Dark Christianity
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dogemperor [userpic]
Happy December 25th


Today is Saturnalia, the birthday of the Invincible Sun, who, while having this day poached by a bunch of cheeky newcomers, is, still Invincible to this day.

It is also Christmas for people on the Gregorian calendar. For those still on the old Julian calendar, your Christmas will be in twelve days. Ever wonder where the Twelve Days of Christmas came from? Before commerce ruined the holiday for everyone by cranking its advent well towards Columbus Day, Christmas Day was the start of all the festivities, cumulating in the Twelfth Night celebration on Epiphany, January 6th. Here in the weary USA, the festivities stop tonight, and tomorrow is the contest for how early one can get one's tree to the curb. Of course, since the dang thing has been up since Black Friday, it would be reasonable to remove such a fire hazard from the home. Had the tree been put up on Christmas Eve, as was once the tradition, it could remain for the entire 12 days.

Ah, well.

Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Day Off, Happy Saturnalia, Happy [insert celebration here]. To all of you who have recently arrived, welcome. Please make sure to read the posting guidelines on our userinfo page. Doing so will keep me from donning my moderator hat and deleting inappropriate posts. We're just 7 people short of busting 1000 registered users, which is a real surprise for such an esoteric and specialized subject.

But your participation, attention, and spreading the word have had some effect already. The Dominionist onslaught on our country and government, while not reversed or halted- has been tripped up by people figuring out what they are up to. No longer can they get away with dwelling in relative obscurity. People like Frederick Clarkson, Jeff Sharlet, Mikey Weinstein, and many others have diligently been working to reveal the machinations of these True Believers™ and their grabs for power and money. The takeovers of mainline churches have slowed down, or in some notable cases, have been halted, the sedition in the Pentagon and USAF Academy has been revealed and is being investigated, and several of the leaders of this movement have fallen during the year- most notably Pastor Ted Haggard, who was featured in a Sharlet article "Soldiers of God" last year. And the stunning defeat of the Republican majority in both the House and Senate was a big hint that people are tired of the status quo, the hypocracy, and the overbearing attitudes, and want change.

It is OK to worship and believe what you will- our country permits that. What is not OK is to impose one religious criteria upon an entire population or government. We cannot rest, however. The religious right might have suffered a setback, but it has not thrown in the towel. The Intelligent Design advocates are now attacking physics and astronomy and other hard sciences thought to be immune from their onslaught. There's a bigoted battle going on about a Congressman using something other than a Bible to swear his oath of service. And the religious war against homosexuals and female reproductive autonomy and self-determination continues on, unabated.

Remain vigilant, stand your ground, and remember that some of these people are "Christian" in name only. Consider their deeds, not their words. And keep up the good work.

dogemperor [userpic]
St Francis and the antithesis of domionism

LJ-SEC: (ORIGINALLY POSTED BY [info]horvendile)

This is in today's NY Times.

Op-Ed Contributor

The Peaceful Crusader

Published: December 25, 2006

AMID all the useless bloodshed of the Crusades, there is one story that suggests an extended clash of civilizations between Islam and the West was not preordained. It concerns the early 13th-century friar Francis of Assisi, who joined the Fifth Crusade not as a warrior but as a peacemaker.

Francis was no good at organization or strategy and he knew it. He accepted the men and women who presented themselves as followers, befriended them and shared the Gospel with them. But he gave them little else. He expected them to live like him: rejecting distinctions of class, forgoing honors of church or king or commune, taking the words of Jesus literally, owning nothing, suffering for God’s sake, befriending every outcast — leper, heretic, highwayman — thrust in their path.

Francis was not impressed by the Crusaders, whose sacrilegious brutality horrified him. They were entirely too fond of taunting and abusing their prisoners of war, who were often returned to their families minus nose, lips, ears or eyes.

In Francis’ view, judgment was the exclusive province of the all-merciful God; it was none of a Christian’s concern. True Christians were to befriend all yet condemn no one. Give to others, and it shall be given to you, forgive and you shall be forgiven, was Francis’ constant preaching. “May the Lord give you peace” was the best greeting one could give to all one met. It compromised no one’s dignity and embraced every good; it was a blessing to be bestowed indiscriminately. Francis bestowed it on people named George and Jacques and on people named Osama and Saddam. Such an approach, in an age when the most visible signs of the Christian religion were the wars and atrocities of the red-crossed crusaders, was shockingly otherworldly and slyly effective.

Symbolic gesture, Francis’ natural language, was a profound source he called on throughout his life. In one of its most poignant expressions, Francis sailed across the Mediterranean to the Egyptian court of al-Malik al-Kamil, nephew of the great Saladin who had defeated the forces of the hapless Third Crusade. Francis was admitted to the august presence of the sultan himself and spoke to him of Christ, who was, after all, Francis’ only subject.

Trying to proselytize a Muslim was cause for on-the-spot decapitation, but Kamil was a wise and moderate man, who was deeply impressed by Francis’ courage and sincerity and invited him to stay for a week of serious conversation. Francis, in turn, was deeply impressed by the religious devotion of the Muslims, especially by their five daily calls to prayer; it is quite possible that the thrice-daily recitation of the Angelus that became current in Europe after this visit was precipitated by the impression made on Francis by the call of the muezzin (just as the quintessential Catholic devotion of the rosary derives from Muslim prayer beads).

It is a tragedy of history that Kamil and Francis were unable to talk longer, to coordinate their strengths and form an alliance. Had they been able to do so, the phrase “clash of civilizations” might be unknown to our world.

Francis went back to the Crusader camp on the Egyptian shore and desperately tried to convince Cardinal Pelagius Galvani, whom Pope Honorius III had put in charge of the Crusade, that he should make peace with the sultan, who, despite far greater force on his side, was all too ready to do so. But the cardinal had dreams of military glory and would not listen. His eventual failure, amid terrible loss of life, brought the age of the crusades to its inglorious end.

Donald Spoto, one of Francis of Assisi’s most recent biographers, rightly calls Francis “the first person from the West to travel to another continent with the revolutionary idea of peacemaking.” As a result of his inability to convince Cardinal Pelagius, however, Francis saw himself as a failure. Like his model, Jesus of Nazareth, Francis was an extremist. But his failure is still capable of bearing new fruit.

Islamic society and Christian society have been generally bad neighbors now for nearly 14 centuries, eager to misunderstand each other, often borrowing culturally and intellectually from each other without ever bestowing proper credit. But as Sir Jonathan Sacks, chief rabbi of the British Commonwealth, has written, almost as if he was thinking of Kamil and Francis, “Those who are confident of their faith are not threatened but enlarged by the different faiths of others. ... There are, surely, many ways of arriving at this generosity of spirit and each faith may need to find its own.” We stand in desperate need of contemporary figures like Kamil and Francis of Assisi to create an innovative dialogue. To build a future better than our past, we need, as Rabbi Sacks has put it, “the confidence to recognize the irreducible, glorious dignity of difference.”

May the Lord give you peace.

Whee Festivus everyone.

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