Beyond the Cusp

February 24, 2015

A Fundamental Difference

 

There was an episode of Star Trek titled “The Savage Curtain” where a molten rock creature named “Yarnek” decided to learn what the difference was between the forces of good and evil. It pitted Spock, Kirk, Abraham Lincoln and Surak representing the forces of goodness against Colonel Green, the Klingon Kahless, a tribal savage woman named Zora, and evil incarnate from Earth history, Genghis Khan representing the forces of evil. After good finally triumphs over evil Yarnek argues that it sees no difference between the forces of good and evil. The difference pointed out was what each side fought for, their root cause and not their methods of achieving victory which was defined by a base and simple reality of the contest. Yarnek is satisfied that it understand and returns Spock and Kirk to the Enterprise and returns to standing motionless happy in its new found wisdom and prepares to stand motionless is some prop room until Yarnek gets a new role in some ‘B movie’ in the future.

 

The simple premise depicted in the episode was a basic principle for the studies of history and philosophy which prepares college freshmen to critical thinking on a not so critical basis in 100 level coursework. It also can be utilized to define the root differences and similarities between Islamist Fundamentalism and other driving forces throughout human history, but for simplicity sake we might wish to limit the discussion to what would fit into a single Star Trek episode. We might even simplify the discussion to Yarnek style simplicity and examine what each driving force behind other philosophical movements in the past and present.

 

Let us first look at Fundamentalist Christianity and their desire as it pertains to the goals set for Christianity. The end goal of Fundamental Christianity is to live a life which is beneficial to mankind and to spread the words of G0d as defined in the New Testament and fulfilling the new Covenant defined within. Christianity is a proselytizing religion where they are pressed to spread the world of Christ, the sacrifice which Jesus made in the name of all mankind, and to persuade all people through their actions and the introduction to the teachings of Jesus as defined by the Apostles depiction of the teachings and life of Jesus in the New Testament. Initially the Christians were a passive force spreading their newly found faith by word of mouth and by their actions and ultimately their passivity and refusal to lift up arms against their oppressors. This changed after the Roman army fought under the banner of Christendom under the Constantine. After Constantine had his vision, his revelation, the drive for conquest, which was a Roman concept, was married to the message of Jesus and Christianity. This led to the new definition of what could be called an Imperial Christianity. Christianity carried forth with it now being the accepted religion of the Roman Army and thus its new defining principle to spread Christianity over the world and convert all to Christianity. This continued until the Reformation of Christianity which introduced those forces which introduced competing definitions of Christianity. These new and supposedly more pure forms of Christianity ended up married to governments of Christian nations and then began the attempts of each strand of Christianity to become preeminent. This continued until Christianity was purged from the political attachment it held to governance until then. Once Christianity was stripped from defining governance a remarkable thing happened, no longer were wars fought between Christian nations to impose their particular brand of Christianity on the others; Christianity now allowed for the separate forms of Christianity to exist, though the version practiced by the reigning monarch did tend to receive preference. The wars continued but were now no different in their aims, to conquer the known world and rule all mankind; it just was no longer performed in the accepted name of Christianity. The splitting religion away from the state and thus from earthly politics allowed for the birth in Christianity for freedom of religion which is the present state though the attaining a complete break from imposing Christianity rather than spreading Christianity through example and teaching and a total reliance on persuasion and devoid of the means of force is a concept still being perfected. What can be said is that Christendom has made great strides towards the allowance of freedom of religion and equality of all religions before the governance.

 

If we now investigate Fundamental Judaism, a force that likely only existed for a few short periods; we find the target of this early form of Judaism which spanned from Abraham through to the conquest of the lands which made up the kingdom of the two most heralded rulers of the Jews, King David and his son, King Solomon. The initial period of Jewish Fundamentalism was during the becoming a people through realizing their goals of conquering the lands they believed were granted them by G0d. The period of Jewish History in question stretched from the start of Judaism with Abraham, their Exodus from Egypt and their forty years of purification and change from a mindset of a people under bondage to a people enjoying freedom with Moses and on until they had conquered their “Promised Lands” under the leadership and marshalling of forces initially by Joshua. Once these lands were brought under Jewish rule their designs on the world were completed and the rest of their mission, their desire to live as G0d had intended, was to be a force for good as defined within Torah, and to study Torah and divine from Torah what being a people of goodness actually required from them and by living a life defined by Torah, the Jews were to be a light unto the nations of the world, an example of living a holy and blessed life. There were no designs or desires to rule the world or over any peoples once the Jewish state was established. The second period of Jewish Fundamentalism could be defined as the modern Zionist movement which has defined their purpose is to reestablish Jewish rule and autonomy over those same lands as are defined in Torah as the ancient homelands gifted them by G0d. There is no desire to conquer the world or to convert the world, but only to live in their corner of the world and be as a light unto the nations, a representation of goodness as defined in Torah. As above, there are no designs or desires to rule the world or over any peoples once the Jewish state has been established nor is there any desire to convert anybody. The region under Jewish control will have a religious theme and basis over the governance, or at least is supposed to have such, but is still instructed by Torah to not only allow freedom of worship, but equal treatment under any Torah ruled kingdom thus the concept of freedom of religion is one of the basic ideals of Judaism. There is no driving desire to convert others to Judaism unless a person chooses to seek conversion and even then there are stringent requirements of any convert but they would be welcome within any Jewish society.

 

Islam has a more original belief on the ideals of conversion which will ultimately lead to a world where the survivors are all Muslims as there would be no room for anything else. Islam teaches its adherents that their religion had replaced Judaism and Christianity. This is the concept of supersessionism. Christianity believed they were the replacement under G0d and they had superseded the Jews thus negating the Covenant between G0d and the Jews and Islam believes they have superseded the Christians and through that, also superseded the Jews. The Muslim believes fervently that the revelation by Muhammad to be the final revelation and that no further revelation is possible as Muhammad was actually the restatement of the Covenant between mankind and G0d and that Islam is the true path while Judaism and Christianity had corrupted the words of Allah and thus perverted religion making their versions of worship an abomination and their sole hope for paradise was through Islam. This is an important part of Islam as it is necessary in order for Islam to fulfill their Covenant with Allah. Islam tasks the Muslims to fulfill Jihad which is defined as the Greater and Lesser Jihad. One form of Jihad is the perfection of oneself under the rule of Allah and the complete and utter surrender of the self to Allah producing a perfected person. The second form of Jihad is the conquest of the entirety of the world for Allah in order to bring the perfect religion of Allah before all in the world allowing them the opportunity to realize their sins and to repent and surrender to Allah and thus become a believing Muslim. Each person is to be permitted the offer of joining Islam and surrendering themselves before Allah willingly but should they continue to reject Islam then they are to be presented with one final choice, Islam or death. This is instructed in the Quran where the Muslim is instructed to spread Islam by the sword if that is what is required. The finality defined by Islam is a world where all believe in Islam and Islam rules the world according Sharia. Nothing less than the complete subjugation of the world by Allah can be accepted as Islam is currently defined and since the Quran cannot be altered there is a point of contention which is not capable of reconciliation between Islam defined by the Quran and freedom, only one can survive. Islam defines the perfection of the world as the supremacy of Islam and the sole existence of mankind is to surrender to Allah and obey the Quran as defined under the Sharia and nothing less is acceptable and the end result is you will ultimately have a world that has been conquered by Allah forever with any person expressing even the most innocent free thought not defined as acceptable under the Quran to be defined as an apostate for leaving the true faith of Islam and who must be put to death.

 

Under Judaism the world continues as it desires with the Jews only insisting on ruling their little corner of the world which is a nation not quite the size of the Philadelphia to Boston greater megalopolis, Christianity desires to teach the world the message of Jesus and hope that their actions are of sufficient influence along with the loving words of Jesus to persuade the world to follow their teachings and Islam simplifies everything and boils it down to conquer the world for Islam and convert all to surrender before Allah. Well, at least that definition just might fit into the basis of a Star Trek episode, nice, compact and simplified to the point of absurdity. I could see Spock correct Bones and Kirk who were arguing, explaining, “Simply put for your understanding, Doctor (glance emotionless at Dr. McCoy); Jews are content in telling only those who ask, while Christians burst forth telling the world, as where the Muslims are simply commanded to conquer and purify the world of nonbelievers. (look with slight smirk at Kirk, sharply turns and returns to his station on bridge)”

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

October 29, 2014

Are Civil Rights for Sexual Preferences Tantamount to Civil Rights for Minority Races

Looking back to the first plaintive cries petitioning for acceptance and protection from being segregated against in life; many of their complaints revolved around workplace, refusal of housing or rental properties, refusal of service in restaurants or stores, and other generalities which today are granted without even a second thought. No longer is it acceptable or even forgivable to physically assault same-sex partners simply because they disturb your preference for a normalcy where such a situation either never exists because no one desires relations other than the norm or such relations are barred from the public realm.

The initial indications that the demands from the more adamant, some might even say militant, alternate life partners and sexual preferences began to compare their struggle to the Civil Rights Movement of a half century ago. These statements also brought to the fore the first warning protestations that the gender identity lobby was going to aim to overturn every last vestige of normal sexuality forcing their way into mainstream and eventually making their lifestyle and sexual proclivities the norm and traditional relationships the exception, or at least the perception of such. Those making these warnings were mostly ignored as paranoid extremists. Their main claim was that the alternate gender lobby would eventually demand a change in the definition of marriage and even force religious institutions to perform alternate gender weddings regardless of their religious convictions against such relations. Obviously these people were insane and had a very loose grip on reality. Nobody was thinking of challenging the definition of marriage as being a bond between one man and one woman. Such claims had to be absurd and dismissed out of hand, until when in more recent times this exact demand came to fruition. Recent court rulings have gone even further making objections enacted into laws, even those which have passed as citizen initiatives receiving solid majority backing when placed on ballots, have been overturned using Civil Rights Laws and equal access laws as the basis for striking down enacted laws which ban same sex marriages.

As I wrote back in March of 2013 in the article titled The Sane Solution to Same Sex Marriage, the easiest solution is to separate marriage and civil unions making one the purview of the state and the other reserved for religious institutions. With the individual states and other legally approved jurisdictions issuing a license for a civil union which qualifies those so joined all the benefits currently described as marriage benefits such as tax breaks, visitation in public hospitals and other similar rights while marriages will be issued through a religious ceremony and would have no actual civil benefits under the law. With such a difference established the state would still receive their revenue from issuing licenses for marriages and gain additional revenue for same sex unions without all of the aggravations and protestations from the religious and conservatives who have protested allowing marriage to be redefined by statutes or court decisions. The individual states and even more local jurisdictions such as counties, parishes, cities, towns and whatnot can make whatever allowances and combinations to qualify for a civil union without having any effect on the definitions of marriage which would remain with religious institutions. If an union other than traditional marriage of one man and one woman is permitted by any particular church, synagogue, temple, mosque, cathedral, monasteries or other religious institution desires to issue a marriage license to non-traditional couples, then that would be their right as well and they could attract such couples into their fold.

The coming disaster will be the eventuality when men of the cloth will no longer be permitted to even read scripture wherever the original scripture excludes nontraditional civil unions. Such an atmosphere has already cast a pale over the pulpits of Houston, Texas; yes, Texas of all places but such is Houston where they reelected Mayor Annise D. Parker who lives an open lesbian lifestyle. Her sexuality would have little to do with her position as mayor except that her administration recently was embroiled in a tempest over an apparent attempt to force the religious leaders to turn over any sermons or other material which they may have given, written or otherwise distributed which may have had any relevance to be subpoenaed. This action caught a great amount of indignation, challenges and even some outright refusals all basing their hesitance or resistance on religious freedoms under the First Amendment. This did force the Mayor to redefine the subpoena narrowing its coverage but the argument has been started and is not going to end soon in Houston. This was but the initial shot over the bow, given time this type of action will be repeated and slowly but surely it will become accepted and soon clergy will no longer be permitted free range of subject material and will begin to restrict their public positions to politically correct and approved subjects. This is the first step to thought crimes where people can be arrested for holding certain opinions and is the beginning of a dangerous slippery slope to slide down to a dark and hurtful place.

Meanwhile, the gender identity movement has one glaring difference from the Civil Rights Movement. While a minority individual cannot choose their minority status and in everything they do and everywhere they go they continue to obviously be that minority, they literally wear their minority status wherever they go, whether they are alone or in a group, they remain a minority. There is absolutely no choice or manner in which one can disguise or act in some manner and not be perceived as a minority. The same is not true for people with gender identity issues. A same sex couple when walking down the street would only be identified as potentially a same sex couple if they were walking hand-in-hand or with their arms around each other, though such would not necessarily always be accurate as such acts could have other motivations. Still, should a same sex couple simply be walking down the street or walk into a restaurant to have a meal they would not be depicted as such and could pass as two friends walking or taking a meal together. A minority is a minority walking down the street, having a meal with a friend and that is a simple fact which cannot be altered. That is the difference, a choice is made to announce or otherwise make known when a person has gender identity or sexual preferences which may be considered non-traditional otherwise they could just as easily pass as being no different than the next person or group, a minority individual cannot hide their being a minority, period. That is a large difference but the reasoning made by the gender issues advocates is that they should be able to announce and make their difference from the traditional majority without any reactions.

What does one believe would be the reaction if my wife and I entered an establishment which was known to favor people who live alternate lifestyles and we announced we were a traditional couple. Hopefully we would be accepted and not made to feel out of place and uncomfortable. I would hope in most public institutions that the same acceptance is shown people of non-traditional relationships or gender identities. Where the problem arises is solely when religion gets into the mix. This may be the single place where those who live nontraditional lifestyles or have other than traditional gender identities may have to found their own religious institutions or seek those which would accept them as they are. Should they instead choose a traditional religious institution they should expect to need to conceal, or at the least minimize, their nontraditional lifestyle or preferences. The same would apply to traditional individuals should they decide to become members of a religious institution which accommodates solely to people with nontraditional relations or gender identities.

Beyond the Cusp

October 27, 2014

Israel Defense Force Commander Criticized Over Religious Reference

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Commander Ofer Winter from the Givati Brigade of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has raised the ire of the secular media, NGOs and other general busybodies over his using a reference to G0d when addressing his troops right before they entered Gaza and potential life-threatening situations in combating Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terrorist entities during Operation Protective Edge. Commander Winter received generous compliments from the founder of the brigade, Brigadier General (res.) Yehuda Duvdevani at an event honoring the Givati soldiers held Tuesday at Nahshonit Park east of Tel Aviv where he, remarked “I hope that in the future we will have more commanders that will walk in his (Winter’s) path.” The Southern Commander of the IDF Major General Sami Turgeman when making an address at the same ceremony lauded Commander Winter saying, “the brigade, under the command of Ofer and the battalion commanders, came wherever it was needed and through creativity, planning and determination defeated the enemy every time.”

 

As part of the calls denouncing Commander Winter for his religious reference and invoking G0d, when he cited the Shema prayer in his last address to troops before entering combat, came from the Israel Democracy Institute which took a novel if not incorrect approach claiming that religious soldiers might decide that G0d’s Will runs contra to specific orders. They were obviously unaware that Halacha mandates obeying commanders’ orders when defending the Jewish People. Further, there is likely no more appropriate prayer than the Shema prayer when the task at hand is potentially life threatening and where death can come over one with a suddenness that would preclude the individual soldier from reciting the Shema before expiring. What this entire tempest in a teapot is all about is the secularists in Israel knowing their numbers barely mount to ten percent of the population, if that high, feel they must scream, shout and attempt to intimidate the religious Jews from the public square or else face religious references resulting in what they would view as an Israel that would be too Jewish.

 

The truth be known, the answer to many, if not all, of the Western world’s problems could be resolved by a returning to G0d and religion, be it Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Shinto, Hindu, Taoism, Islam or any religion where man is placed under a more moral structure and especially those which provide either a more perfect role model or G0d above the normal human such that each individual must work towards a more moral and perfect life and live with the realization that they are not the highest form of being defining what is correct individually and measuring their lives by their own defined and usually lacking standards. Such a return to a life spent thriving for a perfection defined traditionally which places the societal goodness and the dedication to the continuation and aiming to provide a better future than the present day instead of living entirely in the moment and almost exclusively for oneself placing the self at the pinnacle of creation and foremost in the plans and seeking of desires controlling each and every action would even solve the problems of the death of the civilization through birth rates below replacement levels. It has been the loss of faith which has also brought on the loss of community; loss of the sense of belonging; the collapse of the family, including as an enduring relationship, as the path to the future, the creation of that future through children and as the nurturing development of children; and the cause of an emptiness inside and in our lives which we forever seek to fill often at the cost of fulfilling others around us.

 

The loss of faith and decline of religion can be measured simply by taking measure of the extent which government has enlarged itself and how it has succeeded in replacing religion in the societal roles such as assisting the needy, sheltering the homeless, clothing those in need of clothes and every other societal function previously seen as the calling of the religious entities most often through the community’s house of worship be it a Synagogue, Church, Temple, Mosque, or other such group. This societal problem of the death of religion is only the initial stage, a stage that Europe and the United States, if not all of Western society, has already passed and would take an enormous effort and years of taking apart the government behemoth returning to religious entities those roles for supporting the needy and providing a guidance which has been replaced with cold regulations and laws. The next measure is to what extent the government has replaced the family and also broken the family function making it more of an empty, cold, hollowed out existence of two people who are often too drawn-up in their work relations to actively support and nurture each other, let alone children. Government provided meals at school even to the point of forbidding parent prepared lunches from home insisting on the student consuming the government provided and carefully planned and measured correct caloric count and meeting nutritional guidelines, before and after school activities making government the nanny caring for the children, and final stage is government provided and licensed day care for even the newborn. Many in the West have surrendered their responsibilities to the government allowing the government to actually nurture their children, assuming they even bothered to have children and did not resort to birth control or even resorting to abortive actions waiting for that perfect right time to have children, a time which never comes. We in much of the Western world have replaced religion with regulations and government programs and now spend our lives in supplication to the State even to the point of tithing of fifty percent of our gross salaries or more to support that State. Even our healthcare and the critical decisions over life and death are surrendered to a government panel as part of our healthcare. Is there much left we can surrender to government, will we actually move into government provided cubbyholes called our environmental residences and allow constant monitoring of our every move with warnings not to act in ways which may cause harm and cost the government revenue which could be better used?

 

The current growing and seemingly unresolvable conflict is between Western society and its government as religion system against Islamists who want a religiously controlled government where religion has replaced government. Some of the accusations made by the Jihadists against Western nations have lost their souls and engage in a lifestyle that represents what they define as debaucherous desires and actions and a society consisting of people whose only concern is their own pleasure and who have no piety or belief in Allah, or even G0d or other guiding enlightened archetypical standard. Their accusation is that, especially in Europe and the United States, lives are wasted and only strive for sexual pleasures while abstaining from religion completely. What would be amusing, if was not so much a threat, is that the best weapon the West could have to successfully resist the Islamist extremist would be their Judeo-Christian roots and a return to a living religiously guided lives, returned to our houses of worship and reestablished our sense of community intertwined with our religious observance. This would provide the glue which could unite us and give that unity a bonding agent which would be unbreakable and further provide the citizens in the Western world a sense of belonging which was worth defending. Without a return to the basics which gave Western society a strong and moral base, the conflict with Islam will only grow and eventually result in the end of Western culture and with that the Judeo-Christian ethic which resulted in the advancement and pursuit of truths which our science provided and the benefits from those discoveries. Should the extremist Islamists win in what they perceive as their primary source for Jihad, then further advancement of science will be stymied for the foreseeable future and this would be catastrophic.

 

The future of mankind is currently resting on a single decision which history will make over the next decade or two and we reach the conclusion of this culture war which we have entered into whether we chose to accept that or not. The medical and biologic discoveries alone that the next half a century could produce are beyond belief and would have astounding application in extending life expectancy, prolonged or even restored youthfulness, replacement of organs using one’s own cells and so much more. The advancements in physics, chemistry, computer sciences and engineering will be almost as impressive and produce items and opportunities some of which are beyond our comprehension or ability to even imagine. But lose the Western based culture and enter into a religious straightjacket which insists that study of the Quran is the end-all of necessary knowledge and study beyond the Quran and the Hadiths is forbidden unless it is for advancement of the conquest and conversion of the entire world as Allah commands will result in a new Dark Age. Should the Jihadists succeed the losses for society and mankind will be immeasurable. We should have no problem with Muslims who accept a plurality of religions and a separation between religious influences and government and the basic freedoms spelled out in the United States Bill of Rights and the acceptance of common law in its historic and modern interpretations. Militant Islam which believes in Jihad as the spread of Islam over the entirety of the world and the forced conversion or death to all inhabitants within must be terminated and if that means a reinterpretation or even rewriting of the Quran and the Hadiths, so be it. Judaism and Christianity have experienced reformations which adapted them for a harmonious world where all enjoy equal rights under the law and within the society. These beliefs do exist in the Quran and were the entirety of the Quranic writings when Muhammad joined with a scribe to inscribe the revelations for the Quran in Mecca. Those writings were all about harmony, peace, coexistence and the recognition of the rights and continued existence of other religions. This earliest rendition of the Quran provided for the conversion of the willing and those accepting its teachings but did not provide for the violent conversion or the sword approach currently being put on vivid and horrific display by ISIS. Either path for Islam and its adherents matters less than the return to religion and restoring the place for the houses of worship returning to them those powers and responsibilities taken from them by force of law by the government, more often than not, the Federal Government of the State. That restoration is of the utmost importance despite the seeming lack of ability for Western society to perceive this imbalance and their respective losses.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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