By Triti Parsi
Cross-Posted from The Huffington Post
The right wing pro-Israel forces — described by the New York Times today as “extremists” — seem to be falling on their swords. They are learning that Senator Chuck Hagel is the wrong guy to pick a fight with. Though the battle is not yet over, the unprecedented push-back against their vicious campaign to prevent Hagel from being nominated is gaining steam: Tom Friedman has come out in favor of Hagel, four former National Security Advisors backed Hagel in the Washington Post yesterday, today the New York Times ran a strong op-ed by James Besser decrying the McCarthyist methods used against Hagel and the New Yorker‘s Connie Bruck used the by-now-mainstream term “Israel lobby” to describe Hagel’s detractors.
Reality is that Hagel’s prospective nomination should never have been controversial in the first place. Continue reading
I don’t know how it is for most believers who change their religion, but for me modern Christianity and modern Islam often play complementary roles, teaching me the same lessons from two different directions.
For instance, quite a few years ago, shortly after I had left Evangelical Christianity and joined Sunni Islam, the two Shiite Muslims I sat beside on my first Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca taught me what I still think was one of the most important lessons I ever learned about what Jesus said in the Bible.
It was a long conversation, all the way from Frankfurt to Medina, and as I sat there listening to them talk about their Hidden Imam, I suddenly realized they sounded just like Pentecostal Christians talking about the Holy Spirit. And I realized that just as the way that Spirit’s interactions with diverse Christian believers has divided Christianity, so too has individual Muslim believer’s diverse “ecstatic” experiences divided Islam.
And that also meant that the one unforgiveable sin Jesus condemned in the Holy Bible –generally translated as blasphemy against the Holy Spirit– was the same sin that God condemned in the Holy Quran –that of assigning partners to Allah–, the only difference being that the two religions were looking at the two different sides of the same awful coin. Because in both cases believers assume they know more than they really do about things beyond their understanding, and make God smaller than God really is. Continue reading
Excerpt from The Examiner:
Liberals double standard…
Rupert Shortt of the UK-based think tank Civitas has released a study entitled “Christianophobia: A Faith Under Attack” in which he cites “there is now a serious risk that Christianity will disappear from its biblical heartlands,” as reported Dec. 25, 2012 by The Trumpet.
As cited in his report, Shortt estimates:
“200 million Christians (10 per cent of the global total) are socially disadvantaged, harassed or actively oppressed for their beliefs.
Exposing and combating the problem ought in my view to be political priorities across large areas of the world.”
The author then sharply stated:
“That this is not the case tells us much about a questionable hierarchy of victimhood.”
Christian persecution is a problem in all the countries Shortt examined, he concluded that “the lion’s share of their problems arise in Muslim-majority societies.”
Citing that “in the large area between Morocco and Pakistan, for example, there is scarcely a country in which [Christian] church life operates without restrictions.”
Read the rest of the article here. Continue reading
For two consecutive Friday evenings (part 1 was shown on December 21st, part 2 will be screened on December 28th) ABC News broadcast specials by famed journalist Christiane Amanpour whose courageous reports from the war-torn region have been exemplary. In her “documentary” “Back to the Beginning: A Modern Journey Through the Holy Land” she incessantly repeats every tired cliché from Interfaith Dialogue and the archaeological tourist industry that can possibly be imagined:
What is so important about the documentary is the way it provides clear, definitive proof of how the atavistic discourse has completely trapped us in terms of how we see the current Middle East. Continue reading
Cross-Posted from Patheos
Bob Robinson is Senior Lecturer in Theology at Laidlaw College in Christchurch, New Zealand. He is also a charter member of the Evangelical Chapter of the Foundation for Religions Diplomacy. He is the author of Christians Meeting Hindus (2004), and the new volume Jesus and the Religions. He and I had the following discussion of the ideas surrounding his new book.
Bob, how did your experience among Hindus in India, and later as a scholar reflecting on the biblical materials, shape your theology and praxis of interreligious engagement to its present form?
I had long thought (and taught) that, biblically and theologically, a) the religions are both a running away from God and a seeking after God; and that b) before Paul (and Jesus, in his full humanity), spoke to their cultures, their cultures had spoken to them. I clearly remember how my actual lived encounters with Hindus, first in Singapore and then in India, vividly confirmed the truth of both those previously abstract truths.
You state in your book that you were surprised to find few Christians applying the example of Christ to encounters with those in other religions as they try to follow his example elsewhere? Why do you think Jesus’ example has been ignored?
Leaving to one side Jesus’ encounters with his fellow Jews, part of the answer is quite simple: Jesus never actually met any Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims; we do, he didn’t—so “What would Jesus do?” doesn’t come quickly to mind. We Evangelicals also want to hurry on to the death of Jesus as so important that the example of his life counts for rather little. Or we’re semi-Docetists who don’t really grasp the full humanity of Jesus. Or perhaps we notice that talk of following Jesus’ example is what Catholics or liberals stress—so we think we mustn’t. But I want to retrieve and apply what the New Testament tells us. Christians are called to “have the same attitude of mind that Christ Jesus had” (Phil 2) and to “imitate Christ” (1 Cor. 11). We’re called to “live ['walk'] as Jesus did” (1 John 2). That’s how I want to behave when I meet, or even think about, people of other religions. Continue reading
The following is a memo put out by AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) on September 6th, 2012, before the U.N. upgraded Palestine to “non-member” observer state:
September 6th, 2012
Israel Takes Steps for Peace, Palestinians Going to U.N.
Despite persistent Palestinian rejectionism, Israel has creatively offered important political and economic incentives to the Palestinian Authority (PA). Instead of returning to peace talks, the Palestinians are seeking to upgrade their status at the United Nations. The United States should recognize Israel’s accommodating approach and continue pressing PA President Mahmoud Abbas to end his U.N. bid and return to bilateral negotiations with Israel.
Israel has moved to dramatically bolster the Palestinian economy and condition the environment for peace. Continue reading