Contact Me

Friday, April 17, 2009

Islam and Christianity

This is a post I found in my drafts folder that I didn't have the guts to hit publish on last year when I wrote it. It ties in with my Rom 12 part 2, the political post and I'm cleaning the virtual house, so here goes. I may add an update on what I think now, if I have time or anything else to say.


I found out about these lectures in Florida on March 13-15. Dave Miller presented several talks on Islam. I am always intrigued when I hear this because in general, Christians don't know a lot about Islam, don't come into contact with Muslims, and present a lot of opinion with their facts.


I am all for teaching the gospel, but I am also all for fighting that temptation to belittle others to make your point. I think you can make strong, valid, Biblical arguments against Islam without equating the Quran to Mein Kampf, calling names, arguing the religion of peace or not, Allah or God. These things miss the point, are usually disparaging in nature, and should be avoided.


The last one was a lecture on the conflicts between Islam and the Christian foundation of our society, which is no doubt about our "Christian nation". This gets away from facts and Bible and gets into politics. I think God had great foresight (could be proof of inspiration) to make the Bible rather apolitical- for all people and all times. There seems to be a movement, though, pressuring Christians to make a "moral choice" in politics, which is code for choosing the Republican party (for the "twin evils" of abortion and gay marriage). I have said before that no party has a monopoly on morality, so I think the individual has to reason through all the pros and cons. If by voting, people believe that they are endorsing everything the party and candidate does or stands for, then Christians shouldn't vote. I tend not to go to that extreme. There is also a tendency in this movement to hold the Constitution up -I hesitate to say- as though it were like the Bible. I mean to say that they treat it that way in their approach, not that they think the Constitution is inspired or anything. The Founding Fathers are referenced as though we should be thinking as they thought and as though they meant for the nation never to change from what it was then. I think we Christians defintely have it easier given the history of this being a majority Christian nation. I have gotten off topic a bit, but where I was going with this is that I don't think the Constitution and nature of our nation were meant to be set in stone and if they did want that, I think we should change it. It might be convenient and in line with the Founding Fathers (which I'm not sure it is) to pray in Congress, to legislate according to the Bible, but there can be a slippery slope to the extreme. When we refuse to allow Muslims in Congress or homosexuals to see their partner in the hopsital, would or should we go further to say that only Christians can be in Congress (or only Christians that regularly attend services), or that marriage is valid only if you have never slept with anyone else, aren't having an affair, have never had an affair, etc? I don't know what the Founding Fathers envisaged, but the Bible seems to focus more on your individual life and passing the gospel on to others than putting so much emphasis on the top down approach.


I have heard people say that the fact that our nation is Christian is why we have freedoms and civil liberties. This may be true to some extent, but if we go the way some want us to go , to legislate Bible principles into law, keeping certain religions out of office, etc then it seems we are eliminating civil liberties and forcing Christianity on people which I expect would result in more bad than good if your objective is conversion. If your objective is teaching the truth, I don't see any progress being made.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Danger!! Ants Will Eat Your Brain!!

I have read a lot of silly, bigoted, racist, tear jerking, and dubious forwards, but upon reading this one I almost blew the water I was drinking all over my computer. I should probably just delete all forwards, but I can't resist. :) I hadn't seen one like this before. Enjoy!

To top off the hilarity, it says to forward this email at the end and I must say--- yes, please do! I wouldn't want you all to get that pesky itchiness and headache that accompany ants eating your brain! I mean, people with brain cancer or trauma have pain, seizures, memory problems, etc. When ants eat your brain, you get a headache and itchiness. Makes total sense! Right?

This is not true, but in case you doubt :) :
http://www.hoax-slayer.com/ants-brain-hoax.shtml


The email text I received:
Dear All,

Please read this and advise your friends and family! You may save others' lives!

Incident One: A little boy died because surgeons found ants in his brain! Apparently this boy fell asleep with some sweets in his mouth or with some sweet stuff beside him.

Ants soon got to him and some ants in fact crawled into his ear which somehow managed to go to his brain. When he woke up, he did not realize that ants had gone to his head....

After that, he constantly complained about itchiness around his face. His mother brought him to a doctor, but the doctor could not figure out what was wrong with him. He took an X-ray of the boy and to his horror; he found a group of live ants in his skull. Since the ants were still alive, the doctor could not operate on him because the ants were constantly moving around. The boy finally died. So please be careful when leaving food stuff near your bed or when eating in bed. This might attract ants. Most importantly,

NEVER you or your child eat sweets before going to bed. You or your child might attract ants while you are asleep.

Incident Two: Another similar incident happened in a hospital in Taiwan. This man was warded in the hospital and was constantly warned by the nurses not to leave food stuff by his bedside because there were ants about. He did not heed their advice. Ants finally got to him. His family members said that the man constantly complained about headaches. He died and a postmortem or autopsy was done on him. Doctors found a group of live ants in his head. Apparently, the ants had been eating bits of his brain. So friends, better be safe than sorry. Never leave food stuff beside your bed you when you go to sleep.

Please forward this to your friends and relatives.

Question:Is it reasonable to expect these conditions for Palestinians, but none for Israel?

Is it reasonable to expect (these) conditions for Palestinians, but none for Israel?

Renounce violence – Israel doesn’t

Recognize Israel - Israel doesn’t have to recognize Palestine

Accept Roadmap- Israel rejects (Israel supporters claim Israel follows this, all agreements and ceasefires, but teh 14 reservations that must be in place before it can think about accepting it kind or defeat it's purpose in the first place.)

Roadmap- Israel said they’d sign but had 14 reservations (Palestinians not allowed violence or incitement/criticism, but Israel is, no discussion of settlements, etc) so wouldn’t observe it (??).
Here are the 14 – totally guts the agreement; they should just say no, we won’t do it. But then maybe they'd lose the "man of peace" moniker, so scratch that.
http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Peace/road1.html

Several of these are their obligations under international law, hence should occur independently and not be conditional upon any Palestinian actions.


Monday, April 13, 2009

GWB Foundation???

With a Reunion Planned, Bush Eases Back Into the Public Eye
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/11/us/politics/11web-baker.html?_r=1&nl=pol&emc=pola1

Good thing the shindig is in Dallas, or any number of them could be arrested for war crimes!

Seriously, though, a future George W. Bush Policy Institute?? This is just puzzling to me. Optimistically speaking, maybe it will have absolutely nothing to do with foreign policy. I mean, Iraq, 48 hour ultimatums, pre-emptive war, going to war based on WMD rumors and cartoons, Abu Ghraib, extraordinary rendition, Guantanamo, illegal combatants, declaring "war on terror", warrantless wiretapping, NSEERS, blind support for Israel (including its violations of law), double standard-requiring Palestinians to meet criteria that Israel refuses to meet, etc. There is a long list of really bad directions and wrong turns that were never corrected.

Maybe someone has learned a lot and will set up a foundation to study how all of these horrendous things happened- or how Bush's original plans (I'd like to think they started out noble enough) went so horribly, horribly wrong. Judging from Cheney and likes of others Bush surrounded himself with, though, I suspect it will be a foundation dedicated to correcting a few glitches (not teh torture, but the getting caught; not the secret prisons, but the public finding out about them, etc) in an otherwise grand and successful plan for a war on Islam, ahem terrorism, and forced American democratization (only recognized if your leader is approved by us, of course!) of the Middle East.

The guy has strong points. He did some good in Africa. Why not expand on that?

Please, please, please stay away from foreign policy!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Question and 'professor fired for speaking out'

Question to anyone who wants to answer: Is having a professor removed or denied tenure (Kovel, Finkelstein) for criticizing Israel at all similar to firing a person for analyzing and/or condemning governments of other countries (i.e. France, China, Iran, Cuba for human rights, communism, lack of freedom of speech, etc.)- or is it apples and oranges or is one more acceptable or crazy to you than the other?

***
Generally, Americans get up in arms about crackdowns on freedom of speech. This is one of the things that makes our country. It's why many come here from other countries to live.

When someone gets fired for criticizing Israel, the crowds clear out, people look the other way. No one wants to be called anti-Semitic for defending (even factually correct) criticism of Israel.

Let me just say it-
CRITICISM OF ISRAEL IS NOT ANTI-SEMITISM!
HATRED OF JEWS (or technically Semites, which would include Arabs, ironically) IS ANTI-SEMITISM!

Here is Joel Kovel's statement after being fired from Bard:
http://www.muzzlewatch.com/2009/02/19/joel-kovel-accuses-bard-of-firing-him-for-his-anti-zionist-scholarship/

Here's a piece that goes into the criticism = anti-Semitism bit:
http://www.counterpunch.org/landau03132009.html

The end of this article made me chuckle:

“Long Live Israel,” scream the US fans. “Anyone who doesn’t like our team is an anti-Semite.” I want to shout: “Go Back to Israel where you didn’t come from.”

***

This also got me thinking about those wrongly accused (Sami Al-Arian) and how easy it is for people to accuse and how hard it is to prove innocence and get your reputation back.

http://harpers.org/archive/2009/03/hbc-90004539

http://www.commondreams.org/views03/1116-07.htm

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Coke tops for charities

I have been wondering something for several days and finally found my answer. No, I still don't know if or why the US thinks or doesn't know if pasta is a weapon! But at work we have a bucket to collect Coke can tabs for the Ronald McDonald House and I have been wondering why not the whole can? Surely that would get you more money faster. So I Googled and was getting worried because I saw a lot of folks on Yahoo Answers and myth-busting sites that said this is a myth, it's not worth it, etc. Then I found the source I probably should have started at:

"Ronald McDonald Houses collect pop tabs instead of entire aluminum cans because the tabs are pure high-quality aluminum, unlike cans, which consist of aluminum and other alloys. Tabs are also easier to store than whole cans."

(This is from the RMH website)

So I'll continue to save them, unlike sending email forwards upon discovering snopes.com!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Israel's war crimes and Obama on nukes- 3 items

Interesting article about Israeli war crimes in the winter attack on Gaza. I wonder if they are any closer this time to bringing charges or consequences. The level of outrage seems higher and the proof seems to be mounting. I guess it remains to be seen if justice will be done...

Anyway, it's pretty concise if you missed the coverage of the attacks, so do read.

Israel on Trial
By GEORGE BISHARAT
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/04/opinion/04bisharat.html

"While Israel disputes some of the soldiers’ accounts, the evidence suggests that Israel committed the following six offenses..."

***
Someone on a forum I like to frequent- when things don’t get too, too conservative, that is- had mentioned that Israel isn’t a signatory to the white phosphorus convention (so that means white phosphorus isn’t dangerous, they are allowed to use it in civilian areas, etc???) when I brought that up.

It’s true that the US and Israel are not signatories to the 3rd protocol on conventional weapons, but the fact that both countries deny it’s use at first, then admit to using it (but of course it was used according to international law if at all... :roll: ) upon being confronted with damaging evidence suggests they know they shouldn't be using it or know they abused it (or they have no problems with it whatever (???), but don't want to admit to using it because all other countries think otherwise).

http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1231663993052&pagename=Zone-English-News/NWELayout


Israel’s military manuals have restrictions on its use and the fact that both countries deny using it (at first) tells us that not being a signatory means they don’t want to be in violation of international law for using something that very obviously needs restrictions and oversight and they "feel guilty" (if a state can- you get my meaning, though- they lied, then admitted to using it).

(Here are alternate sources with the same info if you have a problem with Arab sources:)
http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/news/israeli-armys-use-white-phosphorus-gaza-clear-undeniable-20090119
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/20/gaza-white-phosphorus
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15375119/
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/777549.html
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7831424.stm

***

Here is one of France 24's headlines in my inbox:

Obama: 'Yes we can' have a world without nuclear weapons
"The United States will take concrete steps towards a world without nuclear weapons," US President Barack Obama said in a speech delivered in Prague before a crowd of tens of thousands.

Interesting. A worthy goal. I'm all for non-proliferation. However, if the US (and Israel) won't disarm, this is unrealistic. I understand us wanting to keep some around in case of emergency, for threatening rogue states, etc, but be honest and stop the non-prolifertaion garbage. The US won’t get rid of it’s stockpile. We know that. Israel won’t either- in fact, they won’t even acknowledge they have them. I don't remember if they are still holding on to the Dimona is a textile factory lie or if Vanunu caused them to abandon that nonsense. The US won’t pressure Israel to do anything it doesn’t want to- after all they have a democracy and need to do what’s best for them. Who cares if they disregard international laws that we force other nations to comply with and have a horrible human rights record. Who cares if they have a card carrying terrorist openly advocating ethnic cleansing in government? We don't. Who cares if we share intel with them, but they withhold vital lifesaving intel from US? Who cares if they bomb us (USS Liberty) and get us to cover it up? They are a democracy. Sort of. If you like South Africa-style apartheid democracies. And I guess we love them!