Tags: islam

goddess and god

Box Office Pantheism, Islam and the civic state, The Lesser Path

Box Office Pantheism
ChristianityToday.com, March 5, 2010‎
"C.S. Lewis thought pantheism—the belief that a non-personal God and nature are one, that there is an all-inclusive divine unity—was more corrosive to Christianity than atheism itself.
[...]
A conventional love story bolstered by dazzling visuals, the film follows ex-Marine Jake Sully as he joins forces with the Na'vi, Pandora's natives, to defend their ecosystem—which is also their god, it seems. The blue humanoids revere all life, believing that each creature is interconnected and charged with divine energy. We see the Na'vi bowing and worshiping before the Tree of Souls, their holiest site. Eywa, an unseen female deity, holds it all together, responding to their prayers for protection against American mercenaries.

What all this amounts to, grumbled New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, is Cameron's "long apologia for pantheism," which has been "Hollywood's religion of choice for a generation now." It's the spirit that animates such classics as the Star Wars saga and The Lion King, along with the teachings of Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra. Vatican Radio criticized the film for "cleverly wink[ing] at all those pseudo-doctrines that turn ecology into the religion of the millennium." Movieguide said the film "has an abhorrent New Age, pagan, anti-capitalist worldview that promotes goddess worship and the destruction of the human race." The only clear religion in Avatar is White Messianism, scoffed David Brooks at The New York Times, since "the natives" need a white man, Sully, to lead their crusade."
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Islam and the civic state
Al-Ahram Weekly, 4-10 March 2010, Issue No. 988
"Every religion has its own genius for finding a universal meaning or value that serves to carve its niche in history. This genius might be inspired by the challenges it faces, by the aims it aspires to, or by the historical role it seeks to play. Islam appeared in a tribal and pagan environment, one characterised by the lack of a dominant religion and by the absence of an overarching political society -- an early Arabian without tribal protection had little chance of survival. Islam thus encountered a three-fold challenge: a crisis in creed in the face of prevailing paganism; a social crisis fed by prevailing tribalism; and a civilisational crisis in light of the backwardness of life in the Arabian Peninsula in comparison to the overwhelming superiority of neighbouring civilisations."
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The Lesser Path
by Lewis S. Rutherfurd, The New York Times, UDAIPUR, INDIA, March 5, 2010
"I encountered Father Lesser at the hotel buffet, where my dad had assembled his mutinous table, including his fiancé, her 20-something son, my agnostic wife and our three glowingly pagan children.
[...]
Father Lesser has become a genuine Indian holy man. He’s paid his dues. Everyone in Udaipur knows this, Christian or not. But I asked him what he thought a missionary could bring to India, with all its riotous, ancient religions.

“It’s a valid question,” he said, as we sat in his small, cluttered room at a Catholic high school. “But if I believe in Christ, he tells me to go and preach. He doesn’t tell me go and convert.”

As we spoke, the noxious traffic of urban India clamored outside. “For instance,” he continued. “You came here, and I must try and give you something of Christ. But there’s no compulsion. How can there be?”
[...]
He’d come to love Indian spirituality, he said, especially the poetry of Indian saints. They made him a better communicator, and a better priest, and so he wrote books about them.
[...]
“If you really want to live — you’ve got to relate to God, and you’ve got to relate to people,” he said. “You cannot live a proper life without these.” The worst sins were selfishness and pride."
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goddess and god

"Religious Items", the Nazareth Baptist Church, Marketing to Muslims, Religious Diversity

"Pagainist"? Why do people make up words like this? It's as bad as "Wiccanism".

Living Dead dolls are "a bit macabre" but so are Day of the Dead dolls.

I had this conversation with a friend of mine when I was giving her 2 year old daughter candy skulls for Samhain. Her mother had not let her celebrate Halloween because any image of death was necessarily evil. In Wicca we value balance and accepting the cycles of life. We accept that death is a natural part of the cycle of life. We celebrate both life and death to maintain the balance. And we discourage the fear of death that comes with trying to hide it away and deny it.

Are Living Dead dolls "religious items"? I'm not sure. Are Christmas trees "religious items"? It's not like they are statues of gods.

Paganist protests as health visitor tells her to move items
by Chris Broom, Portsmouth News, UK, 25 January 2010
"Jemma Hawkins, 29, receives regular visits from a mental health home treatment team because of her bi-polar disorder.

But on one of these visits, Mrs Hawkins says the health visitor told her she should remove pagan images and accessories from her living room because of her concerns for her 10-year-old son David
[...]
'I was really angry because Wicca is a recognised religion.

'You wouldn't go into a Muslim's home and ask them to take down their religious items would you?'
[...]
Hampshire Partnership NHS Trust Jamie Stevenson said the health visitor had been referring to some collectable dolls not connected to religious beliefs, known as Living Dead dolls, which Mrs Hawkins had on display.

He said 'When the support worker went around there and she saw these dolls and she thought they were a bit macabre.
[...]
We would never give advice on parenting unless they were doing something extremely wrong, which isn't the case here.

'With a mental health patient like Mrs Hawkins we are trying to build a rapport and look after her needs, not to go in and throw our weight around.'"
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Battle for the Holy Mountain
By Bongani Mthethwa, Jan 24, 2010
"One of the oldest and most powerful African churches in Southern Africa has been rocked for decades by a bitter and sometimes bloody leadership battle

For almost a century Maria Nyanisile Mthembu has been a devoted member of the estimated 4.5 million-strong Shembe Church, as the Nazareth Baptist Church is popularly known.
[...]
Easily identifiable by their flowing white robes, the Nazarites spend two weeks on the mountain, where they perform their hypnotic traditional Zulu dance, sing hymns and praise God in a festival that has evolved into a colourful spectacle.

Shembe worshippers believe Nhlangakazi is where God instructed Shembe to form the church.
[...]
Followers of Shembe - a religion that combines Zulu tradition with Christian values - believe that their leader is equivalent to Jesus Christ and that female followers should be virgins before marriage.

Shembe rituals include baptism by immersion, the keeping of the Sabbath, observance of a seven-day fast before Holy Communion, and the celebration of Holy Communion at night, preceded by feet-washing ceremonies.

For more information about African Initiated Churches on wikipedia.com
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Marketing to Muslims poses a challenge for retailers
By Raja Abdulrahim, The Los Angeles Times, January 25, 2010
"Best Buy has refused to discuss its holiday advertising, though a brief statement on its website indicates it stands by its Eid greetings: "Best Buy's customers and employees around the world represent a variety of faiths and denominations. We respect that diversity and choose to greet our customers and employees in ways that reflect their traditions."

Other companies have recently come under some fire for marketing to groups that some considered out of the mainstream.

A Gap ad during the holiday season angered a conservative Christian group for being too inclusive by referring to Christian, Jewish, secular and pagan holidays with the line "Go Christmas, Go Hanukkah, Go Kwanzaa, Go solstice." Gap didn't directly address whether it had considered mentioning Eid al-Adha, which was celebrated two weeks after the ad first appeared.

"We've been down this road before with other groups," said Jerome Williams, a professor of advertising and African American studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

In the 1960s, studies looked at whether advertising that featured blacks would scare away white customers. Companies don't rush into new and unfamiliar markets, he said, but rather tiptoe into them. And what will ultimately sway advertisers is money.

"They're not in the business of social justice," he said. "An advertiser does not want to do anything that will have negative impacts on sales. . . . At the end of the day, they have to see if they've gained more than they've lost."
[...]
Constraints that advertisers face here don't exist in the Middle East, where Ramadan and the two Eid holidays are times when brands such as Coca-Cola, Nestle and McDonald's are merged seamlessly with holiday greetings."
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My East-West Allah
By Petra Gimbad, The Nut Graph, 25 Jan 2010
"My father is a non-Muslim bumiputera and my mother a West Malaysian Chinese. My sister and I grew up attending mass and read books on Buddhism; my mother's Catholic brother who practises Buddhist meditation introduced Islamic poetry to our family. We have Muslim cousins and Buddhist aunts.

My East Malaysian cousins and I share ancestors who were bobohizans — pagan medicine women — and men who held bomoh abilities. My family members and I, regardless of faith — whether Muslim, Christian or Buddhist — understood that "Allah" and "Tuhan" could be used interchangeably. It was never something to get confused about.

As Catholics, we never fought with our Protestant cousins the way I had to defend my church denomination when I came to Kuala Lumpur. Diversity in skin colour and belief were expected, and accepted. Had anyone tried to put my Buddhist or Muslim relatives down on account of religion, they would have my sister and me to contend with.

Underlying it all, we knew, even as children, that everyone's blood runs red, and that we ultimately worship the same God. Those who did not believe in a higher being practised love and compassion anyway. This was good enough for most of us.
[...]
In the light of attacks on churches, a gurdwara and surau, I feel immensely lucky to be a mixed race child from a family of many faiths. I believe — and this is personal — that this has brought me closer to God. Hafiz expresses it best:
I have learned So much from God That I can no longer Call Myself A Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim, A Buddhist, a Jew. The Truth has shared so much of itself With me That I can no longer call myself A man, a woman, an angel, Or even pure Soul."
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goddess and god

Pagan Customs in Islam, Pagan Customs in Haiti, Witchhunts and Politics in Theaters

Saudi Princess: The Shi'ites Injected Pagan Customs into Islam
by Saudi Princess Basma bint Sa'ud bin 'Abd Al-'Aziz, Middle East Media Research Institute, January 22, 2010
""The Sunnis mark the Day of 'Ashura by fasting, in accordance with the teachings of their Prophet. They [mark] this holy month [of Muharram] by fasting, and by benefiting from the merit and internalizing the lesson of [this month]. In contrast, we see our brothers in some of the other Islamic sects [i.e. the Shi'ites, marking the Day of 'Ashura by] running around hysterically while screaming and shouting, as though they do not know that Allah commanded [us] to keep our voices down, even while praying...
[...]
"These [Shi'ite] disciples take to the streets by the thousands and scour [their own flesh] with chains and sticks. They spill their own blood in the name of [Hussein] – the Martyr of Islam, the grandson of the Prophet and the Master of the Youth of Paradise – whose teachings made no mention of these despicable customs of [self-] flagellation. [In fact, these customs] are among the ugliest and most primitive pagan rites banned by the Prophet.

"Thanks to the sound nature with which God has endowed us, and from our reading of the Sunna and of the history of the Prophet's family, we know that these rites are all pagan customs that were injected into Islam, [and which are] like a sword that divides our ranks, our teachings, our identity and our beliefs… so that we cease to be one nation, as our Prophet commanded us, and do not live in peace, which is at the heart of Islam…""
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'God has shaken' Haiti due to voodoo: pastor
by Ted Colley, Surrey Now, January 22, 2010
"Haiti's religions, both Catholicism and voodoo, are legacies of its colonial past. Europeans wasted little time in killing off the indigenous population, then importing African slaves to provide cheap labour. Those unfortunates brought their religions with them, but those beliefs were suppressed by their Christian masters. Forced to adopt the religion of the slave masters, the Africans melded their old beliefs with Christianity and created voodoo.

It is common practice among some Christians to label any religious belief not their own as satanic, devil worship. They aren't satanic, of course, they're simply not Christian. Neither, to my mind, are Dennison's words."
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Paradise Gets Serious with Miller's Witch-Hunt Classic
by Michael C. Moore, ‎Gig Harbor Life, Jan 20, 2010‎
"Jeff and Vicki Richards, the husband-and-wife brain trust of Gig Harbor’s Paradise Theatre, have decided they like to get serious once a season.

And it doesn’t get much more serious than “The Crucible,” Arthur Miller’s take on the Salem witch hunts of the 1690s. The 1953 drama was the notoriously vitriolic Miller’s response to the “witch hunts” of his own time, the anti-Communist campaigns fronted by Sen. Joseph McCarthy.

“Actually, Miller wasn’t called up (in front of McCarthy’s Senate “investigating” committee) until a couple of years after he wrote (the play),” said Jeff Richards, who’s directing the Paradise production that opens Jan. 22. “But a lot of his friends already had been, and many of them had been blacklisted.

“It was a real political hot potato,” Richards said."
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Rewriting the Avatar script, George Bush-style
by Bella Counihan, Sydney Morning Herald, January 22, 2010
"To start we'll need to change some of the main characters. Forget making the US General a slack-jawed, cigar-smoking Texan who is impatient and quick to invade the alien world of Pandora. Let's make the US presence on this alien planet a hearts and minds mission to help the local Na'vi people. Build some schools, some roads, some hospitals, maybe bring some Western governance? And the rest of the rank and file US marines? Well, they're a bunch of good ol' boys just doing their jobs in the face of ever present danger the best they know how.

What about the much criticised Iraq and Afghan war lingo from the film? No more "shock and awe" and "pre-emptive attacks" yelled out by the brutish General in the original. These would be replaced by words like "freedom", "duty" and "mission accomplished."

But it still just doesn't smell conservative enough. These blue people, the native Na'vi, they need some tweaking don't they? How about instead of them being in tune with nature, intelligent warriors, let's give them a bit of an edge. A bit darker maybe? Let's never let them speak English fluently, only stammering recognisable words between the snarls. A bit cruder. More alien, less human. Vicious and backward with no regard for human life or otherwise and observant of a primitive religion. Blindly territorial and unreasonable. I mean, all the Americans want to do is to some minor scale precision mining to help the folks back home drive their cars, what's all the fuss about? There's no dealing with the savage natives in this version.

We also need to change the portrayal of the Na'vi's animist Godess-based religion. A Christian movie site reviewer was particularly disquieted by the Na'vi's worshiping of a "false goddess". He said "the humans in Avatar are all presented as unbelievers. It’s as if humans have no God while every Na’vi worships Eywa the goddess. The reality of life on earth is that there are millions of Christians who worship a loving and compassionate God." So clearly all this Pagan worship won't do. Maybe when Jake Sully cavorts with the Na'vi, he could spread a little God around? After all, a little proselytising never hurt anyone."
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