Archive for April, 2008

Eldorado looking more like Waco by the day

April 17, 2008

I hadn’t seen these photos — the ones I had seen showed ladies in long dresses and their young children being shepherded into school buses…

These photos, obtained by The Associated Press from church attorney Rod Parker of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, were purportedly taken Thursday, April 3, by an unidentified member of the FDLS and released Tuesday, and show an armored personnel carrier on property neighboring the Yearning For Zion ranch near Eldorado, Texas. Photos of the state raid on a West Texas polygamist sect show law enforcement officers, looking for a teenage girl and evidence of sexual abuse, came prepared for an armed confrontation.

(Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints/AP Photo)

This really does begin to look uncomfortably like Waco, eh?

Meanwhile, the Russians have sent a priest familiar with the Book of Revelation to speak with the Orthodox group awaiting the Last Day in a cave…

Christianity observed

April 7, 2008

A peaceable post for once…

It doesn’t happen all that often, in the frequently malarial air of higher politics, but twice recently someone has commented, in a pleasantly surprised tone, at the genuine Christian spirit displayed by a presidential candidate — once it was Barack Obama, and once Mike Huckabee.

Here’s Leonard Pitts Jr., quoting and commenting on Mike Huckabee in a Miami Herald article entitled Huckabee’s empathy cools pundits’ hot air:

Huckabee, invited by MSNBC last week to condemn Wright’s bitter words, invoked instead the era of racial segregation that shaped Barack Obama’s former pastor. ”And you know what?” he said. ‘Sometimes people do have a chip on their shoulder and resentment, and you have to just say, ‘I probably would, too. In fact, I may have had more of a chip on my shoulder, had it been me.”’ It bears repeating: a black Mike Huckabee would be more angry than Jeremiah Wright, not less. It was an admission of startling, unexpected insight and, dare I say, Christian generosity. A conservative white man invited white men and women to project themselves into dark skin, to imagine how bitter they might be, had they come of age in an era where law, religion, media and custom said they were less than truly human beings.

And here’s Andrew Sullivan, blogging for the Atlantic, on Obama himself:

I do want to say that this searing, nuanced, gut-wrenching, loyal, and deeply, deeply Christian speech is the most honest speech on race in America in my adult lifetime. … I have never felt more convinced that this man’s candidacy – not this man, his candidacy – and what he can bring us to achieve – is an historic opportunity. This was a testing; and he did not merely pass it by uttering safe bromides. He addressed the intimate, painful love he has for an imperfect and sometimes embittered man. And how that love enables him to see that man’s faults and pain as well as his promise. This is what my faith is about. It is what the Gospels are about. This is a candidate who does not merely speak as a Christian. He acts like a Christian.

All too often these days, Christianity is presented as a sort of lapel-pin, a badge of identity, a wink that’s as good as a nod — or, from the opposite perspective, as all crusades, inquisitions and televangelism without redemptive qualities. It is good to see it here viewed as a difficult talk that needs to be to be walked. Frankly, I’m impressed.

Kashmir and Tibet

April 3, 2008

Money quote from Philip Cunningham’s Informed Comment post a couple of days ago re the Dalai Lama:

The underlying key to the Dalai Lama’s appeal is rooted in Western perceptions and misperceptions about Buddhism. Given similar grievances, it’s hard to imagine the religious leader of a persecuted Muslim minority group, let’s say in Indian Kashmir, south Thailand or south Philippines, enjoying anything near the same degree of almost unquestioned Western support.

Western perceptions and misperceptions about Islam play a role there, too.

More on Iraqi Mahdism and its potential for terror

April 3, 2008

On my Hipbone Out Loud blog yesterday, I wrote:

The content which most interests me is the emotional and archetypal content of apocalyptic arousal, and (for practical reasons) its potential expression in jihad should the Mahdist (messianic) tendencies already visible in both Sunni and Shiite circles reach the tipping point and add their intensity to an already inflamed situation.

Today, MEMRI posted their Special Dispatch # 1886 as part of their Iraq / Jihad & Terrorism Studies Project, titled Iraqi Tells Bizarre Story of Recruitment to a Messianic Shi’ite Terror Group.

In an interview, “Abu Sajjad,” a military commander in the Ansar Al-Imam Al-Mahdi movement in Iraq, tells how he used to be a follower of Sayyid Muhammad Sadeq Al-Sadr but was persuaded by an Iraqi whom he met when he was “in a neighboring country” that the Mahdi, the Shi’ite Messiah, had appeared, as proven by TV cartoons.

Transcribed and translated excerpts from the interview, which aired on Al-Iraqiya TV on February 25, 2008, can be found here, while the clip itself can be viewed here.

Similarly important for gaining a vivid insight into contemporary Mahdism in Iraq is Tim Furnish’s interview with an Iraqi Mahdist and Ali A Allawi’s speech at the Jamestown Foundation a little over a year ago.