I have always imagined that Paradise would be a kind of library.
Jorge Luis Borges

So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?
Saint John, Letter to Galatians 4:16

Freedom of Religion - Freedom from Religion - Freedom of Public Display of Religion and Traditions

We establish no religion in this country, nor will we ever. We command no worship. We mandate no belief. But we poison our society when we remove its theological underpinnings. We court corruption when we leave it bereft of belief. All are free to believe or not believe; all are free to practice a faith or not. But those who believe must be free to speak of and act on their belief.
Ronald Reagan (Temple Hillel Speech, 1984)

Monday, January 30, 2012

"Christophobia" Rhetoric: Politics as a Religion

  Suzanne Fields writes in Turning Swords in Bombs
What is Islam? Is the barbarity of September 11 rooted in the preaching of Muhammad? Or are the Islamists, the Islamic fascists, bent on the destruction of all who disagree with them, merely an aberration, mixing politics, religion and violence in an appeal to the lowest psychological denominators of suicide bombers? Historians, political scientists and psychologists are all over the place in supplying answers to these questions. … The historical forces at play are obvious. Bernard Lewis, a leading scholar of Islamist rage, places the fault line at the failure of the Muslim world to keep up with the West in the modern world. Diminishing Muslim power is both a humiliation and in Muslim minds a reversal of divine law, driving the losers to pick through the verses of the Koran to find justification for violence against winners. … Other scholars blame Western colonialism and imperialism, along with Judeo-Christian traditions, as contributing to the violent mentality of the extremists. These aberrations, they say, cannot be found in the teachings of Muhammad. … Islamists distorted this phenomenon for their own malevolent ends, fusing politics and religion into an all-purpose aggression for the “long-suffering victims” of Western imperial expansion. But there’s another view. “The Middle East’s experience is the culmination of long-existing indigenous trends, passions, and patterns of behavior, first and foremost the region’s millenarian imperial tradition,” writes Efraim Karsh, a British scholar, in “Islamic Imperialism,” a provocative and persuasive book. … He looks directly to the words of Muhammad, who in his farewell address to his followers ordered them to fight all men until they submit with the assertion that “There is no god but Allah.” … Muhammad proselytized with violence and used violence to consolidate conquest. Occupying territory was as important as converting or killing unbelievers. When the Jews of Medina resisted Muhammad in the 7th century, he beheaded the men and sold their women and children into slavery. The prophet, who claimed to derive his power and authority from Allah, was not only head of the captured states but was the single religious authority. “This allowed the prophet to cloak political ambitions with a religious aura,” writes Mr. Karsh, a professor at the University of London, “and to channel Islam’s energies into its instrument of aggressive expansion.” The ultimate goal would be for the world either to embrace Islam or live under its domination. This goal was realized in part with the establishment of the Ottoman Empire, which allowed certain other religions to exist but not prosper. Christians who sought domination, on the other hand, never invoked the teachings of Christ to justify violence. … The interpretation of the Islamist mentality as rooted in Muhammad’s appeal to violence, and the Islamist determination for religious domination of the world, may not tell the whole story today, but it explains why, for millions of Muslims, the image of the warrior trumps the image of a prophet of peace – if, indeed, there ever was one.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Chapter 10: Doctors of the Church

Phenomenology of World Religion©
Chapter 10
Doctors of the Church
The founding Doctors of the Church were the first to attain sainthood in a long line of saints of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, the first organized church in Christian history, established in Rome after Emperor Constantine established Christianity as a state-recognized religion. They are known for the defense of the early Church as well as establishing the Catholic doctrine. There were eight original Doctors of the Church: Saint Ambrose, Saint Augustine, Pope Saint Gregory the Great, and Saint Jerome in the Latin Church; and Saint Athanasius, Saint Basil the Great, Saint Gregory Nazianzen, and Saint John Chrysostom of the Eastern Church. In 1568, Saint Thomas Aquinas was added to the list of the original eight by Pope Saint Pius V in his promulgation: Tridentine Latin Mass.
In the 20th century, three female saints: Saint Catherine of Siena, Saint Teresa of Avila, and Saint Therese of Lisieux were added to the list of recognized Doctors of the Church bringing the total to 33. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Chapter 16: Symbolism - Religion and Culture

Chapter 16: Symbolism - Religion and Culture
The importance of symbols in the realm of religions goes far back into human history, sometimes the meaning of a symbol changing from its original representation and design. This occurred more noticeably during the transition between paganism and Christianity in the western ancient world. The early Fathers of the Roman Catholic Church established traditional symbolism, as they did in matters of doctrine and the canonical scriptures that comprised the Christian Bible with two sections, the Old Testament representing the borrowed text from Hebrew origin concerning the concept of monotheism.
Due to their hieroglyphic writing, symbolism was key to ancient Egypt's religion and culture, its mystical properties carried through to modern times through Gothic fictional tales of horror. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Search for Noah's Ark

One does not have to be religious to know the story of Noah's Ark, it is probably the most well-known of the biblical tales of the ancient Hebrews. In the Netherlands, a man who stated he had decided to build an ark in the Netherlands because of a dream, see YouTube.