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Some Things Said… (September 07)

“The snag in the plane has now been fixed and the aircraft has resumed its flights,” said Raju K.C., a senior airline official, without explaining what the problem had been.

Sacrificing goats may seem unusual, at least to Americans, one airline veteran said it’s not outlandish in some cultures. “It’s not that unusual to see a sacrifice going on,” said Capt. Robert Norris, a former United Airlines pilot of 30 years who has gone climbing in Nepal. “We may say a small prayer ourselves when we take off. It’s just a part of their culture,” he said.

Ariel Glucklich, a professor of theology at Georgetown University, said that animal sacrifices go back to the beginnings of Hinduism. “The idea of sacrifice is you offer something valuable as a way of placating the god,” said Glucklich. Still he said that kind of animal sacrifice by airline officials wouldn’t be likely in India, another predominantly Hindu nation.

“The separation between religion and the state is a lot fuzzier in Nepal,” said Glucklich. “I’m really stunned that airline officials would subscribe to that.”

Not everyone agrees with that sentiment.

“It may be one of the most effective things they’ve done” to fix the planes, said John Adams, a visiting scholar at the University of Virginia who has flown on Nepal Airlines before… –excerpted from an article at Fox News Online, 09.5.07 by Matt Egan and submitted by Mark Zaveson

Explaining the Religion of Peace

Islam is not only a religion. It is a complete way of life. Islam guides Muslims from birth to grave. The Quran and prophet Muhammad’s words and practical application of Quran life cannot be changed.

Islam is a guide for humanity, for all times, until the day of judgment. It is forbidden in Islam to convert to any other religion. The penalty is death. There is no disagreement about it.

Islam is being embraced by people of other faiths all the time. They should know they can embrace Islam, but cannot get out. This rule is not made by Muslims, it is the supreme law of God.

Please do not ask us Muslims to pick some rules and disregard other rules. Muslims are supposed to embrace Islam in its totality. —Nazra Quraishi, kindergarten teacher, as quoted in the Lansing State Journal, 7.05.06 (from Mark Steyn’s America Alone).

Good vs. Bad

…A funny thing. We’re so used to thinking of American troops as good guys that we forget: They’re good guys! They have American class.

And it is not possible that the good people of Iraq are not noticing, and that in some way down the road the sum of these acts will not come to have some special meaning, some special weight of its own. The actor Gary Sinise helps run Operation Iraqi Children, which delivers school supplies with the help of U.S. forces. When he visits Baghdad grade schools, the kids yell, “Lieutenant Dan!” — his role in “Forrest Gump,” the story of another good man.

Some say we’re the Roman Empire, but I don’t think the soldiers of Rome were known for their kindness, nor the people of Rome for their decency. Some speak of Abu Ghraib, but the humiliation of prisoners there was news because it was American troops acting in a way that was out of the order of things, and apart from tradition. It was weird. And they were busted by other American troops.

You could say soldiers of every country do some good in war beyond fighting, and that is true enough. But this makes me think of the statue I saw once in Vienna, a heroic casting of a Red Army soldier. Quite stirring. The man who showed it to me pleasantly said it had a local nickname, “The Unknown Rapist.” There are similar memorials in Estonia and Berlin; they all have the same nickname. My point is not to insult Russian soldiers, who had been born into a world of communism, atheism, and Stalin’s institutionalization of brutish ways of being. I only mean to note the stellar reputation of American troops in the same war at the same time. They were good guys. —excerpted from Peggy Noonan’s column Declarations, in The Wall Street Journal, 8.24.07

The Name of God

Wouldn’t Allah be better? That is what a Dutch Bishop recently wondered aloud when he suggested that people of all faiths should call God by his Islamic designation.

“Allah is a very beautiful word for God. Shouldn’t we all say that from now on we will name God Allah?” Bishop Tiny Muskens told a Dutch TV station last week. “What does God care what we call him?”

That may remain a great mystery. Not surprisingly, though, the bishop’s unilateral attempt at interreligious dialogue did not go down well with his own team. In a survey in the Netherlands’s biggest-selling newspaper, De Telegraaf, 92% of more than 4,000 people rejected giving up what is not only a liturgical tradition but a central plank of Western identity.

“Sure. Let’s call God Allah. Let’s then call a church a mosque and pray five times a day. Ramadan sounds like fun,” one reader wrote to De Telegraaf. –excerpted from an editorial in The Wall Street Journal 8.23.07

Illegal Religious Worship

Rabbi Avraham Bernstein, along with his wife and eight children, lives in a single-family home in the Freehold Township. Each Friday, as well as on other Jewish holidays, Rabbi Bernstein welcomes family, friends and neighbors to his home for fellowship and prayer. The prayer services take place in the Bernsteins’ living room.

However, earlier this year, the Township notified Rabbi Bernstein that the religious gatherings in his home violated local zoning ordinances and subsequently issued a summons charging the Rabbi with illegally operating a “house of worship.” Government officials even went so far as to set up a camera directly across the street from the Rabbi’s home, allegedly to monitor and record the comings and goings of individuals who gather there for observances of the Sabbath and other religious holidays. —excerpted from an article from the Rutherford Institute a submitted by Muriel McConnon.

[One of the editors here is guilty of having started an assembly in his home, of renovating a room specifically for that purpose. To paraphrase the songwriter, the times they certainly are a’changin’. RAV]