’s blog with it? If you want to email me, my address is becky@ndcrnet.com. I don’t use it very often but will make sure I clear out the junk mail in case you’re interested. I don’t perceive myself giving up my position that the Church Fathers were bastards (at least the Latin ones…like I said, I haven’t studied the Eastern Fathers very much). But in fairness to me, my position is coming from much study and personally seeing the effects of patriarchy on aspects of Christianity today. It’s also coming as a ‘reluctant’ feminist because I do recognize the importance of what the Church Fathers did, but I am also beginning to be able to see how it was incredibly marginalizing to women (which, if nothing else shows the lack of love you asked about). Sorry. This was meant to be short. Like I say, feel free to email me…I hope to hear from you.
PS sorry for calling you an Evangelical :).



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Joel

posted August 26, 2010 at 10:38 pm


I probably won’t have time to keep up in the discussion (I had the day off due to being sick). Most of my time is spent reading Church Fathers or philosophy. :) I’m hoping to obtain a ThD in Patristic Studies at some point, hence my interest in the matter.
I would encourage you not to put too much trust in your fly-over education on the matter. I’ve known many people who have obtained MDiv’s or MA’s in theology who only read one or two Church Fathers. That hardly does justice to the issue. Especially at an evangelical university (it’s okay, I graduated from one too). To my knowledge there are only a handful of evangelical Patristic scholars (if any), so generally the education on the Fathers from an evangelical perspective leaves much to be desired. Do yourself a favor and jump headfirst into reading them. I would suggest any interpretation by CUA (Catholic University of America) Press or St Vladamir’s Press due to the readability of the interpretations.



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Kevin

posted August 26, 2010 at 10:59 pm


Thanks for your response Joel. I still disagree with your overall point for two reasons.
First, Radical Islam as we call it, especially the brand in practice by the Islamic Brotherhood, Islamic Jihad, and Al-Qaeda are all united in the doctrine of Jahaliyya, and their interpretation of Jahaliyya as an excuse to murder other Muslims. Such a concept is antithetical to Islam. The Taliban, though not Qutbist or Wahabist, also abuses Koranic verse by withholding money and property from women, which is specifically forbidden by the Koran.
Second, and I recognize that this statement is a bit controversial, (but since you’ve admitted to being hyperbolic, I can admit to being controversial-insert smiley-face emoticon) I can’t see how anyone would claim the right to say what a true faith would look like. To put it more hyperbolically, there is no such thing as a true church or a true Islam. I would certainly hope that you would not elect yourself to determine what is true Christianity, to say who is “right” or “wrong” in their faith practice. Such a thing is exactly what the Taliban have done, and we can all see why that is wrong.
The main reason I brought up “From the Holy Mountain” in this blog because it makes me wonder, where would the historical Jesus feel more comfortable, in the Christian communities of the middle-east, or in the swanky mega-churches of the American mid-west. But to look at something and say, “these are not Christians because it does not conform to the Orthodoxy/Orthopraxy of Christians 2000 years ago is paternalistic and insulting.
As an aside, in “The Looming Tower”. Lawrence Wright describes how, shortly after the Taliban’s rise to power, they cut the noses off of bears because their beards were not long enough. Bears. I’m pretty sure they didn’t learn that from the Koran.



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Meghan

posted August 26, 2010 at 11:37 pm


Kevin, WHAT? Bears!?
Joel, I’m not sure that it’s fair to call a Master’s degree in Theology a fly-over education in church fathers.



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Kevin

posted August 27, 2010 at 12:45 am


@Meghan. That’s right. Bears.
When my wife read that, she thought it was a typo. I had to explain to her that my sentence meant exactly what it said.



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Joel

posted August 27, 2010 at 3:12 am


Kevin,
Fair enough on your point first point. I did forget that Al Queda et al do target Muslims and even rape Muslim women and you are correct that such practices are forbidden in most cases. But let us not kid ourselves – this doesn’t disprove Islam isn’t a violent religion. Again, from the same Qur’an (and the lower, but still respected Hadith) we learn of Muhammad’s sexual prowess, military genius (and again, let us not kid ourselves, the man was a brilliant tactician), and slaughterer of thousands. THAT is what I’m pointing to when I talk about “true Islam.” I’m pointing to the foundation. I do believe that we can point to a true Church or to true Islam simply by looking at the origins.
Meghan,
It’s extremely fair, especially at a Protestant seminary where the Church Fathers are hardly – if ever – covered. Most theology degrees will spend, at most, two classes on Patristics. Rarely is any more time devoted to Patristic learning or integrating Patristic writings into the core curriculum for a class unless you’re attending a Roman Catholic or Orthodox seminary (even then it’s no guarantee, more so at an Orthodox seminary as opposed to an RCC). Generally if someone wishes to really learn the Patristics then that person needs to dive head-first into studying them in one’s private time or actually seek a degree in the area.
But no, it’s not unfair to say it was a fly-over unless the ThM (or MDiv) was specifically in Patristic studies…but since she said she’s not familiar with the eastern father and since the eastern fathers are the majority of Church Fathers (at least the most notable and recognizable) it should be a safe assumption that her ThM did not have a specification in Patristic studies. :)
(None of that is elitism, just pointing out how evangelical degrees are inadequate at studying the Church Fathers)



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Kevin

posted August 27, 2010 at 3:52 am


“I do believe that we can point to a true Church or to true Islam simply by looking at the origins.”
Would you then like to provide a list of approved churches, just so I know who is a Christian and who is not? Should I also go about telling my Muslim friends that they need to find a new name for their faith, as it does not conform to the “true” Islam?



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Becky

posted August 27, 2010 at 7:10 am


That’s fine about emailing Joel. But I find it very unfair that you take cheep shots on my education based on your experience and/or bias. There are many good Evangelical Patristics and I have had the opportunity of spending many a semester studying the Early Church and Church Fathers with at least two of them (and I would disagree with you that the most notable and recognized Fathers were Eastern – they were all important in their own right). My education has not been fly-over. I believe that I mentioned that you perceived my approach flyby, which is possibly fair as I did not give references, but not giving references and an education that flies over important Church history are two very different things. And my PhD (not from an Evangelical university) is specifically about Augustine. I have read him extensively and have had to defend him to my feminist supervisor. In my thesis I am defending him to feminism because I think that he has valuable insight that can and should be used by Christian feminists.
If you think that means I have a “modern Enlightenment ideal” than you’re wrong (besides the fact that it would be a postmodern/post-Enlightenment ideal). I have dug for 2 years solid into patriarchy and the Greek/Roman cultural context so that I could properly understand where Augustine (and arguably all the Latin Fathers) came from. At the end of the day, and to answer your larger questions regarding the love of the Fathers and the dress of women, I firmly believe that it had much more to do with the influence of Greek/Roman patriarchy than Christianity. You’ll probably disagree with me on the amount of influence but that’s fine…I’ll stick to my assessment because regardless of one’s belief in Christ their culture IS going to influence that belief (Stephy’s blog is a prime example).
These men ‘loved’ women out of obligation. The fact that they spent so much time thinking about how women should dress and act shows this. If they loved out of the goodness of their hearts, then the apparel of women would not have been an issue. They would not have put strict regulations on what women should wear and how they should act just to curb male lust because if they had truly loved as Christ did, then they would have loved the women as sisters in Christ(and unless I’m wrong, most men don’t get aroused by their sisters). Their lack of love is shown in this basic misogyny that Jesus did not have. There are many more important instances of misogyny that I could get into (such as women needing a man to be saved – Augustine, On the Trinity, book 12 to name one but at least Ambrose, Jerome, and Tertullian also thought this…and no, I don’t know what the Eastern fathers thought :)). But at the end of the day, my point is that these men were OVERLY burdened by their patriarchal culture but they shouldn’t have been. The lack of consideration given to women was abhorrent and I will not defend that to anyone. They often saw women as inessential, a bother, and inciters of lust. Even if I had not studied Christian feminist critiques on the Fathers and patriarchy I could see that this lack of love is not what Jesus had in mind.
By saying these things, I am not trying to ‘defame’ the early Fathers. I am, however, attempting to understand them within their cultural context against what Christ said and did because he managed to move beyond patriarchy toward genuine love. And I still maintain that while these Fathers had ideas that were important for the building of Christianity, they were bastards (even if I will defend aspects of them and their theology to my supervisor). You’re free to disagree.
Hope you’re feeling better :)
PS thanks for your point about being semi-Pelagian (and no the Church Fathers weren’t Pelagian…Pelagius and his followers were). You totally affirmed Stephy’s earlier point to you about God embracing everyone – that is, one could not have the choice to choose God without the grace of God. That was your point…right?



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Joel

posted August 27, 2010 at 11:42 am


Kevin,
I can’t point you to a specific church, but certainly there are guidelines on what a proper church will look like and believe. Now some churches fall outside of what a proper church looks like and believes, but for some it’s a simple matter of being misguided (over smaller doctrinal issues), but still a part of the Body while for others it’s outright heresy where no communion can take place.
I refer to the ideal because there isn’t an individual church in existence that lives like it should. The same with an Islamic mosque. Both Christianity and Islam have ideals that are found within their respective Scriptures and both ideals are oftentimes not met. This is what causes denominations and sects to rise in each religion – a failure to obtain the ideal leads to a shift in what is ideal.
Becky,
I wasn’t trying to insult your education, but the fact is if you’re unaware of the Eastern Fathers then you haven’t studied the Patristics. It wouldn’t be unfair for me to say that if you haven’t read the Founding Fathers of the US then you haven’t done a deep study of early American history.
When you say that there are good evangelical Patristic scholars do you mean that they have a degree in the Patristics or have a degree in Church History? There is a difference. The reason I say that is because to my knowledge there aren’t any evangelicals who have a degree in Patristics (I subscribe to a journal that writes on Patristics and while there have been many Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Orthodox, I can’t say I’ve seen any evangelicals on there who are professors of Patristics at any university). Now again, it would be presumptuous for me to think that such an evangelical doesn’t exist, I’m simply saying that if they do they must be a rarity.
Studying Augustine is fine, but that hardly qualifies you to say that the Church Fathers were “bastards” because you’re ignoring 3/4s of the Church Fathers out there (those who weren’t Latin Fathers). Yes, the West has Tertullian (not a Church Father though), Augustine, Hilary of Pointers, Jerome, Gregory the Great (though he had a monastic background, which developed in the East), and so on. But the East (those who wrote in Greek) had Basil the Great, John of Damascus, John Chrysostom, Athanasius, Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory of Nazianzus, Justin Martyr, Ignatuius, Cyril of Alexandria, and the list just goes on.
I point the above out to show that while you might be well schooled in Augustine, you overstep the limits of your education when it comes to evaluating all of the Patristics. I have studied the Patristics and I plan on getting an advanced degree in Patristic studies when the time is correct. That does not mean I can make comments concerning Medieval theology since I know what preceded it. If I were an expert in the writings of John of Damascus, that doesn’t mean I get to evaluate all Church Fathers.
As for the treatment of women…now do you see why Augustine isn’t revered in the East? Yes, he’s a Church Father because of his impact on Christianity, but his writings on women WERE influenced by both his culture and pagan background. The same goes for Tertullian. But pointing to two examples is hardly enough to prove that the Church Fathers were bastards or to make the ridiculous claim that the church took care of widows and women out of obligation. Just because women were told to be modest doesn’t mean women were looked down upon – IF you did a study of ancient society you’d realize that how a woman dressed indicated her status in society. She could come across as an elitist or a prostitute dependent upon her dress, so she was told to watch what she wore and bring honor to God in how she dressed. The same stood true for men. Both men and women were told to honor God in all that they did, including dress. I can point to multiple Church Fathers who said that women CAN incite lust, but that men are are responsible for it as well (and the opposite stood true, that men could incite lust in women). That doesn’t go against feminism – that’s common sense.
As for the Pelagian note, I never said the Church fathers were Pelagian. I said they were semipelagian (Augustine notwithstanding, again why he’s ignored in the East, mostly because he ignored the writings of the other Fathers). That means there is a denial of a “sin nature,” but still an acceptance that we are tainted or fallen from Adam’s original sin. Likewise, as I explained, we NEED the grace of God in order to be saved and to initiate the process of salvation. We are justified by Him alone, but we must willingly accept the gift that is given. That is an act of free will. Pelagians would disagree with what I just said, but the Church Fathers wouldn’t have. Thinking that by reading Augustine you’re qualified to speak on Pelagianism vs semipelagianism is too much of a leap for any true academic to make.



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Kevin

posted August 27, 2010 at 12:40 pm


@Joel, Thanks for the reply. I still think you when you take it upon yourself to say what is and what is not “proper” for a church to do, you are taking a very paternalistic position, or maybe that’s more hyperbole.
“but certainly there are guidelines on what a proper church will look like and believe” Certainly, but those guidelines are, and have always been matters of interpretation, context, history, location, and discourse (even in churches which claim not to “interpret” the bible, reading is interpretation).
“there isn’t an individual church in existence that lives like it should.” You’ve been saying across your posts that there is a “true” church, but now you seem to say there isn’t. So nobody is a “true” Christian?
I think we’ve come to an essential difference of opinion which probably cannot be solved here. Best of luck.



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Bill

posted August 27, 2010 at 10:27 pm


Never a dull moment at SCCL.
Reading this thread as a late-comer, it is fascinating on many levels. We cut right to the religious part of it, interesting and appropriate.
What I find surprising that has barely been touched on is that, in my opinion, the “mosque at ground zero” is a non-issue. It’s a cynical phrasing by opportunistic politicians seeking to use fear and loathing for their own ends and an abuse of language gone disappointingly uncorrected by the media establishment. A lot of it is really not about religion at all.
Would anyone have cared about a religious-themed community center in a slum at all, if politicians, up to and including Newt and Harry, had not stirred the pot to score political points? Not me, and really, too few people I know, if it hadn’t made the news cycles. Really, what is the win any politician can have with this, save the short-sighted poll boost in an election year? Shame on our so-called leaders!
Also, a post above mentioned that the imam behind this community center supported sharia law in America. In other places I’ve read that he is a moderate Sufi. These don’t exactly gel to me, but perhaps I misunderstand…?



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Lee

posted August 28, 2010 at 1:47 pm


Hi Bill,
I believe the post you are referring to is mine so I will respond. First, what I said was:
“I have huge concerns about the funding for this project, the imam’s supposed support of sharia law in America…”
Emphasis on the word “supposed”. Please don’t misquote me. I too am trying to figure this whole mess out and since I don’t know the imam personally, I have to rely on other sources of information, such as this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AoSubL8jU8A&feature=related
I encourage you to research this stuff yourself. Google is a most efficient search engine in case you are not using it. Cheers.



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Sarah

posted August 28, 2010 at 2:16 pm


Yikes, Lee, that was kind of unpleasantly worded. I’m sure Bill didn’t intend to misquote you. He expressed confusion earnestly. He almost never does snide. I get why you’re defensive — a lot of us have gone the rounds with you here — but Bill isn’t one of the people taking a jab at you.
Joel, your reliance on rigid definitions, and on what is correct and proper, is really interesting, as if there’s an absolute way of being a Christian that you’re aware of that the rest of us aren’t — since you self-identify with Plato that makes a lot of sense; to be very summaristic, I see a lot of regard for the Forms in your statements. I think probably it’s why you don’t discuss things mutually very well; it’s difficult to yield a little if you see a lot of things in terms of being absolutely right or absolutely wrong. But that’s okay, you’ve devoted a lot of time and study to support your perspective, and as I’ve said in the past, I get why you hold onto it so tightly. Like Kevin said, that’s where it comes to an impasse and it’d be preferable to be peacefully at that impasse instead of not peacefully, like tossing apples into each other’s trenches, if there must be trenches (me being in my trench is my responsibility, of course, as you being in your trench is your responsibility), instead of grenades.
I have McIntosh and Granny Smiths. What’s your preference? :)



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Lee

posted August 28, 2010 at 2:54 pm


Nice attack on me, Sarah. The thought that Bill might actually find something that may cause him to question the party line must terrify you.



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James

posted August 28, 2010 at 3:27 pm


I’ve been a little hesitant to comment on this because Jorge went and screwed everything up. I say that because I disagree with the placement of the mosque (basically because of the reason that Steph stated, that it’s disrespectful), but also with Christian culture (Christianity really has nothing to do with it besides acting as Christ would). I have my thoughts and my beliefs about it, and I don’t expect to exert any influence– as if I had any– nor do I expect to change anyone’s mind.
I’ll share if anyone asks, but only to discuss. I really don’t want to get teamed up on, because I have a feeling that might happen. And I don’t have the internet in my apartment yet, so I wouldn’t respond very quickly anyway. Anyone looking for a fight is gonna be really disappointed. =P have a good day, y’all.



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Sarah

posted August 28, 2010 at 3:43 pm


I’m sorry that sounded like an attack on you, Lee. It wasn’t meant to be at all; but I accept if you want to interpret it that way. You were kind of mean to my friend and it wasn’t necessary, is all.
That jab about the party line was pretty funny.



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Joel

posted August 29, 2010 at 4:07 pm


Kevin,
I mean there is a Christian ideal that we are supposed to reach toward, but there isn’t a single church that obtains that ideal. Hence the necessity for grace – we all fall short of the ideal and that is why we have grace. After all, if there isn’t an ideal, then “grace” is simply an empty and meaningless word.
Thus, there is an ideal for a Church and that ideal really wasn’t challenged until later in Church history. Certainly there were heretics who challenged the ideal early on, but these were warned about through Paul and others and handled through the consensus of the Bishops at the Ecumenical councils.
Regardless, failing to adhere to the ideal doesn’t mean one isn’t a Christian. If that were the case, I’d have to believe that all Protestants were going to Hell, which is quite the absurd claim when looking to Scripture. I’d have to believe that people in my own corner of Christianity are going to Hell – including myself – because none of us live up to the ideal.
But when it comes down to it, I would argue that there is a very specific Church that we are called to be a part of, even in her imperfections. This was the teaching of the early Church and within Scriptures, which warn against schisms. Just because there’s debate over it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
Sarah,
I am very committed to the idea that there are absolutes, but so are you. If you weren’t, then you wouldn’t have had anything to say to me. And don’t read too much into my Plato comment, I don’t believe in the forms as taught by Plato, mostly because that would be blatant paganism.
Regardless, don’t make assumptions. I haven’t devoted time and study to support my perspective, rather it’s my studying that has drawn me to this perspective. It’s also not that I know something and you don’t, but rather that the truth is out there for all to see, but you’re just ignoring it.



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Joel

posted August 29, 2010 at 4:11 pm


Sarah,
I should add that I ignore parts of it too. All humans do. It’s just a matter of what we’re ignoring and how important it is. It’s one thing to ignore the Truth when it comes to smaller things, but much more important when it comes to the key aspects of the faith.



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Sarah

posted August 29, 2010 at 6:24 pm


So, no apples, then.
No problem. I’m not even really that bothered by your assumption that I’m wrong or ignoring something that you’re sure I should pay attention to. I figure we’re all wrong about some really important things, and life is about growing into the changes. I like the things that I think are important because they tell me that I need to back off when I’m being a jerk (I listen some times better than others), and let other people be jerks if they want to be.
I’m not even sure we believe in the same God, after all, Joel, so really, in some respects we’re arguing things that have little relation to each other. For instance, your God would, I think, consign me to hell for pluralism. My God would, I think, smile at you for your rigidity and let you work things out or not, but never love you any less or damn you (or save you) according to a formula.
I like my God better. If it’s the wrong one, well, your God isn’t one I’d like to spend a lot of eternity with anyway. I’ll take the gamble. And I’m sure that as I live I’ll keep learning more about, and growing more into, what love and truth should be. I’m sure the same will be true for you in one way or another. That’s what makes life and mystery and grace so awesome.
I might agree with you that I shouldn’t make assumptions, but I was looking at them more as observations, and your sort of touchiness about them tells me instead that I kind of struck home. But who’s to say? You could very well be right. I’m content to let God, whoever God is, do the big deciding about things like salvation and heaven and hell. I’m not in this for the reward system, or for fear of the punishment system, like I used to be. It makes me a little sad that you would rather look at forums like this as having little to do with relationship and more to do with whatever the point is for you, proving what for you is truth, maybe, but that’s your call, of course.
So, here’s a McIntosh anyway. They’re just about my favorite. If you don’t want it, that’s fine too.



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Bill

posted August 30, 2010 at 12:15 am


Sarah, thanks for saying nice things about me :). It is true, I have become seemingly inexhaustibly earnest. It’s disgusting.
Lee, I wasn’t trying to take a swipe at you, nor intentionally misquoting. It is ok if you and I disagree about some things. Mostly I meant to invite statements in opposition or clarification, “supposed” notwithstanding. What I don’t know about Islam is a lot, and I daresay Sufi is the least-understood branch of Islam among Americans.
That portion of my poorly stated point was mostly that religous language is highly coded, full of shorthand and co-opting on top of co-opting. It was someone else, I think Joel, who said that Sufi were the first to redefine Jihad as an internal struggle. Perhaps something similar is happening with Sharia? Perhaps Mr. Hannity is running away with something in the name of ratings and not truth? Ratings are, after all, how he is paid. What if the imam simply meant that the laws of the state should not conflict with the laws of God? Certainly I’ve heard that same statement from many an evangelical. And the fact is, we are inside Christianity but outside Islam, and it seems we should tread lightly in parsing such a statement, especially when the imam is willing to define himself with his statements about women in sharp contrast to the muslims he is being compared to in such overheated rhetoric as the fox clip in the link.
At the end of the day, I believe this is a minor legal issue; this is a transaction involving private property and a municipal zoning issue for which guidelines must exist. I don’t care if the community center really is fundamentalist; it is legal under current US law, end of story. These federal lawmakers have no standing. It hardly speaks well of idealogues, left or right, to be threatened by fellow citizens simply exercizing their right to gather and to worship. Part of the responsibility of convincing religious people that a secular state is the way to go is living it out. I don’t know if that’s a party line or not, but I’m ok with that either way :).



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Kevin

posted August 30, 2010 at 2:03 am


Thanks Bill, but your clarification was unnecessary. I do see what you’re saying, and I’m sorry to say that I find it hopelessly paternalistic and not in line with any take on religion worth listening to. While I understand that you have an interpretation of Christianity that has involved a fair bit of work and consideration, it still is still far too absolutist and rigid for my liking. From your position, as far as I can tell (and like I said, I’ve been wrong before), there is no other side but wrong. This is how, again, as far as I can tell, you would take Sarah’s affable and kindly worded response to you as an insult. But don’t concern yourself too much, such disagreements are (one of the reasons) why I am an atheist in the first place. Being that I am on the side that you would consider wrong, and being that you seem unwilling to consider anything I (or Becky, or Sarah) have said, I must again say that I think we’ve come to an essential difference of opinion which probably cannot be solved, ever. Best of luck.



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T.....

posted August 31, 2010 at 12:20 am


I was waiting (so long in web hours) for this one!



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Becky

posted August 31, 2010 at 12:21 pm


Lee – I’m sorry. I was thinking about our conversation/debate on Friday night and you’re right, I didn’t sit under any Evangelical experts in Patristics because there aren’t any. I would also wager that none of the contributors to your journal would claim expertise over all areas of the Patristics either. One can not be an expert in Patristics because it is much too large a field to be an expert of all of it. I did sit under some folks who were very experienced in this aspect of Church history, but I shouldn’t have made claims of expertise over all of it on their behalf. I never claimed to have studied the Patristics in their entirety or any of them completely in-depth. I only claim expertise to Augustine’s concept of lust and his ambivalence regarding gender and the body. I also have a healthy knowledge of patriarchy – and how you think the Eastern Fathers are above the influence of patriarchy or their culture is beyond me – but will not claim expertise to anything other than those specific aspects of Augustine.
You can think what you like about my education and my views of the Fathers. I think you’re wrong, but I don’t have the energy to argue with you anymore because it is exhausting having conversations/debates with people who are only interested in being right. I’ve conceded ignorance when it applies, where I should have improved my argument, and where it wasn’t correct but you refuse to do the same (which shouldn’t be surprising since you can not be wrong). I would bake you a delicious cake as a peace offering, but you’d probably stomp on it while saying that I made it wrong because it wouldn’t live up to your ideal. It’s a shame too as I make excellent cake.



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Lee

posted August 31, 2010 at 7:57 pm


Becky, I’m sure you make excellent cake and I promise I would never stomp on it. But I think in this particular case your beef is with Joel, not myself :)



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Becky

posted September 1, 2010 at 6:37 am


Oops! Sorry Lee. Thanks for not stomping on my cake :).



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Gary A Mort

posted September 4, 2010 at 12:44 pm


Erm, timeline here, Christ could not have taught people to embrace Muslims since Islam originated after Christianity.
Yeah yeah, you probably MEANT to say “all peoples which would include Muslims”, but your phrasing juxtaposed the timestreams.
LOL



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Rocky Presley

posted September 10, 2010 at 11:04 am


Is it not interesting that the Christian community is calling for the pastor in Florida to act sensibly and exercise common decency despite constitutional right in light of offending Muslims around the world, yet condemn those who make the same request, for very similar reasoning, of those building the Lower Manhattan Mosque. I am not for the pastor burning Korans or against the Lower Manhattan mosque, but I find that dichotomy interesting.
I don’t believe that the Koran is the Word of God, but many do, and out of respect for those believers, I wouldn’t burn the book. I also don’t believe that the mosque is being built upon “hollowed ground” but many do, so how should I react to that situation? Should the individuals building the project be more cautious? But, hey, those people who oppose the mosque views are ignorant and/or racist…right? What if we said that about Muslims in their view of the Koran, just because the majority of the world doesn’t hold that same belief? That’s just something that I have been thinking about.



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Chase Shoey

posted September 14, 2010 at 6:45 am


This mosque is a good example of Freedom of Religion in the nation. A nation that was built around those characteristics. Yes, the mosque is getting built on a national “graveyard.” I think Obama proves of this because this nation has Freedom of Religion, but I personally don’t approve of it being “there.” On the other hand FoR is a good excuse to win in a court of law. So either way this mosque is getting built.
I don’t see the problem, because we have built churches on tops of indian burial grounds, technically being the same thing.



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Christian

posted September 18, 2010 at 8:22 am


I think clumping all Christians as Islamophobic is grossly ignorant. I am an Evangelical Christian and quite conservative too. I don’t think all Muslims are evil. Far from it. I probably have more in common with them than the person who wrote this blog.
I hope you realize that many people who oppose the building of this mosque are also secular and there are many Jewish groups that are outraged.
I personally don’t care if they build a mosque. I think they have a right to build it. And its not even on ground zero, its like three blocks away.
So there Ms. Holier-than-Thou I am more tolerant than you you ignorant, dumbass Christians.



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Christian

posted September 18, 2010 at 8:36 am


“And can we say the obvious? Christian culture HATES New York City because we’re too elitist, too liberal, too European, too Jewish, too homosexual, too secular, too comfortably diverse, too worldly and WAY too socialist UNLESS they can use New York City to score patriotic points by turning us into symbols of “real” America (instead of actually respecting the too elitist, too liberal, too European, too Jewish, too homosexual, too secular, too diverse, too worldly, too socialist (as well as the many Muslim) office workers and first responders who actually perished that day.)”
Ok, as someone from Middle America, Chicago Illinois, I just had to laugh at this ignorant, elitist comment. I guess you must think that New York City is the only sophisticated city in the United States. You forgot that Middle America hosts the third largest city in the United States, and a pretty religiously, ethnically diverse city as well. I am the daughter of Polish Immigrants, I grew up near a Jewish neighborhood, and my brother is a hardcore liberal. But I guess someone from NY cannot grasp the fact that there are other American cities that are probably far more “European” and far more “sophisticated” than NY. Did you know that Chicago, a Midwestern City, has the largest Polish population outside of Warsaw? Did you know that Chicago has the largest Greek population outside of Athens? Not to mention Devon Avenue, which has the largest Southeast Asian population in any American city. I guess you did not know any of that. Because if you knew that, you wouldn’t be making the ignorant comments you just did. But hey, at least Midwesterners know how to say their Rs and all New Yorkers are walking around with a speech impediment which makes them look ignorant, uncultured and uneducated.
Last time I checked, Christians couldn’t possibly hate “European” culture, because many Christians are EUROPEAN.
Also, do some research on history. Medieval Europe was actually quite tolerant.



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stephanie drury

posted September 18, 2010 at 5:36 pm


Somebody’s pretty sensitive about Chicago.



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Alex

posted September 26, 2010 at 11:55 pm


I am both an agnostic and a skeptic. I don’t have much use for organized religion…ANY organized religion.
I am also a native of New Jersey and lifelong resident who witnessed first-hand the collapse of both towers of the World Trade Center. I don’t think that a single day has gone by since in which I have not thought of that day and its terrible events. They are seared into my memory forever.
I despise ALL organized religion. Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, whatever: I loathe it. Having stated as much, the Ground Zero Mosque is incredibly insensitive and disrespectful. Religious fanatics, in this particular case they were Islamic fanatics, brutally murdered thousands of people that day. ANY religious shrine erected on that site would offend me as the many victims of 9/11 are all victims of religious fanaticism. But to erect a shrine to Islam is particularly disgusting given the religious affinity of the murderers that horrible day.



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