Proof that pizza is divine

February 27, 2007 at 3:17 pm (Amusement, Christianity, Languages, Religion)

From the invitatory* in Latin: “Veníte, exsultémus Dómino” (Psalm 95:1), which means, “Come, let us exult in Domino[‘s pizza]” although the Vatican, in its usual traditional, old-fashioned, conspiratorial, and literalist way, says that its translation is “Come, let us exult in the Lord” (and this is, quite technically, the literal translation), but we know the real interpretation.

*The invitatory is a psalm, usually Psalm 95, that is recited before the day’s first office in the Liturgy of the Hours.

(For Tuesday, February 27, anno Domini 2007; Tuesday of the First Week of Lent, the 7th day in Lent, the 6th day of penitence of Lent.)

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Regarding the clash of civilizations

February 23, 2007 at 4:06 am (The Rest, The United States, The West)

A recent incident, wherein a man killed his daughters and then himself over frustration over his daughters’ evident desire to pursue the Western way of things rather than the traditional way of life, underscores how the clash of civilizations is not simply a matter between states or areas of the world but is, indeed, a matter that transcends borders.

This man lived in the West. The clash between his civilization and that of where he was living should have been anticipated. And that he felt impotent to control his daughters further underscores the difference between key values of the clashing civilizations: whereas one remains committed to controlling lives and imposing upon people an antiquated way of life, one wherein one has few, if any, choices, and the other that grants to each person the freedom to make choices for oneself, whether for better or for worse. So if a silly-headed girl wants to marry that cameraman for a wedding video production company rather than some better off businessman, she may. She has the freedom to make or break her life.

What may be further nauseating is that still we, the West, are accused of devaluing people, of cheapening people’s worth and lives. They cannot see that the very fact a person may prostitute oneself in wanton sex if he or she so desires precisely underscores the value we place on a person and his or her life: so valuable is that person and his or her life that we dare not interfere in how he or she seeks enjoyment and meaning, even if it means doing completely idiotic things.

A child can do anything he or she wants: become an engineer, become an artist, become a dahipb designer, become an astronaut, even become President of The United States. His or her decisions are not determined by his or her parents or society. Unto each person is given a blank book to fill in, not a sheet within which to fill in the blanks.

This is the continuation of the age-old debate between individualism and communalism. We have seen that communalism does not help a society progress and rise: it keeps the society, and its people individually, stifled with antiquated systems and rules that cannot be questioned or changed. Stagnant and inferior, such societies simply cannot compete with Western civilization. We have seen that with the elevation of the individual, we prosper society itself.

This incident is quite alarming. We need to be more sensitive to the offspring of immigrants, ensuring they are safe. We must do more to pressure our immigrants to adopt our civilization, to embrace it, to honor it. We must impress on them that they cannot presume to shield their charges from the irresistsble draw of our civilization, that if they think their charges would be better off dead than autonomous, they should leave. Now.

We are becoming too soft about our civilization, too tolerant of attempts to lavish praise on every civilization except ours. Do we really need immigrants and the children of immigrants to remind you how great Western civilization is? Does America really need our pontificating before its people will stiffen their spines and make it clear that our civilization, your civilization, is something to be promoted, cherished, and defended?

If immigrants leave a civilization to enter ours so as to progress, it speaks volumes about the civilization they left behind. For the sake of our people, let is impress upon them that they must leave their civilization behind. Enough with the relativism. Enough with the patronization. Let is get started defending and cherishing our civilization.

For Thursday, February 22, AD 2007, the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, the second day in Lent, the second penitential day of Lent.

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Random thoughts on the Liturgy of the Hours

February 22, 2007 at 8:06 am (Christianity, Religion)

While a detailed explanation of the Liturgy of the Hours (also known as the “Divine Office” and the “Divine Hours”) is forthcoming, I should mention that the year is divided unto four volumes: Volume I deals with the Advent and Christmas seasons; Volume II deals with the Lenten and Easter seasons; Volume III deals with the weeks in Ordinary Time (that is, outside of any season) between the Christmas and Lenten seasons; Volume IV deals with the weeks in Ordinary Time between the Easter and Advent seasons. It seems we just began Volume III.

There have been many changes to the Liturgy of the Hours since Vatican II, but most of these changes have been good: they have simplified the practice, making it more appealing to the laity to join in these prayers. Rather than simply being the Church’s prayer in the mouth of clergy and religious, it is now the Church’s prayer in the mouth of all types of members thereof.

Before Vatican II, though, the last major reform was during the pontificate of Pope St. Pius X. As his pontificate was not too long ago and as his changes were quite sweeping, one cannot claim that Vatican II’s changes did away with anything ageless. (If I remember correctly, the popes after him, to give some perspective, have been Blessed John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI.)

(For Tuesday, February 21, AD 2007, Ash Wednesday, the first day in the season of Lent, the first penitential day of Lent.)

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Thanks, and a plan

February 21, 2007 at 5:52 am (Christianity, Personal)

First of all, my most heart-felt thanks and expressions of gratitude to those who responded to my last post. Every response has made an impact. Thank you so very much.

Second, an update of sorts. Tomorrow is Wednesday, February 21. According to Western (especially Catholic) Christianity, it is Ash Wednesday, the first day of the approximately forty days of repentance, penitence, sacrifice, and self-denial before Easter’s Holy Week, which period is known as Lent. My plan is to post at least one post every fasting day of Lent (which means, roughly, every weekday and Saturday) and to post what thoughts come forth according to the prayers and readings of the day from the Liturgy of the Hours. (Of course, part of this will include an extensive explanation of this age-old practice of daily prayer by Christians.) Not every post will be spiritual, nor necessarily significant, but I hope through this almost daily discipline (the praying and posting) I will learn, realize, and gain much.

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And so dies a dream

February 15, 2007 at 10:11 pm (Dr. David Cook, Personal)

One of my goals in life was to go to graduate school, study militant Islamist Islam, and get a doctorate therein.

But, now, no more.

I have given up my academic aspirations, for which this blog was part practice, part entertainment, part jump start. Instead, I have chosen to embark on a more practical path. There are two major reasons for this: one has to do with age and propriety, and the other has to do with Islamism in academia.

I am almost thirty. Now is not the time to start my graduate education. I have to start making a living or at least walk towards some goal that will financially provide for me. I have a trajectory in mind, which was not what I expected; and to a degree this trajectory is not what I would have preferred nor is it one I am thrilled about with my heart and soul. But it is the direction I need to go in, my personal feelings notwithstanding.

The second point is also significant, if not more significant than the last one. If one takes a view of Islam in academia, one sees certain academic giants, of whom the primary is probably John Esposito. These giants practically determine what is said and taught about Islam. They are, quite tellingly, supported by a plethora or organizations which praise them to the sky. These are all deliberate. Islamists (which include Islamist Muslims, non-Muslims who support Islamist Muslims, and those who are naïve and hoodwinked by the two) have in place measures to control the academic discourse on Islam. Scholars who go against their agenda are discredited. One example is Daniel Pipes. One exception is Bernard Lewis. Those who are ostracized are so treated not only through institutional means but also by smear campaigns and by attempting to drown what these scholars are saying with what scholars they support say.

As such, it is quite difficult to go into academia desiring to study and specialize in militant Islam from an accurate and truly academic perspective and expect to make it. One of my favorite scholars on militant Islam, Dr. David Cook, did not start with militant Islam. His focus was on apocalypticism in Islam. So, I would have to find an indirect way into gaining acceptance as a scholar and then turn towards militant Islam.

This blog, consequently, will become my main outlet for my study of militant Islam. Rather than making this study my vocation, it will now be my hobby. And as with all hobbies, real life comes first. Hence the lack of posting.

One request: I do not have time any more to sit, browse through the many blogs I like to find out what is going on in the world, and blog about it. I’ll blog as I feel the need to say something. But if one of you, my dear and long-suffering readers, have something you would like me to blog about, please do e-mail me and tell me about it.

Until next time…be well! Read the rest of this entry »

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Of taking up the Cross

February 1, 2007 at 8:35 pm (Christianity, History)

Thank you for that comment, echnaton. (By the way, your “name” reminds me of Akhenaton’s.)

Unlike embarking on a jihad, someone desiring to embark on a Crusade had to go through a special rite or ritual during which a cross was sewn or painted onto the person’s clothes. This cross meant that the person was going forth for the Cross (that is, is a Crusader) and, as such, enjoyed the privileges bestowed upon such penitents. (“Taking up the Cross” was considered a penitential act; like pilgrimage (whose symbol was, I believe, a scallop), those embarking on a Crusade were granted certain spiritual and secular rights or privileges, including immunity.)

Each Crusade in each area had to be approved by the proper ecclesiastical authorities (usually the Pope). In some cases, the Pope exhorted certain areas or people to “take up the Cross” and in other cases the Pope declared that the obligation of taking up the Cross could (or ought) to be fullfilled by undertaking a campaign to somewhere other than the Levant. Examples include exhorting the French (yes, at one time they did fight) to launch a Crusade against the Albigensian (did I spell that right?) heresy, and exhorting the Spanish to expell the Muslim rulers and restore Iberia to Christian rule.

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Of mujahidun and Crusaders

February 1, 2007 at 2:33 am (Arabic, Languages, World War III)

Eric says:

Wouldn’t the English word Crusader have the same meaning as mujāhid?

Excellent comment.

The word “Crusader” comes to us from Latin, and is derived ultimately from the Latin word “crux”, meaning “cross” as in the symbol of Christianity. This is because the “Crusades” were called the “wars of the Cross”, fought in behalf of and for Christ’s endangered people in the East.

The Arabic equivalent, which is used quite commonly, is (singular: صليبي, Salībī; nominative plural: صليبيون, Salībiyyūn; oblique plural: صليبيين, Salībiyyīn) — derived from (صليب, Salīb, “cross”) — and meaning “of or pertaining to the (Christian) cross”. In other words, Cross-ites or Cross-ians, as it were. Which is quite close to “Crusader” on a variety of levels.

Both words refer, originally, to one or to those who fight(s) for Christianity.

Now, the root for (مجاهد, mujāhid) is (جهد, jahada), meaning (to) “struggle”. Now, the common active form would be (مجهد, mujahid), but (جهد, jahad) is different from the IIIrd form thereof, (جهاد, jihād), and the IIIrd form’s corresponding active form is (مجاهد, mujāhid). Thus, (مجاهد, mujāhid) does not mean “one who struggles” but rather “one who wages religious war”.

(Sidenote: So, note this: the fact that (جهاد, jihād, “to wage religious war”) is derived from (جهد, jahad, “to struggle”) means nothing. In fact, so central is this concept that the root has a special form that means specifically “religious war”. And so if someone is taking about (جهاد, jihād) and not (جهد, jahad), one is talking solely about religious war. None of this spiritual stuff that is taken for the normative interpretation.)

As such, “Crusader” and “mujāhid” mean different things semantically and etymologically. In a sense, it is possible to call Crusaders mujāhidun but, because of the word’s origin in “cross” one cannot call a Muslim of any sort a Crusader. It is, properly, an exclusively Christian term. (Similarly, one cannot or ought not to apply the word “Crusader” to any non-Christian.) It’s a logical issue: why would a non-Christian fight for the Cross?

Now, their connotation in the native languages is similar: both refer to holy warriors; both words have a positive and, indeed, even reverential connotation. However, when Christians use “mujāhid“, it is in a derogatory sense, just as when Muslims use “Crusader”. And so, as far as words are concerned, it’s still a mess.

In other words: “mujāhid” (“one who wages religious war”) does not mean the same thing as “Crusader” (“one who fights for the cross”) — at least explicitly. And while Crusaders can be said to be mujāhidūn of sorts, not all mujāhidūn are Crusaders or can be called such. However, there is something to be said about connotation.

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