Month: May 2007

Islam Beheaded

Jerry Falwell, the presidential kingmaker, died recently, his legacy being to raise the profile of the Christian Right with the influence of its large voting bloc in US politics. Jerry put his foot in it more than once, inter alia referring unkindly to Mohammed as a ‘terrorist’. It might be argued that he only did for Christianity what many radical imams do for Islam every Friday in London mosques.

Falwell’s disastrous legacy does not lie only in American politics. He, like many of his evangelical brethren, took an aggressive and inhospitable view of religions other than Christianity.  I was well aware of his characterizations of Islam, and how they served to divide and set people at odds with one another, rather than to encourage peace and harmonious relationships. His belligerent stance against other religions only facilitates stereotyping and arrogance, both of which enable the kind of ongoing conflict and warfare we see today between America and various Muslim countries.

Clearly, this isn’t mine. It is from here

Even a cursory reading of the Quran, which increasing numbers of Westerners have done since 9/11 suggests the concept of Ms Taylor’s Muslims for Progressive Values is is a wee bit disingenuous, even oxymoronic. Muslims don’t do progressive since doublethink is a prevailing mindset within Islam and its nominal proponents seek less to reconcile its barbaric beginnings with appropriately 21st century human rights than simply replace them. There is a chink in the armour, however. Islam dragged its feet when mass printing became available; they continue to do so in the era of Internet communications. In the propaganda war, Islam will lose out ideologically since it is losing the race against time. That’s why Muslims work so hard to curb freedom of religious speech and any “mockery” or even rational criticism targeting Islam in infidel countries. Will Muslims bomb away freedom of speech in the West before we attempt to detonate this unexploded bomb underneath Islam’s feet? Every time there is a terrorist attack, we respond by increasing the volume of criticism of Islam in circulation on the Internet. Some would claim that this isn’t our fight. Yeah. Right. Ernest Renan, the influential French thinker and almost-priest, scourge of both Catholicism and Islam, has said that if there ever was something like a Reformation in the Islamic world, the West should gracefully stay out of it. However, he lived in the 19th century and could not have imagined that we would be naive enough to let millions of Muslims settle in major Western cities. We are implicated now, whether we want to be or not. We are no longer just ‘fighting’ against Islam but for our own freedom of speech, and thus democracy itself, which some might assert is worth fighting for. Maybe we can’t slay the dragon, but we can almost certainly help the people who can.

 

 

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Pellets and Aubergines

Dear, oh dear. The Holy Father is getting a bit precious about South America, it seems, and an 18th Century friar, Antonio Galvao, has become the first Brazilian-born saint. Slam dunk for the Catholics, but they’re still well behind on points to the Evangelicals.At a monastery in Sao Paulo, followers of Friar Galvao still use a “miracle cure” on which his reputation rests.

Here’s the deal. The cure comprises tiny paper pellets inscribed with Latin prayers that the faithful swallow whole in the belief that it can rid them of ailments. One wonders what exactly was written in the miraculous vulgate that precipitated an untwisted Fallopian tube, hence the birth of a boy, attributed to Fr Galvao’s techniques. Also, does mastication invalidate the prescription? Two miracles minimum gets you into the sainthood club. Fascinating. A very superficial trawl reveals that the age of miracles is by no means dead, they sprout and flourish everywhere, in manifold guises and belief systems.

Now, a little interfaith dialogue. In 1996, the home of Salim and Ruksana Patel, in Bolton, was inundated with about fifty visitors a day, coming to see their miraculous aubergine. Mrs Patel foresaw the miracle in a dream after she’d bought the aubergine from their local shop. On slicing the vegetable in half, she saw that the seeds were formed in the Muslim symbol “Ya-Allah”, meaning Allah exists. Mr Patel said: “I felt so excited I ran round to the priest and he confirmed that it was indeed a miracle.” Abdulla Patel, priest of the local Masjide-Gosia mosque, said: “In all my years as a priest, I have never witnessed anything like this. It is wonderful for the community, and for Salim …” When the aubergine had been displayed for several weeks in the mosque it was divided into small pieces and shared among the faithful.

Ah. Excellent. No surprises there, then……Fr Galvao died in 1822.

Soomer is icomen in

Is a traditional English round, dating from the mid 13th century and is possibly the oldest such example of six part polyphony. It is sometimes known as the Reading Rota because the manuscript comes from Reading Abbey. The spelling is transliterated from a Wessex dialect. Interesting. Thanks, Wiki.
My Gaelic blood stirs at this time of the year. The Feast of Bealtaine, when the herds were driven to the summer pastures and various festive Celtic practices observed, falls, it would seem, today.
In the past, particularly in central Ireland, great bonfires would mark a time of purification and transition, heralding in the season in the hope of a good harvest later in the year, and were accompanied with ritual acts to protect the people from harm.
Beltane was considered to be the beginning of summer. So, welcome to halfway house, between the vernal equinox and the summer solstice.
No, I am not slipping into my woad-clad polytheistic dotage. Summer here is just beginning, a sleeping giant is being slowly awoken and the fires are being stoked. Today was 42 degrees Celsius in the shade and we’re hardly getting started yet. At full snarl, the malevolence gets to a punishing over 50, exposure to which dehydrates with astonishing speed. My new car has front and rear air conditioning, which provides essential refrigeration during the summer months . I thought you might like to see a picture of it.