Daily Archives: January 8, 2015

(F Things) John Azumah-Explaining Radical Islam’s relation to terrorism and violence

Since the oil boom of the 1970s and ’80s, ­Saudi Arabia, whose official creed is Wahhabi Islam, has exported Wahhabism to parts of Africa, Asia, and the West through scholarships and the funding of radical mosques, preachers, and groups. Al-Qaeda is a direct spinoff of Wahhabi Islam, and IS an outgrowth from al-Qaeda, while the origins of Boko Haram lie in a network of Wahhabi-Salafi groups in Nigeria. This religious context provides the framework for justifying violence. Jihadists quote from Islamic scripture, prophetic traditions, and legal opinions to support their claims and activities. Jihad against non-Muslims and the ultimatum to convert to Islam, pay a special tax, or be killed are in fact based on Islamic law. The same is true of the tactic of capturing women and children as war booty and keeping or disposing of them as slaves. Islam also promises rewards and pleasures awaiting the martyr. It is therefore simplistic if not misleading to argue that groups like IS and Boko Haram have nothing to do with Islam.

Nevertheless, it is equally misleading to argue that the jihadi groups represent the true face of Islam. While the legal and doctrinal edicts that the jihadists cite are integral parts of Islamic law, the jihadists without question violate that law by taking it into their own hands. Their failure to consider the conditions necessary for the declaration of jihad, as well as for its proper conduct, provides an obvious example. Questions of which groups can be targeted, and of how and toward what end, are enormously complicated and sharply qualified in the authoritative legal texts. For instance, all four Sunni schools of law, including the Hanbali school, agree that the declaration of jihad can be justified for the sake of preserving or extending the government of an Islamic state. Therefore, as is the case in Christian just-war theory, in which the power to declare war is carefully limited to governments, in Islamic law only legitimate Islamic governments can declare a jihad, not individuals or nonstate actors. An exception is made when a Muslim land comes under attack or occupation by an enemy force, which renders jihad or resistance an individual responsibility. But even then, jihad has to have been formally declared by the legitimate authority properly representing the people of the occupied nation. By declaring and conducting jihad on their own, al-Qaeda, IS, Boko Haram, and other such groups act as heretical usurpers.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, History, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

Boko Haram crisis: Nigeria's Baga town hit by new assault

Nigeria’s militant Islamists have carried out a second attack on the key north-eastern town of Baga, an official has told the BBC.

Boko Haram fighters burnt down almost the entire town on Wednesday, after over-running a military base on Saturday, Musa Alhaji Bukar said.

Bodies lay strewn on Baga’s streets, amid fears that some 2,000 people had been killed in the raids, he added.

Boko Haram launched a military campaign in 2009 to create an Islamic state.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Islam, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

Thursday Morning Mental Health Break–Stuntman Damien Walters' 2014 Showreel

Holy cow–watch it all.

Posted in * General Interest

(WSJ) Grant Wacker–”˜Unbroken’ skimps on the pivotal role of Billy Graham

Though Ms. Hillenbrand recounts Zamperini’s conversion, she doesn’t say much about how it influenced the rest of his life. In the movie “Unbroken,” Billy Graham goes unmentioned, and Zamperini’s redemption narrative is largely reduced to a few title cards flashed before the closing credits. Yet Zamperini himself believed that the religious event was the pivotal moment of his long journey. In his 2003 memoir””titled, like one he published in 1956, “Devil at My Heels”””Zamperini recounts the tent-revival experience in detail and thanks Billy Graham in the acknowledgments “for his message that caused me to turn my life around.”

In some ways the 1949 revival was also a turning point for Billy Graham: The Hollywood-handsome Southern evangelist had started his crusade ministry in 1947, when he was 29 years old, but it was the success of his Los Angeles Crusade that brought him to national prominence. The revival went on for eight weeks, with Mr. Graham preaching 65 full sermons. He addressed nearly 350,000 attendees, and by the end 3,000 people had committed their lives to Christ.

Those numbers prefigured things to come. When Mr. Graham retired from public life nearly seven decades later, more than three million souls who heard his sermons had signed commitment cards pledging their faith.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Books, Evangelicals, History, Movies & Television, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

(C of E Diocese of Europe) The Epiphany Message in Action in Turkey

“On the Feast of St Basil of Caesarea and St Gregory Nazianzus, 2 January, in St Nicholas Church, Ankara, Fr Ebrahim was ordained to the priesthood. He serves as an honorary assistant priest in St Nicholas’s Church, which has a growing ministry among refugees from many neighbouring countries such as Iran, Iraq and Syria. Fr Ebrahim was ordained deacon in his native Iran. The Diocese of Iran is part of the Anglican Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East.

Read it all and enjoy the great pictures.

Posted in Uncategorized

(LA Times) New antibiotic teixobactin kills drug-reistant superbugs, study says

Using soil from a grassy field in Maine and a miniaturized diffusion chamber, scientists have cultivated a microbe that could help tame the spread of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

When tricked into growing in a lab, the microbe makes a compound that kills strains of tuberculosis, MRSA and other deadly pathogens that are immune to even the most powerful drugs. Tests in mice showed that the newfound molecule is “exquisitely active against some very hard-to-deal-with bugs,” said Northeastern University microbiologist Kim Lewis, the senior author of a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

Experts said the discovery could lead to a new class of antibiotics for the first time in decades. If so, it would give doctors a much-needed weapon in the microbial arms race that has tilted in favor of bacteria.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine, History, Science & Technology

(Now Bath) Popular Vicar Matthew Street Marks Ten Years Of Community Links

Three local village churches celebrated a special milestone on Sunday 4th January, as they came together to congratulate their vicar on ten years of service to the community.

St John’s in Peasedown and St Julian’s in Wellow are part of the St J’s Group of Anglican Churches, which have been led by Revd Matthew Street since he took up the posts of ”˜Rector’ and ”˜Priest-in-Charge’ in 2005.

The united parish of St Julian’s Shoscombe and James’ Foxcote are also part of the group ”“ having joined after a Church of England clergy reorganisation in 2010.

Matthew, along with his wife Jane and their daughter Hannah, moved to the Peasedown Vicarage in Church Road after a short stint as curate at Holy Trinity Church in Combe Down, Bath.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Jon Shuler for Epiphany–A Light to the Nations?

The feast of Epiphany is one of my favorites, and I am sure that is true for many of you who read these posts as well. The historic readings and prayers for this season all give thanks for the coming of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the non-Jewish peoples of the earth. The glorious news that the promises given to Abraham and ancient Israel have now been extended to all people is shared for many weeks. Our gracious God has formed a new Israel, and it includes all who will respond to His offer of life in the Son. It includes us. All who believe are children of Abraham and Sarah by faith. Thanks be to God.

The lessons and prayers of Epiphany also remind us that the church is called to continue the task of sharing this good news with those who have not heard. The mission and ministry first given to the apostles continues to be the responsibility of the true apostolic church. It could be argued, and indeed should be, that a church that begins to neglect this task soon forfeits all right to claim it is in continuity with the “apostle’s teaching and fellowship.” How can we claim to be followers of the Lord Jesus if we willfully neglect and disobey His clear commandments?

Sadly for years I did, until the Lord Jesus opened my eyes. I loved Epiphany before I understood it.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Epiphany, Missions

A London Times Editorial–Nous Sommes Tous Charlie

This was by some estimates the worst terrorist attack in France since the Algerian war of independence. It followed exhortations from Islamic State in Syria to kill French civilians with any weapon available, but responsibility was claimed by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. It is not clear what was behind the timing. Minutes before the gunmen struck, Charlie Hebdo had released a tweet mocking Islamic State’s leader, but this was mild next to the magazine’s earlier broadsides on everything that Islamists hold sacred. In past years it has reprinted the Danish cartoons of Muhammad that prompted riots on several continents. It has printed a spoof issue “guest edited” by the Prophet, and a cover cartoon of an Imam trying and failing to use the Koran to stop bullets.

“I don’t blame Muslims for not laughing at our drawings,” Charlie Hebdo’s editor-in-chief, Stéphane Charbonnier, once said. Neither did he apologise. “I live under French law . . . [not] Koranic law.”

Mr Charbonnier is now dead. While he lived he upheld a priceless tradition of broad and often brutal satire, no punches pulled, no prisoners taken. He and his colleagues were equal opportunity offenders. Islamists were often their targets precisely because of their unconscionable threats and spurious claim to special status. But so were Catholic clergy, cardinals, the Pope and, for what it’s worth, the British.

When President Hollande called Charlie Hebdo a “symbol of liberty”, it was no empty cliché….

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, France, Islam, Media, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(Washington Post) How a suspected Charlie Hebdo gunman turned into a ”˜professional’ jihadist

Just before noon, the masked men exited a black car clutching Kalashnikovs and approached the offices of French magazine Charlie Hebdo. The gunmen forced the magazine’s designer to let them into the building and, in what authorities say was a carefully planned attack, deliberately sought out and killed numerous journalists inside. The noise aroused the nearby residents, who fixed cameras on the streets below, capturing a chaotic scene of gunfire, shouting and killing.

The way the men moved in that video ”” in side-by-side formation while calmly shooting a cop perhaps 30 feet away ”” betrays a professionalism some experts said suggests the gunmen had significant training before killing 12 people in what’s now considered France’s worst terrorist attack in a generation. “One shoots and executes the officer in stride,” observed the Long War Journal. “Both men move past the body, peer up the street for additional targets, then peel off and move back to the black car and leave the scene of the attack.”

The scene is something the Long War Journal writers have seen before ”” in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Nigeria. Using heavily armed gunmen to attack “lightly defended civilian targets is commonly used by jihadist groups.” And this one succeeded because the gunmen appeared to be “hardened and well-trained fighters who may have received instructions at a training facility overseas, or locally in France.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, France, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence, Young Adults

(Telegraph) Paris Charlie Hebdo attack–live

A second Paris shooting kills a policewoman after three suspect al-Qaeda gunmen attack the offices of Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine, with 12 dead.

Read it all.

Also, especially for those who read french, Le Monde has a good twitter feed there.

The BBC live blog is here.

Sky news–Paris Shootings: What We Know So Far is over here.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, France, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Police/Fire, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God, who by the guidance of a star didst manifest to the Gentiles the glory of thine only begotten Son: Grant us grace that, being led by the light of thy Holy Spirit, we may, in adoring love and lowliest reverence, yield ourselves to thy service; that thy kingdom of righteousness and peace may be advanced among all nations, to the glory of thy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Book of Common Order

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Epiphany, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Praise the LORD, all nations! Extol him, all peoples! For great is his steadfast love toward us; and the faithfulness of the LORD endures for ever. Praise the LORD!

–Psalm 117

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Anti-discrimination agency finds Phillipsburg teacher was fired for giving a student a Bible

Phillipsburg school officials discriminated against a substitute teacher who provided a Bible to a student who expressed curiosity about a verse the teacher had quoted, the federal agency that guards against workplace discrimination found.

In its decision, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission rejected Phillipsburg School District’s claim that the teacher, Walt Tutka of Belvidere, was fired for insubordination after he refused to meet with the school board.

The commission noted that the school district failed to provide documents in support of its claim Tutka’s termination was based on insubordination. It also found that the reason for the scheduled meeting was disciplinary action for the distribution of religious material after Tutka’s termination had been recommended to the school board, the commission’s decision says.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Ricochet) Claire Berlinski–A First-Hand Account From The Terrorist Attack on Charlie-Hebdo

I had no intention of reporting on this from the scene of the Charlie-Hebdo massacre. I was walking up Boulevard Richard Lenoir to meet a friend who lives in the neighborhood. But the moment I saw what I did, I knew for sure what had happened. A decade in Turkey teaches you that. That many ambulances, that many cops, that many journalists, and those kinds of faces can mean only one thing: a massive terrorist attack.

I also knew from the location just who’d been attacked: Charlie-Hebdo, the magazine known for many things, but, above all, for its fearlessness in publishing caricatures of Mohamed. They’d been firebombed for this in 2011, but their response ”” in effect ”” was the only one free men would ever consider: “As long as we’re alive, you’ll never shut us up.”

They are no longer alive. They managed to shut them up.

The only thing I didn’t immediately know was how many of them had died.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Europe, France, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence