Thursday, April 23, 2009

Does Critical Thinking Prevent Extremism?

In his column today, Nicolas Kristoff says that Islamic scholars are beginning to apply tools of critical scholarship to the Koran. He argues that ultimately scholarship and intellect are one way to fight fundamentalism and intolerance.

But are they?

An excerpt from the article:

n Afghanistan, 300 brave women marched to demand a measure of equal rights, defying a furious mob of about 1,000 people who spat, threw stones and called the women “whores.” The marchers asserted that a woman should not need her husband’s consent to go to school or work outside the home.

In Pakistan, the Taliban flogged a teenage girl in front of a crowd, as two men held her face down in the dirt. A video shows the girl, whose “crime” may have been to go out of her house alone, crying piteously that she will never break the rules again.

Muslim fundamentalists damage Islam far more than any number of Danish cartoonists ever could, for it’s inevitably the extremists who capture the world’s attention. But there is the beginning of an intellectual reform movement in the Islamic world, and one window into this awakening was an international conference this week at the University of Notre Dame on the latest scholarship about the Koran.

“We’re experiencing right now in Koranic studies a rise of interest analogous to the rise of critical Bible studies in the 19th century,” said Gabriel Said Reynolds, a Notre Dame professor and organizer of the conference.


And a comment from a reader:
"Absolutely, but note that there is an increasingly large number of "Christians" in the US (and I suppose elsewhere) who decry biblical scholarship as the work of the Devil. They prefer charismatic, uneducated leaders who will open the book to whatever page comes up, read the text that God points their finger to, and lead off from there, as they believe they are then hearing the Word of God, and these people are as increasingly intolerant of any religious views differing from their own as anyone in the Taliban or any other fundamentalist religious group is."


What do you think?

Monday, April 20, 2009

OALC Compared to Wal-Mart

From The Daily News Online:

WOODLAND — A church under construction along Dike Road will be neighbors with a new Wal-Mart Superstore, and besides locations it will share one other thing with the retail giant. Like Wal-Mart, the Old Apostolic Lutheran Church is expanding rapidly.

The new 36,000-square-foot sanctuary is the congregation’s third location, adding to churches it already has in Brush Prairie and Battle Ground in north Clark County. The new church will hold up to 1,200 people, making it one of Cowlitz County’s largest houses of prayer.

“Many of the young families ... have been drifting north toward Woodland because of lower property and home values” than Clark County, David Halme, a Battle Ground resident and church trustee, said in a phone interview Wednesday.

The church has been planned for about five years. It’s taken time to raise money for construction, obtain permits and get the 10-acre site annexed into the city, Halme said.

In the past month, a contractor has stacked dirt on the site to compact the ground and make it more stable. The site must settle, and the congregation still is raising money, so construction of the building itself may not start until next year and will take a year to complete. Congregation members will donate most of the labor and materials, cutting the expected $9.5 million costs in half, Halme said.

“It’s wonderful we have the opportunity to do that,” he said.

When the church built its Battle Ground sanctuary, about “99 percent of the work was done by the congregation,” he said.

Halme said the church purchased its land before Wal-Mart announced plans to build nearby, and the church doesn’t mind the close proximity to the box store. Wal-Mart is expected to start building its store in the next couple of months.

Church officials also welcome the opportunity to potentially neighbor a new Woodland High School. The church owns land next to 40-acres owned by the school district to someday house a new school. The school property sits between the church and Wal-Mart property.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Do NOT Unto Them As They're Doing Unto You

In a comment thread that was getting out of control, I felt compelled to delete an exchange between two "anonymouses" (please give yourself monikers, people! or risk deletion!) that was tit-for-tat.

Anonymous One said (essentially) "We in the OALC will pray for you heathens" and Anonymous Two responded "No, we'll pray for YOU, loser."

Now, now, now, children! (In my grandma's Finnish accent.)

We are all familiar with prayer aggression, and it isn't nice. Or Christian, for that matter. I've closed comments on that thread, and invite you all to talk on this one, about anything that interests you. (Has anyone read the latest Newsweek?)

Just play nicely because I won't be around to supervise. I'm off for a little vacation with my sisters and looking forward to long hours of conversation, good food, and walks on the beach.

Wish me fair skies!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Laestadian Women Sharing Wisdom

A friend sent me this link to a site called Prime On A Dime, apparently written by Laestadian women in Battle Ground, Washington. It features cost-saving advice for homemakers. While you can (and frankly, you should) question the nutritive value of the recipes, it is entirely wholesome that these women are sharing their skills with "the world," not just those in a like-minded community.

I might even try making my own (phosphate-free) laundry soap.

In this economy, I think we will find modern twists on taking in wash or boarders (as my grandmother did to make it through hard times). After seeing advertising on the website above, I decided to try it here. Let me know what you think. I've written this blog for many years now, and it hadn't occurred to me to make it a source of income. But hey, times are tough!