Reflections on Fear and Faith – The Institute of Middle East Studies

Source: Reflections on Fear and Faith – The Institute of Middle East Studies

Arthur Brown on fear & faith, a constant topic of conversation for Christians living in the Middle East.

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Hospitality in an Age of Terror – The Institute of Middle East Studies

Source: Hospitality in an Age of Terror – The Institute of Middle East Studies

Sousie Lahoud of hospitality as a Christian virtue in the age of terror

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks on Jerusalem: The 50th Anniversary of Reunification

A love tribute to Jerusalem, by the Chief Rabbi of UK, Dr Jonathan Sachs.

As we approach Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) on the 23rd / 24th May, and the 50th anniversary of the reunification of our beloved city, here are a few thoughts about what Jerusalem means to me. (This video includes captions in Hebrew. If you wish to receive an MP4 version of this video for use in your community, school or organisation on Yom Yerushalayim, please email info@rabbisacks.org and put ‘Jerusalem 50 video’ in the subject line.)

5 Things I Wish Conservative Christians Understood About Muslims

Source: 5 Things I Wish Conservative Christians Understood About Muslims

This is a great text, worth reading. And, no, Corey does not have to also talk about the differences btween Islam and Christianity. That is common sense for anbody who has a brain. But, in a (conservative/fundamentalist and Islamophobic Western) context in which only the differences are emphasized, there is a great need for irenic spirits who also underline the communalities rooted in our being created in the image of God (yes, both Christians and Muslims) and in our monotheistic faiths, whether we beleve we worship the same God or not.

CSW – Prayer Diary: Sudan

Sudan has been on our minds a lot this year with the case of Reverend Hassan, Reverend Kuwa, Mr Jašek and Mr Abdumawla, all of whom were on trial on unjust charges last year. The men went through many months of imprisonment, separated from their families and frequently enduring harsh conditions. But God is good – Rev Kuwa was found innocent of all charges and released in January 2017. Mr Jašek received a presidential pardon and was freed in February, and in May both Mr Abdumawla and Rev Hassan were set free after receiving a presidential pardon. This, of course, exists in a wider context of extreme pressure on Christians in Sudan: let’s pray through the things they’re facing this week (source, HERE). Read More »

Egyptian Christians Are Made of Steel… and Love

This moving short interview was recorded following a recent suicide attack of Muslim extremists at a Coptic Cathedral in Alexandria, Egypt.

The Pope Dancing to Hasidic Music

The encounter took place during a 45-minute papal audience on Monday (May 8) with a delegation led by Polish Rabbi Edgar Gluck, who was accompanied by his son Zvi, who lives in New York, and other rabbis.

(Source, HERE.)

Doru Costache – Christianity at the Crossroads


Fr. Doru Costache

Note: This short text, on the perseccution of Christians in general, and the maartyrdom of the Coptic Church in particular comes from one of my favourite Orthodox theologians, the Romanian Fr. Doru Costache, who serves now in Australia. In the context of the present hysteria, especially in the US, on how they, poor good Christians (who brough foolish Trump to power), are persecuted by the secular world, which does not understad how precious they are, I believe the common sense gospel words in this text have to be heard more largely than on the academic website where they were published. Of course, I do this with the kind permission of Fr. Costache, to whom goes my gratitude.

* * *

14 April 2017 © AIOCS Doru Costache

No, you do not have to expect me to say that the current circumstances are new and that these days Christians must take some unprecedented action or to abolish their past. Neither should you expect me to say something like Christianity being in need of a radical reform today more than yesterday. My interest is in pointing out the need to retrieve something that we seem to have lost in history: our capacity to discern the times and assess our circumstances in a genuinely traditional manner. But let me be more specific.

Just recently, on Palm Sunday, our sisters and brothers of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt have been once again the object of hate attacks on the part of their non-Christian neighbours. And the day before more Christians have been put to death in Syria. And the day before that more Christians have been put to death elsewhere. And days before that a Catholic priest was slaughtered during the celebration of the eucharist in France. And I hear of cases of Christians harassed by their non-Christian neighbours in some parts of Sydney. All this because they, indeed we, are Christian.Read More »

Fr. Boules George – A Message to Those Who Kill Us

Father Boules George gives a sermon during the Eve of Monday Pascha following the two bombings on Palm Sunday that took place at Saint George Coptic Orthodox Church in Tanta and Saint Mark Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria.

Find below the transcription of this powerful sermon.

* * *

What will we say to them?

THANK YOU

The first thing we will say is “Thank you very, very much,” and you won’t believe us when we say it.

You know why we thank you? I’ll tell you. You won’t get it, but please believe us.

You gave us to die the same death as Christ–and this is the biggest honor we could have. Christ was crucified–and this is our faith. He died and was slaughtered–and this is our faith. You gave us, and you gave them to die.

We thank you because you shortened for us the journey. When someone is headed home to a particular city, he keeps looking at the time. “When will I get home? Are we there yet?” Can you imagine if in an instant he finds himself on a rocket ship straight to his destination? You shortened the journey! Thank you for shortening the journey.

We thank you because you gave to us to fulfill what Christ said to us: “Behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves” (Luke 10:3). We were lambs; our only weapons: our faith and the church we pray in. I carry no weapon in my hand. We are so grateful that you helped us fulfill this saying of Christ.Read More »

‘90,000 Christian martyrs annually’ claim disputed

Global charity Open Doors has disputed the way in which statistics on Christian “martyrs” are collected, arguing that an annual figure of 90,000, recently reported widely, is significantly higher than the accurately verifiable number.

Source: ‘90,000 Christian martyrs annually’ claim disputed

Open Dooes is calling us all to decency and respect for Truth, even, oe especially on such painful subjects andd Christian martyrdom..

Israeli Settlements Explained

The latest discourse of Secretary of State John Kerry on the danger for peace in the Middle East represented by the constant extension of the Israeli settlements in the Palestinian occupied territorries stirred again the debate on the lack of solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the obvious resistance of the Israeli right wing government to come to a peaceful two-state resolution of this conflict.

I am sure many of you, especially those who have been influenced by Zionist propaganda – whether Christian Jewish or secular, or by the suspect dispensationalist interpretations of the sacred text, wonder what is the big fusss with these seettlements.Read More »

Conferinta Scolii Aletheia Timisoara – Perspective biblica asupra migratiei

afis-conferinta-aletheia

Am primit cu placere invitatia prietenilor mei din Timisoara de a participa la conferinta anuntata mai sus, cu o prelegere intitulata ‘Intre iubrea aproapelui si primirea strainului’, o reluare, de data aceasta in limba romana, a temei prezentate in iulie in Tabara Koinonia.

Iata atasat mai jos programul conferintei.

program-conferinta-aletheia

Interviu Teodor Baconschi – Est-Vest, renaştere şi debandadă spirituală – fragmente

Theodor Baconschi

Am selectat mai jos citeva fragmente dintr-un foarte interesant interviu acordat de Teodor Baconschi lui Cristian Patrasconiu pentru platforma LaPunkt. Sper ca ele va vor motiva sa citi intregul interviu, care poate fi accesat la linkul de mai sus.

Avem de-a face, desigur, cu o perspectiva conservatoare si ortodoxa, asumata in mod deschis de autor. Ceea ce nu inseamna insa ca aceasta il scuteste de anumite interpretari partizane si subiective, desigur, inevitabile in orice demers intelectual cinstit.

Enumar, in fuga, citeva dintre acestea:

  • perspectiva exclusiv negativa asupra procesului de secularizare in Europa
  • invinuirea exclusiva a protestantismului pentru acest ‘flagel’
  • cresterea prezentei musulmane in Europa privita preponderent ca o amenintare
  • atitudinea implicit critica fata de papa Francisn, pus in contract cu ‘ultimul papă conservator, Benedict al XVI-lea’

si la acestea as putea adauga si altele, dar va las s-o faceti voi insiva.

* * *

Societatea românească e un mozaic de fracturi. Aveam, la 1900, un retard istoric de cel puțin 100 de ani față de Occident (evident, e o apreciere pur estimativă). Aproape un secol mai târziu, când a căzut comunismul, eram, iarăși, una dintre cele mai sărace țări de pe continent. Deși ne-au ajutat să ne dezvoltăm, tranziția democratică și integrarea euro-atlantică n-au făcut decât să ne așeze întru-un sistem de referință care ne-a agravat complexele de inferioritate. Pe acest fundal dislocat, regăsirea tradiției precomuniste, cu o Biserică Ortodoxă liberă, s-a făcut adesea formal și zgomotos, fără creșterea organică de care au nevoie procesele istorice firești. Am intrat în mileniul trei cu povara acestor handicapuri. Prin urmare, nu putem încă avea o atitudinea critică față de Occident: nu l-am trăit pe dinăuntru. Dacă ne socotim ca parte integrantă a lui, ne ies oricând la iveală reminiscențele comuniste și orientale. Dacă îl respingem, nu prea avem ce să punem în loc. Avem, cum s-a spus, o modernizare lipsită de modernitate. Am copiat, în loc să asimilăm. Cu alte cuvinte, în loc să spunem ce e greșit amenajat ”la ei”, ne sar în ochi propriile defecțiuni de parcurs.Read More »

Nadine Al-Budair – How Would Muslims Act If Christian Terrorists Blew Themselves Up In Their Midst

Nadine Al-Budair
Nadine Al-Budair

Liberal Saudi journalist Nadine Al-Budair, who lives in Qatar, penned an article in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Rai in which she wondered how Muslims would have acted if Christians had blown themselves up in their midst or tried to force their faith on them. She called on the Muslim world to be introspective and enact reforms, instead of condemning Western attitudes towards it.

The following are excerpts from the article:

“Imagine a Western youth coming here and carrying out a suicide mission in one of our public squares in the name of the Cross. Imagine that two skyscrapers had collapsed in some Arab capital, and that an extremist Christian group, donning millennium-old garb, had emerged to take responsibility for the event, while stressing its determination to revive Christian teachings or some Christian rulings, according to its understanding, to live like in the time [of Jesus] and his disciples, and to implement certain edicts of Christian scholars…

“Imagine hearing the voices of monks and priests from churches and prayer houses in and out of the Arab world, screaming on loudspeakers and levelling accusations against Muslims, calling them infidels, and chanting: ‘God, eliminate the Muslims and defeat them all.’Read More »

12 Must-Reads on Mission and Islam by Fuller Professors

Source: 12 Must-Reads on Mission and Islam by Fuller Professors :: Fuller

An list of essential reading for those who want to understand Islam from a non-Islamophobic Christian perspective.

Bishop Angaelos on the US State Department Declaration of Genocide Against Religious Minorities in the Middle East

 

Bishop Angaelos
His Grace, Bishop Angaelos of the Coptic Church

Statement by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom following the United States State Department declaration of Genocide for Christians, Yazidis, Shiite Muslims and other minorities in the Middle East


17 March 2016

We have received very welcomed but unexpected news today from the United States of America, through Secretary of State John Kerry, acknowledging that ISIS “is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control including Yazidis, Christians and Shiite Muslims”.

This announcement has come after individuals and organisations in the United States, some of which I have personally worked with, have advocated tirelessly to shed light on this important issue of human suffering and the violation of human dignity.Read More »

CEEAMS – Green pastures? Human Mobility and Christian Communities in Central and Eastern Europe

The Central and Eastern European Association for Mission Studies (CEEAMS) is pleased to invite you to the conference

Green pastures? Human Mobility and Christian Communities in Central and Eastern Europe

After the fall of the Communist system, migration experiences in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) intensified and diversified. During Communist times emigration existed in forms of political asylum-seeking or through creative ways to reach the so-called West. Also exchange studentships to befriended countries were some of the variations of migration. While the opening of the political borders after the “changes” in 1989/1990 did generate migration from CEE to mainly Western Europe and North America, migration to CEE through people
such as missionaries, international investors, tourists, small entrepreneurs, labor migration, students, professionals had a significant impact on community formation. Typical to these migrations was that it included people from all over the world, from west and north and east and south. Since most of the post-communist countries did not have well-developed migration policies, CEE became an intently diverse field where people of all sorts with a variety of aspirations arrived and left. The “Yugoslav Wars” challenged some of the Balkan countries to experiment with asylum-seeking and refugee services.

Another significant event regarding migration experiences in CEE was the enlargement of the European Union with new, former communist member states. This resulted in substantial labor migration from CEE to Western Europe, especially from Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria, but now also from Hungary and other countries. The consequences of the ” Arab Spring”, especially the complex wars in Syria, intensified the refugee question. Next to the cross-border migrations, domestic migration further complicates the processes of transformations in CEE societies. Also the fragility of the internal political situation in a number of CEE countries – with growing right wing tendencies targeting the “foreigner” (read e.g. Roma people, Muslims, and Arab) in their rhetoric – add to these complexities.
Discussions about and responses with immediate action programs (like e.g. building fences etc.) to certain phenomena generated by migration, became part of the daily life at all levels of societies.

Christian communities, churches and other faith communities are part of the above described societies and migration experiences. In their daily service they encounter situations which demand grounded theological-missiological answers, because after all, migration experiences are about human lives and changes in human lives and societies. Missiologists, theologians, and reflective practitioners are challenged to theologically- missiologically reflect on questions about human mobility in this region and their relation to the larger worldwide processes, in order to adequately assist the work of churches, ministers, pastors, and above all church members to find contextually relevant answers. In order to address the issue of human mobility, one needs to dig deeper: it is not sufficient to create Christian discourses about migration by collecting proof verses from the Bible which talk about people on the move, and about the position of strangers. Digging deeper asks for self-reflection: what is going on in Christian communities in terms of migration? What do Christians in this part of the world believe about different aspects of migration and why do they do so? What are the most striking aspects of migration which need theological attention?Read More »

Morocco Declaration: Muslim Nations Should Protect Christians from Persecution | Gleanings | ChristianityToday.com

In Marrakesh, hundreds of Muslim leaders release modern update to Muhammad’s Charter of Medina.

Source: Morocco Declaration: Muslim Nations Should Protect Christians from Persecution | Gleanings | ChristianityToday.com

This is a very important declaration, which, I am afraid, will go again unnoticed in the current Islamophobia that dominates the so-called ‘Christian West’.

Miroslav Volf, Allah – The Pneuma Review

Source: Miroslav Volf: Allah : The Pneuma Review

Here is an excellent review of Miroslav Volf’s book Allah. A Christian Response, by Pentecostal theologian Amos Young.

Christian de Chergé – Testamentul unui martir al iubirii

Christian de Chergé
Christian de Chergé

Dacă mă va ajunge ziua – și aceasta ar putea fi chiar astăzi – în care să fiu victima terorismului care pare că vrea să-i „înghită” pe toți străinii care trăiesc în Algeria, mi-ar plăcea ca comunitatea mea, ca Biserica mea, ca familia mea să-și amintească de faptul că viața mea a fost DĂRUITĂ lui Dumnezeu și acestei țări. Ca ei să accepte că singurul Stăpân al vieții nu poate fi străin de această brutală plecare. Ca ei să se roage pentru mine: cum aș putea fi eu vrednic de o astfel de ofrandă? Ca ei să știe să asocieze această moarte cu atâtea altele la fel de violente, lăsate în indiferență și anonimat.

Viața mea nu valorează mai mult decât alta. Nici mai puțin. În orice caz, ea nu mai are inocența copilăriei. Am trăit suficient ca să mă știu complice cu răul care, vai!, pare să prevaleze în lume și chiar cu cel care mă va lovi orbește. Mi-ar plăcea, atunci când va veni momentul, să am acea clipă de luciditate care să-mi permită a-i cere iertare lui Dumnezeu și tuturor fraților mei întru umanitate și în același timp să-i iert din toată inima pe cei care mă vor fi lovit.Read More »

Reportaj Apollonia TV – Refugiatii, o provocare pentru Europa

Reportaj Apollonia TV legat de Dezbaterea cu tema ‘Refugiatii, o provocare pentru Europa’ organizata de Asociatia Onesimus la Muzeul Unirii din Iasi, simbata 8 ianuarie.

Ahmed Rehab speaks at Dr. Larycia Hawkins Press Conference

As the only Muslim speaker at the Chicago faith leaders’ press conference with professor Larycia Hawkins this morning, CAIR-Chicago’s Executive Director Ahmed Rehab spoke on behalf of Chicago area Muslims to convey appreciation for her as her own magnanimous act of solidarity with us now puts her in the crosshairs. But we will do more than talk. We will act. Please stay tuned for action alerts as we confer with Dr. Hawkins and her lawyers.

CAIR-Chicago will not abandon those who stand with us as Dr. Hawkins has. We will NOT let her stand alone.

Interview with Myriam, A Child from Qaraqoush

The discussion with this ten-year-old girl from Mosul becomes Christian broadcaster SAT-7’s most-watched interview ever.

Read HERE more about this subject.

Vinoth Ramachandra – Pocket-Sized Gods?

vinoth_ramachandra
Vinoth Ramachandra

The Malaysian Church, in recent decades, was engaged in a prolonged legal battle with their Islamist-influenced government which prohibited non-Muslims from using the word Allah to refer to the supreme God and creator. Church leaders received directives stating that several words of Arabic origin, including Allah, Nabi (prophet) and Al Kitab (Bible) were not to be used by non-Muslims as Arabic was the language of Muslims. Usage by Christians would sow the seeds of “confusion”. The import of Malay Bibles printed in Indonesia (which used Allah) was effectively banned.

Christians countered by pointing out that Allah was the common term used to refer to the supreme God long before Islam came into existence in North Africa. Arab Christians continue to worship God as Allah and Malay-speaking Christians have also been using Allah for centuries. Far from sowing “confusion”, it has facilitated communication and promoted mutual understanding between Christians and Muslims.

Clearly this was more than a matter of official historical ignorance. Islamists fearful of the conversion of Muslims sought to deter the latter from reading the Bible by claiming that Christians and Muslims worship different Gods. They have been successful. Christians lost the legal battle, with dire consequences for the future of social justice and religious harmony in Malaysia.

How ironic, then, to find these Islamist arguments flourishing among conservative Christians in the so-called American Bible Belt.Read More »

Marc Barnes – Why “Getting Along” Isn’t Working

coexist

These violent, extremist, and racist days need to try the discussion of our differences all over again. No dumbass bumper-stickers this time. 

To tell the Jew that his culture is “worthy of respect” and “as valuable as any other culture” is to insult him in a far worse manner than telling him that the Jews can piss off. Being Jewish is precisely a being set-apart, being a chosen race and a royal priesthood. The recapitulation of the Jew as dwelling within the same, homogeneous value-status as everyone else is a strike against his Jewishness. An insult, while nothing to strive for, at least recognizes the Jew as Jew, while our “compliment” hollows him of his Judaism and smiles at him as ”just another culture.”

In fact, the “equality of all cultures” excludes most cultures, for most cultures, from the Greeks to the Nigerians, are united by a vision of themselves as superior, destined, chosen — special. In a similar manner, the “equal dignity of all religions” excludes most religions, for most religions — whether Islam, Reformed Presbyterianism, or Judaism — only exist insofar as they are a series of absolute claims about the nature of God and of man, claims which by definition exclude contrary claims and thus can never be melted into a mediocre soup of “equal dignity” with “every other religion.”Read More »

Parable of the Good… Muslim

Source: Thoughtful Engagement – Gospel and Humanity

Did you ever read the Parable of the goo… Muslim?

Here it is.

Stephen Holmes – Mr Graham, you ain’t no Baptist, bruv – An open letter to Franklin Graham

franklin graham
Franklin Graham

ear Mr Graham,

This week someone who has put himself forward as a candidate for the presidency of your great nation made a number of hate-filled and inaccurate comments about Muslims, and proposed some extreme policies on the back of those comments. This came to our attention here in the UK because one of the things he claimed, entirely erroneously, was that parts of London were so radicalised that they had become no-go areas for our police and security services.

Our national response was, as our national responses so often are, as mocking as it was derisive. The mayor of London led the way, but on social media many of us joined in with the humour. I know London well; I trained for ministry there, took my PhD there, pastored my first church there, made, with my wife, our first home there, and saw two of our three daughters come into the world there. My home has been elsewhere for eleven years now, but it is a city I still visit several times a year, a city that still has a significant place in my heart. For all these reasons, I know that the truth about London was expressed far better by a young Muslim Londoner caught on camera as our police arrested someone who had attempted violence, pretending to represent Islam. In a pure London accent he called out to the attacker, ‘You ain’t no Muslim, bruv!’

London is an exhilarating and sometimes disorientating coming together of people of different national backgrounds and of different faiths; London is also a city that is passionate that people come together, without denying who they are. London Muslims are truly Muslim, and devoted the the peace of the city also; London Baptists the same, as I know well. In London, the person who believes the two are impossible to hold together will be told, straightforwardly, ‘You ain’t no Muslim, bruv.’Read More »

Brian McLaren – An Open Letter to Jerry Falwell Jr, Students and Faculty of Liberty University

Brian_McLaren

Dear Mr. Falwell,

In the tradition of your father, you made some reckless and inflammatory statements to your students the other day.

Just as I appreciate it when peace-loving Muslims, Hindus and others repudiate hostile and reckless statements made by prominent members of their religions, I feel impelled by conscience to repudiate your words as not being representative of authentic Christianity as I, and thousands like me, understand it.

For us, authentic Christianity is the loving, peaceful, justt and generous way of life embodied in Jesus. It is characterized more by self-giving than self-defense, by pre-emptive peacemaking rather than pre-emptive violence.

Your message faithfully represents a longstanding (and ugly) stream of American culture and politics. This tradition goes back to those who argued against the equal human rights and dignity of the Native Peoples and African-American slaves, often abusing the Bible to justify white supremacy under its various guises.Read More »

It’s Official – I Am Leaving World Vision

world-vision

Note: Today, my World Vision supervisor, Conny Lenneberg, the leaders of our region, made the official announcement about my leaving the organisation. Here is what she wrote.

* * *

Dear colleagues,

It is with great regret that we advise that, due to funding challenges in F[inancial] Y[ear] [20]16, we will not be able to maintain our Faith in Development Director Position held by Danut Manastireanu beyond February 2015.

Danut has played an instrumental part in the development of the Christian Witness and Spiritual Formation of our leadership and staff over the past 17 years. We are most appreciative of the dedication and passion he has brought to FnD throughout the entire MEER [Middle East & Eastern Europe] region.

Danut started his relationship with WV as a member of WV Romania’s advisory board in 1995, later joining as WV staff in the position of MEER Christian Commitments Director in 1999.  During his service with WV Danut has contributed in so many ways, developing FnD [Faith in Development] staff across the region, supporting the N[ational] O[ffice]s,  advocating on behalf of the region to ensure good understanding of both the unique inter-denominational sensitivities and complex inter-faith context.   Some of the highlights of his contribution include:  Read More »