Posts Tagged ‘Qur’an’

As some may be aware, the spiritual book group that we host in our home with Universal Church of the Master Alberta, chose as the follow up to the Aquarian Gospel, the Qur’an. The Ahmaddiyya mosque was graceful enough to provide a missionary in the early days to answer some questions, and free copies in English for us.

I have read the Qur’an myself, but this quest is better because these texts were meant for discussion, as all the texts in the Abrahamic Traditions are. By Abrahamic I do subscribe to the spectrum of Christianities; the rainbow of Judaisms, the branches of Islam. As well those anthropologically that have roots in these traditions but now can be viewed as their own religion– Jehovah Witnesses; Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints; New Thought; some veins of New Age; Spiritualist; some veins of Metaphysics; Sufism and I am sure there are some I have missed. Yes the texts are written down, but they truly come alive when we understand genre, intended audience, historical background, and then let the current life context breathe spiritual life into these ancient words for us today.

To remember this, sometimes one must step off their usual path of spirituality. Or in the images of Rev. Matthew Fox, take a sip from another’s well.

That is what this quest has done. Refreshing water. Nothing astoundingly new. The language of the text into the first four Suryas is written in contrast, contractual and devoutly covenant between Allah and all those testaments of the people of the book that came before. While discussing, reading and discovering on this quest we see parallels between the Hebrew Bible, Christian Testament, and Eastern spirituality.

I encourage each of you to seek the story that resonates, but never be afraid to sip from another’s well. Within that new water may be the taste to replenish your well…


…Jesus son of Mary, honoured in this world and in the next, and of those granted nearness to God.

-Sura 3:46

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† The Crusades were a horrific time within the Empire phase of Christianity. It was about anti-Semitism (travelling to and from the Holy Land was a great excuse for the warriors to cull the Jewish in the lands) and to let blood run high in the Holy Land battling the ‚Äúinfidel‚ÄĚ.

During one such crusade time a disgraced Crusader received a call to something different. Francis was a party animal, one of those wealthy ne’er do wells many towns and communities know of. He thought to increase his lot by bravery in the Crusades…suffice to say he was not a good Knight, and wound up injured in a burnt out church where Jesus spoke to him through the San Damiano cross calling him to rebuild his church. After stealing supplies from his father, and rebuilding 3 fine parishes he was once again revisited and redirected to actual community based around hope and loved. Even beaten and imprisoned by his own parents, just emboldened this man to cast of (literally) the clothes of wealth and walk naked into the world.

The Franciscan movement is what began. Part of the life lived that receives little mention outside of the international circles (as most just know Francis for his love of animals, not activism) so he has been reduced to the garden statue or fountain. Yet it was in the midst of crusade times this rabble rouser and friends upset the apple cart, and not just in the challenge for equity and justice for the poor. Nope, he also crossed treasonous lines by going back onto the Crusader path to meet with Sultan.


To pray together.

To talk.

To share bread.

To be community.

Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was ever inclined to God and obedient to Him, and he was not of those who associate gods with God.

-Sura 3:68

Francis and his community understood an eternal truth. God is the source of all that is, all that exists within and through and lived out of the Holy Mystery. The source-Love- was not to be confused with the manifestations. That is…the wells are not the river.

We want the labels to divide. Those in power hope that we allow the labels to divide. Yet, there is another way. A way where we acknowledge the One River, and sample one another’s well water in a safe place of community, sharing prayers, sharing discourse, sharing bread. Being like Francis and the Sultan. That piece of light in the darkness.

And he will teach them the Book, and The Wisdom, and The Torah and the Gospel.

-Sura 3: 49

This is why my family hosts an inter-faith Questing through the Qur’an; and a Brunch & Bible (where we travel the roads of the Gospel of Luke & Acts of the Apostles) on alternating weeks. To share the foundation stories. To see where we connect. To hear where we differ.

To know  we are still united in our diversity.

                Much like Francis’ call to bring the gifts of peace, hope, faith, joy and love to Sultan. But also to receive these same gifts from Sultan.

For, what are we in humanity,

if not neighbours….


The Gospel story, the faith story has not ended. It is not sealed. Each of us in our journeys, our lives continue to write in the book of life about how we live within, through and out of the love that is the Holy Mystery. So what is the new chapter you are starting in this moment?

The later 1990’s early 2000’s through the United Church Observer is when I became aware of a Matriarchal Wisdom movement, that sadly has fallen off the radar. Women from some U.C. congregations, local mosque and synagogues in Ontario were meeting on a project to bring the three major Abrahamic faith texts together (Hebrew Bible, Christian Testament and the Qur’an). The idea being to provide the cross-reference texts through all three to show how the faiths are more similar and connected than adversarial.

Part of why I am enjoying being the host family for UCM Alberta’s questing through the Qur’an is the real-life reproduction of this project. The past gets together we had a local mosque’s missionary via skype for roughly half the time being able to answer questions, share in readings and discussions. It was also good as I have written about before as common ground allows good things to grow, and that can change our world better than anything.

This post points to an horribly overlooked point in western religious world, and that is the idea of equality and equity for all God’s children and creation. Our continued readings through Sura 2 highlighted the equality and protection of men and women afforded equally through contrasting divorce laws instead of discussing marriage vows. Yet it also shone a light on the ending of scape goatism, and standing firm in yourself accepting the consequences one’s own actions creates regardless of their socio-economic status.

O ye who believe! Equitable retaliation in the matter of the slain is prescribed for you: the free man for the free man, and the slave for the slave, and the female for the female. But if one is granted any remission by one’s brother then pursuing the matter for realization of the blood money shall be done with fairness and the murderer shall pay him the blood money in a handsome manner. This is an alleviation from your Lord and a mercy. And whoso transgresses thereafter, for him there shall be a grievous punishment.

-Sura 2:179

At first reading, this appears to be a retelling of the eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth teaching from Exodus 21:24. This short treatise was a counter-culture teaching that stopped the children of Israel from restraining ancient justice and wiping out whole townships due to a small infraction, the response was now commanded to be measured response. This can appear as an expansion, as it points out that you could not buy your way out of offense, or use a wife, or a slave or a societal lesser to pay for your crime as was a normative practice as well. You were responsible for your actions, no one else.

Yet it was more. For it truly echoes back to the nativity story. Think of it, a movement of one of the holiest prophets/messiahs/spiritual teachers, Brother Jesus, came from a working-poverty class village, where life expectancy was on average forty years old. Chances are carpenter was a political choice of translation, when in fact he was part of the unskilled labouring classes. Joseph arranged and purchased Mary, she had no voice (regardless of what you believe about the conception of Jesus, she was a teen girl who was sold by her family as was the practice of the time) in whom she would wed.

Yet this is what the Christian testament tells us of the voice in the decision to birth Jesus:

18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. His mother Mary was engaged[a] to marry Joseph, but before they married, she learned she was pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Mary’s husband, Joseph, was a good man, he did not want to disgrace her in public, so he planned to divorce her secretly.

20¬†While Joseph thought about these things, an angel of the Lord came to him in a dream. The angel said, ‚ÄúJoseph, descendant of David, don‚Äôt be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the baby in her is from the Holy Spirit.¬†21¬†She will give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus,[b]¬†because he will save his people from their sins.‚ÄĚ

22¬†All this happened to bring about what the Lord had said through the prophet:¬†23¬†‚ÄúThe virgin will be pregnant. She will have a son, and they will name him Immanuel,‚ÄĚ[c]¬†which means ‚ÄúGod is with us.‚ÄĚ

24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the Lord’s angel had told him to do. Joseph took Mary as his wife, 25 but he did not have sexual relations with her until she gave birth to the son. And Joseph named him Jesus.

-Matthew 1:18-25 (New Century Version)

Part two was Joseph choosing to be apart of this. He had many options before him, as Matthew’s text was written for the Jewish members of the Jesus movement. Culturally they knew that Joseph could have Mary killed for adultery, or simply cast her and the baby outside the village to work in the sex trade and begging until her and the child died, these were the quietly put away moments. What this contrasting showed, was the Joseph heard the same choice to be made by the angel, and had to make a choice. In this small of a centre he knew the whispers, the scandal, the gossip, the possible loss of income and what the world his son would be entering into in this microcosm, and even the scorn that could come to Mary. Yet he needed to choose. One of 2 that had to choose.

26¬†In¬†the¬†sixth¬†month¬†of Elizabeth‚Äôs pregnancy,¬†the¬†angel¬†Gabriel¬†was¬†sent¬†by¬†God¬†to¬†a¬†town¬†of¬†Galilee¬†called¬†Nazareth,¬†27¬†to¬†a¬†virgin¬†engaged¬†to a¬†man¬†whose¬†name¬†was¬†Joseph, a¬†descendant¬†of¬†David,¬†and¬†the¬†virgin‚Äôsname¬†was¬†Mary.¬†28¬†The¬†angel¬†came¬†to¬†her¬†and¬†said, ‚ÄúGreetings,¬†favored one,¬†the¬†Lord¬†is¬†with¬†you!‚Ä̬†29¬†But¬†she was¬†greatly troubled¬†by¬†his¬†words and¬†began to¬†wonder¬†about the¬†meaning¬†of¬†this¬†greeting.¬†30¬†So¬†the¬†angel said¬†to¬†her, ‚ÄúDo¬†not¬†be¬†afraid,¬†Mary,¬†for¬†you have¬†found¬†favor¬†with¬†God!¬†31¬†Listen:¬†You will¬†become¬†pregnant¬†and¬†give birth¬†to¬†a¬†son,¬†and¬†you will¬†name¬†him¬†Jesus.¬†32¬†He¬†will¬†be¬†great,¬†and¬†will¬†be¬†called¬†the¬†Son¬†of the¬†Most High,¬†and¬†the¬†Lord¬†God¬†will¬†give¬†him¬†the¬†throne¬†of¬†his¬†father¬†David.¬†33¬†He will¬†reign¬†over¬†the¬†house¬†of¬†Jacob¬†forever,¬†and¬†his¬†kingdom¬†will¬†neverend.‚Ä̬†34¬†Mary¬†said¬†to¬†the¬†angel, ‚ÄúHow¬†will¬†this¬†be,¬†since¬†I have¬†not¬†been intimate with¬†a¬†man?‚Ä̬†35¬†The¬†angel¬†replied,¬†‚ÄúThe¬†Holy¬†Spirit¬†will¬†come upon¬†you,¬†and¬†the¬†power¬†of the¬†Most High¬†will¬†overshadow¬†you.¬†There fore¬†the child¬†to be¬†born¬†will be¬†holy;¬†he will be¬†called¬†the¬†Son¬†of¬†God.¬†36¬†‚ÄúAnd¬†look,¬†your¬†relative¬†Elizabeth¬†has¬†also¬†become¬†pregnant¬†with¬†a¬†son¬†in¬†her¬†old age¬†‚Äď although¬†she¬†was¬†called¬†barren, she¬†is¬†now¬†in¬†her sixth¬†month!¬†37¬†For¬†nothing¬†will be¬†impossible¬†with¬†God.‚Ä̬†38¬†So¬†Mary said, ‚ÄúYes,¬†I am a¬†servant¬†of the¬†Lord; let this¬†happen¬†to¬†me¬†according to your¬†word.‚Ä̬†Then¬†the¬†angel¬†departed¬†from¬†her.

 -Gospel of Luke 1:26-38 (

Before coming to Joseph, the one with no voice, was spoken to and asked directly. One can say the question was asked of one so young due to naivety, yet be honest in such a small village she knew what the consequences would be. How could one find the strength to say yes to such a weird event for the time?

Simple, Mary got what the old men’s club did not of her era (and sadly many eras since), everyone’s voice matters, and everyone is created in equality, equity and justice. The gifts of peace, faith, joy and hope reign in our beings, but the cosmic dust at our core is shaped in L-)’V-E. That is right, Mary had the same choice as Joseph tradition tells us, unencumbered by society, simply one question asked, yes or no. She mattered.

How did she know?

Simple beginnings in the Hebrew Bible:

27 God created humankind in his own image,

in the image of God he created them,

male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them 

Genesis 1:27-28 (

A simple ancient poem of the creation of everything. An ancient poem stating the why to the people. Humanity was created in the Creator’s image. Both genders (and all sexualities, all races, all cultures, all religions, etc)…one river many wells to drink from.

Each person in autonomous, but their decisions have consequences, good, neutral or bad within their communities. Like the pebble hitting the pond and the ripples going outwards. The first step is understanding though that we are autonomous in an interdependent community. This is why it matters to discover what and how our neighbours believe. So we can see where the common ground is for moving forward, and creating a world that was dreamed of in that first moment when -BANG- it all appeared.

We began questing, and have set up a regular rhythm. So expect a few reflective posts to come out of thoughts around and out of the Qur’an. Just like when the Rainbow Chapel was meeting, I continue to encourage folks to read spiritual works in groups together aloud. It is not only because most were crafted for this, but also allows for different life journeys to be brought to the text, and wisdom bases. Also, to have the generations involved is a whole other blessing, for how can the young learn to discuss what they believe if it is not modeled by their elders, and community happens when play happens and food is shared. As well, I encourage exploring other spiritual texts than those you are familiar with or from your tradition for it opens a new world of insight. As always I encourage use of the spiritual discovery tools discussed in other writings of mine to dive deeper into what the Holy Mystery is speaking to your soul.

Sura 1: The Opening:

  1. In the name of God, the Gracious, the Merciful.

  2. Praise be to God, Lord of the Worlds.

  3. The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

  4. Master of the Day of Judgment.

  5. It is You we worship, and upon You we call for help.

  6. Guide us to the straight path.

  7. The path of those You have blessed, not of those against whom there is anger, nor of those who are misguided.

Remember as you journey through the words, it is not a literal understanding (as with Conservative Christian scholarship of the last 120ish years or allegory but rather the rhythm of contrast) it is the rhythm of contrast that reveals the unity that binds all through, with and within the Holy Mystery that is love.

The journey after opening brought us to the longest Sura 2, The Cow. It is actually quite a recitation that a student of the Hebrew Bible would recognize. Each time the Nation of Israel got a mulligan, they spent time‚ÄĒwhether it was a leader, prophet, judge or king, reciting the story of the people and the law up to that moment in time. A device to remind the people of what the Holy had brought them through, and who they were as a tribe. As we began to explore the second Sura, this familiar journey was reminded. In the historic moment, Islam being officially the third religious sect sprung from the Abrahamic and Sarai Covenant with the Holy (first two: Judaism and Christianity, anthropologically this can be broken down to multitude more, but I will not digress). Reaching half-way through it showed a great discussion around monotheists, and polytheists as the contrast presented for those who have found the path and those that haven‚Äôt. Yet within the contrast what can be seen is not the challenge of how many spiritual beings exist, for all are within the one. What is seen to be judged is found in 2:14:

  1. And when they come across those who believe, they say, ‚ÄúWe believe‚ÄĚ; but when they are alone with their devils, they say, ‚ÄúWe are with you; we were only ridiculing.‚ÄĚ

That is, is what we say what we do…or do we only profess kindness while plotting only for our own glory?

How many recognize this challenge from other wells that they use to drink from the Holy River?

  1. Their likeness is that of a person who kindled a fire; when it illuminated all around him, God took away their light, and left them in darkness, unable to see.

-Sura 2:17

A reminder as the teaching the Holy light would shine into the darkness and confuse it had been around since the ancient myths of Prometheus stealing fire from the gods for humanity. What this verse does, is starkly remind us when we choose to live only for ourselves, to forget love of neighbour and self that flows out of the Holy River, the light never existed and all that is left is darkness.

Are you living the light or lying in the darkness?


First off, I am thankful to be able to put these thoughts together. Scheduler allowed thoughts throughout the 12 days of Christmas season (in traditional liturgical churches the only time Christmas carols are sung), which was rather chaotic with neuro-events and flashbacks. So today even though we did not make it out to celebrate Epiphany Sunday in the west or Christmas in the East, I did want to pass on a few thoughts.

As you read the main Gospel reading (the other 3 readings are after the post ends, so you can bring all four together to tease out themes if you want). Take time to bring different lens than the normal western church. As noted our house will begin hosting an exploration of the Qur’an.  While doing some reading (another blessing after about 4 days of not being able to focus to read) I was reminded of how that sacred text can be misunderstood because we do not read it in the light of the contrast style of writing.

Perhaps this is one way to approach the Epiphany for new discovery for your own journey. Read the text through the lens of contrast what new insights come through.

Matthew 2:1-12
2:1 In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 

2:2 asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”¬†

2:3 When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 

2:4 and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 

2:5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:¬†

2:6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.'”¬†

2:7 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 

2:8 Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.”¬†

2:9 When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. 

2:10 When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 

2:11 On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 

2:12 And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

The other, is the way of Eastern Orthodox theological dialogue I discovered when serving in Anglicanism. It is the trinity dialogue, where you enter discussion on a topic with a party, but it is written to that party about the dialogue held with another. Taking this lens, with the understanding that the term Gospel in the time of the Roman Empire was a political statement. Read into the text the dialogue of the Magi and Herod about those in poverty, and realize it is with the believer decades removed, or the Empire overseeing. What message is being sent to both parties. Reflect on these messages.

As you spend time reflecting on this Epiphany discourse, what epiphany has come into your journey?

What is your epiphany for your life journey in 2018?


-Make your own little corner of the world a better place-

Dream no little dreams.

-Pastor Tommy Douglas

Rest of Lectionary for today:

Isaiah 60:1-6
60:1 Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.

60:2 For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you.

60:3 Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

60:4 Lift up your eyes and look around; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far away, and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms.

60:5 Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice, because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you.

60:6 A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the LORD.

Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14
72:1 Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king’s son.

72:2 May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice.

72:3 May the mountains yield prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness.

72:4 May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor.

72:5 May he live while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.

72:6 May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth.

72:7 In his days may righteousness flourish and peace abound, until the moon is no more.

72:10 May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles render him tribute, may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts.

72:11 May all kings fall down before him, all nations give him service.

72:12 For he delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper.

72:13 He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy.

72:14 From oppression and violence he redeems their life; and precious is their blood in his sight.

Ephesians 3:1-12
3:1 This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles–

3:2 for surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given me for you,

3:3 and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words,

3:4 a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ.

3:5 In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit:

3:6 that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

3:7 Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given me by the working of his power.

3:8 Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ,

3:9 and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things;

3:10 so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.

3:11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord,

3:12 in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him


In the journey of the Magi is the metaphor of gifts (gold, frankincense and myrrh) that of the things needed for new life, and to honour the life lived at the end. But there is also the story of the journey from the East to the creche. Ancient wisdom for a modern world, or as my Bible College profs would spout on about‚ÄĒpost-modernity.

For today, I simply bring a gift of a piece of my journey. Our journey of exploration with the Universal Church of the Master Alberta’s book study of the Aquarian Gospel. A new age imagining of the Jesus story from nativity through childhood-young adulthood-ministry-lynching-resurrection. It shows the influence of the spirituality of the world upon the growing Brother Jesus. There are moments you can see shamanic traditions, earth-pagan teachings, Eastern Philosophies, the Chakras, Judaic teachings, and the convalescing together into the gospel proclamation that would inevitably lead to Brother Jesus being executed by the oppressive powers. Yet the Cosmic Christ birthed out of that instance that continues to breathe new life. So below is a link to the text, and one to some reflections of my own:

Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ

My own Aquarian reflections

Now I did say there was no looking back, and this not looking back, for January 9, 2018 the group continues in its discovery of teachings from our neighbours by exploring the Qu’ran.  So watch for those reflections to come.

What will you choose to learn from your neighbour today?

This is not going to be a post going down the path of pointing out the horrors visited upon the world due to the Jude0-Christian religion, for that one just needs to open a Western History book, or catch the current events in the Middle East. No, this is a reflection on the understanding of the Holy Mystery over the past 6,000 years since Oral tradition shared the story of Abram and Sarai’s call.

See it was a tribal religion when it began, steeped in the oral tradition for thousands of years. Stories shared to understand the how and why of the world (currently our world’s meta-narrative is science). That is where the truth lay, in the story and understanding one’s own life. This tribal oral tradition eventually codified into the Hebrew Bible texts. Through this there is thousands of sects of Judaism the 3 most common known post-World War II are Orthodox, Conservative and Reform. Yet before the distruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE there was a few more famous sects: Pharisees, Saduccees, Zealots, and Essenes. Inspired by their culture’s meta-narrative of the Holy Mystery.

This meta-narrative under the Roman Empire’s occupation bread many messiahs, the most notable for the transformation of the world being the peasant labourer Rabbi born out of wedlock, Jesus of Nazareth, whose teachings would inpsire a fifth way within the Temple that would go on to become its own religion: Christianity thanks mostly in part to the winning writings of Paul of Tarsus. In the 300’s Constantine became Emperor of Rome and shrewdly knew poltiically monotheism would allow for better control than many gods, and made Christianity the Empire’s Religion.

So as he forced a Canon of the “holy Scriptures” three hundred years of mystery, Gnosticism and variance vanished from the world.

In 1054 CE a schism shattered Christendom as the Pope of Rome and Patriarch of the East drew the line in the sand for power and control of the people and mutually excommunicated one another.

Over the next 500ish years mystics in both traditions would found Religious orders to get to the heart of the Holy Mystery and free the people from religious oppression. Most notably being the Mystics of Assisi: Clare & Francis; the Jesuits, etc. This period would also show the territortial might of another tradition shared through Abram and Sarai, that being Islam and the Qu’ran which would lead to many Crusades to be fought for control of the Holy Land (kinda like today).

Yet in the 1500’s CE a perfect storm would brew with the rise of indulgences in the West, Kings wanting control over their own kingdoms and church lands, the printing press, and coming through the Bubonic Plague that saw 30% of the population wiped out and saw clerics preach it as God’s wrath for sin yet even clergy were wiped out by it. The people were not ea

ting the pablum no more.

Enter the Reformation which would shatter the Vatican’s political control outside of Rome and see 8 books stripped from the Holy Bible to bring the number to 66, not to mention the rise of the state church that saw Kings decried to be ruling by divine right in Germany (Lutheran); Switzerland (Zwingli); England (Church of England; Cramner, Henry the 8th) to name but a few.

This period would see the craziness of multiple denominations establish through the next four hundred years, each with their own flavour and understanding, and the strongest defining belief being that they were not “Papists”. Unique movements of note being Calvinists; Anabaptists; Methodists; Quakers (Society of Friends).

Within Islam there grew synergy with already exisiting Middle Easter Mystics known as the Sufi Movements.

There was also the rise of what is colloquial known as Mormons in 1830-known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints, with the mystic Joseph Smith.

Then there was the broad strokes of Christian Science, which diverged into many paths today encapsulated under the banner of “New Thought”. Those being Church of Christ Scientist; Divine Science; Religious Science; Science of Mind and Unity to name but a few.

Within both Islam and Christianity univeralism gained footholds and specific expressions: Bahai; Universalist; Unitarian-the last two would merge mid-20th Century.

Also the 1900’s saw the launch of the Salvation Army, a militaristic structured church for social outreach and impact. It also saw the rise and decline and re-rise of the Social Gospel which later in the century would return as Red Letter Christians or Liberation Theology. As well as the Catholic Worker’s Movement synergy with the Labour Movement in the 1900’s and the collective living movements.

These are simple broad strokes to reflect on the history of a faith tradition that has shaped the Western World, where will it take it next?

Where will it take you?

How does your own faith journey tie into the journey Abram’s people?

The Parliament Newsletter
Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue
Religion versus Spirituality
by Joseph McCann
from the Journal of Inter-Religious DialogueNowadays, people commonly say: ‚ÄúI am not religious‚ÄĒbut I am spiritual.‚ÄĚ These are not new ideas. The distinction between ‚ÄúSpirituality‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúReligion‚ÄĚ has been around for a long time, though the meanings have changed.

‚ÄúSpirituality‚ÄĚ begins as a distinction between the spiritual moral realm and the moral realm of fleshly desires, for example, when Paul the Apostle advises the early Christians to go into training, to subdue their lower desires in favor of heavenly things. But Paul was a Jew and that was a Jewish distinction. Confusion soon arose with the Greek distinction between soul and body, which was not the same thing at all. Then a political perspective arose in the Middle Ages between the responsibility of the Lords Spiritual and Lords Temporal. Some of the Reformers pointed to a contrast between the experience of religious oppression in the established churches and the spiritual and personal faith of the children of God. Our contemporary notions of the spiritual reflect undertones from this conceptual history.

‚ÄúReligion‚ÄĚ too is a western European idea, rooted in the notion of ‚Äúbinding people together‚ÄĚ with their family, their country and their gods. It came to refer especially to the opening of the human to the transcendent, that is, to that which goes beyond the individual, including whatever is ‚Äúthe other,‚ÄĚ ‚Äúthe certain,‚ÄĚ ‚Äúthe sacred,‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúthe holy.‚ÄĚ

Click here to download the full article (pdf)

Ramadan: A Month-Long Spiritual Gym
by Imam Abdullah AntepliRamadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. This is the month in which the Holy Qur’an started to be revealed to prophet Muhammad. So Ramadan marks the historical birth of Islam as the youngest sibling of the Abrahamic family. Ramadan has been primarily a joyful celebration of this birth in prayerful and devotional ways for the last fourteen hundred years by Muslims of all different backgrounds.

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  Why the Buddha Touched the Earth
by John Stanley and David LoyIn one of Buddhism‚Äôs iconic images, Gautama Buddha sits in meditation with his left palm upright on his lap, while his right hand touches the earth. Demonic forces have tried to unseat him, because their king, Mara, claims that place under the bodhi tree. As they proclaim their leader‚Äôs powers, Mara demands that Gautama produce a witness to confirm his spiritual awakening. The Buddha simply touches the earth with his right hand, and the Earth itself immediately responds: ‚ÄúI am your witness.‚ÄĚ

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Jews and Muslims in America: more in common than we think
by Joshua M. Z. StantonContrary to common assumptions, many Jewish and Muslim Americans enjoy warm relations. Yet we are only beginning to understand how and why this is so. A Gallup report released last week goes a long way to explaining this unexpected trend, which shows that the two diverse communities have more in common than is often thought.

Read More…

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Interreligious Training
Training for Interreligious Organizing

September 18, 2011
Islamic Foundation, Villa Park, IL.

What skills do religious communities need to a make a difference?
  • Learn the tools of effective organizing
  • Develop an action plan for your community or organization

Presenters include:
Michael Gecan, Industrial Areas Foundation
Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions
Kim Bobo, Interfaith Worker Justice
Michael McConnell, American Friends Service Committee
Youth Organizer from the Interfaith Youth Core

Learn More…

Parliament Webinar Series
Equipping Religious Leaders
for Interreligious Work

Alon Goshen-GottsteinSeptember 14, 2011
10:00am U.S. Central Time 

Alon Goshen-Gottstein
Executive Director Register Now
Elijah Interfaith Institute

Alon Goshen-Gottstein is the director of the Elijah Interfaith Institute and lecturer and director of the Center for the Study of Rabbinic Thought, Beit Morasha College, both in Jerusalem. He was ordained a rabbi in 1977. Projects of the Elijah Interfaith Institute include the bi-annual meeting of the board of World Religious Leaders, the Educational Network, as well as the Jewish and the Muslim Theology of the Religious Other. Learn More…

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Dove Outreach Centre, and their pastoral Leadership pulled a rather boneheaded stunt in this writer opinion when on March 20, 2011 they followed through on threats and burned the Islamic Holy Book CBC Newsworld has reported outbreaks of violence, and even deaths overseas in response to this hate filled act.

The saddest part is the ministerial leadership not accepting responsibility for doing anything wrong, and choosing to promote hatred through and in the name of God. This is the saddest part because worldwide these acts will not be seperated from the religion involved, the burning and the deaths, what needs to be remembered is that these are human actions bred out of intolerance, hate and fundamentalist extremism, they have nothing to do with the love of our One God.

Sufi‘s are currently seen as the mystic branch of Islam, but their mysticism predates the Abrahamic Faiths, and goes back to Ancient Egypt as lore suggests.¬† They are universalist in nature.¬† If you wish for a mystical formation of the soul check out the North American branch: