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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

THE MIND OF ISLAM: On Family Life, the Messiah and How to Treat Non-Muslims

by Lawrence Fox

In the Quran, God can argue like a wild desert chieftain. For example, the Quran asserts that Jesus, Son of Mary, is not the Messiah -- not the Son of God. From Surah (chapter) (5:14-21), "Unbelievers are those who declare, ‘Allah is the Messiah, the Son of Mary.’
Say: 'Who could prevent Allah from destroying the Messiah, the son of Mary along with his mother and all the people of the earth?' His is the Kingdom of the heavens and the earth and all that lies between them. He creates what He will and has power over all things."
The argument is brutal and circular at best; certainly not divinely inspiring. Children make such arguments, "My father can kick your father's butt and so he is better!" At first, it seems like a non-sequitur – a statement which does not logically follow the previous statement - but after further reflection the argument “Who could prevent Allah from destroying all peoples…” does logically follow the divine deception, submission, and jihadist spirituality which streams throughout the Quran.
Too bad almost all public comments on Islam don’t reflect that understanding. 
Islamic scholars identify the speed in which the “sword” carried the Prophet’s message across the Middle East and Northern Africa as evidence of the Quran’s Divine Inspiration. Submission through violence summarizes the meaning of Islam (Arabic word for submission). Yet authors, radio newscasters and politicians politely step around that reality and call it a “religion of peace.” They fear to offend. Few have read the Quran. Few have heard of its convoluted illogic.
In the Quran, (meaning recital in the Muslim mind, a literal dictation from Allah to Mohammed), there is a story which depicts Allah speaking to his created angels, commanding them to kneel down and prostrate before the man (Adam) created from clay. Satan (the unbeliever) refuses to bow down out of pride.
Allah, says to Satan, “Why do you not bow down to him whom my own hands have made? Are you too proud or do you think he is beneath you?” (Surah 38: 65-76) Satan replies that he is nobler; that angels are made from fire and man is made from clay. The recital is meant to provide insight into the sins of pride and deception and yet it is Allah who places before the angels that which is contrary to Divine Revelation, that is Allah is asking Satan to commit idolatry. “I have sworn by my own name; I have spoken the truth, and I will never go back on my word: Every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will confess allegiance to me." (Isaiah 45:23) (Admonition against idolatry in the Old Testament)
Allah places upon Satan a curse until the “Day of Reckoning.” Satan replies, “Reprieve me, Lord until the Day of the Resurrection.” This dialogue between Allah and Satan, which devolves into anachronistic polemics,  identifies Allah as a “Voluntaristic” deceiver. Allah is making decisions solely based on his will, and not on his intellect. This is contrary to God’s own nature, which is both Good and Reasonable.
Satan’s request that Allah’s judgment be postponed until the Resurrection is putting the cart before the horse in time. Mohammed set the story of this dialogue in history before the Fall of man, and the Biblical understanding of the Resurrection does not clearly exist until the time of Christ. How would Satan know of the Resurrection before the Fall of man? The understanding of human resurrection (body and soul) in the Old Testament Salvation History is extremely hidden. There are glimpses in the Book of Job, Ezekiel, and Maccabees II. It is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the tomb which reveals to His disciples the meaning of the words “Resurrection of the Dead.”
God’s merciful promise of salvation and resurrection are in response to Adam and Eve’s rebellion in the Garden of Eden. God warned Adam and Eve that by placing their hand to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the result would be their death. This discourse in the Quran (Surah 38: 65-76) in which Satan speaks of the “Resurrection” prior to the fall of Adam and Eve demonstrates Satan as possessing knowledge of events prior to their causes. Such a knowledge makes Satan omniscient along with Allah. In other words, Satan speaks of an event (resurrection of humans) which is contingent upon a deception which Satan himself will cause and a prior knowledge of God’s will and response to that deception.
Adam and Eve’s placement of their hands to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is in response to Satan’s deception, “You shall be like God knowing good and evil.” Satan clearly tells Allah that “I will seduce all men except your faithful servants.” If that statement be true, then Adam, whom Allah commanded Satan to worship, was NOT one of Allah’s faithful servants from the beginning since Satan tempted “Adam and Eve” or else Allah had no idea that Satan was lying. In other words, ALLAH demand the angels to worship him (Adam), which is not one of Allah’s elect. This recital is most un-inspiring since it demonstrates no coherence of thought. 
Satan said to Allah, “I will seduce all men except your faithful servants.” This is a point of controversy in the Islamic culture since by tradition, the prophet Mohammed was seduced by Satan to write down verses which did not come from Allah, but Satan himself. This Islamic tradition was “resurrected” and popularized within Western Society by the author Salmon Rushdie in his book titled, “The Satanic Verses.”
Few understand the implications of the Satanic Verses within Islamic tradition that teaches that the Quran is the word for word dictation to Mohammed by God through the Archangel Gabriel. Islamists did and do. Ayatollah Khomeini, the figure which launched the Islamic Revolution in Iran, issued a fatwa to “kill” the author Salmon Rushdie. Cat Stevens the recording artist and convert to Islam garnished to himself quite a bit of angst when opined that the fatwa was just. I read the book – which was not well written and full of obscenity – and it manages to remind the Islamic world that their Prophet was seduced by Satan who is recorded as saying in the Quran, “I will seduce all men except your faithful servants.”
The deduction is obvious and problematic, if Allah allows Satan to deceive the “infidels” and Satan successfully deceives Mohammed, then the Prophet is not one of Allah’s faithful servants.
Christianity witnesses that through pride and envy, death entered into the world. Adam’s sin brought about death. Jesus’s obedience brings about forgiveness, restoration, and resurrection. Christianity rests on the foundation of the historical life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. The Quran denies Jesus’ death and resurrection.
In the Quran (Surah 38: 65-76), Allah commands the angels to worship the man of clay since he is made by Allah’s hand. This is a dubious request since Allah could reasonably request the same degree of worship of every creature made by the hand of God, including: angels, stars, plants, animals, believers, and infidels for all things are made by God. For God to command the angels to worship man (because He said so) and then command the Prophet to murder unbelievers (because He said so) and to forbid divorce (because He said so) and then command divorce (because he said so) and to forbid polygamy (because He said so) and then to command polygamy (because He said so) demonstrates that the Will of Allah is not governed by Truth, Goodness, and Love but solely by the Will itself. Islam introduced into Western Society (by way of the Quran) a philosophical concept known as Voluntarism which has been most devastating.
Voluntarism begins with the question, “Is God bound by anything?” The Quran and the Voluntaristic philosopher/theologian answers that God is not bound by anything, “God does whatever he wills.” Catholicism teaches that GOD cannot act in a way, which contradicts His own Nature (His own being). God cannot will that which is in contradiction to His intellect, His Love, His Goodness. Such a contradiction would demonstrate change in God; an absurd position to say the least. ISLAM which means “submit” emphasized God’s WILL over his intellect. The Catholic counter argument would be as follows: “If a rational will was really independent from the good and applied to systems of political power, the level of devastation and human suffering would be tremendous and ongoing.” (Blessed Duns Scotus) An objective review of devastating effects upon humanity stemming from systems of power rooted in post-modernism, materialism, atheism, communism and Islamic jihadist theology demonstrates that pure voluntarism is satanic.
The cause of Satan’s rebellion and his taking a third of the angels with him is not explicitly detailed (word for word) in Christian Scripture, but can be inferred. The deception which Satan places before Adam and Eve, “You shall be like God knowing good and evil” reflects Satan’s own natural desire “to be worshipped.” Prophets, mystics, and saints throughout Salvation History intimate that “Satan willed to be greater than God.”
Isaiah the Prophet states: “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! ... You said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of ... I will ascend to the tops of the clouds, I will make myself like the Most High.'" (Isaiah 14:12-14)
Jesus told his disciples that “I saw Satan fall like fire from the skies” in response to their preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He sent seventy-two disciples, who returned with joy and said, "Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name."
He replied, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:17-20) Jesus identifies his disciples as those having their names written in the Book of Life. Islamic Scholars argue that Jesus’ disciples were deceived by the apostle Paul and did not understand the gnostic message proclaimed by Jesus, so they fabricated the gospels. The Christian message that through the gift of faith and baptism, a person becomes a child of God is rejected in the Quran.
In the same Chapter of the Quran (Surah 38: 65-76), Allah asks, “If Christians and Jews were God's children, then Why Does (Allah) punish them?" This argument is made by modern day atheists as well, who reject Salvation History bearing fruit in the Person of Jesus, “Who humbled himself and became obedient to death; even death on the cross.” (Philippians 2: 8). 

We are reminded of St. Paul’s reflection: “The Cross of Jesus Christ is folly to the Greek and Scandal to the Jew.” As a result of the Muslim understanding that suffering is evidence of Allah’s displeasure, the Quran emboldens persecution of  Jews, Christians, and pagans – all non-Muslims. If the Allah revealed in the Quran is not the Lord God of Israel, then the pre-supposition would be most reasonable. Ironically, Muslims do not understand they suffer more than anyone else because of their indifference to Truth. Sin is sin.
The Quran has no redemptive theology which encompasses suffering. In the Quran, struggle (jihad) is good when inflicted upon the unbeliever, resulting in his pain. The reward for such action is great, “But for those who fear the majesty of their Lord…They shall recline on couches lined with thick brocade. They shall dwell with bashful virgins whom neither man nor jinee will have touched before…In each there will be virgins chaste and fair…Dark eyed- virgins sheltered in their tents…” (Surah 55:54-78)
 Heaven is obviously not the dwelling place of God, nor a state of beatific vision but a return to an Eden resembling Solomon’s sin of polygamy, “The righteous shall return to a blessed retreat. They shall enter the gardens of Eden whose gates shall open to receive them. Reclining there with them will be bashful virgins for companions, they shall feast on abundant fruit and drink.” (Surah 38: 47)  
The Catholic understanding of suffering based upon Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition is much different.  St. Thomas Aquinas wrote: “God allows evil in order to draw forth some greater good.” St. Augustine wrote: “Almighty God…because his is supremely good, would never allow any evil whatsoever to exist in his works if he were not so all-powerful and good to cause good to emerge from evil itself.” St. Paul writes: “that the troubles of this present world are considered as nothing when compared the glory that awaits those who love God.”
People with little or no faith despair when evil enters their lives. The Old Testament begins with the cause of evil and then goes on to explain that evil happens to the good and the bad. The Book of Job is Israel’s classic struggle with God over the question, “Why does God allow evil to fall upon good people?” Scripture demonstrates time and again that, “God brings good out of evil.”
 Think about the story of Joseph in the Old Testament. His brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt. But he rose to a position of authority and was able to save his own treacherous family from starvation in the midst of famine. "As for you, you meant evil against me," Joseph told his brothers, "but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive." (Gen 50:20)
 Paul writes, “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) Jesus said, “Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:12) Peter writes, “But rejoice in as much as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” (1Peter 4:13) In essence, the Quran demonstrates very little inspiration as it relates to temptation and suffering. It also demonstrates very little inspiration in relation to eschatology (last things) and human sexuality.
The Beatitudes which Allah gave to Mohammed include: “women are your fields (tilith) and so go in amongst them” and “Blessed are the believers, who are humble in their prayers, who avoid profane talk, and give alms to the destitute, who restrain their carnal desire (except with their wives and slave-girls, for these are lawful to them)…” (Surah 23:1)
The Quran is peppered with Mohammed’s need for women. Allah tells Mohammed, “It is unlawful for you to take more wives or change your present wives for other women, though their beauty pleases you, except where slave-girls are concerned.” (Surah 33:52).  I am greatly surprised to read Islamic Scholars argue these verses as evidence of Mohammed’s sense of purity and chastity. So Mohammed cannot take any more wives, he is not restricted from fornicating with female slaves. There is in the Islamic Hadith a reference to the angel Gabriel giving Mohammed a crystal clear drink which increased his staying power. If he had waited several centuries, he would have learned that Nitrous Oxide does the same thing.
Later in the Quran, Allah scolds two of Mohammed’s wives and tells them that he (Allah) can replace them with better wives. The two wives were jealous over Mohammed’s sexual encounters with his slave-girl Mariam the Copt after he promised them that he would stop the practice. Allah comes to Mohammed’s defense, “If you two (wives of Mohammed) turn to Allah in repentance for your hearts have sinned, you shall be pardoned; but if you conspire against him, know that Allah is his protector and Gabriel and the righteous among the faithful. It may be well  if he divorce you, his Lord will give him in your place better wives than yourselves, submissive to Allah and full of faith, devout, penitent, obedient, and given to fasting; both widows and virgins.” (Surah 66:4) The two women being mentioned are Hafsa and Aisha. Allah says to Mohammed, “Prophet why do you prohibit that which Allah has made lawful to you, in seeking to please your wives.” (Surah 66:1). In other words, “Mohammed why are you choosing not to have sex with your slave girl(s) simply to please the emotions of your envious wives?” The Muslim does not understand that the Quran at times reads like Playboy and not like Divine Revelation.
Mohammed married the wife of his adopted son Zainab bint Jahsh. This was a great scandal except Allah comes to the rescue and informs Mohammed that He (Allah) does not recognized adoption, “Mohammed is the father of no man among you.” (Surah 33:40) In Jewish oral tradition, you can disown your natural born son, but not your adopted son.
 Islam and adoption are now estranged. The Islamic argument forgiving Mohammed’s continual lust is "that Solomon had many wives and was loved by God." Solomon was loved by God because as John the beloved disciple writes, “God is love.” (1John 4:9) It is most unfortunate such a miniscule number of Muslims read the Old Testament or New Testament. In my opinion, if they did they would recognize the numerous contradictions between the lives of the Old Testament Prophets, John the Baptist, Jesus, the Apostles and their Prophet’s decline of moral character. Of course according to the Quran, the Old Testament (Book) and New Testament (Gospel) have been corrupted and superseded by the Quran. (Surah 10:37)
Pope Saint John Paul II aptly observed that the overall content of the Quran demonstrated a reduction of Divine Revelation not an increase or correction. The content of the Quran represents a retreat towards something pre-Abrahamic.
In the Quran, God is merciful, but God is not love and God is certainly not Father. As a result, Allah’s mercy is not rooted in love but solely in the Will. People in the West with a Judeo-Christian foundation read the words, “Mercy and Compassion” and think, “We do have something in common.”
We may have something in common with the Muslim who has discovered mercy and compassion based upon a spiritualized reading of the Quran but very little in common with disciples who share Mohammed’s literal presentation of “Allah’s Mercy and Compassion.” Well, maybe a double-predestination Calvinist might have something in common with them. According to Calvin's theology of double predestination, God created some persons for heaven and some persons for damnation and hell. The decision is totally in the Will of God and nothing to do with culpability, or justice, or goodness, reason, or love. “I swear by your glory,” said Satan, “That I will seduce all men except your faithful servants.” (Surah 38:76-88)
Regarding the Islamic argument justifying Mohammed’s lust by equating him with Solomon, the Old Testament says something contrary. God warned Solomon not to multiple wives, chariots and gold (6 6 6). Solomon did all three of these things and this led Solomon and the nation of Israel into idolatry. God said to Solomon, “I will rip your Kingdom from you and give it to your servant…only leaving you two tribes for the sake of David your father.” And God raised up an enemy to Solomon. (3 Kings 11:9-14) Within one generation of Solomon’s death, the Kingdom was ripped in two. The Quran seems oblivious to that fact.
Mohammed’s lust is never constrained in the Quran. His last wife, a Jewish woman who was widowed as a result of the Muslim slaughter of her Jewish tribe - ends up spicing Mohammed’s supper with poison. Mohammed never fully recovered from the incident and eventually died in the arms of his child bride Aisha, who was the ultimate cause of the Sunni and Shiite civil war which has lasted more than 1300 years. I guess by analogy, Allah eventually raised up a Jewish bride as a thorn in Mohammed’s side; she poisoned him leading to his eventual death as a Prophet of Allah and ever since the Religion of Peace has been in a perpetual state of civil war.
Imagine the epitaph: “Here lies Mohammed, a prophet poisoned by a woman from a tribe of people that he slaughtered in the desert.”
Truly not inspiring.

Did you enjoy this piece? Lawrence Fox has written another one: GLORY OF ISLAM: Putting the Beheadings, Crucifixions and Rape into the Context of the Quran

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

FOLLOW THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD: The Most Perfect Path to Holiness

Sermon by Rev. John Paul Shea
Saints Peter & Paul Parish, Tucson, AZ Oct. 26, 2014

Praised be Jesus Christ! Now and forever! In today’s Gospel passage, our Lord gives us the most perfect path to holiness.

We hear in today’s Gospel passage (Matt 22:34-40) that a Pharisee asks our Lord which is the greatest commandment.  Now, in the time of Jesus, the Jews held the tradition that there were 613 precepts or commands in their law as part of the Old Testament. And the Pharisees were considered the political masters of Jesus’ time in law and politics. They saw Jesus as a threat to their power. So, they wanted to use their skill to discredit him.

When the scholar of the law asks our Lord which commandment of God is the greatest, Jesus cuts right to the heart of the matter. He states not one but two commandments which are central to the spiritual life. The first commandment is from the Book of Deuteronomy. The second is from the Book of Leviticus. Yet, our Lord puts these two commandments together in order to emphasize that true religion is not simply a matter of external observance,  but that true religion comes from the disposition of our hearts.

Our Lord is reminding the Pharisees and us that the commandments of God are not simply words etched on stone. They are not simply words that are written on pages in a Bible. No! They are alive. They are to become part of our very being!

When the scholar of the law asks our Lord which commandment of God is the greatest, our Lord teaches that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord, our God, with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind. 


So, let us ask ourselves, what does it mean to love God with all our heart? I assume that everybody has seen the Wizard of Oz. You remember the Tin Man and how he had no heart?  When he met Dorothy and the Scarecrow he banged on his tin can chest, and it sounded hollow. It was empty. No heart. So he goes on a journey with the others in order to receive a new heart. As Christians, we too are on a journey to receive a new heart. However, our Christian life is not a fairy tale. It is real.

God wants us to love Him not with superficial love but with genuine love! He wants our commitment. He wants us to live for Him -- not for our own desires. He has given us the commandments and teachings, but if we do not strive to live these commandments, then we will not deepen our relationship with God. If we are not living our Christian life out of pure love for God alone, then we are not living authentic Christian lives. 
Love God
 with your whole heart and whole mind.
P.S . It takes courage. 

Our Lord next tells the Pharisees that we must love God with all our mind. Loving God with our entire mind means that we seek to know the truth. We seek to conform our minds to the mind of God! We strive to understand what is pure and holy!



Sin darkens our intellect. And when we continue to commit serious sin, then sin becomes unrecognizable. It becomes just another way of life.

So we must pray to the Lord each and every day for protection of our minds. We are to open our minds to God’s will so that He will give us understanding.

In his writings, Saint Paul says that we are to put on the mind of Christ. We are to strive to keep our minds holy, innocent, humble, wise, and intelligent. We are to think not as the world thinks, but as God thinks; and we must allow the Holy Spirit to purify our minds of all that is not of God.  

Our Lord next says that we must love God with all our soul. He is reminding us that our soul is eternal! It lives beyond this life. We can send our soul to eternal damnation, or we can allow God to raise our soul into His eternal love. When we sin deliberately, we separate ourselves from God! But when we allow God’s love in our hearts, then our souls become brighter with His light.  So, we must always strive to act as those destined for eternal life.


Our Lord calls each one of us to strive to love Him with all our heart, with all our mind, and with all our soul. We are to offer our entire self to Him! We give Him everything! We are not to hold anything back!

It is when we truly strive to offer our lives to God that we are then able to live by the second commandment that our Lord gives us in today’s Gospel passage: To love our neighbor as our self.  In fact, our Lord connects this second part of the commandment with the first part because we show our love for God through our love for our neighbor. In fact, we can’t truly love God whom we do not see if we do not love our neighbor whom we do see. 

And we must realize too that we cannot truly love our neighbor as ourselves until we come to first recognize our own dignity, that we are created in God’s image.  If we believe that we are garbage, then we will treat others like garbage. But if we recognize that we are sacred vessels of the Lord, then we will seek to treat others with the dignity they deserve because the Holy Spirit will grow in our hearts.

So many men in our society treat women without true dignity because they do not truly love and respect themselves as men whom God has created in His Image. And so many women in today’s society have a lack of respect for their own persons because our society teaches women their purpose is to be used as objects of pleasure instead of respected as the gift that God has created them to be!

My brothers and sisters, God calls each one of us to an intimate relationship with Him. And He calls us to lead others into an intimate relationship with Him. 

We need to reflect on the words our Lord tells us in today’s Gospel at all times!  Our Lord gives us these words so that He can transform our lives!

Which is the greatest commandment?
"You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 

 He gives us these words so that we can become all who He calls us to be! May each one of us truly strive to love God with our whole heart, with our whole mind, and with all our soul, and our neighbor as ourselves. 

This is the most perfect path to holiness. God bless you.



Did you enjoy this homily. Father Shea has others on this blog listed on the upper left hand corner. 
Here's a good one. There Can Be No Mercy Without The Fullness of Truth




Sunday, October 19, 2014

LESSONS THAT LEAD TO GOD

Lessons

by Ann Gauger 

One rule, seven gifts, three blessed fruits 
Sure guides, companions sweet
Our nature made to suit

Silence

Blest school of saints, we plead
Teach stiff-necked not to trust
on human strength or need.

Piety

Without this gift we'd wander far
Not caring, blind and dumb
God's love becomes our star


Fear of the Lord

Not as it seems, but gift of awe
Creator's power and might
In reverence prostrate fall

Fortitude

Enduring to the end
Firm purpose, courage strong
Turn woes and trials to friend

Counsel

Surely, Lord, we've need of this
Teach stumbling feet the path
Sure guide to heaven's bliss

Knowledge

Light-filled gift teach us the way
To know our Father's will
keep true to it each day.

Understanding

Insight, Lord, into your heart
a glimpse of what you see 
Can turn us, help us start.

Wisdom

Hard-won gift twice blest O Lord
Hard lesson won from trials,
This gift its own reward.

Peace

Souls ensnared by bonds of sin
Gain this through letting go
of all that is not Him.

Joy

On mercy's seat all hate we cast 
And worries,  greed, conceit, 
Surrendering at last.

Love,

True longing, restless search, and thirst 
Reminder of Desire

The One who sought us first



Want to read more about the work of the Holy Spirit? Read: Baptism: Work of the Son and Holy Spirit