Wednesday, December 9, 2015

I am Rapidly Becoming A Revisionist [UPDATED]

One argument in comments on this, a recent post has been the question of whether going "full Trump" (banning Muslim refugees/immigrants) is a good/bad/indifferent/terrible idea.
Two thoughtful pieces pointing out that there is more to Trump's idea than meets the idea (or, alternatively, more for objectors to Trump to think about) are here and here.

Some would say I already am a revisionist (in the sense of a former conservative having lost his way and woken up on the dark side of liberal Christianity/politics) but I think I am revising some views because ... I have very much appreciated an excellent set of comments over the past week on a couple of (diverse) issues, Anglican Communion futures (and pasts) and justified war, or not, in Syria/Iraq against Daesh. The rocket scientists among you will have worked out that my lack of response to comments for a few days means I have been in "conference mode" - at the Association of Aotearoa New Zealand Biblical Studies annual conference in Auckland - so able to keep an eye on comments coming in, limited ability to spend mental effort on composing responses. Back on terra firma and with a time opportunity ... here goes!

Anglican Communion Futures

I readily and happily concede - as pointed out via a comment drawing attention to a David Virtue post - that the position of the Anglican Church of South Sudan and the Sudan is nuanced in a way that my post last week did not realise. That is, in aligning with ACNA and cutting ties with TEC, nevertheless that remain firmly in fellowship with those bishops and dioceses within TEC who are (to coin a phrase, not) standing firm. Thus my question whether the AC might be divided in three by the end of January 2016 is overly simplistic!

I also take on board a comment made today: it is helpful to maintain this distinction: "I have come to see the Question whether there are circumstances justifying a province in planting missions in another province as different from the Question whether there are circumstances justifying a province in leaving the whole of the Communion for a part of it. That is, our judgments about ACNA and GAFCON may reasonably differ.".

General and Particular Questions of Just War

It has been very provocative (in the best sense) to have the variety of views coming in re possible justifications for going to war v Jesus' own example and teaching justifying never going to war, inter mixed with views on the particular question of whether Britain and other Western countries participating in air strikes against Daesh is justified (either morally or in utilitarian terms), meshed against comments re whether some dastardly agenda ("the great game") is being played out in a manner which the Western allies fail to understand, or, alternatively, are running in a manner hidden from their own citizenry.

Funnily enough, in the light of comments urging us to consider the difference it might make if all churches united to call for peace and non-violent resolution of the conflict, rather than offer justification for war, I happened to chance on an old schoolmate at Auckland Airport yesterday who told me about a group of Kiwis praying for the leadership of Daesh with interesting results so far re news that one key leader has converted to Christ. (I don't have a link to that news ... does anyone reading here have it?)

How might my own views have been revised in the light of your comments?

1. I recognise more clearly the lack of clarity all outsiders have - if honest - about the right and best action to undertake in Syria/Iraq re ending the civil war, constraining if not defeating Daesh. (But I also recognise, reading elsewhere on the internet, that insiders - Syrians and Iraqis - are divided on what would lead to just and peaceful resolution.) On those grounds alone it is questionable whether any Western co-ordinated bombing should be occurring at this time.

2. I have been sobered by the question whether I can find any teaching of Jesus which I could invoke to support going to war. (Side question, Is just war reasoning Aristotle's idea, which gets lightly "Christianized" in the history of the church as it supports political leadership declaring war?). Nevertheless I have also been thinking along these lines: I do not object when the (Kiwi) Armed Defenders Squad shoot to kill a dangerous offender who threatens the lives of other people and cannot be reasonably disarmed in any other way. If, as a follower of Jesus, I accept that sometimes that kind of police action is required, should I accept that some nation state actions against other nation states (or would be nation states such as Daesh) are "police" actions of a similar kind? (Some commenters have rightly noted that governments - appointed by God, Romans 13 - have duties to protect their own citizens.)

That will do for now ...

PS on the complexity of the conflict in the ME, see this moving yet intriguing article about Israel being humanitarian and political at the same time.

PPS on the Islam that I personally have experienced and read about, an Islam of engagement with truth wherever it is found and an Islam which understands its profound links to Christianity and to Judaism, head over to the NZ Herald here.


Peter Carrell said...

The following very lightly edited comment is from Andrei. (Andrei, I am omitting a word which is very difficult in today's world to justify including and I have neither time nor energy to do that justifying).

"What ever Peter - any student of history can see we are headed for an apocalyptic showdown - not only in the ME but in the South Caucasus, Eastern Europe and Central Asia including Xinjiang in China

The ball is rolling and the people are baying for Muslim blood

It doesn't matter if it is Salafist Muslim blood, Shiite Muslim blood, Alawite blood or even Arab Christian and Druze blood (them sand [people] are all the same donch'ya know)

You can point out in vain that the latest outrage was perpetrated by a Native American born man of Pakistani origin with his Pakistani bride acquired via Saudi Arabia the solution is to bomb the hell out of Syria

And the forces are building up there and in Iraq disposed in such a way as to seize the strategic oil fields and transportation routes to Turkey

Indeed the Turks have an advanced bridgehead stationed outside Mosul in Iraq
and at this point they are not about to withdraw them despite protests from the Iraqi Government and the gross violation of international law involved

Hey ho
hey ho
its off to war we go

Andrei said...

Peter Carrell said...

We get the leaders we deserve, Andrei!

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Peter,

I read the article in the Herald that you referenced, written by Dr Zain Ali who is head of the Islamic studies research unit at the University of Auckland. This is a man you would reasonably expect to be well versed in Islam.

Yet he says in his article:

" the Arabic word Islam is linked very closely with the Arabic word for peace, salam or shalom in Hebrew."

That may well be a 'secondary' meaning, but the primary meaning of the word Islam, quoting Muslim sources is as follows: "In Arabic, the word “Islam” means submission or surrender."

Is it possible that the good Doctor was engaging in a little 'Al-taqiyya' in order to defend Islam?

This is just one minor example of how difficult it is to engage in honest, reasonable and rational debate with Muslims about Islam, when its key players are quite happy to engage in Al-taqiyya and nobody in our mainstream media is prepared to challenge them.

And I might add, our theologians who should know better endorse them somewhat ironically by describing it as 'an Islam of engagement with truth wherever it is found'.

Forgive my scepticism.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
The root word for 'submission' and for 'peace', salama, is the same. I assume that the relationship is similar to that in Christian tradition, namely "In sua voluntade est nostra pace"/"In your will is our peace." When we surrender to the will of God we are at peace with God; there is no peace when we fight against God (or each other). So, no, I don't think "Taqiya" is at work in the clip; rather there is a calling on a long and honourable tradition of Islam being a "religion of peace." (That is my understanding of "religion of peace" re Islam: it is a long association in theological discussion and not a piece of linguistic chicanery).

That there was violence at the beginning of Islam's expansion and that there have been sporadic outbursts of violence in the name of Islam through Islam's history nor more raises a question of whether Islam is inherently violent than Christian history of violence (Crusades, wars between Protestants and Catholics, resort to violence in 20th century Ireland) means that Christianity is inherently violent. That is, one might want to argue that Islam IS inherently violent, but a Christian doing so might want to acknowledge that such argument could also be brought to work on Christianity.

Again, I state for the record that my own experience of living in a predominantly Muslim country, Egypt, was an experience of living in a community in which Islam was a peaceful way of life, focused on prayer, fasting and study of the Qu'ran.

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Peter

Thanks for the clarification, although I believe the substance of my argument still stands, that Islam primarily means ‘submission’ or ‘surrender’ and Dr Ali knows this very well. I would describe his Herald article as being typical of the puff pieces they often run in order to frame Islam as a religion of peace.

Are we there yet?

To your other point, I agree that followers of all religions including Christianity have resorted to violence throughout history thinking they were honouring God in the process. The difference between Christianity and Islam however is that Christians embraced violence in contradiction to Jesus teaching and example, whereas Muslims do so in accordance with Mohammad’s teaching and example.

There is no other way to dress this up.

Anonymous said...

Peter, Brendan, Jean, and Tim

*Two kingdoms doctrine* recognises both the rule that, as citizens of the kingdom of heaven, Christians should not wield the temporal sword, and also the exception by which magistrates must wield it to maintain order in the kingdom of this world (Romans 13:1-6). Thus *just war theory* is directed in the first instance to the latter, setting conditions under which they may permissibly use otherwise forbidden force: (a) the ultimate aim must be to protect all non-combatant subjects from harm, (b) the proposed intervention must itself be just, proportional, and likely to succeed. These subjects will normally be those in the magistrate’s own territory, but medieval and early modern theorists recognised that they may also be the citizens of a neighbouring state that has failed through anarchy or misrule. Hence at the end of Hamlet, the Swedish army appears in rotten Denmark. Any theory depends upon clear distinctions, and this one distinguishes between order and anarchy, magistrates and citizens, combatants and non-combatants, a given realm and its neighbours.

However, although I may commend just war theory to my political leaders as a wise and humane general policy, it says nothing to a Christian such as myself who has no armies.What then is my own responsibility? One responsibility is surely to let the "peace which passes all understanding keep [our] hearts and minds in the knowledge and the love of God." To Jean’s wise counsel to pray in the other thread, all that I can add here is that it is an antidote to both the idolatry of worshipping force and the nihilism of fearing terror. Since eucharistic notes of gratitude to God for all things and of oblation to God at all costs seem especially potent, it surprises me that more eucharists are not offered with a particular intention for the peace of a particular people who are in our thoughts. The Washington Cathedral offered Haydn’s Missa in tempore belli after the Christmas bombing of Hanoi, Leonard Bernstein conducting. What sort of mass do Christians offer for the peace of Islam?

From that life of prayer flows the witness to peace articulated in the general rule. In Christ, we should be open to peace that is the work of the Holy Spirit, both in ourselves and in the Body. At peace within ourselves, we can imagine God’s peace for persons now stricken with poverty, alienation, violence and injustice. Receptivity to the Father’s will, solidarity with others in the Son, and openness to surprises from the Holy Spirit help the spiritual sense to perceive the situation as it should be, and to advocate for that vision to others.

Hearing some angry casus belli, our practise is precisely the same. Since God wills the diversity of peoples (Babel, Pentecost) as well as states that fit them (Romans 13:1-6 again), nations are his creatures, although like other creatures they can be disfigured beyond easy recognition. Something like this seems to have happened to several peoples in West Asia-- Armenians, Kurds, and Arabs both Sunni and Shia-- who do not have states. Since, as I have mentioned elsewhere, the Picot-Sykes line and the Turkish annexation of Western Armenia are among the causes of this homelessness of nations, stable borders do not in that region define peace. Rather, in forcing unlike peoples to compete for dominance on their allotted territory, these borders have set the stage for the tyranny and genocide that we have seen. So there is a work to be done of imagining what a true peace looks like. Many can contribute to this work, among them a people made serene and clear-eyed by the Holy Spirit.

Bowman Walton

Anonymous said...

Kurt, your comments on TEC are a guilty pleasure for me. Even if I somewhat doubt the typology behind them, the facts you mention bring many associations, more pleasant than not, to mind. However, we are talking past each other. My (a), (b), (c) of Anglican consiliences explains why.

Those who seek a backward-looking fellowship that celebrates our glorious Anglican heritage need only the association that I have designated (a). When you describe The Episcopal Church as The Latitudinarian Church, conserving for the ages the way the English resisted some odious implications of Calvinism in the C17-18, you build an invincible case for Episcopalian participation in (a). This is safely beyond any serious controversy.

But those who want a forward-looking partnership that engages global challenges say they need the greater interdependence of the communion that I have designated (b). Since TEC has not been such a partner, is not organised to be such a partner, and does not even believe in such a close partnership, one must really force the imagination to envision it joining (b). But if TEC were to remove these obstacles and then apply to join some (b) anyway, then the questions asked would presumably be business-like queries about whether TEC can actually carry its weight as a missional partner in the United States. In such an unlikely conversation, it is entirely possible that an evangelical bishop from, say, Durban or Singapore could respect TEC’s work in its thin niche of American society, but could still see ACNA or a trusted ecumenical partner as the more missional choice for the long run.

Had GAFCON not threatened the existence of the Anglican Communion, we might never have asked what it is actually for. But now that the question has been asked, the emerging answer is a surprise. The centripetal vision among Anglicans today is not Anglo-Catholic as it was in much of the C20, but what we may have to call Anglo-Evangelical. Where the Lambeth Quadrilateral meets the Bebbington Quadrilateral, Anglicans have absorbed the ecclesiology of the old Anglo-Catholics, but wish to carry on an evangelical tradition of global activism (eg Wilberforce against slavery). When Justin meets Francis, they both say that intercommunion would be a good thing, someday, but they get to business discussing what global churches might do today about global matters-- refugee crises, human trafficking, and of course, cricket.

In the breadth of global support for ACNA and the Diocese of South Carolina we may already see two implications of this shift from the old sort of communion that contemplated its own perfection and the new sort of communion that actually uses it for something-- (1) what I have called (b) will choose its missional partners throughout the world, and valid orders, etc although necessary, will no longer suffice for selection; (2) where there is no suitable Anglican partner, the void may be filled by a planted mission or by a trusted ecumenical partner. This raises a host of ecclesiological and canonical questions, of course, but only the ones with which the Orthodox are already grappling as they sort out their own North American chaos.

So my curiosity about a church I have, after all, known all my life is not about its history, which I have known since college days, but about what inhibits it from being truly missional in the whole of American society today. All Anglicans have a bit of the old Latitudinarians in their hearts, or they are not quite Anglican, but this should make them all the more effective in reaching the whole of a complex society. Why this has not actually happened is a mystery that urgently needs solving.

Bowman Walton

Anonymous said...

Peter, when living in Istanbul, I have had experiences like those you describe, as well as some quite fruitful discussions with several sorts of Islamists there. Good times...

On the interminable wrangling about violence and Islam. The most salient difference between Christianity and Islam is that Jesus led his followers out of the need for a Davidic state, which effectively *secularised* coercive rule (Romans 13:1-6), while Muhammed organised his followers into a commonwealth dedicated to God, which effectively *sanctified* coercive rule. By definition, coercion exists in all states, both secular and Islamic. But insofar as Islamic law covers more of life than a civil code, and is enforced with a certain religious zeal, the law of an Islamic state can be experienced as more coercive than the law of any merely secular state. Coercion relies on penalties, and although most Muslim states substitute modern penalties, a hallmark of a truly *Islamist* state is that it uses those current in the C7.

Some persons with excitable temperaments call coercive rule violence.

New Zealand is not an Islamic state. Islamic law that is what we call *public law* presupposes that one is in an Islamic state (ie *the abode of peace*) and naturally ceases to apply when one is in a secular state (ie *the abode of war*). An observant man from Saudi Arabia in New Zealand does a few things in Riyadh that he does not do in Christchurch. To be clear about this, just ask one.

Sayyid Qutb’s Milestones published in 1964 is the basic text for understanding Islamism. It influenced the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the Muslim Brotherhood, and through them Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda, and Daesh. Qutbism holds that with the dilution of Islamic law that began in the Ottoman Empire, the Islamic lands began to revert to *jahiliyyah*, the state of spiritual blindness in which Muhammed found the idolators of Arabia. The cure for jahiliyyah is to restore the Islamic law to its former place in Islamic society. However, since the Western great powers use all their influence to prevent this, the governments that give them that influence must be overthrown and replaced with Islamic states. Armed struggle against the West is aimed at getting the great powers to withdraw their objections to shariah in Islamic lands.

Bowman Walton

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Bowman

You wrote: “What sort of mass do Christians offer for the peace of Islam?” I really don’t know but I’d welcome your suggestions!

Peter is to be congratulated for engaging with the difficult questions we face in respect to Islam. We don’t always agree of course, but I appreciate the opportunity.

Father Ron has advanced the notion of love as the antidote to domestic jihad. Who knows he may be right. Politically we have everything from Trump to Obama – Do something to do nothing as a response to domestic jihad.

We are indeed citizens of two kingdoms, but as we presently live in this world, a world God created and loves, and is on record as saying it is ‘very good’. Gen 1:31, how do those of us with ‘dual citizenship’ respond to the reality of domestic jihad?

Do we go ‘full Trump’ or ‘full Obama’ or is there another way?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bowman
The roots of current evils associated with Daesh are deep and the tentacles are reaching wide. You do not underestimate that and nor should anyone in the West.

MichaelA said...

Bowman, your post above addressed to Kurt appears to be on the wrong thread. I will respond to it on the correct one.

MichaelA said...

I don't know if it makes a difference, but its difficult to find any trace of a concept of "submission" in the Hebrew word Shalom, or the cognate verb Shalam. Translations include peace, completeness, and repayment of a debt, but nothing really resembling submission.

I dug out my Aramaic and Syriac dictionaries from uni days, and they also don't seem to have any trace of submission in the word Shlama.

It seems like the meaning of submission is a peculiarity of Arabic. These things happen.

Anonymous said...


Good questions; truly good answers to them would take more space than we have here. As usual, Father Ron has the right basic intuition, but we need to work this through carefully. I divide that work into two parts-- one concerning security, another concerning spirituality.

I take it for granted that governments with the means to hurt people and break things will use them in the interests of public safety. That is what governments do. So far as my country is concerned, all candidates for President have spoken, and the result is unusually clear: unless Bernie Sanders wins the Democratic nomination for President-- not impossible, but not likely-- American policy from 2017 will certainly be to use force in West Asia beyond the drones, black ops, etc deployed by the present administration. So whether it is wise or foolish, we should anticipate a somewhat escalated conflict.

Meanwhile, the President rightly insists on the high security value of minimising the polarisation between the Muslims in the West and their societies. It is urgently important, not just ethically but for the sake of domestic security, to preserve the possibility of a devout Muslim having also a strong allegiance to the community in which he lives. Clearly, treating Muslims well is part of that, but so too is taking a public stance for the self-determination of the peoples of the region. A Western constituency for that self-determination undercuts the argument that only force can obtain it, and that relieves a conflict in the mind that presses a few toward spectacular violence.

Haters gotta hate, they say, and there will be many who, having amygdalas that rightly detect danger, feel the fear, anger, and hate that naturally follow. In that mindset, it is natural to be suspicious of those who claim that these emotions are mostly useless. But that claim is mostly correct in this case. Jean’s comments on prayer, and my response to them above speak to the condition of those understandably afraid.

The Donald meanwhile has pointed to something real that he might not fully understand: financial support for Salafism (eg Saudi mosques donated to the West) although innocent in itself, necessarily has the downstream effect of promoting Qutbism. Conversely, a Muslim who rejects Salafism for the traditions of Islamic jurisprudence has already rejected Qutbism. Trump's clumsy thinking out loud about watching mosques, registering Muslims, etc should not obscure the fact that Muslims can allay a good deal of fear by explaining for themselves that they are open to the whole of their evolved tradition, and so have no use for Qutbism.

Bowman Walton

Kurt said...

I’m sincerely flattered, Bowman, that I have afforded you “a guilty pleasure” or two. For some folks who post here, High Church people like Father Ron and me are sometimes viewed as pains in the collective a**. But perhaps that’s just the native combativeness of Sydney and Nelson Evangelicals at work here. Or, perhaps their relatively brief histories as outposts of Anglicanism make them vulnerable to triumphalism. On the other hand, we American Episcopalians have been around for a while, and we have seen a lot of sound and fury, ups as well as downs, over the centuries. ( In fact we celebrated the 450th anniversary of the first Anglican services in North America just this past August. But there I go again with that typology stuff…)

Anyway, I think that you are being more than a bit over-optimistic about birthing a large, Anglican Charismatic-Evangelical presence in the United States. Just because some Third World Anglican provinces are experiencing a “revival” of conservative Anglo Evangelicalism does not mean such an outlook will obtain a virgin audience in America and other Western lands. Indeed, there are plenty of conservative Charismatic, Evangelical denominations that have been operating here for more than a century, and they probably are not going to welcome competition from your missionaries, particularly in the post-2008 economic environment. Why on earth would American Pentecostals , of all people, want to saddle themselves with a fixed-liturgy Prayer Book, Romish vestments and a monarchical prelacy from a church based in Durban, or Singapore, or what-have-you? I just don’t see it, but if you want to attempt it, America is the land of freedom of religion all right.

The “breadth of global support for ACNA and the Diocese of South Carolina” is probably about a mile wide and an inch deep in many places. Certainly it is not convincing enough for many companion dioceses to break off communion and cooperation with the naughty North Americans—regardless of what some “anti-colonialist” poohbahs in the ecclesiastical capital city have say to visiting Sydney and Nelson supporters.

In other provinces of the Global South, subsidizing schisms from TEC, ACofC, etc. may end up being dangerous for their own continued unity. I’m really surprised at their lack of self-awareness and self-reflection in this regard. They apparently believe that they can only be actors on the stage of the West, and that they cannot be acted upon in their own home territories. Even now they may be setting the stages for their own schisms somewhere down the road. Those schisms may not be that far off, either. Thus far, the historic North American Anglican Churches have practiced restraint—as befitting senior founders of the Anglican Communion. We will see what happens this coming January, however. Things could get very interesting very fast for some Anglo Evangelical leaders in the Third World…

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Anonymous said...

Kurt, how could anyone could fail to enjoy your comments, let alone Father Ron's?

A pragmatic (b) communion does not require missionaries and mass conversions in North America. It probably does eventually require a stable partner church with enough of the common touch to be useful. As you say, there are several candidates, not excluding some dioceses or provinces in TEC.

On your "marketing" question, since we do turn out to have been right about some things, there are constituencies of evangelicals and pentecostals that are moving to higher church views under the pressure of their own rediscovered convictions. In past generations, they would have become Episcopalians, and maybe someday they will again consider it.

In North America, the Anglican Communion is facing something analogous to the Orthodox mess that began in 1917. There is a crisis of canonicity with no explicit canons to resolve it. So even where support for ACNA and DSC is a mile deep breaking communion with TEC could still seem disproportionate, hence the measured language of *impaired communion* or of *recognising* dioceses but not the whole of TEC, or of distinguishing cases of new doctrine of sexuality (TEC) from new discipline of sexuality (ACC). All want a certain distance from what they have not approved, but I suspect-- hope-- that you are right that few want an actual break in communion (cf Constantinople and the OCA).

Yes, there are haters at the extremes of both of the usual sides, and sadly they may well exhaust themselves in fighting each other unto death, temporal and eternal. Saner, centrist voices will probably pull global Anglicanism into some more durable form without them.

But if I am wrong about that and this really is just one part of a vast realignment of all churches everywhere over sex, then schisms in Africa are inevitable anyway, and once new identities are forged in the churches of Free Love and True Love, only historians will talk about those people who used to be called Anglicans.

Bowman Walton

Anonymous said...

The hardest challenge is also the one that concerns us most. When Western attitudes toward wealth, the family, and sexuality shock a soul into radical questioning of social mores, it resiles from sin to seek clarity and discipline, and the simple and uncomplicated faith is the one that works. Much as being a *Red Letter Christian* who does WJWD and votes Conservative or Republican can be encouraging to a Christian, embracing the purity of the Safavist tradition can be very appealing to a Muslim in the same heart. Daesh recruiting attracts attention with a moral and spiritual critique of materialistic societies that is true, as far as it goes, but then presents the hard Qutbist road of jihadi suicide as a path of personal and global redemption. We often dislike the results of these conversions, but what other concrete guidance do we offer those struggling with soul-shaking alienation? And why do some souls instead emerge from their crisis as pacifists?

Bowman Walton

Anonymous said...

How similar are the psychological profiles of a jihadi terrorist and a multiple murderer? Five apparent overlaps: an inner pain, a latent alienation, a need for global attention, careful advance planning, and an expectation of dying. The New York Times published a poignant article about women who move to Raqqa to meet and marry a jihadi warrior in a utopian state, only to discover that their husbands have come, not to live in it, but to die for it. (One who “loves death as you love life” starts his wife in a cycle of brief marriages and briefer widowhoods that lasts until at last she tires of burying husbands and escapes to Turkey.) One wonders, then, whether the motivations are similar and whether the interventions proposed to help those at risk for acts of violent rage would help alienated young men on the edge of Muslim communities.

Bowman Walton

Anonymous said...

Peter, as a Revisionist, you will now need to revise your flag choice. I'm surprised Melbourne Lockwood black seems to have defeated Melbourne Lockwood red (and thankfully Red Peak is consigned to the "also ran" category). Despite my clear views on your site, it's hard to imagine how your preferred choice did not win the first round.


Andrei said...

How exiting - we get to vote on which flag will drape the coffins of the young people we will sacrifice to advance Western Business Interests at the expense of the peoples of the Middle East, Eastern Europe and central Asia

Do you people have any idea of how many tactical nuclear missiles the USA has moved into Europe over the past three months?

Sad - really sad

Andrei said...

Archbishop of Canterbury: my doubts about existence of God

I had a misunderstanding with Carl Jacobs the other day - the "Tower of Babel" thing at work and maybe that is at work for for me here and I hesitated to bring this to your attention but reading this makes me cringe - What is happening to Christian Europe?

Если народ теряет веру в Бога, то его постигают бедствия, а если не кается, то гибнет и исчезает с лица земли. Сколько народов исчезло, а Россия существовала и будет существовать. Молитесь, просите, кайтесь! Господь вас не оставит и сохранит землю нашу!

If a people lose their Faith in God and do not repent they die and dissapear from the face of the Earth, how many peoples have disappeared .....

Pray, pray, repent! The Lord will not abandon you, and we will keep our land!

St Matrona of Moscow 1941 as the Nazis approached Moscow

The bit left untranslated refers to Russia and predicts ultimate victory.

But to me the real issue is the mass apostasy we see in our troubled times

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Nick
I am pleased that my preference "won" the first round; disappointed that it did not secure greater than 50% in that round and so, on current count, has come second; depressed at my lack of overwhelming influence on NZ voters :)

Hi Andrei
There is never a right time to make certain decisions.
Point about tactical nuclear warheads noted with due alarm.

Andrei said...

If I may continue from my last comment ( I am fearful that it may be misunderstood)

The Christian Faith we share is a personal Faith - we choose to follow our Lord of our own free will

The characters that committed the barbarity of beheading an English soldier on a London Street a few years ago were British born of Nigerian descent whose were raised in the Christian religion.

The line in my previous post "Молитесь, просите, кайтесь! Could be rendered "Pray, seek, Repent!

Now imagine a confused young man seeking encountering that headline - most people never read the news beyond the headline after all

Would this encourage him to "seek" in a Christian Church?

Anonymous said...

Bowman Walton

Peter Carrell said...

It was not the ABC's best moment, Andrei!

Andrei said...

I'm not sure what to read from your somewhat random selection of links, Bowman Walton - except the last one of course

That is a verse that is in my mind a lot of late

As a Christian I should welcome both my personal mortality and whatever ushers in the Return of Christ - I'm not one to try and interpret scripture looking for "signs of the last days" 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

As a frail, fallen human being I view both with some trepidation though but with the hope of Eternal Salvation.

In the meantime I understand the human condition with pain, suffering, injustice and so forth to be a symptom of our separation from God and our disobedience to his will.

I'll tell you this though - things like this piece of childish foolishness stir me up and others beside - the link I have used has been subject to a massive wikipedia edit war :)

But as one wit commented The USA is prepared to fight Russia right down to the last drop of Slovak blood"

Jean said...

Hi Bowman, Brendan and Andrei,

I appreciated your explanation Bowman of the 'just war theory'. I read the bible passage and can see how it could be extrapolated to re-inforce such a position. Albeit, one assumes the governance one is submitting to is one benovalent to the best interests of their people, which could be debatable with some governments these days. Primarily though the main principles it reflected to me...

I also appreciated your explaination of Islam and the difference between living in the West and within an Islamic state. And I did laugh at your comment - Some persons with excitable temperaments call coercive rule violence. I had never thought of myself as having an excitable temperament : ). Somewhere in there too is the honour and shame culture of other cultures I personally and no doubt others find difficult to understand.

Brendan I agree with your comment re the difference between Islam and Christianity being those who promote their faith through violence in the name of 'Jesus' are not following His way, while inherent although not always followed in Islam is the justifiction to use violence (sorry Bowman coercion) to promote their faith. Although my understanding is not comprehensive from what I have gleaned primarily from the perspective of converts from Islam to Christianity this would be their understanding once they have begun investigating the actual texts of their faith. Keeping in mind questioning is not 'honourable'. At the same time the love some of the converts had/have for their family and the hospitality of their people is evident also alongside a generalisation that not all followers of Islam subscribe to the more radical teachings.

Notwithstanding I do think Daesh etc is a case on it's own when it comes to imploying Islam. I can understand by your implication them using the call back to the purity of the koranic text to further their cause, howeverr, their tactics don't seem to be winning over many Muslim nations as a whole.

Jean said...


I appreciate the stance of letting the Middle East people choose their own leaders and it is an honourable one, however, often in cases of civil conflict nuetral negotiatiors are necessary (even with the Northern Ireland confliict). It was though thrilling was it not to hear of the first agreed ceasefire between the Assad Government and opostion Armed groups, even prior to any agreements through mediation.

Protecting citizens from domestic jihad? Can we would be my question, or what would. I don't believe changing immigration or refusing refugees would, simply because I think as stated before Daesh are a different kettle of fish. They don't just prey on Muslims but on the 'persona non-grata' in western societies, using anyone they can coerce to their own advantage. This also being an indictment on our own socieites. Peace efforts and an invited revolt against their Syrian headquarters would be welcome, I also think the comment re Saudi Arabia funding mosques needs to be addressed - not so much the mosques but if the form of Islam they are teaching is the same as in Saudi Arabia it needs to be challenged. A challenging issue as a part of 2-7 prayer advent podcasts this week was a poem commenting on being confronted the text whatever you do for the least of these you do for me, including 'when I see a refugee I see fear, not the face of Jesus; why did he choose not to show himself in more stable people where it would be easier to see his sweet face?'. So yes again I am left with prayer.

Also, I think sometimes I am as worried about the US than the middle east. Okay not just Mr Trump - for whom I heard a very amusing Welsh name given on National Radio. But to hear 120 000 people went out to buy arms after the last domestic terrorist shooting is disturbing, as much so because of how accessible they are. Also is the fact that for the first time there are more Mexican leavin the US than entering it! Seriously, I can comprehend the fear although never completely as one can't from a distance, but it is a response to how terrorism feeds, one may think you are more safe being armed but the truth is there is no prediction of random acts of violence and no adequate defense. Except changing the attitudes of the ones who commit them. Did anyone read about the Muslim man who during the Beirut suicide bombings threw himself at one of the bombers saving hundreds of lives but sacrificing himself and his daughter? His actions issued a profound challenge to his Lebanese community in terms of the perception of 'justified violence'.

Andrei the heading you quoted re the ABC was a total media botch up and mis-reporting. If you listen to the speech he made and what context that particular phrase was used in it is reporting sensationalism at it's best. He basically was being 'real' saying of course he had doubts, like when his daughter was killed in a car crash or he sees mass graves in Africa, however he goes on to say even if he doubts or doesn't understand how God is working he always knows Jesus is there and has absolute faith about that.

Now far too much rambling... have a good week all,

Anonymous said...

Jean, an incisive, thoughtful "ramble," as you put it. Herewith, two small quibbles and one big protest.

Both Shia and Sunni Muslims believe that the example of the *early* caliphs is authoritative, and they did not encourage conversion to Islam, let alone coerce it. The point of their conquests was not to make the masses Muslim, but to subject societies captive to corrupt elites to the justice of God. This is why much of the Christian East initially welcomed Islamic conquest. Theirs was the religion of a transnational political class ruling subject Jews, Christians, Hindus, etc. About the turn of the second millennium, societies that by then had been ruled by Muslims for centuries began to experience the conversion of ordinary people. As far as possible, Salafists rely only on Muhammed's personal example, however, and Qutbists view his conquest of idolators in Arabia as a more relevant precedent in a world that has returned to the spiritual ignorance and moral depravity the ancient idolators (cf Romans 1). A problem with the view that Islam needs to be reformed or needs to evolve into something modern (which I realise you have not yourself argued) is that this is exactly what the jihadis already are. We do not recognise this because the "modernity" that they see is the statelessness of whole peoples, the commodification of sex and debt, the inability of any secular state to stand up to the rich, the materialist trivialisation of religion, etc, rather than the self-congratulations of scientism and capitalism. Naguib Mahfouz was no friend of the Muslim Brotherhood, and vice versa, but his novels portray well the darker side of modernity that has motivated Islamists, first in Egypt and then elsewhere.

Economic emigrants to the United States often plan to return home. For example, it is quite normal for a Greek man to emigrate from a poor island village to America, work hard, bank his earnings, and return to his island to start a business or retire. That is more or less the plan of many Mexican men that I've met in and around Cambridge MA. However, since 2008, the Mexican economy has been more vibrant than the American economy, so the net immigration from Mexico has been dropping for years, and understandably it has finally turned negative as Mexico is a better place to invest earnings. This means, alas, that the new immigrants actually affected by the fallout of anti-immigrant rhetoric (eg Donald Trump) are probably Central Americans fleeing across the Rio Grande from persecution by drug cartels or corrupt governments-- people that even those who applaud rhetoric against economic immigrants might actually want to take in. And it means that, although more compassionate and less fearful, the romantic idea that every immigrant who crosses our borders is eager to become an American is somewhat out of touch with the reality of the past century.

And now, the protest, which I mention to you only because I sense that you would find it interesting. I wish that Christians would give the Islamist moral and spiritual critique of Western institutions a tenth of the largely useless attention that we give to the terrorist tactics of those who believe it, or to the best use of security and armed forces to counter them. Much of the New Testament can be, and often professionally is, read as a Judaic critique of the Roman empire that is along much the same lines as the Islamist one we hear today. Tom Wright has popularised some of it, but others like Beverly Gaventa take it a bit further. A world in which this critique was familiar to ordinary Christians everywhere would be a rather different place.

Bowman Walton

AndreiI don't kno said...

The idea that fighting Daesh, ISIS, ISIL is a just war or that it will make people in Western Europe or North America safer is a deceit

They are evil but they are essentially mercenary armies fighting under an ideology that the majority of the foot soldiers only play lip service to - they are psychopaths fighting for money and women

And the arms and the money to pay them come from outside Syria as do many maybe the majority of their foot soldiers - from whence very few bother to ask and they should because defeating ISIS,ISIL,Daesh actually relies upon answering that question not bombing the desert

The complexity arises from the goal of certain Middle Eastern Powers and their Western allies to replace the Government in Syria with one more compliant to their own strategic goals - see the video I posted early in this thread

None of this has much to do with the problems of radicalized Muslim youth in the West, their is a slight connection in the shared ideology which has its origin where? If you use your grey matter the answer is obvious and it is neither Iraq nor Syria

Syria itself is actually led by a very mild mannered man, an ex eye surgeon who subscribes to the Baathist ideology - a Pan Arab ideology whose founding father was Michel Aflaq, a Christian and is secular to the core - a decade of propaganda has transformed this man with his English born and educated wife into a monster (nobody is claiming he is a saint but monster he isn't) -

His view is to reinforce the Syrian identity regardless of confession and given what has been thrown at him including sophisticated American weaponry put in the hands of psychopaths his survival thus far is a testament to the success of this approach

The principal at stake here is national sovereignty and the ability of people to work out there own destiny based upon their own cultural heritage and history and not to have it dictated to them by malevolent outside actors acting not in the interests of the peoples who actually live there but there own agendas

And it may take a third world war to establish this principle - in fact I think it probably will (I think that train has already left the station)

Andrei said...

Here is an interview with Dr Bashar al Assad on Czech TV - its about a week old and in English

Judge for yourself

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Peter,

I found this article on the meaning of the word "Islam" today that I thought you and other readers might be interested in. It comes from Rev Mark Durie an Australian Anglican priest and theologian.

It reads in part:

While there is a link in Arabic between salam, a word often translated ‘peace’, and Islam, the real connection is found in the idea of safety.

The word Islam is based upon a military metaphor. Derived from aslama ‘surrender’ its primary meaning is to make oneself safe (salama) through surrender. In its original meaning, a muslim was someone who surrendered in warfare.

Thus Islam did not stand for the absence of war, but for one of its intended outcomes: surrender leading to the ‘safety’ of captivity. It was Muhammad himself who said to his non-Muslim neighbors aslim taslam ‘surrender (i.e. convert to Islam) and you will be safe’.

The Religion of Peace slogan has not gone uncontested. It has been rejected by many, including Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and Melanie Phillips writing for The Times, who called it ‘pure myth’.

Even among Muslims the phrase has not only been challenged by radical clerics such as Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State, but also by mainstream Muslim leaders.

Sheikh Ramadan Al-Buti of Syria was one of the most widely respected traditionalist Sunni scholars before he was killed in 2013 by a suicide bomber. The year before he had been listed as number 27 in the ‘The Muslim 500’, an annual inventory of the most influential Muslims in the world. According to Al-Buti, the claim that Islam is a peaceful religion was a ‘falsehood’ imposed upon Muslims by westerners to render Islam weak.


The whole article can be found here:

Father Ron Smith said...

"The principal at stake here is national sovereignty and the ability of people to work out there own destiny based upon their own cultural heritage and history and not to have it dictated to them by malevolent outside actors acting not in the interests of the peoples who actually live there but there own agendas" - Andrei -

This statement, spoken of here as a criticism of Western bullying of Eastern national integrity, could well be levelled at GAFCON's piracy in parts of North America and the U.K. OK, not so militant but still unsettling of local autonomy.

Father Ron Smith said...

Here is an excellent report from inside Syria by a Roman Catholic reporter for The Tablet, who has had conversations with both religious and secular people on the ground most of whom believe that peace cannot be secured in Syria wihout the restoration of Assad - at least in the short term - in order to defeat DAESH: