In all the furor over the economic passages of Evangelii Gaudium, other sections of that lengthy document have received short shrift. Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa has the comments of Father Samir Khalil Samir, an Egyptian Jesuit, on these passages:
1. Muslims “together with us adore the One, merciful God” (No. 252)
I would advise caution here. It is true Muslims worship one and merciful God. However, this sentence suggests that the two conceptions of God are equal. Yet in Christianity God is the Trinity in its essence, plurality united by love: He is a bit more than just clemency and mercy. We have two quite different conceptions of the Divine One. Muslims characterize God as inaccessible. The Christian vision of the Oneness of the Trinity emphasizes that God is Love which is communicated: Father-Son-Spirit, or Lover-Beloved-Love, as St. Augustine suggested.
Moreover, what does the mercy of the God of Islam mean? He has mercy for whom he wants and not on those whom displease him. “Allah might admit to His mercy whom He willed” (Koran 48:25). These expressions are, almost literally, in the Old Testament (Exodus 33:19). But never arrive at saying that “God is love” (1 John 4:16), like St John.
Mercy in the case of Islam is that of the rich man who stoops over the poor and gives him something. But the Christian God is the one who lowers Himself to the level of the poor man in order to raise him up; He does not show his wealth to be respected (or feared) by the poor: he gives Himself in order the poor should live.
2. “The sacred writings of Islam have retained some Christian teachings” (No. 252)
This is true in a sense, but it is somewhat ambiguous. It is true that Muslims retain words or facts from the canonical gospels, such as the story of the Annunciation which is found almost literally in chapters 3 (The Family of Imr?n) and 19 (Mariam).
But more frequently the Koran is inspired by the pious tales of the apocryphal Gospels, and do not draw from them the theological sense they contain, and do not give these facts or words the meaning that they actually have, not out of malice, but because they do not contain the overall vision of the Christian message.
3. The figure of Christ in the Koran and the Gospel (No. 252)
The Koran refers to “Jesus and Mary [who] are the object of profound veneration”. To tell the truth, Jesus is not an object of veneration in the Muslim tradition. Instead, Mary is venerated, especially by Muslim women, who willingly go to the places of pilgrimage.
The lack of veneration for Jesus Christ is probably explained by the fact that, in the Koran, Jesus is a great prophet, famous for his miracles on behalf of a poor and sick humanity, but he is not the equal of Muhammad. Only mystics have a certain devotion to him, as the sol-called “Spirit of God”.
In fact, all that is said of Jesus in the Koran is the exact opposite of Christian teachings. He is not the Son of God, but a prophet and that’s it. He is not even the last of the prophets, because instead the “seal of the prophets” is Muhammad (Koran 33:40). Christian revelation is only seen as a step towards the ultimate revelation brought by Muhammad, i.e. Islam.
4. The Koran is opposed to all the fundamental Christian dogmas
The figure of Christ as the second person of the Trinity is condemned. In the Koran it says explicitly to Christians: ” O People of the Scripture! Do not exaggerate in your religion nor utter aught concerning Allah save the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah, and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers, and say not ‘Three’ – Cease! (it is) better for you! – Allah is only One God. Far is it removed from His Transcendent Majesty that “(Koran 4:171). These verses against the Trinity are very clear and need no interpretation.
The Koran denies the divinity of Christ: “O Jesus, Son of Mary, did you say to the people, ‘Take me and my mother as deities besides Allah?’” (Koran 5:116). And Jesus denies it!
Finally, the Koran negates Redemption. It even says that Jesus Christ did not die on the Cross, but it was a look-alike: “And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them” (Koran 4:157). In this way God saved Jesus from the wickedness of the Jews. But then Christ did not save the world!
In short, the Koran and Muslims deny the essential dogmas of Christianity: the Trinity, the Incarnation and Redemption. It should be added that this is their most absolute right! But you can not then say that “The sacred writings of Islam retain part of Christian teachings”. You simply must speak of the “Jesus of the Koran” which has nothing to do with the Jesus of the Gospels.
The Koran mentions Jesus because it aims to complete the revelation of Christ to exalt Muhammad. Besides, seeing what Jesus and Mary do in the Koran, we notice that it is no more than apply the prayers and fasting according to the Koran. Mary is certainly the most beautiful figure among all those presented in the Koran: she is the Virgin Mother, whom no man has ever touched. But she can not be the Theotokos; instead she is a good Muslim. Continue reading
(Cross-posted at Acts of the Apostasy - and no, this one isn’t satire)
It’s not news when irrelevant people spout irrational opinions, because it happens nearly all the time, but hey – it’s been a slow day.
Let’s get right to it. This week the Carter Center’s Mobilizing Faith for Women conference will ask the question, “Can religion be a force for women’s rights instead of a source of women’s oppression?” What’s your answer?
Well, religion can be, and I think there’s a slow, very slow, move around the world to give women equal rights in the eyes of God. What has been the case for many centuries is that the great religions, the major religions, have discriminated against women in a very abusive fashion and set an example for the rest of society to treat women as secondary citizens. In a marriage or in the workplace or wherever, they are discriminated against. And I think the great religions have set the example for that, by ordaining, in effect, that women are not equal to men in the eyes of God.
This has been done and still is done by the Catholic Church ever since the third century, when the Catholic Church ordained that a woman cannot be a priest for instance but a man can. A woman can be a nurse or a teacher but she can’t be a priest. This is wrong, I think. As you may or may not know, the Southern Baptist Convention back now about 13 years ago in Orlando, voted that women were inferior and had to be subservient to their husbands, and ordained that a woman could not be a deacon or a pastor or a chaplain or even a teacher in a classroom in some seminaries where men are in the classroom, boys are in the classroom. So my wife and I withdrew from the Southern Baptist Convention primarily because of that…
In the Islamic world that varies widely depending on what the regime is in the capital. Sometimes they try to impose very strict law, misquoting I think the major points of the Qur’an, and they ordain that a woman is inferior inherently. Ten year old girls can be forced to marry against their wishes, and that women can be treated as slaves in a marriage, and that a woman can’t drive an automobile, some countries don’t let women vote, like Saudi Arabia.
Yeah, the Catholic Church is just like the Islam religion in how women are treated. Practically indistinguishable. And in case he was unclear, later in the interview, Jimmy mentions the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Continue reading
The title is meant to be hyperbolic. Obviously Islam is not the official religion of this country. However, there are signs that Islam is beginning to receive a deference in this country that is denied to other faiths. Points to consider:
1. The Prophet Mohammed-Newscasts routinely bestow upon Mohammed the title of Prophet. I think I would faint if I head a member of the Mainstream media refer to Jesus Christ, the Son of God. A little thing perhaps but the Mainstream Media is usually a good barometer of liberal opinion in this country.
2. Sensitivity Training-The US military is ramping up Islamic Sensitivity Training for our troops.
3. Government Censorship-After Mona Eltahawy, journalist, activist and publicity hound, defaced an anti-Jihadist post in the New York Subway, the Metropolitan Transit Authority amended its policy on advertisements to ban those that “would incite or provoke violence.” This of course gives a heckler’s veto over advertisements. The woman behind the poster, Pamela Geller, also a publicity hound, vows a fight in the courts.
4. Obama and the Mohammed Video-President Obama has gone out of his way to denounce the Mohammed video. Other faiths are routinely mocked in this country: the Piss Christ of Andres Serrano which received an award in 1987 paid in part by the National Endowment of the Arts, an agency of the Federal government, there is a hit play running on Broadway, The Book of Mormon, which savagely denounces the Mormon faith, in 2010 the Loveland Museum in Colorado City, city owned and operated, displayed a painting, The Misadventures of Romantic Cannibals, which was a bitter attack on the Church. When Christians have complained about such insults, they have usually received a lecture on the First Amendment, told not to view it if it offends them, and, in general, told to suck it up.
5. First Amendment-Last week I wrote a post, which may be read here, in which Christopher Johnson fisked University of Chicago law professor Eric Posner’s view that the First Amendment was not an absolute bar to banning anti-Islamic statements. Last year Justice Stephen Breyer of the United States Supreme Court seemed to indicate that the burning of a Koran might be equivalent to yelling fire in a crowded theater.
6. Government Policy-There have been incidents under the current administration that have been very odd in regard to Islam. One of the odder ones was the statement by Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator, that the top priority for NASA according to President Obama was “and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science … and math and engineering.” Continue reading
Newt Gingrich in a great article sums up the surreal world we now inhabit thanks to the Obama Administration:
The policies of Obama have made our intellectual incoherence and strategic incompetence even worse.
It is no accident that the embassy in Cairo issued a groveling statement, apologizing to the haters for having inconvenienced them with American freedom of speech.
The embassy was simply following Clinton’s lead, set months earlier in her meetings with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
The OIC has a long- term campaign to manipulate the U.S. government into defining any criticism or improper reference to Islam as unacceptable.
No one should be confused by this. As Andy McCarthy wrote yesterday, the Islamist definition of heresy would destroy American free speech.
The Obama administration is waging war on the Catholic Church while appeasing the most extreme elements of Islam.
This is the bizarre situation we now find ourselves in. Continue reading
Time magazine, anyone still reading it?, has a truly despicable piece by Bruce Crumley in which he basically says that “they had it coming” after a French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, was firebombed:
Okay, so can we finally stop with the idiotic, divisive, and destructive efforts by “majority sections” of Western nations to bait Muslim members with petulant, futile demonstrations that “they” aren’t going to tell “us” what can and can’t be done in free societies? Because not only are such Islamophobic antics futile and childish, but they also openly beg for the very violent responses from extremists their authors claim to proudly defy in the name of common good. What common good is served by creating more division and anger, and by tempting belligerent reaction?
The difficulty in answering that question is also what’s making it hard to have much sympathy for the French satirical newspaper firebombed this morning, after it published another stupid and totally unnecessary edition mocking Islam. The Wednesday morning arson attack destroyed the Paris editorial offices of Charlie Hebdo after the paper published an issue certain to enrage hard-core Islamists (and offend average Muslims) with articles and “funny” cartoons featuring the Prophet Mohammed—depictions forbidden in Islam to boot. Predictably, the strike unleashed a torrent of unqualified condemnation from French politicians, many of whom called the burning of the notoriously impertinent paper as “an attack on democracy by its enemies.”
We, by contrast, have another reaction to the firebombing: Sorry for your loss, Charlie, and there’s no justification of such an illegitimate response to your current edition. But do you still think the price you paid for printing an offensive, shameful, and singularly humor-deficient parody on the logic of “because we can” was so worthwhile? If so, good luck with those charcoal drawings your pages will now be featuring. Continue reading
Ronald Reagan was able to win the Cold War without engaging the former Soviet Union in a terrible military conflict. Regan understood the nature of the battle. He called the former Soviet Union ‘the evil empire.” From his deep religious faith, Reagan well understood that the battle at hand was a battle between good and evil. He also understood that the Communism of the former Soviet Union, because of its erroneous principles, would eventually collapse.
Although Communism is still a serious problem in China, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela; a new, far more serious enemy is attempting to destroy our nation and our way of life. Radical Islam presents a greater threat than any other form of totalitarianism known to modern history.
Radical Islamic fundamentalism is much more dangerous than any form of Communism, precisely because Islam is a religion whereas communism, although it has religious overtones, is an ideology. There is a difference between the two systems.
Communists organize riots and protests. Communists engage in subversive activity. Communists enslave nations and deny people their most fundamental rights. Communism has armies and weapons of mass destruction. All of this is true of the radical Muslims, except for one very important difference: Communists do not blow themselves up; Islamic terrorists do.
Reagan was able to win the Cold War precisely because Communism is an ideology. But, how will we win the war on terror?
My colleague Paul Zummo wrote recently here at TAC responding to presidential candidate Herman Cain’s recent remarks about mosques: The Constitution Isn’t a Suicide Pact. It is not my intention to either defend or criticize Herman Cain, nor to talk about radical Islam, per se, but Zummo’s article touches on a topic that is too frequently ignored. Whether we are talking about abortion, terror-supporting mosques, so-called ‘gay marriage’, pornography, or any other topics where issues of morality come up in politics, we should recognize that people of faith are always going to be butting heads in the public sphere with those who claim that the Constitution gives us the freedom to do evil. Does the Constitution give us the freedom to do evil? No. It doesn’t.
Does the Constitution give religions the freedom to preach terror? I would argue that the answer to that is no. This is what I’m sure Herman Cain was referring to, and I agree with him on the point, however ineloquent he may have been.
The Constitution must not be read in a vacuum. It was authored by people of faith, for people of faith. It proceeded from the Declaration of Independence and has foundation in the Declaration’s principle that all men are created equal by the one Creator recognized by Jews and Christians universally. The Founders were certainly aware of Islam, but I doubt they would have thought that Americans would stand for allowing Islamists to put our lives at risk under the guise of ‘freedom of religion’.
Jews and Christians to this day continue in their shared acknowledgment that we owe our rights to the same Creator. This is why we say that America is a Judeo-Christian state. Even so, we should welcome those of other faiths, provided that they live in the same respect for human dignity that is inherent in the Judeo-Christian ethic.
Because the vast majority of Americans – whether Jew or Christian – understood from the beginning that our rights come from God alone, it was understood universally, as well, that we do not have freedom to do evil. Instead, we are all bound to be what we believe the Creator has called us to be. The first Americans understood this clearly, whereas today, the Constitution is frequently held up as a document that protects the freedom to do evil. As of late, the call is for evil to be enshrined as good, and for good to be condemned because it challenges evil. The latest clear example is the recent ‘gay marriage’ law passed in New York.
The primary example of this enshrinement was the 1973 Roe v Wade decision which legalized abortion. Slavery might have been similarly enshrined as a Constitutional “right” by the Dred Scott decision had people of good will not risen up to correct the wrong. As more and more people rise up to correct the wrong which was the Constitutional enshrinement of abortion, a new movement seeks to enshrine another evil: “gay marriage”.
Let us not make the mistake of enshrining evil as good, be it in giving radical Islam protected status as “religion” or in giving gay marriage protected status as if it were a legitimate union for the good of society.
Much is at stake in our time. Let’s pay attention and not throw any babies out with the bathwater.
But it is a document that ensures a pesky little thing called religious freedom, something that Herman Cain has seemingly missed.
Herman Cain, a Republican presidential candidate, says Americans have the right to ban Muslims from building mosques.
“They have the right to do that,” Cain said on Fox News Sunday, expressing his concerns with Sharia law. “I’m willing to take a harder look at people that might be terrorists.”
Cain’s comments were in reference to a Tennessee town that is attempting to ban a mosque in its community. “That’s not discriminating based upon their particular religion,” he said. “There is an aspect of them building that mosque that doesn’t get talked about. And the people in the community know what it is and they’re talking about it.”
“Our Constitution guarantees the separation of church and state,” Cain said. “Islam combines church and state. They’re using the church part of our First Amendment to infuse their morals in that community, and the people in the community do not like it.”
I’m the last person to deny the perniciousness of many elements within Islam, but this is nonsense on stilts. The most deliciously ironic aspect of this comment is Cain’s relying on the “separation of church and state trope.” So Cain doesn’t seem to think that the First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion, which it in fact does, but he does think it guarantees a separation of church and state, which it in fact does not. And I especially have to laugh at Cain saying “They’re using the church part of our First Amendment to infuse their morals in that community and the people in the community do not like it.” First of all, the church part of our First Amendment? What? Second, does anyone doubt that if an atheist or hardened leftist (I know, I’m being redundant) had said something like this he would have been excoriated by most conservatives. Evidently only pre-approved religious viewpoints are allowed to influence people in a given community. Perhaps Herman Cain would like to share with us which viewpoints are acceptable, this way we can be all clear in the future.
Naturally this has provided an opportunity for people to beat their chests and play “more righteously angry and conservative than thou.” Because only a hippy could possibly think that it is a dangerous thing to start prohibiting certain religions from constructing places of worship. This selective application of the first amendment could never be applied to Catholics, right? No one could possibly fathom using the same precise rationale that Cain has advanced here in order justify blocking the construction of a Roman Catholic Church.
I thought the construction of the Islamic cultural center at Ground Zero was a terrible idea, but that had to do with the symbolic import of the location. Even then, I thought the way to oppose it was through social pressure, not by the strong arm of the state intervening and prohibiting construction. The people of the local community can certainly express their displeasure, but once we allow the state to intervene we have destroyed the concept of religious freedom.
And yes, I know that many adherents of Islam do not even believe in the concept of religious freedom. Certainly there is a political element within Islam that makes it as much an ideology as a religion, at least in certain quarters. But are we willing to completely write off all Muslims as deranged fanatics unworthy of constitutional protections? If you think as Herman Cain does, then that’s implicitly what you are saying.
At the Catholic Herald today comes an important story offering an overview of the Muslim Brotherhood’s activities in Egypt and the plight of Christians who are now suffering greatly in the aftermath of the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak.
Further political success may come the Muslim Brotherhood’s way. The interim military government which followed Mubarak has announced parliamentary elections in September and presidential elections two months later. Reflecting on the potentially huge political changes to come, one bishop told us: “Under Mubarak the Muslim Brothers were under Gestapo control; they were underground. Now they are very visible. They may get up to half the seats in the next election. This is a great concern for us. There was a strong message awaiting us when we met Coptic Catholic Patriarch Cardinal Antonios Naguib in his office in Cairo. A gentle, self-effacing man, Patriarch Naguib wasted no time in saying: “Now is the moment to really participate in the evolution of society. What matters is to have confidence in our beliefs and to have the strength to express our message.”
Be sure to read the whole thing. Regular readers at my blog know that I’ve tried to keep abreast of the situation in Egypt even since long before the ousting of Mubarak. I consider the article to be an accurate accounting of what is happening there, from a Christian perspective. If you read only one article on Egypt, read the article at Catholic Herald.
Remember that President Obama and the mainstream media supported the ousting of Mubarak while conservatives in America (notably, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton) expressed serious concerns since Mubarak was successfully holding the Muslim Brotherhood at bay. In Five Revolutions Backed by George Soros, in February, I expressed misgivings about Soros funding of the revolution. Egyptian Christians have expressed some mild disdain for such criticisms, but as things become more and more bloody there, perhaps those critics have changed their minds.
At FrontPageMag, for your consideration: The Muslim Brotherhood’s Penetration of the Obama Administration.
Below is the latest news about the Muslim Brotherhood from around the web. Be aware that opinions in these links are very diverse and may or may not be entirely accurate portrayals of what is occurring with the Muslim Brotherhood. Please use good judgment.
On Twitter, follow @Nefrette (Nefrette Halim) and @CopticNews for updates on the plight of Christians in Egypt. On Facebook, my friend David Nageh does a good job sharing updates from the perspective of a Christian in Egypt.
Many thanks to the Catholic Herald for their excellent reporting on Egypt’s Christians.
Warner Todd Huston reports on an exchange between MSNBC fill-in host Chuck Todd and Time Magazine’s World Editor Bobby Ghosh.
GHOSH: The thing to keep in mind that’s very important here is that the Koran to Muslims, it is not, it is not the same as the Bible to Christians.
The Bible is a book written by men. It is acknowledged by Christians that it is written by men. It’s the story of Jesus.
GHOSH: But the Koran, if you are a believer, if you’re a Muslim, the Koran is directly the word of God, not written by man. It is transcribed, is directly the word of God.
That makes it sacred in a way that it’s hard to understand if you’re not Muslim. So the act of burning a Koran is much more, potentially much, much more inflammatory than…
TODD: Directly attacking… directly attacking God.
GHOSH:…than if you were to burn a, burn a Bible.
TODD: … Directly attacking God.
The stupid, it hurts.
This is a nonsensical distinction. Jews and Christians may acknowledge that the Bible was physically written by men, but we also believe that it is the inerrant word of God. No, the biblical authors did not act as mindless stenographers transcribing for the Almighty, but they were truly inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit. This makes it no less sacred or less holy to us than the Koran is to Muslims. After all, there must be some reason that we place our hands on the Bible when we make public oaths, right? If it was just a bunch of words written by men, then why would we swear by it?
No, the different reactions to the desecration of our holy books has nothing to do with how we respectively view them. What they tell us is not that Muslims revere the Koran more than we revere the Bible, but rather that a certain portion of the Muslim population will violently react to any mere insult, and that violent extremists within Islam are looking for any excuse to kill infidels. But that’s a lot less politically correct of an explanation than the vapidness offered by these two goofs.
The five minute window between approximately 5:16 and 5:21 p.m. is my least favorite time of the day. Not only am I usually waiting for a bus that has about a 25% chance of showing up, that’s when both the sports radio talk show that I listen to and the Michael Medved show hit commercial breaks. This leaves me a few options: turn off the darned radio for a few minutes, see if one of the FM stations is playing a good song, or flip to Sean Hannity. Perhaps out of some yearning to perform an daily act of penance I often choose option three. (To understand why this is a quasi-penitential act for me, you can read my post about Hannity here.) At least he usually has on a guest during this time slot who is both more informative and entertaining than he is – a low bar to be sure.
Today he had two guests, both Muslim. One was a woman that I’ve heard on his show before. I am not sure if she is currently a practicing Muslim, but she clearly thinks that it is in the thrall of radicals, and she makes this clear by practically shouting each word that she speaks. The other gentleman was a “moderate” Muslim. The few minutes of the exchange that I listened to largely consisted of the former insisting that the latter’s abhorrence of sharia law and radicalism was a minority viewpoint within Islam, and the latter insisting that he represented the majority viewpoint. Neither really advanced any supporting evidence for either viewpoint save to just insist more fervently in their respective positions. Thrilling radio.
Before tuning out to return to the vitally important discussion of the NCAA tournament (perhaps an even stricter form of penance), the man said something that struck me as rather bizarre. He stated that he did not think that any religion was any better than any other, and that to believe that one’s own religion was superior to other religions was a sign of arrogance.
Come again? Continue reading