Tuesday, March 31, 2009

EDS Picks Lesbian Pro-Abortion Fundraiser for President and Dean

The Board of Trustees of the Episcopal Divinity School (EDS) has selected the Rev. Dr. Katherine Ragsdale to be the new President and Dean. In the announcement in Episcopal Life Online, the Rt. Rev. Thomas Ely, EDS trustee and search committee member is quoted citing Ragsdale's "development skills" and the Acting Academic Dean, Dr. Angela Bauer-Levesque, cites Ragsdale's "experience in fundraising". Of course, they cite her many other attributes as well, but this position is understood within academia to be primarily responsible for fundraising. And EDS, like many of the progressive Episcopal seminaries, is in desperate financial condition. For EDS the situation is so extreme that they sold off some of its buildings last year.

Ragsdale has demonstrated success as a fundraiser for her anti-Right Wing think tank Political Research Associates, as well as Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, and other pro-abortion and gay rights groups. I guess this means that the Trustees of EDS see the sources of future dollars for the seminary coming from supporters of abortion and gay rights causes.

While I am concerned with the threat of radical Islam and Sharia Law, Ragsdale and her funders are concerned with the threat of a theocratic state coming from right wing Christians. It seems to me that Ragsdale is still living in the worldview of the time Margaret Atwood wrote The Handmaid's Tale, 1985. She seems to have missed the major event of the new century, 9/11.

Hat Tip to Reformed Pastor

Friday, March 27, 2009

Iran: Death for Bloggers Promoting Christianity

Iran imposes the death penalty for "spreading mischief in the land", a reference to the Quran 5:32. This verse is interpreted to apply to those who encourage conversion from Islam to Christianity. Leaving Islam for another religion is considered "Apostasy". According to Farsi Christian News Service, two Christian bloggers were entrapped and arrested in Isfahan on February 4th. The target of the entrapment operation seems to be bloggers rather than Christian converts as other family members were not arrested.

This Aljazeera video from March 24th acknowledges that bloggers in Iran who encourage conversion to Christianity are in danger of the death penalty for their activities.

Hat Tips to Nova Scotia Scott and Islam in Action

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Training for Anti-Prop 8 "Civil Disobedience Action" March to Sacramento

I see that the same group who organized two "civil disobedience actions" in San Francisco last November, the blockade of Market Street on November 7, 2008 and the blockade of the freeway off ramp at Market and Octavia on November 15th, is now planning a "March to Sacramento" to begin this coming Wednesday March 25th. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are funding the action, perhaps from their most recent grant cycle.

No one from the group was arrested for the blockade of Market Street. However, 15 were arrested for the blockade of the freeway off ramp a week later. I think that the local chapter of the Lawyers Guild got them out of any penalties, though.

I am wondering what sort of "civil disobedience actions" are planned for the March to Sacramento. One of my spies has provided me with a more detailed plan than was posted on the website.

They had a "training" this Saturday and have another "training" planned for Monday and a press conference on Tuesday.

The kick-off rally is on Wednesday at Berkeley City Hall. They will be marching to Walnut Creek and staying at the Unitarian Universalist Church for Wednesday night.

Thursday they will march across the Antioch Bridge (civil disobedience action?) and spend the night in Brannon Island State Park.

Well, it goes on and on, arriving at the Sacramento Mall at 2pm Monday March 30th. On the website this is called "Sacramento Day of Action" In the materials provided to me, it says:
Opportunities for civil disobedience and lobby opportunities will be available but have not been organized by the March committee.
Hmmm, I wonder if the local chapter of the National Lawyers Guild had a hand in that language.

I do notice that the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild is holding a "Legal Observer Training" at USF on Tuesday. (Although the University of San Francisco is a Catholic institution, it is Jesuit run and permits promotion of gay activities on the campus.) The training is just in time for those who would like to serve as an "observer" for the March:
The primary role of legal observers is to monitor law enforcement and collect evidence during protests, demonstrations, strikes and other public political actions. Trainees will be required to sign a Confidentiality Agreement with the National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter.

I wonder what sort of training would necessitate the signing of a "Confidentiality Agreement"?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Sad news for children this week

Two studies were released this week that are bad news for the children of the United States of America. We learned that 40% of all children born in 2007 in the USA were born to an unmarried mother. And we learned that children raised by lesbian couples are twice as likely to be raised in poverty than those raised by heterosexual married couples.

The study with the numbers on births to unwed mothers comes from the National Center for Health Statistics. The New York Times reported on the racial and ethnic breakdown:
Racial and ethnic differences remain large: 28 percent of white babies were born to unmarried mothers in 2007, compared with 51 percent of Hispanic babies and 72 percent of black babies. The shares of births to unwed mothers among whites and Hispanics have climbed faster than the share among blacks, but from lower starting points.

The AP story on the study results skipped those statistics and got a quote a Professor from Emory University, Dr. Carol Hogue:
Cultural attitudes may be a more likely explanation. Morgan noted the pregnancy of Bristol Palin, the unmarried teen daughter of former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. The young woman had a baby boy in December, and plans for a wedding with the father, Levi Johnston, were scrapped.

"She's the poster child for what you do when you get pregnant now," Morgan said.

But shouldn't the "poster child" be a black woman given the much greater percent of black children born out of wedlock? Maybe that is why AP skipped giving those statistics. And the study was based on 2007 birth certificates, and nobody had heard of Bristol Palin in 2007, let alone 2006, when many of those 2007 babies were conceived. And Bristol's baby was born in late 2008. I think the AP reporter was just using this as an excuse to get in another dig at the Palins. Why didn't he interview someone who would talk about the Octo-mom or lesbian unwed mothers?

Which leads me to the study with the high poverty rate for children raised by lesbian couples, titled Poverty in the Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Community comes from UCLA's Williams Institute. The study intention is to support the push for gay marriage. But it seems to me that it undermines the claim that lesbians are such good parents. Lesbians chose parenthood while children are the natural result of heterosexual couple sexual behavior. So, I have to wonder why lesbians are choosing to have children that they will be raising in poverty.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thailand: Sharia Law for Southern Provinces?

Thailand's potential solution to end a five year insurgency in its predominately Muslim southern provinces bordering Malaysia includes "the partial application of Islamic Sharia Law through Islamic Courts" according to Voice of America News:
Policy review options include a specially elected local chamber of government, the partial application of Islamic Sharia Law through Islamic Courts and local administrative organizations based on Muslim community leadership. It also calls for security forces and government officials to be selected from the local Southern community or have language, cultural and knowledge of local customs and traditions before being posted.

Panitan says the empowerment of local communities and application of Sharia law is an option under consideration.

"They are in consideration already in the proposals," he said. "There are at least two different proposals - legislative proposals - proposed by the members of parliament [MPs]. We do not know what will be adopted by the parliament yet but yes - these are the considerations."

Hat Tip: Jihad Watch

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Famous Pakistani Rape Victim Becomes 2nd Wife of Constable

Mukhtar Mai (AKA Mukharan Bibi), the brave woman who was gang raped in a tribal punishment and successfully challenged the rapist in court, has been manipulated into marrying a man who was assigned to protect her. While the marriage is being characterized by the the New York Times as further shattering the stigma against rape victims:
By marrying, she has defeated another stigma against rape victims in conservative Pakistani society.

the facts in further paragraphs of the article indicate she has been manipulated into the marriage:
Mr. Gabol had a hard time persuading Ms. Mukhtar to marry. He had been calling her off and on since 2003 but formally proposed a year and a half ago, she said. “But I told my parents I don’t want to get married.”

Finally, four months ago, he tried to kill himself by taking sleeping pills. “The morning after he attempted suicide, his wife and parents met my parents but I still refused,” Ms. Mukhtar said.

Mr. Gabol then threatened to divorce his first wife, Shumaila.

Ms. Shumaila, along with Mr. Gabol’s parents and sisters, tried to talk Ms. Mukhtar into marrying him, taking on the status of second wife. In Pakistan, a man can legally have up to four wives.

It was her concern about Ms. Shumaila, Ms. Mukhtar said, that moved her to relent.

“I am a woman and can understand the pain and difficulties faced by another woman,” Ms. Mukhtar said. “She is a good woman.”

In the end, Ms. Mukhtar put a few conditions on Mr. Gabol. He had to transfer the ownership of his ancestral house to his first wife, agree to give her a plot of land and a monthly stipend of roughly $125.

Asked if she had plans to leave her village to live with her husband in his village, Ms. Mukhtar said no. “I have seen pain and happiness in Meerwala. I cannot think of leaving this place.”

Her husband, she said, “can come here whenever he wants and finds it convenient.”

Remember that in Islam, the man can divorce his wife at any time by merely saying "I divorce you" three times. He is only obligated to provide her with financial support for six months after the divorce. So, Mukhtaran Bibi has taken pity on the first wife of the constable and negotiated for her financial security. But also remember that Islam requires a wife to submit to her husband's sexual desires at any time. So Mukhtaran Bibi ensured the man's first wife financial security, but only by agreeing to be the man's wife, ie, subject to the sexual desires of this man whenever he wishes. Seems like she has been manipulated into being a rape victim for the rest of her life.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Libya: 4 Christian Converts Detained and Tortured

International Christian Concern is reporting:
Libyan intelligence officials have detained and tortured four Christians for converting from Islam. The Christians have been imprisoned for the past seven weeks in Tripoli, Libya's capital.

Libya's External Security Organization appear to be responsible for the detention and torture of the Christians. The families have been barred from visiting the converts by security agents. It is believed that the converts are under severe physical and psychological pressure to force them to reveal the names of other Christian converts.

The leader of Libya, Mouammar Kadhafi believes that the Bible has been falsified to remove the references to predictions of the Prophet Mohamed. Afrique en Ligne reports that Kadhafi spoke during a commemoration ceremony for the birth of the Prophet Mohamed, claiming that:
Quran showed that there did not exist any differences between Islam and Moses and his closest followers because they were Moslems.

“If they had lived during the era of Mohamed, they would have believed in him. Likewise, there is no problem with Jesus and the other prophets, all of them being Moslems and Mohamed the seal of the prophets," Kadhafi said.

He said the discord was “between us and those who refused to follow Mohamed who is the messenger of the Jews, Christians and the entire mankind”.

Afrique en Ligne reports that Kadhafi also claimed that Islam had not been spread by force. I would add that he forgot to mention that Islam holds its religious adherents by force, at least in Libya.

Let's call him on this. Go to International Christian Concern and see their ideas for calling and writing to get these converts released.

Hat Tip: Women Against Shariah

More Sufi Shrine Destruction, Forming Comment Policy

I recently posted on the destruction of a Sufi shrine in Pakistan. I didn't include a video I had seen in December of the destruction of a Sufi shrine in Somalia. I wished I had posted it in December, but I couldn't think of how to incorporate it into the Pakistan post without diffusing the focus. Now I've decided to post that video of Somalia so that we can all see that there is a conflict going on between Islamic traditions and not just in Pakistan. Below the video, I have written some thoughts in response to the comments on the Pakistan post as I begin to concept a comment policy.

My website is less than a year old and I am just beginning to realize the boundaries I need to set here. I do post "hard hitting" pieces. I am very critical of radical Islam and Sharia Law and I am sometimes very critical of individuals. But I want to be careful to make distinctions between
1) criticizing an ideology or religion
2) insulting a group of people or inciting hatred or violence towards a group of people.

It should be clear now to my readers that all Muslims are not alike. And many Muslims are prisoners within an extreme form of Islam. Women come to my mind as one example. Another seems to be the more mystical Sufis.

The other distinction I want to make is between insulting the religion of Islam and insulting the people who adhere to that faith. In the Netherlands, the Supreme Court ruled that one can insult the Islamic faith without violating the Dutch law "Article 137c of the Criminal Code, which makes offensive statements about a group of people an offence." The Dutch also have a law about "incitement to hatred or violence against a group of people. Here's the link to the article about the Dutch court. I found it at Jihad Watch.

I am thinking I may start removing comments that make broad and insulting generalizations about groups of people. My posts are strong, but this is not a "hate site". There was one other comment thread where I had posted a controversial piece and the comments may have gone over the line. So, we can see that the problem is not just about Muslims and Islam. This can come up with regard to race or sexual behavior. This website had supported the traditional definition of marriage and is concerned about the high rate of African-American children born out of wedlock. But that does not mean that I view gay and lesbians as "less than" or children born out of wedlock as "less than". And I want people who disagree with me to feel welcome at this blog site. I welcome the conversation.

I appreciate your feedback as I formulate my comment policy.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

San Francisco: Flash Mobs Leave Messes for City to Clean Up

San Francisco is now in its fourth year of "flash mob" public happenings and is starting to get tired of the clean up duty. The events are "spontaneous", organized by text messaging, on websites or word of mouth. Recent events have included January's Pants-less Bart Train Ride,

the Valentine's Day Pillow Fight at Justin Herman Plaza

and the March 5th Pie Fight at the Powell and Market Cable Car Turnabout.

They do look like they are having fun, and while some argue that this party spirit is good for tourism, the clean up is a problem.

The city says the cost of cleaning up after the pillow fight was $20,000. But it does gets the city international attention.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

SF Archbishop Can't Stop Teens from Performing Gay Play

That was a fast one. The Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco, Geoger Niederauer ordered the Church of the Most Holy Redeemer to cancel the planned Sunday March 8th performance of the "gay friendly play "Be Still and Know" with students from Sacred Heart Prep School in Atherton. And, yes, Most Holy Redeemer canceled the play, the archdiocese announced.

However, what the archdiocese did not know was that the venue for the play was merely shifted to the Presentation Theater of the University of San Francisco, a Jesuit run school. I see on the Jesuit Society webpage that the Jesuit's have a vow of obedience to the Pope. I guess that means they can disrespect the wishes of local archbishops. The Sacred Heart Prep School in Atherton is run by the women of the Society of the Sacred Heart.

I wonder how the authorities at the high school and the college would feel if their students disregarded their clear wishes. It is so much more fun to be the one "challenging authority" than to be the one who's authority is being challenged. I am sure the Jesuit men have the power to survive this challenge to the archbishops authority, but I am a little concerned about the sisters of the Sacred Heart.

Anyway, it seems to be a lay man who is behind this. The Drama Director at Sacred Heart, John Loschmann adapted the play from the novel The God Box. The California Catholic Daily provides information from the blog of a teenage participant in the play:
Writing on her personal blog “The thoughts of a teenage girl” on Dec. 15, 2008, a young woman who says she plays “Angie, who is the lead character’s girlfriend,” and had just returned from her first rehearsal of “Be Still and Know,” had this to say of the play: “With the passing of Prop 8, I think that California needs a nice dose of humanity. The show does a beautiful job of defending homosexuality with the bible, the very thing most commonly used to condemn it, including Leviticus 18:22 (‘Thou shalt not lie with a man as with a woman, it is an abomination’), to which Carlos (Manuel) Cordero, and openly gay, Christian teen in the play, responds, ‘The Bible also say that eating shellfish is an abomination… Does anyone who eats shrimp commit a lesser crime than homosexuality?’ The show is smart, and powerful, and will cause many people to reconsider their beliefs about homosexuality.”

But the young writer also acknowledged that the play had provoked disapproval by some at her school: “In my nice little Sacred Heart high school, though in one of the most liberal places in the world, San Francisco, this show is causing a remarkable amount of controversy… Parents are protesting it, teachers are confused by it, and student are just avoiding the topic all together.”

You can see the blog post here.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Suddenly the Paintings Look Different

Those gays and lesbians who have supported Maureen Mullarkey with positive reviews and/ or purchases of her artwork are taking a second look now that she has been exposed in the New York Daily News for donating $1,000 in support of Proposition 8, the California Marriage Amendment that defined marriage as between a man and a woman.

Queerty writes that gays and lesbians had thought she was "laughing with" them all these years and now fear she has been "laughing at" them. And they feel betrayed. Mullarkey writes that they have been sending her emails and letters using very ugly language to express their feelings. The comments to the Queerty bog post linked above use similar language.

Photos of Mullarkey's painting series Guise and Dolls is presented on her website. The paintings remind me of German Expressionism and the movie Cabaret that was set in the that time and place.

Her position was always there in her paintings for those with eyes to see it, as the blog Good As You points out. The review of one of her shows in the January 1994 Art in America recognized the subversive nature of her paintings, but did not view this subversion in a positive light:
Mullarkey seems to approach the march and its participants almost as Margaret Mead confronted her aboriginals--as explorer, educator and reporter. The figures are angular, precise, non-naturalistic and presented in what seem to be bright colors toned down. Not to her esthetic credit, however, are her doleful-eyed, elastic-bodied, Tarot-like "Gothic" renderings of, say, a naked, star-titted Button Vendor or an unpleasantly plump drag queen dripping with fake pearls and little else.
She tends to enhance the intentionally freakish by making it seem unwittingly freakish...
Mullarkey's men and women seem frozen forever in their gay misery. In the grip of the lowest forms of campiness, her long-faced revelers seem mighty dolorous. And who can blame them?

Mullarkey wrote in her piece:
However much sympathy, affection--indeed, love--I have for certain gay persons, "gay marriage" burlesques a primal institution rooted in nature. Marriage, as a unique bond between male and female, predates all politics and religious doctrines. And no one has to believe in God to see social anarchy, with children adrift in the wreckage, at the end of the same-sex marriage road.

That reminds me of her painting "The Party":

And that reminds me of the 19th century French artist Bouguereau's genre painting "The Broken Pitcher":

My art history teacher told us that this painting was more popular with visitors to the museum than any of the Impressionist paintings. She thought the museum guests had poor taste and that the painting was "sentimental". She also told us that the theme was an allegory for "lost innocence", a euphemism for child sexual abuse.

HatTip: North Plains Anglican

England: Muslim Protesters Disrupt Royal Anglian Parade

As 200 soldiers from the Royal Anglian Regiment marched through Luton in a Homecoming Parade from their tour of duty in Iraq, the Telegraph reports that:
A group of around 20 men in traditional Islamic dress held up banners and placards that read: "Anglian Soldiers Butchers of Basra", "Anglian Soldiers Criminals, Murderers Terrorists" and "Baby killers".

As the battalion, which is nicknamed The Poachers, reached Luton Town Hall the small group shouted and yelled "Terrorists" and "Anglian Soliders Go to Hell."

The protesters then had to be protected by police as angry supporters of the soldiers turned on them shouting: "Scum" and "No surrender to the Taliban."

Here is the parade video posted by lutonloyal at Youtube:

And here is the altercation video posted by lutonloyal at Youtube. (You will notice that the Telegraph did not report the obscene language):

The Muslim protesters were within their rights to behave in this despicable way. The BBC reports that police arrested a few from the pro-soldier crowd who were violating the protesters rights. And as someone who really does believe in free speech, I think it is a good thing that the police protected the small group of protesters from the crowd and arrested those who violated their rights.

I just wish that the Muslim protesters had an ethic of reciprocity, so that they recognized the right to free speech of those who do not believe in God in the way Islam presents God or chose to leave Islam. In Islamic Law, the first is called blasphemy and is punishable by death. (Remember the fatwa against Salman Rushdie?) In Islamic Law, the second is called apostasy and is punishable by death.

I also wish the police will evidence a belief in reciprocity and arrest Muslims who violate the free speech of those who protest against Islamic terrorism, or for Israel, or against Sharia Law, etc.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Pakistan: Sufi Shrine Bombed by Taliban

We can see the fault lines between militant Islam and Sufi Islam in the recent bombing in Peshwar of the mausoleum of the 17th-century poet Abdul Rehman, commonly known as Rehman Baba. Islamic militants had sent a letter to the management of the mausoleum warning against "shrine culture" and noting that women were coming to the shrine. The local Pakistan Daily Times identifies the Islamic militants as Taliban:
Police told Daily Times that the Taliban planted the explosives and then jumped over a wall of the shrine to escape.

While militant Islam is focused on imposing external compliance with Islamic Law, Sufism is focused on the "laws of the heart", an individual's internal state such that one does not defy God and actions are motivated by the of love of God, Islamic militant see Sufism as violating Islamic law when shrines of Sufi mystics become locations of prayer. Islamic militants see this as elevating humans to "consort" with God. In Islam, Allah has no consort. Traditionally this had been understood to dispute the claims of Christians that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. However, it is applied to any elevation of a human to supernatural status.

Robert Spencer at Jihad Watch calls attention to the US blog post out of North Carolina that celebrates the bombing as "great news", referring to those who visited the site as "shirk". This blogger includes this quotation on the post:
And of mankind are some who take (for worship) others besides Allah as rivals (to Allah). They love them as they love Allah. But those who believe, love Allah more (than anything else). If only, those who do wrong could see, when they will see the torment, that all power belongs to Allah and that Allah is Severe in punishment. (Al-Baqarah:165)

According to Robert:
Shirk = associating partners with Allah, i.e., worshiping others besides Allah.

It may also be that the Islamic militants objected to the women mixing with men at the shrine, as the issue of women was specifically mentioned in the letter.

Hat Tip: Women Against Shariah

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Lesbian Threatens Million Gay Riot if Prop 8 Upheld

The California Supreme Court heard arguments today why it should overturn Proposition 8, the amendment to the California State Constitution specifying marriage as as between a man and a woman, and what to do with the 18,000 same sex marriages that occurred in the months before the November election. A lead petitioner in the case, Robin Tyler, is threatening massive street protests if Prop 8 is upheld.

In an op/ed published in the San Francisco Chronicle Monday, she argued for her same-sex marriage and against Prop 8. Robin Tyler ended with this threat if Prop 8 is upheld:
If the court does rule for us, tens of thousands of us will be on the streets that night celebrating a great victory, not just for us but for everyone.

But if we lose and Prop. 8 stands, even if the court rules to uphold existing same-sex marriages, hundreds of thousands of us will be on the streets, angrier than we have ever been.

The time for saying "please" is over.

Now, Reuters is reporting that the tone of the questions of the judges today indicates that they will not overturn prop 8. And Robin Tyler has upped the number she wants to come out into the streets:
Justices, including those who backed same-sex unions last year, asked questions showing they were wary of overstepping the court's role.

Some 18,000 same-sex couples married between June, after the court ruling, and November, when the ban passed. They included Robin Tyler, one of the lead petitioners in the case heard on Thursday. In addition to ruling on the legality of the ban, the court is deciding the fate of the marriages in limbo.

"I think they are going to uphold our marriages and they are going to uphold Proposition 8, and it's a loss," Tyler told Reuters after the arguments ended. "What I care about now is getting a million people in the street."

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

No Creed In Baptismal Service at Calif Episcopal Church

Father Timothy Fountain has a post at his North Plains Anglican blog with a link to the "Baptismal Liturgy Script" used at St Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco. I was interested to see that the baptisms at St Gregory of Nyssa do not use the "Baptismal Covenant" from the 1979 Prayer Book that is said to be the defining feature of The Episcopal Church.

One aspect of the Baptismal Covenant that I do like is the review of the words of the Apostles' Creed. In the 1928 Prayer Book, the Apostles Creed is referred to and assent to it is required, but the creed is not recited.
Minister: Dost thou believe all the Articles of the Christian Faith as contained in the Apostles' Creed?
Answer: I do.

I was surprised to see that, as I understand the linked document, at St. Gregory of Nyssa there is no creed recited at all in the regular 10:30 am Eucharist service. However, for the Baptismal service, there is a "Celebration of the baptismal creed".
Let us rejoice with those who have committed themselves to Christ and celebrate the faith of our baptism.

You O God, are supreme and holy.
You create our world and give us life.
Your purpose overarches everything we do.
You have always been with us. You are God.

You, O God, are infinitely generous, good beyond measure.
You came to us before we came to you.
You have revealed and proved
your love to us in Jesus Christ,
who lived and died and rose again.
You are with us now. You are God.

You, O God, are Holy Spirit.
You empower us to be your gospel in the world.
You reconcile and heal; you overcome death.
You are God. We worship you.

Hmmm, this is the same text referred to in Northern Michigan as "An Affirmation of Faith" from "A New Zealand Prayer Book".

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

No Creed with Communion for Bishop Elect

The Living Church has an article by Doug LeBlanc, Controversial Bishop-Elect Composes Own Eucharistic Texts. Of course, he is referring to the Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester, bishop elect of the diocese of Northern Michigan. I was intrigued by his description of the Lenten 2008 Youth Sunday service and, as a follower of the Creedal Christian website, I was particulary intrigued by this:
The same service omitted the Nicene Creed, instead using “An Affirmation of Faith” from A New Zealand Prayer Book.

I wasn't familiar with this "Affirmation of Faith", so I searched the web and found the Service for Lenten Youth Sunday. Here are the words for the "Affirmation of Faith":
You O God, are supreme and holy.
You create our world and give us life.
Your purpose overarches everything we do.
You have always been with us.
You are God.

You, O God, are infinitely generous,
good beyond measure.
You came to us before we came to you.
You have revealed and proved
your love to us in Jesus Christ,
who lived and died and rose again.
You are with us now.
You are God.

You, O God, are Holy Spirit.
You empower us to be your gospel in the world.
You reconcile and heal; you overcome death.

You are our God. We worship you.

It is instructive to contrast this with the Nicene Creed. Preceding the Nicene Creed in the Holy Communion service in the 1928 Prayer Book is a rubric which says that one may omit the Nicene Creed if it has been said at a previous service on the same day:
Then shall be said the Creed commonly called the Nicene, or else the Apostles' Creed; but the Creed may be omitted, if it hath been said immediately before in Morning Prayer; Provided, That the Nicene Creed shall be said on Christmas Day, Easter Day, Ascension Day, Whitsunday, and Trinity Sunday.

I BELIEVE in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, And of all things visible and invisible: And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God; Begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of very God; Begotten, not made; Being of one substance with the Father; By whom all things were made: Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, And was made man: And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried: And the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures: And ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of the Father: And he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, The Lord, and Giver of Life, Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; Who spake by the Prophets: And I believe one Catholic and Apostolic Church: I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins: And I look for the Resurrection of the dead: And the Life of the world to come. Amen.

What first strikes me is that the "Affirmation of Faith" avoids the use of the word "Father" and avoids calling Jesus Christ "Son".

I also notice that the wording avoids calling Jesus Christ "God". One could say this "Affirmation of Faith" without believing in the Trinity.

Saudi Arabia: Selling Daughters for Quick Cash

Arab News reports that foreign residents in are contracting temporary marriages for their daughters with Saudis:
Kamal Muhammad, an IT teacher at a boys’ school in Madinah, said such marriages cost no more than SR10,000. “I learned about them from a friend who arranged an appointment for me with an expatriate man who was looking for a husband for his daughter,” he said.

“The father showed me three of his daughters and asked me to choose one. He made a condition that the dowry should be no less than SR7,000 and that I should stay with her at the same house,” he said.

He added that after agreeing to the condition he made his choice. “The father brought a sheikh who was of his own nationality to write the contract. I paid them SR5,000 and promised to give the remainder of the money later. We then underwent a wedding party that was attended by the bride’s mother and other close relatives. I never expected things to move so fast and to be married within a few minutes for such a small amount of money,” he said.

Kamal said his father-in-law also asked him to pay SR600 each month for his wife’s upkeep. “Of course I readily agreed. Where can you find such a young and beautiful wife?” he said.

Note: Convert Saudi Riyals to US Dollars by dividing by 3.75. The bride price he paid was 5,000 Saudi Riyals, about $1,132 US Dollars. He then paid 600 Saudi Riyals, about $160 US Dollars, for upkeep.

He, however, divorced his wife after five months after he came to know such marriages were common trade among some foreigners. “She won’t lose any time and will remarry the next day,” he added.

Saudi businessman Ghazi said he has unofficially married and divorced a number of expatriate women. “My Saudi wife is the principal of a school; her work is her priority. I do not want to have a normal second marriage and all the responsibilities that come with it such as setting up another home and having children,” he said. “I want a woman who spoils me and makes me happy. So I’ve married five foreign ladies in this unofficial way. These marriages are cheap and nor do I need to rent a home. I just live with them at their own homes,” he said.

Ghazi said his five wives were of different nationalities. He added that the “best” was an African woman from Chad.

Khaled, a secondary school teacher, also agrees. “The common law marriage provides us with the opportunity to change. We can tie the knot with all kinds of women, old or young, white or black, without our Saudi wives and relatives finding out,” he said.

“The foreign wives will prefer to keep silent for fear of deportation because most of them are illegally staying in the Kingdom,” he said.

So an expatriate man in Saudi Arabia with daughters may pick up some extra cash by selling his daughters' sexual favors and still be behaving according to Islamic law. And so a Saudi man may acquire a temporary sexual partner, cast her aside when he is finished and still be behaving according to Islamic law. Remember, a man may divorce his wife in Islam by saying "I divorce you," three times. Actually, he needn't say it. He can use Facebook or text messaging.

Hat Tips: Religion of Peace and Islam in Action

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Mother Dreams of Her Dead Daughter

I just came across a blog post by a woman whose daughter had died five years before. She writes that in previous years, this day of the anniversary of the death was very difficult for her. Then she describes a very powerful dream she had of her dead daughter. Here is how she describes the end of the dream and her reaction to it:
The sight of her was startling. “Shelagh, you can’t be here. You’re dead, remember?” She laughed, put her arm around me and assured me that all was well. “Oh, Mom, you’ll be okay. And I’m fine now.”

At that point the dream ended. The Baron had come in the front door, returning from church, and the rattle of the doorknob wakened me. The dream itself was so vivid that I was disoriented for a few minutes after I came back to the surface.

Since then, things have been the same, but different. I don’t grieve any more. Instead, I remember all the things I loved about my daughter and how fortunate I was to have been her mother – as rocky as that road was sometimes.

The whole post is lovely. Remembrance Day for Shelagh at The Neighborhood of God.