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Archive for April, 2008

Bp. Robinson Barred from Celebrating and Preaching in England

From this afternoon’s comments:

I had the privilege to hear Bishop Robinson speak tonight in St Mary’s Putney (London). I had not heard him speak before and I am greatly saddened that people could threaten such a Christ-filled individual. He, together with the Inclusive Church folk and others present, truly refreshed my flagging desire to remain in the Anglican Church (+Rowan is my diocesan bishop). I am sorry to say that Bishop Robinson has been told today in an E Mail from Lambeth Palace, that he does not have the Archbishop’s permission to celebrate or preach in England during the Lambeth period. Bishop Robinson was gracious, if disappointed, by this news. There was much support for him this evening and I know we are all looking forward to welcoming him back here in the summer as a brother and a bishop, regardless of the opprobrium some may wish to express against him and those who consecrated him…

It seems it is not enough for Canterbury to shun an Episcopal Bishop, duly elected and consecrated, from the Lambeth Conference. Now he is banned from all the altars and pulpits of England.

It is Dr. Williams’ perogative, of course, to make such a harsh declaration. But it certainly is cause to, once again, question his judgment. On what grounds does he refuse to recognize Bp. Robinson’s Holy Orders?

It seems to me this is yet another attempt to embrace “peace at any cost.” If that was Dr. Williams’ intention, I am afraid he has accomplished just the opposite in some quarters.

For those who may not be familiar with Bp. Robinson, he is much more than just an “issue” to be batted about in some kind of ecclesiastical game. Here is part of a recent Telegraph interview that will give you some glimpse of the man:

Gene Robinson: ‘It is a sin to treat me this way’

Gene Robinson is the American bishop whose homosexuality has split the Anglican Church. He tells Peter Stanford about his anger with the Archbishop of Canterbury and why he believes God is on his side.

Bishop Gene Robinson, the very devil incarnate to some of his fiercest critics, is sitting before me in a London hotel.

“Look at me,” the 61-year-old prelate protests when I repeat the charge that he is single-handedly driving Anglicanism to its death.

“I’m a little guy and I don’t have that much power. Now if someone chooses to leave the worldwide [Anglican] communion because I’m a bishop, then that’s their doing, not mine.”

Gene Robinson is indeed small, the result of infantile paralysis which doctors told his parents would kill him young. But his size is not the thing that everyone knows about him.

When he was elected as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003, Robinson became the Anglican Communion’s first openly gay bishop. He has lived in a committed relationship with Mark Andrew, a local government officer, for nigh on 20 years.

Their refusal to deny or cover up that same-sex commitment in order to avoid clashing with official church teaching on homosexuality, sent shockwaves around global Anglicanism.

The storm is set to intensify in July when the world’s Anglican bishops meet for their once-a-decade gathering at Lambeth Palace and debate what to do about the “problem” of Bishop Robinson.

However, when the host, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, sent out invitations to the Lambeth Conference, Gene Robinson’s was the one name missing from the list. It was, Robinson believes, an “unstrategic” attempt to appease the conservative Anglican primates from Africa, Asia and Latin America, led by Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, who have described the installation of a gay bishop as the work of Satan.

“I have a lot of sympathy for Archbishop Williams,” Robinson reflects. I can hear the “but” coming a mile off.

“I pray for him all the time. And I worry about him, not in a condescending way. Given his views and his brilliant writing prior to becoming Archbishop of Canterbury, to see how he has led, or not led, on this issue of homosexuality makes me wonder how he sleeps at night. What he has done, and what he has chosen not to do, violates where he has been all along.”

Robinson is in London to promote his new book, In The Eye of the Storm. It is a spiritual memoir aimed, he says, at showing that he is more than “a one issue guy”.

The last of its five sections, however, sets a course for the Lambeth Conference and beyond. It is, in one way, Robinson having his say, even though he’s not going to be at the event itself.

Or, at least not at the gatherings of the bishops. “I’m going to be there, in the market place,” he says, “making myself available to anyone who wants to talk.”

He won’t, as many Anglicans seem to hope, be allowing the whole issue to go away. It is in this refusal to be silent that I finally begin to see in this otherwise gentle and genial prelate that flash of steely resolve that drives all implacable dissenters forward.

“Jesus never says anything about homosexuality,” he says, the light tone in his nasal voice suddenly darkening, “but he says a lot about treating every person with dignity and respect. All the biblical appeals for a particular attitude to homosexuality can never quote Jesus.”

What, though, of Old Testament condemnations of “men who lay with men”?

“The Church isn’t the same yesterday, today and tomorrow,” he says.

“Only God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. The Church has always been changing. The Holy Spirit is leading us into truth. And I believe we have learnt that about people of colour, about women, about those who are disabled and now about lesbian and gay people.”

He would, I can see, be impressive in a pulpit. Perhaps it was his oratory that caused the Anglican electors of New Hampshire to vote decisively for him in 2003, and his fellow American bishops to give him their backing.

But, whatever their motives, their decision has had the effect of bringing to a head Anglicanism’s muddled attitude to sexuality.

“As Anglicans we agree about so many things,” Robinson concedes. “We are not arguing over the divinity of Christ, the Trinity or the Resurrection. We are arguing about a non-essential thing.”

Non-essential, perhaps, I interrupt, but sex is hugely important to people’s lives and therefore to the life of the Church.

“It is so sad to me that this issue has become so important to us,” he insists. “To raise any issue about the central issues that Jesus raised is idolatry. To focus on this issue to the exclusion of everything else is a kind of idolatry.

It makes the Church seem that much more hopelessly irrelevant to the culture for whom this is less and less of an issue all the time, and especially for people under 30. It makes the Church look so behind the times. Wouldn’t it be nice if the Church could lead for a change rather than bring up the rear?”

This last phrase is greeted by a sharp intake of breath from his publicist, who is sitting in on the interview. Robinson looks momentarily perplexed. “Is that a bad thing to say in Britain?” he asks. We nod, sheepishly, like smutty first formers; he bursts into laughter. Warm, throaty, inclusive laughter. Robinson has charm and a sense of humour about himself.

Which is just as well, given how closely he has been scrutinised since he began to make headlines. He and Andrew have faced some ugly slurs. One was that their getting together caused Robinson’s 12-year heterosexual marriage to break down. The reality is that there was a three-year gap between meeting Andrew and his split with Isabella – known as Boo – the mother of his two daughters and who says she was always aware of his attraction to men.

There have been occasional gaffes, too. Robinson admits that he wishes he had never said “I’ve always wanted to be a June bride” in an interview over his plans to enter a civil partnership with Andrew this year. It plays to the sort of prejudice that caused The Church of England Newspaper to label him as exemplifying “the worst of the gay culture of over-wealthy, bored, liberal America”.

Don’t such attacks ever make him wonder if it is worth it? Recently he has caused a new stir by outing himself as a recovering alcoholic. “Occasionally I don’t like the probing and the questioning. But I put up with it because I grew up in a time when there were no role models.

“To be gay and lesbian was to be a failure. The good gay people killed themselves. And the others were drug addicts and bums. There was no possibility for a life of integrity or respect. So I feel called to be as open as I can be about my life so that young lesbians and gay men will understand that they can have wonderful relationships, be mothers and fathers and make a real distinction for themselves in their careers. I owe it to those who come after me.”

Given that he is not about to change his view, Anglicanism faces an uncertain future, I suggest. “I believe,” he says, giving every indication of meaning it, “that in the end the communion will win out and we will hang together. God calls all of his children to the table. We can disagree and even say a lot of hateful things, but what we can’t do in good conscience is leave the table. Or demand that someone else not be at the table.”

Which seems to be exactly what some of his fellow bishops are demanding of him. “They are,” he confirms, “and that is the worst sin. But by virtue of our baptism, Peter Akinola and I are brothers in Christ and one day we are going to be in heaven together, so we might as well learn to get along here because we will have to get along there. God won’t have it any other way.”

‘In the Eye of the Storm’ by Gene Robinson (Canterbury Press) is available from Telegraph Books for £11.99 + £1.25 p&p. To order call 0870 428 4112 or go to books.telegraph.co.uk.


Bishop Robinson Threatened with Violence…

Found on: Fr. Jake Stops the World…

Bp. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire has received numerous threats of violence since before his consecration, which resulted in him being required to wear a bullet-proof vest. In a recent interview, the Bishop speaks of new threats, apparently as the result of his resolve to attend Lambeth:

Gene Robinson, the openly gay American bishop whose appointment has sparked furore within the Anglican church, said in an interview Monday he had received physical threats in recent years.

Speaking to the BBC while in Britain ahead of this summer’s Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops, Robinson said the controversy surrounding his appointment was “deeply troubling”.

Robinson, who will be attending the fringes of the Lambeth Conference but has not been officially invited, told the broadcaster: “I’ll be coming to the Lambeth Conference, and there have already been threats against me and others.”

Asked whether he regarded the threats as serious, he replied: “Absolutely. This has been going on ever since I was elected Bishop of New Hampshire, and I have to take them seriously. Certainly the authorities take them seriously”…

What is most alarming about this news is that the response from some of the extreme Conservatives is to treat this like a joke. Here’s just a few examples:

…it is in his self interest to recieve as many threats as possible so that he can go on and on and on about “poor me”…I’m sure his tailor is thrilled to get to do the June Bride in Kevlar…Dear simple country bishop – the threats in this life are NOTHING like the threats in the bible, those awaiting you in the afterlife…This is all a bunch of grandstanding, folks. He has a book to sell you know… and an agenda to promote…What goes around comes around Gene, and you set about destroying the church our families have worshipped in for generations and it is bound to be costly…I think he should wear a lightning-proof vest.

Such responses are most likely just casual chatter, with no real threat intended. But, what is of concern is that if some psychotic person was to see such a cavalier response to death threats, they could interpret it as permission to target Bp. Robinson.

Our words matter. That includes the words we use here. As an aside, I need to tell you that I was disappointed by some of the responses to Life Long Episcopalian yesterday. Some of them were just plain mean. In hindsight, I should have removed some of them. In the future I will.

Enough, folks. I will not tolerate rhetorical violence here. And there will not be such responses to this post, either. Yes, I know this kind of stuff makes us angry. And I know some of you have stories full of similar violence. I understand, having been targeted myself a few times. But focusing on that is not productive. Move beyond it. It’s time we learned some self-control. When we meet violence with violence, the result is always more violence.

Bp. Robinson has been threatened. What is a productive response?

I’ll start. I’ve made my decision. If at all possible, I’ll be going to Lambeth, to do my small part to protect the innocent.

Watch your words, folks. I’m zapping posts and taking names today.
J.

LONDON (AFP) – Gene Robinson, the openly gay American bishop whose appointment has sparked furore within the Anglican church, said in an interview Monday he had received physical threats in recent years.

Speaking to the BBC while in Britain ahead of this summer’s Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops, Robinson said the controversy surrounding his appointment was “deeply troubling”.

Robinson, who will be attending the fringes of the Lambeth Conference but has not been officially invited, told the broadcaster: “I’ll be coming to the Lambeth Conference, and there have already been threats against me and others.”

Asked whether he regarded the threats as serious, he replied: “Absolutely. This has been going on ever since I was elected Bishop of New Hampshire, and I have to take them seriously. Certainly the authorities take them seriously.”

He said he did not relish the attention put on him by the controversy, adding that “the pain that this has caused is deeply troubling to me, but … pain should not be a surprise to Christians.”

“Jesus says that every time we try to follow in God’s way, we will pay a price.”

Robinson, who will be entering a civil union with his partner later this year, said he did not think the Anglican Communion had permanently split, noting that he had “great hopes” for it.

“I want my brothers and sisters around the world in this church with me, and we need each other so that we can offer a model for the world of how to hang together, even when we disagree about this,” he said.

His appointment in 2003 by the US Episcopal branch of the Anglican church has sparked division in the communion, with Uganda‘s branch announcing in February it would not attend the July 16-August 3 Lambeth Conference.

The conference, held every 10 years, brings together bishops from all 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion in Canterbury, southeast England, to discuss and make resolutions that will govern the church.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will preside over the meeting.


How I got sober…

I guess you can say that a series of events conspired to get me to sobriety. I was heading in this general direction for a few months before I had gotten sick and tired of being sick and tired. I came off a long and terribly painful slip, I was trying to rebuild my life from nothing once again, and I found a land lady who decided that it was her duty to try and help me heal my wounds. She gave me a place to live and added to that she gave me a job when I really needed it the most. Little blessings…

I was a binge drinker then and so I was drinking for the entire week in one night. I had a job that paid me well and over those last few months I always tell this story about Troy. Troy was a boy who came into my shop looking for work. I hired him, and every day he would come into work and say “I did not drink today!” Well, I clapped my hands and said well done.

I had prayed for that last hangover, which came. The second prayer was that God put an alcoholic in my path. Over the few months that Troy worked for me he would say every day that ‘he didn’t drink’ until 4 months later we were on a delivery and he said that he was taking his One Year Cake and that maybe I would like to join him at a meeting, which I accepted his invitation. The third prayer was that I get to a meeting. I was ready for God to make his move. I was waiting for the signs to come together and they did.

I never took another drink. December 9th 2001 was my first meeting back. Which is the day I picked up my white poker chip. My sign of surrender. Getting sober in the same city “Again” that I got sober in the first time was a challenge, because I was ashamed and I did not want the many people I got sober with the first time, to see me crawl back into a meeting sorrowful and beaten down as far as I had been during my slip.

I had a month to clean up. Miami is a big city and sober people come and go, and news traveled fast in those days, and on Christmas Eve 2001, I went into the city for a midnight meeting and everyone I knew in my first recovery was there, and they clapped and cheered as I walked in the hall that night. I think it was one of the best nights in my sober life. I was free, and forgiven, and loved and that made all the difference to my sobriety that none of my friends judged me because I was doing a terrible job judging myself already.

I started working my steps. I starting reading the Big Book. I had a meeting every day at the same time in the same place that served me well. That 10 p.m. meeting did wonders for me because I was a late night drinker and I partied at night and I could not party any more, and all my friends I made at that home group helped me immensely.

Five months into sobriety I came to visit Montreal, I liked it so much I decided to move, and get my citizenship. I went home to Florida and packed up my little life and pulled up stakes and set off for the promised land. And that’s what it has been like for the last almost seven years. I would not have changed anything as it came to me – God blessed my life, God blessed my sobriety because this has been a wondrous life and I am truly grateful.

I did my homework. I went to meetings, I found my way into this beautiful city and I did not look back. The hard work here in Montreal is that there is only 2 meetings in this city (on the English side) that meets every day at the same time every day. If you are going to get sober in Montreal, you are going to have to work your ass off because there are over 500 meetings in the city every week, and you must travel to get to these meetings. There is no luxury way to do it. You find the time, You make the time, and you schedule your life around your meetings, and that is what I have done for the last six years and four months.

Thank you for my sobriety…


Reconciliation Islam, Democracy, and the West Pt. 2

We continue on our journey through historical Islam and we are going to look at a number of thoughts in this section of the text, as it covers 50 pages to the end of Chapter 2. We begin tonight’s lesson with the 5 Pillars of Islam. Muslims believe that there are Five Pillars of Islam, which are the fundamental principles that make up the most basic requirements for life as a Muslim:

  1. Shahada (“Witness”) This is the declaration that all Muslims must make: “I testify that there is no god but one God, and that Mohammad is the messenger of Allah.”
  2. Salat (“Prayers”) All Muslims must pray five times daily, facing Mecca.
  3. Zakat (“Almsgiving”) Muslims must give a certain percentage of their yearly income to the poor and needy.
  4. Sawm (“Fasting”) During the holy month of Ramadan, all Muslims must fast every day from sunrise to sunset.
  5. Hajj (“Pilgrimage”) A pilgrimage to Mecca, the location of the holiest place in Islam, must be performed by every Muslim, if possible, once in his or her lifetime.

Our writer makes certain statements in this text that she believes will bring together the fighting factions of Islam to a peaceful resolution. Stated here: “It is my firm belief that until Muslims revert to the traditional interpretation of Islam – in which “you shall have your religion, and I shall have mine” is respected and adhered to – the factional strife within Muslim countries will continue. Indeed, until quranic tolerance is reestablished, the key Muslim countries of pakistan and Iraq will not only continue to weaken them but will continue to threaten to spread inflexible and extremist interpretations elsewhere in the Muslim world.

Those who teach the killing of adherents of other sects or religions are damaging Muslim societies as well as threatening non-Muslim societies.

On Seeking Knowledge:

The Prophet remarked on the importance of seeking knowledge throughout life: “Seek knowledge by even going to China, for seeking knowledge is incumbent on every Muslim.” The Prophet placed the utmost importance on seeking knowledge, instructing humans to go to extraordinary lengths to gain not just religious knowledge but all knowledge.

The Past:

The past is used too frequently to define modern Muslims, especially when evaluating their receptivity to democracy. We don’t define Judaism by the brutality of the conquest of the tribes of Canaan or by the pain and suffering of the plagues on Egypt. We don’t define Christianity by the barbarism of the Dark Ages or by the persecution of the Inquisition.

When analysts look at the receptivity of modern Muslim communities to democracy, they too often look to Islamic texts and interpretations, as well as to the kind of social structure of the first community of Muslims. This construct, labeled “Muslim exceptionalism,” is based on the view that the norms of the Muslim community of the past must necessarily define the Muslim community of the present. It assumes that Muslim thought and Muslim society have not evolved, adapted, or changed over time. Some feel that “the character of Muslim societies has been determined by a specific and remote period in their past during which the social and political order that continues to guide them was established.

The scholar is referring to Prophet Mohammad’s early community of Muslims in seventh-century Arabia. This theory is predicated on the bizarre belief that they strength of the past continues to hold on to the psyche of Muslim society, blocking progress in political and other fields, including human rights and technological and economic development.

Morals and Beliefs:

The Qu’ran provides broad beliefs and morals by which to live. The specifics were left to be interpreted in light of the proper historical context. “The text is silent. We have to hear its voice. In order to hear, we need presuppositions. In order to have presuppositions, we need the knowledge of the age. In order to have the knowledge of the age, we have to surrender to change.

Equally important to the context of interpretation of the Qu’ran is who interprets it. Some Muslims, especially those belonging to theocratic regimes, try to assert that only a select few can interpret the Qu’ran. This is not the case. Interpretation of the Qu’ran is not limited to any one person or committee. The Qu’ran did not establish a specific institution or group of leaders as its sole interpreters. Any Muslim is free to interpret the Qu’ran. All Muslims are guaranteed the right to interpret the Qu’ran (ijtihad) Thus even the approach to interpretation of the Qu’ran is embedded with democratic values.

Indeed, Muslims are told that each person is accountable for his or her individual behavior. No relative, teacher, or other can intervene for a Muslim of the Day of Judgment.

Interpretation:

Every interpretation needs to be based on the context in which it is undertaken. In the modern world, modern interpretations need to be made while respecting the underlying principles of the Qu’ran. The Qu’ran, while the word of God, is a text that is historically rooted in the time of its revelation. There is no explicit mention of democracy in the Qu’ran because it was not a word used in the seventh-century Arabia. However, the principles of consultation and consensus among the people, which are found in the Qu’ran, are the bases of democracy. Moreover, the principles of equality, justice, and law, which are the underlying foundations of democracy, are repeatedly stressed in the Qu’ran.

Our author continues with her beliefs as she states:

For Muslims like me, who believe in democracy, Islam is about consent and people’s participation. Islam and democracy are compatible. Radwan Masmoudi agrees that contemporary interpretations need to continue to be made; he asserts that it is better than “the doors of ijtihad – closed for some 500 years – be reopened.”

Even the conservative Pakistani Islamist leader Khurshid Ahmad conceded that “God has revealed only broad principles and has endowed man with the freedom to apply them in every age in the way suited to the spirit and conditions of that age. It is through ijtihad that people of every age try to implement and apply divine guidance to the problems of their times.”

We are moving into more current events and places in this portion of the reading and I reiterate the following text because it is important for Westerners and others to understand what is bubbling just beneath the surface and why there is wide spread war around the globe.

Continuing:

Islam proclaims that the earth belongs to “Khalq e Khuda,” the people of God. We are all God’s creatures. The earth is given to us in trust by God. We the people are the agents of God in this world. We are to govern the earth as a sacred trust and as trustees of the responsibility to pass it on the future generations. The right to declare who is a “good Muslim” and who is a “bad Muslim” is a right that belongs only to God.

Those who say that we on earth must determine who is a good Muslim and who is a bad Muslim are in many ways responsible for the political legacy of murder, mayhem, sectarian warfare, and oppression of women and minorities we see in the Muslim world. These extremists are destroying the Muslim world by pitting Muslim against Muslim.

Militancy:

The militants seethe with anger, but their anger is always tied to their political agenda.

  1. First they were angry and the West had abandoned three million Afghan refugees and stopped all assistance to them after the Soviets left Afghanistan.
  2. Second, they are angry that their offer to the government of Pakistan to send one hundred battle hardened mujahideen to help in the Kashmir uprising on 1989 was rejected.
  3. Third, they wanted King Fahd of Saudi Arabia to turn to the “battle hardened mujahideen” to protect Saudi Arabia after Iraqi president Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait on August 2, 1990. He refused.
  4. Fourth, they went off to fight in Bosnia when the region was engulfed in war (from 1993 to 1996, I lobbied President Bill Clinton, Prime Minister John Major, and other European leaders to intervene to bring the conflict to an end.)
  5. Fifth, they tried to exploit the Chechen nationalist movement.
  6. Sixth, with the fall of my government they turned their attention to Kashmir and tried to take over the nationalist Kashmiri movement from 1997 onward.

Muslim extremists systematically targeted historical nationalist movements to gain credibility and launch themselves into the Muslim heartland with a view to piggybacking off nationalist movements to advance their agenda. However, most Muslims were suspicious and not welcoming of their extreme interpretation of Islam. Thus is was only in Afghanistan, already softened by years of resistance by Afghan mujahideen, that Muslim extremists were able to establish the Taliban dictatorship.

Driven out of Afghanistan after the September 2001 attacks on the United States, they returned to Pakistan, where the journey had begun with General Zia-ul-Haq in 1980.

After the United States invaded Iraq, these same extremists turned their attention to that country. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi went off to fight in Iraq. Presumably others did, too. Again they used religious propaganda to kill, maim, and effectively divide one of the richest Muslim countries, Iraq, into a land of carnage and bloodshed.

Sunnis and Shias, who had lived peacefully side by side for centuries, began to kill each other, and Iraq began to fall apart. It is quite easy (and typical) for Muslim Extremists to blame the Americans for the sectarian civil war that rages in Iraq today, when actually it is a long standing tension between Muslim communities that has been exacerbated and militarized to create chaos under which extremists thrive.

Iraq is not the only goal of the extremists. Pakistan too is in great danger. Pro-Taliban forces have taken over tribal areas of Pakistan. They occupy the Swat Valley. They have been ceded Waziristan by the Musharraf regime. They are moving into the settled areas of Pakistan. Their apparent next goal is the cities of my country, including our capital, Islamabad. They thrive on dictatorship; they thrive on terror; they provoke chaos to exploit chaos.

I (Bhutto) returned to Pakistan on October 18, 2007, with the goal of moving my country from dictatorship to democracy. I hoped that this transition could take place during the scheduled elections of 2008. I feared that otherwise the extremists would march towards Islamabad. Islamabad is near the town of Kahuta, where Pakistan’s nuclear program is being carried out.

It is my fear that unless extremism is eliminated, the people of Pakistan could find themselves in a contrived conflict deliberately triggered by militants (or other “Islamists”) who now threaten to take over Pakistan’s nuclear assets.

Having a large Muslim nation fall into chaos would be catastrophic. My people could end up being bombed, their homes destroyed, and their children orphaned simply because a dictator has focused all his attention all off the nations resources on containing democrats instead of containing extremists, and then has used the crisis that he has created to justify the same policies that caused the crisis. It may sound convoluted, but there is certainly method to madness.

And in closing this discussion:

Islam was sent a message of liberation. The challenge for modern-day Muslims is to rescue this message from the fanatics, the bigots, and the forces of dictatorship. It is to give Muslims back the freedom God ordained for humankind to live in peace, in justice, in equality, in a system that is answerable to the people on this earth accepting that is it God who will judge us on the Day of Judgment.

It is by accepting that temporal and spiritual accountability are two separate issues that we can provide peace, tranquility, and opportunity. There are two judgments: the judgment of God’s creatures in this world through a democratic system and the judgment by God when we leave this world.

The extremists and militants who seek to hijack Islam aim to make their own judgments. In their failure lies the future of all Muslims and the reconciliation of Islam to the West.


Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy, and the West

I have told you that I am reading a book written by Benazir Bhutto titled: Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy, and the West. It is a very convincing read so far, and Islam is not my strength, but I have taken my series of introductory classes in Islam. I am going to write for you, excerpts from the chapters which I have read. I am not a scholar of the Qu’ran, and I am not a Muslim, but please, if you are moved to comment and discuss I would welcome your input on the following entry for tonight.

Reconciliation:

The case – the very strong case – for a pluralistic and modern Islamic society is made directly in Islamic scriptures’ references to violence, terrorism, intercultural relations, interreligious relations, the place of women in society, and science and technology. Despite the protestations and assertions of some, and despite skepticism outside our own community, the vast majority of the billion Muslims in the world embrace a peaceful, tolerant, open, rational, and loving religion that codifies democratic values.

It is a religion that sanctifies the traditions of the past while embracing the hope for progress in the future. This is the interpretation of Islam that my father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and my mother, Nusrat Bhutto, embraced and practiced and taught my brothers, Mir Murtzaz and Shah Nawaz, my sister, Sanam, and me.

This is the true Islam, in contrast to the perversion that has been espoused by extremists and militants and the caricatures that is too often accepted in the West. The greatest and purest source is the words of the Prophet himself. And when the Prophet speaks of “Allah,” he is speaking of God, the same monolithic God of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. “God” is a translation of the Arabic word “Allah,” not just the God of Islam but rather the God of monotheism, the God of all who believe in Him and believe that He is the Creator of the universe, of this world and the hereafter.

Jihad:

Many people around the world think that the word “jihad” means only military war, but this is not the case. As a child I was taught that jihad means struggle. Asma Afsaruddin, a well-regarded scholar of Islam, explains the correct meaning well: “The simplistic translation of jihad into English as ‘holy war,’ as is common in some scholarly and nonscholarly discourses, constitutes a severe misrepresentation and misunderstanding of its Quranic usage.” Jihad instead is the struggle to follow the right path, the “basic endeavor of enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong.”

The importance of jihad is rooted in the Quran’s command to struggle (the literal meaning of the word jihad) in the path of God and in the example of the Prophet Mohammad and his early companions. In fact, some of the Muslim world believe holy war against the West is warranted in a new global conflict.

… Therefore, it is important to show the true meaning of jihad: as an internal and external struggle to follow the right and just path. Jihad involving armed conflict must be constrained by the standards of just war, just as Christianity sets similar standards. I will substantiate, with theological backing, the idea that terrorism cannot be supported by reference to the Holy Book.

In the history of Islam, there are two different constructs of the term “Jihad.” First there is the internal jihad, a jihad within oneself to be a better person, to resist the temptations of the soul. This is a struggle centered on eradicating character flaws such as narcissism, greed and wickedness. This is the greater jihad.

The second form of jihad is personal conduct at a time of war or conflict. The Prophet is said to have remarked when he came home from a battle, “We return from the lesser jihad to the greater jihad.” This shows the importance of the constant internal struggle that we all face within ourselves. It is nonviolent struggle that makes us become better people. The greater, internal jihad is seen as more important that the lesser, external jihad.

Terrorism:

Let us look specifically at the issue of terrorism. Muslim jurists developed a specific body of laws called siyar that interprets and analyzes the just cause for war. Part of the law indicates that “those who unilaterally and thus illegally declare a call to war, attack unarmed civilians and recklessly destroy property are in flagrant violation of the Islamic juristic conception of bella justum. Islamic law has a name for such rogue militants, muharibun. A modern definition of muharibun would very closely parallel the contemporary meaning of ‘terrorists.’ The acts that these muharibun commit would be called hiraba (‘terrorism’). Thus all terrorism is wrong. There is no ‘good terrorism’ and ‘bad terrorism.’

Osama bin Laden’s creed that “the terrorism we practice is of the commendable kind” is an inverted rationalization for murder and mayhem. In Islam, no terrorism – the reckless slaughter of innocents – is ever justified.

Religion:

The Qu’ran reveals that God sent 120,000 prophets. Thus, it can be argued that in a Muslim state, diverse points of view will be represented and must be protected. The Qu’ran does not simply preach tolerance of other religions; it also acknowledges that salvation can be achieved in all monotheistic religions.

Freedom of choice, especially in matters of faith, is a cornerstone of quranic values. This freedon of course, leads to pluralism in religion, both within Islam and outside. The quranic preference for freedom of choice clearly manifests a divine desire for pluralism and religious diversity; examples of this from the Qu’ran are clear and striking: “You shall have your religion and I shall have my religion.” The Qu’ran unambiguously desires choice in religious matters.

Quite remarkably and uniquely, the Qu’ran acknowledges that other religions can readily lead to salvation. For example, the Holy Book says:

Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and Christians, and the Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and does good, they shall have their reward from their Lord, and there is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve.

Islam embraces all humanity under one God, discrediting all other exclusive claims to salvation. I don’t believe there is anything quite like this is any religion on earth.

Continuing…

Islam believes that people should be allowed choice in religion and that no religion should be forced upon people. Religious freedom allows people to freely accept Islam – or any religion – as their religion of choice. Practicing Islam out of force rather than choice is unIslamic. The Qu’ran states : “There is no compulsion in religion.” Indeed, the practice of religion while under compulsion or forced conversion is against the teachings of the Qu’ran. (Thus, the forced conversion of Muslims perpetrated by Christian slave masters would not have been permitted in Islam, nor would have the forced conversion of Sephardic Jews by Christians during the Spanish inquisition.”

This is a lot to process, and is all that I have highlighted so far…

Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy, and the West, Benazir Bhutto, Chapter 2 pgs. 20-33


Cliffs Notes on the Bible

The Bible in 50 words

God made
Adam bit
Noah arked
Abraham split
Jacob fooled
Joseph ruled
Bush talked
Pharaoh plagued
Sea divided
Tablets guided
Promise landed
Judges led
Saul freaked
David peeked
Kingdom divided
Prophets warned
People exiled
Hope rose
Jesus born
God walked
Anger crucified
Love rose
Spirit flamed
Word spread
God remained.


Thoughts…

Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

– Frank Outlaw


I Am Because We Are

Tribeca Film Festival Link Here

[IAMBE] | 2008 | 85 min | Feature Documentary

Directed by: Nathan Rissman

World Premiere

Interests: African Documentary Health Issues Social Issues Women

Moods: 6 Cross-Cultural Crusading Empowering Inspirational Poignant Topical

www.iambecauseweare.com

Cast & Credits

Director: Nathan Rissman
Principal Cast: Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, Desmond Tutu, Bill Clinton, Dr. Paul Farmer, Dr. Matthews Chikaonda, Madonna
Executive Producer/Writer: Madonna
Producers: Angela Becker, Madonna
Associate Producer: Grant James
Editor: Danny B. Tull

Program Notes

In southeastern Africa, the landlocked and densely populated country of Malawi is under severe distress. In a country of 12 million people, an unprecedented one million-plus children have been orphaned by AIDS, and malnutrition and inadequate medical treatment still run rampant.

The multitalented Madonna assumes one of her most impactful roles yet as writer, producer, and narrator of this eye-opening and heart-wrenching documentary. Under the confident direction of first-timer Nathan Rissman, we journey with Madonna as she exposes the harsh realities of a half-forgotten country by introducing us to its future-Malawi’s children.

As she bears witness to the lives of these special children and their extraordinary will to survive, Madonna shares her own personal thoughts, making for an incredibly intimate and emotional cinematic experience. While analyzing all sides of the dilemma and the cultural challenges facing Malawi as it relates to the world, the film is a testament to human interconnectivity and social responsibility-a call to action wrapped in a well crafted and visually beautiful film.

Leading experts such as President Bill Clinton, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Professor Jeffrey Sachs, and Dr. Paul Farmer offer memorable insight, but the real driving force of the film is undoubtedly the children’s riveting stories, which will stir audiences and, at best, rouse them to action.

— Genna Terranova


Benazir Bhutto “Reconciliation”

Today was a quiet day to reflect on the past, to remember those who suffer from ridicule and harassment and to allow the world to know that suffering is unacceptable. While I was on campus today I took care of my administration fees for my continuing education so I am now paid up through the Summer. I also picked up my course pack for my Religion class that begins next week.

On my way out of the bookstore I wanted to pick up some reading material, because I can’t go to bed at night and not have something fresh to read, since I have exhausted my library at home. I finished all my new books in the last few weeks. I found this book titled: Benazir Bhutto – Reconciliation, Islam, Democracy, and the West.

This book has been praised by many notable people.

“This is one of the most gripping and important books of our era. It’s a powerful personal narrative of an astonishingly brave woman. It’s also a brilliant manifesto for challenging radical Islam. Benazir Bhutto was an intense but charming woman driven by a crucial mission. Her death makes this beautiful book all the more poignant, and also more necessary.”

Walter Isaacson

I am sure that I will have a lot to share with you in the coming days as I read this book.


Benazir Bhutto "Reconciliation"

Today was a quiet day to reflect on the past, to remember those who suffer from ridicule and harassment and to allow the world to know that suffering is unacceptable. While I was on campus today I took care of my administration fees for my continuing education so I am now paid up through the Summer. I also picked up my course pack for my Religion class that begins next week.

On my way out of the bookstore I wanted to pick up some reading material, because I can’t go to bed at night and not have something fresh to read, since I have exhausted my library at home. I finished all my new books in the last few weeks. I found this book titled: Benazir Bhutto – Reconciliation, Islam, Democracy, and the West.

This book has been praised by many notable people.

“This is one of the most gripping and important books of our era. It’s a powerful personal narrative of an astonishingly brave woman. It’s also a brilliant manifesto for challenging radical Islam. Benazir Bhutto was an intense but charming woman driven by a crucial mission. Her death makes this beautiful book all the more poignant, and also more necessary.”

Walter Isaacson

I am sure that I will have a lot to share with you in the coming days as I read this book.


Day of Silence…

Originally posted on Queer Deviations by EOZ

The National Day of Silence brings attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools. This year’s event will be held in memory of Lawrence King, a California 8th-grader who was shot and killed Feb. 12 by a classmate because of his sexual orientation and gender expression. Hundreds of thousands of students will come together on April 25 to encourage schools and classmates to address the problem of anti-LGBT behavior.

Students will hand out speaking cards during the Day of Silence that reads: “Silent for Lawrence King: Please understand my reasons for not speaking today. I am participating in the Day of Silence (DOS), a national youth movement bringing attention to the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies. My deliberate silence echoes that silence, which is caused by anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment. This year’s DOS is held in memory of Lawrence King, a 15 year-old student who was killed in school because of his sexual orientation and gender expression. I believe that ending the silence is the first step toward building awareness and making a commitment to address these injustices. Think about the voices you are not hearing today.”

The Day of Silence is about safer schools, tolerance and positive change. For more information visit GLSEN’s (the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) website.


Hard Candy …

Release Date: 29 April 2008

I got an advanced copy of New Music coming to an HMV near you will be this little CD called Hard Candy, the next offering by Madge. And if you are like me, an avid Madge fan, you may find this offering to be a tasty tidbit of music. The track list is as follows:

  1. Candy Shop
  2. 4 Minutes
  3. Give it to me
  4. Heartbeat
  5. Miles Away
  6. She’s not me
  7. Incredible
  8. Beat Goes On
  9. Dance 2Night
  10. Spanish Lesson
  11. Devil Wouldn’t recognize you
  12. Voices

The disc opens with an electronica gastronomical tasty bit called Candy Store. A very tasty raw dance it tune with a little rap involved. Moving on to the 1st released track 4 Minutes and the long awaited duet with Justin Timberlake. I have to say the video did not move me very much. But this song is the back track for a Sunsilk shampoo commercial here in Montreal. Give it to me, is very poppy and dancy. You can imagine a dance floor with lits of lights and dancers on stage ALA Hung up. You have a little electronica keyboard which is a nice touch on the track. Heartbeat opens with the beat and a great little grove which I happen to like. It has a great swinging four time beat, a groove I can see myself dancing on the Metro to. This may be my favorite track on the disc.

Miles Away opens with a little guitar, I really like the guitar. Ala La Isla Bonita from the Confessions Tour. I kind of like this tasty rift of music. Yes, I have to say that this is a close second on the listing. She’s not me, has a 70’s like vibe to it ala “Music” from Confessions, rhythmically well done, and in true Madge style the harmony is tasty.

Incredible, another electronica piece in staccato fashion, with the beat on the down low. I like the bottom base beat on this track. It is a very simple track with a multi-layered effect which is kool. The ‘Beat goes on’ carries up forward in the musical journey it has some great beats and vocals. Dance 2 Night opens with Justin telling Madonna that he is going to take her to a club, another duet on the track with Mr. Justin. It is smooth and on the down low. The track is reminiscent of “Erotica” from the Confessions tour, a slow groove with great harmony and vocals.

Spanish Lesson, guitar in hand and a little Spanish style musical rifts, La Isla Bonita, it is bouncy and salsy like in style. It’s ok. The “Devil Wouldn’t Recognize You” has a very Justin opening, haunting and dark, with a low down beat, I like this track. You can tell on this track that it had to be inspired by Justin, A very “What Comes Around Goes Around” like beat to it. It is a very kool track with some great beats. And to end out the disc “Who is the Master and who is the slave” track called ‘Voices,’ it has a very haunting rhythm with a down low beat and great synthesizer backing this beat.

In reading the reviews from the UK, some listeners were not impressed with Madge in the ways that every Madge concept has to better the last. They weren’t so sure that Hard Candy had accomplished that after the great successful Confessions on a Dance Floor and tour. This disc is not a “Confessions” like offering but does stand on its own, and I can see several tracks making it to radio play.

Buy the CD…


Meltdown…

One never knows when the dam is going to burst and the flood of emotions that will follow are going to occur. Over the last few weeks I have been trying to help hubby deal with his rejection by McGill University in the most helpful ways I can. Alas, I have failed in that effort.

I don’t know how to help him cope any better than I can, with all that resources I have at my disposal and people for him to speak to. How do you keep someone safe from the world? It has been a very upsetting day because hubby came home from his routine day of school and errands and he was a psychotic mess. Today we broke furniture and came to blows and I was the target of his assault. I guess I am not doing enough to help around here and that my efforts are useless and I do absolutely nothing to help him, in his own words.

We warned him of this happening. We tried to stave off the disappointment, but he is going to deal with his misfortune as he will, you can talk, talk, and talk, but as I said yesterday, people are going to have to figure it out on their own time and in their own way. So I have been sitting back watching this all come about, and they say silence gives consent right? He says that I do not talk, which is untrue. He thinks that I won’t listen without judgment, which is untrue. He has flown through this cycle very quickly and to damaging ends.

All this work he has done, has been for naught. The climbing the mountain has brought him no accolades, no scholarships, not acceptance by his peers and in his mind this has been a total outright evil rejection by a system that does not want him. We must add that as a mature student the stakes are different. We are much older that the regular university student – we may get good grades, and we may have to work harder than the rest to get ahead, but in hubby’s mind there is no difference. But there is…

Now he has to start from the beginning again and work on a second BA because his BA in English does not qualify him for very much and all of his friends got further academic acceptance including financial promissory notes of support for schools ‘out of province.’ So we talked about moving…

There are not many choices left to him to consider and the best viable plan is to return to Concordia this summer and continue his studies in communications where he has been studying for the last three years, this is not a choice he made easily, and it came with much revulsion and gnashing of teeth. How could he achieve such academic greatness, graduating with distinction and at the top of his game and not get one iota recognition from anyone further? Although on a personal level, all of his advisers told him that he is brilliant and smart, those words have fallen on deaf ears. He doubts everything that is being said to him because there was no pay off in his graduation. There isn’t going to be a huge celebration for him…

I don’t know how to help him cope any better than what I am already doing, because every time he gets angry he comes after me. and Fuck me for trying right??? In the Big Book it says that there are no justified resentments and that expectations are something that we cannot afford to have to a certain degree. Anyone knows that when you sets your sights too far up and your expectations find themselves in the stratosphere that the fall from those heights can be fatal. Hubby has had a fatal fall from heights that even I cannot save him from…

His attempt at surmounting McGill university was an exercise in futility and we all warned him of that, he did not listen. He was going to do things his way and be damned the ones who tried to deter him from starting the climb. They say that when climbing Everest [Sagarmantha] if you do not approach the mountain with respect and reverence and you do not honor the time told traditions of the climb, that you will fail at summiting the peak. McGill university was the closest to Everest that hubby was going to get, and he came at the mountain with expectations, an ego and a handful of really virulent resentments. And what did the mountain say to him…….. “You shall not summit my peak!”

He doesn’t want to attend any functions with other students because he has been humiliated at the highest degree, he only told his best friend and myself what happened. And graduation is going to be another upsetting event in his litany of fuck all events of this academic year. Many of them are moving forwards, where hubby, it seems, is only moving backwards with his going on to another BA instead of MA work.

All of his friends will be moving away and beyond and he will be stuck here, doing it all over again, and for him that is such punishment that even he cannot seem to bear at the moment. I am powerless to stop this from happening and I am not God, I cannot change the time line we are on. I am powerless over people, places and things.

So I am useless, All I do is sit here and do nothing, I contribute not enough and I am not pulling my weight around here. fuck me!!! I am without words for what happened today. I’ve been assaulted, insulted and read up one side and down the other for remaining steadfast and solid. At least I followed the program to the best of my ability and I only thought about drinking once today…

God grant me serenity…


David Archuleta Think of Me !!!

Whoa Man Hot Hot FIRE !!!


It could have been worse, Montreal police say of riot

CBC.CA news link

Police force will adjust game-night strategy after Monday night’s riot

We were sitting in our living room when the game ended and the noise from outside began to filter westward into our section of downtown. Little did we know the mayhem that was going on just up the block from home. Montreal is shamed by what happened last night. And the local government has voiced its disgust with the rioters and the massive amounts of destruction that took place.

Sad there has to be a few bad apples in the bunch. This does not bode well for other Montreal games in the future, stay tuned for more on this issue.

********************************************

Montreal police say they will review and adjust their game-night strategy after a riot left the downtown strip littered with torched cruisers and broken windows following the Canadiens’ playoff win Monday night.

Police may consider blocking off Ste-Catherine Street during upcoming playoff games, said Montreal police Chief Yvan Delorme at a news conference on Tuesday.

Several cop cars were torched as game night celebrations turned ugly in Montreal.Several cop cars were torched as game night celebrations turned ugly in Montreal.
(Photo courtesy of Alan Schneider)

Sixteen people, including three minors, were arrested and charged with various counts of mischief and assault after the riot, which boiled over after thousands of revelers gathered on Ste-Catherine Street West to celebrate the Habs’ first-round playoff series win over the Boston Bruins.

Police said they weren’t expecting the kind of violence that bubbled down the strip where thousands of revelers gathered to celebrate the Game 7 win. As the crowd thinned out, vandals smashed windows and set police cars on fire.

Police prevented any injuries and damage to civilian property, said Delorme.

“What I retain from this is there was not a citizen or a police officer injured, and I think that was the principle objective we had,” he said.

Sixteen police cruisers were torched, causing nearly $500,000 in damage.

Normally, police cars are parked at a distance from any crowd, but the force decided to keep their vehicles within sight on the street during the Habs’ home playoff games and blend in with the masses to “show visibility and be welcoming,” Delorme explained.

Police believe the riot was sparked by small, organized bands of vandals who targeted authorities.

Investigators say several cellphone and digital videos have been handed over and are providing police with a valuable source of clues.

Officers don’t want to punish hockey fans during future games for the alleged crimes committed by a few, Delorme said.

ADQ says cops should fight back in case of rioting

Opposition Leader Mario Dumont said Montreal police should have used more force to deal with rioters because officers have the backing of politicians.

Anti-riot police line up on a Montreal street Monday night after vandals stormed the downtown area.Anti-riot police line up on a Montreal street Monday night after vandals stormed the downtown area.
(Photo courtesy of Alan Schneider)

It’s up to political leaders to send a clear message to police forces that they should use means at their disposal when wide-scale vandalism breaks out like it did on Monday night, the ADQ leader said.

Quebec cabinet minister Raymond Bachand, who is responsible for the Montreal region, said the riots are a shame and do not reflect the spirit of real hockey fans.

“It’s not the 22,000 fans who were at the Bell Centre who were part of that,” said Bachand, who attended Monday night’s game.

“In any society there are bums, you know. Just people [who] take pleasure in mischief and vandalism.”

He praised Montreal police for preventing more damage and injuries from taking place.

Montreal’s downtown borough mayor Benoît Labonté chastized rioters for capitalizing on what should have been a night of celebration for hockey fans.

“These people are looking for every moment possible to challenge the authorities, and pay disrespect to the city,” he said.

Merchants clean up post-game mess

By mid-Tuesday morning, most of the broken glass on the street was swept up, but some merchants targeted by vandals were still shocked by the violent outburst.

Sports store owner Sandra Prosper had just gotten home from watching the game Monday night when her alarm company called, she said.

“I’m watching the news, and then I see my store, and some people are running in and out like it’s a free-for-all, and people are just all over the place,” she said while she cleaned up the mess in her Ste-Catherine Street store.

About a dozen stores were vandalized.

Habs fans also rioted in the downtown streets in 1993, when the storied NHL team last won the Stanley Cup.

With files from the Canadian Press