Wednesday, July 27, 2005

A New Book by Robert Spencer

As we are in the business of recommending books that need to be read we are pleased to be able to announce that Robert Spencer, well-known author of "Islam Unveiled" and "Onward Muslim Soldiers", has just published The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades). Scheduled for August it is already on sale. has given its enthusiastic endorsement:
"Spencer details how the jihad that the non-Muslim world faces today is in direct continuity with the one the Crusaders fought against. It continues today in Europe and even in America while pressure groups intimidate the media into silence about the real nature and goals of Islam.....Spencer explains what we must do to stop the jihad onslaught not only militarily, but culturally. He maintains that we will not be able to defeat today's Islamic jihad without recovering pride in the superiority--yes, superiority--of Western Christian civilization. If we surrender our culture, he warns, soon we will be surrendering our homes."
Alas, it is only too true that both Europe and Britain have lost that pride in their past beliefs. They survived the two World Wars with glowing colors but lost their faith in God at almost the same time. It is so evident in the literature, movie and TV productions, available to us from Britain, just as our Hollywood reveals the soul of many Americans. Read Spencer's book and be challenged.
With God all things are possible!

For a book review of Islam Unveiled
For a book review of Onward Muslim Soldiers

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Art & The Human Experience

Was it the picture of an English woodland scene with a carpet of bluebells under the trees that started me saving for a trip to England? I think so. At a very early age the ice cream nickel was hoarded away for the realization of that dream (1948).
An important part of life from earliest memory has been this love for the ever-changing beauty of nature, or the interpretation of it by an artist. When given a choice between a sum of money for a wedding gift (1953) or one of A.P. Hunter's Canadian watercolors, I chose the latter. (A.P.Hunter just happened to be my boss' brother-in-law.) The scene which has graced our living rooms ever since is a satisfying view of the Laurentians, near Ottawa, Canada--especially appreciated when we were adjusting to life in Syria.
Years later when an opportunity came to work on such scenes it was a thrill to see a blank sheet of paper turn into something beautiful such as the summer scene enjoyed on a bitter winter day, or the refreshing picture of new fallen snow glistening on the trees when temperatures hover around 100 degrees.
Gardens, for me, are in the same category. You can start with a piece of wasteland and with patience creat an oasis of beauty, simply by the choice of flowers and shrubs. Passersby enjoy the yellow forsythia beside the lamp post, the tulips and daffodils in the spring. Then the lilacs and peonies burst forth and are spent far too soon. But that is not the end. The purple foxglove always spreading its territory makes a delightful showing for most of the summer. Day lilies add their cheer, clumps of phlox their color. Each variety finely designed by the great Creator of the universe. Late into the fall the surviving annuals put on their show beside the groupings of chrysanthemums which finish out the season and often catch the first snowfall. A picture not on canvas, but a picture nonetheless.
Retirement has given me the opportunity to use a God-given talent in a medium designed for joy--pastels. Pictures accumulate. I would be hard-pressed to single out a favorite. (Does one have a favorite child?) Note the limpid green pool in a Michigan forest, which beckons escape into peace and quiet. Then turn to the painting of a neighbor's garden captured on a sunny May day while sitting on their boulevard. Looking at it now, I can still feel the cool shade where I sat. There is the garden splashed in sunlight. The riot of color is provided by an abundance of perennials.
Over the piano is that view on the road from Eureka to Provo in the state of Utah. One of our son's favorite views, reminding me of visits when he was trying his hand at being a "cowboy." Now it is captured in a large-scale pastel.
Then there are the miniatures. That one with the ducks coming in for a landing reminds me of a favorite childhood vacation spot--Delta--only 18 miles from my prairie home town--a bird sanctuary at the southern end of that friendly Lake Manitoba with its endless northern view and gorgeous skies. You could walk out a mile before you came to waist-deep water. A series of sandbars gave bathers a chance to learn to swim paddling between them. What fun to walk from the east beach to the west beach, a mile or two along the shore in the wet sand. Dreamy childhood memories are evoked by one small pastel.
How does one philosophize about the effect of art in the human experience? Surely artistic gifts are a touch of the eternal. Just as one thrills to the dramatic beauty of each discovery of God's gifts to us, be it a fresh sunset or the Grand Canyon, so also in this minuscule way the human spirit is lifted upwards by recognizing something mysterious about "art." A simplistic view perhaps when you consider how much of art does not seem to be about that which is "good and pure." We need discernment in this realm also. But surely the world is a better place because of sanctified imaginations. Then these extras of life are done "to the glory of God." SWM

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Islam is More than Religion, Part One

In this posting and in some following ones, I will be covering the global challenge of Islam, with special emphasis on the fact that Islam is more than a Religion. This reality is not easily recognized by the average American, since his understanding of the subject is limited by an individualistic concept of religion, namely, a system of belief and a code of ethics that are limited to the life of the individual, his family, and his or her house of worship.

North Americans have had very little experience with Islam and Muslims, compared with those European nations who colonized huge sections of the Muslim world. Before that, during the early and late Middle Ages, other European countries were conquered by Muslims who colonized them for centuries. Think, for example, of Spain. The Arab/Islamic conquest began in 710, and lasted until 1492! Most of Central and Eastern Europe came under Islamic rule for hundreds of years. Salonika in Northern Greece, was still under Ottoman Turkish rule as late as 1912.

The first American encounter with Muslims occurred soon after independence. The pirates of Tripoli terrorized maritime trade in the Mediterranean, so the U.S. Navy had to deal with them. The real American experience in Muslim lands took place when missionaries of the Presbyterian Church, the Congregational Churches, and the Reformed Church in America, began their missionary activity in the Middle East, in the 19th century. Their work among Eastern Christians and Muslims forms a glorious chapter in the history of missions in the modern times.

It was after World War II that the United States got really involved in the Muslim world. Oil was discovered in Saudi Arabia in the 1930s, and U.S. oil companies were the first to develop and market it. When the French and British pulled out of the area in the aftermath of World War II, it was the United Sates that sought to fill the vacuum. Israel was born in 1948, and ever since that day, Americans have been drawn into the intricate diplomacy that seeks to keep Israel alive and to convince the Arab/Muslim states to co-exist with the Jewish State. continue reading on this subject please go to our website.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Turkey Persists in Denying the Armenian Genocide

The first well-documented genocide in modern times took place in the Ottoman Empire. Turkey, as a successor state, persists in refusing to acknowledge that genocide almost one hundred years after it took place. Not only that, but it pressures world bodies to refrain from admitting those horrible events that took the lives of one and a half million Armenians in 1915.

In mid June, I noticed an item about this subject in a French language web site. The following is my English summary of the report, "The German Parliament and the Armenian Genocide."

Turkey has criticized a German resolution that almost recognized the Armenian genocide during the First World War, describing it as 'irresponsible' and manifesting a 'narrow spirit.' The Turkish Foreign Minister commented, "The German Parliament has adopted a resolution regarding the events of 1915 that we deplore and strongly reject." Should this resolution be adopted by Germany, he added, "it will sow chaos in our relations."

This condemnation of Turkey took place when the Bundestag voted Thursday [June 16] on a historic resolution affirming that the government led by the Young Turks [Party] had almost destroyed the totality of the Armenian people; and [(the resolution] regrets the German responsibility in this extermination. This motion, as submitted by all the parliamentarian groups, was unanimously adopted. Furthermore, it pointed to the fact that it is still impossible to conduct a discussion of this extermination in Turkey today. Various terms were used in this resolution to describe the genocide, such as "mass murder," "extermination," "destruction," "deportation-displacement," and finally, the very word "genocide."

After reading that report in the French web site, I reflected on the fact that the Armenian genocide of 1915 was to become the first in a series of unimaginable horrors that took place in the 20th Century. I thought of the crimes of Joseph Stalin, Adolph Hitler, and Pol Pot. Those horrific events are acknowledged now in Russia, Germany, and Cambodia. The books of Alexander Solzhenitsyn tell of the tortures and deaths that occurred in the Gulags of the USSR. Museums dedicated to those who perished in the Holocaust exist in Jerusalem, Washington, and elsewhere. The movie "The Killing Fields" chronicles the savagery of the Khmer Rouge. So why does Turkey continue to deny a historical fact witnessed by many, including American missionaries?

As a child, I met survivors of the Genocide and their children. From them, I learned the Turkish words "sefer berlik." Literally, these words translate into "travels or wandering in the wilderness." Actually, they refer to the enforced deportation, and subsequent elimination of millions of Armenians. It is high time that Western political leaders, on both sides of the Atlantic, insist that if Turkey is to be counted as a truly democratic nation, it may no longer deny the Armenian Genocide. A confession of such a national sin is long overdue.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Should Christians apologize for the Crusades?

Of late, there has been a resurgence of interest in the Crusades. For example, the June/July 2005 issue of FIRST THINGS had an article by Thomas F. Madden, “Crusades and Historians.” ..... “The Crusades have been a topic of intense scholarly investigation for the last forty years. … In thousands of journal articles and scholarly monographs Christianity’s holy wars have been probed, analyzed, and debated. … We now know much more than ever before about the Crusades.” P. 26

One of the books I have read on the subject was by Jonathan Riley-Smith, “What Were the Crusades?” Professor Riley-Smith of Cambridge University deals with this important subject in 114 pages! The Crusades are being treated not only as an historical subject for academic purposes, but discussions about them have also attracted the attention of the popular media. This has happened due to the demands that have been made recently by Muslims who claim that an apology for the Crusades by the West is long overdue.

Muslims have mastered the art of propaganda. They exploit the free-speech tradition in the West, and go on the attack painting themselves as peace-lovers. According to their propagandists, it is always the Others, i.e., Christians, Jews, and Hindus, who are and have been the true aggressors. This mantra becomes very shrill with respect to the Crusader Wars. What is surprising though is that some Christians feel that apology for the Crusades, is in order.
To read further in this article go to:>

Saturday, July 02, 2005

May Christians use "Allah" as their name for God?

July 2, 2005

Westerners often question whether Arabic-speaking Christians should be using the word "Allah" as the name for God, especially in translations of the Bible into Arabic. Unfortunately, these critics seem oblivious to the fact that Middle East Christians have used "Allah" for centuries.

The earliest known Arabic translation of the New Testament is "Mt. Sinai Arabic Codex 151" which was published under the auspices of "The Institute for Middle Eastern New Testament Studies" in cooperation with The Bible Society in Beirut, Lebanon, 1985. The Pauline Epistles in this Codex were translated from Aramaic in 867 A.D. by a Christian living near Damascus, Syria.

Its importance cannot be exaggerated as it demonstrates how the Arabized Christians of the Levant needed an Arabic version of the sacred text as they were no longer familiar with their Aramaic translation of the Bible. Throughout the entire Codex 151, the translators used the word Allah. For them, as well as for successive generations of Eastern Christians whose mother tongue had become Arabic, no problem was encountered by referring to God as Allah.

The word Allah, for the Christian, always meant the triune God, as revealed in Holy Scripture, and as confessed in the ecumenical Creed of Nicea.

During the 19th Century two major translations of the Bible were done in Arabic, in Beirut, Lebanon. The first one (1860) is known as the Smith-VanDyke translation. These American missionaries relied on the help of two Lebanese Christian scholars, Al-Bustani and Al-Yazigi.
In 1870, the Jesuit Arabic translation appeared. In all of these versions, and subsequent revisions, the word Allah was consistently used. The Living Bible Arabic version, published in Beirut in 1988, did not depart from this tradition.

Besides these translations of the Bible into Arabic, Christian Arabic literature is replete with the use of the name of Allah, always signifying the tri-unity of God. In fact, when Arabic-speaking Christians invoke the name of the Trinity, they do so according to this formula: "Bismi'l Aab, wal-Ibn, wal-Ruh al-Qodos; Ilah Wahed, Ameen." (In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, One God, Amen.")

All Arabic-speaking Christians from the 9th Century on have consistently referred to God as Allah. Therefore the real question is regarding the meaning of the word; whether the Christian Allah and the Muslim Allah are the same. No Arabic-speaking Christian, if he or she is consistent with the basic tenets of their faith, can ever say that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. When Christians address God in their mother tongue, they use the word Allah and they mean the One and only true God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.