The following is a posting that I made in 2007:
Sufism -- Antidote To Islamic Extremism: Sufism has appealed to seekers attracted by its disciplined spiritual practices as well as its respect for all faiths and emphasis on universal love. Across the Muslim world, Sufism has been an influential force throughout Islamic history, though it has frequently come under attack by more “orthodox” Muslims. Some consider it an Islamic heresy because Sufis go beyond the faith's basic tenets and pursue a direct union with God. Many Muslims today, however, see the spiritual tradition as the potential answer to the extremism that has hijacked the faith and misrepresented it to the world. In the Islamic world, Sufism is the most powerful antidote to the religious radicalism called fundamentalism as well as the most important source for responding to the challenges posed by modernism.
[My Comment: Islamic fundamentalists (indeed fundamentalists of any religion) mistake religious dogma for spiritual tenets. Such that, if belief in God is dependent on ‘literally’ believing that the Earth was created in 6+1 solar days, then faith is built on shaky ground. Science does not threaten genuine faith / it reinforces (that is, if one has higher order thinking skills). Modernity threatens fundamentalists because they feel lost & afraid in a world that’s become increasingly beyond their ‘basic’ understanding…. hence their overreactionary behavior.]
Matchmaking In Mecca: Modernization is occurring all over the world, even Mecca. In the Muslim world, it’s increasingly difficult for practicing Muslims to find suitable mates. And what better place to find a devote Muslim than one at Mecca on his/her ‘hajj’ (Islamic pilgrimage). 3 million+ pilgrims will visit Mecca.. and the numbers are increasing.. which requires increased infrastructure being built to handle the physical needs of this many people – which lessens that feeling of ol’ time religion in the holy land for Ishmael’s descendants.
Mecca Before Muhammed: While Mecca today is the holiest city to Muslims, it was an oasis town and major crossroads on Arab trade routes long before Muhammad's birth in the year 570. Governed by merchants, it witnessed constant blood feuding among nomadic, kinship-based tribes that roamed the surrounding desert. But for a month every year, desert clans declared a moratorium on fighting and embarked on a pilgrimage, descending on Mecca to trade and worship at the shrines of ‘360 polytheistic idols’. The city's religious focal point was a hollow stone temple, the Kaaba, surrounded by effigies but devoted to the powerful pre-Islamic god Allah (which in Arabic means "the god").
Mecca’s Biblical Roots: Mecca’s beginnings lie in the ancient story of Abraham and his first son, Ishmael. Banished by Abraham's jealous wife, Sarah, Ishmael and his mother, Hagar, wandered the desert in exile, searching for water. Eventually, God commanded a spring to appear, saving the two from death. According to Islamic tradition, Abraham later visited the spot and erected a temple to serve as God's house on Earth: the Kaaba. Today, the Kaaba stands empty, save for lamps to illuminate its interior. The modern-day ‘hajj’ consists of rituals re-enacting the stories of Ishmael, Hagar, and Abraham… to commemorate Ishmael and Hagar's wandering… and the holy spring. At one corner of the Kaaba is the revered Black Stone, said to be from God (some say it is a meteorite).
[Note: There’s a lot of controversy and conjecture surrounding the story of Abraham and his two sons, Ishmael and Isaac, and the promises God made to each. Suffice it to say that, true to biblical form, the descendants of these two siblings (Muslims and Jews/ hence Christians?) are acting out a sibling rivalry encouraged by the jealousy of rival mothers. One of the things that these groups agree on is ‘circumcision’ (a sign of keeping their covenant with God).]
Islamic Do-gooder Is Jailed: A Nigerian convert to Islam was jailed for helping his elderly female neighbor when he found her sick and took her to the hospital. He was arrested and charged with being alone with a woman not of his family. Riyadh Arab News [This is what happens when dogma overrides common sense.]
Nouveau Christians: People of the postmodern mindset (neotraditionalists) question the hyperindividualism of modern culture. They search for new forms of community but tend to be wary of authority figures and particularly of leaders who take divisive liberal or conservative social-political positions—one reason why the emergent groups tend to be antipastoral…. the young neotraditionalists also have an almost intuitive attraction to liturgy, ritual, and symbol as forms of knowledge that complement the dominant rational, scientific one… such leaves behind the fundamentalists’ need to make all religious propositions into ‘pseudoscientific statements (e.g., turn Genesis into a geology textbook).
[My Comment: A religion that is not steadily evolving is probably slowly stagnating / solidifying / petrifying. It may still serve the needs of some people who are raising their levels of consciousness to the level that it’s at, but it cannot be considered suitable indefinitely for mankind’s’ future. If and when there’s an eventual Second Coming Of Christ, the message He brings will not be simply a restatement of the first, it’ll be expressed in much higher terms than it was the first time around. And the Fundamentalists’ church hierarchy is not likely to recognize Him or accept His message & will most likely play the role the Sanhedrin did. ]
Why Celebrate Christmas In The Winter When Christ Was Born In the Spring?: Early Christians celebrated the festival alongside Pagans and church leaders, seeing these practices under way, simply appropriated the date for the birth of Jesus as Christianity grew and became the dominant religion of the empire throughout the fourth and fifth centuries… Dec. 25 was a bequest of the solar cult to Christianity, converted into Christmas Day. Legal codes laid down by the emperors Theodosius I and later Justinian made Christianity the state religion and banned Paganism. Church leaders were generally tolerant of people taking old practices and adding a Christian gloss to them. Overt worship of Pagan gods disappeared but the Dec.25 date - and many residual practices associated with the old festival - remained.
Kentucky Museum Depicts Creationism: With exhibits depicting Adam and Eve living with dinosaurs 6,000 years ago & T.rex surviving the Great Flood aboard the Noah’s ark, this museum is tailored to swaying schoolchildren towards Christian fundamentalistic views. There are 52 videos in the museum, one showing how the transformations wrought by the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980 reveal how plausible it is that the waters of Noah’s flood could have carved out the Grand Canyon within days. There is a special-effects theater complete with vibrating seats meant to evoke the flood, and a planetarium paying tribute to God’s glory while exploring the nature of galaxies. Its 60,000 square feet of exhibits are often stunningly designed by Patrick Marsh, who designed the “Jaws” and “King Kong” attractions at Universal Studios in Florida.
Noah’s Flood Dated?: Almost every culture has a legend about a great flood, and many of them mention something like a comet on a collision course with Earth just before the disaster. The Bible describes a deluge for 40 days and 40 nights. In the Gilgamesh Epic, the hero of Mesopotamia saw a pillar of black smoke on the horizon before the sky went dark for a week. Afterward, a cyclone pummeled the Fertile Crescent and caused a massive flood. Myths recounted in indigenous South American cultures also tell of a great flood. Among 175 flood myths, two are of great interest: a Hindu myth describes an alignment of the five bright planets that has happened only once in the last 5,000 years, according to computer simulations, and a Chinese story mentions that the great flood occurred at the end of the reign of Empress Nu Wa. Cross-checking historical records with astronomical data, Masse came up with a date for his event: May 10, 2807 B.C.
‘Easy-to-read’ Geologic Ages Of Earth History:
Mormon Fundamentalist Beliefs:
Holy Bible vs. Book of Mormon-
[My Comment: It should be noted that not many of your average Mormons take the Book of Mormon literally… nor do they believe the extreme ideas of the Mormon elitists. Just as your average Protestant and Catholic does not take every biblical story literally & do not subscribe to the extreme apocalyptic views of evangelicals.]
Fundamentalists aka Literalists: The Old Testament bears witness to the rise of ‘monotheism’ in Western Culture. Its description of Jehovah is more a projection of its peoples’ conception of Him than it is of God. Those who take the Old Testament too literally are themselves overtly struggling with the same things that the Old Testament portrays. It requires a more enlightened outlook to assimilate the message that Christ brought -- thus, the ‘literal minded’ fail to grasp much of what He really said. The parables given in the New Testament were not only for Christ’s protection against the ‘literal minded’ and dogmatic of his own time, but also for requiring us to reach for the higher branches in the Tree of Knowledge.
The Original Sin: My view is that, sinfulness is “a condition of Man apart from God”. After Earth was created by heavenly forces and life evolved to the point of being able to sustain “Consciousness”, it became necessary for Adam and Eve to eat from the Tree-of-Knowledge-of-Good-and-Evil. This describes the internalization of information (consciousness) & awareness of right and wrong (conscienceness). [ Also pertinent in this is the tree' s name, for "knowledge" in Hebrew is also a euphemism for sexuality. Our awareness of our sexuality means that we’re not merely ‘naked apes’. We are sentient creatures.]
Karma & The ‘Eleven’ Commandments: Karma is the “Absolute Law of Cause and Effect”…. it is a “spiritual law” that has direct physical manifestations. When we apply the right cause, we can enjoy the right benefit. We were given the Ten Commandments so we could demonstrate love toward God and love toward our neighbor. The first four commandments show us how to love Him and the last six how to love our neighbor. Christ admonished us to love thy neighbor as thyself. All religions have The Golden Rule at their core… but most do stray from this primary tenet.
~May God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it’s me.~ John G. Miller