Friday, June 20, 2003

Today's 1662 Book of Common Prayer feast (a black-letter day from the medieval missal): the Translation of the Relics of King Edward the Martyr.

And now, apropos of nothing really:
Richard Holloway: out of me head
I don't know whether this formerly orthodox priest, now retired primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, is simply a sellout or has gone barking mad, but the way he criticizes the Anglo-Catholicism he used to believe in makes it sound pretty good, ironically.

Joke about Protestantism
Q. What's the sequel to Tim LaHaye's evo-Prot pulp novel Left Behind called?
A. Oh, Man, What a Dream!
— Dustin Anastasios Hudson

Funny, now whenever I think of the word rapture I hear somebody with an American Southern accent saying it, making the a a diphthong and coming down hard on the r: 'the ray-aap-churrrr'. Thanks a lot, Tim LaHaye.

Islam in a nutshell
by Brendan Ross
From the Orthodox Christian perspective, Islam can only be viewed with deep sadness. Muhammad was someone who was a genuine seeker, but a confused and ultimately misguided one. He clearly cobbled his religious ideas together from (1) existing Arab paganism, (2) heretical Christian sects he came across on his travels in the Middle East and (3) contemporary Jewish theology, particularly anti-Christian polemic. The sum total is a made-up religious system based on the ideas of Muhammad, which themselves became increasingly muddled as he moved on in years and became ever more entangled with the secular war for dominance in Eastern Arabia.

Islam appeals to those who (1) seek simplicity and (2) seek discipline. Islam is very simple because it really rejects the Trinity and any kind of higher theology, it is really highly monotheistic, so it's great for the lazy intellectual who can't wrap his brain around the trinitarian dialogues of the Cappodocian Fathers. Islam also has the appeal of discipline ... regular prayer, fasting, dietary restrictions, etc., in a sense Islam has been rightly described as an "orthoprax" religion rather than an "orthodox" religion because there isn't much belief to speak of (other than a near deification of Muhammad and a religiously-inspired ignorance as to the facts of his life) .. it appeals to those who want to get wrapped up in a religion of externals, to those who want to "do religion".

As was well pointed out by V.S. Naipaul after 9-11, Islam has always been a fanatical religion, and one in which the fanaticism nearly always had a violent, secular expression. It is nonsensical to think of an Islam without its violent fanatical element, therefore. As long as there is an Islam there will be someone like Al-Qaida, more than willing to take up arms to spread the green terror of the Qur'an and the cult of the misguided Muhammad, and so we are really pissing into the wind, so to speak, if we think that this will go away any time soon. It has been present when Islam was ascendent, at the beginning. It was present during the height of Islam. And now it is still present, when the Islamic world is largely "down & out".

Islam is very much a transvestite religion. It has excelled at adopting religious stuff from other spiritual traditions and gussying it up (eg, the Mosque, which is copied from Eastern Christian Churches, the idea of scripture, stolen from Judeo-Christianity, the adaption of the Judeo-Christian pantheon of prophets, etc.), while covering up what lies underneath -- namely a confused hodgepodge of Arabic paganism that has no place being the world's second largest religion. Islam is intensely Arabic in other respects, as well. Again, as Naipaul has pointed out, there is a tension everywhere in the non-Arab Islamic world between this sense of "Islamic arabness" and the non-Arabic pre-Islamic histories of these regions. It is a very Arab culturally imperialistic faith, and it is this disjuncture that leads to much radicalism outside the Arab world itself as those who are truly fanatical Muslims will seek to resolve this contradiction one way or the other (either in the near Messianic Shi'ite version of Iran -- "us against the world" -- or in the crazy-quilt Taliban, a group really reminiscent of the Khmer Rouge). And we all know that the Arab world itself is always on the boil because of the contradiction between what the Qur'an says (ie, that Islam should be in charge) and the way the world looks today. Sure, today the problem is Israel. Rest assured if Israel disappeared into the Med tomorrow, there would still be loads of discontentment and angst throughout the Arab world -- Israel is a scapegoat and focal point for all of this resentment, resentment which has largely other causes.

When I see Muslim women in the supermarket or at the shopping mall wearing their headgear, I feel sorry for them. They have had the misfortune of being born into a fundamentally mysogynistic religious cult. I pray for them that they can find their way out of this situation, particularly since they now live in the United States where they can do so without incurring the death penalty for leaving their religiously inspired slavery. [End.]

True, but this isn't a licence for neocons and Protestant do-gooders to go beat on and conquer Muslim countries 'for their own good' and for the glory of the 'Empah', Mk II.