Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
A few Israelis and Gazans are revengeful, forgiveness to them;
A few Gazans and Israelis are hateful to each other, love to them;
A few Israelis and Gazans are messing up others lives, prayers to them;
A few Gazans and Israelis cannot see their mistakes, wisdom to them;
A few Israeli and Gazans Politicians are seeking re-elections, dump them;
A few of us are excited about killing and mayhem, humility to us;
A few of us Justify one side or the other, we shouldn't justify any killing;
To Kill a human is like killing the whole humanity says the Torah and the Qur'aan
To save a life is like saving the whole humanity says the Torah and the Qur'aan
Don't call them Jews or Muslims, they are simply killers individual or enmasse;
The war is not between Israelis and Gazans, it is between evil men and evil men.
May God help each one of us to learn to see the pain of the other and let's be human.
And speak out louder to stop this killing spree.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Mike Ghouse, Saturday, December 27, 2008
The world sympathized with Israel for the rockets they endured in their backyards, but when they get on the revenge bandwagon and indiscriminately kill, they lose sympathy. The oppressed ones all around the world including the majority of Israelis and Jews feel the pain of this violence, it flies in the face of our continued efforts to stop massacres, it is time for all of us to speak up. This is not the act of peace making; this is the act of destroying a people.
Continued at: http://www.mikeghouse.net/Articles/Gaza.Solutions.asp
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Each one of us hankers for Justice, and as an American I want to see this from an Iraqi point of view. I hope we can see this with all our humility to understand his action.
To Muntadar al Zaidi, Mr. Bush was not his president but some one who has ruined his country.
The man sees destruction all around, shattered civic services, joblessness, homelessness, civil strife and hopelessness, and the one who caused it all tells him in his face that he was the liberator. He probably expressed the sentiments of many Iraqi's, perhaps many a people around the globe in uncivil terms.
Those who have lost their jobs and their homes here in America may have similar feelings, but they would not express it in the same manner. Our expressions are not superior or inferior but different.
Muntadar al Zaidi sees Bush as some one who lied to his own people; the Americans, just as Saddam had lied to the Iraqis.
In his mind, he holds Bush responsible for thousands of women on the street, whose only source of living is selling their flesh for sustenance; this man who threw his shoes may have witnessed the humility of such women who lost their husbands, fathers, brothers or cousins who took care of them.
The Shia’s were suppressed by Saddam, but they probably would not have seen this much bloodshed between them and the Sunnis without our wedges. Bush is some one who ruined every thing they had. Without heavy security Bush probably would meet the same treatment in UK, France, Germany and other nations.
Can people express their disgust in a civil way? Yes, they can, but they probably would retort "Can Bush Admin behave in a civil way? His animosity towards Saddam cost their nation dearly. Would Saddam have killed 4,000 Iraqis as Bush has sacrificed Americans?
Contrary to the words of Mr. Bush, the World loves Americans and not their administration, just as Americans did not hate Iraqis, but hated Saddam.
I respectfully ask our President to stay home or go to his ranch and let his time run out. It is time for him to leave the world alone.
Mike Ghouse is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing Pluralism, interfaith, Islam, India, Multiculturism, Terrorism, Peace, Politics and Civic issues. His comments, news analysis and columns can be found on the Websites and Blogs listed at his personal website www.MikeGhouse.net. Mike is a Dallasite for nearly three decades and Carrollton is his home town, he can be reached at MikeGhouse@aol.com
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Eid-al-Adha is also known as Hajj or Bakrid (variations listed below) if you wish to greet Muslims on this day you may say Happy Eid or Eid Mubarak. Eid is festivity. At the end of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, known as Hajj, Muslims throughout the world celebrate the holiday of Eid-al-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice). This year, Eid-al-Adha will be celebrated on Monday, December 8, 2008. It is about remembering and commemorating the trials and triumphs of Prophet Abraham.
A parent would risk his or her life to protect the child. People in love have the passion to value their beloved's life and are willing to get the bullet and save the life, they are willing to rescue her or him from the freezing lake risking their own life, even strangers do that. It is the willingness to put the life of the loved one’ above one’s own life. Every day our Police officers risk their own lives to protect ours, the firemen and women risk their lives to save a child, a pet or an aged person from a fire; and every day our soldiers put their lives at risk to save fellow soldiers and to save our freedom. Eid-al-Adha is a tradition started by Prophet Abraham.
You feel angry knowing that the world stood by silently when the Jews were put on the train to the gas chambers; you feel anger when the Bosnian Muslims children were given chocolates and told not to worry and go right behind and open gunfire and massacre them; you feel anger when the Canadian general sends faxes upon faxes to the United Nations to send help, while the UN and USA did not want to get involved and 800,000 Rwandans were massacred, they were even announcing on their radio how to torture pregnant women to pull out the babies… It was a difficult documentary to watch, but you must watch and face the world; you have to do your share to clean your own slate of conscience.
Friday, December 5, 2008
It is a shame that the People of Pakistan have not had their own government; either it was a puppet regime or some tin-pot dictator running and frightening them even to speak up. When the Lawyers brought down Musharraf Government to its knees, I thought, finally it is going to be the government of the people, and as Indians we can look forward to dealing with the people of Pakistan and their legitimate representatives.
None of that is happening, it is time for the people of Pakistan to wake up and have guts to let their government do what is good for the them; jobs, safety, security and prosperity, NOT Kashmir, it has given them nothing but misery and for what?
It is time to own responsibility and incarcerate the terrorists from LeT and other outfits, they have brought nothing but destruction to Pakistan and India. Getting rid of the terrorists should be their first focus. How long are they going to be duped by their dictators and useless politicians? Tom Friedman had asked the Pakistani public to take up on the streets and bring their government on their knees; you either rid of the terrorist or we will get rid of you.
If their government is not going to do it, unfortunately they will have to pay a heavy price before doing the right thing. I hope they wake up and bring the change. Mr. Singh should send a clear signal "Don't mess with India". Obama was asked on the day he made the announcement of Hilary Clinton, if he believed America has the right to go into Pakistan and take out the terrorist, then why shouldn't India do the same? I know India can do it without collateral damage, with least loss of life and with far less money to set an example to the world once again that we can do things non-violently.
# # #
'Pakistan will have to pay a heavy price'
M J Akbar December 02, 2008 16:13 IST
Last Updated: December 02, 2008 19:24 IST
M J Akbar is one of India's best-known journalists and commentators, someone with a deep insight into the Indian people and their mindset. In this first-person, as-told-to piece, Akbar discusses the Mumbai attacks and their relevance for India.
Many people forget that India is a tough nation. Toothless leaders have turned India into a soft nation. People forget that India has fought back Muslim terrorism in Kashmir; Sikh terrorism in Punjab, Christian terrorism in Nagaland and Hindu terrorism in Assam, and amongst the Naxalites [Images].
We have had everything thrown at the Indian nation State. Still, we have stood up. The people of India have shown the courage and ability to believe in their nation and to fight back. But the completely impotent leadership of five years have turned a tough country into a soft State.
I am very sad. I keep feeling that if they protect India as they protect their leaders -- whether it is Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] or Congress President Sonia Gandhi [Images] -- I think I would be safe. Today, India's leaders are safe and India is in panic.
On what India's response should be:
India's proper reaction would be possible if we understand the extent of the disease.
If the disease is cancer, you can't apply band aid. After making a complete mess of security issues for five years by asking Shivraj Patil [Images] to go finally we may have a home minister who doesn't comb his hair and change his clothes. But we want something more than that. If it is cancer, we need chemotherapy, a much more serious exercise. It needs a legislative and executive framework. It needs political mobilisation. People are numbed.
The Indian people have no leadership. You have a prime minister. Did you see him when he addressed the nation? Nobody knew if he was addressing the nation or having a cup of tea?
He looked serious, but he didn't talk to us about our anger and about our anguish. I think this administration is tone deaf to the anguish of the people. They just cannot understand what the people are going through. They just don't understand our pain or our anger. The most important thing is that, perhaps, we have politicised not only the instruments of the State like the police but we have also politicised the understanding of the nature of the problem.
I think the very first thing to do is to ensure security so that it prevents the next attack. If any attack takes place under some ones job should go. Don't come to me with alibis.
On the terrorists getting local support:
I am an Indian Muslim and I am very proud of both, being an Indian and a Muslim. I do not see any contradictions. This is my land and I have nowhere else to go.
But can I say because I am an Indian Muslim that no Indian Muslim is involved? Can you, because you are a Hindu, say that no Hindu is involved? We have to behave like Indians first. Not as a Muslim or as a Hindu first. Because we need Hindu votes and Muslim votes and because this government thinks that it needs Muslim votes so it has been in complete denial.
Do you think that these people came across from Pakistan and had no support in Mumbai?
It is not possible. It was a huge operation. Ten people hit nine places and you killed nine of them. You want to say that they went from place to place? Who knows some of them must have slipped away to create new sleeper cells to hit us six months later.
They are hiding things. I would like to believe that there was an underworld connection. Because, Karachi and Mumbai are also linked by drug smuggling. The culture of criminals is aggression. It comes naturally to them. It is not easy for you and I to become aggressive, however angry we are. It does not come naturally to us. These are people who are trained psychologically in aggression. They have no respect for the State. They have no love for the country. And they have no respect for authority.
Why? Because the only face of authority is the corrupt policeman. The criminal gives money in the morning and money in the evening. Why should he have respect for somebody he gives bribes to? For the guy from the underworld his understanding of the Indian State and authority is corruption. He has no patriotism to stop him. Why would he not join hands with the terrorists? In any case, he belongs to another world. We have not even begun to address and discuss this.
On the Pakistan factor
I am tired of giving Pakistan a long rope on some excuse or the other. Everybody is saying this will happen if we do this, that will happen if we do this. Our relations with Pakistan will go, then, let them go. What has our relations with Pakistan brought us except violence and terror? Why should we be in charge of saving Pakistan? For what? Every time they turn around and they say they want evidence. Now, finally we have evidence.
I have been an editor for 35 years from the age of 23. From that time on, since the days of General Zia-ul Haq, I have been hearing 'Pakistan is asking for evidence'. We asked for withdrawal of their support to the movement for Khalistan, they said, 'Oh, we don't know anything about it.' On Kashmir, they kept repeating where is the evidence. Benazir Bhutto [Images] came, she asked for evidence. Nawaz Sharif came, he asked for evidence. I think Pervez Musharraf [Images] asked for less evidence. Now again, they are asking for evidence.
There is a terrorist in Mumbai, captured and arrested. How much more evidence do you want? If what he is saying is not evidence, then how can you get more evidence?
This government is in its 11th hour. Now they will bluff the people to protect their votes. There is no time left for them. The agony of departure will be hard from this government.
On the reaction in the West
The US and Britain have a vested interest in telling India to look within. Why? When Americans die then they can send their air force 7,000 miles and bomb every country to smithereens. But when Indians die, they tell us no, no, you must be patient. You must act like a swami and a yogi. Why? Is an American life more precious than an Indian life? Why should we keep listening to them? But we have a government that keeps listening to them all the time. We don't get tough.
The last time we got tough was after the attack on Parliament. We took some tough actions under Operation Parakram and then there was a certain lull. Three years ago, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was able to tell President George W Bush [Images] that there are no terrorists amongst Indian Muslims. That means that lull continued.
Pakistan must be made to realise that it will have to pay a heavy price. Not necessarily through war, but a heavy price will have to be paid in loss in trade, in cancellation of orders and other engagements. They should pay a heavy price in terms of people to people relations. I am not saying you can freeze a relationship to death, but the message must go out that if there is a crime there will be a penalty. You just can't get away with it.
Let the Pakistan government cooperate with us. But look at how the Pakistan government has buckled down and we are sitting here whimpering.
They want to send some lowly officers to India. For what? Even Pakistan is treating the Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi government with total contempt. They know how weak it is.
Delink Hindu-Muslim relations and Pakistan
Look, you must not confuse the Pakistan issue with the Indian Muslims issue. Their so-called alienation or their economic deprivation is not linked to the issue of Pakistan.
Indian Muslims have nothing to do with Pakistan. They have absolutely no sympathy for Pakistan. They know that Pakistan was the biggest mistake committed in the history of Indian Muslims. They know it. You can ask anyone in Baroda, Bihar or Mumbai. They know how they are suffering the backlash of all the consequences of cross-border terrorism.
Today, they fear retribution from the government, they fear retribution from popular disenchantment and anger. They feel helpless. They feel afraid.
We must understand finally that it is not so much the 'local people', it is the local underworld that is involved in anti-India activities. In 1993, who were involved in terrorism? The underworld. Why have you not done anything about it? The State turns a blind eye to the police and corruption. I don't know how many readers smoke hashish and other stuff, but I am accusing them of cross-border terrorism. Drugs come to India from Afghanistan via Karachi.
What we can do as individuals
If whoever is responsible for protecting the nation fails, then he or she should not be allowed to continue in power. That is the toughest and sharpest message we can give. You can tell that you may be a soft State, but we are a hard people and we are hard voters.
We are not going to forgive you for your lies and deception and for your waffling. How many blasts do we need to understand that? When Jaipur [Images], Ahmedabad [Images], Mumbai and Delhi [Images] happened no one who was genuinely guilty was caught.
We have to understand now that corruption has eaten away vitals of this nation. It is the biggest danger to the security of India. It is not just the case of some spectrum being sold to someone by some minister in. Everyone who is corrupt get out!
It Is a failure all around. We have to be extremely practical and pragmatic. There is great deal to be depressed about as an Indian. Frankly speaking, I feel very angry and upset. I am never upset by the behaviour of our enemies. I am only upset by the betrayal of those I trust.
M J Akbar, editor-in-chief, Covert magazine, spoke to Sheela Bhatt
2665 Villa Creek Dr, Suite 206
Dallas, Texas 75234
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Honoring the memory of Rabbi Gavriel & Mrs. Rivkah Holtzberg
Chabad- Lubavitch, Mumbai, India
Along with all the victims of the Mumbai terrorists attacks
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Chabad of DFW and the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas
Video Presentation – Light
Psalm 23/ Prayer for peace – Rabbi Howard Wolk
Jewish Federation – Mrs. Carol Aaron
Memorial Candle – Rabbi Asher Goldschmidt -Mr. Raymond Abraham, Indian-American
Memorial Service- Chazzan Itzhak Zhrebekr
Soul Strings – Musical prayer - Rabbi Zvi Drizin
Key Note – Our reponse - Rabbi Mendel Dubrawsky
I am pleased to have joined the Jewish community of Dallas honoring the memory of Rabbi Gavriel and Mrs. Rivah Holtzberg at Chabad of DFW. It was good to see several friends there, including some of Indian Jews like Nik Mehta, Raymond Abraham and others.
The Musical prayer was touching, as it was sung by the congregation with flute played by Rabbi Zvi Drizin.
I listened to the key note intently, as it echoed my own sentiments to do the best we can in working for a better world.
I hope each one of us, reading this can make an effort to be part of the sorrow and joy of the people regardless of their religion, race or ethnicity. It opens your heart and mind, the very purpose of the religion one follows.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Imam Warith Deen Mohammed
3:00 PM Sunday, November 30, 2008
Thanks-Giving Square Chapel
Welcome by Mike Ghouse
I am pleased to greet our gathering with greetings from a few faith traditions to represent all.
Greetings are simply a goodwill sound to extend friendship to the stranger, it shows one’s desire to know the other, and most certainly it is simply “wishing and invoking” the goodness in others. The idea of greetings is about peace and friendship.
Please feel free to repeat after me;
• Allah Abho (Bahai)
• Buddha Namo (Buddhist)
• Peace to you (Christian)
• Namaste (Hindu)
• Salaam (Muslim)
• Jai Jinendra (Jain)
• Shalom (Jewish)
• Sat Sri Akaal (Sikh)
• Hamazor Hama Asho bed (Zoroastrian)
• HI (all inclusive)
"Let us join hands. As a group we must strive to meet our common
goals, and so I ask:
"May God send us enough joy to keep our hearts singing...enough sorrow
to make us understanding...enough hope to enrich our lives...enough
trials to keep us strong...enough leisure to refresh our spirits...and
enough love to make our world seem beautiful.
Bless us all, in Your Name. Amen."
Imam Warith Al-Deen Mohammed is one of the most distinguished Muslim leaders in the United States, who passed away on September 8, this year. He has been the spiritual leader and inspiration of the Muslim community in general and African American Muslim community in Particular. It is indeed a great loss of leadership. Warith Deen Mohammad is recognized worldwide as a leading Islamic thinker, philosopher and a religious leader.
# # #
Dallas - He was “America’s Imam.” In 1975, Imam Warith Deen Mohammed saw beyond the limited world of his father’s black separatist Nation of Islam and boldly transformed it into a diverse, open religious community following the true principles of Islam. Imam Mohammed’s philosophy of bringing all faiths together for the good of humanity will be celebrated by numerous religious leaders of different spiritual paths this Sunday, November 30. 2008, 3 p.m. in the Chapel of Thanks-Giving Square, 1627 Pacific Avenue at Ervay, Dallas, 75201, 214-969-1977. The celebration is free and open to the public.
Estimated to have about two and a half-million followers at the time of his death, September 9, 2009, Imam Mohammed’s leadership changed the face of not only African American Muslims, but how Muslims are viewed around the world. He worked with Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, world leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Anwar Sadat, and religious leaders from all faiths such as Pope John Paul II, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rabbi and Catholic Focolare Movement founder Chiara Lubich, to name a few.
His father’s teaching of black business independence had proved very valuable but the Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s conveyance of Islam had been misguided. After studying the Qur’an, Imam Mohammed realized the way of Islam is peace and that it has many things in common with other religions that could be shared. He reached out to Christians and Jews fostering understanding about how they could all work together for the common good.
This is his legacy and what will be celebrated by Lutheran Bishop Mark Herbener, Methodist minister Don Benton, Baptist minister Sidney Jackson, Sr., Sikh Harbans Lal, and a leader of the Jewish faith, Muslim Imam Muhammad Shakoor, Catholic Focolare leader Isabel Furtado and a leader of the Jewish faith to be confirmed. The Evolvers, a local Muslim girls’ dance group will perform.
Videos on Imam Mohammad’s interfaith work and excerpts from his lectures will be shown during a reception following the program.
Listings, psas and coverage will be appreciated. For interviews and media info please call Thanks-Giving President and Executive DirectorTatiana Androsov, 214-969-1977, firstname.lastname@example.org; Marzuq Jaami, 214-924-0270-cell; or Alexis Yancey 214-335-4744-cell, email@example.com. Thank you.
# # #
Muslim leader urges shift from black theology
Matthai Kuruvila, Chronicle Religion Writer
Monday, April 21, 2008
Bay Area residents had a rare opportunity Sunday to hear a man who may be the single most influential Muslim in America. But the limits of his reach were also on display.
When Imam W. Deen Mohammed stepped to the podium at the Masonic Auditorium in San Francisco, there were perhaps 300 people in the audience, almost all of them African American.
Though most of his hourlong talk was not about race, the issue that made him a revolutionary in American religion, he didn't shy away from it. He urged audience members to think of themselves not in racial categories but in human terms.
Mohammed spoke of how the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed of a day when his children would not be judged by the color of their skin, but the content of their character. But after King's death, Mohammed said black leaders chose another direction.
"Now how come after he died, our leaders talked nothing but 'black' to us," he said. Mohammed said the use of the adjective "black" to describe the community's achievements degraded them - and insulted others.
Noting that African American leaders in Congress refer to themselves as the Congressional Black Caucus, Mohammed questioned how people would react if there was a "white caucus." Mohammed urged those gathered to think about the universality of all people - and that defining religion for any one race is dangerous.
"Black theology weakens our ability to gain from scripture, guidance from scripture, to make ourselves a better religious community," he said.
The words are dramatic considering the path that Mohammed has taken.
Mohammed is the son of Elijah Muhammad, who for more than 30 years led the Nation of Islam, the black separatist religion that deemed all white people to be "devils" and black people to be "gods." W. Deen Mohammed was chosen by his father to carry on his legacy.
But after Elijah Muhammad died in 1975, the son chose a different path. He gradually dissolved the Nation of Islam, leading believers toward the Sunni branch of Islam. All people were equal, regardless of race. Women were the same as men, except for physical strength.
While his father's Nation of Islam explicitly referred to the U.S. flag as a symbol of "slavery, suffering and death," Mohammed started New World Patriotism Day in 1979, according to Imam Faheem Shuaibe, who leads Masjidul Waritheen, an Oakland mosque.
The effort was intended to show that the ideals set forth in the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence are the same ideals called for in the Quran.
"We should be most American," Mohammed once said, according to Shuaibe. For a Muslim to reject those documents, Mohammed reportedly said, "You reject our greatest opportunity."
Mohammed does not reject what his father did entirely, calling it a necessary step in the evolution in the psyche of African Americans. For a people who had been degraded into a status of inferiority for centuries, believing that they were gods helped level the playing field, he maintains.
In his talk Sunday, Mohammed, who now leads a Chicago-based nonprofit the Mosque Cares, said his father had "prepared" the community.
As a result of the huge religious migration away from the Nation of Islam, many scholars believe African Americans are the single largest ethnic group of American Muslims today. (Louis Farrakhan would resurrect the Nation of Islam, though it would be far diminished in size.)
Sunday's talk was notable for the remarkable absence of Muslims of immigrant descent. Though American Muslims often say that Islam has no racial bounds, most Bay Area mosques parallel the demographic patterns of Christians - segregated by ethnicity or race. The Muslim Community Association in Santa Clara is the most notable exception.
Hatem Bazian, a UC Berkeley lecturer, appeared to be the sole prominent figure in the immigrant Muslim community who showed up. Bazian gave a speech before Mohammed's talk about the promise that could be had if the two communities worked together.
But the absence of immigrants left some bitter at the slighting of the American Muslim most beloved to Muslims of African American descent.
"We are once again disappointed by our brothers who are immigrant Muslims," said Imam Abu Qadir Al-Amin, who leads the San Francisco Muslim Community Center. "Don't call on me in the future."
Saturday, November 29, 2008
10 Candles were lit by representatives of a faith or an India based organization to commemorate the tragedy of Terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
It is one of my favorite holidays; it is a day to express gratitude to all those who have helped shape our lives. It is also a day to express friendship and kindness to those who are struggling with the difficulties of life, Thanksgiving is a day of sharing. It is just not you, ask Bill Gates, whom God has blessed proportionately for his intelligence, he would answer, not enough! Ask the Homeless the same question; the answer is still the same, not enough. Who has enough then?
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Given the Lack of opposition in the three branches of our Government, I will do my best to keep pointing to the OBAMA BLUNDERS and I hope the media takes the responsibility for our disaster by not speaking out during Bush times, and will fulfill its responsibilities to speak up now. We have our freedom back now.
Mr Bush let the time run out.
Five Health care reform lies
Bush Rove Cheney Troika
Mr. Bush, please resign
Regime Change: USA
Fix the President now
Impeach VP Cheney?
Prayers for our President.
Republicans paid a price
I could kill George Bush
Betty Williams and the Truth
Beyond Bush - Fareed Zakaria
VP Cheney to be impeached?
Déjà Vu in Dallas - Neocon folly again
Republican Obession with Terrorism
Are you still a Republican?
Republicans are waking up
Republicans are screwed
Laser Barking at Terrorists
Bush world is round
Will John McCain Apologize?
Did Senator McCain Betray?
Congressman Tom Tancredo
Blind War on Terror
Krauthammer - the sycophant
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Should not have teased that dog
Suspected fascist in Obama Admin
Obama Brings tears of Joy
Hope for America
Should Obama Attack McCain?
Peace is the result of Justice
Obama's religious advisor
Obama a Perfect Union
Obama the Shepherd
Obama Rally in Carrollton
Romney has the instincts
Republican or Democract,
I am a big supporter of Obama, campaigned and have held rallies for him and have written over a dozen articles listed at www.mikeghouseforamerica.com. However, we owe it to our democracy to have a strong opposition, without which we could be making the same mistakes we did during the last eight years, and shamefully the Republican party is loaded with bullies and the American public will not give them a lift as long as they have the likes of Gingrich, Giuliani, Cheney, Romney, McCain, Palin and others, and as long as they listen to the Neocons. It is effective and economical to solve the problems through a dialogue, no need to be macho and a show off. Hilary for secretary of state would be a mistake, she does believe in pushing others to the corners and dig in their heels. All his appointees need to go through a strict scrutiny. I will be monitoring this President under the title OBAMA-BLUNDERS at my Blog. It is patriotic to speak up, and that is how democracy survives and you and I will continue to have the rights to speak up.
Kaaba and the Wikipedia Blunder
I cannot believe Wikipedia is taken as a gospel by so many, every word in it is taken as the ultimate truth. You will discover it's danger in the following report. A statement is made "While destroying each idol, Muhammad recited [Qur'an 17:81] which says "Truth has arrived and falsehood has perished for falsehood is by its nature bound to perish." . A few of my Hindu friends have assumed that Terrorism has it's origin in the above act, of course the very same statement is a fodder to the Neocons, who rejoice and pass it one to every one with a comment, "I told you so, Islam is an intolerant religion".
Thursday, November 20, 2008
To see the pictures of attack dog click here: http://www.mikeghouse.net/Articles/Obama-you-should-not-have-teased-that-dog.asp
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I could not resist going out for lunch to Madras Pavilion, a South Indian Vegetarian Restaurant in Richardson, Texas. I was the first one and until I finished my food leisurely, I was the only one in the Restaurant.
While eating, I journeyed through a whole lot of memories and thought. The most important discovery was the phrase “Home Made”; it really had not gotten into me all these years. I almost wanted to scream “eureka” when I realized what it was.
That special smell of Uddin Vada with Sambar was making me feel like I am back in my cradle, indeed that was the food I grew up eating. I remembered complaining to my Dad that my sister ate eight of them leaving me four, and the younger ones had one each. My Mom explained to me that she ate only two, but I insisted eight. Idli Sambar was followed by Masala Dosa; there was Lemon rice, Pongal, lemon pickles and ending it with the Kesari baath. Man I was in my element. It felt like home, it was like the only food I wanted to eat. The expression “home made” made a whole lot of sense to me.
A month ago, I had visited with my fatherly friend Mr. Maini; he is Punjabi and was enjoying the ‘phulke’ – chapati or tortillas, whereas I was focused on the varieties of Rice dishes. He asked “beta, you are eating a lot of rice” and I looked at him, he was eating a lot of “wheat”. What makes one want to eat a particular food and relish it? It is amazing how mothers condition our taste buds, whatever is conditioned becomes the “home” to our buds.
I consider my taste buds to be pluralistic – that is everything is made for us to experience, the larger the universe, the greater you become a part of that horizon. But, no matter how much I have enjoyed every imaginable food, my home food is what my mother and my sister had conditioned me to enjoy. It may not meet the calories and other nutritional elements, but that is the food that would make the bud feel at home.
Thinking about conditioning the bud, my mind drifted to my son Jeff and daughter Jazzie who live a few miles from Madras Pavilion and probably in their classes, but then he was conditioned to enjoy the North Indian food and my daughter was into tacos and burritos. Would they relish Uddin Vada? They may eat to give me the company, but on their own, the may not. The excitement of eating Uddin Vada with Rasam will not be there for them. So, all alone, I have to make the pilgrimage to eat Uddin Vada, Masala Dosa and Idli Sambar.
Deep down, each one of us is an Island within, no matter how close one can get, we still have to live with our own fears, Uddin Vada’s, concerns, Joys (Sukh) and Sorrows (Dukh). Good relationships do lighten the apprehensions and enhance the joys, but never zero them. Being ourselves in our own element is being home. If you don’t have a Uddin Vada in your life, try meditation and enjoy the pleasant moments of your life.
Every so often I go to lunch by myself and enjoy that journey. You shouldn’t miss an opportunity like this. I just could not resist humming Charlene’s good old song “Never been to me”. It is beautiful.
No doubt, the extreme left and the right does cause changes in the society, in fact they are the ones that clash in preserving the status quo and or stretching out. While the majority, which is more than 95% of the society, simply become spectators and follow the winner of the duel.
Since WWII, America has led the world in every expression of culture, be it the movies; every film made in any part of the world is either a year or at most 50 years behind what Hollywood does.
The hair styles, the singing dancing musicals, the romance, living single, living together, divorce, single moms, dads, gay and lesbian, Jeans, hamburger, coke, Pepsi, disco, rock-n-roll, the music, business, customer service, computers, info tech, cars....
Whatever America does, the world follows; they are all on the same trajectory that stems from freedom and independence.
The author has taken exceptions and explored the possibilities.
We need to explore the possibility if Oppression has traveled from the western societies to the world. Certainly from times immemorial or the recorded History, the Romans were the oppressors, Alexander was the agressor, the Europeans were the colonizers, crusaders and inquisitors... and we, the Americans are the destabilizers in the name of democracy, we place the Shahs, Saddams and their likes in power and see it degenrate, Israel and Palestine, India-Pakistan, we fund and equip the mujahideens and when the job is done, they turn against us, as they had no oneelse to vent their anger at.
I hope the Obama admin take us from destabilisers to educators of the world with Education in democracy, pluralism and multi-culturism.
Is there a future for Multiculturalism?
November 17, 8:03 PM
by Brian Trent, Independent Examiner
Does diversity have a future any longer?
The standard of multiculturalism has long been accepted as the preferred avenue for the world's future. After all, the Earth is covered with multitudes of different customs and races, religions and philosophies. The idea of purity which motivated entire political regimes through time is now seen as backwards, and the fascism of the Nazi Party fled into cellars and KKK newsletters. While ethnic cleansing is a reality for many parts of the world including Africa, the Balkans, and the Middle East, the larger world frowns and condemns it (and sometimes sees fit to render aid.)
The War on Terror has given new fuel to those who question the Age of Tolerance, however. A new wave of anti-immigration ideology took hold in the United States, and fueled a foreign policy born from hard-line xenophobia.
After all, how does one tolerate jihadists whose all-consuming purpose is to destroy everyone who is not them?
Others staunchly defend the precept of tolerance. We must try to tolerate everyone and remain nonjudgmental, these advocates say.
As usual, these extreme polarities are the lingua franca of today’s media, dominating political sites, channels, and commentaries. Two fictional camps are posited and attract very real supporters:
The Far Right wishes to root out and destroy anything that’s different, fueling this intolerant society with militant nationalism and jingoistic conformity.
The Far Left wishes to tolerate everything, and claims we have no right to judge other cultures. A great example of this is Della Sentilles, the co-author of a feminist blog at Yale, who insisted, after former Taliban deputy foreign secretary Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi was inducted into Yale as a student, that, “As a white American feminist, I do not feel comfortable making statements or judgments about other cultures, especially statements that suggest one culture is more sexist and repressive than another.” (Ms. Sentilles should try living in Afghanistan before she suggests that America’s gender issues can be uttered in the same breath as those of women under Taliban rule.)
The correct stance is one of moderation. And aside from a small percentage afflicted with the fanatic’s pathology, most people agree with the moderate stance.
Consider the Dutch, who famously embrace other cultures, but have finally been forced into a hostile defense against radical Islamists. Their parliament recently legislated a countrywide ban on wearing the burqa in public. Says Jan Wolter Wabeke, High Court Judge in The Hague:
“We require that [Muslim men] send their daughters to school, and we demand they stop bringing in young brides from the desert and locking them up in third-floor apartments.”
This clash of civilizations in Europe reached a boiling point when a Danish paper published a cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, deemed offensive by radicals. The resulting riots saw over 100 dead.
The truth is that multiculturalism isn’t an absolute. If someone’s trying to kill you, you have an obligation to survive. If someone’s culture teaches them to incinerate your neighbors, then you have an obligation to not tolerate them.
I’ve pointed out before that this clash of civilizations isn’t between Islam and the West. Not really, and not in the final iteration. It’s about the fundamentalist and the progressive. Certainly, there are Jewish, Christian, and even Hindu leaders who subscribe to fundamentalist mindsets. It is this mindset which must not be tolerated. Freedom and fundamentalism are not equal; the latter is opposed to the former. If we value the former, we must deal with the latter.
Multiculturalism and pluralism are and have long been the lifeblood of America; that they will be the standard of tomorrow is an inevitability. But if radical perspectives don’t like freedom of speech, then they must change. They must accept it. In the end, they won’t be given a choice.
Multiculturalism is not unique in history; the cross-pollination of progressive cultures has given history its grandest Golden Ages. The intercourse of Greece and Egypt resulted in the scientific and philosophical powerhouse of Alexandria with its Great Library. In the year 1100 A.D. in Toledo, Jews, Christians, and Muslims enjoyed a bizarre and rarely seen plurality -- all the more remarkable considering that outside the walls of Toledo’s universities, other representatives of these same religious groups were slaughtering one another on the Crusader battlefield. In the last forty years, American and Japanese cultures stand as testament to successful cross-pollination in business, science, and art.
Multiculturalism does indeed have a present and future, if implemented in accord with sound humanistic principles. But the jihadist and fundamentalist does not fall underneath that banner. It falls, and should ultimately be crushed, beneath the wheels of progressive civilization.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
I am pleased to share an article called "An Open Letter to Barack Obama " that appeared in Arab News, it is posted right after my commentary.
Reading about Obama, reading his write ups and interviews, I have come to believe that his focus would be working for a just world, because justice is the only thing that guarantees and sustains peace.
No matter how one crushes and takes advantage of the other, in the end such benefits are deleterious and work against the oppressor, as the oppressed would be waiting to get even. In the process neither one will have peace. You cannot have peace when others around don't.
The Jews around the globe have not had security, when they felt they did, Hitler betrayed it, rather the world shamelessly stood by in silence while the Holocaust was undergoing. Security is living without fear, without caution and without guards, that is something Israelis and Jews around the world have not had. It is the time for it.
The Palestinians are deprived of the very fundamental right of life; Hope. For 60 years generations have lived in camps and squalor with no hope. Every Palestinian child must be endowed with hope, to go to school, play in the streets, job, marriage, house, family… The world bears a burden of shame for not focusing on it and rather be cruel to them and oppress them more. They need hope.
Blaming has not worked and we just have to do what works. Begin the dialogue.
When Justice becomes a norm in that land, the Jews, Christians, Muslim and other habitants can hope for peace and prosperity for one and all. Every one must put in vigorous effort to achieve it. Palestinians cannot have hope if they deny security to Israel, and Israel cannot have security when they deny hope to Palestinians. We have to dump all the previous policy makers, they were the real impediment to peace and they will never understand these values.
Almost every one in the world, including Tony Blair have emphasized that most of the world problem will find solutions, once there is peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. I hope Obama does it right with a focus on solutions, if not they won't leave the room.
I am thrilled to read the following letter and will be writing on all other issues; China, Balance of Trade, Long term Job movements, North Korea, Congo, Rwanda, Darfur, Iran, Amazon Indians, India, Rain forests, environment, Pakistan and of course Iraq and Afghanistan. Then there are religious issues where minorities are persecuted, it needs to stop for the good of the given nation where it is happening and there are a few of them out there.
An Open letter to Barack Obama
Aijaz Zaka Syed - http://www.arabnews.com/
Dear Mr. Obama,
Salaam, I am not sure if this will ever pass your eyes. At a time when the whole world is excited about your landmark election, this is likely to be dismissed as just another outpouring of emotions from the Middle East. But write I must. And I hope to God it does find its way to your table. Even if it doesn't, I'll at least have the consolation of having tried to persuade you what the world, especially the Middle East, expects from you and what a great opportunity you have of changing it for the better.
I may be ridiculed for my naïve idealism and for daring to hope the agenda of the reigning superpower could be influenced by individuals sitting thousands of miles away in Dubai. But there's no harm in trying, is there? Besides, after your own incredible victory riding on a wave of idealism and message of hope, no one can ever suggest idealism doesn't work. You wouldn't be where you are today without idealism and faith and the incredible power of dreams. It's this power that can take a "skinny kid with a funny name" to White House. By now you must be conscious of the impossibly high expectations the Americans and the rest of the world have of you.
These hopes are only natural considering what the world has been through over the past eight years under the current incumbent. Your predecessor has somehow managed to gang up the whole world against America, a feat that eluded even Richard Nixon. From the total destruction of Iraq to the shame of Abu Ghraib, from spying on Americans to abduction of innocents by CIA, and from dumping hundreds of civilians as enemy combatants down the hole called the Guantanamo Bay, this administration has never been short on ever-new ideas of violating human dignity.
But to give your predecessor his due, he's been equally indifferent to the business of governance at home. So while New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz, was being ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, the leader of the free world went biking. Ditto the current economic crisis. W. slept while the Wall Street burned.
Dear Mr. Obama, the Americans have elected you hoping you could put out the Bush fires. They believe you could clear this spectacular mess.
By electing you they have in one stroke changed global perceptions about America, restoring the world's faith in the land of the free.
Because at heart we are all Americans and love America and all that it stands for - or once stood for. Your election proves, as you argued in the thrilling election night speech in Chicago, that all things are possible in America. But if your victory was groundbreaking, the hopes and expectations it has generated in and outside America and challenges you face now are equally formidable.
If anyone can meet these daunting tasks confronting America and the world at large, it's you. Your unusual life story is a celebration of the audacity of hope. You are after all the blessed one. Barack in Arabic, as you must know, means blessing. So perhaps there's a design in your being chosen for this most difficult of all jobs. I am sure you can, and will, successfully negotiate your great country through the minefield of difficult times ahead.
But your responsibility does not end with America. There's a message in the frenzied adulation for you and celebrations around the world over your victory: The world sees you as its leader and expects leadership from you.
Which is why it's heartening to see you move with remarkable alacrity to put America back on track. Even though you are yet to formally take over from Bush, you already have your team in place and are taking steps to reverse the divisive and most disastrous policies of this administration.
The world is already delighted by your decision to shut the Guantanamo Bay and either free the detainees or try them in the US courts. This is something that your heroes Lincoln, Emerson and King would all approve. But in all honesty, most of those men at the Bay have already suffered enough for crimes they did not commit.
Did you know that one of them, Omar Khadr, was captured in Afghanistan during the US invasion in 2001 when he was only 15? He has spent six years of his life in a hole. His crime? Being the son of parents who had been working in Afghanistan. There are hundreds of Omar Khadrs out there. And all of them deserve justice.
Others who demand your attention are Palestinians. They too have been paying for crimes they did not commit for nearly seven decades now. Or rather, they've been paying for someone else's crimes. The Palestinians are being victimized for Europe's crimes against Jews, as Ahmadinejad says. Today, prisoners in their own land and their ghettos, they are fighting for survival, literally! Throughout your campaign, you've talked of hope and change and America believed in you. It has embraced you because it knows it needs someone like you to bring it the change it badly needs.
Mr. Obama, we in the Middle East believe in you too. I know there are some who are already nervous about your choice for the White House chief of staff. But I would rather look at the big picture. A Jewish chief of staff doesn't necessarily mean you are anti-Arab or anti-Muslim. What matters is the general direction and outcome of your policies.
I still believe that if anyone can bring hope and change to the world's most volatile region, it's you. With your unusual background, representing both Christianity and Islam, both black and white and both East and West, you are uniquely placed to bring hope and change to the region that has been the cradle of civilizations and three great faiths. And you must begin this mission right away, before you get used to power; or power and its compulsions get the better of you. The Middle East, more specifically Palestine, is the key to world peace. From the war in Iraq to militancy in Afghanistan and Pakistan, everything is linked to Palestine. You bring peace to the Middle East and the world will find its peace. You change the Middle East and you'll change the world.
Friday, November 14, 2008
At the bottom of this essay is a list of articles that I have written on Obama.
Ever since, I read Obama's article on Faith and Politics that my friend Bernie forwarded to me at beginning of the last year, I have become a fan of Obama and have done my share in working for his election campaign, held rallies, written over a dozen pieces supporting his candidacy while writing 20 plus pieces showing that McCain or the other Republican candidates are not the right leaders for our nation at this point in history.
I have been listening to his speeches and writings, and spiritually I relate with him and perhaps I can write his speeches. I was excited when a few friends had nominated me to be his Religion Advisor.
Now in the interview below, which took place in March, which I had missed, he mentions his mentors – who are my mentors as well.
Obama has the largest embrace of all humans; he will not exclude any one from his embrace.
If God was a being and was to land on the earth, he (she or it) will be addressing all of us;
God will not discriminate you whether you are an Atheist, Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Hopi, Inca, Jain, Jewish, Muslim, Oloriyo, Pagan, Shinto, Sikh, Toltec, Wicca, Zoroastrian or some one else.
God will look to you as a human from the planet earth. He may even go the extent of identifying you as some one who followed the beautiful systems delivered by Zoroaster, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Krishna, Rama, Buddha, Mahavir, Muhammad, Nanak, Bahaullah and other great spiritual masters.
When Jesus said follow me, Krishna said surrender to me, Allah said submitt to my will, and other masters have said similar things, they all meant for us to become like God, who loves us all.
We are blessed to have Obama as our President, the man who will follow Jesus,
Jesus was not a bully and Obama will not be one,
Jesus embraced all including the socially unacceptable at that time
Jesus created a model of co-existence, Obama will follow in his foot steps.
Jesus cared for all, so will Obama.
Obama is the closest follower of Jesus our nation has witnessed in a leader.
Jesus was not a threat to any soul, so would be Obama, regardless of your race, ethnicity, color, size, profession or any other identifier, Obama will have no bias towards you.
We hope Obama will bring the world together based on the common goodness we share.
Obama's Fascinating Interview
with Cathleen Falsani
Tuesday November 11, 2008
The most detailed and fascinating explication of Barack Obama's faith came in a 2004 interview he gave Chicago Sun Times columnist Cathleen Falsani when he was running for U.S. Senate in Illinois. The column she wrote about the interview has been quoted and misquoted many times over, but she'd never before published the full transcript in a major publication.
Because of how controversial that interview became, Falsani has graciously allowed us to print the full conversation here.
Falsani is one of the most gifted interviews on matters of Faith, and has recently published an outstanding memoir called Sin Boldly: A Field Guide for Grace. To get a free download of the audio book, click here.
* * *
At 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 27, 2004, when I was the religion reporter (I am now its religion columnist) at the Chicago Sun-Times, I met then-State Sen. Barack Obama at Café Baci, a small coffee joint at 330 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago, to interview him exclusively about his spirituality. Our conversation took place a few days after he'd clinched the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat that he eventually won. We spoke for more than an hour. He came alone. He answered everything I asked without notes or hesitation. The profile of Obama that grew from the interview at Cafe Baci became the first in a series in the Sun-Times called "The God Factor," that eventually became my first book, The God Factor: Inside the Spiritual Lives of Public People (FSG, March 2006.) Because of the staggering interest in now President-Elect Obama's faith and spiritual predilections, I thought it might be helpful to share that interivew, uncut and in its entirety, here.
Interview with State Sen. Barack Obama
3:30 p.m., Saturday March 27
Café Baci, 330 S. Michigan Avenue
He: alone, on time, grabs a Naked juice protein shake
What do you believe?
I am a Christian.
So, I have a deep faith. So I draw from the Christian faith.
On the other hand, I was born in Hawaii where obviously there are a lot of Eastern influences.
I lived in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world, between the ages of six and 10.
My father was from Kenya, and although he was probably most accurately labeled an agnostic, his father was Muslim.
And I'd say, probably, intellectually I've drawn as much from Judaism as any other faith.
(A patron stops and says, "Congratulations," shakes his hand. "Thank you very much. I appreciate that. Thank you.")
So, I'm rooted in the Christian tradition. I believe that there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people. That there are values that transcend race or culture, that move us forward, and there's an obligation for all of us individually as well as collectively to take responsibility to make those values lived.
And so, part of my project in life was probably to spend the first 40 years of my life figuring out what I did believe - I'm 42 now - and it's not that I had it all completely worked out, but I'm spending a lot of time now trying to apply what I believe and trying to live up to those values.
Have you always been a Christian?
I was raised more by my mother and my mother was Christian.
Any particular flavor?
My grandparents who were from small towns in Kansas. My grandmother was Methodist. My grandfather was Baptist. This was at a time when I think the Methodists felt slightly superior to the Baptists. And by the time I was born, they were, I think, my grandparents had joined a Universalist church.
So, my mother, who I think had as much influence on my values as anybody, was not someone who wore her religion on her sleeve. We'd go to church for Easter. She wasn't a church lady.
As I said, we moved to Indonesia. She remarried an Indonesian who wasn't particularly, he wasn't a practicing Muslim. I went to a Catholic school in a Muslim country. So I was studying the Bible and catechisms by day, and at night you'd hear the prayer call.
So I don't think as a child we were, or I had a structured religious education. But my mother was deeply spiritual person, and would spend a lot of time talking about values and give me books about the world's religions, and talk to me about them. And I think always, her view always was that underlying these religions were a common set of beliefs about how you treat other people and how you aspire to act, not just for yourself but also for the greater good.
And, so that, I think, was what I carried with me through college. I probably didn't get started getting active in church activities until I moved to Chicago.
The way I came to Chicago in 1985 was that I was interested in community organizing and I was inspired by the Civil Rights movement. And the idea that ordinary people could do extraordinary things. And there was a group of churches out on the South Side of Chicago that had come together to form an organization to try to deal with the devastation of steel plants that had closed. And didn't have much money, but felt that if they formed an organization and hired somebody to organize them to work on issues that affected their community, that it would strengthen the church and also strengthen the community.
So they hired me, for $13,000 a year. The princely sum. And I drove out here and I didn't know anybody and started working with both the ministers and the lay people in these churches on issues like creating job training programs, or afterschool programs for youth, or making sure that city services were fairly allocated to underserved communites.
This would be in Roseland, West Pullman, Altgeld Gardens, far South Side working class and lower income communities.
And it was in those places where I think what had been more of an intellectual view of religion deepened because I'd be spending an enormous amount of time with church ladies, sort of surrogate mothers and fathers and everybody I was working with was 50 or 55 or 60, and here I was a 23-year-old kid running around.
I became much more familiar with the ongoing tradition of the historic black church and it's importance in the community.
And the power of that culture to give people strength in very difficult circumstances, and the power of that church to give people courage against great odds. And it moved me deeply.
So that, one of the churches I met, or one of the churches that I became involved in was Trinity United Church of Christ. And the pastor there, Jeremiah Wright, became a good friend. So I joined that church and committed myself to Christ in that church.
Did you actually go up for an altar call?
It was a daytime service, during a daytime service. And it was a powerful moment. Because, it was powerful for me because it not only confirmed my faith, it not only gave shape to my faith, but I think, also, allowed me to connect the work I had been pursuing with my faith.
How long ago?
16, 17 years ago. 1987 or 88
So you got yourself born again?
Yeah, although I don't, I retain from my childhood and my experiences growing up a suspicion of dogma. And I'm not somebody who is always comfortable with language that implies I've got a monopoly on the truth, or that my faith is automatically transferable to others.
I'm a big believer in tolerance. I think that religion at it's best comes with a big dose of doubt. I'm suspicious of too much certainty in the pursuit of understanding just because I think people are limited in their understanding.
I think that, particularly as somebody who's now in the public realm and is a student of what brings people together and what drives them apart, there's an enormous amount of damage done around the world in the name of religion and certainty.
Do you still attend Trinity?
Yep. Every week. 11 oclock service.
Ever been there? Good service.
I actually wrote a book called Dreams from My Father, it's kind of a meditation on race. There's a whole chapter on the church in that, and my first visits to Trinity.
Do you pray often?
Uh, yeah, I guess I do.
Its' not formal, me getting on my knees. I think I have an ongoing conversation with God. I think throughout the day, I'm constantly asking myself questions about what I'm doing, why am I doing it.
One of the interesting things about being in public life is there are constantly these pressures being placed on you from different sides. To be effective, you have to be able to listen to a variety of points of view, synthesize viewpoints. You also have to know when to be just a strong advocate, and push back against certain people or views that you think aren't right or don't serve your constituents.
And so, the biggest challenge, I think, is always maintaining your moral compass. Those are the conversations I'm having internally. I'm measuring my actions against that inner voice that for me at least is audible, is active, it tells me where I think I'm on track and where I think I'm off track.
It's interesting particularly now after this election, comes with it a lot of celebrity. And I always think of politics as having two sides. There's a vanity aspect to politics, and then there's a substantive part of politics. Now you need some sizzle with the steak to be effective, but I think it's easy to get swept up in the vanity side of it, the desire to be liked and recognized and important. It's important for me throughout the day to measure and to take stock and to say, now, am I doing this because I think it's advantageous to me politically, or because I think it's the right thing to do? Am I doing this to get my name in the papers or am I doing this because it's necessary to accomplish my motives.
Checking for altruism?
Yeah. I mean, something like it.
Looking for, ... It's interesting, the most powerful political moments for me come when I feel like my actions are aligned with a certain truth. I can feel it. When I'm talking to a group and I'm saying something truthful, I can feel a power that comes out of those statements that is different than when I'm just being glib or clever.
What's that power? Is it the holy spirit? God?
Well, I think it's the power of the recognition of God, or the recognition of a larger truth that is being shared between me and an audience.
That's something you learn watching ministers, quite a bit. What they call the Holy Spirit. They want the Holy Spirit to come down before they're preaching, right? Not to try to intellectualize it but what I see is there are moments that happen within a sermon where the minister gets out of his ego and is speaking from a deeper source. And it's powerful.
There are also times when you can see the ego getting in the way. Where the minister is performing and clearly straining for applause or an Amen. And those are distinct moments. I think those former moments are sacred.
Who's Jesus to you?
(He laughs nervously)
Jesus is an historical figure for me, and he's also a bridge between God and man, in the Christian faith, and one that I think is powerful precisely because he serves as that means of us reaching something higher.
And he's also a wonderful teacher. I think it's important for all of us, of whatever faith, to have teachers in the flesh and also teachers in history.
Is Jesus someone who you feel you have a regular connection with now, a personal connection with in your life?
Yeah. Yes. I think some of the things I talked about earlier are addressed through, are channeled through my Christian faith and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Have you read the bible?
I read it not as regularly as I would like. These days I don't have much time for reading or reflection, period.
Do you try to take some time for whatever, meditation prayer reading?
I'll be honest with you, I used to all the time, in a fairly disciplined way. But during the course of this campaign, I don't. And I probably need to and would like to, but that's where that internal monologue, or dialogue I think supplants my opportunity to read and reflect in a structured way these days.
It's much more sort of as I'm going through the day trying to take stock and take a moment here and a moment there to take stock, why am I here, how does this connect with a larger sense of purpose.
Do you have people in your life that you look to for guidance?
Well, my pastor [Jeremiah Wright] is certainly someone who I have an enormous amount of respect for.
I have a number of friends who are ministers. Reverend Meeks is a close friend and colleague of mine in the state Senate. Father Michael Pfleger is a dear friend, and somebody I interact with closely.
Those two will keep you on your toes.
And theyr'e good friends. Because both of them are in the public eye, there are ways we can all reflect on what's happening to each of us in ways that are useful.
I think they can help me, they can appreciate certain specific challenges that I go through as a public figure.
Jack Ryan [Obama's Republican opponent in the U.S. Senate race at the time] said talking about your faith is frought with peril for a public figure.
Which is why you generally will not see me spending a lot of time talking about it on the stump.
Alongside my own deep personal faith, I am a follower, as well, of our civic religion. I am a big believer in the separation of church and state. I am a big believer in our constitutional structure. I mean, I'm a law professor at the University of Chicago teaching constitutional law. I am a great admirer of our founding charter, and its resolve to prevent theocracies from forming, and its resolve to prevent disruptive strains of fundamentalism from taking root ion this country.
As I said before, in my own public policy, I'm very suspicious of religious certainty expressing itself in politics.
Now, that's different form a belief that values have to inform our public policy. I think it's perfectly consistent to say that I want my government to be operating for all faiths and all peoples, including atheists and agnostics, while also insisting that there are values tha tinform my politics that are appropriate to talk about.
A standard line in my stump speech during this campaign is that my politics are informed by a belief that we're all connected. That if there's a child on the South Side of Chicago that can't read, that makes a difference in my life even if it's not my own child. If there's a senior citizen in downstate Illinois that's struggling to pay for their medicine and having to chose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer even if it's not my grandparent. And if there's an Arab American family that's being rounded up by John Ashcroft without the benefit of due process, that threatens my civil liberties.
I can give religious expression to that. I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper, we are all children of God. Or I can express it in secular terms. But the basic premise remains the same. I think sometimes Democrats have made the mistake of shying away from a conversation about values for fear that they sacrifice the important value of tolerance. And I don't think those two things are mutually exclusive.
Do you think it's wrong for people to want to know about a civic leader's spirituality?
I don't' think it's wrong. I think that political leaders are subject to all sorts of vetting by the public, and this can be a component of that.
I think that I am disturbed by, let me put it this way: I think there is an enormous danger on the part of public figures to rationalize or justify their actions by claiming God's mandate.
I think there is this tendency that I don't think is healthy for public figures to wear religion on their sleeve as a means to insulate themselves from criticism, or dialogue with people who disagree with them.
The conversation stopper, when you say you're a Christian and leave it at that.
Where do you move forward with that?
This is something that I'm sure I'd have serious debates with my fellow Christians about. I think that the difficult thing about any religion, including Christianity, is that at some level there is a call to evangelize and prostelytize. There's the belief, certainly in some quarters, that people haven't embraced Jesus Christ as their personal savior that they're going to hell.
You don't believe that?
I find it hard to believe that my God would consign four-fifths of the world to hell.
I can't imagine that my God would allow some little Hindu kid in India who never interacts with the Christian faith to somehow burn for all eternity.
That's just not part of my religious makeup.
Part of the reason I think it's always difficult for public figures to talk about this is that the nature of politics is that you want to have everybody like you and project the best possible traits onto you. Oftentimes that's by being as vague as possible, or appealing to the lowest commong denominators. The more specific and detailed you are on issues as personal and fundamental as your faith, the more potentially dangerous it is.
Do you ever have people who know you're a Christian question a particular stance you take on an issue, how can you be a Christian and ...
Like the right to choose.
I haven't been challenged in those direct ways. And to that extent, I give the public a lot of credit. I'm always stuck by how much common sense the American people have. They get confused sometimes, watch FoxNews or listen to talk radio. That's dangerous sometimes. But generally, Americans are tolerant and I think recognize that faith is a personal thing, and they may feel very strongly about an issue like abortion or gay marriage, but if they discuss it with me as an elected official they will discuss it with me in those terms and not, say, as 'you call yourself a Christian.' I cannot recall that ever happening.
Do you get questions about your faith?
Obviously as an African American politician rooted in the African American community, I spend a lot of time in the black church. I have no qualms in those settings in participating fully in those services and celebrating my God in that wonderful community that is the black church.
But I also try to be . . . Rarely in those settings do people come up to me and say, what are your beliefs. They are going to presume, and rightly so. Although they may presume a set of doctrines that I subscribe to that I don't necessarily subscribe to.
But I don't think that's unique to me. I think that each of us when we walk into our church or mosque or synagogue are interpreting that experience in different ways, are reading scriptures in different ways and are arriving at our own understanding at different ways and in different phases.
I don't know a healthy congregation or an effective minister who doesn't recognize that.
If all it took was someone proclaiming I believe Jesus Christ and that he died for my sins, and that was all there was to it, people wouldn't have to keep coming to church, would they.
Do you believe in heaven?
Do I believe in the harps and clouds and wings?
A place spiritually you go to after you die?
What I believe in is that if I live my life as well as I can, that I will be rewarded. I don't presume to have knowledge of what happens after I die. But I feel very strongly that whether the reward is in the here and now or in the hereafter, the aligning myself to my faith and my values is a good thing.
When I tuck in my daughters at night and I feel like I've been a good father to them, and I see in them that I am transferring values that I got from my mother and that they're kind people and that they're honest people, and they're curious people, that's a little piece of heaven.
Do you believe in sin?
What is sin?
Being out of alignment with my values.
What happens if you have sin in your life?
I think it's the same thing as the question about heaven. In the same way that if I'm true to myself and my faith that that is its own reward, when I'm not true to it, it's its own punishment.
Where do you find spiritual inspiration? Music, nature, literature, people, a conduit you plug into?
There are so many.
Nothing is more powerful than the black church experience. A good choir and a good sermon in the black church, it's pretty hard not to be move and be transported.
I can be transported by watching a good performance of Hamlet, or reading Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon, or listening to Miles Davis.
Is there something that you go back to as a touchstone, a book, a particular piece of music, a place ...
As I said before, in my own sort of mental library, the Civil Rights movement has a powerful hold on me. It's a point in time where I think heaven and earth meet. Because it's a moment in which a collective faith transforms everything. So when I read Gandhi or I read King or I read certain passages of Abraham Lincoln and I think about those times where people's values are tested, I think those inspire me.
What are you doing when you feel the most centered, the most aligned spiritually?
I think I already described it. It's when I'm being true to myself. And that can happen in me making a speech or it can happen in me playing with my kids, or it can happen in a small interaction with a security guard in a building when I'm recognizing them and exchanging a good word.
Is there someone you would look to as an example of how not to do it?
... An example of a role model, who combined everything you said you want to do in your life, and your faith?
I think Gandhi is a great example of a profoundly spiritual man who acted and risked everything on behalf of those values but never slipped into intolerance or dogma. He seemed to always maintain an air of doubt about him.
I think Dr. King, and Lincoln. Those three are good examples for me of people who applied their faith to a larger canvas without allowing that faith to metasticize into something that is hurtful.
Can we go back to that morning service in 1987 or 88 -- when you have a moment that you can go back to that as an epiphany...
It wasn't an epiphany.
It was much more of a gradual process for me. I know there are some people who fall out. Which is wonderful. God bless them. For me it was probably because there is a certain self-consciousness that I possess as somebody with probably too much book learning, and also a very polyglot background.
It wasn't like a moment where you finally got it? It was a symbol of that decision?
Exactly. I think it was just a moment to certify or publicly affirm a growing faith in me.
Cathleen Falsani is author of Sin Boldly: A Field Guide for Grace. To get a free download of the audio book, click here.
STUFF ON OBAMA:
On the lighter side...
You've got to give credit to these guys - Barak, John and Sara. Joe was not seen doing any humor, I mean Joe the VP. They made fun of themselves quite a lot and it was very nice to see the humor in them. No wonder, Readers digest calls it Laughter the best medicine, which I have been reading for nearly 40 years, by the way the 40 year clock did not start from my first birth day, the day my mother delivered me.
John McCain, said to Leno last night, that I slept like a baby and then he added, "every two hours I'd wake up and cry and go back to sleep again." That was funny John!
One touching moment the other night during Barack Obama's speech.
Oprah was crying, did you see that? Jesse Jackson was crying. Hillary
Clinton was crying. I think Hillary's still crying, if I'm not
mistaken. (Jay Leno)
FOX news reported today that the election never happened.
It was all just a dream. (Tim Hunter)
And political analysts are saying today that Barack Obama's win was
unprecedented. Which again confused President Bush. He
said, "Unprecedented? You mean, he didn't win? He got
unpresidented? " (Jay Leno)
At the end of the evening, the electoral vote count was 349 for
Obama, 148 for McCain. Or, as Fox News says, too close to call.
People all over the world were celebrating Obama's victory. Sarah
Palin watched the Russians celebrating from her house. (Craig
Barack Obama and Democrats will gain control of Congress and the
White House. World reaction is pouring in. Australia's prime minister
offered political asylum, safe passage and new identities to Sean
Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin. (Argus Hamilton)
Barack Obama was briefed this morning on the state of the economy,
and this afternoon, he called McCain to offer him the presidency.
According to recent news reports, Bill Clinton has now become an
adviser to Barack Obama. Bill Clinton is giving advice to Barack
Obama. Do you know who is really upset about this? Michelle Obama.
Democrat Barack Obama came up a big winner in the presidential race
in Dixville Notch, N.H., where the nation's first Election Day votes
were cast and counted early Tuesday. I don't want to say it's over,
but if you check e-Bay, someone in Alaska is selling designer
clothing. (Pedro Bartes)
President-elect Barack Obama, will make his promise good and get a
rescue puppy for his two young daughters. So far they have in mind a
runaway dog name Lieberman, a terrier named Bill Ayers, or a bitch
pit bull named Sarah. (Pedro Bartes)
Barack Obama is now gonna receive the daily White House intelligence
briefing on things like, you know, security and terrorism, stuff like
that. It's the same briefing President Bush gets every day, but
without the pictures and the color by numbers. (Jay Leno)
Set your clocks back an hour this weekend. I'm thinking, great idea —
if there's one thing we need it's an extra hour of 2008. President
Bush has already set the clocks back — to 1929, thank you. (David
Don't forget to turn your clocks back. It's the end of Daylight
Savings. That's too bad — that's all the saving most Americans have
now. (Craig Ferguson)
President-elect Barack Obama spent the day thanking the people who
helped him win the election. That's right. Yeah, and actually,
Obama's first phone call was to Sarah Palin. (Conan O'Brien)
Most of the newspapers with the picture of Obama on the cover were
sold out Wednesday morning. Democrats wanted a picture of Obama to
remember a historic moment, Republicans wanted a picture to use as
target for shooting practice. (Pedro Bartes)
Barack Obama was joined on stage by Bruce Springsteen in Ohio on
Sunday. There was one tense moment when somebody in the audience
yelled out "Born in the USA" and Obama said, "For the last time, yes,
I was!" (Jimmy Kimmel)
Right about now, John McCain is at home saying, "If only I didn't
anger Dave, if only I didn't anger Dave." (David Letterman)
A Republican operative has accused Sarah Palin of being unsure that
Africa is a continent. Although she reportedly was 99 percent certain
that McCain is incontinent. (Marc Ragovin)
A lot of speculation about Sarah Palin's future, but last night, she
denied rumors that she's getting ready to run for president in 2012.
Palin said: "That's a long time away. I'll be a great-grandmother by
then." (Conan O'Brien)
President Bush is said to be hiding from the media until the
elections are over so he won't hurt McCain's chances. Apparently,
he's hiding where nobody expects him to be, at the White House
library. (Pedro Bartes)
Last night, after Barack Obama was declared the winner, President
Bush called Obama and promised to work with him to guarantee a smooth
transition. When we heard this, Obama said, "Thanks, but you've done
enough." (Conan O'Brien)
New York Mayor Bloomberg wants to charge shoppers six cents every
time they use a plastic bag. Enforcing morality through taxation is
not a new idea, and it's expected to grow as New York's cash-hungry
government imposes levies on other harmful substances such as
butterfat, sugar, and the New York Times. (Scot Witt)
With Obama's victory, Republicans are finally going to have the war
they have wished for such a long time. Unfortunately the war is going
to be within the Republican Party. (Pedro Bartes)
Assistant Secretary for Immigration Julie Myers has resigned. She
just doesn't have any more work to do now that the economy has tanked
and no one is immigrating to America anymore. (Jake Novak)
If this week has taught us anything, it's taught us that America's a
place where anything is possible, except maybe the Detroit Lions
winning a football game. (Jay Leno)