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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

TEXAS FAITH: Is America a "Christian Nation" and what does that mean?

Do you agree with those religious leaders who say that America is a "Christian nation" or a "Judeo-Christian nation?" and what does that mean in practice? Our Texas Faith panel weighs in at Dallas Morning News. http://religionblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2011/08/texas-faith-is-america-a-chris.html

MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas

I welcome the Judeo-Christian label for America as a first step in inclusiveness of our religious and non-religious traditions. The phrase Judeo-Christian was meant to reflect the commonality between the two public religions of the time.

Here's the Oxford English Dictionary on the term: The earliest use of the phrase "Judeo-Christian" came in 1899, and then comes WWII, with a 1939 reference in New English Weekly 27 July 237/2 to "The Judaeo-Christian scheme of morals" which fits in with Novick and Silk's comments that this was an attempt at universalizing Christian terms and shoehorning Jews in as a matter of inclusiveness. It wasn't until 1960 that "Judeo-Christianity" appeared. Today, the phrase is over emphasized by the religious right not to reflect inclusion, but to highlight exclusion of Islam, Hinduism, Atheism and the rights of GLBT community. The term is divisive and does not represent the values of America today; it is political and insincere at the outset.

"Judaism is Judaism because it rejects Christianity; and Christianity is Christianity because it rejects Judaism." Rabbi Eliezar Berkowitz, Chairman Jewish philosophy department at Hebrew Theological College, 1966.

"Judaism and Christianity are not parent and child; they are brothers, as were Cain and Abel." John Dominic Crossan, The Birth of Christianity, 1999.

"The term Judeo-Christian does not have a lengthy history." Peter Novick, Holocaust in American Life.

It is embarrassing to quote the founding fathers on Jews; here is Ben Franklin, "I fully agree with General Washington, that we must protect this young nation from an insidious influence and impenetration. That menace, gentlemen, is the Jews." We don't need to go that far, I am sure you heard the Nixon tapes with Rev. Billy Graham on the topic.

Glen Beck, John Hagee and other chest thumpers have ulterior motives to cash in on the name of Israel and perhaps converting the Jews. The Israelis, Palestinians and others need sincerity and not duplicity in finding security and hope for them respectively.
On the surface we get along, but under the radar there is deep distrust that we need to overcome to build a cohesive America, where no American has to live in apprehension of the other.

Time has come to be sincere and learn to accept and respect the God given uniqueness of each one of us. When we opt for just societies, all the pandering, sycophanting and war mongering will fade and solutions will emerge. Indeed, it will free us from shameless two-facedness. It will put us all on a level playing field and we will start trusting each other from the core of our hearts yielding true freedom.

We have come a long way on the civil plains and a lot more to go. The most appropriate and applicable term for America is "Pluralistic nation" which will convey the full essence of God's own country; America. America is perhaps the only nation on earth that inhabits all of God's creation; represented by every race, nationality, ethnicity, language, culture and religion. As Americans we see God as one, none and many and in every form; male, female, genderless, non-entity, being and a non-being, nameless and with innumerable names and I am proud to be an American.

Mike Ghouse is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day to the media and the public. He is a speaker thinker and a writer on the topics of pluralism, cohesive societies, Islam, interfaith, India and Peace. He is available to speak at your place of worship, work, school, college, seminars and conferences. . Mike's work is reflected in 4 website's and 27 Blogs indexed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/ and you can find this article at www.TheGhousediary.com

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Texas Faith: How do you interpret the Genesis Creation Story?

TEXAS FAITH: How do you interpret the Genesis creation story?
An old Jewish folk tale makes the point. One day God said to Abraham, "If it weren't for me, you wouldn't be here," to which Abraham replied, "True, but if I weren't here there wouldn't be anyone to think about you." To conclude, we created God in our own image and let's give him wisdom as well.

Dallas Morning News shares 15 opinions on the topic including mine at http://religionblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2011/08/texas-faith-how-do-you-interpr.html
MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas

The simplistic understanding of the Genesis is that God produced the world in six days in a process that created the universe -- planets, water, earth, plants and life -- and wrapped it up with a final product: man in his own image so he can commune with them. Adam and Eve were set on autopilot to keep procreating themselves and we are here today, seven billion of us from that one single couple.

The conservatives among Abrahamic faiths believe that Adam was the outcome of an intelligent design, and was created in the same format as we are today. They believe that the idea of evolution is in conflict with creationism and goes against the very word of God.

Indeed, they have an unquestionable need to believe that what "they know" is precisely what God means; any other point of view is anathema and confusing to them.  The non-Abrahamic faith followers need not gloat; a new idea is usually an abomination to someone or the other including them.

The liberals on the other hand feel secure to explore unfamiliar territories and find new meaning in the theory of evolution. Both attitudes serve the basic motivations of the individuals: security in the cocoon and need to quench the thirst for knowledge. Together we grow into newer areas of knowledge and enrich life.

Our leaders have a personal right to believe in creation or evolution, or both. They are not mutually exclusive. However, they do not have the right to deprive the rights of citizens to their beliefs and shut one or the other. Most see creation as an understandable transition from evolution.
Is it possible that Adam was the first species in the process of evolution that was able to communicate coherently, take care of him and survive against the nature's oddities?
He was able to survive the fires, storms, blizzards, floods and furies of nature. Did God feel pleased with this new species that was fit enough to survive and become a permanent fixture of the universe unlike the others that faded into oblivion?

Did God call him "Adam" because he was the first one to stand out on his own?
God's word is all embracing and that is what he may have meant in the Bible, Torah and Qur'aan. I am sure the other scriptures carry similar wisdom. It is rather our shortcoming in understanding the spectrum of God's word by limiting the meanings to suit our security needs. Let's give some leeway to God's word, religion is about what we are conditioned to believe.

An old Jewish folk tale makes the point. One day God said to Abraham, "If it weren't for me, you wouldn't be here," to which Abraham replied, "True, but if I weren't here there wouldn't be anyone to think about you." To conclude, we created God in our own image and let's give him wisdom as well.

Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker, writer and a frequent guest on Hannity show and nationally syndicated Radio shows including local TV, Radio and Print Media. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. Over 1000 articles have been published on Pluralism, politics, Islam, India, Israel, Palestine, justice and civil societies.  Two of his books are poised to be released this fall on Pluralism and Islam. He is available to speak at your place of worship, work, school, college, seminars or conferences. His work is encapsulated in 27 blogs, four websites and several forums indexed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/ and www.TheGhousediary.com

Monday, August 15, 2011

A call to Republican Party

REPUBLICANS WITH GUTS OUT THERE?

Republican fall out in 2012 is preventable, if they do not let the extremists radical speak up for them. For about a decade Muslims got run over by their extremists resulting in a mess still to fade. I spoke up then, and I am going to speak up now. Any moderate Republicans out there? If you want to save the party and keep the majority in the house, speak up louder than the divisive men and women among us. Bark in unison, like they do? Any Republicans with guts?


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

TEXAS FAITH: What does feminism mean to you?

That question is the subject of a growing discussion given that Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann both claim to be feminists. Except their feminism differs from the days of Gloria Steinem. Lisa Miller, a religion writer for Washington Post.com and On Faith, describes Bachmann's feminism this way.

There are about 12 panelists in Dallas Morning News’ Texas Faith’s weekly column and all opinions including mine are at: http://religionblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2011/08/texas-faith-what-does-feminism.html

MIKE GHOUSE, PRESIDENT, FOUNDATION FOR PLURALISM

The Palin-Bachman feminism is a new phenomenon; indeed they are setting a new assertive standard for feminism, where the deferential role for a woman in public square may become extinct like the dinosaurs. Palin-Bachman may not be the right role models, but they are the first most visible ones.

Way back in the movie Disclosure, Demi Moore played a challenging role of an aggressive female boss which at that time was labeled as manly woman’s role, it went to the other end of the spectrum of feminism. During the last Presidential election campaign Hilary Clinton was firm and assertive but not an aggressive, gun-toting attacking tigress like the Palin-Bachman duo, she applied logic and reason and rightfully the media was not deferential to her because she was a female.
In case of Palin-Bachman the media is at a loss in handling their aggressiveness and not sure if they would cross the line of feminism and get attacked for seeking substantiated answers. They need to treat the duo like they would any candidate male or female, and on their part the duo needs to substantiate their responses to set the new standards of feminism and not chase the media out with incomplete brash answers as it will be injustice to the emerging healthy feminism. NPR had a great story on Bachman on Tuesday which addresses the media shyness.

Yet, the three candidates accepted the traditional role of a deferential female to the husband within the family setting believing it to be a religious duty. This is the new public standard for the role of a woman until the deference gets replaced with equal partnership, yet maintains the family harmony and cohesion; there is room for us to grow up.

We may have to modify the Virginia slims slogan to “You have come a long way woman (baby no more)” in establishing and defining the new feminism; genderless in the public square where no one dares to have an upper hand in any endeavor of life and yet and play feminine traditional role in the family setting. Helen Reddy’s song “I am woman” is playing in my ears now.
It has a lot of winning appeal to women; it authenticates their own vision of womanhood and offers a role model for them to emulate. Be yourselves, do what is right irrespective of the opinions out there, eventually that will become the standard and the norm of the society where you are viewed as an individual contributor for the wellbeing of the family and the society. I welcome this new benchmark, it was long overdue.

Mike Ghouse is a speaker committed to a cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day – all his work is indexed at www.MikeGhouse.net

Monday, August 8, 2011

Honoring our Soldiers in Aghanistan

HONORING NAVY SEALS | A MINUTE OF SILENCE PLEASE

In memory of our soldiers and Navy Seals who died on Saturday, please observe a minute of silence honoring them. May God bless them and give patience to their families. May God give us the wisdom to end Wars and find solutions through mitigating conflicts and nurturing goodwill. Amen


I urge fellow Muslim Americans to pray for their well beings, Insha Allah I will pray special prayers for them after Iftaar and Maghrib prayers this evening.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

TEXAS FAITH: When is it okay to apply moral absolutes to public policy?

Dallas Morning news weekly question: When is it okay to bring a faith-based belief grounded in moral absolutes to public policy debate?

MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas

The faith-based belief grounded in moral absolutes has always been a part of the public policy debate though not postured as such. After all we are conditioned with certain beliefs and are driven by it. Most of the issues that were debated have had strong religious grounding and opposed or supported the Women's rights, Roe v Wade, the civil rights, the Catholic president, Civil Unions, GLBT marriages, immigration and other.

Despite the emerging moral absolutes, I am confident that the moderation (in terms of giving space to the other) will prevail in the long haul.
The ones who speak up in general and Teavangelicals in particular are driven by strong absolutes, while the majority of any group of people tends to be moderate and gives space to another point of view.
However, the nations, religions, politics and the communities are not driven by the majorities; the initiatives are taken by the extreme right and the left and the outcome is determined by their wrangling and is supported or rejected by the majority at the polls when things get out of handle.

Even the budget that just passed did not have the full support of all the Tea party candidates, the votes were divided and that is how things should work, we cannot stereotype the Tea Party, liberals or the conservatives, each one of us is a composition of different values. Indeed, we have come a long way to accept and respect the otherness of other without resorting to extreme solutions. That is the benchmark of civil societies.

Thanks to the wisdom of the founding fathers and the strength of our constitution for giving durable governance in the history of mankind. The extremes will fizzle out in the long haul, and moderation will prevail. I salute the checks and balances built into our system and as long as the Americans give the house and senate to different parties, America will be safe and the governance of the people will endure and the idea of live and let live remains intact.
Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker, writer and a frequent guest on Hannity show and nationally syndicated Radio shows and Dallas TV, Radio and Print Media. He presides America Together Foundation and is committed to building a cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. Over 1000 articles have been published on Pluralism, Interfaith, Islam, India and cohesive societies. Two of his books are poised to be released this fall on Pluralism and Islam. He is available to speak at your place of worship, work, school, college, seminars or conferences. His work is encapsulated in 27 blogs, four websites and several forums indexed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/