Black Shards Press – Electronic Gumbo is Our Specialty

In Response to Honor Killings

26.12.2010 (8:23 am) – Filed under: Islam,Religion ::

Christmas Day seems a strange day to write about the horrific, all-too-common practice in Islam of male family members murdering their female relatives in the name of honoring their religion. Then again, today is a celebration of the day the Way, Truth, and Light was sent by God to mankind. Why not tell the truth, today above all days?

I recently received a comment on a long-past post on this subject.  For the purposes of discussion I’ll include it in its entirety here:

It is disgusting to read or to hear of such cases occurring in some minority muslim circles. Such incidences or so called honour killings is a deeply cultural practise that predates Islam. It is a violation of human rights and has absolutely NO place in ISLAM the religion.

Unfortunately, still these events occur in muslim countries and sometimes non-Muslim countries, as was the case above. The men behind these events are ignorant chauvinists who have been influenced deeply by their culture. They have nothing better to do than to lord around authority over their women.

The problem here is not Islam, but rather lack of education about Islam and women’s rights, poverty, deeply rooted cultural practises and the lack of women’s rights being actively implemented in some Muslim countries. For example, in Islam, the act of calling a women ‘unchaste’ without producing 4 witnesses to prove this, earns the man 80 lashes (the one who made the false claim) and his evidence is rejected from there onwards in the court of law for as long as he lives. Unfortunately, this in such Honour killing cases, this is not implemented. But rather, it is the woman’s family, namely her male relatives who go out of their way to ‘cleanse’ the family name and honour by eliminating the victim! This is ridiculous, and unjust to anyone who has any brains, but this happens because of a very strong cultural mentality and belief that a woman upholds the honour of the house. To add to this, when males are convicted of unseemly behaviour before marriage, their actions are completely overlooked. Even though in Islam, the punishment for a proven fornicator is the same for the male and the female! The sad part is this sort of thinking gets transferred from generation to generation, to the point where even the women accept this mentality! No one bothers to consult Islam about it, no, culture to these men is taken as first priority. Oh, but when it comes to upholding men’s rights, say for e.g. their rights in marriage, oh no, goodness me, there is no breaking that. The woman must grant his rights. They must be implemented.

I am a muslim woman, and a practising one too (I am not a feminist) and when I hear of these events, it makes my blood boil. The key to women’s liberation in muslim countries is not fleeing Islam, but rather women need to learn their God given rights, granted to them over 1400 years ago and demand these rights. We need to educate ourselves about Islam and our rights. We need sisters to stand up and say "NO" to these sorts of events. Unfortunately, in theory it sounds easier than in practise.

My knowledge is limited and I don’t claim to be a scholar of Islam. So, if I have said anything wrong above, may God forgive me.

The commenter, who calls herself Nargis, makes several interesting points. Forgetting everything I have written on this subject, I wish that all Muslim women could read her words, a statement that reveals much about a primitive, obsolete school of thought, one that has no place in our world, let alone one to be practiced in the name of the Creator.

Much as I admire Nargis’ brave statement, there is a couple of essential points that I must make in rebuttal. First, women (and men, for that matter), were not given their inalienable human rights 1400 years ago in Mohammed’s time. These rights have always belonged to mankind, despite our consistent inability to respect each other’s bodies, property, and faith, these rights are inherent to each of us, male and female alike. It is false to state that Islam, or any other religion, grants us these rights; rather, they are innate in us as a result of the power of conscious, rational thought, as inspired in us by God at the beginning of mankind’s existence on this world.

Second, I must challenge her assertion that the key to women’s rights is not leaving Islam. In a sense, Nargis is correct: A mass exodus of women from Islam would serve to make the lives of those left behind a living hell. Yet there are few human rights more precious than that of the freedom to adopt a faith of one’s own choosing (or even, paradoxically, to reject the idea of a Creator entirely). Unfortunately, Muslim women are denied this choice by threat of rape, beatings, torture, and death, all at the hands of so-called pious men and a certain number of female enablers.  Culturally, Muslim apostasy is considered a great crime rather than the elemental expression of one’s most deeply-rooted personal freedom. Until this changes, there will be no true liberty for Muslims, whether male or female, nor true worship, which can only be given freely, from one’s heart, with no motivating purpose other than respect and love for our Creator.

In conclusion, it must be stated clearly that such changes, though fundamental to human liberty and true faith in God, will not be easily obtained. Like all freedoms, it seems these must be won at great expense, paid for in blood and tears, and maintained the same way.

This, I believe, is the Truth on which a little Light has now been shone.  In the interest of Peace, then, can we, men and women of all faiths and nations, simply examine our beliefs critically, weighing each one as John suggested would be necessary, and discard those that do not make sense? Of these, the murder of women to as a salve to the injured egos of their male kin, men who should love and revere them, must surely be among the most heinous and least worthy of practice, to say nothing of admiration and emulation.

To be Consistent, ACLU Should Take Up Arizona Case

16.03.2010 (7:32 pm) – Filed under: Christianity,Religion ::

Using the principle of separation of church and state, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has frequently taken on Christian groups in various cases meant to remove Christianity from the public square. In fact, the ACLU so often appears to be deliberately targeting Christianity that it has gone on record denying bias.

Now the town of Gilbert, Arizona has banned religious services in the homes of its residents. If the ACLU is indeed in the business of protecting Americans’ civil liberties, the group should take up the cause of the town’s Christians who have been barred from practicing their religious freedom in their own homes.

The Oasis of Truth church began meeting at Pastor Joe Sutherland’s house in November and rotated homes several times a week for Bible study and fellowship.

A Gilbert code compliance officer hit the church with a violation notice after seeing a sign near a road advertising a Sunday service.

A zoning administrator told the church that Bible studies, church leadership meetings and fellowship activities are not permitted in private homes.

It’s clear that the town’s law is unconstitutional. Indeed, the violation of the residents’ right to exercise their religion is much more egregious than virtually all of the semantic church/state conflicts the ACLU perpetuates every day. So much so, in fact, that if the group purports to be a defender of the constitution and the rights it guarantees, the ACLU must respond in favor of Christians in Gilbert with all of the force and bluster the watchdog group can muster. Anything less would be a hypocritical violation of the group’s publicly declared purpose.

Afghan Muslims Riot Over Koran Rumor

26.10.2009 (6:46 pm) – Filed under: Afghanistan,Religion,Terrorism ::

image A rumor that American troops burned a copy of the Koran brought hundreds of flag and photo burning Muslims into the streets of Afghanistan today.

Question: Don’t these people have any actual responsibilities to keep them occupied?

The answer seems self-evident, for if they had bills to pay or mortgages to meet or superiors to please then they wouldn’t be out in the streets nattering over nothing as if their lives depended on it.

The unrest in Afghanistan is standard operating procedure on the part of religious radicals who like to whip up a anti-western mob any time they aren’t having their way controlling their country’s society, as most recently documented by yours truly in this PoliGazette piece (which in turn seemed to make me persona non grata at that site).

Seven people were murdered in that pointless, deliberately initiated rampage in Pakistan and one can easily imagine the bearded, turbaned mullahs who spread the deadly lie shrugging their deaths off as unimportant.  They were, after all, only infidels like you and me.

Happily, no one was killed in Afghanistan over today’s rather flimsy untruth.  Sorrow abounds there, however, as on another, less joyful note, 14 Americans were killed in 2 separate helicopter incidents in that country.  Their deaths lie directly at the feet of the same religious radicals who fomented today’s anarchy because their refusal to submit to the authority of the elected Karzai government and support of the Taliban terrorists is what has prolonged the U.S. action in Afghanistan.

Re: The Unambiguous Meaning of the Cross

08.10.2009 (7:27 pm) – Filed under: Christianity,Politics,Religion ::

Steve Benen finally gets something right when he says that the meaning of the cross the VFW put up in the New Mexico desert some 75 years ago is unambiguous.  Too bad he doesn’t have a clue that the crystal-clear meaning is the purpose and meaning of the country he lives in.

Doltish liberals like Benen have already caused the vet’s memorial to be covered over in plywood, a shameful action in itself, but their hatred of Christianity doesn’t stop there.

Take careful note of my word choices in that last sentence, for it is hatred that motivates the lefty-rads on this issue.  How can I be so certain?  Seems that a compromise has been offered such that 5 acres of currently private land would be exchanged for 1 acre around the cross in the Mojave.

The rejection of that offer by a San Francisco, California-based appeals court is itself sufficient to prove my point.  The uber-left makes themselves out to be the protectors of the Constitution in regard to church/state issues, but by refusing this reasonable compromise they demonstrate their true motivations: the banishment of Christianity from public view and ultimately from American life.

Teaching the Bible in Texas Classrooms

17.08.2009 (6:17 pm) – Filed under: Education,Religion ::

Sara Story of KLTA reports that a Texas state law that requires all public schools to offer “information relating to the Bible in their curriculum”.  The law was passed 2 years ago and is set to go into effect for the new school year.

For better or worse, some schools have stalled out when it comes to complying with the the law because it is vaguely worded and because the state has refused to provide funding to implement the mandate.

There is also the small matter of parental opposition to contend with as well, to no one’s surprise.  People in the town of Whitehouse, social studies teacher John Keeling looks at the matter this way:

The purpose of a course like this isn’t even really to get kids to believe it, per se, it is just to appreciate the profound impact that it has had on our history and on our government.

more »

The Necessity of Mixing God and Science

27.06.2009 (9:26 am) – Filed under: Religion,Science ::

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Lawrence Krauss says that God and Science don’t mix, something that our own Claudia has contended, vociferously at times.  Pursuit of logic is a passion with many scientifically-minded people and the pursuit of logic – and logical explanations – can become the object of single-minded devotion.  In some cases this process leads to great truths and technological advancements; in others, the forest is lost among the trees and the researcher with it.  Whither Krauss?  I’ll not presume to guess but his word choices create distortion more than they reveal truth. 

It is certainly true God and individual scientific experiments do not mix.  The scientific method by definition calls for the isolation of as many variables as possible so that the one(s) under test can be definitively tested and explained.  In an individual test, therefore, there can be no allowance for the divine.  If there is, the experiment is fatally flawed.

Nevertheless, God and science are inexplicably intertwined. 

As a software developer I understand the process of examining a seemingly chaotic circumstance, looking for order and root causes, and defining an explanation for behaviors, both expected and not.  It is a very logical endeavor when all of the facts are known but one also relies heavily on intuition when they are not.  The software test, like the scientific experiment, is imagined by intuition and defined by its absence.  Yet pristine logic at the application layer does not mean that the programmer can ignore the fundamental truths of the operating system and development platform.  They still exist, whether our analysis considers them or not.  True knowledge of the system considers all factors, liked and despised alike.  Truth requires it.

Likewise, science is, when all the ideology, agendas, and personal pride is stripped away, the pursuit to understand the principles that govern the universe God created.  That truth does not diminish scientists or dull the luster of their accomplishments.  Rather it increases them for to learn about the world around us is to know a fraction of the mind of God.

Wiley Drake Embarrasses Christians Again

09.06.2009 (9:40 pm) – Filed under: Christianity,Religion ::

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It’s been a few months since I first wrote about Wiley Drake, the uncouth pastor from Buena Park, California whose 15 minutes of fame came when he posited that God would strike Rick Warren down for daring to speak at President Obama’s inauguration.  Strangely, Warren seems to be doing just fine, thanks, and most Christians have forgotten about Drake and the the dead albatross he hung around our necks with his ridiculous pronouncement. 

Unfortunately it seems that run of good luck is over: the Drake has laid another, even more foul egg with which to stink up the good name of Christians everywhere.  This time he’s on record saying that he’s actively praying for Barack Obama to die.

[Alan Colmes] “So you’re praying for the death of the president of the United States?”

[Drake] “Yes.”

“You would like for the president of the United States to die?” Colmes asked once more.

“If he does not turn to God and does not turn his life around, I am asking God to enforce imprecatory prayers that are throughout the Scripture that would cause him death, that’s correct.”

A quick read of my original post would reveal a sort of cautious optimism about Barack Obama’s upcoming presidency.  I was then not fully jaded, hopeful that, despite what his radical supporters clamored for, Mr. Obama would stick to his promise to govern the whole country and not radically inject government into the business and personal lives of Americans.  I have been vastly disappointed in this vain hope, for it seems the audacity of hopelessness that drives Obama’s neo-liberalism is well on its way to being implemented nationwide. 

From the ill-advised bailouts of failing financial conglomerates to the nationalization of the auto industry liberalism helped destroy to the bloated, pork-laden budgets that make George W. Bush look like a miser, Barack Obama has already done many things wrong in his short presidency.  Moreover, virtually everything he stands for is equally wrong.

Nevertheless, for a self-defined Christian, particularly a so-called leader of men, to actively seek the death of a president who has done nothing to deserve such condemnation is outrageous, ridiculous, humiliating for the rest of the flock, bordering on the insane, and a grotesque insult to the Son of Man himself, who Drake purports to follow.

Desperado says:

I’ll make you a wager. I’ll bet you won’t hear Hannity and Limbaugh play this in an endless loop like they did the statements of Reverend Wright. Any takers?

To which I reply, why should they?  Are we in the middle of a presidential campaign and is the leading Republican candidate a decade-long follower of Wiley Drake?  No, making both the wager and its pro-Obama hyperbole meaningless.  Wright was a racist influence on the President of the United States; Wiley Drake is a fool who doesn’t deserve media attention.

To conclude, if you contribute money to Wiley Drake then you need to stop doing so.  Today, before he makes more trouble for the nation and for the brotherhood of Christians that frankly he has no more right to claim to be a part of than his former nemesis, one Dr. George Tiller.

Infiltrating Liberty University

22.04.2009 (8:09 pm) – Filed under: Education,Religion ::

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Unlike many incoming students at Liberty University, Kevin Roose didn’t start school merely to learn from his instructors.  Instead the Brown student went prepared to dig up material for a book deal he’d already signed to write about his experiences at Jerry Falwell’s Christian school. 

He lined up a publisher — Grand Central Publishing — and arrived at the Lynchburg campus prepared for “hostile ideologues who spent all their time plotting abortion clinic protests and sewing Hillary Clinton voodoo dolls.”

Instead, he found that “not only are they not that, but they’re rigorously normal.”

He met students who use Bible class to score dates, apply to top law schools and fret about their futures, and who enjoy gossip, hip-hop and R-rated movies — albeit in a locked dorm room.

A roommate he depicts as aggressively anti-gay — all names are changed in the book — is an outcast on the hall, not a role model.

Yet, some students also grilled him about his relationship with Jesus and condemned non-believers to hell.

After a gunman at Virginia Tech killed 32 people in April 2007, a Liberty student said the deaths paled next to the millions of abortions worldwide — a comment Roose says infuriated him.

The friends Roose made while on the Liberty Campus seem to have forgiven him for his deception, a generous act on their part that was perhaps made easier because the book was not unfair, according to former student body president Brian Colas.  Understandably, the Liberty administration is not persuaded.

Happily, Kevin walked away from his time at Liberty with something more meaningful than academic credits or the approval of his instructors:

Once ambivalent about faith, Roose now prays to God regularly — for his own well-being and on behalf of others. He said he owns several translations of the Bible and has recently been rereading meditations from the letters of John on using love and compassion to solve cultural conflicts.

He’s even considering joining a church.

My Easter Wish

12.04.2009 (7:54 pm) – Filed under: Religion ::

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The fundamental tenets of the Christian faith are that Jesus was God’s son and that he rose from the dead after being crucified near Jerusalem when he was about 30 years old.

Do you believe these two statements?

Regardless of what your answer is, regardless of what it has been in the past, it’s my wish that you take the question seriously today.

Happy Easter!

Culture War Far From Over

12.04.2009 (7:53 pm) – Filed under: Religion,Society ::

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Ryan Powers’ Happy Easter message is that the American culture war is over, the Christians’ surrender having been offered by James Dobson, retiring leader of Focus on the Family:

“We tried to defend the unborn child, the dignity of the family, but it was a holding action,” he said.

“We are awash in evil and the battle is still to be waged. We are right now in the most discouraging period of that long conflict. Humanly speaking, we can say we have lost all those battles.”

The battles do seem to have been lost.  In many respects the best that Christians can hope for is to moderate liberal, secular policies and, perhaps, for federal courts to regain their respect for states’ constitutional rights to make their own law on issues such as abortion and gay marriage.  Where is a Christian to turn for good news these days?

On Easter it seems even more appropriate than usual to reflect on Jesus’ teachings, few if any of which had anything to do with pulling the levels of governmental power.

True Christianity starts from within and works its way out into the world from there, in the form of attitudes, moral actions, and Godly deeds.

While Christians’ involvement in cultural issues is a secondary concern – the primary being one’s own personal walk with God – it is a logical extension of our moral sense of right and wrong to want to see something like it observed as our state or nation’s legal standard.

In this respect, Christians’ desires are no different than those of the opposition.  Liberals certainly want to gain and wield power – of that there can be no doubt.  Is it wrong for Christians to recognize the wrong that’s inherent in the changes made in the name of progressive politics and work to counteract them?  Not in the least.

According to the Telegraph:

A growing legion of disenchanted grassroots believers does not blame liberal opponents for the decline in faith or the failures of the religious Right. Rather, they hold responsible Republicans – particularly Mr Bush – and groups like Focus on the Family that have worked with the party, for courting Christian voters only to betray promises of pursuing the conservative agenda once in office.

Frankly I don’t think that’s true at all.

Christians do not blame George W. Bush for the million+ abortions that will be performed this year.

Christians do not blame James Dobson for the various court rulings that have forced the gay marriage issue upon unwilling citizens in Iowa and other states.

Christians do not fault the Bush administration for restricting embryonic stem cell research.

Etc.

(Bush and company get low marks for their fiscal irresponsibility and also for poor initial execution of the occupancy of Iraq, but those are different issues.)

James Dobson is undoubtedly discouraged as he comes to the end of his career and sees that Christian values have diminished in this country.  It discourages me, though I’ve done much less to try to promote them than Dr. Dobson has.

Even so I see recognition of the understanding in the eyes of fellow Christians, understanding that tells them that these societal ills have been caused by the acts of men and women whose moral relativism  demands the dissolution of everything that Christians hold dear.

Whether a new generation of Christian leaders will emerge to push back against excess liberalism via the political process remains to be seen.  Christians may retreat into their private faith and leave the political field to the liberals.

I do not believe that will happen.  The stakes are too high and the level of incompatibility with radical liberalism is too high for Christians to allow terms to be dictated to them.