December 5, 2020

Saturday Ramblings — September 13, 2014 — Quotes from the Week

911 from space

“It’s horrible to see smoke pouring from wounds in your own country from such a fantastic vantage point,” [Frank Culbertson] wrote. “The dichotomy of being on a spacecraft dedicated to improving life on the earth and watching life being destroyed by such willful, terrible acts is jolting to the psyche.”

“The Story of the Only American Not on Earth on September 11th”

At the time of the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001, three people were not on Earth: Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Tyurin and Vladimir Dezhurov, and American Frank Culbertson, making Culbertson the only American not on Earth during the crisis. At about the time of the collapse of the second World Trade Center tower, Culbertson took video from a window on the International Space Station.

• • •

And here is this week’s word from President Obama about the U.S. plan to deal with terrorist threats we face today in Syria and Iraq, 13 years after 9/11:

barack-obama“Now let’s make two things clear: ISIL is not “Islamic.” No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim. And ISIL is certainly not a state. It was formerly al Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq, and has taken advantage of sectarian strife and Syria’s civil war to gain territory on both sides of the Iraq-Syrian border. It is recognized by no government, nor the people it subjugates. ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way.

“. . . Now, it will take time to eradicate a cancer like ISIL. And any time we take military action, there are risks involved – especially to the servicemen and women who carry out these missions. But I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil. This counter-terrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground. This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years. And it is consistent with the approach I outlined earlier this year: to use force against anyone who threatens America’s core interests, but to mobilize partners wherever possible to address broader challenges to international order.”

President Obama, speech on Sept. 10, 2014

“At every wedding, there are a few wedding crashers.”

“Ted Cruz Crashes Defense of Christians Summit”

CruzThese are the words of Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Mar Bechara Boutros Raï, referring to Ted Cruz, who said the following to the In Defense of Christians Summit:

And today, Christians have no greater ally than the Jewish state. Let me say this, those who hate Israel, hates America. And those who hate Jews, hate Christians. And if this room will not recognize that, then my heart weeps, that the men and women here will not stand in solidarity with Jews and Christians alike who are persecuted by radicals who seek to —. If you hate the Jewish people you are not reflecting the teachings of Christ.

Cruz’s words were not received well, and viewed as tone deaf political opportunism by many in the audience who booed the senator. According to Jonathan Coppage’s report, “Raï has an open dialogue with Hezbollah, the Shi’ite Lebanese political party and State Department designated terrorist organization. Lebanon has a long history of inter-religious conflict and is split between Sunni, Shi’ite, and Christian communities. Many Christians in the region have either allied with or received shelter from Shi’ite Muslim communities in the face of radical Sunni organizations like al-Qaeda and ISIS.”

Though most people have jumped on Cruz with regard to this incident, Fr. Ernesto thinks those who booed Cruz and had him removed from the conference lost a good opportunity here:

I think that Senator Cruz is wrong on some of the points he made. But, here was an opportunity to trigger discussion, to reach agreement, to perhaps take some wholesome steps toward an united strategy. And a few people who had no courtesy, no respect, no sense of what is appropriate decided that they had to protest in a conference designed to let various factions air their views.

What do you think?

• • •

“We assumed that there was a video. We asked for video. But we were never granted that opportunity.”

Ray Rice punching wife video sent to NFL months ago, according to police

roger-goodell-2This was the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s claim after the damning video of Ray Rice punching his fiance in an elevator in Atlantic City came to light. The “new” footage led to Rice’s termination by the Baltimore Ravens and indefinite suspension by the league.

However, a New Jersey law enforcement official says he sent a video to the NFL five months ago, and the official played the Associated Press a 12-second voicemail from an NFL office number on April 9 confirming that the video had arrived.

In light of this report, the NFL has appointed an independent investigator to look into its handling of the case.

• • •

“And with digital touch, we’ve developed an entirely new way for you to connect intimately with others. You can get someone’s attention with a gentle tap. You can send a quick sketch. Or you can even share something as personal as your own heartbeat.”

“Introducing Apple Watch” – the film

AWatch“Digital touch,” an “entirely new way . . . to connect intimately with others,” huh? You had a hunch about what new technology is ultimately for, right?

Seriously, here is AppleInsider’s article detailing their first impressions of Apple’s new wearable product. What did they think?

What the new product introduces is a new category of computing, one where Apple’s core competency at hardware and software integration and its attention to design detail can produce a device that can be worn anywhere, not just to a BestBuy or a gadget fan convention.

• • •


“The arts can touch or even heal some of us. There is joy and freedom in what we do. A jazz approach is going to say there is always more here than what is on the page, and maybe we haven’t found it yet.”

• “Jazz Belongs in Church

These are the words of the Rev. Bill Carter, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania. The minister is also a professional jazz musician whose band, Presbybop, says their mission is, “to create jazz music that glorifies God, renews the Christian church, and models the integration of faith and the arts. We’re here to help you infuse the life of faith with the swinging pulse of jazz.”

The article about Carter describes the impact music, and jazz in particular, has had on the church and their area of northeastern Pennsylvania.

In the last two decades, Presbybop has branched out as well, performing at churches and festivals across the country. It has recorded a special for the local public broadcasting station and released nine albums and two DVDs — one of which is called “Jazz Belongs in Church.”

Jazz, with its intensely personal emphasis on improvisation and the fact that it originated in experiences of brokenness and oppression, make it the perfect kind of music to provoke reflection, says Rev. Bill.

• • •


“It is a really bizarre dinosaur – there’s no real blueprint for it. It has a long neck, a long trunk, a long tail, a 7ft (2m) sail on its back and a snout like a crocodile. And when we look at the body proportions, the animal was clearly not as agile on land as other dinosaurs were, so I think it spent a substantial amount of time in the water.”

Spinosaurus fossil: ‘Giant swimming dinosaur’ unearthed

A new exhibit opened at the National Geographic Museum in Washington, D.C. on Friday. It is devoted to Spinosaurus, the 95 million year old “swimming dinosaur” which, at over 50 feet long, 20 feet high and weighing in at 6 tons,is the largest predatory dinosaur to ever roam the Earth.

You can read an intriguing story at the Washington Post about how the fossils of Spinosaurus came to light, reinvigorating study of the great beast. Before the discovery, the world’s last known partial skeleton of a Spinosaurus had been destroyed in the 1944 Allied bombing of Munich.

• • •

“It is always more fun to play a bad guy than to be yourself as you can create a character unlike your own and be someone you are not for a change.”

Richard Kiel

Richard Kiel, aka “Jaws,” one of the best James Bond villians, died on 9/10/14. Here’s the great tram scene from Moonraker (1979):


And . . . one late addition:


Congratulations to Mike Bell’s daughter Amy won the Ontario Cycling Association’s Youth Cup Provincial Championship in the 17-under division. Read more HERE.


  1. Klasie Kraalogies says

    Referring to Cruz, it strikes me that anyone who makes loyalty to another state a fundamental principle, no matter how good intentioned, or how exemplary that state, is not presidential material.

    • All the more ironic, given the periodic boasts of other Texan politicians about their desire to secede from the Union. The US is sort of iffy for some Texans, I guess, but Israel, well, that’s another matter…

      I generally put Cruz-grade support for Israel in the same bucket I put Obama’s support for, say, the Baltics within NATO: they’re just allies. So I don’t think Cruz’s views on Israel on their own disqualify him for the Presidency. But I’m certainly even less inclined to vote for him now, due to his lack of understanding of how Middle Eastern Christian communities relate to the various religious sects around them.

      We’ve already had one war from an Administration that seemed surprised to learn that, e.g., Iraq was majority Shia after invading the joint. We don’t need more such surprises.

      • Dan Crawford says

        Though I appreciate Fr. Ernesto’s suggestion that Cruz has an open mind and may be willing to dialogue, the fact is he is a Republican extremist ideologue who has given no evidence that he is willing to change his mind on anything.

        • Agreed, Dan.

        • Instead of ad hominim attacks, Dan, why not quote the man to demonstrate that you know what you are talking about. Name calling is the best way to marginalize a person without having to deal with the ideas that the person is espousing. Or maybe you are just getting your cues from selected media resources?

        • It is a good thing that there aren’t any radical Democratic extremists that won’t ever change their minds! What, there are? Every Democrat in the senate? Pelosi? Reid? Our president?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        What worries me about Cruz & Israel is memories of End Time Prophecy types in the Age of Hal Lindsay, Anti-Semitic Zionism, and Christians For Nuclear War. Back then, blind support for Israel, Fulfillment of End Time Prophecy, was a core Article of Faith — if you went against Prophecy, God Will Punish You, and how else could we jump-start Armageddon? (It’s Prophesied, It’s Prophesied…)

        • George Christiansen says

          I always wonder if these clowns actually believe in this nonsense or if they are just playing a demographic to win votes?

  2. Klasie Kraalogies says
  3. “ISIL is not Islamic”

    It seems like another American is not on earth…

    • The vast majority of Muslims would consider ISIL a disgrace and not representative of their faith, not unlike the vast majority of Christians would disavow some fringe extremist groups who call themselves Christian but act anything but, so the president’s statement had a lot of truth to it, and he was wise to make this point as it keeps from painting with a broad brush or alienating the many Muslims who are sympathetic to our interests in this matter.

      As for why Muslims aren’t protesting in the streets, one reason is that this isn’t particularly effective or in some cases wise in the countries in which they live, for a variety of complex political and sociological reasons. Things just aren’t as simple as we might wish or believe they were.

      • Dan Crawford says

        If the “vast majority of Muslims would consider ISIL a disgrace and not representative of their faith”, how come so few of them have raised their voices in protest?

        • Or just google “Muslims speaking out against ISIS”. I’m getting a ton of results.

        • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

          Dan, several Muslim nations were speaking out before the US. I’m not sure where you got that idea, but it just doesn’t reflect reality.

        • How do you know few of them are not speaking out? I know several Muslims who have told me how disturbing all this is to them. I’m so tired of that argument.

          The Christian Church was not much different before the Protestant Reformation took off. You were part of the church or you weren’t, and if you weren’t, things didn’t go well. The Inquisition as an example. If you didn’t hold to the proper doctrine, it was ok to torture, maim, etc. to try to bring you back into the fold. If you refused, well then, you took your lumps which usually meant a horrible death. Why didn’t more people speak out? Because they were afraid of excommunication and death! Remember Luther had to go into hiding to avoid facing the music and was only able to do that because of the political clout on his side.

          Remember these extremists aren’t only targeting Christians, but anyone who is seen as not following Islam in its purity. Anyone outside their tent is fair game.

      • What I’ve been wondering lately is why Islam, at least in my lifetime, is the one faith that has been spinning off such a surplus of psychotic, faith-based killing machines with the stated intentions of destroying nations and peoples that aren’t Islamic, and taking over the world. There is no question that the Christian church has done some awful things in its time, but there is really nothing comparable right now, in scope or the extent of its extremism, in Christianity, or any other major religion for that matter, to what is seemingly a regular occurrence in Islam, worldwide at least. So what I want to know is, at what point do we start associating the seemingly endless ability of SOME sort of Islam to create these menaces, with something that is actually inherent in the faith itself?

        I commonly hear people draw attention to the fact that “not all Muslims are like that,” and “average Muslims view Al-Qaeda the way average Christians view Westboro Baptist Church,” etc. Which is clearly the case. Most people don’t actually need to be told this anymore. But it’s starting to sound like the apologists “doth protest too much.” The question that currently needs answering is not “why do Americans have such Islamophobia?” but “why is Islam capable of creating this type of thing?” I don’t hear this question addressed enough. Why shouldn’t Westerners assume, out-of-hand, that Islam inherently drives people to do this, and that “moderate” Islam is actually just disingenuous?

        I’m not trying to push buttons. I’d welcome a plausible explanation showing that we shouldn’t lean towards this conclusion. But I haven’t heard one yet. It’s actually becoming the catalyst for my studying Islam a little bit more seriously.

        • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

          Here is one plausible explanation: you are assuming as causal what is a correlative relationship. There is no separation of church and state in Islam; one is born into it. Imagine if the US was a Christian nation – no, I mean really a Christian nation. Suddenly Oklahoma City is a Christian terrorist bombing. Columbine is the act of Christian extremist youth. Sandy Hook? Christian terrorist. Aurora? Christian.

          So I think you can see how it is intellectually irresponsible to take a correlation – even a strong one – and assume it is causal.

          • Aren’t these people prone to killing moderate Muslims because they aren’t in agreement with ISIS’s brand of the faith & their political agenda for Islam? Is their stated intention not an “Islamic State?” It’s in the name of the Islamic faith, and its political dominance. They aren’t just middle-easterners who happen to be Islamic. That’s the core of their ideology, and their violence. I don’t see secular Arabs doing this kind of thing.

          • Dr. Fundystan – +1, many times over.

          • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

            Again, I think you are failing to account for the separation of church and state – a concept not enjoyed in other parts of the world. I don’t understand your comment about secular Arabs at all, since Syria is a pretty good example of a secular muslim state that has committed some pretty horrendous atrocities against civilians (Syria is not Arab, but let’s not confuse ethnicity and religion since your point is about the latter and not the former…and since there aren’t any “secular” Arab nations). But consider also the hundreds of people from non-muslim countries that have joined ISIL in their slaughter. Now what do you think of all these people who were not raised Muslim (and many were raised at least nominally Christian)? Did they convert to a religion and then get brainwashed into crimes against humanity? Or did ISIL provide their latent hatred and bigotry an outlet of legitimized expression? Again, religion is rarely more than the expression of its believers’ values; so blaming religion doesn’t work very well. I’m sure you would agree that Christianity today looks nothing like Christianity in the 10th century.

          • Dr. Fundystan – how is Syria not Arab, or at least partly Arab?

            On another note, the Assad family are members of the Alawite sect, and there is a big, big part of ongoing conflicts in Syria that is very much about sectarianism (Muslim and otherwise).

            Also (2nd “other note”), I don’t get why ISIL is now the acronymn of choice, if only because ” the Levant” is very much an outdated term, from the time of French, British and Ottoman colonialism in the ME. It seems weird that it’s been resurrected, and I kinda doubt that people in either Lebanon or Syria are happy about it…

          • I think I’m confused now. Separation of church and state is not enjoyed in much of world, no. I think I see what you’re saying- that the problem is failure to separate church and state, not the faith itself? Ok, possibly. Now I want to ask “did Islam’s origins necessarily create a faith that seeks to join church and state?

            My main question is, if I went back to the Islam’s original text, the founder of Islam, and the early movement of Islam as it expressed itself politically, would today’s extremists look similar, or totally different?

            I’m not an expert in Islam, so I’m saying this stuff with a bit of care, and I’m inviting confirmation or correction. As I understand it, the goal of Mohammed’s Islam, the original Islam, was to take over the world and impose its religion by the sword on everyone. And as I understand it they managed it for much of a continent or two.

            If this is the case, and the Muslim imitates/obeys Mohammed as the Christian imitates Christ, then moderate Muslims are being disingenuous. They’re experiencing an internal conflict between their basic human impulses to compassion, and the example of their faith’s founder. People can call it a “religion of peace that has been perverted by extremists” all they want, but that just means that the religion of peace they refer isn’t really being faithful to Mohammed.

            But I’m not positive that’s an accurate representation of Islam, so I’m just posing it as a suggestion. But there is clearly no cross at the center of Islam, and could never be.

            As to your question:

            “Did they convert to a religion and then get brainwashed into crimes against humanity? Or did ISIL provide their latent hatred and bigotry an outlet of legitimized expression?”

            This may be another way of asking what I’m asking. Can we say that it’s NOT a case of perfectly normal (or perhaps somewhat imbalanced, or socially ostracized) people who found a way to express radical commitment and find belonging? That they were not necessarily hateful and bigoted (any more than the average person) but that the cult-like group they joined eventually used the basic tenets of the faith to stir them up to a frenzy that they became fanatical killers? I don’ t know, but I’m not going to rule it out.

            And yeah, there were probably opportunists looking for a way to express this hatred that had already infected their personality. But I don’t know that it’s only that.

          • Nate – I’d suggest you read a good book or two on early Islamic history and culture. You’d get a far better feel for the subject and its complexity than can ever be conveyed in blog comments.

          • numo – It’s on my list…never fear, I don’t intend to stay uninformed for long.

          • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

            Numo: Syria is not Arab in ethnicity, although ethnic Arabs do make up a significant portion of the population. Bear in mind that Damascus is the oldest continuously occupied city in the world.

            Nate: I understand your questions, but those same questions could be turned on any group anywhere in the world. It is something of a philosophical question: why do bad people do bad things. What of Anders Breivik? he murdered 85 “liberal” Norwegians in the name of Christianity. Do we have the right to take his own words and actions and conclude that Christianity fosters (or at least has the potential to foster) violence? Some (notably the New Atheists) would say yes. I am much more hesitant. There just isn’t evidence that his religion formed his worldview and actions; rather, the evidence seems to be that he wrapped a useful religion around his predisposition. Many Muslim nations have essentially said the same thing about ISIL. I am willing to let the majority of a group define its boundaries, rather than a minority, with the understanding that this is not in alignment with current democratic notions. Otherwise, I have to let Westboro, Breivik, and even the Russian state define Christianity for me.

    • Political rhetoric. Nonsensical on the face of it since it has “Islamic” in its name. He would have been less subject to mocking by conservative pundits if he had said, “ISIS does not speak for Islam.”

      He might as well said, “The Crusades were not Christian” for all the sense it made.Or the Spanish Inquisition.

  4. How many times must you say ISIL before you realize that saying it is not “Islamic” is a mistake? How long must you deny a group is Islamic inspite of the group itself claiming that it is just THAT?

    ISIL may be a splinter group amongst the billion or so Muslims in the world, but they are Islamic none the less. Just because they are not “mainstream” does not mean that they are outside the pale of Islam. Just stop denying it and let true followers of Islam do the defining of who is truly Muslim. The Westboro Baptist Church members are still called Christian even though their theology and actions fall outside of orthodoxy, so what is so different about ISIL being called Muslim? The judgment cuts BOTH ways.

    • When will people understand he’s making a rhetorical point?

      And as for Westboro Baptist, I’d just as soon keep the name of Christ out of it when talking about them. Extremist fundamentalists is what I’d call them.

      It is to be hoped moderate Muslims would say the same about the fanatics in Syria and Iraq.

      • The “moderate”, everyday, good Joe Muslim…is irrelevant.

        They ought be filling the streets in protest to these murderers (or actually on the front lines fighting them). But they do not. They are either afraid, or just don’t care that much.

        • Steve, there have been times throughout Christian history when “Christians” were in the same boat, not understanding separation of church and state, practicing conversion by the sword, burning heretics at the stake, and so on. Thankfully, Christianity moved past that.

          Judaism has enshrined in the Hebrew Bible its own practices of genocide in the name of God. And they know better than anyone the tragedy of those practices because of their own experiences.

          Islam has never had a Reformation, an Enlightenment, nor a Holocaust. One hopes something will bring its extreme elements out of the dark ages as well. For this we pray and hope.

          • Islam is not monolithic, and the extremist groups we see now come mainly from a particular sect, Wahhabism, which originated in Saudi Arabia.

            The truth is that there have been great capitals – seats of learning, culture, tade and more – in the Muslim world, and in the recent past at that. Iran is, believe it or not, still a seat of secular learning (includes Western philosophy), and I know of more than a few Iranian musicians and poets who are both deeply rooted in tradition and very modern, who are constantly trying to get around/past official censorship in public performance. Their audiences understand what they’re saying, though.

            I wish our media would make more of an effort to provide balanced coverage and commentary, but the arts and scholarship aren’t exactly the stuff of the 24/7 news cycle.

            I also think it’s a bit unfair to make comparisons to Western Europe when most of the world (Easdt and SE Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Africa) don’t conform to what we think of as *the* template for civilization. Every civilization develops in its own way, and Europeans carried out so many wars and crusades in the name of “true religion” that I honestly don’t think we have the right to hold ourselves up as paragons of anything. After all, how long has it been since The Troubles in Northern Ireland ended? Or the genocidal warfare in the fomer Yugoslavia,?

            Touche, us.

          • CM – de Nada! Thanks for providing a good and lively discussion here, and for letting us all comment.

          • Europeans carried out so many wars and crusades in the name of “true religion” that I honestly don’t think we have the right to hold ourselves up as paragons of anything

            True, but a bit of faulty logic there. Just because we aren’t perfect and have made mistakes in the past, it doesn’t follow that we cannot critique anybody for anything. The fact that we call these things from our past “wrong” is evidence that we have moved beyond it, and it is right for us to condemn civilizations that have yet to leave behind religious driven barbarism.

            Three things that always get carelessly swept under the rug in these conversations. First, Islam has always been a militant religion. The swell of moderates in contemporary Islam does little to overturn an entire history of religious imperialism. From Muhammed, the faith was spread by the sword, and there has never been a time when it was not being forced on people. We may be near a time where what we call “moderate Islam” may not only become mainstream, but completely displace militant jihadists to the point that the terrorists are considered a minority fringe sect. But we are not there yet, and it is less than completely honest for Obama to pretend we are already there for the sake of political correctness.

            Second, before we were ever guilty of crusading into the Muslim homeland, remember, they took that land in the name of religion by force. Non-muslims under their regime did not fair so well.

            But most importantly: Christianity isn’t doing anything remotely similar today. It is ridiculous to point back to the inquisition as if Christendom had no moral standing to condemn jihadi-terrorism. Christianity IS the moral and social framework through our contemporary ethical mores have come to denounce such things! It wasn’t in the Muslim world that the concept of freedom of religion developed. The Baptists get credit for that one, I believe.

            So are we paragons? Nobody is. But we must call a thing what it is. ISIS is the Nazi regime of this century, and saying “some people who went to church in previous centuries have also done bad things and killed people” is a red herring. It doesn’t justify anything.

          • Miguel The Troubles in Northern Ireland?

            The genocidal wars in the former Yugoslavia, back in the 1990s?

            The Spanish Inquisition, which didn’t end until the 1840s?

            There’s more to “Islam was spread by the sword” than religion. There’s politics and political maneuvering, huge in-migrations (of various Turkic peoples from Central Asia to Asia Minor – hence the Ottoman Empire, which conquered a lot of Arab nations, including Egypt, Syria, Lebanon etc.).

            You are oversimplifying Islam, imo. There have historically been mystical movements (like Sufism, which takes many forms, in both the Sunni and Shiite worlds); other, much smaller sects and more. Most violence perpetrated by Muslims over the past few hundred years has been aimed at other Muslims.

            Our sectarian wars were/are very similar, again, imo. The US came to be partly because of HUGE sectarian strife in England (the English Civil War, the killing of Charles I, the Commonwealth of Oliver Cromwell, the eventual restoration of the monarchy). The Mass. Bay Colony’s history reflects this. Many settlers went back to England to fight in the Civil wAr, which sadly included Cromwell’s brutal, genocidal campaign against the Irish.

          • Miguel – this comment will probably disappear into the black hole that swallowed my other reply to you, but here goes nothin’…

            Central and South America are superficially xtian because the Spanish and Portuguese forcibly converted who knows how many native people + the enslaved Africans they brought to the New World. And the Inquisition continued operating in the New World colonies.

            We, us Anglos, didn’t do much better. Forced deportations (like the Trail of Tears) and outright genocide against Native/First Nation peoples; the overthrow of the Hawaiian nation and its queen by takeover from within, and more.

            All of that horror was perpetrated by so-called xtians who believed in Manifest Destiny. Does that mean xtianity is a religion of violence, that establishes itself by the sword? The answer is that a lot of people have used Jesus’ name to commit genocide. (In Europe, too, with pogroms and with so-called “crusades” against “heretics” like the Albigensians in southern France, the Inquisition in Spain, Portugal, Rome and elsewhere, various English monarchs’ judicial murder – often by burning at the stake – of perceived “heretics,” etc.)

            I think *nobody*, no matter their religion, comes out smelling like a rose re. violence against others in the name of their own religion.

          • my other reply was along the lines of this – that political factors have a *lot* to do with conquests in what is now (or was once part of) the Muslim world.

            Example: the Ottoman empire, which was created when a number of loosely related Turkic peoples from the Central Asian steppes started moving into Asia Minor and Europe. (Though this also happened prior to then, with people like Attilla.)

            I don’t think Islam was any more militant than medieval and Renaissance xtianity; there are notable groups of mystics – Sufis – in both Sunni and Shia Islam that are, for the most part, peaceful. (And who have been persecuted by some overzealous co-religionists ever since their early days in what is now Iran.)

            There are other Muslim minority groups, and if I am reading right, it seems to me that most violence perpetrated by Muslims has been aimed at … other Muslims.

            The same is too true in the history of European xtianity for me to feel comfortable making an Us vs. Them divide.

          • +1 numo. In addition, the relatively civilized state of affairs in Europe and the US, the moral improvement of civic life, is largely due to the advent and success of the Enlightenment and its values, an advent often decried in the comments here at iMonk, and not to any values necessarily inherent in Christianity as practiced down through the ages before that.

            • I’m not sure we exactly decry the Enlightenment around here. We do decry using Enlightenment principles to interpret ancient scriptures or to formulate systematic theologies that don’t reflect the Bible’s narrative way of teaching. We certainly critique positions like inerrancy and YEC for depending heavily on Enlightenment reasoning, but hey, would I be here on my porch, free and happy in the great U.S.A., typing this reply on my iPad without the Enlightenment? Doubt it.

          • Robert F – I don’t think anyone here would enjoy living in the Massachusetts Bay Colony….

          • Miguel – what’s with ” Muslim homeland”?

            You are talking about a very ethnically mixed area that included Arabs, Sabeans, Assyrians, Jews and the Lord knows who all else. That part of the Mediterranean has been a huge cultural crossroads as far back as there’s recorded history that talks about it.

            If there is a “homeland,” it’s in Saudi Arabia (where Mohammed lived, and where Mecca and Medina are located), and Western Europeans never invaded there. Of course, Western Europeans *did* sack the city of Constantinople during one of the later crusades, but they justified it by stating that those people were Greek “heretics.”

          • Excellent comments, numo.

          • numo, I think it would be accurate to say that the increase in humane conditions in Europe and the US today are the result of the freedom from institutional Christianity’s historic entanglement with the state, and so in a sense the result of freedom from Christianity as a governing institution. Perhaps it’s time to start thanking God for the disunity of Christianity as an institution. Can you imagine the horrors that an institutionally unified Christianity might have inflicted on the world in the name of Jesus Christ if it had not been broken up by the Reformation, Enlightenment and modernity?

          • Robert F wrote

            Can you imagine the horrors that an institutionally unified Christianity might have inflicted on the world in the name of Jesus Christ if it had not been broken up by the Reformation, Enlightenment and modernity?

            I hear you, and no, I don’t want to try and imagine it! I believe you’re absolutely right about the Enlightenment, without which there’d be no public education and maybe no public libraries, and… so much else that we take for granted.

          • numo, while we’re at it, perhaps we should also thank God for pluralism, which puts us in contact with people very different from ourselves on a regular basis, and promotes tolerance and understanding between people with different religious commitments.

          • @ Chaplain Mike: It seems to me that sometimes the Enlightenment is decried at iMonk, and not only its application in the areas that you cite. I think part of this is rooted in the fact that it is mistakenly held by some that at some point before the advent of the Enlightenment, Christian theology for the most part approached the text of Scripture without applying the tools of analyzing reason, and instead deferred to narrative interpretative methods. While I believe that with the Enlightenment the application of reason in analysis of Scripture became far more systematic, I do believe it was regularly utilized before that, if inconsistently, to arrive at was supposed by interpreters to be the only “true” meaning of Scripture. I don’t believe that there was any golden age before the Enlightenment during which the Church, or churches, consistently preferred narrative interpretations of Scripture over rationalizing interpretations, and that we must get back to that place in order to reorient ourselves and find the “true” path through the forest of variant readings of the text that we live with now.

            As to inerrancy and YEC and the like: The problem with them is that they do not apply rational, systematic analysis to either Scripture, or their own traditional interpretations of Scripture, because they want to retain a foothold in some putative certainty that is impenetrable to analysis and can always be accepted unquestioningly. But there is no such foothold, either for them in making Scripture immune to analysis, or for us in taking refuge in narrative interpretations that are supposedly beyond the boundaries of rational analysis and criticism.

            Our Scriptures, our narrative interpretations, our literal interpretations, our most fundamental certainty or grasp for certainty, etc., are all subject to relativizing analysis. The only real question is: After such critical and analysis and exposure, which of the traditional Christian affirmations can be plausibly and believably retrieved from the corrosive affects and disenchanting acids of uncertainty and relativism? This is a question that each of us must answer for herself, and there is no certain refuge to be taken in solutions of literalistic, progressive or mediating methodologies, only trust that with the help and presence of God’s grace we will be able to apprehend and know and affirm what we need to. The truth will find us where we are, and my own reconstruction of faith lead me to affirm that that truth is in the resurrected Jesus Christ.

            I used to dread this Christian theological difficulty in modernity and pluralism, but I’m beginning to experience it and know it as a liberating gift from God, and the only one in which faith can truly be realized.

            • “I don’t believe that there was any golden age before the Enlightenment during which the Church, or churches, consistently preferred narrative interpretations of Scripture over rationalizing interpretations, and that we must get back to that place in order to reorient ourselves and find the “true” path through the forest of variant readings of the text that we live with now.”

              Agree wholeheartedly.

              I actually think we live in a pretty good place today, and I agree that the Enlightenment was not the sole source of rational analysis. However, the evangelical Christianity that I come from is pretty dependent on its principles, which is probably why I give my attention there. After all, there really were no “systematic theologies” before the Reformation and Enlightenment, certainly nothing like the Westminster Standards, for example. Only with the triumph of rationalism did theology truly become “the queen of the sciences.” And modern science and the resulting theological science of liberal historical criticism could only have emerged afterwards. And then came the fundamentalist/evangelical reaction to modernism, with their rational apologetic that insisted on viewing the Bible in foundationalist terms.

              So, while I think you have a good historical perspective, the fact is that most evangelicals don’t. They don’t really get the point of trying to read the Bible in the Jewish context in which it was written (like N.T. Wright and other New Perspective folks), nor do they value the rule of faith, the Fathers, or much else in the 1500 years before Luther. Some Calvinists revere Augustine, but there’s a lot of bathwater they have to throw out to keep that baby from drowning in Catholicism and other interpretations they find problematic. Theologically, evangelicalism is basically a 500 year-old faith, which puts its roots in the Reformation/Renaissance/Enlightenment.

          • Numo,

            That is a very judgmental and dismissive thing to say about Central and South American Christians. Obviously the Spanish and Portuguese imperialists used religion as a means of controlling the people, but they for the most part have freedom of religion today. I know many sincerely devout Christians from the region, not to mention the current Pope.

            Not that it matters – my points stands. I’m not claiming a Christianity without problems in its history. I’m saying that it isn’t a reason to be the least bit reluctant for condemning ISIS. You can bring up all the garbage in the past of the Christian church, but it doesn’t change the facts that 1. We’re not doing that now and 2. The actions of ISIS are evil, plain and simple, and 3. This is a tendency of the Islamic socioeconomic system from the get go. Christianity is the complete opposite of this, founded on a teacher of peace whose disciples suffered rather than afflicted others. Only when Christianity got into the hands of governmental control did it begin to do carnage.

            So is Christianity a religion of violence just because of violent episodes such as Manifest Desitny? That is ridiculous. Compare Jesus to Muhammed. It’s common sense, I can hardly believe I have to argue this. BY THE WAY, “Manifest Destiny” actually has NOTHING to do with Christianity. It has never been considered a Christian doctrine, but was rather an expedient new invention. If you’re going to use that teaching to call Christianity a “religion of violence,” then you’re going to have to show where Jesus taught Manifest Destiny. I can show you where Muhammed taught the violence of ISIS (and by example, too).

            It is not enough that criminals use the name of Jesus or Muhammed in committing violence to indict a religion. The question is, does the religion actually teach this, or is it being used as a puppet for political causes? In the case of Islam, they have a far more consistent track record. Even if most Muslims are peaceful people (which I believe is true, especially today), the vast majority of terrorists are Muslims. What is it about this religion that attracts this?

            I think *nobody*, no matter their religion, comes out smelling like a rose re. violence against others in the name of their own religion.

            Well of course. But you can’t seriously be suggesting that we therefore not call it out when it happens. And you can’t seriously be suggesting that Christianity and Islam are on equal footing when it comes to causing violence.

          • And re: “homeland,” I’m just caricaturing the type of rhetoric that paints the Muslims as such innocent victims of Christian aggression in the crusades, as if the lands they forcibly took for theocratic control were theirs by right and the mean Christians we just not content with the lands they currently controlled.

          • I think Miguel’s making a good point. Islam, in whole or part, has always been a “convert or kill” religion, since Mohammed, its founder. The West has indeed prosecuted its share of wars in the name of religion, …in the teeth of Christianity’s founder. It’s not wrong to point out that the Christian world at this point is not producing anything like ISIS. Even the most extremist wings of Christianity are just too small and powerless to do the kinds of things that these Islamic fundamentalists do.

            Our brand of hatred and bigotry in the developed west is economic imperialism. But nobody who is implementing that is doing so in the name of their faith.

          • Miguel, I was referring to the period in which Spain and Portugal violently conquered most of Central and South America and carried out forced conversion – which was a while ago.

            As for “superficial,” by that I mean that even though Latin America is (mostly) nominally Catholic w/a growing number of Protestants, the reality is that the xtianity in question is often highly syncretistic, . indigenous religions weren’t stamped out in the same way that we Anglos insisted on; neither were religions that originated in Africa.

            Brazil is full of people who are baptized Catholics but who actually follow candomble (very similar to Santeria in Cuba) and umbanda, which is a blend of it an, African and Kardecist spiritualist beliefs (Kardecist = French medium Alain Kardec). Africans found the multiplicity of saints to be good cover for their devotion to their own deities, then and now. I’m not slamming S. Americans; I’m being honest about the fact that many religions proliferate there, also that the Spanish and Portuguese were never successful at crushing native and African beliefs and cultures. It’s an entirely different world, comparef to what we’re used to.

            As for the advocates of slavery, of killing and/or deporting Indians etc., far too many of them found ample justification for their practices in the Bible as they chose to believe it – which continued on through Reconstruction, Jim Crow and more. As for Hawaii, its constitutional monarchy was overthrown from within by the sons and grandsons of the 1st xtiasn missionaries to Hawaii. I have no doubt their ancestors would have deplored their actions, but the men in question were a white xtian elite who systematically undermined the native Hawaiians, a great many of whom had converted to xtianity.

            I’m not at all claiming that Manifest Destiny is something Christ would approve of (any more than. Dominionism meets the standards of the Gospel), but for an awful lot of people in that era, they were two sides of the sajwe coin. You can go all the way back to the 1st Puritan immigrants and trace those themes forward – that God gave a new “promised land” to colonists and their mprogeny – never mind the people who were here when those colonists arrived.

            In my state the very 1st Indian boarding school (the Carlisle Indian School) was established for the express purpose of changing Indian kids into good xtian members of society. Their native languages, dress, religious beliefs and culture were barred from the school, and penalties for engaging in any of them (even a few words of whispered conversation) were severe. Go further west and you’ll find older survivors of forcible abduction to private Indian boarding schools run by various xtian denominations.

            I am saying that to the people harmed by all of these actions, xtianity is inextricably connects w/the xtian religion. That some folks are dtian, despite all the many wrongs committed against them, staggers my imagination, but that doesn’t make it any less true or real.

            I hope this helps clarify my previous comment… Internet convos can be so difficult sometimes, no?

          • Oops! I meant to say that umbanda is a blend of various African, xtian and Kardecist beliefs.

            There are lots of other, less prominent African/African-derived religions all around the Carribbean, and Latin America. I know of quite a few in Brazil alone – in some cases there, native beliefs are mixed in (particularly up in northern Brazil, parts of the northeast, and a bit in to the Amazon interior).

            I found out about much of this vi learning about mpopular and folkloric music from Brazil and Cuba, but we’ve got more than a few practitioners of these religions in the US today; ditto for different forms of Haitian vaudou.

          • @ Chaplain Mike…”After all, there really were no ‘systematic theologies’ before the Reformation and Enlightenment, certainly nothing like the Westminster Standards, for example.”

            In Western Europe, there was no alternative church against which a systematic theology needed to be constructed and articulated before the Reformation. But there was a system there, involving both orthopraxy and orthodoxy, which may not have been deposited in one document, but nevertheless existed and had behind it the force of both church and secular law. Was there anybody more systematic in his presentation of the faith than Aquinas, who is a Doctor of the Church according to Roman Catholicism? I think you would be hard pressed to find a more systematic body of religious belief, doctrine and practice than existed in the medieval Roman Catholic Church; from what I know of it, Eastern Orthodoxy doesn’t even come close. The Reformers learned their habit of systematizing from the Roman Catholic Church.

            • You’re right that they didn’t invent it, but after Calvin it certainly became more prominent. Here’s the Wikipedia intro to “Systematic Theology” —

              The setting out of the varied ideas of Christianity (and the various topics and themes of the diverse texts of the Bible) in a single, coherent and well-ordered presentation is a relatively late development. In Eastern Orthodoxy, an early example is provided by John of Damascus’s 8th-century Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, in which he attempts to set in order, and demonstrate the coherence of, the theology of the classic texts of the Eastern theological tradition. In the West, Peter Lombard’s 12th-century Sentences, in which he collected thematically a large series of quotations from the Church Fathers, became the basis of a medieval scholastic tradition of thematic commentary and explanation – best exemplified in Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologica. The Lutheran scholastic tradition of a thematic, ordered exposition of Christian theology emerged in the 16th century, with Philipp Melanchthon’s Loci Communes, and was countered by a Calvinist scholasticism, exemplified by John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion.

          • Nate, the “convert or kill” mantra is less true than you claim. Please do check out some good histories of the Arab world and early Islam. That people from the Arabian peninsula conquered much (though by no means all) of the ME in the centuries following Mohammed’s death is indisputable, but the reasons behind those conquest aren’t agreed on – I.e., much more was happening than the spread of Islam.

            You get similar dynamics nlater on with the movement of Turkic peoples into Asia Minor (what is now Turkey) from Central Asia. Those migrations and conquests were the basis for the Ottoman Empire, which wernt on to rule most of he Arab world.

          • Nate – I keep trying to post comments about the complexity of the historical situation (Arab and, later, Turkish – which includes Turkish conquest and rule of the Arab ME), but every time, my comments end up disappearing.

            Suffice it to say that the reasons *behind* the early Arab conquest of the ME aren’t really well-understood, because the history wasnt written down until a century or two later. That social and political reasons/cause were part of it is undeniable and the way you present it (convert or die) is a caricature at best – though liklely true in some cases. Because we lack primary sources, it is extremely difficult to arrive at halfway decent conclusions as to the reasons. And that leaves a big gap for people to fill ,- fill it they most certainly have.

          • Nate – I’ve tried replying to you several times and my comments never post.

            So, the very short answer –

            1. Not necessarily as you describe it

            2. Read – and please, go further than Bernard Lewis! He’s very one-sided for the most part. Hourani’s History of the Arab Peoples and Ira M. Lapidus’ A History of Islamic Societies are excellent resources, though in very different ways. John Esposito is also excellent.

        • Steve, a lot of moderate Muslims – Shiite and Sunni – have been killed by members of ISIS.

          I don’t think street protests work all that well when an extremist group is rampaging around an area/areas that have already been devastated by civil war (Syria) and ongoing sectarian violence (Iraq).

          On top of all that, there’s not a single state in the Middle East that’s not under the thumb of dictators, both “hard” and “soft.” The Assad family, father and son, have wreaked havoc on their country for two generations now – given the war there, it’s no wonder that a group like ISIS ha s been a blue to sweep in and take control of large swaths of territory.

          It’s easy to judge absent details, but these countries and people are *far* more complex than our sound bites obsessed media makes out.

          • Err, able, not able.

            Autocorrect (yet again).

          • There is another reason why muslims are not protesting more loudly againts ISIS. It’s the ‘ummah’, the perceived world community of muslims. You don’t break it, even if another muslim does something terrrible. And most certainly not if it means siding with unbelievers.

        • The “Lord’s Resistance Army” claimed to be Christian and to fight with the Holy Spirit: “we are fighting in the name of God. … are we fighting for the Ten Commandments of God? That is true – because the Ten Commandments of God is the constitution that God has given to the people of the world”
          They marked crosses on their chests in oil to protect themselves from bullets, massacred thousands, cutting off lips and limbs and abducted thousands of children who were forced to fight or be sex slaves. Do we have to accept them as Christian because they claim to be? Would you be happy for people to say that LRA represent Christians?
          To paraphrase Steve Martin: “The “moderate”, everyday, good Joe [Christian]…is irrelevant.
          They ought be filling the streets in protest to these murderers… But they do not. They are either afraid, or just don’t care that much.” (Probably the latter) Yes, LRA is very “fringe”. So is IS.

          • These are good points, Jenny. We are complacent about the horrors wrought by Christians, but sensitive to the ones enacted by Muslims. Perhaps because we don’t feel any threat from the former, but do from the latter. Though I would never say that the actions of the LRA represent all Christians, neither can I say that they are not Christians on the basis of my moral objections to the horrific acts they commit. Christians are capable of evil and horrific acts, and so are Muslims, in the name of religion.

          • Robert, I think it’s also because we can all too easily write off things that happen in other parts of the world as having nothing to do with us – after all *we* would never do *that.*

            Or would we?

          • I don’t think we can blame people for not rising up when the war is being fought in their own streets and family members have died in it. We USians have no idea what that is like and I don’t think we can speak with integrity into that kind of situation unless we do.

    • Does anyone really think of Westboro as Christian though? I’ve never seen them considered to be even a super-wacky fringe sect of Christianity. Pretty much everyone ignores their claims to Christianity and just thinks of them as a bunch of crazy people as far as I can tell. I don’t know if that has any bearing on the ISIL discussion or not, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

      • Faulty O-Ring says

        Of course they’re Christians, albeit about as extreme as it is possible to go.

      • Richard Hershberger says

        “Does anyone really think of Westboro as Christian though?”

        Well, the Westboro members do,for starters. And why shouldn’t they? They are unusual in that they have made foundational the doctrine that “God hates fags,” but lots of self-identified Christians agree with that doctrine, even if they don’t place it at the center of their theology. Where Westboro are really different is that they take this to the point of condemning America, which is completely unacceptable to those other self-identified Christians (in a vague patriotic flag-wavy, pledge-reciting way: it is perfectly acceptable to condemn any and all specific aspects of American culture and people and government, just not the sentimental idea of America).

        So are they Christians? One of the very few rules Jesus gave us is to love our neighbors. When asked who we can classify as “not our neighbors” and therefore feel free to hate, he was clear that the answer is “no one.” This is hard to do. Most of us desperately want someone to hate. That is the wonderful thing about sports. I can hate the Dallas Cowboys because this is “just pretend” hate, getting it out of my system. It is wonderfully cathartic. Alas, this doesn’t work for everyone, including many self-identified Christians. If you want to classify them as “not Christians” because of this, go ahead. But you will have to go far beyond Westboro Baptist if you are being consistent about it.

        • Indeed, Richard. It is possible to be Christian, and to do evil in the name and claiming the authority of Christianity at the same time. This must also be true of Islam.

          • And also of the Buddhists in Myanmar who are killing Muslim-minority people in a campaign of “ethnic cleansing.” (I think this euphemism for genocide is really terrible and generally avoid it, but it’s media speak, as with “take out” vs. “kill.”)

      • I think comparing Westboro Baptist to ISL is ridiculous. WBC is distasteful, bigoted, and certainly not representative of the Gospel. However, WBC is not responsible for murderous mayhem. If WBC turned violent, then they would be dealt with forthwith by law enforcement. If WBC attempted to define what “Christian” means–they would be rejected, as they have been.

        Maybe we should allow the “non-monolithic” Islamic world to deal with their own cockroaches. Let’s see how that works…

        • I agree. They’re also much greater of a minority than ISIS/IL (or whatever it’s called). They couldn’t take over a swathe of a nation if they tried. They weren’t arming themselves (as far as I know) with the stated intention of destroying everyone who isn’t of their sect and establishing a WBC-state.

          That comparison may work on a bare ideological level- they’re both psycho. But there are too many differences to just go off and say “oh well, all religions produce crazy people, what are you going to do?” Christianity just isn’t producing the stuff of ISIS right now, to my knowledge.

          • LRA? (See above) Genocidal, brutal, stated aim a theocratic state…

          • That comparison does have some meaning, though, when we consider that we live in a so-called democratic republic that separates religion and state. Besides Westboro, I have read some astonishingly crazy stuff from the dominionists who, if they ran this place, would re-institute OT governance because it is Biblical.

            Plus these are nations in war. Their cultural,social, governing and physical infrastructures are wrecked. Extremity has much more freedom when systems are laid waste.

    • But I think Obama is wise in emphasizing the difference that you note: ISIL _is_ a splinter group. By instead noting that it claims to speak for all Islam, he’d be giving himself (and us all) unnecessary headaches by alienating the rest of those billion or so Muslims who don’t identify with ISIL. By the same token, I’m willing to acknowledge WBC members as Christians of some sort, but think it wise to point out that their idiosyncratic emphases do lie outside of orthodoxy, as you also note.

      So yes, ISIL is Islamist and WBC is Christian, but leaving the conversation there would serve no useful purpose.

      • Faulty O-Ring says

        The Islamic State is as much a state as say, rump Syria or rump Iraq. And many if not most of the people there have welcomed it. Sure, they’re brutal, but so is the USA.

        On whether it is right to call such people Muslims, see Sam Harris and Hermant Mehta:

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        It may be a splinter group, but it’s a splinter group with an army bent on seizing political power and continuing conquest to turn as much of the world as they can into themselves. DANGEROUS crazies. Who are building an army.

        They’re not Nazis. The Nazis took control of a major First World nation, the technological/industrial powerhouse of Central Europe. And their belief system (such as it was) was a personality cult. ISIS/ISIL is cutting its Caliphate out of a non-industrial, non-technological Third World sandbox. They can’t produce anything on their own except sell oil and BUY their stuff from their Infidel enemies. They can do a LOT of damage in the process through terror strikes abroad, but they can’t hold onto power outside of their sandbox.

        • Well, Germany wasn’t exactly the first among First World nations at the time. The Nazis invaded Poland when they did and how they did precisely because it had the natural and human resources (enslaved Poles) that Germany lacked to conduct their military ventures, and it was a blitzkrieg as much out of necessity as anything, because they did not have the wherewithal to conduct a larger scale, longer term attack. If they had failed in their invasion of Poland, they most likely would not have been able to succeed elsewhere, and they might have failed, if Poland had not been so technologically deficient, being forced to field men on horseback, old fashioned cavalry, against tanks. The Nazi’s success at conducting war depended on having one quick victory after the next, in order to expropriate the necessary resources from the vanquished nations to meet the ambitions of their plans.

          What they did have, though, was a lot of technological know-how in combination with the machinery of a modern state that was not at war, giving them time to build their war-making abilities; ISIS may have quite a bit of technology, but they lack a true, previously existing state, and they are already at war with the most powerful enemy the world has ever known, the US.

          • And many, many Germans felt humiliated both by the loss of WWI and by the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles. Isn’t this usually cited as one of the key factors in the growth of National Socialism in Germany? (I kinda hate to invoke Godwin’s Law-type words.)

          • German WWI soldiers came home to victory parades. The General Staff was telling the home folks that the Allies had sued for peace and Germany agreed to end the bloodshed. When the actual treaty came out the politics got a bit strained to say the least.

    • An political speech is not an academic lecture. Everybody knows ISIL is run by muslims.

      Obama is stating U.S. objectives to an international audience.

      To say ISIL is not Islamic is to contradict their own claims of mission and who/what they represent.

      To say ISIL is not Islamic is a gesture to moderate / rival groups to view us as allies.

      To say ISIL is not Islamic is to attempt to speak to perceptions in the region that the U.S. military action represents a move against Islam.

      Now whether such claims will be believed by the target audiences is another story, but he has to take a rhetorical angle that attempts to present US intensions.

    • ISIS is to Islam as the Klan, Aryan Nation and Christian Identity are to Christianity.

      All of these groups (along w/Al Qaeda, the Taliban and Boko Haram) claim to represent “true religion,” but their hateful beliefs and actions are not part of the mainstream practice of their respective religions, coming rather from the far fringes. (In the case of the “Muslim” terrorist groups, out of Wahhabism, which used to be unique to Saudi Arabia but has spread massively – due to the financial donations and promotion of extreme forms of Wahhabism – of some Saudis.) All of these groups see Muslims who disagree w/them as enemies and apostates, and have no qualms about killing them. (As with the huge number of casualties in Al Qaeda’s East African attacks in the late 90s – the vast majority of the dead and wounded were/are Muslims.)

      Our media does not report on ordinary people in Muslim/predominantly Muslim countries, thus giving the impression that all (or most) Muslims are violent extremists. This simply isn’t true.

      • Clarification: Wahhabism is extreme, but not terroristic. Many groups that have originated in Wahhabism *are* terrorist organizations.

        • “Wahhabism is extreme, but not terroristic.”
          Tell that to women in Saudi Arabia if they get raped and are condemned as if they brought it on themselves. In fact, what about the enforcement police in that land that look for violations and then mete out punishment according, they claim, to the dictates of sharia law. Terror IS as terror DOES!

          • Saudi Arabia has institutionalized and nationalized domestic terrorism in the name of Islam.

          • The Said family allied themselves w/Wahhabi Muslims in order to get into power, and now Wahhabis control “justice” in that country.

            By no means are all Saudis happy with Wahhabism – even many in the royal family. And there’s a sizable Shiite minority in SA as well.

          • What I meant is that you are not seeing great numbers of Saudi Wahhabis going out and blowing people up.

            That Al Qaeda and similar groups come from Wahhabism is undeniable, and I clearly stated it just upthread.

          • But hyper-conservatism doesn’t equate to terroristic. All those who do terror are misogynistic but not all misogynists are terrorists.

            We need to be careful how we label each other. I mean, in a small way, look at how we important we ourselves find the differences between the various kinds of complementarianism, and also those of egalitarianism.

      • Perhaps a comparison that evangelicals and post-evangelicals will understand better is that ISIS/ISIL is to Islamic as Christian Science is to Christian….

        It’s been a busy week in Lake Wobegon.

      • Well, it’s obviously not mainstream practice in Islam. I’m glad we can point out the differences between, say, you’re average Iranian muslim, and ISIS. That’s great.

        But if I was to go and read the Qur’an, and study the immediate context for it, the historical practice of early Islam, of Muhammad, and of the core tenets of the faith that the majority of Muslims accept, would I be convinced that Islam is actually just misunderstood by these extremists? Or would I find that they’re basically being honest about the fundamentals of that faith?

        That’s my question. I’m not saying I know the answer yet. More people ought to be asking it though.

        • And it’s also far too easy to use the OT to sanction genocide.

          There *is* commentary and interpretation in all religions. Islam is no exception.

          • But Christianity’s founder doesn’t date back to OT genocide. It has certainly had to deal with how to interpret those passages, but those aren’t really the origin of the faith.

          • The origins of the Christian faith are not in OT Israel and its Scriptures? This history and these Scriptures were practically the only ones that existed for the first generation or two of Christians.

          • so xtianity didn’t develop out of Judaism?

            Jesus and his immediate followers had the OT, nothing else, as scripture.

        • Yes, Christ came from Judaism, but Christ himself requires that you either radically reinterpret all of Judaism and its Scriptures, OR you reject him and stay an orthodox Jew. I don’t believe it’s a mistake that the first generation (or several?) of Christians found themselves compelled to expand their faith without violence. It wouldn’t have been possible given the example of the Messiah.

          The Cross is the origin of Christianity. It builds on Judaism, but it insists that all that came before it be seen in an entirely new light.

          One simply cannot legitimately get to an ISIS like conclusion (or Crusades, or native American genocide) FROM the cross and the resurrection of the Messiah. The Church certainly has done these things, but they’ve had to disown Christ, and therefore the origin of the faith, in order to do it.

          • Another suggestion, Nate – please check out some good books on the history of the church prior to Constantine, and then after. The introduction of the sword becomes very apparent, along w/the melding of church and state – and violent persecution of the Jews and other religious minorities.

            The charge of deicide (which is still part of traditionalist Catholicism), the origin if the blood libel and other, similar horrors have a *long* history. We feel it even today, and many still believe in this stuff – which didn’t come out of nowhere.

          • Christ as a Jew, and so were the apostles and original members of the Jerusalem church.

            It’s not that he “came from” – its what he *was.* I feel deeply uneasy w/ any/all attempts to expunge Judaism from xtianity. But that’s another discussion, for another time.

          • “I feel deeply uneasy w/ any/all attempts to expunge Judaism from xtianity. But that’s another discussion, for another time.”

            Right. Me too. Of course.

            The point is, orthodox sectarian Judaism couldn’t stomach Jesus. Jewish Christians HAD to revise their Judaism, in order to be Christians. Christ was a Jew. According to himself and the apostles. Not according Sanhedrin, it seems. That’s because his practice seemed so alien to the Judaism of his time that it was worth a charge of apostasy or blasphemy. I don’t recall Jesus quoting genocide texts as if “I don’t know, maybe you shouldn’t turn the other cheek after all.” He just didn’t have the problems modern Christians seem to have with trying justify violence from Scripture.

            Constantine was converted in the early 300’s. That leaves 260 years or something where, apparently, Christians didn’t find it acceptable to expand their faith via violent means. Are you saying those books I check out of the library are going to contradict this?

            The position you’re working from is basically built on the foundation that there is no objective quality to a religion or a politic. That Christianity is whatever Christians have made it. The Church IS Christianity. Islam IS what Muslims are/do.

            I’m just not working from this playbook. A religion is its most fundamental, earliest, and most germane teaching, founder, text, etc. It isn’t just any old thing it’s followers happen to do later on.

          • “Constantine was converted in the early 300?s. That leaves 260 years or something where, apparently, Christians didn’t find it acceptable to expand their faith via violent means.”

            Nate, the facility with which the Church embraced and adapted to the new dispensation under Constantine suggests that, by that time, most Church leaders had few, if any, serious theological objections to enjoying first the tolerance, and then the favor of the state in spreading Christianity; rather, what they had lacked until the time of Constantine was the opportunity to have such a status vis a vis the state. Inability does not equal reluctance.

          • Robert,
            There were some church leaders who saw Constantine’s conversion and Christianity becoming the official religion as the fulfillment of God’s plan. But there were also many who were disturbed by it and mourned the loss of suffering as the way of following Jesus. You also have to account for new “Christians” whose Christianity had nothing to do with faith in Christ and everything to do with maintaining their own power and riches once the emperor claimed to be a Christian.
            Beyond that, since when did lacking the majority power mean that people wouldn’t be violent? As has been stated many times here, the terrorists are not the majority. Yet they continue to use violent means. The simple fact is that the early Christians didn’t use violence, and preferred to have violence done to them than do it to others. The same can’t be said for early Islam.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        If it hadn’t been for a Perfect Storm situation in Post-WW1 Germany, the National Socialists would have been a German KKK at best. Anarchic war zones provide opportunities for Crazies to make a grab.

    • ISIL is Islamic and they are Muslim. Talking about what happened long ago in Christianity or the Jewish faith does not answer the question asked. Are they Muslim ? Yes Are they Islamic ? Yes Let your yes be yes and your no be no.

      • Long ago? Nope, quite recently.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Like the Ayatollahs and Talibani, they are More Islamic Than the Others, More Islamic Than Mohammed.

        Just as today’s Hyper-Calvinist YRRs are More Calvinist Than Calvin.

        More Calvinist than Calvin, more Darwinist than Darwin, more Marxist than Marx, more Islamic than Mohammed. Can You Top This, fanboy edition.

      • That’s a horrific butchering of the Biblical text.

  5. And today, Christians have no greater ally than the Jewish state

    In what way is Israel showing that they are a great ally to Christians, specifically Middle Eastern Christians? Is Israel opening its border to Christian refugees? Does Isreal support any relief to these persecuted Christians?

    (I know anything involving Israel is apt to be controversial. I am not trying to bait anyone – I genuinely do not know what they are or are not doing in this regard.)

    • Faulty O-Ring says

      The Jews there spit on Christians.

    • Yes. This. And the term “Jewish state” is misleading. Israel is a secular state, not a religious one. Its bombs and attacks in the occupied territories certainly haven’t spared Palestinian Christians. I don’t understand American evangelicals’ automatic and unquestioning support of Israel’s actions regardless of how horrific. One can believe the Jews are God’s chosen people and at the same time understand that the secular state they created is acting outside God’s will. Much the same thing happened throughout the Old Testament.

      • While it is a secular state, only Jewish people have full citizenship rights. Arab citizens of Israel are excluded from full citizenship (w/all its rights and benefits) because they are not Jewish.

        Taking another example, migrant labor (legal and illegal) is *very* common in Israel. Yet any/all children born of migrant workers on Israeli soil do *not* have citizenship, very much unlike the case here in the US. There are Israelis who vehemently object to this policy, yet it has not been changed (to the best of my knowledge).

        Also, if a Jewish man is married to a gentile woman and they decide to live in Israel, she must convert to Judaism in order for the state to consider their children (if any) legitimate. I know this sounds incredible by our standards, yet I also know people who’ve lived it and dine it. (Descent is counted through the mother – absent recent developments min DNA testing, it is impossible to prove who fathered a child, but so long as the mother is Jewish, the child is Jewish. It’s how things have worked for a very, very long time.)

        • Valid point, but I have to wonder if their actions regarding citizenship and use of migrant labor aren’t perhaps in themselves at odds with what the OT demands regarding the alien and the foreigner. It is in this sense that I really don’t think it’s a Jewish state. It’s policies surely cannot be said to be largely drive by that faith.

          • The people I mentioned as vehemently objecting to many of the state’s policies are doing so for exactly the reasons you cite.

            It doesn’t mean that anything has changed, though.

          • also, I think the population of Israel was *far* more secular in the 50s and 60s than it is now. There’s been a huge influx of haredi (Hasidic and similar) people, who don’t believe in Zionism but who are very, very bent on forcing the state to become an instrument of religion.

            These are the folks who throw rocks (and terrible epithets) at other pre-teen Orthodox girls who they think aren’t sufficiently covered (even though they’re wearing ankle-length skirts, long sleeves and scarves), who demanded and got some buses in Jerusalem segregated by sex/gender, etc.

            Israel is a very diverse society, and like any other place that’s a meld of immigrants, it’s got its own serious internal problems. (Not unlike this other country, on the other side of the Atlantic, y’know?)

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        I don’t understand American evangelicals’ automatic and unquestioning support of Israel’s actions regardless of how horrific.

        In three words: END TIME PROPHECY.
        In one word: RAPTURE. (Any minute now… any minute now… any minute now…)

        Rationale goes like this: Israel is In The Land. This Is God’s Will, Fulfilling End Time Prophecy. Therefore It Is God’s Plan, and God Will Punish Anyone (like YOU) Who Rebels Against His Plan. It’s Necessary to Start Armageddon (any minute now… any minute now… any minute now…) where Christ will Return; at which point the Israelis have Fulfilled Prophecy and are now expendable. Just another item on the Revelation Checklist, pieces on the End Time Prophecy gameboard who have outlived their Prophesied role. IT’S PROPHESIED! IT’S PROPHESIED!

    • In what way is Israel showing that they are a great ally to Christians? By bulldozing their farms: “The Christian family refusing to give up its Bethlehem hill farm” (
      “The government, together with the Israeli settlers who live around the farm, “is trying to push us to violence or push us to leave… Nobody can force us to hate… We refuse to be enemies.”….The military authorities declared that more than 90% of the farm now belonged to the State of Israel. [The family] had the documents they needed to launch an appeal in the Israeli courts” but after 23 years, the case “remains unresolved.”

  6. Vinny in Tennessee says

    Chaplain Mike – To continue the “rambling” theme, I though this was an interesting article, and that you might enjoy it. Learned some interesting things about D.L. Moody.

  7. I was just gonna note the odd juxtaposition between improvisational jazz and Presbyterians—Calvinists who believe due to God’s sovereignty, nothing in the universe is truly improvised.

    But man alive, politics brings out the devil in Christians, don’t it?

    • Good comment. Maybe there’s hope for Calvinists yet.

    • Sounds like you have a Baptist understanding of Calvinism rather than a Presbyterian one. I wish I knew where I got this definition, but I read somewhere once that Providence is the ability of God to accomplish His purpose through the free acts of men and angels.

      As I understand it, got predestined free will, as it were. The incompatibility is only in our minds, not in its practice.

      • I recall that in the 80s there was a jazz band comprised of Anglican priests. They called themselves “The Holy Smokes”.

      • Agreed. The Presbyterian and Reformed churches version of Calvinism is closer to classic Calvinism than the Baptist version. Presbyterians and Reformed churches adhere to Covenant Theology of which paedobaptism is an important, make that essential, practice. Baptists and other credobaptists, myself included, mostly grow tulips.

        And whereas I’m OK with both being called “Calvinists,” there are some in the more classical camp who would not consider folks like me to be the real deal.

  8. Patrick Kyle says

    “Now let’s make two things clear: ISIL is not “Islamic.”

    Not true.

    Unless we are willing fight like we did in WW2, bomb the cities into rubble, and shoot every person you think is a combatant, until they wave a white flag, we are wasting American lives and money. That’s what war is. These half assed measures that pass for war since Viet Nam have accomplished nothing except ruined and lost lives, and ended in our allies in these countries being slaughtered when we inevitably throw in the towel and slink home. If we are not willing to totally commit, we need not even whisper the word ‘war.’ I agree with Ron Paul, there is really nothing we can do over there except make things worse, and continuing to fight like we have been is a misuse of the military, and once again will result in the bad guys killing our friends when we try to ‘withdraw.’ We could do a whole lot more for ‘Homeland Security’ by securing our borders and deporting every illegal alien with a criminal record or who commits a crime.

  9. Look at the root.

    What was Jesus like? What did Jesus do?

    Jesus healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, forgave sins, and raised the dead.

    What did Mohammed do? He spread Islam by terror and the sword. Christians defended the Holy Land and Christians by going to confront the evil that is Islam. There are always aberrations and small percentages of nut jobs. But radical Islam has tens of millions of adherents. Westboro Baptist is not even a drop in the ocean.

    Draw a cartoon of Mohammed if you want to see tens of millions of Muslims rampage through the streets and murder innocents.

    Put a crucifix in a jar of urine and you see no rampage. Some upset Christians…but no riots…no murders.

    Look at the root…and look at the fruit.

    • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

      I think that is an essentially arbitrary mandate, Steve. For starters, you are ignoring fruit, both good and bad, on both sides. Secondly, who cares about the “root”? Isn’t the whole point of modern restorationists that America has strayed from its roots? What if 500 years from now America is communist? Origins are not determinant of destination. I also think you are assuming that the social response you describe is the result of religion, but neither you nor anyone else has got any evidence whatsoever that this is the case. In fact, the majority of sociological studies indicate that a group’s religion reflects their values, and not the other way around (one of the main reason sects and denominations exist, by the way).

      • Dr. Fundystan wrote

        the majority of sociological studies indicate that a group’s religion reflects their values, and not the other way around (one of the main reason sects and denominations exist, by the way).


    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I see the fruit. Everyone bending over backwards to give Islam what they want lest they become “upset”.

      Phobos Kedros Doxa: FEAR BREEDS RESPECT.

    • Faulty O-Ring says

      By those standards, Buddha is Lord.

  10. As a Christian, I cannot claim that only people and organizations that act ethically and humanely are, or ever have been, Christian, nor can I claim that, because Saint Bernard of Clairvaux preached the Crusade, he was not Christian, nor were the Crusades undertaken by Christian “organizations”.

    On the other hand, I reject the idea that the German Christians, during the Nazi era, were actually Christian. That, however, is based on the fact that the German Christians re-wrote the Scriptures and revised the meaning of faith through an “Aryan” and antisemitic filter, thereby divorcing themselves from relationship to historical Christianity. In other words, I reject the idea that they were Christian on grounds other than their ethical behavior, and for reasons paralleling, though different from, those I have for rejecting that Mormons are Christian.

    Whether or not ISIL is Islamic depends on whether or not they primarily root their actions and beliefs in traditionally Muslim sources. I don’t know enough about Islam or ISIL to make such a determination. Also, the answer to the question is partly related to whether or not a significant number of other Muslims consider ISIL a Muslim organization.

    • I just think this whole discussion is a waste of time. Here we are, arguing about the way the president phrased something in a speech. We all know politicians say what they do for particular reasons. What are the president’s critics hoping to gain by this? We’re going to bomb the hell out of them either way. If Islam itself is the problem, are you all saying we should start another crusade, declare war against all Islamic countries, round up the Muslims in the U.S. and put them in detention, and seek to rid the earth of the Islamic scourge? What is your point? This whole discussion is angels on the head of a pin.

      • We are in a lifelong (generation-long) battle.

        This stuff (“radical” Islam) is never going to go away. What exactly should we do? I just don’t know.

        I do know things will get very rough (the Bible tells us so)…but that Christ Jesus will take care of us, it tells us that, too.

      • I would rather love them into the Kingdom that I know. I have seen the love God has for Ishmael and I have concluded he is my brother. I wonder if Jesus would have picked up the sword. It’s amazing the mercy that was shown the crusaders by Saladin at the last battle not the same as was given by the crusaders. Seems to me that mercy ended that particular conflict. I wonder what history might teach us. It also seems to me that some very tough choices need to be made. Is it mercy to put down a rogue animal. I would love to see this handled by the people of Islam. Doesn’t seem likely as like Judas they might be trying to force the hand of God. Could end up they might be successful at it. Judas certainly was, just not what he expected or why else would he have killed himself. Do you think Jesus mourned over Judas. I think he did and genuinely loved him.

      • Now wait a second, CM. I in no way hold all Muslims, nor Islam as a whole, responsible for the actions of ISIS. Neither do I advocate a “bombs away” military foreign policy. But it seems to me that our President himself has added fuel to the fire of focusing on nomenclature correctness in his speech by indirectly chiding those who use language different from his own regarding this question.

        What did he hope to achieve by doing so? Did he think he would change the minds of those who use different language, get them to stop using language he may feel is impolitic or just plain untrue, or back off from criticizing his administrations language describing the nature of the threat? Wouldn’t it have been wiser for him to simply use the language he chooses to use, explain why he does so if questioned (without chidingly referring to those who disagree with him), rather than focus on and add fuel to the fire about nomenclature?

        Btw, this statement, “No religion condones the killing of innocents..,” is factually untrue. There have been religions that condone the killing of innocents, and it is arguable that there still are such religions. If we want to speak of religion in a broad sense that some may consider impermissible, we could include nations themselves, most of which demand a loyalty practically indistinguishable from the kind that religion demands, and which universally condone the killing of innocents, even though sometimes calling it “collateral damage.”

        • If I were to guess the reasoning behind the way things were stated, Robert (and we’re all guessing here), I would echo Danielle’s comment above (1:35 a.m.).

          • And I would simply repeat what I’ve said before. This was a political speech by a politician for political purposes. All the theological parsing completely misses the point and serves no purpose other than generating meaningless arguments. We should watch what politicians do, and not spend so much breath debating what they say.

          • I get this and agree, but I can not help but feel that in his speech the President is speaking as much or more to his domestic critics than to the international audience. There is a tone of defensiveness in it that undermines his own intentions, if you are correct about his reasons, and puts the focus in the wrong place, which works against achieving the goal he has ostensibly has. This is why, despite his obvious intelligence and sensitivity, he is a poor communicator. In fact, he always sounds like a lecturer in a college classroom rather than chief of state.

          • And I repeat: It would help tremendously if he sounded more like he was a politician giving a political address for political purposes rather than a college professor giving a lecture chidingly to students who don’t quite “get it.”

          • re: Brooks column – I don’t know CM, the President didn’t seem all that reluctant to get us into Libya. And if the UK hadn’t pulled out of the proposed bombing of Syria last August, prompting a vote here, I don’t think the President would have been all that reluctant to get us involved in their civil war.

          • I don’t get the impression that the President is reluctant, either. I do, however, get the impression that he doesn’t know how to achieve the goals he wants to achieve, either domestically or internationally, and so muddies the waters with ambiguities that obscure what his intentions might be from the start. That amounts to a kind of soft, public relations preemptive strike.

  11. MelissatheRagamuffin says

    I don’t like Westboro Baptist Church. I think they’re obnoxious and they go about things in an extremely wrong way. But, perhaps they think they’re being true to this with their activities:

    Thus says the LORD:
    You, son of man, I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel;
    when you hear me say anything, you shall warn them for me.
    If I tell the wicked, “O wicked one, you shall surely die, ”
    and you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way,
    the wicked shall die for his guilt,
    but I will hold you responsible for his death.
    But if you warn the wicked,
    trying to turn him from his way,
    and he refuses to turn from his way,
    he shall die for his guilt,
    but you shall save yourself. – Ezekiel 33: 7-9

    But, IMHO that scripture would have more to do with believers warning other believers who are on a wrong path. Not people outside of the church.

  12. 63 comments at 8:27 PST time. Good post/conversation. I don’t know how you do this everyday CM. Great job. Miss you too Daniel Jepson.

    • Thanks, Joel. I miss Dan, too, but he’s focusing on other important things right now.

      I like the large number of comments — we did cover a little more ground in Ramblings than simply “ISIL is not Islam,” however. I’d love to see some conversation about other items.

      • Like, here’s one: I wonder how Ken Ham figures Noah fit Spinosaurus and Dreadnought (from last week’s Ramblings) on the ark?

        • Yes brother Ham spoke at our church several years ago. Not sure if his take on dinos was known back then. I hope it it wasn’t. It makes it hard to defend a Christian worldview to our logical, loved unbelieving friends and family.

        • Very carefully…

          the ark – the “original” Tetris

        • Shrink rays and time travel solve all historical conundrums.

        • Faulty O-Ring says

          Couldn’t they swim?

          • Spinosaurus apparently could, but doesn’t Ham’s “literal” interpretation include the death of all aquatic life as well? Maybe not, I’ll have to check that out.

            • Sorry, please forgive me. I forgot my “Genesis Flood” indoctrination from Bible college.

              The flood story says, “And all flesh died that moved on the earth, birds, domestic animals, wild animals, all swarming creatures that swarm on the earth, and all human beings; everything on dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died. He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, human beings and animals and creeping things and birds of the air; they were blotted out from the earth” (Gen. 7:21-23).

              Spinosaurus must have made it! That still leaves Dreadnought . . .

        • I believe that they say claim that Noah brought dino eggs or baby dinos in the ark. That would resolve the space issue–but not the science issue.

          • Isn’t this stuff hilarious?

          • Yes, but you have to give them some credit for being creative w/regards creation.

            BTW, I used to believe this stuff until my biochemist son gave me some material to read which I followed-up with “Origins: Christian Perspectives on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design by Deborah B Haarsma and Loren D Haarsma ” (professors at Calvin College). I began to see that my strict/literalist perspective was not only unnecessary but hindered me from understanding the whole truth.

  13. Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

    Re: Ted Cruz. I know that these types of speeches are not generally designed to educate or inform, but come on. I expect my senators – even the ones from Texas – to have the basic ability to fact check and present somewhat reasonable representations of reality. Or at least to hire an intern that can do so.

  14. It never surprises me when professional football players enact in other parts of their lives the violence they rehearse and are rewarded for on the field. It doesn’t surprise me, either, that the NFL lives in denial of the reality that it’s a profit-driven machine for making men often already predisposed to violence even more efficiently violent. You get what you pay for.

  15. CM, ISIS / ISIL may not be representative of all Islamists, but I would like to point out the particular failure of the secular western mindset to comprehend religious motivations. It’s much easier to negotiate when you assume that money, power or sex as the motivation for every conflict, rather than deeply held religious beliefs.

    A few months ago there was an article in the New Yorker about the Waco standoff, and how poorly it ended because of the failure of FBI negotiators to understand the religious motivations of those inside the compound.

    • In other words, President Obama may be saying that ISIS is not Islamic for political reasons (e.g. to mollify other Islamic states and populations from turning further away from the US), but the fact remains that ISIS itself believes it is Islamic. Such rhetoric from Obama may in fact serve as motivation for them to correct his political speech: (“So you think we’re not Islamic enough?… we’ll show you what a true believer really looks like!”)

  16. In other news, that preacher in Ireland who for years worked against reconciliation, love, and grace, just died. Steve Stockman has a good writeup and thoughts about him on his blog.

    Related to all this, do we “own” the Troubles and the like in Ireland as Christian terrorism? Catholics vs Protestants fighting each other, but depending on where we land, we can always say the otherwise isn’t really REALLY Christians…yet they are.

    And because I’m shameless, everyone should download U2’s new album Songs of Innocence from iTunes. It’s fantastic. And has a lot to say about holy terrorism, since Bono and the guys grew up in the midst of it, narrowly avoiding car bombings and terrorists strikes.

    It’s a free album on iTunes, it’s already in your purchased folder, you just have to click download. U2 gave a free gift to the whole world and all you have to do is accept it…but it was foreordained by U2 and Apple, lol.

  17. Fallen mankind’s lust for blood knows no bounds. Some turn to the prophet’s sword, though rivers of blood be spilt, their thirst is never quenched. Ony those who put their hope and trust on the cross, stained with divine blood will be satisfied. Glory be to our Lord and Saviour!