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Daniel Marvin

Changes in Society: Rules for Good Behaviour

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As a Christian I believe the ten commandments should be considered as a good measuring set of disciplines that would, if taught and followed, control the nature within each of us that would otherwise lead to chaos and depravity if not guided to do good for society and if not punished for doing evil to others. The finest system of tenets I have had the good fortune to witness over a twelve month period in 1965/1966 in An Phu District, outh Vietnam when I served as an independent operations commander of a Special Forces unit privileged to live, work and fight alongside and among 64,000 members of the Buddhist Hoa Hao Sect. They were, without reservation, the finest people I have known. Perhaps it was the simplicity of their life structured around a system of religious tenets that made them a good people. 64,000 people and not one automobile, perhaps a dozen or less bicycles, and 64,000 warm hearts.

I will copy this to the Central Committee of the American Hoa Hao peoples and ask that they join your forum and present information on what is their way of life here in the United States.

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It is interesting to compare western society with others. It does indeed seem that there is far less conflict in some of these societies. However, it is impossible for us to adopt these more ordered ways. One of the features of modern society is an unwillingness to accept the norms and values of previous generations.

I am not sure I would like to live in a society based on the 10 Commandments. However, I would not mind trying one based on the teachings of Jesus Christ. The problem is, most Christians appear to have forgotten what Jesus Christ said. There are some Christian groups like the Quakers who I do respect. I would also add that the moral standing of the Church of England has improved in recent years as well. I have been especially impressed by their views on world poverty and Iraq over recent years. However, other religious groups seem to advocate policies that have nothing to do with the teaching of Jesus Christ. That appears to be definitely true of those Christians who support the policies of George Bush.

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I would hate to see the US adopt the 10 commandments (or any other religious set of "rules") as official policy. That pesky "separation of Church and State" thing proposed by the founders seems like a damn good idea to me. The early Christians also thought it was a good idea - I wonder why some of their modern followers have decided otherwise. To have the State telling me what to believe smacks of totalitarianism.

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I would not mind trying one based on the teachings of Jesus Christ. The problem is, most Christians appear to have forgotten what Jesus Christ said.[/i]

Although I am at times a back slider, I totally agree that if everyone operated with a fraction of the compassion and goodwill of Jesus, the world would be a far more pleasant place to live. However, all religions advocate a similar message. Thus, hypothetically there shouldn't be any cause for people of different religons to conflict with each other. The problem of course, is that religions in today's world are usually representative not of people who want to spread peace and goodwill, but of political groups who hide their greed-filled, supremacist, imperialist intentions behind the mask of a particular faith. It would seem that all of the mainstream faiths are subjected to this kind of infiltration and corruption. In terms of a solution, the teachings of Buddha on greed and craving are a good starting point. Of course I will not go as far as saying that world peace is ever really possible, but I do believe that a gradual culture change in people's attitude towards money and power could possible set off a trend which may encourage those who pull the strings of the world theatre to perhaps lessen their greed and craving for land and resources. Surely, it must be possible for powerful nations to have a little more sympathy and compassion for the people they feel they have to exploit. It is obvious that a growing number of groups have simply had enough of the unfair way in which the Great Powers do business, and it will only get worse unless there is a serious re-think on how best to get the resources, land etc that they need/want from less powerful countries. Although suicide attacks are not new they do seem to be the most popular response of people who are aggrieved. There will never be a trully effective way of combating such attacks, so unless the plan is to gradually aggravate a large-scale World War; then those in the West especially and elsewhere need explore alternative ways of achieving their aims. I do not propose the destruction of capitalism, but I do very much the idea of capitalism with a friendly face. Regardless of the perceived righteousness of either side in the current conflicts, world/terrorist leaders should heed the message that hate-filled actions will only inspire and breed the same.

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But how do you get this message to fundamentalists who sincerely believe that they will go to a better place and their soul be rewarded for eternity in return for slaughtering innocent people, including children?

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However, all religions advocate a similar message.

One often hears this sort of statement, and it would be really nice if it were true! I even believed it myself when I was younger...

Then I lived through the Islamic Revolution in Iran. I taught there for five years, before, during and after the Revolution. It really did give me a different perspective!

Our school, like all other private schools in the country, was obliged to hire a gentleman, nominated by the Revolutionary Committee, who was charged with supervising the religious correctness of teh school. One day, he called the Head, the Deputy Head and me (I was head of the middle school) into his office and informed us that the school was in breach of Islamic correctness with regard to the separation of the sexes. We were surprised: after the revolution we'd adopted a policy of rigorous segregation. Each year group was divided into separate boy and girl classes; they ate lunch separately; they even used separate staircases!

However, this was not enough! He told us that the 4-year-old classes were still mixed..... We protested in vain that 4-year-olds didn't even think in gender terms. He told us that the Revolutionary Committee was in possession of conclusive proof that co-education in Europe and the United States led incontrovertably to homosexuality... We segregated the 4-year-olds....

On another occasion, he asked me what the basis of my Christian faith was. I told him that it was based on love: love for your neighbour (which he had no trouble grasping) and love for one's enemies. This he found quite shocking -- the idea of "turning the other cheek" to totally alien to him.

Now it would be easy to dismiss this as simply being the views of one benighted fundamentalist. Unfortunately, this wasn't the case. His views were widely shared. When the son of the Anglican bishop of Tehran was assassinated during the revolution, the authorities didn't even investigate it -- the bishop was an apostate and therefore a legitimate target. The treatment of the Bahaii (spelling!) minority was brutal -- many of them were executed for "corruption on Earth" (try proving yourself innocent of that!) and all were driven from government jobs. Many members of the Jewish minority were also imprisoned or executed as "Israeli spies". Supposed homosexuals and drug users were hanged from the bridges over the main highways. It is an unpalatable fact that all these activities enjoyed the enthusiastic support of the majority of the population... Sorry, but that's the way it was!

I think there really is a fundamental difference between Islam and Christianity. It may not be politically correct to claim this, but while we continue to pretend that Osama bin Laden is simply an abberration (sp?), a psychotic fundamentalist who is completely unrepresentative of his co-religionists, I think we will be poorly prepared to face the challenges of the post-Cold War world.

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On Islam and Christianity

On another occasion, he asked me what the basis of my Christian faith was. I told him that it was based on love: love for your neighbour (which he had no trouble grasping) and love for one's enemies. This he found quite shocking -- the idea of "turning the other cheek" to totally alien to him.
I think there really is a fundamental difference between Islam and Christianity. It may not be politically correct to claim this, but while we continue to pretend that Osama bin Laden is simply an abberration (sp?), a psychotic fundamentalist who is completely unrepresentative of his co-religionists, I think we will be poorly prepared to face the challenges of the post-Cold War world.

Personally as a Christian I try not to keep enemies that would like to slap my cheek, however I can say when the event has occured I do usually turn the other.

"turning the other cheek"
I have heard this sort of comment previously from muslim people I knew when I was younger.

The problem with this disagreement is a problem Christianity faces not only with Islam. The Old Testament does of course preach attitudes such as an "eye for an eye" etc. The way world political leaders have behaved throughout most conflicts suggests that this is closer to their doctrine than "turning the other cheek". As such, it is also an unresolved problem that Christianity will always face when dealing with your average person who is more inclined to retaliate when attacked.

There are many fundamental differences between Christianity and almost every other religion - in fact its uniqueness is perhaps what makes it so appealing to so many people all over the world. For one; in no other religion is there a man who claimed to be God on Earth. Christ's sacrifice, so violently at the hands of the government and religious leaders of the day is an event no other religion has any way of matching. Most other religions contain the teachings of good men who believed themselves to be prophets with powerful connections to God. One must remember that Jesus was rejected by nearly all but his closest followers during his time. This was of course very much to do with his revolutionary teachings which posed so much of a challenge and threat to the religious/political leaders of his day. I partly share your pessimism when recognising that there is an unresolvable conflict of teachings between Islam and Christianity. However there is perhaps a Christian-inspired solution to the manifestation of this conflict in real life - Not only toleration, but respect for the beliefs of people of all faiths regardless of their specific ideas and attitudes (as long as they are within societies laws of course) - A "love of one's enemies"; if thats how one may like to term people of non-Christian beliefs. Until world leaders make more of an effort to understand and trully acknowledge people of an alternative perspective; there will not be any chance for world/terrorist leaders to really resolve their equally greed-filled, supremacist, imperialist ambitions. As mentioned earlier, a complete re-think in the way the Great Powers do business is urgently required.

On homosexuals and drug-users

Supposed homosexuals and drug users were hanged from the bridges over the main highways. It is an unpalatable fact that all these activities enjoyed the enthusiastic support of the majority of the population... Sorry, but that's the way it was!

I seem to remember hearing from my parents that this sort of behaviour was also popular in Jamaica during their experiences there. I also remember reading Marlowe's Edward II as a student. It is fortunate for homosexuals in this country today that sodomy is no longer a punishable offence by law - one of the many freedoms and liberties that people in civilised countries are able to entertain. Unfortunate however it is for drug-users who still have their behaviour made illegitimate and illegal.

It is generally a shame that all over the world people are persecuted, tortured and killed for their lifestyles and beliefs. I am by no means condoning what happened on the bridge in Iran, however I would not let such events cloud my fundamental belief in the right for everyone to have their beliefs and religions respected. Homophobics and anti-drug squads do not to me represent any established religion.

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I would not mind trying one based on the teachings of Jesus Christ. The problem is, most Christians appear to have forgotten what Jesus Christ said.[/i]

Although I am at times a back slider, I totally agree that if everyone operated with a fraction of the compassion and goodwill of Jesus, the world would be a far more pleasant place to live. However, all religions advocate a similar message. Thus, hypothetically there shouldn't be any cause for people of different religons to conflict with each other. The problem of course, is that religions in today's world are usually representative not of people who want to spread peace and goodwill, but of political groups who hide their greed-filled, supremacist, imperialist intentions behind the mask of a particular faith. It would seem that all of the mainstream faiths are subjected to this kind of infiltration and corruption. In terms of a solution, the teachings of Buddha on greed and craving are a good starting point. Of course I will not go as far as saying that world peace is ever really possible, but I do believe that a gradual culture change in people's attitude towards money and power could possible set off a trend which may encourage those who pull the strings of the world theatre to perhaps lessen their greed and craving for land and resources. Surely, it must be possible for powerful nations to have a little more sympathy and compassion for the people they feel they have to exploit. It is obvious that a growing number of groups have simply had enough of the unfair way in which the Great Powers do business, and it will only get worse unless there is a serious re-think on how best to get the resources, land etc that they need/want from less powerful countries. Although suicide attacks are not new they do seem to be the most popular response of people who are aggrieved. There will never be a trully effective way of combating such attacks, so unless the plan is to gradually aggravate a large-scale World War; then those in the West especially and elsewhere need explore alternative ways of achieving their aims. I do not propose the destruction of capitalism, but I do very much like the idea of capitalism with a friendly face. Regardless of the perceived righteousness of either side in the current conflicts, world/terrorist leaders should heed the message that hate-filled actions will only inspire and breed the same.

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Although I am at times a back slider, I totally agree that if everyone operated with a fraction of the compassion and goodwill of Jesus, the world would be a far more pleasant place to live.  However, all religions advocate a similar message.  Thus, hypothetically there shouldn't be any cause for people of different religons to conflict with each other.  The problem of course, is that religions in today's world are usually representative not of people who want to spread peace and goodwill, but of political groups who hide their greed-filled, supremacist, imperialist intentions behind the mask of a particular faith. It would seem that all of the mainstream faiths are subjected to this kind of infiltration and corruption.  In terms of a solution, the teachings of Buddha on greed and craving are a good starting point. Of course I will not go as far as saying that world peace is ever really possible, but I do believe that a gradual culture change in people's attitude towards money and power could possible set off a trend which may encourage those who pull the strings of the world theatre to perhaps lessen their greed and craving for land and resources. Surely, it must be possible for powerful nations to have a little more sympathy and compassion for the people they feel they have to exploit.  It is obvious that a growing number of groups have simply had enough of the unfair way in which the Great Powers do business, and it will only get worse unless there is a serious re-think on how best to get the resources, land etc that they need/want from less powerful countries.  Although suicide attacks are not new they do seem to be the most popular response of people who are aggrieved. There will never be a trully effective way of combating such attacks, so unless the plan is to gradually aggravate a large-scale World War; then those in the West especially and elsewhere need explore alternative ways of achieving their aims. I do not propose the destruction of capitalism, but I do very much the idea of capitalism with a friendly face.  Regardless of the perceived righteousness of either side in the current conflicts, world/terrorist leaders should heed the message that hate-filled actions will only inspire and breed the same.

Great posting Matthew. It is true that political leaders exploit religious faith. This is what happened when the Romans corrupted the teachings of Jesus Christ in order to control the peoples within its empire. People tend to forget that the reasons the Christians were initially persecuted by the Romans was because they refused to serve in the Roman Army. Feeding them to the lions did not work so they resorted to the idea of the state taking control over Christianity. Its leaders were gradually corrupted by the provision of wealth. This took them away from Jesus Christ’s idea of being on the side of the poor. They then developed concepts such as the Just War and Christianity was then used to protect and expand the Roman Empire. Other European countries used similar tactics when they developed their empires. In doing so the original teachings of Jesus Christ have been forgotten. Just occasionally, religious leaders like John Ball and Martin Luther King emerge who have based their ideas on what Jesus Christ actually said. However, they are rare beings, and leadership goes to those who preach the use of violence.

As Aristotle pointed out over 2,000 years ago: “When quarrels and complaints arise, it is when people who are equal have not got equal shares.” Inequality is the source of all conflict in the world. Until those who have the power and the wealth acknowledge this, those without an equal share, will use whatever power they possess, including acts of terrorism, to gain what they believe belongs to them.

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Dear John and all,

I believe that the greatest danger in the world today is the Islamic fundamentalist movement through terrorism to take control of nations by fear, intimidation and outright slaughter (even beheading of innocents). For that reason Breant Selleck and two other "common Americans" started a column to educate all on this situation.

Here is what we are all about with regard to this column which is typically titled:

ISLAM & THE MUSLIMS

Blessing or Burden? YOU be the Judge

The founding Document of Islam, The Koran,

Serialized by Four Common Americans

PART THIRTY EIGHT

Surah 19 - "Mary"

By LTC Daniel Marvin, USASF (ret)

THE RATIONALE BEHIND A COLUMN That is published weekly in a local paper in Cazenovia, NY.

By LTC Daniel Marvin (USASF ret)

When Brent Selleck (publisher) and I first discussed the need for a common sense series of columns that would acquaint Muslims and non-Muslims alike with Islamic doctrine we thought it best to base it on the Koran and quote the prophecy and dictates of Muhammad himself so as to make it truly authentic and meaningful. Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language defines "ISLAM" as (1) "A monotheistic religion in which the supreme deity is Allah and the chief prophet and founder is Muhammed, (2) Moslems collectively, and (3) All the lands in which the Moslem religion predominates." "Monotheistic" is defined as "The doctrine or belief that there is only one God."

We began the series with the statement: "This series of columns, devoted to a study of ISLAM, the religion of the Muslims, will attempt to bring you, using the KORAN itself as the primary source, the basic doctrine of ISLAM as set forth by Muhammad. It will permit you to know and understand for yourself if the religion of ISLAM has a doctrinal base of grace, peace, self denial and humility that you would want to prosper as it now does with great momentum in this nation or should be viewed with suspicion as a religious system with a doctrine that is intolerant of other religions, particularly that of all Jews and Christians.

The book, THE KORAN © 1994, published by Everyman of London and Vermont as an English translation for Arabic, is used by some academic institutions as their reference for religious instruction in Islam. It will be the sole source of quotes in these columns, unless otherwise specified."

We thought it very possible that few who live as a Muslim in a democracy with Islam as their religion have a complete understanding of the significance of the Koran's doctrine as it specifically relates to the treatment of Jews and Christians.

Thus we began the series and have stuck to the original premise that the KORAN is the "sacred book of Islam. that it is the word of God revealed in Arabic by the archangel Gabriel to the prophet Muhammad and thence to mankind and that Muhammad is the last of the prophets and the Koran the final expression of God's message to mankind. Non-Muslims are unlikely to share this view, but they too will recognize that the Koran is one of the most important and influential books known to mankind and that its influence is continuing to increase with the spread of Islam. The reader should be aware that Islam is the fastest growing religion in this nation, with a million plus practicing Muslims at this writing. "On that basis alone, it is important we understand the written underpinnings of their faith, lest we misjudge them - one way or the other!

Common sense would also lead those of us who follow recent world events to accept the fact that fundamentalist Muslims (those whose beliefs are based on a literal interpretation of everything in the Koran) are taught to and bent on killing Christian and Jewish people and all others who would deny the absolute authority of Islam. Men, women, children, noncombatants, and soldiers and police alike have been and still are targeted for death in all the areas of this world IF they do not abide by ISLAM in its strictest sense. This writer has been approached by leaders of so-called “Moderate Muslim movements” who refuse to respond to a certain question I ask of each and every one of them by e-mail or during a telephone conversation: “Isn’t it true that the Koran specifically dictates that Muslims kill Jews and Christians and any others who refuse to accept it as their religious foundation?” I again tell the readers that on the 21st day of September, 2004, as I listened to a news broadcast, I was informed that an official of the Saudi Arabian government – the same nation that spawned 17 of the infamous Islamic hi-jackers of the 9/11 disaster - called the United States of America “an Infidel Nation.”

To those very, very few who object to our continuing this most important series I ask would you rather we deny the truth to those we can reach and permit to happen here what is now happening in many foreign nations? I say: Wake up America and listen up! Learn the truth of today if we are to retain freedom in our tomorrows.

Perhaps it is best that the world know the truth of what Muhhamad

Dangerous Dan

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