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Can we blame the Bible for rape and sexual assault?

Reading this tweeted article, something struck me as not quite right. First of all, the ancient world wasn’t just about Jews and Christians; and sexism and sexual crime was rampant in almost all early cultures.

That makes sexism the root cause. A lot of the Bible reflects and reinforces ancient cultural biases, as do most other holy books.

Why would sexism be widespread in the ancient world? Well, we don’t have to tax our brains to come up with a plausible explanation…

Physical size.

Physical size has become far less important in the 21st century, so naturally things are changing for the better.

Another problem with the tweeted article has to do with today.

In Canada I am happy to boast that we are decades ahead of most of the world in terms of multiculturalism. In Toronto, where I live, Christianity remains the majority religion, but it’s only at 56.7%. And 49% of all Toronto residents are foreign-born.

So obviously other countries look a bit backward to progressive Canadians when it comes to living peacefully with different folks from around the world. “Progress” doesn’t only mean who gets the latest gadgets or finest threads at the lowest price.

But I digress. The point is this:

Rape and sexual assault still occur in most global cultures. It’s not entirely about religion or the holy books. Instead, a brutish mentality is to blame. Thankfully, time and right education will erase that lingering brute.

MC


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Is Islam Anti-Judaism?

The Children of Israel Crossing the Jordan (il...

The Children of Israel Crossing the Jordan – illustration by Gustave Doré via Wikipedia

By Rabbi Allen S Maller

The Koran is the only book of revelation that includes within itself a theory of prophethood which includes other religions. There have always been (since the days of Adam) people inspired by Allah who urged their society to avoid destruction by turning away from its corrupt and unjust ways and  turning to the One God who created all humans. The Koran mentions 25 prophets by name (most of them known to non-Muslims too) and Muslims believe there were one hundred twenty four thousand others, whose names are now unknown.

Of the 25 mentioned by name in the Koran only five revealed books of sacred scripture, and only Moses, David, Jesus and Muhammad revealed books of sacred scripture that are the bases for three religions that still flourish today.

According to the Koran, every nation in the world receives at least one prophet who speaks to it in its own language. However, one nation, the Children of Israel, has received a great many prophets. The Koran doesn’t explicitly tell us why so many prophets arose within the Children of Israel but a careful reading of the Koran reveals the answer.

This was what I learned from a profound and enlightening essay by Irfan Ahmad Kahn in a book entitled Jewish-Muslim Encounters edited by Charles Selengut (Paragon House 2001). The book is a collection of 11 papers given at a conference in Cordoba, Spain sponsored by the Inter-Religious Federation for World Peace.

Almost all prophets, according to Kahn, are like Hud who was sent to Ad or Salih who was sent to Thamud to warn them of their impending destruction due to their corrupt and immoral ways and to call them to repentance. However, the prophets of the Children of Israel are somewhat different. First, Abraham is the only prophet we know of, whose two sons, Isma’il and Ishaq, are also prophets. Indeed, Abraham’s grandson Ya’qub and great grandson Yusuf are also prophets. Thus starting with Abraham Allah established a family dynasty of prophets.

English: English translation of hebrew version...

Map of the twelve tribes of Israel, before the move of Dan to the North – Wikipedia

With Joseph and his brothers (the tribes) the extended family became the 12 tribes of Israel or as they are usually called the Children of Israel/Ya’qub. The Children of Israel were blessed with many prophets inviting them to stay firm in their faith to God; this is expressed in various places in the Qur’an “When death approached Ya’qub, he said to his sons, ‘Who will (you) worship after I am gone?’ They answered, ‘We will worship your God, the God of our forefathers, Abraham, Ishmael, Issac, the One God. Unto Him we will surrender ourselves.’” (2:132)

Second, when Moses/Musa is sent by Allah he comes not primarily to warn or rebuke the Children of Israel (his own people) but he is sent “to Pharaoh” ( 20:24, 51:38, 73:15 and 79:17), “to Pharaoh and his chiefs” (al-mala) (7:103, 10:75, 11:97, 23:46, and 43:46) “to Pharaoh and his people” (27:12). Musa is sent to Pharaoh to warn him of the destruction that will fall on Egypt if he doesn’t stop setting himself up as a God and doesn’t let the Children of Israel go free. Musa comes to rebuke Pharaoh and to rescue the Children of Israel.

Only when the Jewish nation is free from Egyptian bondage do they receive the Torah from God, by the hand of Moses without any mediation of an angel. This very enlightening essay by Irfan Ahmad Kahn stimulated me as a Reform Rabbi to realize that the evidence from the Qur’an shows that Islam praises the unique place of the Children of Israel among other nations as opposed to the accusations of some who blame the Qur’an as being antagonistic toward Jews.

From Abraham’s descendants comes a religious community based not just on belief but also on family and tribal ties. Converts to Judaism, who usually marry into the Jewish community, are like adopted children. This is why Judaism, although it welcomes converts from any people, has never engaged in a determined large scale missionary enterprise.

The principle that God makes a covenant with a whole people and not just with the faithful believers helps me understand a powerful verse in the Koran. At Sinai, when Allah gives the Jewish People the Torah, He makes a covenant with the Children of Israel. Allah raises the mountain above the whole people saying, “Hold firmly to what We have given you (the Torah) and remember what is in it.” (2:63) The whole nation’s fate stands under the shadow of mount Sinai, and this explains the miracle of all Israel agreeing to the covenant. This may be the reason why Musa is the only prophet whose book comes not from an angel but directly from Allah.

Isaiah via Wikipedia

Isaiah via Wikipedia

Individuals who hear a prophet may choose to believe or disbelieve, but when God Himself makes ‘an offer that you can’t refuse’, everyone is in for all generations to come, and then has to struggle with living up to the deal. The many prophets that address the Children of Israel are teachers and guides more than rebukers because the covenant between God and the Umma of  b’nai Israel is for all generations.

Thus the covenant is not just for the community of the faithful; but for the whole community of Israel, which includes some whose hearts are like rocks that spring forth streams, while others only yield water when split, and others sink for fear of Allah.(2:74) It is this last segment of the Children of Israel that Prophet Muhammad refers to when he rebukes the Children of Israel.

The Koran correctly understood doesn’t attack all of Israel. Every community, including the Muslim umma contains groups of faithful believers and a party who disbelieve. All the prophets of Israel opposed the same kind of religious hypocrites in their day, as Prophet Muhammad did in his day.

Rabbi Maller’s web site is: www.rabbimaller.com

 Records: Undercover FBI Agent Was Near Gunmen Before Garland Terror Attack (dfw.cbslocal.com)

 Prophet Muhammad and the Full Moon (paulsarmstrong.com)

 Georgetown professor defends Islamic slavery and ‘non-consensua’l sex (americanthinker.com)

 American sentenced 30 years for aiding Islamic State (bostonherald.com)

 What Donald Wants to Ban: (brothersjuddblog.com)

 Denmark to pursue first blasphemy case since 1971 against man who burned Koran (hotair.com)

 Phoenix man gets 30 years for helping plot Texas attack (stripes.com)

 ISIS was grooming child soldiers in a Mosul orphanage (businessinsider.com)

 Borno women react to Emir Sanusi’s ‘one-wife-for-the-poor’ proposal (vanguardngr.com)

 ‘Radical’ Muslims? The History of Salafists (livescience.com)


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The “Triumvirate”

Image via Tumblr

Image via Tumblr


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Catholic gender stereotypes rooted in the ancient world?

Image via Wikipedia

Image via Wikipedia

Please don’t get me wrong. I consider myself a Catholic but, at the same time, cannot switch off my critical faculties just because I converted to that faith from a rather limp Anglican practice (limp because I rarely went to Church as a kid and young adult, except for the obligatory weddings and funerals).

I love the Catholic Eucharist and really don’t know if I could survive without its reliably uplifting love. For me the Eucharist literally is bread from heaven. I feel it and live it, and no atheist, materialist or neuroscientist will ever convince me that this experience is qualitatively the same as, say, a beautiful sunset, a Mozart sonata, or falling in love with another person. That’s just dead wrong.

However, some of the cultural and questionable aspects of the Catholic scene didn’t suddenly disappear the moment I was confirmed. It’s almost like I have to shut down my mind whenever I hear something that rings false or hypocritical during the Mass, all the while feeling the tremendous presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

It’s a slightly strange situation. But when was life ever simple or straightforward?

With this preamble complete, I’d like to ask. If women are especially “religiously receptive,” as we see below, why can’t they be ordained as priests?

Image via Tumblr click for larger size

Image via Tumblr – click for large size

I know the standard Catholic answers. Or most of them. The reasoning I’ve heard seems weak—both logically and ethically.

So what do you think? Will Catholicism ever get past its ancient male chauvinism and reach out to one half of the human population in a fair, sensible way?

My guess is it will take at least a hundred years. Maybe more. Right now there is a known shortage of priests. And it seems the Church is mining the so-called “underdeveloped” countries for potential priests because so few in the so-called “developed” world are willing to commit. This global search is a good thing because it makes the Church more international here at home.

But still, the priest situation remains all male. And I find it a bit unsettling that not a few Catholic women and men identify with prefabricated gender stereotypes that the Church continues to legitimize and reproduce.

Source for quote appearing in this article: Printed flyer distributed in Catholic parishes by http://www.catholicmomsgroup.com