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An Islamic Reformation? Or, when going back to first principles is not a good idea

by Greg Krehbiel on 20 October 2014

Here’s an interesting article about the chances for a new, reformed, peaceful Islam.

Sam Harris is wrong about Islam.

Sorry about the uninformative title of the story. “Sam Harris is wrong about ___” is about as helpful as “water is wet.”

The article points out that Sam Harris is pushing an “analysis” that goes like this. Christianity used to be mean and nasty and violent, then it reformed, and now the vast majority of Christians are peaceful, so why can’t the same thing happen in Islam? Don’t we need an Islamic Reformation?

The answer is that the nasty things Christians did were in spite of the teachings of Christ, not because of them, while the nasty things ISIS does are in imitation of Muhammad and his successors.

[Muhammad] raided villages and towns, massacred unarmed men, beheaded his captives, raped their women and sold them as slaves. His successors, the so-called “rightly guided Caliphs” and their successors did the same. These are the very things the Wahhabis advocate and Islamic State is doing.

Jesus turned over the tables of the money-lenders, but there’s no record that anybody was hurt in the process. St. Nicholas is said to have punched a heretic at a council. IOW, it’s kinda hard to come up with examples from the life of Christ, the apostles or the great figures of Christianity to justify anything really awful.

It’s just not that way with Islam.

The great majority [of radicals] come from moderate Muslim families. It is easy to radicalize them. You ask them whether they believe in the Koran and they respond “yes.” Then you read it to them and show them that God enjoins jihad, that their parents who prefer this world to the next are hypocrites, and the Koran orders true believers to neither associate with the hypocrites nor take them as friends and guardians, even if they are fathers and brothers.

Here’s the chilling message.

Islam is already undergoing its Reformation, and Islamic State is it.

-- 7 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-10-20  ::  Greg Krehbiel

It’s not about tolerance. It never was.

by Greg Krehbiel on 20 October 2014

Local Government Orders Christian Ministers: Perform Same-Sex Weddings or Face Jail, Fines

-- 2 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-10-20  ::  Greg Krehbiel

A one-way trip to save Africans?

by Greg Krehbiel on 19 October 2014

I have finally heard a half-decent argument for why we should not close down flights from ebola-infected countries. If we don’t allow flights back, American volunteers won’t want to go help for fear they won’t be able to get back.

There may be ways to deal with that — e.g., by promises that we’ll bring all our volunteers home — but who believes government promises on a politicized issue?

-- 1 comment  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-10-19  ::  Greg Krehbiel

President is an awful job

by Greg Krehbiel on 18 October 2014

Regular readers know that I don’t think much of President Obama. But I do feel sorry for the guy.

He’s in a very tough situation. He can’t be everywhere or know everything. He has to rely on advisers and experts who are often horribly wrong. Then he gets the blame for it.

In a way, his job requires him to be as cold-hearted as Caiaphas. To paraphrase, “It’s better for one man to perish than for the whole nation to suffer.” And in some cases that might mean downplaying a genuine threat because the panic would be worse than the actual danger. He has to look at things from a different perspective than the news or the pundits or the people.

He has to be find some happy medium between being calm and reassuring to the public, but also honest about real threats.

I think he stinks at it, but I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes.

-- 4 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-10-18  ::  Greg Krehbiel

The trilogy is taking shape

by Greg Krehbiel on 18 October 2014

It’s almost sacrilege to use the word “trilogy” to refer to anything other than The Lord of the Rings, but … I’m putting the final (ha ha) touches on my three-part John and Jillian story. You have to imagine parallel worlds where John and Jillian meet.

In The Witch’s Promise, which is free today on Kindle, John is a skeptical man who falls in love with a Wiccan version of Jillian.

In Pipe Dreams, John has fallen into a deep depression over the death of Jillian, but after discovering his grandfather’s pipe he’s begun to have lucid dreams about her, and even daytime visions. He’s either going mad or he’s going to find a way to reconnect with her.

The third part, which is in draft right now, has John and Jillian as a happy married couple, but strange, mystical stuff intervenes (of course) and threatens to end their life together.

If you’ve read Pipe Dreams and would be willing to read this third part of the series, please drop me a note and I’ll send it to you. I’d love to get some reaction from people who know the story.

Each of these stories is very short. All three together barely make a standard paperback length.

-- 1 comment  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-10-18  ::  Greg Krehbiel

We have an incompetence epidemic

by Greg Krehbiel on 16 October 2014

Monica Crowley begins her column with this …

Less than two weeks ago, the government told us that the Ebola virus couldn’t spread here.

Also, the Internal Revenue Service isn’t targeting, the Islamic State is JV, Iraq is secure, the National Security Agency isn’t eavesdropping, Benghazi was about a video, the economy is getting better and you can keep your health plan.

The crisis of confidence in government has now reached epidemic levels, just in time for the government to bungle a possible actual epidemic.

She forgot the brilliant launch of the healthcare website.

I don’t know if Ebola is a genuine threat or not, and I don’t want to jump on a fear-mongering campaign. But the incompetence being displayed across almost all branches of government has definitely reached epidemic proportions.

-- 1 comment  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-10-16  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Stupid means stupid

by Greg Krehbiel on 15 October 2014

In Eggs are Expensive, Sperm is Cheap, I say …

Our society has a tendency to start with an assumption (“convincing women to be more like men will make them happier”), then trying it (“focus on your career and don’t depend on a man”), and then when it has the exact opposite effect [i.e., it doesn't make women happy] we don’t dare to wonder if our assumption might have been wrong – because that would be heresy. Rather, we figure we’re not trying hard enough and need to double down on our efforts to implement the new reality.

The same is happening with the modern idea that we should let young people have sex before marriage. Or even encourage it. It’s a disaster, and any sensible person would have realized that. But as it becomes more and more of a disaster, rather than questioning the assumption, we make crazy laws to try to deal with the mess we’ve made, and we make things even worse.

The latest is this nutty yes means yes law.

Never mind that the stats about college rape that are bandied about these days are a ridiculous exaggeration. Never mind that nobody pays attention to the fact that women also rape men — and more often than you think.

The problem is that people lie after the fact. You can’t change that with a law.

Consent may be given in the heat of passion, and then afterwards the person may have regrets and claim that it was rape. There is simply no way to untangle that — without filming everything — which would create even more trouble.

The plain solution to the problem is to make fornication illegal, outlaw abortion, and give fathers custody of their children. But nobody wants to do any of that, so we’re stuck trying to draw a straight line with a crooked ruler.

It will never work.

-- 5 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-10-15  ::  Greg Krehbiel

A witch story for Halloween

by Greg Krehbiel on 14 October 2014

The Witch's Promise by Greg Krehbiel

My new cover for The Witch’s Promise is designed to appeal to the people who want to read about a witch for Halloween.

The story is based on the song of the same name by Jethro Tull. It’s been through many iterations over the years. (The current version hasn’t changed in about a year or so.) It’s essentially a love story, but it doesn’t stick to most love story expectations. A recent review says it’s a tragedy, but not tragic enough! :-)

I would love to get some more reviews on Amazon, or if you have any ideas about how I should promote it for Halloween, I’m all ears.

The basic story is that sensible, practical-minded John falls in love with a Wiccan and gets himself embroiled in some weird mystical stuff. He starts having dreams and visions that give him hints about what’s really going on in his life, and the accuracy of the dreams challenge his materialist philosophy. At the same time he has to deal with his growing attachment to Jillian and the threat of her still-present ex.

-- 9 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-10-14  ::  Greg Krehbiel

We have to show respect for the contributions of cannibals to the foodie culture

by Greg Krehbiel on 14 October 2014

Sure, what they’re doing is morally wrong, but … they do have some good recipes.

That was my immediate reaction to this story: Church must show more compassion, respect for same-sex couples, Vatican document says

… the Church must “turn respectfully” to couples such as those who live together unmarried or are of the same-gender and “appreciate the positive values” those unions may have.

A few points of clarification here.

First, the odds are way better than even that The Washington Post has the story completely wrong. Asking a Post reporter — or virtually any mainstream journalist — to comment on religion is like asking an Eskimo to comment on surfing. It’s not that they want to misrepresent things, it’s just that they have no clue what they’re talking about.

Second, while my analogy puts same-sex marriage and cannibalism on the same side for comparison’s sake, my point is not to equate the two, but to illustrate how odd it is to say “X is morally wrong” but “you have to appreciate how it contributes to blah blah blah.”

If the Vatican really said something like this, …. Well, I was going to say that it’s mealy-mouthed PC-speak, or a self-parody of diplomat-speak, but it’s actually more on the order of “other than that, how did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?”

The Synod said that gay people have ‘gifts and talents to offer the Christian community.’ This is something that even a few years ago would have been unthinkable, from even the most open-minded of prelates ….

Really? Of course gay people have “gifts and talents to offer the Christian community.” How in the world could that be controversial? I’m sure adulterers do too, and some people who miss holy days of obligation are probably really good singers.

The idea that such a comment would be “unthinkable” is itself unthinkable. The article makes it sound as if church doctrine heretofore required bishops to call gays the devil with absolutely no redeeming qualities, and they’re finally lightening up and admitting that gays can, in fact, hold a fork and a knife properly.

This is the way liberals are taught to hate.

Some questions were asked here that have never been asked publicly by bishops: What good can we find in same-sex unions?

Seriously? That has to be hyperbole. I recall reading stories about Catholic bishops recommending domestic partnerships for gay couples.

You would think it is a settled matter of church doctrine that it is always a good thing when two people love one another. The problem is that the modern world thinks “loving one another” is justification for sexual behavior, which is a confusion of the first order. But … it’s still true that it’s a good thing when two people love and care for each other.

The article is amazingly frustrating and illustrates (1) why you can never trust the press to report on these things and (2) how you can always find some credentialed idiot to give you a good quote.

In a section entitled “the relevance of emotional life,” the clergy wrote that in a society with economic challenges and changing norms “a greater need is encountered among individuals to take care of themselves, to know their inner being, and to live in greater harmony with their emotions and sentiments, seeking a relational quality in emotional life.

“To know their inner being”? Do these people write Hallmark cards?

Oh … wait. These might be the same people who approve the English translations of the Bible and the liturgy. On that scale, “know their inner being” is a minor offense.

-- 11 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-10-14  ::  Greg Krehbiel

35,000 walruses can’t be wrong!

by Greg Krehbiel on 9 October 2014

I’m sure you saw the photo of the 35,000 walruses rushing to shore because they couldn’t find any ice floes to rest on. I’m sure you also saw all the hysterical global warming posturing about it.

This story is perfectly illustrative of everything that’s wrong with the global warming debate.

Based on a quick look at Wikipedia, walruses have been around for at least 500,000 years. We’ve had the ability to get photos like this for … what? Practically speaking, we’ve probably had spotty coverage for ten years, but let’s be absurdly generous and say we’ve kept careful tabs on walruses for 100 years and that in all that time nothing like this has ever happened before! That is, for a span of time that makes up one five thousandth of their history on this planet.

This page tries to map climate changes over the last 500,000 years. I’m not vouching for the accuracy of the graph on that page, but having followed the global warming story (and looked at a lot of paleoclimate graphs over the years) I can pretty confidently say that it’s close enough for my point here, and that walruses have lived through some dramatic climate variations. There have been times when it’s been colder and times when it’s been warmer.

And still there are walruses.

Unfortunately, we live in the age of catastrophes and click bait. ‘You’ll never believe what happened next’ and all that garbage. We’re outrage junkies. If a story isn’t scary and wacky, or if it doesn’t have the potential to end civilization, it’s not worth our time.

This is how the public consciousness is formed and shaped these days. Bit by bit. Nudge by nudge. Unsupported nonsense followed by outrageous lie followed by nonsensical Facebook meme, we’re all corralled into the correct way of emoting. We’re like Pavlov’s dogs with a hair-trigger for the outraged response.

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-10-09  ::  Greg Krehbiel

2014-10-08 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
Because they can
2014-10-08 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
“Agent of change” = aggressor
2014-10-07 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
Clowns left and right
2014-10-07 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
When the AGW crowd eats its words …