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Americas True History of Religious Tolerance | History & Archaeology | Smithsonian Magazine

Waldseemüller map is the first map to include ...

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Americas True History of Religious Tolerance | History & Archaeology | Smithsonian Magazine.From the earliest arrival of Europeans on America’s shores, religion has often been a cudgel, used to discriminate, suppress and even kill the foreign, the “heretic” and the “unbeliever”—including the “heathen” natives already here. Moreover, while it is true that the vast majority of early-generation Americans were Christian, the pitched battles between various Protestant sects and, more explosively, between Protestants and Catholics, present an unavoidable contradiction to the widely held notion that America is a “Christian nation.”

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September 26, 2010 Posted by | history, immigration, naturalization, politics, religion | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quotes from the Quran and from Rumi What light can Islamic sacred texts shed on the conflicts brewing in Gainsville and Manhattan?

A modern Arabic Quran with Persian translation...

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by Sarah Van Gelderby Sarah Van Gelder
posted Sep 09, 2010
How can we counter the intolerance that is spiking this year as we come up to the anniversary of 9/11? I just wrapped up a blog about that here. To go with it, I asked my friend, Jamal Rahman, a Muslim Sufi minister at Seattle’s Interfaith Community Church, to suggest some verses from the Quran and from Rumi. Brother Jamal is one of the Interfaith Amigos who blog on the YES! website. His suggestions follow. I especially love the Rumi verse:

Greetings Sarah, I am enclosing some Quranic quotes and a Rumi poem (translator is Coleman Barks) at the end.

In Friendship,

” Unto every one of you We have appointed a (different) law and way of life. And if God had so willed, He could surely have made you all one single community: but (He willed it otherwise) in order to test you by means of what He has vouchsafed unto you. Vie, then, with one another in doing good works.Unto God you all must return; and then He will make you truly understand all that on which you were wont to differ.” (Quran 5:48)

” Repel the evil deed with the one that is better. Then lo! He with whom you shared enmity will become as though he was a bosom friend.” (41:34)

” We believe in God and what has been sent down to us, what has been revealed to Abraham and Ismael and Isaac and Jacob and their offspring and what was given to Moses and Jesus and all other Prophets by the Creator, and we make no distinction between them.” ( Quran 2:136)

“Truly, those who attain to faith in this Word as well as those who follow the Jewish faith and the Sabians and the Christians—and those who have faith in God, and the Final Day and do righteous deeds—no fear need they have and neither shall they grieve.” ( Quran 5:69)

The Indian Tree and One Song

Every war and every conflict

Between human beings has happened

Because of some disagreement about names.

It is such an unnecessary foolishness,

Because just beyond the arguing

There is a long table of companionship

Set and waiting for us to sit down.

What is praised is one, so the praise is one too,

Many jugs being poured into a huge basin.

All races, all religions, all this singing, one song.

The differences are just illusion and vanity.

Sunlight looks a little different

On this wall than it does on that wall

And a lot different on this other one,

But it is still one light.

We have borrowed these clothes,

These time-and-space personalities,

From a light, and when we praise,

We are pouring them back in

September 16, 2010 Posted by | religion | , , , | Leave a comment

A World of Oneness

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by Pastor Don Mackenzie
posted May 27, 2010
Rabbi Ted Falcon, Pastor Don Mackenzie, and Sheikh Jamal Rahman, known collectively as the “Interfaith Amigos,” have been learning and teaching together since 2001. They blog weekly for YES! Magazine.

“Compassion,” says Pastor Don McKenzie, “is the strongest sensibility known to humankind. It is similar to what happens in the ritual of marriage where two people give themselves to each other.”

Photo by h.koppdelaney.

There is an incident recorded in three of the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. In Matthew and Mark, someone questions Jesus about which commandment in the tradition is the greatest. In Luke, the question concerns the attainment of eternal life. The questions may seem different, but they both point to understanding the way to healing, to salvation (salving meaning to make whole, to heal).

In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus’ response begins with the Sh’ma—“Listen O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one.” (Mark 12:29, New Revised Standard Version, NRSV) Both Matthew and Luke omit this crucial introduction. Since both of those Gospels are based on Mark, they each may have assumed an audience that understood just how important the Sh’ma is. Here, Jesus is actually quoting Deuteronomy 6:4.

My NRSV Bible renders it as, “The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.” Rabbi Ted Falcon translates this text as: “The Eternal is our God, the Eternal is One.” I am beginning with these details because they help to define one of the paths we have taken that has made it difficult for us to understand and make use of compassion.

Today, the word “Lord” suggests unrelieved masculinity. It suggests subjection and coercive power. When the text was first written down some five hundred years before Jesus, it suggested sovereignty—an all encompassing Oneness—an idea that we have lost. For the translation in my Bible of Deuteronomy 6:4, we receive the idea that there is only one God. But (putting aside the problem of “Lord”) the rendering in Mark, and even more in Rabbi Ted Falcon’s translation, suggests the very important concept that there is absolutely nothing else but God: The Holy One of Being and we are all a part of that Oneness.

The concept of sovereignty as it has developed as something apart from us continues a kind of “we/they” mentality. The concept of Oneness overcomes, or at least has the potential to overcome, that division and move toward a new sensibility of being. We are all in this life together, and the gifts and blessings we have been given can be used to make Oneness real.

Compassion is chief among the gifts we have to make Oneness real. But blocking our access to compassion is the same unrelieved (by “unrelieved” I mean a masculinity devoid of any feminine sensibility, any feminine predisposition to an open heart that would have the potential to eclipse the raw desire for power) masculinity that became our sense of the meaning of Lord.

In our culture today, in almost every part of the world, the greatest fear of a man is to be thought of as weak. Stand up for yourself, people have said to us. Not being weak has come to mean living into the idea that men must be strong, must have power to control and coerce, must always be correct, wise and always leading toward more and more strength against the forces of evil. Compassion is a word that evokes a weakness, a giving in, a losing of some deeply important part of the self. In contrast, from a biblical point of view, the tradition suggests that compassion is the strongest sensibility known to humankind. It is similar to what happens in the ritual of marriage where two people give themselves to each other.

Beyond Us and Them
What we dislike in others is often something we need to heal in ourselves.
As Frederick Buechner has written, “By all the laws of both logic and simple arithmetic, to give yourself away in love to another would seem to mean that you end up with less of yourself left than you had to begin with. But the miracle is that just the reverse is true … to give yourself away in love to somebody else is to become for the first time yourself, fully. To live not just for yourself alone any more, but for another self to whom you swear to be true … is in a new way to come fully alive.”

At some level of being, we all know this to be true. We believe it, and it conflicts with the cultural notion that power is everything. This is why I get a lump in my throat every time I read Luke’s version of the incident that concerns the path to salvation: In Luke, the questioner asks about the path to eternal life. “Eternal” of course is a word that points to something that we cannot really describe, but it certainly includes an ultimate sense of healing and the realization of true Oneness. Jesus answers with the commandment that follows the Sh’ma in Deuteronomy 6:4, and then says (quoting Leviticus 19:18) a second (commandment) is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Then from his questioner comes the crucial question: “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29)

In answer to this question, Jesus tells the well-known story of the Good Samaritan. A man is robbed, beaten, and left for dead. Two people see him but pass by on the other side of the road illustrating in its most tragic sense, the “we/they” sensibility. A Samaritan comes by and seeing the man, attends to his wounds, takes him to an inn, gives the innkeeper money, and promises that when he returns he will pay the innkeeper whatever money is required for the man’s care. Then Jesus asks the one who has asked the question, “And who is my neighbor?” which one of these was neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers? The answer comes, “The one who showed mercy.” Jesus concludes by saying, “Go and do likewise.”

Jesus is encouraging us to live into a life that is framed by compassion, a strength that has the promise of helping to create a life where our self worth can be realized, and where in helping each other instead of hurting each other, we can be free of the currently honored thought that strength means power over other people. Becoming a compassionate city, as Seattle has recently pledged to do, becomes one of the most important challenges humanity can attempt because it could lead to a world of justice and peace—peace in the sense of finding imaginative and creative uses for conflict. What a world that would be!

September 16, 2010 Posted by | history, Islam, religion | , , , | Leave a comment