Saturday, January 23, 2010

What is faith?

As Armstrong has pointed out belief was something strikingly different in the beginning. Theodore, Bishop of Mopsuestia in Cilicia from 392 to 428 wrote of faith as something that was purely a matter of committment and practical living, he did not require his candidates to believe any mysterious doctrines.

(p. 101 'The Case for God', Armstrong)


As Armstrong points out the idea of 'One God' is shared by three religions - Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Not just as Dawkins would like to criticise - Christianity. The history of the three religions is something new to me. I have found it fascinating.

I was not aware that when Isam started it was known as tazakka ('refinement'). The followers were uneasy about even creating a new religion. It was a way of life and you could follow the bible as a Christian or Jew and still practise the commitment of Isalm. In the Qu'ran the people who opposed Islam are called Kafirun, This has been mistranslated as infidel or unbeliever, it should be translated as 'blatant ingratitude', a discourteous and arrogant refusal of something offered with great kindness. There was no sense of aggression or dislike the attitude to those who were aggressive towards them was to be as follows:

"Muslims are commanded to respond to such abusive behaviour with hilm ('forebearance') and quiet courtesy, leaving revenge to Allah. They must 'walk gently on the earth', and whenever the Kafirun insult them, they should simply reply: 'Salam' ('peace')."

The case for God

I bought Karen Armstrong's 'The Case for God' thinking that at last someone has decided to take on Dawkins. The book is heavy going - definitely not easy and it doesn't seem to be trying to counter Dawkins but if he does have the sense to read it - and read it the whole way through perhaps it could work as such.

Armstrong goes back to the very beginning, asking 'who is God', 'what is faith' and to be honest I have found as many new ideas and startling insights as anyone. For the ordinary person looking for some ammo to go against Dawkins they will probably come out more confused than when they started. Remember as Armstrong has said 'it is not easy, because religion is not easy' - I think that is a cautionary note for ordinary people as much for the 'brights' such as Dawkins.

Checking in

Hi All!

Good to see I have picked up a few new fans, (and a few unwanted fans). I have been away for a few weeks, comments are welcome. I will try to keep the blog updated regularly from now on.

All are welcome, just don't expect the normal book reviews. I am more convinced than ever that books for review aren't read by the writers - that it is a back slapping exercise and perhaps this is why the book industry is suffering so much.

Expect nothing but the unexpected on this blog!

What are mortals?

Job 7:17-21 (Message translation)

17-21 "What are mortals anyway, that you bother with them,
that you even give them the time of day?
That you check up on them every morning,
looking in on them to see how they're doing?
Let up on me, will you?
Can't you even let me spit in peace?
Even suppose I'd sinned—how would that hurt you?
You're responsible for every human being.
Don't you have better things to do than pick on me?
Why make a federal case out of me?
Why don't you just forgive my sins
and start me off with a clean slate?
The way things are going, I'll soon be dead.
You'll look high and low, but I won't be around."