Posted by: guinness222 | July 4, 2008

So where do you come down on this??

A year or so ago, the priest in our local parish went on vacation, and we had another priest “covering”. He was a Jesuit, the “brain trust” of the Catholic Church as well as the folks who brought you the Inquisition, back in the 14th and 15th centuries, in the fact they were the Pope’s “Militia” during this period. But even after those times they became even more the Vatican’s “Catholic Heratics” by virtue of thier deep thinking and philosophical wanderings from “Black and White” as we are supposed to know it. My Dad went to Boston College High School, taught by the Jesuits, went on to Boston College, also taught by the Jesuits, and went into the Seminary to become a priest himself. (Phew! Thank’s God, I sure wouldn’t be here now if that plan worked out,….I owe you one!)
Any way I’ve a friend or two who are Jesuits and they have always interested me, so it was natural for me to ask our Deacon, “So what’s this one do as a “Jebbie”(inside slang term for Jesuits, no disrespect intended). Well it seems he was apparently of Egytian/Lebanese descent and his family only came to this country a generation or so ago. He was stationed at the Vatican for the previous five years and was sort of the “man’s man” on Islam and Middle Eastern politics and religions. I am dutifully impressed!!
“So why don’t you ask him if he can spend some time and maybe share his observations, knowledge and insights on Islam with some of us here in “vacation central, sunny Florida” He had left the day before,….bummer, but he was back this year again being a “sub”, so I pushed again, of our Deacon, who called me a few days later and said “It’s on for Tuesday evening at 7 o’clock.” Cool, it’s in the Blackberry, I’ll be there.
Slight diversion here delving into Catholicity, older folks, and “percieved instigators” (that one would be me!)

This is an “Optional part of the Text you may skip, but it will be on the test!

I like to think and psychologize in my mind so bare with me. This segment is called “Catholicism for the real world”. As a child if your parents have strong beliefs, and are intelligent, which mine were, you go to church with them, go to Sunday school, or if they were really strong in thier belief, and love to sacrifice, you go on to Catholic schools, that is Grammar School, High School, and then College. You get the joys of your first Penance (Confession. Always have, and still do hate that crap. It’s between me and God, end of story. Show mw where God said “You gotta go Dude.”)
Anyway, I did the Grammar School , High School, but drew the line at College and went “secular”,….then you sort of sleep-in on Sundays, explore the Ten Commandments from the “Thou SHALT” side a bit, and move on with your life. Ultimately some of us find a great person we love very much and get married. Well if you are Catholic, and both her parents and yours are Catholic don’t fight it,…you are getting married in the Church, by the Priest. Afterwards the two of you go back to your own hedonistic practices and enjoying life a bit. One day the “let’s go to Church on Christmas Eve” thing comes up, you do, and it doesn’t seem as bad as it was when you were dragged kicking, screaming, and faking “stomach flu” ( which always got better after noon on Sundays 🙂 . You go on and now and then find yourself “chatting” with the “BIG Boss”, you know,”Listen God, see if you can put in a word so I get that raise, I’ll go to Church next week if I get it, and skip the Pub,…well at least only stay for an hour instead of three, I promise”
As life moves on you find that sooner or later you’d like a little more than a couple of “negociating sessions” with “The Man” so you start showing up a little more often, and eventually, ten or so years later with your kids in tow tou are getting ready for Church every Sunday. (Life does move in circles.)
But it’s my observation that when you reach the Senior years, 65+, and your “drinkin’ buddies” and other “party animals” start dying off, spending thier vacations in hospitals, know more pharmacelogical terms than any human should, and otherwise you go to bed at nine pm and begin to like soft mushy food ’cause it digests better,…..well they figure the jokes on them, God’s getting even for all thier screwing around forty years ago. What do they do? They jump feet first in the deep end of the “Religion Pool”. They are ushers, they are volunteers for Sunday School, the local padre becomes a “saint” the comfort of the religion is thier new security blanket, and all the while anything that goes on in the Church must be a good thing, must be attended, and must be liked completely,….or back to the confession thing next Saturday! So about twenty-five people showed up for the session, most of them older than dirt, new batteries in the hearing aids, ready to go!

End of optional read section, but it will be on the test

With a very thick middle east accent it was difficult to fully comprehend every word so I sat up front. He was sitting at one of these eight foot folding banquet tables with his laptop set up in front of him and we were all at the folding banquet tables in frront of him.
“We don’t have alot of time so I am going to condense a full semestr course and formal briefing I give to (Vatican) priest and emissaries going to the Middle east, and I will leave a half hour for questions afterwards.”
I must admit I really thought it might be boring but it wasn’t. He began with the basic history and five pillars of Islam, and then delved deeper into the actual text of the Koran. He seemed to be reading from his laptop, and having trouble a bit and one of the “older folks” asked if he would like a brighter light, he said no, it was fine and another person said “Are you reading it in Arabic?” To which he said “Yes, for you see if you boil it all down the Koran, Islam’s core basis of beliefs MUST be taken literally, as they are to be read literally, and interpreted literally. Whereas in Christianity we allow for more modern and culturally current interpretations of the words and meanings, whereas Islam does not.”
He read a number of quotes and answered numerous questions still unasked, but obviously out there. Did Islam believe in Jesus, absolutely yes, but as a prophet, not the Savior. Then how do they explain the Crucifixion and the Resurrection? They don’t have to, they believe it really wasn’t Jesus that was crucified, and that at the last minute “Allah” snatched him away and substituted another person, sort of a “stunt double”, and then when Jesus continued to preach after the Crucifixion, well it’s becasue he never was, but a short time later Allah drew him up to the heavens. Was Mary really a Virgin? Not in the sense that we construe her to be, but texturally she was not endowed with the thoughts of sex and hterefor was chaste. This back and forth went on for an hour or so. As I looked around the room the old folks eyes were “glazed over” it was getting too close to bed time.
He continued and pointed out contradictions from one time in the Koran to another. “The one, and only thing that God can never, ever, ever do is what?” he asked.
The usual Catachism answers popped out and he shook his head, “No, none of those. The only thing God can never do is to contradict himself, for then he would not truly be God.”
Finally someone asked the biggest question on everyones mind ” Are Muslims dangerous?” I was expecting an answer of the usual Christian tradition like “No they are a loving people also, there are just a few “whacko’s” like in any group or religion.” But I was surprisingly disappointed. His reply?
“Absolutely YES, they are dangerous, to the entire world, for the inability to look,learn, or even consider beyond the literal word of the Koran leaves absolutely no doubt. The penalties for “sins” are very severe, death, mutilation, and the like. Look at the five Pillars of Islam, they are not subject to interpretation, they are not subject to cultural modification, they are what they are, and that’s it.”
For example, reconcile the “creed” of Islam, “There is but one God and Allah is his name”. There is no Jesus Christ, no Buddha, no other God,…none. So what are they to do with “non-believers” look to the Koran,…they can not be tolerated, that means convert or die.
That brought sobering silence to the room. And with that our time was up. Now I ponder the realities of those statements.
Can a true Muslim be trusted?
If it is truly “convert or else”, how big a threat to society is that?
With anything so literal, as Islam is for example, there can be no “middle ground” , no “give and take” or in fact you are no longer being “literal” and therefore no longer “true to your faith”, how can those things be reconciled?

Why is it that more information creates more questions?

Hope you’ve enjoyed this blog. If anything I’ll never become an old fart stuck in a rut. 🙂 Speaking of which Happy 232nd Birthday America, let’s keep you the land of the Free and the Brave, the nation that makes room for those not given any room.
So what’s up for the rest of the day? Well time for lunch, writing a bit more, and then my one man Happy Birthday America party at the Pub around 3 or 4 pm, then home to watch the world famous Boston Pops Orchestra from the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade in Boston on the Charles River, a fourth of July tradition ending with the 1812 Overture, the Massachusetts National Guard firing real Howitzer artillary cannons in time with the music and the absolutely best fireworks extravaganza anywhere.
Have a good weekend ,…and enjoy. Wish I could write blogs for a living!
Mr. Guinness
-30-


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