Asia Bibi : Christian Jailed in Pakistan

Asia Bibi, Pakistani Christian

The Pakistani Christian woman, Asia Bibi, was arrested and jailed in 2009 for allegedly blaspheming the prophet Muhammed. She was sentenced to death.

In fact, Asia Bibi extended hospitality and friendship towards her Muslim coworkers by sharing water and conversation. Rumors then circulated, and false accusations, claiming that she had defamed the prophet of Islam.

Asia Bibi’s case has been appealed. She has been waiting (in jail) for the Supreme Court of Pakistan to hear the case and render a final verdict.

Jesus fought for Spiritual Freedom : Lightworker

Jesus himself was accused of blasphemy for claiming to be united with God. No matter our religion, all of us have the right– like Jesus–to enjoy such intimacy with God. We ought to openly declare or speak about our faith, peacefully, without incurring retribution by a dogmatic orthodoxy or a strident majority.

Not Just about Religion but about Human Rights

While Asia Bibi’s imprisonment involves persecution on religious grounds, her case goes beyond sectarian differences between religions. Instead, the case puts on trial freedom of speech and basic human rights.

Pakistan, a country which claims to protect religious minorities, ought to uphold the freedom of a person (Asia Bibi) to speak and associate freely with Muslims even while practicing her own different culture and mode of faith.  Is one free, respectfully, to declare one’s own faith (as a Christian) without thereby being accused of allegedly insulting the religion of the Muslim majority?  The charge of blasphemy, if it should ever be legitimate, is illegitimate, here.

This case has not to do with protecting a Christian person, merely, but rather with the democratic right of freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

More Information about the Asia Bibi Case 

A journalist risked her life so that she could get Asia Bibi’s story. The book can be found here: Blasphemy: A Memoir

Here are updates about her case:

Update Asia Bibi Appeal Pakistan

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A Horse Named Grace: (and Noah)

Here’s an inversion of the biblical Noah story. In the story of flood, Noah is saved because of his righteousness. A remnant of humanity — and animals — take refuge on the ark.

In this era of global climate change, many natural disasters put our lives at risk, both  human and animal lives. Here is a sad story of horses who died due to drought. One horse was saved. See link.

Horse Saved From Drought

Now, I do not believe that God “caused” the flood  in the days of Noah. Nor did God cause the drought that killed many horses in Arizona. However, the fact that one horse was saved — aptly named Grace — can give us hope and alert all of us, in whatever ways we can, to be like the horse Grace. We are given life. Let us live in a way that we may contribute, generously, to the lives of others. Let us do our part to avert disasters and to contribute to restoring our natural environment.

Conversation Snippet: the Bible, the Pope, and the end of the world

Tara believes that we are in the end-times. Her opinion does not matter nor anybody’s opinion. About God and the Bible, what matters is the Truth.

Tara believes we should go to the source for the Truth, not just any source but the King James Version of the Bible. The NIV (New International Version) leaves things out. The Devil has added things to most modern translations.

Tara believes that the Sabbath must be celebrated, regularly, because God said so. The world is in the hands of Satan. People can disobey but God is the authority. Only the few are obedient to God, and reflect Jesus Christ. Discipleship is a lonely road.

Tara believes, too, that the Pope is the anti-Christ, and that the Catholic church devises to take over the world and to make worship of the Pope compulsory.

As Tara says this, her companion, named James, who has been listening quietly, protests: “My relatives are Catholic. Just because you think that Catholics are wrong or misled, that does not mean that the Pope is evil.”

Tara replies, “I don’t care whether your relatives are Catholic. Catholics hold on to human traditions not God’s word. Which Bible are you reading? You must be reading one of those translations, which Satan has filled with lies.  It says in the Book of Revelation: the Pope is the anti-Christ, who will usurp the throne of God and demand worship in place of Christ. Compulsory worship of the Pope is already on its way, in our lifetime.  I can’t say exactly when, but the end times will be soon, in our lifetime. The trouble with these days is that people don’t read the Bible. Modern translations have bent the word of God out of shape.”

James says, “Stop being opinionated. The people who translated the Bible did so out of love, in order to communicate the message of the Bible to people in their own modern languages, in a style that they can understand. You may not like those translations. But honor the fact that the translators are kind not wicked. They performed an act of love.”

Tara brightens. “You think so? So they translated the Bible — even the NIV which leaves things out — in order to help people? You say it’s an act of love to translate God’s word into a human tongue? I see what you mean. Yes. Love. That is an act of love.”

James and Tara come to peace for a moment. This moment of peace is where truth resides, not in their religious quarrels, or within the pages of one Bible translation or another.

“But the King James Bible,” Tara adds, “is the true Bible. The KJV is the one I read and it’s enough to get me out of the mess we’re in. To get me out of this mess. That’s good enough for me.”

Stardust: A Finely Tuned Universe (Polkinghorne)

Hello Stardust,

In this post, I ask you to consider three points: 1) we are made from explosions of stars; 2) the universe may be finely tuned and intricately designed; 3) there is an intelligible structure of the universe, which makes prayer possible.

Here are some passages for you to consider, on these points, from an essay by John Polkinghorne, a physicist and theologian.

And for more, read: his essay, John Polkinghorne, SO FINELY TUNED A UNIVERSE of atoms, stars, quanta & God (originally published, 1996 Commonweal).

1. We are made from explosions of stars.

On Stardust:

“The stars have another tremendously important thing to do. The nuclear furnaces that burn inside the stars are the source of the chemical elements which are the raw materials of life.”

 

“If you’re made from stardust, there’s got to be some dust from stars around for you to be made of. You’ve got to have stellar explosions.”

That means that we share the essential substance with the rest of the galaxy. When I look up at the stars, I know that we are one.

2. Regarding a finely tuned universe, consider how chance interacts with purposeful design. For instance, if you meet your soul mate, is the meeting random or purposeful? Here is another articulation of the matter by Polkinghorne.

 

“John Leslie, a philosopher at Guelf University in Canada, writes about these questions. He has written the best book about the anthropic principle, called Universes. He’s a beguiling philosopher because he does his philosophy by telling stories, which is a very accessible way for those of us who are not professionally trained in philosophy to get the hang of it. He tells the following story. You are about to be executed. Your eyes are bandaged and you are tied to the stake. Twelve highly-trained sharpshooters have their rifles leveled at your heart. They pull the trigger, the shots ring out—you’ve survived! What do you do? Do you shrug your shoulders and say, “Well, that’s the way it is. No need to seek an explanation of this. That’s just the way it is.” Leslie rightly says that’s surely not a rational response to what’s going on. He suggests that there are only two rational explanations of that amazing incident. One is that many, many, many executions are taking place today and just by luck you happen to be the one in which they all miss. That’s a rational explanation. The other explanation is, of course, that the sharpshooters are on your side and they missed by choice. In other words there was a purpose at work of which you were unaware.

 

That parable translates well into thinking about a finely tuned and fruitful universe.”

3. Concerning prayer, prayer only makes sense if there’s some correspondence between our own minds or intelligence and the structure of the world. Otherwise, how could our own intentions, which we lift to God/the Spirit in prayer, have an impact on the world?  As Einstein said, “The only incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible.”

For more on this them, see the Polkinghorne essay.

The Wine of Joy

This post is for our Lightworker’s Study of the Gospel of John. On the left, click the folder icon, then sign up.  

John #23

John 2:1-11 (Text is reproduced at the end of this post)

Gospel of John 

Hello Lightworkers,  We move ahead to John 2, where Jesus performs his first miracle or sign (John 2:11). The Gospel calls Jesus’s miracles “signs”, which is also the Old Testament (i.e., the Hebrew Bible) term for the miracles of Moses.

At a wedding party in Cana of Galilee, Jesus turns water into wine. The water is contained within six stone jars for the Jewish rites of purification (2:6).  Note, here, that Jesus is himself a Jew. So, although the scene suggests that the new “wine” of Jesus replaces the old water of Jewish purification, in fact no super-cessionist or replacement theology is required. Jesus here is a Jewish prophet not a Christian god.

According to John, Jesus is also more than a prophet. He is the divine Bridegroom. The spiritual message, as I see it, has nothing to do with religious politics or sectarian disagreements: once the divine Bridegroom is present, enjoy the wine. You don’t need to keep purifying yourself, or waiting for the bliss to come. Religions, in general, often put people through rituals – for purification or as a means to an end, so that one will later on…meet and experience God, once one is holy enough or pure.

What if God has already arrived but we are in church so we miss it?  Drink the wine now.

The Wedding at Cana John 2:1-11
2 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. 9 When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

Angels Descending/Ascending on our Behalf

Gospel of John #21

John 1:43-51 (Note that the text is reproduced at the end of this post)

Hello Lightworkers,

This scene continues the so-called “call narratives,” where the disciples are called to follow Jesus. The attitudes toward Jesus of Philip and Nathanael are contrasting. Philip immediately recognizes that Jesus embodies the very Messiah, or anointed leader (the Christ), that Jewish tradition and scriptures predict.  Nathanael, in turn, is skeptical : “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (1:46).

Yet, when Jesus performs a simple feat of telepathy or clairvoyance — revealing that by a sixth sense, he has seen Nathanael sitting under a fig tree — Nathanael makes a sudden about-face, declaring that Jesus must be the Son of God and King of Israel. Note: Son of God was the title for the Roman emperor.

Nathanael has set his sights far too low. Jesus is appointed not merely to perform magical tricks — of telepathy or the like — nor is he merely a King, like the Roman emperor. Jesus is instead appointed to a more significant role as the Son of Man. He will open a pathway between heaven and earth, on which angels may ascend and descend.

One simple message of this passage is that heavenly things come in humble packages. In fact, our own humble attire – and vulnerability – may be hard for us to embrace and reveal to others, particularly when our needs are urgent and held closely to our hearts.

How would you like somebody to say to you, “Can anything good come out of XXXX?” where XXXX substitutes for your hometown, your workplace, or some other identifying characteristic of yourself?

Spiritually, however, to receive the Christ, who is compassion and truth, sometimes we are lowered, like servants, in the opinion of others. We may look foolish and lose our self-esteem. When others assist us — while in this humble or humiliating predicament– we receive the Christ and gain that much more faith in life itself.

Through such ordinary means and measures, heaven opens.  The angels descend and ascend on our behalf.

Text: Jesus Calls Philip and Nathanael
43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 49 Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you,[m] you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”