Omar's Tent:
A Dialog of Wayfarers

Friday, December 13, 2013

Donal Mahoney: What If Mary Had Chosen Otherwise

You see the oddest things at Christmastime in America. The bigger the city, the stranger the sights.

I was driving downtown to buy gifts for the family and enjoying bouquets of beautiful people bundled in big coats and colorful scarves. They were clustered on corners and shopping in good cheer amid petals of snow dancing in the sun.

One of the people was a beautiful young lady who had stopped to take issue with an old woman in a shawl picketing Planned Parenthood. The old woman was picketing on a motor scooter designed for the elderly. She held a sign bigger than she was and kept motoring back and forth. She was as resolute and granite-faced as my Aunt Polly who had been renowned for protesting any injustice she had perceived.

Saving the seals wherever human beings might be clubbing them to death had been very important to Aunt Polly. She left all of her money to an organization devoted to saving the seals.

On this day, however, the beautiful young lady who had taken issue with the old woman on the motor scooter was livid. She marched behind the scooter and yelled at the old woman, pounding her fist into her palm and screaming things I could not hear. The old woman appeared oblivious to the chaos in her wake. Maybe she was deaf, I thought, like my aunt. That can be an advantage when loud people disagree with you.

The letters on the sign were huge but I couldn't read them so I drove around the block and found a spot at the curb. It was then that I realized that the sign said, "What might have happened if Mary of Nazareth had been pro-choice?"

Now I understood why the young lady was ranting and raving and why the old woman kept motoring to and fro. At Christmastime in America people get excited, more so than usual.

When I got home I hid my packages and told my wife at supper what I had seen. I also told her that if Mary had chosen otherwise, I wouldn't have had to go shopping today.

That's obvious, she said.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Kufre Udeme: A Letter on Christians in Northern Nigeria

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

I never knew that the present crisis in our country has earn wide media coverage in many regions of the world. It was the editor of an online publication in Georgia who recently tapped my attention to it. In one of his series of emails to me, he wrote, "I hear it is not so safe for Christians in Nigeria these days. I think about that when you send poems."

The Islamic terrorist group, Boko Haram, are out to destroy Nigeria - the most populous black nation and the largest oil producer in Africa. Nearly every Sunday, they drop bombs in Churches and kill Christians - children, women and men. To Nigerians, this is no longer news. Now the so-called Boko Haram go about in the night, house to house, and slaughter anyone who is a follower of Jesus Christ. "In 2011, Boko Haram was responsible for at least 450 killings in Nigeria. It was also reported that they had been responsible for over 620 deaths over the first 6 months of 2012. In the first few years of operations 10,000 people are reported to have died." (see the keyword "Boko Haram" in Wikipedia for detailed figures). And yet the crooked Nigerian goverment under the dumb leadership of Goodluck Jonathan are still looking into the matter, still contemplating on how to tackle the persistent killing of its loyal and innocent citizens.

However critical, terrorism is not a fresh issue. Every nation of the world have probably encounter it. Islamic terrorism, which has its root "in the Middle East and South Asia" (The Evolution of Islamic Terrorism - An Overview", are powered by Muslim extremists and fanatics. These militants are enemies of Christians.

Enemity on Christianity is not a fresh course. The Bible tells me that since the days of John the Baptist the kingdom of heaven has been advancing with force (Matthew 11:12, NIrV). Abraham and his descendants equally had enemies who opposed the Almighty God (Genesis 14:12). Violence also took place in Egypt in the days of Moses (Exodus 1:12-14). This shows that friendship with God is total enemity with the world. J.C.Ryle, the first Anglican Bishop of Liverpool, expands it in his, The Cost Of Being A True Christian. It is imbedded in his advice to Christians:

"Do not speak only of the uniform, the pay and the glory; speak also of the enemies, the battle, the armour, the watching, the marching and the drill. Do not present only one side of Christianity. Do not keep back the cross of self-denial that must be carried, when you speak of the cross on which Christ died for our redemption. Explain fully what Christianity entails. Entreat men to repent and come to Christ; but bid them at the same time to count the cost."

Nigeria is a multi-religious country. Its citizens practises Christianity, Islam and African Traditional religion, although only the first two are recognize in the constitution. The Islamic sect is the most intolerant of all. They are the enemies of Nigerians. They want to Islamize Nigeria. They have been trying it for a very long time. The fight for the Islamization of Nigeria "started in 1975 under General Murtala Muhammad regime" (Islamization of Nigeria by Prof. Omo Omoruyi). But that can never happen, Nigeria cannot be Islamize. It is as impossible as Satan becoming an heir to the throne of God. Nigeria can never be ruled by some foolish Sharia laws. Even if all Christians in Nigeria would deny Christ, I, Kufre Udeme, would never worship Allah or some other filthy and retarded servant beings of the devil.

You know that long ago Christians would have declared three days dry fasting and prayer against these beasts in our midst, and they would have relocated to their natural abode. Any person in the society who cannot tolerate one another is a beast; therefore such a person is not qualified to dwell among humans. Muslims should quit our society. They must not be seen among us. Their places are in the bush. That is where they should be, to eat grasses with cows and wild animals, their counterparts. Believe me, that's how it should be, but it's not so because Christians have been ordered to act otherwise. Instead to pray against them we are to pray for them. Now, you know that it takes a good heart to wish your enemies well. And we musn't do that because we want them to be at peace with us (Proverbs 16:7), but because we want them to be at peace with the Lord.

Christians are not weak. Forget the rating of men. Christians are not cowards. The society sees the blind destructions caused by illiterate Muslims and assume that they are gallant and deadly. But that is not so. It is surface judgement. Look, the most dangerous armies in the world are armies of Christ. We are not armed with swords, guns or bombs (I Samuel 17:47), but no people can defeat us - for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalt itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). Soon, all the assembly of Islam will know that no weapon in this world can withstand the heavenly armour, no tactics formulated by men can overwhelm the strategy of the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5).

Christians have the power to destroy the camps of Boko Haram, but we tend to be feeble because we adhere to the instruction of our Commander, Jesus Christ. He doesn't walk according to the pace of men. His own timing is different.

Christ was in the ship when the storm arose. He was marking time when the wave seemed so strong and his disciples feared that they would perish (Luke 8:22-25). But Christ has never blown his whistle too early or too late.  Dear faithful Christians in northen Nigeria, be reminded that you are in a warfront. The whole of Christendom is a battlefield. It is a war between good and evil. Don't lose faith. Never has evil triumph over good. Never has our Lord lose a battle. How can that be when he's the mighty man in battle? (Exodus 15:3). His army has never been conquered, except those who spurned his order.

Beloved, it is our responsibility, as Christians, to refine these dirty things - Muslims - into our Master's kingdom. Our stay here on earth revolves largely around them. They are part of the reasons why we are still here. However difficult the task, it is our duty to polish them and present them to Christ. The good thing is that a great number of us are still committed to preaching the gospel even in the face of these persecutions.  And as a result, there are increasing testimonies of Muslims converting to Christianity. There is the story of Garba Adamu and many recent ones I would have loved to share with you if I had the copyright order in case of abuse. My vitality is empowered each time I hear or witness such declaration.

On sunday 7th October 2012, I was invited to read my poem, All Of You, at Insight Bible Church. The poem formed the basis of both the first and second service sermon titled, Loaded With His Spirit. Everyone witnessed the manifestation of the Almighty God. Here is the poem:

All of you speakers of truth
Beaten and hated with passion
Casted out into the hungry storm
Without a shield over your bleeding heads;

All of you sowers of true seed
Sent into the jungles of pagans
Attacked by cannibal monsters
Without an eagle to swoop down for your rescue;

All of you figures of laughter
Noahs of today's century
Stoned like Stephen of old
Without the council to appeal for your sake;

All of you lambs among woves
Steadfast in the warfronts with evil
Yet charged for holding your swords
Without trial, impede and cut short like John the Baptist;

Continue in diligent while you sow the goodnews
In my father's house you'll have eternal rest
Your present agony shall never stand against your joy
And your crown shall surpass His Excellency of White House.

Copyright (c) 2012 by Kufre Udeme
Originally published in Camel Saloon

Friends, you must not attack when the Lord has not commanded. However critical the condition, reflect on the incident of Uzzah and the ark of covenant (2 Samuel 6:6-7). Don't say, 'The iron is hot. Now I can strike.' Wait for Christ's signal. Remember that he doesn't want anyone to be destroyed. Instead, he want all people to turn away from their sins. Don't forget that while Jesus Christ is waiting patiently to return, while many of the elects are being sent to rest, people are being saved (2 Peter 3 :
9, 15). So never be discouraged by the present system of things.

I am not going to paraphrase Moses's statement (Exodus 14:13). I am not going to say that 'the Boko Haram whom you see today, you will see them again no more.' Rather, I want to assure you that the trials you are facing today, you will face them again even more (Mark 13:7-8).

People will keep obstructing you, but they will never rejoice over your head. Victory doesn't belong to them. Victory belong to us. So don't tremble even when they deliver you up to be executed. Your execution cannot pull down the progress of the gospel. Don't be afraid at all. They can only kill your body (Matthew 10:28), but your soul will find peace with the Lord.

If your attackers harden their hearts and refuse to repent, they will journey into the bush like Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:31-32). And supposing they still refuse to look up and behold the veracity of God, they will stink and waste in Hell (Revelation 20:10), it's an assurance - that everyone from where the sun rises in the east to where it sets in the west will know that there is none beside Him. He is the LORD, and there is none else (Isaiah 45:6).

Take care.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Bradford Middleton: Modern Life is Rubbish

This is the end of time
This is what we are living
Modern living has caused all our problems
The end is near

We’ve got mobile technology destroying our brains
Cars that melt our ozone and cause carnage on a planetary scale
Useless wannabees with no talent rule our media
When all we got is horrible jobs that give us nothing but stress and no money

Is this what we thought?
This was meant to be a golden era for humanity
But instead what have we got?
A planet dying whilst hurtling through space

This is the end of time
This is what we are living
Modern living has caused all our problems
The end is near

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Lorna Salzman: Are books and flags holy?

The outrage that greeted Rev. Terry Jones' burning of the qu-ran is perhaps not surprising, coming as it does from  liberals and the "interfaith" community. But there is something more worrisome at work here, an inference arising from a fundamentalist religious sensibility that has spread to secular and civil society. (Little can or should be done about the Muslim reaction, and spare us from the liberals' plea for more "respectful" language).

This is the inculcation of higher powers and meaning into documents that themselves are merely symbolic artifacts created by printing presses and factories. These artifacts - printed qurans, bibles, American flags - have been invested with mysterious powers and innate inviolability even though they are nothing more than paper and cloth. (What happens to ripped, moth-eaten, dog-eared bibles and qurans by the way?)

The reaction to the destruction of symbols by individuals is completely irrational, yet multitudes of people, including secularists, share this antipathy. One might well ask if all human morality would go out the window if all of these documents in the world were burnt forever.  After all, we don't have the "original" quran or bible but later copies embellished and expanded by later generations. What is considered "authentic"? Are people suggesting that copies of copies of copies are sacred books? What about religious kindles? What about a braille copy of the bible?What about a sound recording of the bible?   Is a holy book and its print surrogates all that stand between human beings and unbridled violence? Will the burning of an American flag signal the onset of the collapse of our civil society? Would Muslims become heathens if they lost all their copies of the quran in a flood?  Should the consumption of Catholic communion wafers (representing Christ's body) be banned?

And with regard to Christianity, why aren't depictions of religious figures such as Christ, saints, popes and martyrs considered sacred? Paintings and sculptures of saints, crucifixions and the virgin Mary are found in chapels and altars all over Rome and Italy. People pray to them, make offerings and ask for help. Does this mean that it is a sacrilege to destroy one of these? (It may be an artistic sacrilege of course but that's another story.)

Similar questions about the connection of morality to religion have been asked about atheism of course, by those who think that only a belief in a higher being confers the ability to make moral judgements. This is of course complete nonsense. In fact it is easily demonstrated that believers in a god commit far more acts of aggression and violence than atheists. Probably more people have died in religious wars than in any other kind, as a study of the Crusades and the Ottoman empire invasion demonstrates.  And they are still dying; just look at Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The resurgence of irrationality, long submerged under the influence of the Enlightenment, education and secular democracy, has pushed to the surface in many areas such as the backlash against modern medicine and the proliferation of conspiracy theories. Human irrationality persists as the default condition of the human mind, as witness the opposition to vaccines in Africa and some parts of Asia, but only recently has it burst into the open and manifested itself in western secular society.

The shudders of fear and anger over destruction of a copy of a religious document are therefore not just a reaction to a rude and uncivil act of defiance by a Christian against Islam but a subconscious irrational belief that this collection of papers possesses some kind of mysterious innate value and power that must be respected by everyone, even those who do not follow its edicts.  It is truly stupefying to realize that an exhibit of bad manners can cause riots halfway across the world. The grip of religious irrationality is proving hard to shake off.

This species of moral outrage is frightening in its implication: that humans believe that protection of "holy" books is a moral duty and a command from on high, one that supersedes human-made laws. One could hardly find a better starting point to bridge the gap between religion and state.


All wanderers are welcome to this tent.

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