Racism and religion: 8-17-09
Young Catholics today: 8-19-09

Ramadan's changing times: 8-18-09

When the holy Islamic month of Ramadan begins at sundown this Friday, the obligation adult Muslims have to fast and to abstain from drink and having sexual relations during daylight hours will be just a bit more challenging than it was in Ramadan last year.

Ramadan

Why?

Because each year Ramadan, which is set according to a lunar calendar, gets 11 days earlier. And the obvious result of moving Ramadan up 11 days in this time of year is that each daily period between sunrise and sunset will be slightly longer than it was last year. So Muslims will have to fast for slightly longer this Ramadan than they did last year.

Fasting, or sawm, is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. And I'll have to ask my Muslim friends whether they even think about the slight variations in the length of daylight each year as Ramadan moves through the four seasons.

As C.T.R. Hewer writes in Understanding Islam: An Introduction, "Islam took over the names of the months from the pre-Islamic Arab calendar, but the Qur'an made it clear that the moon is to be the measure of time. This ended the practice of putting in 'leap months,' like the Jewish calendar, to keep the months coordinated with the seasons. Thus the Islamic calendar follows an unadjusted lunar system, which means that each year is approximately eleven days shorter than a solar year."

Hewer also notes that by requiring Muslims to fast and abstain from sex, Islam is not suggesting "that these things are bad, far from it, but they are among the most fundamental of human urges. If one can take control of these things for a month, then one has a good training in taqwa, to remember God in every aspect of life and live accordingly."

I'm struck by how much that approach is similar to a foundational concept in Buddhism, which is that one should seek to rid one's self of desire. And, of course, other religious traditions include something similar. In Christianity, for instance, the season of Lent offers an opportunity to give something up for 40 days.

I think it would be fascinating to devote some time in interfaith dialogue discussing what the various traditions teach about controlling desire and the tools they offer to help with that. In fact, I desire that. Hmmmm.

For a couple of interesting stories about Ramadan, click here and click here. And for the Religion Newswriters Association's backgrounder on Ramadan, click here.

* * *

MORE ON BIBLES IN THE CLASSROOM

I've written recently -- and quite often in the past -- about how and when and whether to teach the Bible in public school classrooms. Here's a good column pointing out the need to do it and some options for how.

Comments

Will Graham

Let me get this straight, Bill.

The Muslims abstain from food and drink and sex during the DAYLIGHT hours.

And at night what do they do?

Will Graham

Did anyone read Iggy's stories yesterday about how he took on the ministers wife at the Bible study about her WEAING PANTS?

What a man! He showed her! LOL!

What I am waiting for is for Iggy and Cole to go to some local Mosques and challenge the Muslims!

Will Graham

Oh, but there was more to his stories yesterday; take a look...after the study he spent about another hour talking to a woman (he sure spends a lot of time with the women at these meetings, seemingly avoiding debating with men) and then went outside with her for more chat. But they were joined by a "man and his friends", (were they wondering if she was allright or what?) and the conversation was apparently derailed...she was just about to buy into his alien theory.

(Most of you may not know it, but he used to talk to Raelians pursuing his cryonics theory.) But I digress; the point is that he was implying the woman, and the other Christians, had beliefs that could not be falsified...that they always had an answer.

But that is exactly the point I have made about Iggy's Atheism...there is nothing that could convince him that it is false. Nothing, not even in principle or theory. His pre set beliefs, which he holds as a matter of faith, will not allow it.

I challenge him to come up with something that could...at least in prinicple or theory, a miracle perhaps...that would convince him he is wrong.

I will then show you that it would not.

Susan

Bill, I agree with everyone who recommends providing an education in world religions. And I see the point expressed in the article -- that having zero Bible knowledge puts people at a disadvantage when reading works like Shakespeare.

I guess in my particular Protestant (Baptist/Pentecostal/Assembly of God) tradition, there haven't been specific times when everyone "had" to fast or give something up. Though some churches sometimes did have times where it was encouraged.

The pastor of the Pentecostal church I was part of for three years, asked everyone to fast on Fridays until after church service Friday night. But I don't remember any special tools being given -- well, I guess it would be reading the Bible and praying. The children weren't asked to fast of course. Though the pastor sometimes mentioned that they could decide to give something up for that day if they wanted.

My friend I shared about before, who kept going back and forth between Christianity and Islam, had kind of a mean husband (he was Christian). She worked for him in his store, and rather than paying her money he made her pick out whatever special snacks she wanted at the end of the day. He got them for her, and insisted that she had to eat them right there in the store before going home. Which meant that during Ramadan, I guess she either had to stay 'til after dark to eat in the store, or she didn't get her "payment" at all.

She'd never been on her own, and was terrified to try. She kept wishing that a nice Muslim man she knew would take her as his second wife -- but when that didn't happen she felt safer just staying with her mean husband.

IGGY - www.KCFreeThinkers.org

Bill Tammeus wrote>>>>>>.I'm struck by how much that approach is similar to a foundational concept in Buddhism, which is that one should seek to rid one's self of desire. And, of course, other religious traditions include something similar. In Christianity, for instance, the season of Lent offers an opportunity to give something up for 40 days.

Bill,

It appears to me that your "Deistic" understanding of god is showing up quite well - I wonder if you are following your Biblical commandment "Rely not on your own understanding" of god or you apply your own understanding, or your own understandging cannot be "understood" without the "miracle magical dust" of the Holy Spirit and the other 3 gods out there (LORD Yahweh, LORD Jesus and LORD Satan?)

I bet you anything that you get some interesting e-mail from folks reading your column? Would you be willing to share one day and write a blog entry on it? Have you ever shared e-mails you recieve with the blog? I am curious % wise how many of them are "encouraging" to keep up your "secular" religiously inspired driven work (is yoru life "inspired" by religion or "driven" by religion by the way?), while others are "you are going to hell" type?

Here is a "sliver" (new word used by Obama recently about healthcare debate) of what Richard Dawkins get in his e-mail - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxdxZ47JouU

and this in "God Delusion" - Richard Dawkins reads from his book
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Seq2rwKucE&feature=related

Lynne - www.kcfreethinkers.org

I have no problem with neutral Bible as Literature classes. I took one in high school. Whether it works is highly dependent on the teacher - school principals need to ask themselves - can I trust this teacher to teach in a neutral, unbiased fashion? Not all teachers can do that, so they have to be chosen carefully.
----
On the issue of self-denial/self-restraint, I don't think we necessarily need to look to religions to see examples of this. Monogamy is a common example that is not tied to any particular religious belief. (Of course, many people fail in their attempts at it but the same can be said of Lent, so I maintain that it still counts.) I suppose raising children could be another example but of course in that instance what's given up is highly variable and is quickly rewarded to a much higher extent.

memberofKCFreeThinkers.org

Bill wrote, “Hewer also notes that by requiring Muslims to fast and abstain from sex, Islam is not suggesting "that these things are bad, far from it, but they are among the most fundamental of human urges. If one can take control of these things for a month, then one has a good training in taqwa, to remember God in every aspect of life and live accordingly."
This is so kind of a god to require people to refrain from some of our most natural urges only in the day light hours for a twelfth of our life. Are you Xs going to observe this too? Or do they worship a different Abrahamic god?

If we observed all major religion traditions this will be a large amount of suffering. God loves to see his children and animals suffer.

I’m for teaching religion in school. Not as a fact in belief, but in historical facts. How they formed. Tell the truth. Teach polytheism first and compare all the myths along with the more recent monotheism.

Will, pokes fun, “Let me get this straight, Bill.
The Muslims abstain from food and drink and sex during the DAYLIGHT hours.
And at night what do they do?”
And you giving up one thing for 40 days is not silly?

Peace For the Sake of Goodness Cole

memberofKCFreeThinkers.org

Will, you are obsessed with the badness of people. There are bigger and better geniuses now, after Albert Einstein, as well as other past gifted people like our forefathers. We all learn along the way. We get better. The past people had good things to pass on as well as the bad. We, now, in the real world, the natural world, not a supernatural world, are obligated to sift through this and be fair. You keep insinuating secularism and atheism is the same, not so, and we all are for abortion? we are not. There are solutions to these problems without the writings from bronze age people. We have moved on. This is why Xianity is morphing to become fair.

Your child like assumptions will not get you far in life, college. Are you studying myth to be fact? If so, good luck. It will never win. People become smarter….This is why the world population is near 7 billion. A hundred years ago it was about a billion. 1000yrs ago the world population was about 310 million – close to the USA population now - and 2000 yrs ago the world population was about 210 million. See, we must be doing something right. We now live in the best of times…not the entire world, but as a whole and doing better every day. It is not doom and gloom like so many think. Continued

memberofKCFreeThinkers.org

Continued
Bible study Sunday night was fun. It grew. !4 came to study the bible.

I asked the question why god had to send a messenger to tell John when Jesus will come back. Why can’t god just tell John himself? I knew the answer, but it was fun to hear them say it. “God is just too awesome to look at.” But to give the preacher credit - the bible study teacher -, he did say that god could if he wanted too. The preacher is a patient and nice guy.

Iggy brought up Jacob wrestling god ‘face to face’. Sometimes in the bible god uses angels or messengers. And Eric brought up the definition of angels. I looked it up later. The word angel in English is a fusion of the Old English word engel (with a hard g) and the Old French angele. Both derive from the Latin angelus, and thence the Koine Greek angellos ('messenger') used in the Septuagint to translate the Hebrew mal'akh (yehowah) "messenger (of Yahweh)".[1][2] “From wikipedia no less….”

Did the Xs rewrite the old testament? It doesn’t seem to be the same as what the Jews originally wrote. Like the ten commandments.. I wonder why this is?

John of Patmos. A prison island. Why was he there? How did he get there?

This is lots of fun studying human thought. You know, the herd mentality. They seem so proud when they agree. Mass psychosis. Mob rules. Democracy at it’s best. What ever happened to a Republic for which it stands…?

This was the original concept from our forefathers – a republic – not a democracy when the majority of people – mob – controls.

Too many Xs like democracy so they can rule if they can slip into politics, Sneaky. This is not the way of secular nor Republic.

Later. Off to visit family…

Peace For the Sake of Goodness Cole

IGGY - www.KCFreeThinkers.org

Brother Sam Singleton, an Atheist Evangelist in Kansas City!!!

This coming Friday, Aug. 21st, 7pm, at Westport McCoys, we will gather with BROTHER SAM SINGLETON for beer and fun for a CREEPY GOOD TIME!

Location and about Sam Singleton below:

http://www.mccoyspublichouse.com/kansascity/

http://www.samsingleton.com - some great videos of his sermons

For more info contact Cole Morgan 913 961 3291

Dolores Lear

Bill:
"I've written recently -- and quite often in the past -- about how and when and whether to teach the Bible in public school classrooms."

Me:
First Humans need to consider which version of the Bible to use. And how different people view these 'Scriptures', as literal or fiction.

During the 1900s, we had all kinds of information and books about High Tech information in Religious and Ancient writings. But they are dismissed, as not possible.

God/Us, our High Tech Ancestors in Genesis 1, that Colonized Earth, were not the LORD in the Wilderness, who were the High Tech Noah/Atlantis Society.

The Bible and all Scripture and Myth, would be more interesting to students, with our High Tech Science Knowledge of Colonizing Planets, and Traveling in Space in Spaceships, like God/Us, in our Image.

Exodus13:21,22. KJV. "And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light: to go by day and night. He took not away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people."

Today, we watch this pillar of cloud and fire when our Shuttles take off, to go up into Space. Also our missiles are a pillar of fire and smoke.

The LORD, not God/Us, flew like this on Earth, not in Space. Ezekiel and the Wheel up in the air, and other descriptions of the chariots of the gods, were not a pillar. Other Scriptures, and Indian Gita, have other records of humans flying up in the air.

I accept ElectroMagnetic Force, which our scientists would like to harness, is what is used for Space Travel.

Continued.

Dolores Lear

Continue.

Exodus 33:9,10,11a. "And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the LORD talked with Moses. And all the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the tabernacle door. And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend."

Exodus 40:35-38. "And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And when the cloud was taken up then they journeyed not til the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys."

http://www.ufobc.ca/Reports/aliensreligion.htm

I think all High Tech in Scriptures and Myth, should be taught in School as part of the Past History of Life on Earth. But not as Religion, but as Literal High Tech Life History on Earth, at Colonization, and During the Noah/Atlantis Society before the Planetary Flood.

The Repopulation of Earth, took up to 1900. Then Humans regained High Tech Science again. And we did the same thing the Humans of Atlantis did, we used our High Tech for advanced weapons of massive destruction, on land and sea to Kill Each Other.

Humans are Killing their Planet, not God/Us as predicted by Religion. Humans have put down a Toxic Pollution on land and sea, that is destroying our Eco System, and will break our Ozone Canopy.

Then Life as we Know it cannot continue, on our Planet Earth Home Base, for our Astronauts.

Susan

Cole wrote, "The past people had good things to pass on as well as the bad. We, now, in the real world, the natural world, not a supernatural world, are obligated to sift through this and be fair."

I feel this is the crux of the debate between religion and science. It's sure the center of many of the discussions we have here.

Throughout Jesus' earthly ministy, he was repeatedly asked, "By whose authority do you do/say these things?" This seems to have been a time when the perceived value of any particular person's words was directly related to their "authoritative status." I guess Jesus, being of lowly birth, was expected to prove that He had some sort of authoritative status, or else what right did he have (according to attitudes back then) to speak and be listened to?

With this in mind, it makes sense that God would give Paul an amazing conversion experience. As well as the possibility that this may have been what it took to get Paul to listen to God -- it also helped Paul gain the status he needed in order to have a voice in the early church.

But I think nowadays the world is learning that good ideas, and bad ideas, can come from any source. So the key is NOT to keep elevating the words of certain people or books to "sacred" status, such that it becomes sacriledge to sift through and determine what has timeless value and what is just human bias and error. The key, in relating to any person or book, is to listen and respect -- but to NEVER stop questioning.

Susan

Another quote from Cole just came to me: "We all learn along the way. We get better."

We're watching a program on Kansas City Public Television, telling about the cleaning properties of algae. Algae may help solve our pollution problems.

A while back, we also read an interesting theory in one of the Jean Craighead George books my oldest likes to read. The smog which causes so many health problems in our big cities, would actually do a great job of repairing our o-zone. If we can just figure out a way to get it from here to there. I think somebody's gonna figure it out soon.

One cool thing about the internet and all the databases we now have, is that it's so much easier for the different disciplines to interact and share information, which can result in ideas being combined very quickly in ways that would have taken "forever" in the past.

I don't know why we have to think of this as any less of a miracle, just because it can all be logically/scientifically explained.

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