A date living in infamy: 9-1-09
Renewing 'Christ and Culture': 9-3-09

Holy Land 'narratives': 9-2-09

The Rev. Dr. Fahed Abu-Akel (pictured here) was born in the Galilee area, not far from where Jesus grew up.


In 2002-03, almost 20 years after he became a U.S. citizen, he served as the moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), the highest elected office in my denomination.

Today Fahed spends his time speaking to people around the country about the decades of turmoil in the land of his origin. His goal is peace, for sure.

But to get there he thinks it's important that Americans, who, he says, must be an integral part of the peace process, understand more thoroughly what he calls the "Palestinian narrative." That narrative, he says, "does not exist in the psychie of Americans. This narrative is a lost narrative. If we are serious about the Israel-Palestinian conflict, we need to hear both narratives," (meaning Palestinian and Israeli).

Fahed spoke to an adult education class at my church this past Sunday. It was one more effort on the part of my congregation to understand the many views about the Israel-Palestinian conflict and how we might get from the current situation to some kind of resolution.

He is a good and decent man and an articulate voice both for peace and for the desires of Palestinians. In addition, he's a critic of the Hamas charter for continuing to call for the destruction of Israel but he's also critical of Israel for some of its policies that Palestinians oppose.

What I took concluded from his talk is that there really is no single "Palestinian narrative," just as there is no single "Israeli narrative," meaning one description of how things got to where they are today in the Holy Land. There may be broad areas of agreement among Palestinians and among Jews about how to see things but in fact there also are differences within each group. Neither Palestinians nor Israelis are monolithic entities. (Similarly, Americans do not all agree about how we should be engaged in the Middle East, if at all.)

Those complexities may make the peace process more difficult but they do not make it impossible.

* * *


There's lots to this story that needs a fuller explanation. Was the teenage Muslim girl who converted to Christianity influenced to do so by anti-Islamic rhetoric and scare tactics used by some Christians? We don't know. What kind of counseling, if any, did she get from a disinterested party before either converting or running away? We don't know. What really goes on at the Columbus mosque that might be illegal or at least somehow supportive of radical and violent extremism aimed at damaging America? We don't know. It is difficult enough for Muslims from other countries to figure out how to fit into the American religious landscape without these kinds of puzzling cases. The sooner these and related questions are cleared up the better for all. 

* * *

P.S.: Please plan to join me and my co-author, Rabbi Jacques Cukierkorn, at one of the two upcoming (Sept. 10 and Sept. 13) events described here to launch our new book, They Were Just People: Stories of Rescue in Poland During the Holocaust. Rainy Day Books will be there to help you buy a copy and you'll even get to meet some of the people whose remarkable stories we tell in the book.


Will Graham

You say he is an articulate voice for the desires of the Palestinians?

The Palestininas have freely elected HAMAS, and as you point out, their charter calls for destruction of Israel.


Of course the Palestinians are not a "monolithic enitity" but enough of them agree that they want to destroy Israel as so keep HAMAS in power.

Better the conflict continue than for Israel to submit...certainly several thousand have been killed in the past ten years, but that death toll is less than the death toll FOR ONE DAY IN AUSCHWITZ or ONE DAY IN THE GULAG SYSTEM; such was the price for the Jews not fighting back in World War Two.

Bill, you are truly ASTOUNDING! In the same post you plug your book about the Holocaust, in which the Jews did not fight, and say we need to understand the Palesinian "narritave", seemingly not realizing that the Palestinian support of HAMAS shows that most of them don't want to resolve this issue in a way that will include Israel.

Will Graham

Bill, regarding the teenager who converted, good for her.
But are you suggesting that there is NOT support for extremism coming out of Mosques?

I am remined of the event last year when the local atheist group gave a talk on Islam and the Muslim students showed up! One thing is certain, what they may tell you in private is not what you will hear when they are interviewed for Channel 4 or some other local station,

It was incredible. The atheist speaker was reduced to inchorence.

You know what? I wonder why Igor and Cole don't go to any studies at Mosques? You know, tear pages out of a Koran like Igor tore pages out of a bible in the lobby of a church. LOL!!!

Will Graham

Now the Palestinian leadership is trying to deny the Holocaust.


How's that for a narrative?

Oh well, I have heard atheists try to deny that atheism was reponsible for the Gulags...I guess it depends on whose side you are on.

Will Graham

Red Biddy, I have some bad news.

There is no health care "plan". Obama does not even have one.

And his promises in that regard are no more impressive than his promises to "end the war".

Who ya kiddin? LOL!


A theist posted last night, “Cole wrote -
"And I thought I was a skeptic. I never knew we would be asked not to come back. You are such a conniving individual. You think this way. Well, seeing how your god is, I suppose it doesn’t surprise me after all."
At least I think Cole wrote it - maybe he's quoting someone else.
If Cole wrote this, what does it say?
Red Biddy wrote -
"God is a conservative, but his Son is a liberal."
Not exactly.

If I was quoting someone else, I would have said so.

What does it say? What I said is this: Your god is conniving. One way, one time, and, then another way, another time. Why would a loving god choose one people over others when those people sinned, too? God can do anything? The way I understand it, god is all powerful, can do anything in the name of goodness. Why doesn’t god just do good things instead of asking some people to commit genocide in the name of god’s goodness?

A theist posted, “Red Biddy wrote -
"God is a conservative, but his Son is a liberal."
Not exactly.

God is not a conservative or a liberal, he doesn’t exist. And jesus never wrote anything, so we don’t know his position. Did anyone find the book of jesus? The gospel of jesus? I never heard back to that question.

Paul invented the outline of Xianity. Mark, Mathew, luke and john invented jesus. (According to most historians the gospel of Mark was written before Mathew.) Why do you suppose it is Mathew, Mark….in the bible? Closed canon, can’t be changed?

But I am curious by what a theist means by “Not exactly.” Please enlighten us, sir, and explain that statement.

Peace For the Sake of Goodness Cole


Bill Posted, “The Rev. Dr. Fahed Abu-Akel (pictured here) was born in the Galilee area, not far from where Jesus grew up.

I believe it is more correct to say, where the bible says jesus grew up.

If Fahed truly wants peace he will need to give up religion and god.

Bill said, “What I took concluded from his talk is that there really is no single "Palestinian narrative," just as there is no single "Israeli narrative," meaning one description of how things got to where they are today in the Holy Land.”

If a person gave the conflict any thought at all they would know this. I know two people who had a disagreement over a decade ago and neither will give in and I’m not sure if they even know how the disagreement actually began-

Stubborness is a human trait as it is god’s.

Bill said, “Neither Palestinians nor Israelis are monolithic entities.”

Bill, I would like to know more about that statement.

For another Bill:: colemorgankc@yahoo.com
I learned a lot last night. I would certainly like to know your opinion of this video, no matter how much you watch.
Burke Lecture: John Shelby Spong

Peace For the Sake of Goodness Cole Morgan

Dolores Lear

"But he (the Rev. Dr. Fahed Abu-Akel) thinks it's important that Americans, who, he says, must be an integral part of the peace process, understand more thoroughly what he calls the "Palestinian narrative."

Do Citizens in the USA understand thoroughly the "American narrative"?

Will/adamh, are you, or are you not, in favor of our secular government? -
"So, if you don't want a Christian theocracy what do you want?

The Christian Majority added Christian Prayers, Icons, and Holiday's. Until the late 1900s, Government Prayers had 'in Jesus' Name Amen'.

Conservative Christians claim the USA was always this way.

This is why some Citizens went to court in the late 1900s, and protested against Christian Prayer in Government, School, at Sports events, etc.




Is the Government partial to Christians in religion?


Dolores Lear


Up until the mid 1900s, only Protestant Chaplains opened the Congress. Then Catholic Priests and Rabbis were added.

Is this when the USA began being called a Christian/Judeo Government?

Are Christian Chaplins having problems in the service today, with so many different Soldiers with different religions?




So does the USA America have a Christian Theocracy Narrative? Did Amendments make Christianity Constitutional, or Citizens in Government?

Is Christianity Abused by making it the Watered Down State Religion for Christians and All ofther Religious Citizens of Secular USA?

America covers two Continents, North and South. Why is the USA called Christian America?

adam harrison

Susan keeps asking what kind of government we want.

We have answered the question.

You just don't like the answer.

adam harrison

Cole Morgan pronounces God conniving!

As if he and his buddies aren't? (chuckle) I can't think of a more appropriate word to describe them; they are that way so they see others as that way.

But what is all this passing of moral judgment on God?

Cole is a MORAL RELATIVIST, who has no more basis for judging God than he does for judging anyone else.

He wants what his DNA tells him he wants, and that's it.

Of course, his remarkable ignorance...masked by an ability to throw insults that the uneducated often are the masters of...of history, philosophy, science, and even literature is not helped by his reliance on You Tube and Wikipedia! Haaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!

adam harrison

Cole Morgan likes to assert that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John invented Jesus. Unfortunately for Cole, this is not the position of mainstream scholarship.

Perhaps if he didn't rely on YOU TUBE so much he would know that.

And since he also loves Wikepedia so much, I will stick with that for now...


He also likes to claim that Jesus never wrote anything.

So what?

Neither did Socrates.

But very few mainstream scholars questions that we have his dialog.

Lynne - www.kcfreethinkers.org

Bill wrote, in describing views of the Rev. Dr. Fahed Abu-Akel:

>But to get there he thinks it's important that Americans, who, he says, must be an integral part of the peace process, understand more thoroughly what he calls the "Palestinian narrative." That narrative, he says, "does not exist in the psychie of Americans. This narrative is a lost narrative. If we are serious about the Israel-Palestinian conflict, we need to hear both narratives," (meaning Palestinian and Israeli).

Yes, that's so true. For example, we keep hearing the phrase "Israel's right to exist" but what about that of Palestine? The usual answer is that there is no Palestine, but isn't that the essence of the problem? Don't both peoples
have a right to exist within their own states with contiguous borders? Why should the Israelis be the only side allowed to have a functioning state?

About Rifqa Bary: she ought to be in a temporary foster home with foster parents who don't have such strong ideological agendas so that she can sort out the truth on her own without being pressured.

Lynne - www.kcfreethinkers.org

Will wrote:
>Of course the Palestinians are not a "monolithic enitity" but enough of them agree that they want to destroy Israel as so keep HAMAS in power.

That's not the only interpretation of that election. Their only two choices were between a Hamas leader, who was making all sort of promises of economic improvements, and the other guy representing Fatah, a party known for
corruption and economic disaster. There's a good argument to be made that Palestinians were just voting for jobs, for a better economy and against corruption, NOT for the Hamas Charter. That's the problem with most elections, you're voting on a whole package when in reality you might only want part of the package. American elections are no different in that respect.

Lynne - www.kcfreethinkers.org

yesterday Adamh wrote:
>Did you realize that, for example, the mass murder of civilians in war as an instrument of policy really only became popularly accepted with the events of World War Two. Oh, civilians were certainly killed in the past, but they
weren't usually deliberately targeted.

Nonsense! Here are just two counter-examples that pre-date WWII:

130 AD Romans killed Jewish civilians during the 2nd Jewish rebellion in Jerusalem and forbid Jews from living in the city.

During WWI - the Armenian Genocide. BTW, before the Armenian Genocide the word "genocide" did not even exist, nor were there any international laws against it.

adam harrison

Cole tells us that God does not exist.

He believes that all existence, life, and mind itself can be explained by mindless processes.

He, of coure, can not demonstrate this, even in principle, but we are supposed to believe him.

After all, would he lie?

And given his presuppositions...and he has them even if he does not understand what that means...his position as an atheist is UNFALSIFIABLE.

(Although he does not undertand it, falsifiability is a component of the scientific method.)

But since his position is unfalsifiable...there is NOTHING, even in principle...that he would allow do disprove his atheistic faith.

Go ahead, Cole, give me an example.

Give me an example of something that would falsify your atheim...even in principle.

adam harrison

Lynne, your counter examples fail.

Notice that I referred to the mass murder of civiiians as being "popularly accepted" and that I said that of course civilians were killed in the past but that they weren't USUALLY deliberately targeted.

It is only in our own time that city after city was destroyed by means of mass murder, and not protested by the general population. In fact, the massess reveled in it.

As to the Armenian Genocide, are you saying that since there were no international laws against it, it was not illegal.

That is odd, since on more than one occasion I have had an atheist argue to the effect, "Well, why would God have to give us laws. Don't people know that murder is wrong."

No, Lynne, they don't.

Lynne - www.kcfreethinkers.org


No, genocide was not always illegal. There was a time when people considered war to be a free-for-all - no rules - civilians WERE targeted when that was the only way to win the war because winning was all that mattered. The concept that there could even be such a thing as a "war crime" is a modern invention, which btw the God of the Bible did not specify as being wrong. Numerous war crimes are committed in the Bible, not as an example of what not to do, but as an example of God being on their side. The very concept of universal human rights is a modern invention, also, as initially right and wrong had to do with how you treated members of your OWN tribe, not neighboring tribes. So you see our morality HAS evolved, progressed, no thanks to the tribalism in the Bible.

Lynne - www.kcfreethinkers.org


I know you asked this of Cole but I'm answering for myself just because:

>Give me an example of something that would falsify your atheim...even in principle.

The instant elimination of all suffering, human and non-human. Anybody who could do that would be God.

Dolores Lear

Lynne to Cole:
"Give me an example of something that would falsify your atheim...even in principle. The instant elimination of all suffering, human and non-human. Anybody who could do that would be God."

Lynne and Cole: God's High Tech Peace Truth, is an example of something that would falsify your atheism, and also religion.

The God/Us in Genesis, in our Human Image, did have that type of Peace for Everliving Humans and non-humans, and an Equal Human Sharing Lifestyle, on Planets and in Spaceships.

Genesis explains this with a High Tech translation.
The God/Us were a Higher 'Being' Human Species, that Reproduced Male and Female Clone Helpmeets, with High Tech Regeneration Science, and Eternal Physical Life on Earth and in Spaceships.

Not Supernatural Higher 'Spirit Beings', but High Tech 'Human Beings' in our Image, that are a Higher Being Species than Body Birth Human Beings.

They Overcame Body Birth Generation Birth, Death and Rebirth on their Planet, and came to Earth to start another Purebred High Tech Equal Clone Colony.

Ever since the Clone Helpmeets Adam and Eve, Plural, reproduced Children by Body Birth, Planet Earth had to go through the Fallen Body Birth Killer Lifestyle Experience. Or, Satan as called in Religion.

Body Birth Humans will finish Killing Each Other and our Home Planet, with Toxic Pollution, and a Planetary Nuclear War.

A Planetary Judgment Day Fire, already set up, will finish destroying our Ozone Canopy. This Knowledge is in the Religious and Myth writings, saved by Humans down through Time.

The Earth's Eco System, is just about Ruined, and we do not have the High Tech Equipment to leave Earth.

So what do Humans do? Keep Killing Each Other, and their Home Planet, and Ignore this High Tech Past Knowledge in Religion and Myth, to finish Religious Prophecy?


adamh wrote, "Susan keeps asking what kind of government we want.

"We have answered the question.

"You just don't like the answer."

adamh, how can I "not like" the answer when I guess I have somehow missed it? The only thing I've heard you guys talking about is rendering to Caesar what's Caesar's and to God what's God's. Okay, cool. So in the U.S. we pay our taxes and still have the freedom to pay tithes and offerings to the church of our choice.

So, I guess we already have the form of government you want? Because all you really want is the freedom to pay your taxes and give to the Church? Okay, cool -- so you are happy with our secular government ... I was just getting a different impression because of how you and Will sometimes seem to have an angry tone when referring to our secular government.

So maybe like me you like our secular government, but just see lots of room for improvement. Cool.

So, I'll drop this question and move on to the one Lynne asked a while back: Is there some previous time/place where you think life was better than it is here and now? Since you say I'm being either willfully ignorant or dishonest for thinking things are better, here and now, than ever before -- I'm just curious what time and place you think was better?

Red Biddy

Enjoyed the Shelby Spong lecture you posted to-day, very much. You do realize though, that he still believes in a God (of a sort) don't you ?
Even if the whole world miraculously stopped believing in anything supernatural and became atheist overnight, we'd still have this conflict between "conservative" and "liberal". The point I was trying to make with the "God is conservative, but his Son has decidedly liberal tendencies" (which I pinched from Republican columnist Kathleen Parker. Star, opinion Section 8/31/09) is that religion is being used to further the various political agendas, particularly in this country.
You can't just say "God doesn't exist" and sweep the whole mess under the table, and in the process deny (not that you are) that religion doesn't have a huge influence on our democratic form of government and is used, very hypocritically in my view, for political purposes.
God does exist in the minds of a great many people in this country and as atheists we really can't deny that fact, can we ?
Thanks for link to Catholic Reporter on the two KC Bishops who seem to be of the "God is a conservative" variety.
I went to Bill's "Faith Conversations on Health Care Reform" last Sunday and there wasn't a single Roman Catholic speaker. Guess it wouldn't have been a very "civilized" discussion if those two had showed up ! Were they even invited Bill ?

Red Biddy

Will Graham,
Did Igor Dybal really tear out pages of a bible in the lobby of a church ?? When was this ?

Told you, the other day, there are as many atheist loonies out there just as there are christian !


Bill, I think any child or young person who is feeling unsafe in their home, should be listened to and should be able to go someplace where they feel safe. Of course, I hope police are able to uncover it if this mosque has terrorist ties -- but the fact is, this child feels unsafe where she is at, and apparently doesn't feel she can count on her parents to adequately care about her safety. So whether or not terrorist ties are discovered, the child needs to feel safe. Period.

And I agree that there must be many different Palestinian and many different Israeli perspectives. How would we like to be identified with every. single. thing done by our government here? While traveling in Europe some 21 years ago, I met a South African woman who was getting lots of hateful treatment even though she was opposed to Apartheid, because people assumed that since she was a white South African, she must be a racist.

It's just WRONG to assume that "all" Palestinians or "all" Israelis must think a certain way. I guess it goes back to the tribal mentality that Bishop Spong was talking about in the video Cole linked to. I imagine it's the people who are most "tribal" in their own thinking (those who assume "us" is just our little group of people who think like us, and "them" is everyone else), who are most likely to ascribe tribalism to others.

From last night -- Red Biddy, about that memo sent out from (did you say Jerry Falwell's organization?) -- I wouldn't be at all surprised if the lawyer involved was Michael Farris of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (and also of the Coaltion on Revival I've talked about here a great deal). Lots of conservative homeschooling families are scared about healthcare reform, because of memos that have them thinking that optional services -- such as home visits from nurses -- will be forced on families. (Continued)


(Continued) I've already shared here my concern that the home-visit option might be presented in such a way that uneducated parents might not realize they can refuse without having to worry about any negative repercussions.

On the mothering message board I'm part of, some of the Canadian and British mothers who get these home health visits as part of their government's health care plan, would prefer not to get them (but I think some find them helpful). I think in these countries, it may even be mandatory that a home health nurse visits your home after you have a baby.

I haven't heard of anything horrible happening, but some mothers do find it a nuisance if they're given lots of flack for not having a crib, and for bringing their babies into bed with them. This mothering board is a natural parenting board where lots of the mothers breastfeed and don't bother with cribs, since it's so much easier to care for your baby's nightime nursing needs when Baby's right there and you don't even have to get up.

The problem is, the baby-bed industry doesn't like co-sleeping and keeps posting articles and public service announcements to scare people into buying their products. I'm not sure if the American Academy of Pediatrics is still "in bed" with them and helping them spew their fear, I think they may have recently modified their stance -- but they used to be kind of attached to these people at the hip, kind of like they are to the infant formula industry which provides them with lots of financial perks.

At any rate, parents who diverge too much from the norm -- whether by homeschooling, breastfeeding, co-sleeping or whatever, can often be easily scared by implications that a new initiative is REALLY just the government trying to "get access to our homes and our kids." Which is why I'm curious to see how things keep playing out for homeschoolers in Britain.

Red Biddy

Will G
You are always "going off" about 1) the gulags in Russia as if only religious people were sent there, and 2) contending that European Jews never fought back in World War II.

You seem to despise using Wikipedia (and You Tube) but they are a really handy way to pass on information in these days of the internet. You can always check out some books they recommend to back up the information you find there. Or maybe you don't like reading ?

Here's one on the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising - see some Jews did fight back !

Seem to have lost a link I found about Stalin's show trials which were held in for "potential challengers to Stalin's authority especially old Bolsheviks with solid revolutionary tendencies." These trials were not held for people because of their religions affiliations, Will, but many of these people ended up in the Gulags. You really need to know that !
Read Arthur Koestler's book "Darkness at Noon" as well.
Just type in "Stalin's show trials" on you search engines and I'm sure you'll find lots of information about what they were about.

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