On Haditha

May 30, 2006 at 8:14 pm (Iraq, The Left)

We have been quite disturbed by reports of civilian casualties by the hands of US Marines in Haditha, Iraq.

However, to be quite frank, We do not know any of the facts. What happened? Who did what? What were the circumstances? Why did what happen, happen? There is too much speculation floating around for Us to form even the semblance of an opinion on what may have transpired. Read the rest of this entry »

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On Haditha

May 30, 2006 at 8:14 pm (Uncategorized)

We have been quite disturbed by reports of civilian casualties by the hands of US Marines in Haditha, Iraq.

However, to be quite frank, We do not know any of the facts. What happened? Who did what? What were the circumstances? Why did what happen, happen? There is too much speculation floating around for Us to form even the semblance of an opinion on what may have transpired.

But with regard to one aspect We have become quite adamant. We strenuously oppose any attempt to paint these Marines or the Marines in general with a blood-soaked paintbrush before the release of any findings, before the end of any investigation. The United States is an honorable nation and will take those steps they must take for justice, if any is needed. The United States is not like other states that commit atrocities and get away with it.

We refuse to pass judgment at this moment because of many reports already made concerning atrocities by The Armed Forces of The United States, reports which have been proved to be utterly false. Such false reports frankly disgust Us to to end. This of course might backfire for opponents of The Armed Forces: even if atrocities occurred in Haditha, many will be wary of any such allegations because of the many false allegations of the past.

According to Strafor’s daily podcast for Tuesday, May 30, 2006, what seems to matter across the globe is perception. Entities have already passed judgment without this issue having been fully investigated yet. They will insist on their version of the truth, regardless what the facts may be or have been. We refuse to play their game. They may perceive what perverse scenarios they wish: We will stick to the facts.

We will not excuse atrocities by The Armed Forces of The United States; but at the same We realize that The Armed Forces deserve to have their perspective heard, that facts must be considered, and that whatever judgment is to be cast, should be cast keeping all the facts and circumstances in mind.

We shall post on this issue once the findings have been released and the information has been digested.

innaa naHnu-l-a’lam.

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Memorial Day Tribute

May 29, 2006 at 4:28 pm (Personal)

According to Yahoo! News:

The nation can best honor the dead by "defeating the terrorists. … and by laying the foundation for a generation of peace," Bush said.

Quite true indeed.

We pay tribute to the sacred memory of all the brave and selfless men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the safety and protection of The United States, becoming effectively martyrs in the American Cause. We also pay tribute to those men and women who have pledged to defend The United States by fighting and, if necessary, dying for them. We honor past, present, and future defenders of The Republic, true heroes that you all are. The people live in freedom because of your sacrifices, dedication, and vigilance.

May God bless you all, and may we Americans never forget you. Because you gave your all every day of the year, every day is Memorial Day.

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Memorial Day Tribute

May 29, 2006 at 4:28 pm (Uncategorized)

According to Yahoo! News:

The nation can best honor the dead by “defeating the terrorists. … and by laying the foundation for a generation of peace,” Bush said.

Quite true indeed.

We pay tribute to the sacred memory of all the brave and selfless men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the safety and protection of The United States, becoming effectively martyrs in the American Cause. We also pay tribute to those men and women who have pledged to defend The United States by fighting and, if necessary, dying for them. We honor past, present, and future defenders of The Republic, true heroes that you all are. The people live in freedom because of your sacrifices, dedication, and vigilance.

May God bless you all, and may we Americans never forget you. Because you gave your all every day of the year, every day is Memorial Day.

Update: Added link.

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Dogs

May 26, 2006 at 3:42 pm (Amusement, Blogs, Personal)

In Our culture, dogs are considered to be unclean animals. Outside of the fact that in Pakistan dogs are mostly stray rather than pets, dogs are considered to be unclean according to Islamic law. It is said that angels will not enter a home wherein there is a dog. Furthermore, prayers offered in an impure area are invalid; dogs, as a source of impurity, make roomes and homes impure. These are some reasons used to justify not keeping dogs as pets.

Even if dogs are kept as pets, they are outside animals, meaning that they would not be welcome inside the home. Of course, the perception that dogs are unclean no doubt also plays a role in this fact.

Therefore, those of Our culture are, to begin with, not used to having to deal with dogs or cats as pets. In contrast, it seems that most Americans are used to dealing with dogs and/or cats. In addition, those of Our culture do not understant dogs: why do they what they do? how ought one to deal with dogs? what are the expectations in interacting with dogs?

Although these still remain mysteries to Us, We are beginning to understand more about dogs by reading what bloggers have said about their pets. We thank these bloggers for expanding Our understanding. One day, We hope to know how to interact properly and confidently with dogs.

Here are some dogblogging posts:

Dave in Texas
Save This Dog (crossposted on Innocent Bystanders)
The Beagle Controversy
Senor Dumbass (crossposted on Innocent Bystanders)

Innocent Bystanders
They Never Have A Bad Day
Dogblogging
Faster Than A Speeding Rig
Photographic Update
Let Me People Go
Great American Superhero
If You Don't Vote, You Can't Complain

HayZeus
More Dogblogging

Mrs. Peel
Dogblogging

AGJ
You Are In Soooo Much Trouble, Mister!
My Buddy (2)
My 4-legged Terror…
My Buddy (1)
Winter Wonderland
My Best Bud Riley

Cake or Death?
Time Flies When You're Scoopin' Poop
Blizzard Pics

innaa naHnu-l-a'lam.

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Dogs

May 26, 2006 at 3:42 pm (Uncategorized)

In Our culture, dogs are considered to be unclean animals. Outside of the fact that in Pakistan dogs are mostly stray rather than pets, dogs are considered to be unclean according to Islamic law. It is said that angels will not enter a home wherein there is a dog. Furthermore, prayers offered in an impure area are invalid; dogs, as a source of impurity, make roomes and homes impure. These are some reasons used to justify not keeping dogs as pets.

Even if dogs are kept as pets, they are outside animals, meaning that they would not be welcome inside the home. Of course, the perception that dogs are unclean no doubt also plays a role in this fact.

Therefore, those of Our culture are, to begin with, not used to having to deal with dogs or cats as pets. In contrast, it seems that most Americans are used to dealing with dogs and/or cats. In addition, those of Our culture do not understant dogs: why do they what they do? how ought one to deal with dogs? what are the expectations in interacting with dogs?

Although these still remain mysteries to Us, We are beginning to understand more about dogs by reading what bloggers have said about their pets. We thank these bloggers for expanding Our understanding. One day, We hope to know how to interact properly and confidently with dogs.

Here are some dogblogging posts:

Dave in Texas
Save This Dog (crossposted on Innocent Bystanders)
The Beagle Controversy
Senor Dumbass (crossposted on Innocent Bystanders)

Innocent Bystanders
They Never Have A Bad Day
Dogblogging
Faster Than A Speeding Rig
Photographic Update
Let Me People Go
Great American Superhero
If You Don’t Vote, You Can’t Complain

HayZeus
More Dogblogging

Mrs. Peel
Dogblogging

AGJ
You Are In Soooo Much Trouble, Mister!
My Buddy (2)
My 4-legged Terror…
My Buddy (1)
Winter Wonderland
My Best Bud Riley

Cake or Death?
Time Flies When You’re Scoopin’ Poop
Blizzard Pics

innaa naHnu-l-a’lam.

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Some Insight Into Anti-War Protestors

May 25, 2006 at 5:04 pm (Blogs, The Left)

This post by tgslTakoma is a very interesting one. We have often heard of protests by anti-war activists. We have even heard of counter-protests. But this post informs the reader of a number of very interesting points:

  • the objectives of anti-war protestors
  • how counter-protesters cooperate with law enforcement officials
  • the mannerisms and behavior of anti-war protesters (including some hypocrisy, what with their use of force every now and then)
  • the attempts of anti-war protestors to get arrested (by any means it seems)
  • the media's interest in anti-war protestors, which is more than their interest in counter-protestors
  • the civility and utter restraint of law enforcement officials
  • the fact that anti-war protestors are only interested in broadcasting their perspective without engaging in any dialogue or discussion with those who may disagree

We encourage Our readers to visit and read through the post. Be aware that this is not a short post. The post includes a video as well as a number of pictures; it is a very informative and insightful indeed, for which We thank tgslTakoma.

innaa naHnu-l-a'lam.

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Some Insight Into Anti-War Protestors

May 25, 2006 at 5:04 pm (Uncategorized)

This post by tgslTakoma is a very interesting one. We have often heard of protests by anti-war activists. We have even heard of counter-protests. But this post informs the reader of a number of very interesting points:

  • the objectives of anti-war protestors
  • how counter-protesters cooperate with law enforcement officials
  • the mannerisms and behavior of anti-war protesters (including some hypocrisy, what with their use of force every now and then)
  • the attempts of anti-war protestors to get arrested (by any means it seems)
  • the media’s interest in anti-war protestors, which is more than their interest in counter-protestors
  • the civility and utter restraint of law enforcement officials
  • the fact that anti-war protestors are only interested in broadcasting their perspective without engaging in any dialogue or discussion with those who may disagree

We encourage Our readers to visit and read through the post. Be aware that this is not a short post. The post includes a video as well as a number of pictures; it is a very informative and insightful indeed, for which We thank tgslTakoma.

innaa naHnu-l-a’lam.

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Three Sources of Information You Should Know About

May 25, 2006 at 2:22 pm (News)

There are a few sources of information by way of podcast that We would recommend to everyone. Some of them are daily; one of them is weekly.

First: The podcast of The President's weekly radio address. We listen to this every Monday. Most of the time what The President has to say is good, insightful, and helpful.

Second: Daily podcasts from The Pentagon Channel. They provide news on the military's various activities within The United States and outside of them. They also provide perspective and, every now and then, good news on their activities. The three that We download regularly, accompanied by a description from The Pentagon Channel's website (from their podcasts page), are:

1. American Forces Press Services audio podcast: "Daily Update from the American Forces Press Service."

2. ATS (Around the Services) In Brief audio podcast: "From the Pentagon Channel NewsCenter – A 5-minute version of Around The Services reduced in size for headline updates."

3. Rucksacks and Rations: "A weekly audio program from the Pentagon Channel featuring stories and interviews about our service members stationed around the globe. From Afghanistan and Iraq to hometowns throughout the United States, Rucksacks and Rations brings you closer to troops downrange and families at home."

Third: The Stratfor daily podcast by Stratfor. Stratfor deals with geopolitics, security, and public policy (according to their homepage). According to Strafor's website's podcast page, the podcasts are:

Audio Intelligence Briefs to Keep You Informed, Prepared, Ahead of the Game

Designed for the decision-maker on the go, each daily podcast will review the most significant events around the world, helping you to:

  • Make sense of world events and understand their implications
  • Get beyond the noise of regular media coverage with timely intelligence and focused analysis on the issues of real geopolitical, economic or security relevance
  • Save time and keep ahead of the headlines – and your competition

These are three very useful resources of information. At the very least they provide alternative perspectives to what one may be reading in the media, especially considering The Media is not so fond of printing what The Government actually says, relying instead on interpreting what The Government has said.

innaa naHnu-l-a'lam.

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Three Sources of Information You Should Know About

May 25, 2006 at 2:22 pm (Uncategorized)

There are a few sources of information by way of podcast that We would recommend to everyone. Some of them are daily; one of them is weekly.

First: The podcast of The President’s weekly radio address. We listen to this every Monday. Most of the time what The President has to say is good, insightful, and helpful.

Second: Daily podcasts from The Pentagon Channel. They provide news on the military’s various activities within The United States and outside of them. They also provide perspective and, every now and then, good news on their activities. The three that We download regularly, accompanied by a description from The Pentagon Channel‘s website (from their podcasts page), are:

1. American Forces Press Services audio podcast: “Daily Update from the American Forces Press Service.”

2. ATS (Around the Services) In Brief audio podcast: “From the Pentagon Channel NewsCenter – A 5-minute version of Around The Services reduced in size for headline updates.”

3. Rucksacks and Rations: “A weekly audio program from the Pentagon Channel featuring stories and interviews about our service members stationed around the globe. From Afghanistan and Iraq to hometowns throughout the United States, Rucksacks and Rations brings you closer to troops downrange and families at home.”

Third: The Stratfor daily podcast by Stratfor. Stratfor deals with geopolitics, security, and public policy (according to their homepage). According to Strafor’s website’s podcast page, the podcasts are:

Audio Intelligence Briefs to Keep You Informed, Prepared, Ahead of the Game

Designed for the decision-maker on the go, each daily podcast will review the most significant events around the world, helping you to:

  • Make sense of world events and understand their implications
  • Get beyond the noise of regular media coverage with timely intelligence and focused analysis on the issues of real geopolitical, economic or security relevance
  • Save time and keep ahead of the headlines – and your competition

These are three very useful resources of information. At the very least they provide alternative perspectives to what one may be reading in the media, especially considering The Media is not so fond of printing what The Government actually says, relying instead on interpreting what The Government has said.

innaa naHnu-l-a’lam.

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Mahmoud Abbas The Hero? Not So Fast

May 25, 2006 at 8:47 am (Israel, Middle East)

According to this news article by Yahoo! News and this news article by The Jerusalem Post, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is threatening to submit to the Palestinian people a referendum unless Hamas and al-Fath come to some sort of agreement. Obviously, Abbas is putting pressure on Hamas to compromise as al-Fath are loyal to him and his party. The referendum he threatens to put before the Palestinian people concerns the parameters of a future Palestinian state. As innocuous as this seems, one must remember that according to Hamas there is no need to carve out a Palestinian state. The Palestinian state will come into being once The State of Israel ceases to exist. That is, whereas the Palestinian Liberation Organization (which is secular) will agree to establishing borders between The State of Israel and a Palestinian state, which effectively recognizes Israel as a state, Hamas (which is religious/theocratic) does not want two states (Israel and Palestine) but rather one state (Palestine). The referendum is one which various Palestinian leaders have hammered out. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mahmoud Abbas The Hero? Not So Fast

May 25, 2006 at 8:47 am (Uncategorized)

According to this news article by Yahoo! News and this news article by The Jerusalem Post, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is threatening to submit to the Palestinian people a referendum unless Hamas and al-Fath come to some sort of agreement. Obviously, Abbas is putting pressure on Hamas to compromise as al-Fath are loyal to him and his party. The referendum he threatens to put before the Palestinian people concerns the parameters of a future Palestinian state. As innocuous as this seems, one must remember that according to Hamas there is no need to carve out a Palestinian state. The Palestinian state will come into being once The State of Israel ceases to exist. That is, whereas the Palestinian Liberation Organization (which is secular) will agree to establishing borders between The State of Israel and a Palestinian state, which effectively recognizes Israel as a state, Hamas (which is religious/theocratic) does not want two states (Israel and Palestine) but rather one state (Palestine). The referendum is one which various Palestinian leaders have hammered out.

Which may seem like a very nice thing until one examines what exactly the referendum may entail. According to The Jerusalem Post, this referendum may include some of the following points (the whole page is posted here in case the one on The Jerusalem Post’s website becomes unavailable):

The document, negotiated earlier this month by senior Palestinian prisoners held by Israel has 18 points:

1. Establishment of a Palestinian state, return of refugees to their homes.

2. Incorporate Hamas and Islamic Jihad into PLO.

3. Resist Israeli occupation of lands captured in 1967 (West Bank and Gaza).

4. Formulate political plan including Arab summit resolutions, PLO platform and fair international proposals.

5. Consolidate the Palestinian Authority as the core of the state.

6. Set up a national unity government for all factions, especially Fatah and Hamas.

7. PLO and President Mahmoud Abbas would be in charge of peace negotiations.

8. Freedom for all Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

9. Aid for refugees.

10. Set up united movement for resistance against Israeli occupation with political backing.

11. Maintain democratic elections and politics.

12. Condemn Israeli and US siege on Palestinian people.

13. Promote national unity by backing the Palestinian Authority, president, PLO and government.

14. Ban on use of weapons in internal conflicts and renouncing divisions and (internal) violence.

15. Improve participation of people of Gaza in freedom and independence.

16. Reform and develop the security forces.

17. Pass laws to reorganize the security forces and ban security officers from political activity.

18. Boost efforts of international solidarity groups in struggles against Israeli occupation, settlements and security barrier.

In short, this is to ask Palestinians to approve the Arabs’ demands. There is nothing new. What is new is that this will establish a principle of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict rather than trying to establish a one-state solution. What with references to resistance, this also seems to indicate a continuation of the intifaaDah: it all depends on what they mean by “resistance” and “struggle.” The inclusion of The United States along with Israel as those sieging the Palestinians is puzzling but reflects the conspiracism of Arabs. What is also striking is that this documents seem to promote a united and concerted diplomatic and international public relations campaign.

Two points also stand out: the Palestinians’ right of return and the borders-to-be. What will matter is what exactly is meant by Palestinians returning to their home. Does this refer to the West Bank or to Israel proper as well? What exactly does “return to their homes” mean? There is nothing new here concerning the borders of the Palestinian territory: withdrawal to pre-1967 borders (that is, before the Six Day War; that is, withdrawing from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which would include Jerusalem).

How will Israel take this referendum, which people say will pass? The Israeli authorities would not be pleased. It would be, in fact, a step back in the peace process. Rather than accomodating with Israel, the palestinians are effectively backtracking to their original demands and demanding that they be met. They are, to use a phrase now in currency, moving the goalposts. Whereas before there was a chance for accomodation or agreement, this referendum essentially ends all chances for a successful bilateral solution.

Israel, however, has gone beyond depending on the Palestinians. After the success of the disengagement from the Gaza Strip, Israeli authorities are now set to draw their own borders and consolidate its territory. The Palestinians, for better or for worse, are not given any choice in the matter: they will be faced with a fait accompli. This referndum would validate the Israeli authorities’ policy: whereas the Israeli authorities are moving to a solution, the Palestinians are moving back into a position from which it would be virtually impossible for there to be a bilateral solution. This referendum ties down the Palestinian Authority’s hands. How much can they compromise when the Palestinians have unequivocally said what they want? Would Palestinians accept any deviation therefrom? If they do not, how will they express their rejection of any compromise made by the Palestinian Authority?

It is difficult to determine which is the better of the two evils: Hamas, which openly declares it will not negotiate or recognize Israel as a state, or the Palestinian Liberation Organization, which says it will negotiate but with ridiculous and impractical demands.

One must be very cautious about this supposedly brave venture by Mahmoud Abbas to dampen (or rein in) Hamas and establish parameters for a solution with Israel.

innaa naHnu-l-a’lam.

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Wiccans and Neo-Pagans and Satanists, Oh My!

May 23, 2006 at 5:20 pm (Christianity, Religion, Religions)

The problem with the word “Satanic” is that it has so many meanings and connotations. Whereas there have been some who have been swept up by the impression of serving the Evil One/Ones, Satan, Lucifer, Beelzebub, et cetera, and accordingly committing heinous crimes (“the Devil made me do it,” see also Faust and his pact with Mephistopheles), Satanism as an organized expression of spirituality/religion/whatever is somewhat different and spans various movements, from The Order of the Nine Angels (deeply secret, condoning human sacrifice) to The Temple of Set (where Set, previously the Ancient Egyptian devil-figure, is considered to be the one who helps humans “become” (kheper) or to come into their own) to some people in The Church of Satan (where “Satan” is a symbol rather than a being) – most being antinomian and proud of it. Some of them, such as The Church of Satan, establish themselves consciously as a foil to Christianity and Judaism. Others do not. Read the rest of this entry »

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Wiccans and Neo-Pagans and Satanists, Oh My!

May 23, 2006 at 5:20 pm (Uncategorized)

The problem with the word “Satanic” is that it has so many meanings and connotations. Whereas there have been some who have been swept up by the impression of serving the Evil One/Ones, Satan, Lucifer, Beelzebub, et cetera, and accordingly committing heinous crimes (“the Devil made me do it,” see also Faust and his pact with Mephistopheles), Satanism as an organized expression of spirituality/religion/whatever is somewhat different and spans various movements, from The Order of the Nine Angels (deeply secret, condoning human sacrifice) to The Temple of Set (where Set, previously the Ancient Egyptian devil-figure, is considered to be the one who helps humans “become” (kheper) or to come into their own) to some people in The Church of Satan (where “Satan” is a symbol rather than a being) – most being antinomian and proud of it. Some of them, such as The Church of Satan, establish themselves consciously as a foil to Christianity and Judaism. Others do not.

Those that do not are usually part of the so-called “left-hand path” of Western occultism. The difference between the “left-hand path” (abbreviated as “LHP”) and the “right-hand path” (abbreviated as “RHP”) is that the RHP believes in a person submitting to a higher power/to higher powers and curtailing one’s activities whereas the LHP believes in following only one’s own will. One may say that Aleister Crowley summed up the LHP with his oft-quoted quote: “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law” (The Book of the Law (also known as Liber AL and Liber AL vel Legis) I:40). LHP organizations are not all pagan (polytheistic) but most are part of occultism or esotericism.

The Temple of Set may even be said to be monotheistic or monolatrous with their focus being on Set. In this case, Set is not a symbol or a tool to be used: Set is believed to be an actual divine being who leads and guides the organization through a priesthood he has assembled. It may be called “Satanic” in that Set is the devil-figure of Ancient Egyptian polytheism (although Setians, as members of the Temple of Set may be called, believe this to have been an aberration) and that it is a LHP organization, which, in its elevation of humanity as divine or potentially divine and because of its antinomian character, can be considered Satanic or anti-God.

In order to give these movements a clear name with which they can be identified without confusing them with other varieties of Satanic movements, the term “Luciferian” is in common use among those who discuss or belong to this movement. This term comes from the name “Lucifer,” which means “the bringer of light.” Amongst many Christians (and those who believe in demons and other supernatural evil beings), “Lucifer” is a name associated with Satan. Some believe it is another name of Satan; others believe it refers to a separate infernal being. Some may see him as Muslims view Iblees: an angel who was cast out from heaven for disobeying God; once upon a time, a good guy; not, a bad guy. Luciferians claim that Lucifer, who has been misunderstood or falsely maligned by Christians, brings the light of enlightenment and self-fulfillment and progress and coming into one’s own or fulfilling one’s potential/destiny, which can be accomplished by discovering, developing, and furthering one’s self or one’s will. For some, they did not choose Lucifer specifically because he is viewed as a fallen angel by Christians, but it certainly is a happy coincidence for them. In the sense that Luciferians reject God’s supremacy and focus, instead, on their own deification, and that they honor (as a deity or as a symbol) a figure regularly considered to be a demon or Satan himself, one can call Luciferians “Satanic,” although some Luciferians will vociferously contest that label, seeing Satanism (in its more sensationalistic forms) as nothing but juvenile attempts to play with the occult, get a reaction from a shocked society, and indulge in petty lusts. (Many in The Temple of Set, for example, have a very low opinion of the organization and members of The Church of Satan and its various off-shoots.)

In the above cases, “Satanic” deals with the organization’s beliefs about and involvement with Satan or other entities considered to be evil.

(Tangent: By this definition, is The Church of Satan a Satanic organization? Despite the name, one can argue that The Church of Satan is, in fact, not Satanic. According to some in The Church of Satan, “Satan” is but a symbol of one’s desires and will. Their rites are a conscious mockery of Christianity. As such, because they do not believe in Satan but obviously believe in God (why would they try to mock God if they believed He did not exist?) and are Christians (why desecrate and mock Christian objects and Christianity if they do not believe Christianity to be true?), The Church of Satan is a heretical church of blatantly rebellious and offensive whiny Christians. Except unlike most heretics, who do not mean to be heretics, they mean to be heretics.)

Where does this leave Wiccans, neo-pagans, and other RHP-ers? Are they Satanic?

Here one enters into a very heated debated. Among some Christians, anything that rejects God’s supremacy is Satanic. Similarly, anything that opposes God (personally or one of His institutions) is Satanic. The word “Satanic” has been used to characterize everything from those who are not of one’s specific congregation or denomination to all those who do not belong to one’s religion to all occultists to only those who somehow use an infernal being. Thus, some Christians will say all but Baptists/Methodists/Pentecostals/Episcopalians are Satanic. Or all but Christians are Satanic. Or witches and diviners and astrologers and palm-readers and members of Western Mysticism are Satanic. Or that members of The Church of Satan are Satanic.

In other words, anything “false” can be labelled as “Satanic” (in that it is considered to be involved with or from or guided by or serving Satan), and what matters is how lenient one may be with categorizing what is false and what is not completely true. If Seventh-day Adventists are simply wrong, some will label them as “Satanic.” (As, in fact, some have done.) If Seventh-day Adventists have some things right but in other things are misguided, one can either be lenient and not label them as “Satanic” or one can consider this misguidedness as a sign of Satanism and label them, their truthiness notwithstanding, as “Satanic.”

As such, depending on how one defines “Satanic,” Wicca and other neo-pagan movements may or may not be Satanic.

From the perspective of various Christians organizations, neo-paganism and witchcraft are Satanic. They reject God. They reject Christianity/Judaism. They reject monotheism. As some see it, they go so far as to actively vilify/persecute/work against God and Christianity/Judaism and monotheism. (That there is an amount of ill will directed towards Christians and more traditional Jews cannot be denied, but these elements are part of the sociology of neo-paganism, not part of its theology or even religion. Furthermore, this is in no way universal.)

On the other hand, from the perspective of “Satanic” referring to LHP organizations or those that consciously deal with what they and others consider to be evil, they cannot be considered to be Satanic because they do not believe or deal with Satan (or any other evil demons) nor are they antinomian. There are rules, ethics, doctrines, standards, and morals among neo-pagans and their organizations. (Indeed, like other denominations of mainstream religions, various neo-pagan people and organizations become involved in very heated and acerbic debates, conflicts, and/or confrontations over these issues.) To label neo-pagans as “Satanic” because of a paradigm neo-pagans do not believe in would be unfair. To which some might respond: “Exactly. They do not accept our paradigm as true, so they are wrong, and hence they are Satanic.”

So the debate basically boils down to two points:
1. In labelling neo-pagans, whose perspective should be considered: the perspective of those who are not neo-pagans or of those who are?

2. What does “Satanic” mean? Does it mean “unwittingly or knowingly dealing with or guided by or serving Satan” or “consciously dealing with Satan, believing like the rest that he is evil”?

You decide.

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Reading From The Torah: What It Entails

May 22, 2006 at 12:44 pm (Islam, Judaism, Religion)

Many people believe "Bar Mitzvah" and "Bat Mitzvah" refers to a celebration when a Jewish boy or girl, respectively, comes of age. "Bar mitzvah" means, literally, "son of the commandment," meaning the boy is now under the yoke of the mitzvot (commandments) of Judaism. "Bat mitzvah" means "daughter of the commandment." This refers to the belief that on a boy's thirteenth birthday and on a girl's twelfth birthday, the child is considered an adult under Jewish law and, consequently, subject to its laws and commandments. This event is emphasized by giving the child the honor of reading from the Torah on the Sabbath after the child's relevant birthday. Whether the child reads from the Torah or not, whether there is a party or not, the child becomes a bar/bat mitzvah on the child's relevant birthday. Read the rest of this entry »

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Reading From The Torah: What It Entails

May 22, 2006 at 12:44 pm (Uncategorized)

Many people believe “Bar Mitzvah” and “Bat Mitzvah” refers to a celebration when a Jewish boy or girl, respectively, comes of age. “Bar mitzvah” means, literally, “son of the commandment,” meaning the boy is now under the yoke of the mitzvot (commandments) of Judaism. “Bat mitzvah” means “daughter of the commandment.” This refers to the belief that on a boy’s thirteenth birthday and on a girl’s twelfth birthday, the child is considered an adult under Jewish law and, consequently, subject to its laws and commandments. This event is emphasized by giving the child the honor of reading from the Torah on the Sabbath after the child’s relevant birthday. Whether the child reads from the Torah or not, whether there is a party or not, the child becomes a bar/bat mitzvah on the child’s relevant birthday.

One may wonder what the child recites, how it is determined. Almost every Sabbath has a parshah (portion of the Torah) assigned to it. Among Orthodox this is divided such that the whole Torah will be read each year. As the honor of reciting the Torah for a bar/bat mitzvah is given on the first Sabbath after the child’s relevant birthday, it is easy to determine ahead of time what the child’s parshah will be. The child does not have to concern himself/herself with the whole parshah. The parshah is divided into seven portions. The child will be given one of them.

So, the child reads one-seventh of a parshah of the Torah from a nice scroll. How hard can it be?

Actually, reading Hebrew is not so easy. Like Arabic, Hebrew is written only with consonants. Vowels are indicated by dots and dashes (niqqud) around the letter, also like Arabic. Also important are other diacritics such as the shva (which indicates a consonant is without a vowel or followed by what is called a schwa vowel (like the “a” in “about”)) and dagesh (a dot in the middle of certain letters which changes its pronunciation; an example is the letter “bet”: with the dagesh it is pronounced as “b,” without the dagesh it is pronounced as “v”). Also problematic is figuring out whether the qamatz (a vowel mark) is qamatz gadol (in which case it would be pronounced as “a”) or qamatz qatan (in which case it would be pronounced as “o”) – there is no differentiation in the text. Not to mention paying attention to the colon-like period. So much to pay attention to!

On top of this, Hebrew of the Hebrew Bible have other essential marks known as tropes, cantillation marks, or ta’amim. These are necessary for syntax and grammar. While reading, these are used to determine each word’s melody. There are about 23 separate tropes. One may say that when reading the Torah, the punctuation is sung. Each word has a troope. So the child has to learn the tropes.

In addition to this – yes, there is even more! – ever so often a word in the Torah is pronounced not the way it is written. That is, the recited word (qere) is different from the written word (ketiv).

The portion the child has to read is not all that short. Not just a few words or phrases or sentences. It’s more like a paragraph.

But this is not all. Get ready for the clincher.

The Torah scrolls, from which the child has to read, are “unpointed.” Meaning, on the scroll there are no niqqud, no dagesh, no tropes, no punctuation, no markings whatsoever. It is word followed by word – only consonants. What does this mean? This means that the child has to practically memorize all the vowels, tropes, punctuation, and other added material. And, if there are any qere-ketiv discrepancies, the child has to remember where exactly it is. The Torah scroll has only the ketiv with no indication of what the qere may be.

Considering this, the child certainly deserves the huge bash thrown in his/her honor.

Reading the Qur’an is extremely simple and easy compared to this. The Qur’an has its vowels and points and punctuation marks right there. There are no tropes or other cantillation marks or rules. Reading the Qur’an is practically mechanical: there is the consonant, determine the vowel according to the vowel-marking, consider some of the easy and universal rules concerning Arabic pronunciation, and then recite. Easy. Reciting the Torah, on the other hand, seems like a job for experts. Which it is. On ordinary Sabbaths, usually an expert on Torah reciting will recite the parshah for the Sabbath. Before the Sabbath, the expert (usually called a ba’al qeriah or ba’al qorei) will consult and familiarize himself using a book called a tikkun. It has the pointed text on one side, and the unpointed text (as found on the scrolls) on the other, side by side. There is probably no one who can turn to any random parshah and recite it without prior preparation.

Anyway, just to add some perspective. To all who have recited from the Torah, yasher koach! May you have strength! (This is the traditional greeting said to a bar/bat mitzvah after he/she has read from the Torah.)

innaa naHnu-l-a’lam.

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Regarding Reports That Iran Will Force Religious Minorities To Distinguish Themselves By Clothing

May 19, 2006 at 9:30 pm (Iran, Islam)

As some may have come to know, a news report was being circulated that stated that majles-e shooraa-ye eslaami (literally, the "Islamic Consultative Assembly," also known as the Majles or Parliament of Iran) passed a law requiring Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians to wear distinctive badges.

We must emphasize that this story is not entirely true. It is true that the Irani Majles passed legislation concerning clothing standards: this law does not contain any provision to distinguish religious minorities. However, during the debate on this legislation such distinguishing provisions were discussed. This is not to say that legislation enacting these provisions cannot be passed later on, so the situation is not all that rosy yet. To say that the Irani Majles did not pass legislation to distinguish minorities would be technically correct, but this would ignore the reality that such legislation may, in fact, be passed.

We must also emphasize that from what it seems, this was not some orchestrated or organized propaganda campaign by neo-conservatives. It seems that Irani exiles mistook the debate as actually amending the legislation, which had not happened. Yet.

In any case, that such debates took place by the Irani Majles ought to be of concern.

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Regarding Reports That Iran Will Force Religious Minorities To Distinguish Themselves By Clothing

May 19, 2006 at 9:30 pm (Uncategorized)

As some may have come to know, a news report was being circulated that stated that majles-e shooraa-ye eslaami (literally, the “Islamic Consultative Assembly,” also known as the Majles or Parliament of Iran) passed a law requiring Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians to wear distinctive badges.

We must emphasize that this story is not entirely true. It is true that the Irani Majles passed legislation concerning clothing standards: this law does not contain any provision to distinguish religious minorities. However, during the debate on this legislation such distinguishing provisions were discussed. This is not to say that legislation enacting these provisions cannot be passed later on, so the situation is not all that rosy yet. To say that the Irani Majles did not pass legislation to distinguish minorities would be technically correct, but this would ignore the reality that such legislation may, in fact, be passed.

We must also emphasize that from what it seems, this was not some orchestrated or organized propaganda campaign by neo-conservatives. It seems that Irani exiles mistook the debate as actually amending the legislation, which had not happened. Yet.

In any case, that such debates took place by the Irani Majles ought to be of concern.

innaa naHnu-l-a’lam.

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Bush Is A RINO. He’s Not Racist Enough.

May 19, 2006 at 9:13 pm (The United States)

There are some who charge that Republicans are all racist. It would then be no surprise that it is charged that Republican administrations are also racist. If so, perhaps Bush has been afflicted with color-blindness. There are too many minorities in his previous and current administrations for him to be found honoring The Republican Party's racist platform. Perhaps this means he's a RINO?

We feel We would be able to operate far better in The Republican Party, which does not really care all that much about a person's race, than in The Democrat(ic) Party, which does pay attention to race and expects its minorities to tow the Party's identity politics line. We refuse to engage in identity politics or tow any such line.

And We feel that people of any ethnicity would have it better in The Republican Party for the same reasons. The vilification of minority politicians who reject The Democrat(ic) Party's stand on these issues demonstrates how irrationally chained Democrats are to such ideologies that keep people behind and enabled.

In order to empower minorities, one must disregard the fact that someone is part of a minority: de-emphasize a person's minority status rather than elevating it.

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Bush Is A RINO. He’s Not Racist Enough.

May 19, 2006 at 9:13 pm (Uncategorized)

There are some who charge that Republicans are all racist. It would then be no surprise that it is charged that Republican administrations are also racist. If so, perhaps Bush has been afflicted with color-blindness. There are too many minorities in his previous and current administrations for him to be found honoring The Republican Party’s racist platform. Perhaps this means he’s a RINO?

We feel We would be able to operate far better in The Republican Party, which does not really care all that much about a person’s race, than in The Democrat(ic) Party, which does pay attention to race and expects its minorities to tow the Party’s identity politics line. We refuse to engage in identity politics or tow any such line.

And We feel that people of any ethnicity would have it better in The Republican Party for the same reasons. The vilification of minority politicians who reject The Democrat(ic) Party’s stand on these issues demonstrates how irrationally chained Democrats are to such ideologies that keep people behind and enabled.

In order to empower minorities, one must disregard the fact that someone is part of a minority: de-emphasize a person’s minority status rather than elevating it.

innaa naHnu-l-a’lam.

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