Heretics Crusade Reviews ZEALOT: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan

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Anyone not familiar with my writing, religion or my politics should read these articles first to avoid getting the wrong idea ab out how the author feels about Iran, Imams and the Iranian-on-the-street that is the REAL “Iran”.

This is a review of the excerpted introduction from ZEALOT: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan

 I can’t wait to see the second volume, the one about ‘historical Muhammad’, to be followed no doubt by similar volumes on Krishna, Buddha, Lao Tse, the Rev. Moon and Bob Dobbs!

From the introduction I get the feeling that it should have been called the Charge of the Taqiyya Brigade! But, who is Reza practicing it against? Non-Muslims to confuse and convert, or Traditional Muslims to stay alive long enough to make a real difference; I can’t tell.

The only thing that is obvious is that B.S. plays a big part in this book; the introduction shows clearly both ignorance and dishonesty, while claiming pretensions of being objective analysis!

“… Palestine, the [Roman designation for the vast tract of land encompassing modern day Israel/Palestine as well as large parts of Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon].”

Not really. The name was of Egyptian/Judaic extraction [peleshet] and meant ‘rolling’, ‘migratory’ or something close to that; it referred to the, mostly Greek-derived culture that had invaded and conquered the coastal region of what is now Israel and Gaza all the way back in the 12th century BCE! The name was only made official by Rome (explicitly done to attempt to reduce the Jewish peoples’ identification the ‘Nation of Israel’) in 132 CE; also, the name had referred at overlapping times to a number of distinctly separate  places in the Middle East of 2,000 years ago.

The area was known, and had been known for centuries as Judea, Samaria and Galilee! It wasn’t until 3 full human lifetimes had passed after Jesus vanished from the world’s stage when a final Jewish rebellion brought turned Roman patience with Jewish Nationalism into Roman vengeance; the designation “Palestine” was chosen by the Romans in much the same spirit that neighboring Native Americans chose to call a particular North American tribe “the Sioux” – It meant “snakes” in the local dialects, and did not refer to wisdom dispensing kind in Greek lore; they picked the biggest boogiemen from Jewish history; the new dirige Provinciae Romanae was to be called after the Philistine invaders who conquered much of the Jewish lands for a time in centuries past.

Of course the pesky locals, probably already a bit peeved at having some invading peoples’ name imposed on them by leather skirt wearing “sore winners” carrying swords and eagles, and not even having an ‘F’ sound in their language just called it Filistin.

Common-sense tells us that anyone, of any religion or race who is descended from people, of any race or religion other than ‘Roman Citizen’ who is/was ‘from’ “Palestine” is no more, or less a “Palestinian” than any of the others who fit that description!

The earliest labeling of the area as “Palaistinē” (Greek – Παλαιστίνη) in the 5th Century BC by Herodotus hardly fails to conflict with the fact that the same century saw the steady return of the Jews from Persia to Jerusalem and the rebuilding of The Temple!!! Can this be any less “indigenously legitimate” a name than when a Spanish-Catholic invader (somewhat resembling in his cultural mindset the Jihadists under the First Caliph)namedmy birthplace and home after a mythical ‘Utopia’ from a contemporary book written within a culture thousands of miles away.*

Only after WW I was “Palestine” made in any way official; by the British who inherited responsibility for making sure the local infrastructure did not collapse when the Turks followed the defeated Germans West leaving their former subjects and brother Muslims in the mandate regions to sink or swim, Insha’Allah.

The newly named ‘Palestinian Mandate’ included Israel and the entire area that was given by the British as a (useless) gift/bribe to the Arabs for their own; we call it Jordan.

Despite some non-Muslim xenophobes trying to make a mountain out of that mole-hill it is irrelevant if the local Arab-culture Muslims cannot even pronounce the Roman-applied name; after all the Muslims are invaders too!

It certainly does make a difference though that that the word Palestine or Filastin appears 0 times in the Koran but, no fewer than 250 times does the Hebrew/Egyptian peleshet appear in the Jewish Tanakh.

Will the rest of your book be so generous to prides and prejudices of the religion you follow in other matters?

* Personally, I think it is cool be born and grow up where ‘our’ name was never a real place with a history, good or evil, until Californians made it real; we show cultural signs of our good fortune as American Californians in escaping much of the burden of guilt from slavery era, the Civil War or for displacing the natives simply because by the mid 1800’s the Spanish had already managed to more-or-less commit “benevolent” genocide by “saving the Natives’ Souls.” [i.e. forcing the natives into from their villages into “Missions” to be prayed over, worked to death and decimated repeatedly by various plagues as the over-crowding, bad sanitation and malnutrition weakened them and the “good Fathers” eliminated ancient cultures from Argentina to Oregon.]

Only after all that was over and done did you find Americans in large numbers braving the immense and dangerous crossing of the deserts and mountains west of the Mississippi into this magical land.

Americans soon outnumbered the Spanish, elbowing aside the Spanish; who were napping while the Indians and peasants worked only a little faster than they starved.

The Spanish, called “Missionaries”, and “Dons” were well dressed and drowsily stylish yet completely merciless against non-Catholics and peasants. These slave-holder/feudal Lords from Spain might just have been exhausted; it is not easy overseeing more than a hundred years of stagnation, native depopulation while regularly putting down revolts by sullen, despised-by-the-Spanish and always-about-to-rebel locals of mixed-blood called campesinos.

An embarrassing loss here, a cannon-shot there and California, now part of the United State of America could finally ‘get out of 2nd gear’! Of course, we STILL can’t won’t ‘Drive 55’!

 “the first-century Jewish revolutionary party known as the Zealots, who helped launched a bloody war against Rome”

What prompted the name of your book? WHY do you tar the Christian messiah with the filthy brush of a group he rejected in no uncertain terms when offered the chance by Simon to lead 50,000 fanatical warriors in taking Judea back from Rome? I will NOT put my earnings in your pocket to read the rest but, so far it seems no more than the usual taqiyya and dawa-based “narrative”!

You do know that the ministry of Jesus followed to its extreme the interpretations and philosophy of the Pharisee religious faction (expounded on at length in Jesus’ own lifetime by the beloved rabbi Hillel); the most devout stood aside during the defense of Jerusalem because they believed that a divine punishment had been ordained to the Jewish nation that must be accepted for a renewal of their ancient “covenant” with God? And you call Jesus a follower of the philosophy of Zealotes?

“He was a man of profound contradictions, one day preaching a message of racial exclusion (“I was sent solely to the lost sheep of Israel”; Matthew 15:24), the next, of benevolent universalism (“Go and make disciples of all nations”; Matthew 28:19); sometimes calling for unconditional peace (“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God”; Matthew 5:9), sometimes promoting violence and conflict (“If you do not have a sword, go sell your cloak and buy one”; Luke 22:36)”

Good Lord Man! I left Christianity because of its internal contradictions and such but, your interpretations of these passages are out of context, reinterpreted in your favor, seemingly with overt hostility. The only consistent message I ever found through the fog of two thousand years of political expedience by various sects bear no resemblance to your “interpretation”! This “profound contradiction” is hardly realistic; it is not any kind of objective scholarship I recognize!

Let me break it down for you…

1 what mystery regarding the difference between ‘I’ (me, myself, one person, one lifetime, one ministry, one goal) compared to ‘you’ (his followers, disciples, and later generations, broader goals) carrying his mission from a “saved” Judaism to other peoples is confusing you here? Isn’t’ that EXACTLY the way Mohammed is supposed to have done it; didn’t he only spread Islam to Most of Arabia and leave his followers to carry it to other nations? In English this is usually called hypocrisy.

I would say that you are misrepresenting even the “good” half of your pseudo-paradox regarding Jesus and pacifism!

sometimes calling for unconditional peace (“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God”; Matthew 5:9)”

In what language does call for unconditional anything, except Love for God? Jesus never advocated, he even refuted, the idea of unconditional non-violence; what mattered was if God was being followed or defied; the invocation and limits of violence were always tightly defined to avoid trespassing against “God’s Will” if their faith “called” them to do violence when required. He whipped the corrupting and religiously illegal money-changers from the forecourts of The Temple but, he most certainly did not storm in with a gang and start lopping off heads! That behavior is reserved for Friday evenings in certain Middle Eastern and South Asian countries!

As one raised in the faith by believers I saw NONE of what you are talking about even though eventually I left the religion for other reasons; in fact, as far as I saw it, read it, was taught it and saw it practiced, most of Jesus’ advice, his ministry and his teachings were aimed at an individual’s relationship with God; he wanted a city of saved souls, not to save the soul of a city, culture, nation or anything of that sort! In fact, he is recorded as advising those inclined to “get involved and save the world” to spend more time ignoring Earthly distractions and favored people, individuals all, living a Godly Life™. He certainly never promoted or promulgated any new societies, governments or states, nor did he promote the making of new laws to “make people be godly”! Do you even remember his treatment of the woman at the well, of the Roman Centurion wanting a sick servant who was absent healed by faith alone, the old non-Jewish woman he favored in ways he never favored any Jew? BZZZT, try again!

You also get it wrong on the “sword verse”, that is defensive based advise because of supposed fore-knowledge, a prediction of an overwhelming and swiftly approaching conflict, not an incitement to start cutting off people’s heads!!! He was even right in is prediction; within a hundred years Jerusalem had been destroyed by war!

The problem with pinning down the historical Jesus is that, outside of the New Testament, there is almost no trace of the man who would so permanently alter the course of human history. The earliest and most reliable nonbiblical reference to Jesus comes from the first-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (d. 100 C.E.). In a brief throwaway passage in the Antiquities, Josephus writes of a fiendish Jewish high priest named Ananus who, after the death of the Roman governor Festus, unlawfully condemned a certain “James, the brother of Jesus, the one they call messiah,” to stoning for transgression of the law. The passage moves on to relate what happened to Ananus after the new governor, Albinus, finally arrived in Jerusalem.

Fleeting and dismissive as this allusion may be (the phrase “the one they call messiah” is clearly meant to express derision), it nevertheless contains enormous significance for those searching for any sign of the historical Jesus.”

So? Mohammed has even less! His name was also a title back, it is certainly possible that Mohammed also might have been mentioned a total of zero times in the Qur’an!! Do I think there was one man that we know as Jesus? I don’t know. Given that I am not Christian it has little importance to me. I am also not Muslim so, being able to put his existence in doubt is no more important! His teachings are the parts that mattered, not what fools made them into decades, centuries, millennia later!

I think it seems more likely than otherwise there was a radical Rabbi named Yeshua but, I am not so blind that I failed to have noticed that all four gospels contradict each other; it seems so far that your book is more an of an undercover defense of Islam than any kind of realistic critique regarding the existence or ministry of a man moderns call Jesus of Nazareth!

Oh, you did know, scholar that you are, that many Jews thought, and think that “the Messiah” already came and freed them… from the Persians… long before Jesus was born. Or that there are from three to five different versions of “The Messiah” and may, or may not, manifest combined in one, or more people? You can call yourself a Christian scholar if you must, I would disagree but, you certainly lack much understanding about Judaism of the time or about Judaic theology before the 1st Century.

Paul may be an excellent source for those interested in the early formation of Christianity, but he is a poor guide for uncovering the historical Jesus.”

Well what do you know! We agree on something!!!! Though I regard Paul more as the heretical Greek hijacker of Christianity than as one of its founders! Of course that doesn’t protect you from the fact that Islam is on even shakier ground; it was a  member of a family hostile to Islam from the beginning, a gentle soul… a family that had constantly sought to do to Islam just what Paul did to Christianity; this is the tree that fruited a Caliph. Then he just happened decide to oversee the destruction of all versions of the Qur’an in conflict with his tribe’s version.

And there is worse! If ‘Muhammad’ is being used in the Qur’an as a title, instead of a name, well  then Mohammed the man was ignored by the main source book of the religion he is supposed to have founded.

I guess you can write about any religion you like but, it would be nice if you refrained from bearing false witness when doing such a thing!

Simply put, the gospels tell us about Jesus the Christ, not Jesus the man.”

How can you write that and claim honest scholarship, even noting that there were a lot more than the “Four Gospels ™” which do show Jesus the man; even the Final Four give us glimpses… Just one example here; the Biblical story about the wedding with the water and wine was likely talking about HIS wedding to the third Mary (Did you forget Mary the Hairdresser?) the Magdalene. In the time of the reign of Tiberius it simply was not possible to be a Jewish Rabbi of any sort without being a married man; marriage was considered a religious duty to anyone with pretense to being devout. It would be similar to an openly gay drag queen trying to start up a preaching circuit at Southern Baptist churches in 1972 Alabama; ‘Minister’ is not one of the names they would call him! Nor could Yeshua have been able to be treated as a Rabbi, even a radical one, if unmarried. Only a segment of the Essenes preached celibacy and even they “married”!

“a zealous revolutionary swept up, as all Jews of the era were, in the religious and political turmoil of first-century Palestine”

That statement is about as bigoted and misleading as if I wrote a book claiming  “many Indian leaders were caught up in the turmoil that swept over New Amsterdam in 1374”, but never mention that there was a long established nation of Native Americans called the Iroquois there until about 200 years after that date!

“The plaque the Romans placed above Jesus’ head as he writhed in pain—“King of the Jews”—was called a titulus and, despite common perception, was not meant to be sarcastic. Every criminal who hung on a cross received a plaque declaring the specific crime for which he was being executed.”

Half right! The Romans were not caught up in the Messiah game; I believe the word gravitas would help define the distinction. In the book King Jesus Graves puts forth a very convincing argument that Jesus possibly WAS the actual “King of the Jews” by right of inheritance at the time of his arrest… one telling point is that the Romans would have called him a pretender or usurper of the title, not just declared him King of the Jews as his “crime”; it would be like a court convicting a forger while calling them a “’mint owner’ instead of making the crime as charged “making false coinage’!

“That image alone should cast doubt upon the gospels’ portrayal of Jesus as a man of unconditional peace almost wholly insulated from the political upheavals of his time. “

Where do you GET these interpretations? He is portrayed as being HOUNDED by zealots on all sides who wanted political power even his own disciples constantly earn his rebuke on this matter!!

“The notion that the leader of a popular messianic movement calling for the imposition of the “Kingdom of God”—a term that would have been understood by Jew and gentile alike as implying revolt against Rome—could have remained uninvolved in the revolutionary fervor that had gripped nearly every Jew in Judea is simply ridiculous.”

This is getting boring! What is ridiculous is that you seem to have missed the fact that his popular support drained away, and the mob turned against him when he FAILED to do what you just claimed he DID, namely attempt to “impose” a political kingdom that would free the Jews from Rome! Rather he told them the struggle was useless, Jerusalem was self-doomed and that HIS kingdom would not be “of this world”… or you can go on mixing up the characteristics of five different Messiahs until you have the mixture that fits your prejudices. You already admitted that only ONE gospel was written by anyone that was even alive, let alone a companion of Jesus, son of Mary, when all of this was supposed to have occurred.

Thus began the long process of transforming Jesus from a revolutionary Jewish nationalist into a peaceful spiritual leader with no interest in any earthly matter. That was a Jesus the Romans could accept, and in fact did accept three centuries later when the Roman emperor Flavius Theodosius (d. 395) made the itinerant Jewish preacher’s movement the official religion of the state, and what we now recognize as orthodox Christianity was born.”

Do you just make it up as you go? Rome was being torn apart by the conflict between a growing Christianity and the established pagan priesthoods; he saw the Christians’ zeal and growth. And he coldly chose the faction he thought would win anyway; the idea was for ROME to win back some stability in a conflict that looked about to tear the Empire to shreds.

It happens. I have dealt as many if not more ‘Evangelistas’ as I call them than you probably have. As for me, I would say that even more often it is the pseudo-devout who do what you seem to be doing; see people not of your own faith (which has an even more fogged origin and a founder virtually invisible for over a hundred years after he  is supposed to have lived. Islam is on at least as shakily grounded as Christianity when even Muslims cannot agree on who is and who is not a ‘real’ Muslim even within the Sunni and Shiite sects; all conflicting faith is “the enemy”, is competition.

You can read a million books and collect a hundred degrees I do not seeing you getting over the bar labeled “scholar and historian” until you can see the humble fallibility that ALL humans are subject to; unfortunately you seem to  have too little honor to refrain from bearing false witness against those who are not “of the body” if there is some thread of hope you might be “winning” converts by damaging your self-declared enemies’ common bonds with deceit, stratagems and bald-faced lies instead of debating in favor of a theology built from honesty and love. No, I am not saying that Christianity is that theology… True theology is mostly about what happens between ONE person and God; ALL organized religions are, at best, social clubs crossed with support groups; at worst they are the Taliban, the Inquisition, “peaceful Buddhist sects” warring against each other unto extinction… Are those the kind of “godly” compatriots, the brand of co-religionist you seek?

“If we expose the claims of the gospels to the heat of historical analysis, we can purge the scriptures of their literary and theological flourishes and forge a far more accurate picture of the Jesus of history. Indeed, if we commit to placing Jesus firmly within the social, religious, and political context of the era in which he lived—an era marked by the slow burn of a revolt against Rome that would forever transform the faith and practice of Judaism—then, in some ways, his biography writes itself.

The Jesus that is uncovered in the process may not be the Jesus we expect; he certainly will not be the Jesus that most modern Christians would recognize. But in the end, he is the only Jesus that we can access by historical means.
Everything else is a matter of faith.”

 And that was only the introduction?

Theocratic Reformation from Judaism to Islam – Christians 4: Jews 5: Muslims: 0

jesusgunnedOk, we can all agree that Pat Robertson was a dork of stellar magnitude, and the Phelps Family are supernovae in that particular area called theocracy.

 That said, before we submerge a crucifix in urine let’s give the Abrahamic tree a second look, and examine the fruit it has borne.

The Jews never had a drive to spread over the Earth. Their scriptures taught them that certain lands were given them by God; so they took them, enough said, this was 6,000 years ago after all. But after that they lost any territorial ambitions. But, the Persians and Romans proceeded to push them this way and that; being rather fanatical, they pushed back. After the destruction of the 2nd Temple and the Judean Diaspora the centuries have seen Judaism become a religion withdrawn into itself. Having lost the arrogance of the Temple but retained the Love of God and intellectual tradition they became a creative yeast in their host cultures.

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The Jews never expected to take over the world; at most they expected, and some maybe still expect that the world will join them. Not by the sword, but by the Love of God. One of the best aspects of the Jewish religion is its focus on the Love of God and a Love for God in each moment of a person’s life.

But along came Jayzus!

Things started out ok, Yesuah merely echoed and extended the teachings and philosophy of Hillel. It expanded organically and gently; converting mostly people otherwise considered “unworthy” of membership in one of the more respectable religions, then into the idle upper-class (often by way of religiously adventurous wives discontent with being the ornament on a rich man’s arm.

 But then Paul and Constantine came to deal the Judaic Chrestians, and then, later, the mild original “Greek”, a double death-blow of politicization.

St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre

St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre

After several centuries of defending themselves from the fanatically imperialistic Islam Christianity began to model all sorts of the worst of the Islamic “innovations” in religion and took on an expansionist, aggressive attitude of its own.

But, it is inherent in a religion mostly based on the teachings of Jesus that every now and then people would remember what their religion was supposed to be about. Christianity may have done much more good during those periods than it did evil during its more cognitively-dissonant times.

Since the Enlightenment the swings of the pendulum between arrogant fanaticism on one hand, and humble servitude to God on the other seem to have gotten gentler. Christianity also seem centered more and more toward the liberal side of the equation; i.e. Fred Phelps, not Qaradawi.

Christianity may one day even manage to have more people who follow it for the right reasons than fools-in-lambs-clothing who use religion in unhealthy ways, or merely for social reasons.

Christianity has a core in its teachings and scripture that is there for all to see; one of Love. It today can be, and always has been, a potentially dangerous religion (I.e. Fred Phelps, Torquemada) but is not inherently so by the structure and teachings of its chief scriptures.

I do think that, despite the quantum jump that The Enlightenment enabled in society’s evolution, Christianity has shown a definite tendency to speed humanity’s growth due to the focus of many of the faithful being on Jesus’ ministry rather than the “died for your sins” part.

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Now, about Islam.

tolerantislamIslam teaches much about peace and love. There are verses equal to any in the other Abrahamic writings. I will not comment here about those who feel it was the work of someone passingly familiar with both religions. But Pat Robertson did get one thing right; Islamic theology IS inherently aggressive.

The Islamic scriptures consist of three parts:

The Qur’an, the Sunnah –basically a biography of Mohammed’s life, and the ahadith – stories about Mohammed from people who knew him. If you read it all it is clear that there can only be peace when everyone has submitted to Allah.

Even the most fanatical religion tends to mellow over the years; people are basically families, people who want to live and work and laugh and have the space to find God before they die. Even individuals attracted to a “religious” life for evil reasons can be shocked to learn that Love of God and Love BY God can blossom in their hearts; that is the core of any religion.signe

Islam unfortunately is working uphill in the all so human battle against hubris while trying to find truth. But, by having such an aggressive set scriptures; by having so much to draw from that feeds the darker hungers of man, Islam will, I believe spend more time orbiting around radical aggression before submitting finally to that peace and love that is God, is Allah.

Islam is inherently dedicated by its self-declared scriptural doctrine to naturally one day  rule the world by TAKING control of it and forcing Dar al-Harb(‘House of War’) (Non-Muslim controlled regions) into Dar al-Islam(‘House of Islam); then all people will be free, in the Islamic view, to “choose” the “right” religion.

Sadly, it is not hard to justify all sorts of atrocities on infidels (non-Muslims) with the Qur’an; by contrast there are very few Samaritans or Philistines around for Jews or Christians to use their scripture as an excuse to start a pogrom against.

In Islam it does not matter that reformist Imams do not support something. In fact it is literally forbidden in Islam to use your ‘conscience’ as a guide in a religious dilemma; the only proper way to get an answer is to ask the proper authority, and then submit to the “truth.”

In Christianity, the violent books and verses are all somewhat shielded by being in the OT and considered to be superseded by the Love of Jesus when any conflict occurs. Islam does not have a NT to mellow its hard edges, though it does recognize the concept of abrogation (what a prophet says later is ‘rock’ to the ‘scissors’ of any earlier pronouncements or doctrines).

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This makes “insulting” Islam dangerous at times in the modern world of high tech, and horrific weapons that you can make in your garage.

Solutions

butcherinnameofislamI mostly find it sad that the bulk of Muslims are not more vocal about denouncing their radical Brethren in both the private and the public arena. It is every person in the world’s duty to restrain the fundies of all aggressive religions until they grow up. Until a religion’s devout – highest clergy to clueless souls just born in it – recognize to their core’s that it is ok to DIE because of your religion but, that it is NEVER anything but evil to use religion as an excuse to KILL, that religion should be watched, and kept on a leash in polite company.

Islam has yet to show that it can stay grown up. They are younger though, lets give them time…but, keep the rolled up newspaper ready to smack their noses if they sh*t on the rug. We have too many permanent stains from Christianity and its messes; AND the Islam’s’ earlier messes. Of course Christianity STILL pees on the floor now and then. We just have to be patient and rub their noses PROMPTLY in their messes; but, we don’t have to worry about them eating the neighbor’s cat anymore.

I am not too PC to call a club a club (well, I can’t say spade anymore can I?); religion can be very wonderful but, people need to get over their BS and realize that the basic code of ethics that most religions have can also be formulated by simple common sense and an understanding of psychology and social dynamics. Go read a little about Neuro-Linguistic Programming and such. Real secular morality is what the world needs, not the Fascist pretend kind, only then can religion truly flourish; when we get over all this bickering on who is actually the only ones in touch with the “ONLY source of Morality™”; which they cannot even prove exists.

Faith is the problem; submission to something you do not feel yourself is the problem. Beliefs have reasons, sometimes bad ones but, reasons that can be ‘reasoned with’; faith has no reason therefore the most reasonable argument does no good, your head still rolls on the floor.

Have faith in Jesus of Mohammed; I will Believe in Bugs Bunny!bugslastsupper1

If this Koran gets burnt it could only be because – You Made Me Do It!

…Mohammad, the pedophile warlord with submissive and transvestite tendencies, met up with Jesus, the gay, black, communist right-man-in-the-wrong-place to engage in illicit sex with unclean animals… I pause here to look around; no-one seems to be bleeding, nothing seems to be burning, nobody’s pocket has been picked nor has their leg been broken; all that happened was that I wrote a sophomoric and idiotic series of statements about two religious figures, neither of whom has sent me any kind of complaint for my actions. My question to the blasphemy law proponents is this: What is WRONG with you guys?

 Human religious history reads like the development of a self-aware and , mostly, responsible young adult from a completely ignorant and self-centered infant. It is a story of tribes of humanity moving from stage to stage in our comprehension of just WHAT reality IS and WHO the hell WE are, and how do we relate to all the rest of it. IT is a story full of amazing examples of how primitive peoples can have grasped truths while too ignorant to even know why what they have written can still be said, even by science to be, on some level at least, true. We have also seen horrific examples of human wishes for things to be the “way they are SUPPOSED to be” ignoring all trace of the voice of God from within and causing misery upon misery in the name of “the Love of God“; it’s been a long, strange trip indeed.

In normal times and places people would describe me as a bit of a character and definitely of liberal views.In the areas of racial equality, sexual equality and the freedom of speech and religion I have always been on the quote ‘Liberal’ side of things. But as for the extremes of the leaders and their sheep – don’t put their words in my mouth, I am quite capable of putting my own foot there should the occasion arise!

My response to the latest assault on free speech by so-called Muslim people who have never had it, are uninterested in understanding it (which culd be said as equally about them regarding Islam as about free speech (religion for humans is supposed to be like the Pirate Code, less a set of rules than… guidlines) is simple. Let me wipe my feet on this book that used to be a Qur’an until you defiled it with your idolatry and then toss it on the fire to toast my kosher hot dogs.

Normally I would have no reason on the Earth to think of doing such a thing; it is the Islamist rioter’s idolatry that demands it to remind them that Allah has proscribed treating anything as though it is “the same” as Allah. To the beloved of God (Allah by your calling) it is not your holy book I spurn here, I “offend” against a stack of paper made trash by the actions of men who call themselves your fellow Muslims.

I have a policy of always being polite, except to those who demand it. The people who are easily offended and use their offense as a means to control others are usually the ones most in need of being “offended“, that they might have a chance to grow up and control their inner two year old. Especially since those are inner two-year old adults capable of building, and using, all sorts of weapons in order to “get their way“!

The Islamst rioters around the world are behaving like pre-Reformation Christians did but, without the built-in “leash” of Christianity’s  central text, narrative and central figure being all about love, peace and the humility and brotherhood of all humans before God… and about staying OUT of the unholy games of money and politics. Instead Islam has allowed itself to replace any feeling of human love and justice with the simple formula that what is commanded by Allah is mandatory if you wish to avoid committing a crime against God at the same time anything that is seen by the authoritative scholars (all long dead) to have be forbidden by the Islamic texts is forbidden. It is forbidden at any time, in any place and regardless of the humanly defined “moral” situation – unless, in some branches of Islam, the forbidden thing is done with a sincere desire in the heart of the otherwise, sinning Muslim to promote or protect Islam, Allah or the name of Mohammad. This holy principal was used to great effect by the atheistic Communists for their redefinition of the meaning of Pravda (truth) to “that which promotes the world Communist revolution.”

Islam is a rather un-unique religion in that it has been its heretics who have ‘enlightened‘ Islam over the course of the years, while Islamic fundamentalism has only acted to destroy the unity and harmony of societies of humans with differeing views in favor of primitive superstitions about God that have been abandoned long ago by virtually the rest of the religious world, barring a cult here and there.

My opinion? The only true prophet is the voice of God in your own heart; how well you are listeing in your life shows in your life and in your fruits. Not because you are “rewarded:” for “obedience” but because your understanding from God changes you into someone who does not need to ask what is right and what is wrong when they know the facts, it comes from within, not from the memory of a priest or Imam’s sermon.

Oh, Virginia, you will like this bit; In the pre-70 CE Judaism you would have still found a tendency toward the same sort of Shari’ah type system that the modern Islamsts seem to be clamouring for; but by 70 CE that tendency had already mellowed considerably; to the point where Pilate chided the Sadducee dominated alternate Sanhedrin for being lax in the enforcement in their world-famously harsh code of law. The Jews, LIke the Christians later and the Muslims soon (we all hope),  had mellowed over 4 thousand years or so as gloss after gloss, commentary after commentary and, yes, interpolation and insertion after interpolation and insertion changed their tribal superstition into a reflection of the shape of God within us all; they followed the trail of their central tenet: God IS Love/Love of God is All.

It started with Abraham and his using a wonderfully bald-faced baloney about rams and bushes and the ‘Voice of God ™‘ to explain his realization that to kill his son HOPING it MIGHT please God was simply not a ‘Godly‘ thing to do; but as he supposedly smashed the idols of his father’s shop, not because they were “evil things” but because they had come to be seen by the people as BEING the Gods instead of merely being a focus for a person’s attention on Godly thoughts. Idolatry is to act as though an idol IS a God in all ways. Surely it is a small step from there to see that this attitude obliterates the view of GOD from the “idolator’s” path? The Jews, the first ‘Judaic‘ Christians, Protestants (what do you think one of the main things they were ‘protesting‘ was?) Christians all have no argument with the basic idea that to place too much reverence in an image of a person (even Jesus) is ‘religiously-unhealthy’. At the same time all of these religions and sects have engaged in idolatry freely on one level or another, time after time.

In fundamentalist Islam we see a completely theocratic and intolerant, indeed by any other World Religion’s standard’s, a primitive tribal faith; structured not around a seaking of the Will of God but instead based around an almost pathological defense of Islam’s freedom from every other human religions’ burden: to constantly question and test its own faiths; to SHUT UP long enough for the small voice of God within us to tell their clergy what is faithful to the God of their worship, the one of their soul instead of the one that only lives in their scripture, and what is only their human failing to be more true to their own selfish desire than to what is right!

However, it is not all bad Virginia, all religions have the strength, as well as the weakness, of being the product of the human mind and soul; science has found that truth is not a possession you can keep to yourself, anyone with a sincere heart and mind can find it if they search with passion and humility.

It is all about how we use it. One of my earliest quibbles with the Christian Bible regarded the notion that a so called ‘perfect being’ was even capable of making a “wrong” choice (unless they were error about their actual data and the very trustworthyness of the source of that data; since Adam and Eve are also described as totally ‘innocent’ this would mean that they lacked all capacity for what we would call judgement and unable to label anything as “willfull mis-information provided by a source not sanctioned by authority as trustwrothy or untrustworthy.” Eve simply accepted the Serpent’s correction of Adam’s recollection of God’s warning, Adam could not judge between the two data sets and was going to fall back on procedure; why would a ‘perfect being’ of human intelligence accept the authority of the Serpent unless it were through mere ignorance that ANY voiced being that spoke to them might fail to speak the truth. It follows that God had either not warned them about the Serpent’s influence or, that they were at that time already “imperfect“. Either way I failed to see how they could have been ‘guilty‘ of anything!

What is the meaning of perfect if a perfect being cannot see that she should not be arguing the side of some random critter with a voice that has been hanging around, regardless of whether or not God had specificallly told her not to trust it; and a ‘perfect‘ Adam would know better than to let his mate’s opinion be the deciding factor when he himself rememberered God’s warnings; it should be noted though that God lied about the effects of eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil since as the rest of the text makes clear that it is the SERPENT’s version that actually occurs (or is feared to be about to occur) by… but, oh my… this is another article in itself. It seems that it seems that the effect of Adam and Eve eating not only the Fruit of Knowlege of Good and Evil but also the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, by which Holy Combo-Smoothie they might live forever and Be As “WE” Are.

The point is that the God portrayed in the earliest parts of the Judeo-Christian-Muslim traditions is either a liar or, far from the omnipotent, oniscient, omnibenevolent being humans conceived of 2,000 years ago; nor the individualized “entity” called the “creator” of the universe Who is also immanent and omnipresent that most faiths ascribe so form of to the word “Deity” today. The worst news though is for non-Monist religions: Quantum physics points to proof that All is One. Yes Virginia, people in white coats with huge intelects and no social lives have proven in repeatable experiments that …

“I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together“! – John Lennon

The nature of time as well defeats those who see God, or Allah or whomever as ‘outside‘ the universe; affecting but unaffected, indeed the very source of effect. If this were so then they would be unable to intervene, change, react or in anyway interact with their created universe for its entire internal “existence.” A God that is within the universe is therefore of the universe and so, if you believe in a God the can relate to you in any way then in the universe you belive in all that is, is inextricably part of God!

When you start to let this all sink in the very ideas of “blasphemy” or “heresy” become ludicrsrous. It hardly takes the wise observation of the ancients that if the Gods exist then it is for Them to decide what is blasphemy, and what fails to make the grade; it is also traditional in such religion’s for the Deity to identify the guilty, and to assign their punishement/retribution. It certainly is not the usual scriptural practice for it to to be the job of any random fool who calls themselves “faithful” to make God responsible for the “working out” of said un-annointed human being’s most personal, and often twisted, inner “issues” in the guise of “protecting” God’s honor!

If my actions offend God then I am sure that God will be fully capable of making my own life, and after-life, conform to God’s, not my own, idea of ‘justice’; anyone else can stay out of my face unless I get up in their’s!

If your relationship with God is threatened by someone else not holding your faith then you have no relationship with God, or Allah, or anything, you have put God in a box and attempted to control your Deity like a pair of shoes. If you think that God (or Allah) is somehow harmed by my words or actions, or that my words or actions could hinder God’s (or Allah’s) plan for humanity and the Earth one jot or tittle (biblical language: sorry but, confidentially Virginia, I am hoping it addds a sage-like air to this piece that might even survive my irreverent sarcasm) then it is they who are the ones commiting blasphemy by putting their own judgement before their Lord’s will for each moment of Creation!

Causing harm to property, people and livelighoods because you think Allah (or God), or Marx for that matter, is hurt and wants you to act like a spoiled two-year old with a machinegun is not a return to fundamentalism, nor is it an expression of the radical fringe of a religion. It is nothing more or less than a social/cultural version of having a disease like rabies in the family dogs.

When are the civilized Muslims in America and around the world going to stop waiting for a new scripture  (forbidden by Islam for anyone ever to write and that most Muslims do not even want) to come along and reform the social diseases within their religion and do it themselves? Can we be sure they want to? If they did then the Ahmadiyya, Sihk and Ba’hai would be thriving and growing faiths all across the Muslim world. In the real world all of them are subject to persecutions and pogroms in many Muslim nations, and are attacked secpond only to Jews by Muslims in the West (Christian are attacked too, just not as frequently or consistently).

A book is a book; holy books should be treated with great respect but, reacting with ANY kind of retaliation on the part of God blashphemes against any ‘holiness‘ you felt the book held if you take that path. If I burn a Qur’an or put dung on a Crucifix or use a statuue of Kali as a coatrack it will be because I used an object in a maner I saw fit that harmed no-one; in I say things about your God or Allah or Mohammed or Jesus or Hitler or any other deity that yo do not like then yo take that rage and give it to God, or Allah etc… You stole it from them to begin with, it is only fitting that you give it back and get on with demonstrating the positive aspects of yor fiaith to those, we might assume, you as a faithful son or daughter of whom you bloody well hope to CHOOSE to change to join your faith.

…so, as I was saying Mohammed and Jesus got out of the third bathhouse and met up with Rama and a few Clears. But I am telling you, the party didn’t get rolling until Lucifer started doing card tricks by pulling puppies out of Mohammed’s houri’s… umm, Virginia, isn’t it past your bed time?

Pakistan strikes deal with border clan to rein in militants

(HH here: This is good news I hope!)

By Ismail Khan Published: March 10, 2009

PESHAWAR, Pakistan: A major tribe with close ties to the Pakistani Taliban signed an agreement with the Pakistani government to hand over several of the militant group’s local leaders, to lay down arms and to stop harboring foreign militants.

The agreement on Monday with the Mamoond tribe, the largest and most strategically placed in the restive Bajaur region, followed a military victory against the local Taliban last month. It was one of the first major successes of the Pakistani forces against the militants and their affiliates in Al Qaeda since they started operations in the tribal areas in 2003.

Taliban forces in Bajaur then declared a unilateral cease-fire and the Mamoond, whose members live on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border, decided to cooperate with the government.

According to the 28-point agreement, a copy of which was made available to The New York Times, the Mamoond will stop harboring foreign militants and will close down militant training camps.

The agreement also calls for the surrender of senior Taliban leaders in Bajaur, including a deputy, Maulvi Faqir Muhammad, and the group’s chief spokesman, Maulvi Said Muhammad, who also goes by the name Maulvi Omar.

Read it all by clicking on the title