Wednesday, August 11, 2010

FYI - The Muslim Calendar

From Wikipedia:

The Islamic calendar or Muslim calendar or Hijri calendar is a lunar calendar consisting of 12 lunar months in a year of 354 or 355 days. It is used to date events in many Muslim countries (concurrently with the Gregorian calendar), and used by Muslims everywhere to determine the proper day on which to celebrate Islamic holy days and festivals.

The first year was the year during which the emigration of the Islamic prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Medina, known as the Hijra, occurred. Each numbered year is designated either H for Hijra or AH for the Latin anno Hegirae (in the year of the Hijra).

Being a purely lunar calendar, it is not synchronized with the seasons. With an annual drift of 11 or 12 days, the seasonal relation is repeated approximately each 33 Islamic years.
This is why Ramadan or the ninth month falls on different days each year a little bit looser than the Christian season of Lent also based on lunar calculations.

I would assume that the Gregorian calendar is used for global scales in Muslim countries. Seems a bit of a time warp but we in the west look at everything through different eyes sometimes.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Mosque - Definition

From the free on-line dictionary a definition for mosque and its origin.

A Muslim house of worship.

[French mosquée, from Old French mousquaie, from Old Italian moschea, from moscheta, from Old Spanish mezquita, from Arabic masjid; see masjid.]
Mosque is quite a European word and seems to have been in the language forever. Little strange wonder how the idea of a Muslim house of worship anywhere is an idea that offends people.

With empty churches for sale and the like, and a large immigration influx, the nation turns from Christian to multi ethnic and multi cultural and global.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Cordoba House - WTC - Columbia College - NYC

College and University is a place to broaden one’s knowledge of the diversity of the world in all its aspects.

Some American universities such as Harvard started out as places to study theology. While a degree in Theology at Harvard is a noteworthy thing, it does not say much about the individual that holds the degree.

Life is about Experience. The experience many had on 911 at the World Trade Center effected all of American culture including its thinking. While the theme behind 911 was anti-American, it was also anti- western Christian Culture. 911 began as a domestic American day. It ended as a day of global reflection.

The Cordoba House/Mosque complex in New York City to be built in an office tower structure of 13-15 stories sits exactly on part of the foundation stones of part of the original King’s College building – later to become Columbia University uptown. Literally, this is true.

It is rather fitting that a place, a Muslim culture place, be part of the world and or global culture and that it is to sit on a place dedicated to learning that goes back almost two hundred and fifty years. The beginnings of a Global Culture, of a new human race, I believe starts at the New World Trade Center rising from the ashes of the old.

So like the secular colleges of today, the Cordoba House/Mosque center will be a place of learning and broadening outlooks from the very narrow focus that began the day of 911. The end of that day sent us looking for many answers.

Sometimes the answers are right there in our midst. A mosque in downtown NYC is as natural as the wind as a place to be. And a place for cultural growth.

Tolerance. Learning. Diversity. Just a few global words to throw out there today.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Deepak Chopra on Cultural Christianity

Anne Rice’s few lines in Facebook has done a lot to make people think. Also, left many searching for new definitions in Spirituality.

Real belief is personal search for truth
Faith lingers, one way or another, in every society. For those who have given up on Christianity, there's a newly coined term, "cultural Christian," to describe the half-hearted believer or the timid atheist who doesn't want to be labeled as such. Unlike being pregnant or dead, which holds no middle ground, fence-sitting about God is so common that it might even be the majority position.

The question is whether being a cultural Christian, accepting the trappings of faith without the substance, is viable. Or must a person take stronger, more positive steps toward a different kind of spirituality?...

The teachings of Jesus are staggeringly difficult to carry out in practice, as anyone knows who has tried to turn the other cheek or loved his enemies. But if you approach Jesus as a guide to higher states of consciousness, which is what he meant by saying that the Kingdom of heaven is within, then being a cultural Christian could open the door to true transformation in body, mind, and soul.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Gandhi on Religion and Spiritualism

I am running into opinions about beliefs and believers and how the two exist, co-exist or do not blend together at all.

Gandhi said religion and spiritualism are distinct
According to my grandfather, M. K. Gandhi, religion and spiritualism are distinctly apart -- that is, it is possible to practice one without believing in the other. Religion, as it is commonly understood, is the practice of a set of rituals based on the interpretation made by human beings. Since we humans are imperfect, our interpretation too is imperfect.

On the other hand Spiritualism, according to him, is achieved when one comes to one's own understanding of the Power that we call God. When we truly accept all religions as simply different roads to the same destination and respect them all equally.

Ultimately whichever religious belief we may follow we are all going to the one destination. We call God by different names but that does not mean there are so many different Gods. There is only one God with many names and, according to Gandhi, God is not someone sitting in heaven but in the hearts of every being.
So it goes.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Anne Rice Continued...

Anne Rice Continued…

I am not a fan of the author but she is saying some really heart felt emotional statements about religion.

"When does a word (Christian) become unusable?" she asked. "When does it become so burdened with history and horror that it cannot be evoked without destructive controversy?"…

Yesterday, the author reiterated that her faith in Christ was "central" to her life. "My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn't understand to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me," she said. "But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been, or might become." Guardian UK, July 30, 2010, Alison Flood
Interesting fodder for thoughts in a faith that has so many sects that it seems sometimes not to be a coherent faith but more of a cultural label.

This follows my own thinking in that you should follow the teachings of Jesus first before you serve any other purpose including organized religion that sometimes only gives lip service to the words and meanings of Jesus.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

More Etouffee - Anne Rice on Religion

An interesting quote from Anne Rice after her veiled slap at Catholicism (Christians?) in previous days.

Pick a new religion for ex-Catholic Anne Rice?
But maybe Catholic theology was less the problem for Rice that the very human institution, particularly the U.S. Bishops. Rice told the Associated Press:

She was troubled by the child abuse scandals in the church, and the church's defensive reaction, and by the ex-communication of Sister Margaret McBride, a nun and hospital administrator who had approved an abortion for a woman whose life was in danger...

I believed for a long time that the differences, the quarrels among Christians didn't matter a lot for the individual, that you live your life and stay out of it. But then I began to realize that it wasn't an easy thing to do... I came to the conclusion that if I didn't make this declaration, I was going to lose my mind.
It is hard in today’s 24/7 media sabe world to ignore the imperfections of man-made institutions such as the church.

Anne Rice, apparently felt uncomfortable being a card carrying member of a religious body. She should realize that as Jesus said of Peter – “Upon this rock, I build my church” that Peter the rock had many human flaws and so do all institutions.

It takes sometimes an almost mystical strength to see through to the heart of the matter and to the grace at the center of it all, seeing through to the Creator and the Creator’s plan.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Anne Rice - Heretic or Areligionist?

Author Anne Rice’s strange twist on belief, recently announced, is not an easy knot to untie.  Her brief return to Catholicism has turned her off to the whole Christianity title and religion thing.

Novelist Anne Rice ditches Christianity for Christ
Novelist Anne Rice says she's quit being a Christian but she's hanging on to Christ. She's just fed up with his followers.

The author, whose vampire books (i.e. Interview with a Vampire) were huge sellers long before Twilight and whose return to her childhood Catholicism dominated her more recent works, posted a series of comments on Facebook (confirmed by her publisher as authentic, according to Associated Press).
Is this author a heretic – wanting to follow Christ without being one of the followers of a religion and a rulebook?

Or is she now Areligionist – without religion? Believes in a higher power and does not want or need a rulebook religion.

Perhaps the true flaw in all or many religions is that every generation lays on perceptions that future generations do not understand or see. In other words, belief can be as individual as the individual themselves.

This all reminds me a bit of a quote from evangelist Brian McLaren.

I don’t believe making disciples must equal making adherents to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many (not all!) circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu or Jewish contexts …Wikipedia

Friday, July 30, 2010

Congratulations - Good News of Miriam

The novel Good News of Miriam is being published on Kindle/Amazon.

Good News of Miriam

The novel, set in the Holy Land, is an alternative historical fiction of the life of Mary Magdalene.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

WikiLeaks – “stateless organization”

An interesting article from the Guardian UK that shows the trail of how the WikiLeak organization first brought video, earlier this year of a US Apache Helicopter attack, to the public's attention, releasing it showing the death of a Reuters photographer and his driver as well as other civilians.

The video had it impact but WikiLeaks had no credibility as an organization. Its recent release of what are being called the Afghanistan war logs to overseas newspapers made it impossible for the US government to stop publication of these top secret documents.

There is a give and a take among its members within this organization at present that sprouts from hacker traditions and experiences. Julian Assange has published free software for the web, some of which and its encryptions can be used to protect whistle blowers. 

Why WikiLeaks turned to the press
Around the time that the video was released, hubris among the WikiLeakers was thick. In the New Yorker piece, we hear from a friend and supporter of Assange's, a Dutch hacker named Rop Gonggrijp, who smugly says that "we are not the press" and "the source is no longer dependent on finding a journalist who may or may not do something good with his document".
WikiLeaks is stateless (sounds very global) and suddenly a household word and concept. How long before it conforms to acceptable journalistic standards in its quest to make an impact on the modern mind and media? Being stateless at the moment has what impact on imitators down the road? Will these imitators be for the good or bad? Who is to say.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Wikileaks – Living in a Non-Secret World

Putting aside the recent revelations of a failing war in Afghanistan, the organization Wikileaks :

is an amorphous, international organization, based in Sweden, that publishes anonymous submissions and leaks of sensitive documents from governments and other organizations, while preserving the anonymity of their sources. Its website, launched in 2006, is run by The Sunshine Press. The organization has stated it was founded by Chinese dissidents, as well as journalists, mathematicians, and start-up company technologists from the U.S., Taiwan, Europe, Australia, and South Africa.

Wikileaks states that its "primary interest is in exposing oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we also expect to be of assistance to people of all regions who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their governments and corporations."

Wikileaks went public in January 2007, when it first appeared on the Web. The site states that it was "founded by Chinese dissidents, journalists, mathematicians and start-up company technologists, from the US, Taiwan, Europe, Australia and South Africa". The creators of Wikileaks were unidentified as of January 2007, although it has been represented in public since January 2007 by non-anonymous speakers such as Julian Assange, who had described himself as a member of Wikileaks' advisory board and was later referred to as the "founder of Wikileaks". Source: Wikipedia ( no relation to Wikileaks )
Not since the “Pentagon Papers” got released during the Vietnam War has so much negative real information been dumped into the public sphere. It takes a free press in free countries to disseminate all this “secret” information. With close to a million people in the U.S. government priviledged to “Top Secret” information clearance, the Federal Government is a sieve. Anybody on the planet that wants the info can find it.

With the power of the computer, Internet and free press, there are no secrets left to be hidden in our growing global culture. The big task now is in getting governments to bend to logic and truth and to end wars that even Alexander the Great could not win.

A.S. – Age of the Secular - 1961

Looking as I do at two totally different things and finding a thought, I have decided that 1961 A.D., C.E. was the first year in the Age of the Secular in the Eastern United States.

I remember the beginning date/year of the Cherry Hill Mall in New Jersey. I visited there as a child on a Sunday no less, but after church. Cannot remember if the mall had officially opened yet or it was gearing up in its final stages of preparation.

It still had work to do on odds and ends of its interior. I remember plastic covers on a window of an unfinished store. One of the big anchor stores was Strawbridge and Clothier, stalwart pillar of the age old “carriage trade” in Philadelphia, where my aunt worked.

It would have been all grand to visit inside these stores but it was Sunday and no business was allowed as I remember in this new mall on this sacred Christian day.

That must have been the last time the stores in a Mall in America were closed on what is now considered a busy premier, weekend secular sales day – Sunday.

Cherry Hill Mall
Cherry Hill Mall opened on October 11, 1961. At the time, it was the largest mall in the nation and the first enclosed, climate-controlled mall in the Eastern United States.
People were strolling about looking at the new stores and the idea of an enclosed shopping space connecting stores simply fascinated everyone. The one lively thing in the whole open, not for sales, interior space was a huge Parrot in its giant cage on the walkway, sitting as something of a pet, showpiece or simply living piece of art and chewing on sunflower seeds. Rather a dull bird, white and gray, and limited language. Cutting edge entertainment at the time.

Funny how memory roles out in time.

The date of the Age of Secular depends on different people and different geographic places but my suggested start date on a timeline is 1961 – First Year A.S. - (zero) 0 A.S..

I cross reference this with the then in progress or upcoming Vatican Council around 1961. The Church was going one way and the rest of the capitalist world was headed into an entirely different direction. Bad/Good timing?