Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Facing radical Islam 2

The following is a conversation between myself and a Muslim friend, that grew out of the recent arrest of Tommy Robinson, in which I had posted my own support in a petition for his release, and a Muslim friend responded, asking how he could help, perhaps thinking this was my own legal case, somehow. What I see happening, quite honestly, concerning the Tommy Robinson case, is nationalist movements that are beginning to form in response with average citizens in the West, who are seeing the affects of radical Islam on the ground, who aren't separated from the realities of Islam anymore, with mass immigration. And yet we have elitist ideologues, frankly, who have control of media and Western governments and institutions, and are determined to cling to their sunshine and roses assumptions about an ideology that I see as being rooted in the Arab conquests. With this in mind, and due to the totalitarian nature of Islam, it being an all-consuming ideology with no concept of separation between church and state, and Islamic sources that again, I see as a reflection of a time and place - but do Muslims? Why would they see the Quran as simply a product of a time and place, if these are the direct instructions and commands of God? The question becomes, how do we, without stripping the Quran of it's religious claims, begin to confront the violent content of much of the later and more authoritative passages of the Quran? Do you see what I'm getting at? Why wouldn't a devout Muslim, sincerely desiring to be faithful to Allah, take the Quran at face value, which reads, to me at least, as an open-ended call to arms? I think there's a reason why the directives of the Quran appear very open-ended and without context, just taking the Quran alone without later, supporting Islamic literature. I think the Quran presents in this way because the Quran itself was political propaganda of the early Arab state, with other materials developing over time, to support the continued political and economic interests of the early Arab state. These sources may have some historical merit, to be fair. I am simply acknowledging a fact of history, it seems to me, in noting that this material was written with clear political and economic motivations at play in the background. I'll leave it there with those opening thoughts, and continue with a portion of a recent conversation with the same Muslim friend. His name has been changed. My understanding Ismail, speaking generally, is that Salafism and Wahhabism are representative of a Reformation movement within Sunni Islam, seeing the early generations of Islam, represented in the earliest and most authoritative texts of Islam, as being that which Muslims should strive to emulate. Can you see how I, as a Reformation minded Christian, see that these are the folks that have the highest regard for these earliest and most authoritative sources, while it is often liberal or westernized or other branches of Islam that represent later cultural or interpretative adaptations of Islam?

See, that's why Reformation minded Christians like myself are the cure for radical Islam. lol. We think exactly like they do haha. The difference is my friend, is that when you go back to the earliest texts of Christianity, you get an apolitical religious movement that stressed overcoming evil with good, loving and serving your enemies, and when you go back to the earliest sources of Islam, I see the Arab conquests, which were extremely violent and imperialistic, supremacist, and so forth, sadly. Again, I don't say this to belittle or make modern Muslims feel guilty. I know how that feels as a Christian, being blamed for things I had no control over, and I don't desire to do that to anyone. I want to understand Islam in it's historical context, so as to be able to minister to Muslims. That's my heart in this, Ismail.

Concerning the hadiths, they are 200-300 years after the death of Muhammad. That's why I'm very suspicious of this material on the whole. There were political motivations for writings such material. Anyway, feel free to respond Ismail, but even basing such discussion on the Quran, as you point out, would be the most authoritative source for all Muslims, there is plenty of support for violent opposition in the Quran. I'm surprised I even have to argue for that. There are many, many verses which call for very violent opposition of non-believers. Why doesn't that make perfect sense if really, Islam is a politically rooted ideology, and the Arabs were simply asserting their dominance over the conquered people of these regions?

How do we make sense of all this Ismail, that's what I'm trying to get at here. Again, I have no desire to blame or marginalize Muslims for this material. I desire for this material to be understood in it's proper historical context, which is the Arab conquests. Unfortunately, the fact that Muslims see these words as the literal word and command of God, for all time -that makes that rather difficult, doesn't it? So how do we move forward? I don't want violence, you don't want violence. How do we, while respecting freedom of religion, begin to see these texts as simply a product of their time? How do we get beyond the violent commands that are there, without an acknowledgement that these sources are simply a product of a time and place? Can you begin to see why I see the need to challenge Islam at it's roots? Sincerely, Margaret Harvey Image result for isis flag Matthew 5: 43-48. From the 'Sermon on the Mount': You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Jesus.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Just another outdated book?

The following is my response to a young secularist who told me recently that the Bible is an obsolete book that is not needed in the 21st century.

Here is my response: 

That's the assumption, that we know so much more today than ancient people, that we couldn't possibly learn or appreciate something from an ancient book, that we have moved on, so to speak, that the Bible is outdated. This recent conversation occurred within the context of a discussion that centered on technology as benefiting people's lives, which it often does, and obviously can. We benefit from modern science and technology. It often leads to longer lives, and has increased the
quality of life for many people. What many modern people don't seem to realize however, is that firstly, modern science arose in large part, out of a monotheistic worldview, especially in terms of hands on science and the development of the scientific method.

As some would assert, certainly there were earlier contributions, but in terms of the sustained biblical influence that permeated and influenced the Western world, out of this environment, modern science developed. The theological backdrop of an intelligent, benevolent God, where there is a understood (or believed) separation between God and nature, unlike paganism in which people would be afraid of nature as itself divine and therefore was often seen as dominating and unapproachable. Instead, on a monotheistic worldview, people were free to study nature. Nature wasn't God, it was God's magnificent creation, and we as human beings, created in the image of God, and esteemed as stewards of nature, were free to explore. Add to that, scientists expected to find order in nature on a monotheistic worldview, while understanding the natural world as being the creation of an intelligent supreme being. It seems to me, that much of what we have discovered through modern science is an affirmation of that worldview, that indeed, nature is at least consistent with what we should expect as the creation of an intelligent mind.

There is much that could be said about modern science in this regard, as requiring order, for science itself to function, that is consistent with a guiding intelligence. That's not quite what I set out to say here, however. I want to speak to the secular minded individuals out there, whom I think largely assume a Judeo-Christian worldview in their daily lives, and yet, I would suggest, are also oblivious to this influence in many respects. Another comment that I have heard made is that morality has changed in the last hundred years. Has it? Has it really? To what degree? Is it now right to steal? To
rape? To murder? Is incest now acceptable? Sexual abuse of children? Morality has not changed, and in fact, where it has, arguably our society is either paying a price, or we have simply admitted what was wrong all along, despite social and economic pressures to think otherwise.

How many unborn children have and will die or be born to single mothers who will struggle against poverty, due to the freedoms that the sexual revolution promised? Is that the kind of change of morality that we are assuming? We need to look deeper, in other words, and ask, what really are we questioning, and to what degree have certain things always been wrong, as in racism for example? Is it that racism used to be okay, or is it a collective Christian conscience, that has pushed for reforms over time? I would argue that it is the latter, that it is a Judeo-Christian ideological framework (speaking especially of the historically Christian world), that has led to reforms over time.

Many if not all, of the rights movements of the last century have been drawing from the same biblical well, that all persons are equal, because all persons are created in the image of God. In this way, just as we would not call Martin Luther King an outdated influence, why then do we call the book that influenced Dr. Martin Luther King, outdated? Do you see the contradiction here? Do you see the lack of depth in these discussions, where people often blame Christianity or Christians, while failing to note the larger Christian influence in the culture, which they are often assuming?

I say this to hopefully get people thinking about our common influences, in an increasingly divided society, where secular is often pitted against religion, especially Christianity, and to affirm our common experience as people. Our day to day experience as human beings points to a higher moral law which clearly exists, and points to a moral law-giver. How else would we experience such laws in our daily lives, even when no one is watching? We have a sense that some things are right, and some things are just wrong, all wrong.

What I really want to get across, for anyone who is interested, is that so much of what the West is, is rooted in a biblical frame of reference. Many of the moral expectations that I listed above are true cross culturally and across time, yes, that's a whole discussion, but in terms of where the West is at, proclaiming naturalism while expecting a cultural Christianity; the question is, how is any of these things wrong on a material worldview, objectively? That is the question that secularists are not asking, while they assume Judeo-Christian standards, which they also claim are outdated. On a
material worldview, all that matters, is what results in survival and procreation. What one does on a pale blue dot that we call Earth, will not matter, given enough time, objectively. Save the kitty, or let the kitty drown, it will not matter. All of what we know will fade into oblivion. Objectively, right and wrong do not matter on a naturalistic worldview, unless there is an external point of reference on which to ground: right and wrong.

This is the reason why I'm not a secularist, I think too much haha, as you can see. To my secularist friends, who say to me "oh, one can find meaning, playing chess or crocheting -one doesn't need religion!" Well -yeah, you can find meaning playing soccer or collecting stamps, but it is not objective meaning, it is not objective purpose, or objective good or evil. It's simply your opinion, that old records matter, or the World Cup matters. And that's where it gets scary, because along come people who call our secular bluff, the disillusioned and the psychopathic, but we expect more, don't we?

When I hear people talk, they don't talk as if raping or stealing or murdering is just someone's opinion, they talk as if these things matter! This again points to a higher moral law, what I see in the anger of secularists, ironically, who say that religion is evil. But how, on a material worldview? One carbon atom is just as good as the next, psychopathic or not. Their own anger proves their perspective to be wrong-headed, in that they are demanding objective standards which their own worldview cannot support. And I agree, to be very clear, it matters that kids go hungry, it matters that women, and men sometimes, are brutalized, because we are human beings, made in the image of God. Life matters, right and wrong matters, objectively, because life, grounded in the author of life -is sacred.

Can you begin to understand why it is that I take the time, to talk to young people like the above? Life matters, and the worldview that I see as having the greatest consistency is not materialism, nor is it Islam which I think is a product of the Arab conquests, nor is it an Eastern worldview, where the individual ultimately loses their individuality to a vague, impersonal force. Rather, it is the Judeo-Christian biblical worldview that grounds the worth and dignity of the human person in a benevolent Creator, who calls each of us by name, and sees us as individual persons, eternally. This is also
the worldview that the West is abandoning, in favour of just about any other option. You tell me, how will such and such a worldview ground the equal worth and dignity of all human persons?

These are the questions our society needs to begin to ask, before we judge the Bible as an outdated, irrelevant  book, which just so happens to have influenced many of the greatest reformers and intellectuals in the history of the Western world. It is the book that every human rights tribunal, every judge in the Western world, the U.N., and how many other organizations are assuming, while they dismiss? Much more can be said about the above, but to answer the question, what can we learn from an ancient book? What could it possibly teach us? To answer that question, I suggest we consider the
alternative, which is a worldview, where rape and murder and theft, all simply evolved, for very natural, reasons.

Thanks for listening,

Margaret Harvey

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Thomas Jefferson

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Monday, May 14, 2018

Oops, there goes Western civilization.

I find myself in a peculiar position as someone who regularly debates Muslims online and finds myself addressing the materials of Western skeptics as presented by Muslims. Interestingly, I also use the materials of Western skeptics, to dig beneath the surface, to try to figure out the common ground, often what such skeptics are saying and not saying, to then rebut the assumptions of Muslim apologists, who are quite happy to take the assertions of Western skeptics at face value, in my experience.

It is with this in mind, that I have an issue with Western skeptics, as you might imagine. I'm not Bart Ehrman, I don't have his credentials, I don't have his career or reputation. I'm just trying to read these materials and trying to be fair, trying to understand, or make sense of much of what I think is rhetoric that attacks orthodox Christianity. This is what I see, that I rarely hear addressed, an acknowledgement that there is a post-9/11 market for books like the Da Vinci code, which has nothing to do with the Jesus of history, and everything to do with a culture that seeks to attack traditional Christianity. Why? Because there is a political divide, especially in the U.S., where to attack orthodox Christianity, is seen as giving weight or support to what might be called center or left of center views. There is also an incredible anger out there, and people want someone to blame, and religion is seen as an appropriate target.

Secularists tend to lump religions together, not bothering to see their differences. I would suggest that this is a myth of our own time, that all religions are the same. People who say such things often mean well, but they're not living under Sharia law, they're not living at the bottom of the caste system, often they're Western-minded cultural Christians who celebrate Christmas and Easter, but who have watered down the origins of Christianity, and generalized about the alternatives, picking and choosing what they like, while viewing alternative worldviews through a Western, culturally Judeo-Christian lens. Reincarnation for example, becomes a me-thing, interestingly. Such Western cultural Christians seem to assume that all worldviews will maintain a high view of the individual, but they don't seem to ask why, or based on what worldview?

May I suggest, we are coming to the end of the shelf life of such views, in a globalizing world. We can no longer assume, looking at the mythical elephant -in the room, that the trunk is the same as the ears or the tail, etc. We need to begin to look at religions, seriously, based on the evidence, while asking, which worldview is the most coherent? Which worldview has produced the best outcomes? I would suggest that over time, Christianity has proven itself to be that worldview, which has produced the most desirable societies to live in. Secular societies that have been cut off from a Christian influence, have not produced such desirable places to live. They've produced societies that many people desire to escape from; communism or Middle Eastern dictatorships come to mind.

And so,  bringing this back to my opening comment, Western skeptics need to begin to take a broader view, of our past, of our future, of our needs, going forward. Feeding a near-sighted political division, even if it helps in the next election: what will be the result decades from now, if we succeed in fully discrediting the most trustworthy source from ancient history? Are we going to then hold great classical thinkers or historians to the same standards? What would be the result if we did? Oops, there goes Western civilization.

My friends, we are sawing off the branch we are sitting on, in attacking the Bible to the degree that we are. I'm not saying, don't ask questions. Just the opposite, I'm saying, ask questions, but ask questions broadly; ask questions of Eastern worldviews too. Where is the historical evidence for Eastern deities? On what do we ground Eastern philosophies? What is the historical evidence for Islam? What is the textual evidence for Plato or Socrates or Tacitus? That's fair criticism. Better yet, why should we believe secularism? Why should we believe that the material world -is all that exists? I long for the day, to hear those questions asked openly. The reason being, is that I know enough from many a debate with people who are also reading Western skeptics, who argue with me for child marriage, polygamy, and amputation for property crimes. We have a lot to lose.

Thanks for listening,

Margaret Harvey

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

A house divided

I live in the very polarized Western world, and I don't how else to say it, but it breaks my heart to see the West, my own country, divided as it is, when I know that I know that many of the people I meet in my day to day life, in our families, in our communities, share many of the same values. I see it. I live it. And so may I ask, why is it that I feel as a Christian living in a secular society that I'm a leper? I'm not exaggerating, that's how I feel, like conservatives and Christians need not apply. But how do I communicate what I so long to communicate to that broader secular culture? Folks, you're sawing off the branch you're sitting on, in attacking Christianity. The hyper skepticism about the Bible, when the Bible is the best we have from antiquity, hands down. I don't hear anyone asking if Socrates existed. If Plato really said the things he did, and yet, the reality is that the Bible is much better supported, both textually and in terms of the dates on sources, from their original transmission, to what we have copied in manuscripts today.

But it's not just that, it's that the West itself is grounded on biblical concepts, not the Enlightenment or reason, as is commonly assumed, because the reality is that reason is not sustainable on a material worldview. If our thoughts or principles even, are merely the product of random physical conditions, we can sustain neither the value of our thoughts, or our worth as human persons, objectively.

And this is what I see, a Western world that clings to a biblical worldview that they rarely if ever acknowledge, the idea that human beings have dignity! Human beings have an intrinsic worth! It matters how we live! It matters how we interact! Our actions matter, and people talk about such things as if they matter! We talk about the importance of human rights, but grounded on what? The worldview we ignore.

Sigh. Dear friends, I don't desire to force my views on anyone. All I've ever wanted is to be part of the larger conversation, instead of feeling pretty much how I've felt for a long time now, marginalized, like I couldn't possibly have anything to contribute. Please don't feel sorry for me, that's not what I want here. I want a broadening of this discussion. I want to see less political correctness, and more discussion.

The following is a response I wrote this morning, presumably to a Muslim, who I sense was asking honestly, why would the Bible say that a 53 year old man should not marry a nine year old girl? May I ask, can we stop attacking each other as Christians and arguably, cultural Christians or secular humanists? Can we begin to respect that we are both drawing from the same historical, Judeo-Christian well, and hit the reset button? I for one, have had enough of seeing people personally attacked, in place of much needed dialogue.

God bless,

Margaret Harvey

If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. Jesus.

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"Why a 53 years old person can't marry with 9 years old girl according to Bible?"


What Muslims are not seeing, is that it is arguably broader biblical concepts that have led to reforms over time, in the biblically influenced world. It's not that you cannot find examples of people who did wrong acts in the Bible, however, much of this is describing what they did honestly, or what people did at that time, rather than modeling these persons' behaviors.

Add to that, the Bible has a larger worldview that places an extremely high value on human life, in all stages of life. This is grounded in the biblical concept that human beings are created in the image of God. It's also grounded in a larger worldview, in which we as persons created in the image of God, have the capability to have an eternal relationship with a personal God. This gives human life an infinite value, grounded in an objective point of reference, that is both eternal and fixed, God being sovereign. 

And so, to answer your question directly, for a 53 year old man to marry a nine year old girl, is not in the girl's best interest. It is in her best interest to go to school, to get an education, to marry when she is older, if she so chooses, and/ or to contribute to her community in other ways. This would have a positive influence on the Muslim world, in advancing the possibilities for women, and would enable the Muslim world to move forward, with many families and communities being able to come out of generational poverty, which is often associated with illiteracy. In short, to encourage girls to marry later, is in their best interest, which is in keeping with their incredible worth and dignity and potential, as persons created in the image of a loving, personal God. 

John 1:12

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God--

Margaret Harvey

Friday, May 4, 2018

Facing radical Islam

Well, I think I need to start taking the advice of my husband, who a while back said to me, basically, you can be a perfectionist, or you can put more out there. Sigh. I'm a perfectionist haha, at least when it comes to things I care about. I'm also a mom, and I work, and I'm a student, and so I have limited time. I'm coming around to the realization that I think Geoff is right though, if I wait for things I write to be just right, I'm going to be trying to figure out how to get into my blog, like today, more often than posting.

My other realization in debating Muslims online, which I have done for years at this point, is that for every time I answer a question or a point in debating, that there is a whackload of other Muslims out there who think the same thing, or have the same question. There's one of me, and literally thousands, in fact, hundreds of thousands of people debating on online sites. I've taken to making my own page, called New Reformation Apologetics Ministries on Facebook, to put out some of my responses to their questions.

This morning I came home from work and read a response in an online discussion from a new Muslim friend, and, though I won't post her response or name out of respect for her privacy, it basically answers what I have found to be common is discussions with Muslims. Muslims seem to have a general inability for self criticism. I don't think this is a coincidence. I've seen it too often, and I think the reason for that is because what radicals are doing, very much ties in with the early history and larger mentality of the religion, to control and to dominate other cultures and peoples. I think there is a reason for that, in that Islam is a product of the Arab conquests, and being foundational to Islamic societies, as their origins, it's shaped the thinking of the larger culture.

Muslims, in continuing to believe in the initial justification of the ideology, as well as ongoing efforts to continue what Islamic writings promoted at that time, but are also a product of that time, becomes a circular pattern of thinking and responding. Modern Muslims, in justifying their early history, which is foundational to Islam, need to see such efforts as justified. Which is why Islam and the actions of Muslims are rarely criticized, but the actions of their political opponents, are severely criticized. These writings are setting Muslims up for continued conflict throughout the world, but Islamic writings are rarely questioned, because Muslims continue to assume that these writings are from God.

With that introduction in mind, here is my response to one Muslim, when she stated that ISIS was not Islamic:

Sigh, dear Emira, let me say first off, like I said last night, I'm not saying that world politics and big business are innocent. My faith is not in the Western world. I don't follow the news at length, but I'm married to someone who does, and from articles he shows me, I think the whole world system is corrupt. Just as there is corruption in the Muslim world, there is corruption in the West. I really don't trust the powers that be, I really don't. The West is not Christian, well, let me rephrase that, it is and it isn't. There's a Christian influence in one sense, and in another sense, the West has abandoned Christianity for materialism, naturalism, consumerism, and so forth. I say that because my sense is that Muslims think of the West as Christian, and assume that all these things are coming from a Christian influence, and that simply is not true. There has been a secular influence on the West especially in the last number of decades, but for centuries really, the West has been attacking it's historically Judeo-Christian foundations.

Someone like Hitler, for example, wanted to replace Christianity with a bizarre system of occult beliefs and practices. He may have been baptized a Catholic. He may have used religion, or appealed to the church in early speeches, etc., but he was not someone who was motivated to love and serve their enemies, as Jesus taught. In the same way, I personally question much of what is deemed Christian, like colonialism for instance. How much of that was Christianity, and how much of that was the influence of Darwinism, or larger political and economic interests? I would suggest that there is a bias, in that many of these issues historically have been blamed on Christianity, but when you look beneath the surface, it's not nearly that simple. Even the Crusades were a late response, a very late response in fact, to 400 years of Arab/ Islamic aggression. Am I justifying everything the church has done, no I'm not. We're sinners Sabira, that is the condition of the human heart, that's why the world needs Christ.

What I find when I talk with Muslims though, like you just said, even a group like ISIS, which is clearly a movement to get back to the roots of the Islamic faith, and bring in a new caliphate, Muslims will deny is Islamic. Dear Emira, there is no denying that ISIS or Saudi Arabia being another example that Muslims commonly distance themselves from -is Islamic. There's no denying it. There may be other political factors, and the West may be involved in supporting them -like I said -my faith is not in the West, but they are nonetheless motivated by Islamic sources.

Which is why I'm surprised when Muslims like yourself say that they couldn't possibly be getting this from Islamic sources. Why not? Islam came out of the Arab conquests, Emira. That's what I've been saying, or trying to say, all along, and what I say to Muslims ad nauseum. Do you know why I do that Emira? I don't do that to blame Muslims. I do that because my hope is, that when we begin to understand Islam as a product of geo-political conditions, Muslims will themselves be free to question Islam.

It is not the fault of Muslims that they have been living under a 1400 year old military dictatorship. How much choice have Muslims had in all of this? Very little, for a very long time. I want to give Muslims the freedom, without constantly being afraid, to begin asking questions, for themselves.

It's time to face radical Islam head on, while understanding that these sources came out of a time and place. God had nothing to do with the Arab conquests. Islamic writings are a product of the early Arab state; they're not from God. I'm sorry. Sadly, Muslims have been manipulated by their religious and political leaders for a very long time. The good news is, Muslims have the ability to begin to ask questions. The greater good news, is that the worldview that was forced out of the Muslim world, through censorship and political oppression, has never changed, and offers great hope to a broken world.

Take care Emira, God bless.

John 3:16 New International Version (NIV)
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Friday, November 17, 2017

New Reformation Apologetics Ministries

Well here goes nothing lol. I seem to recall myself saying the same thing however many years ago that I began this little blog of mine, I'm going to let it shine, even if it's just for a few willing friends. lol. Really, I'm just trying out my new page, low tech that I am, so I'm going to keep this simple, but just as I started this little blog years ago, a title that came to me just as I was in that half-awake, half-asleep state, Building Spaces Building Bridges, between divergent communities. It had been many sleepless nights as I tossed and turned, wrestling with different issues, plagued because I have this fortunate or unfortunate personality trait of being able to see things from different angles. It's a blessing and a curse, but I found myself both in a place of acceptance, where I came to understand, that there are always going to be emotional issues that divide, in a divided world, but what about creating a little blog where I could both express my own views, but also open up the floor for others to do the same, with the understanding that we may not change each other's minds, but we may be able to dialogue, and hopefully come away with a better understanding of our differences. And hey, maybe even a new friend, that we can be friends, despite our differences. In a world that seems to want to demonize people who see things differently.

And so, years on, back in school and with not a lot of time to blog, unfortunately, I find myself with a similar vision, a new title, a new page, New Reformation Apologetics Ministries. Boy, that's an intimidating title. I'm no Luther, I know there are so many people out there who are much more educated, even people I know and respect, better trained, more knowledgeable, degrees on their degrees. I'm a middle aged mom who felt on my heart in mid-life, a call to a somewhat unorthodox ministry, though I'm very orthodox, in a Christian sense. I debate people online, and if there's one thing I've learned, because it isn't the details of 101 different worldviews that one encounters online that I remember... There's only so much space in my middle aged brain lol, but I can see that they are interpreting and reinterpreting and reinterpreting their interpretations of Jesus and the New Testament, over and over again. And so I have this idea, what about a page where I can focus on bringing people back to the early sources and history, especially of the great monotheistic religions, who claim a common historical root? What is the historical evidence for different faiths? Would people be interested in examining those sources, perhaps having a conversation about this early evidence, early sources of varying religions, etc?

Well, I think maybe so, based on the tens of thousands of people that I see on internet debate sites, enthusiastically expressing and defending their views while calling me colourful names. lol. Good thing I'm no stranger to controversy haha, even in isolation. But seriously, we need to open up this discussion. The old line about all world religions being the same and the assumption that they all have equal outcomes, isn't doing much for the dalits of India, or the women and slaves and homosexuals of Saudi Arabia, is it? We need to open up this discussion, I think, to begin to understand how and why it is that different theological ideas have affected the development of societies around the world. What we believe about God, affects how we view ourselves, others, the environment and so forth. We need to open up this discussion, toward more freedom, not less, I think, in order to be able to move forward in an increasingly complex and globalizing world.

And so, as I give myself the kick in the pants that I seem to need to start a page with that title on the 500 anniversary of the Reformation, New Reformation Apologetics Ministries, because we need to begin to understand why it is that human rights developed out of a biblical worldview, why people in the west often enjoy the highest quality of life, as our historically Judeo-Christian western society is torn apart from without and from within. We need a New Reformation. We need to rediscover our spiritual roots, if the western world that we remember is to survive. Does that mean that I expect everyone to agree with me, no I don't, all I ever ask for is the freedom to speak from my own conviction. I may not be qualified, I may only see a glimpse, but I think I see it. We are not progressing as assumed, we are losing our foundation.

Thanks for listening,

Margaret Harvey


◄ John 15:5 ►

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.


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Friday, June 9, 2017

The Canada I remember

I seem to be up with a cold, and am thinking that I made the right decision despite the tugging on my arm (and my heart) not to attend my daughter's field trip to a nearby pioneer town yesterday. I had come home and spent the morning on the couch instead, realizing that I really didn't feel so good, with head throbbing and eyes and nose watering, as the rain came down outside, wishing my daughter had worn better shoes like I'd asked her to repeatedly. I had had a bright idea in the office while I signed her permission form, saying to her that we could instead go there as a family in the summer. "That would be nice, wouldn't it?" As I walked away, torn as I often am as a parent, the things you would love to do, if the realities of everyday life didn't so often get in the way. A pioneer town for a day, one on one time with one of my children, a grade school memory as I find myself recalling, now sitting here at my desk in early morning. The birds have just awoken outside, the rain seems to have stopped, and I'm here with my own thoughts of grade school.

I've had this memory, who knows why it is that we remember the things that we do from our childhood. I grew up from the age of 9 in rural Nova Scotia, attending a little country school that my daughter's school reminds me so much of (which is why I am sad that it will be closing it at the end of this month), that which is small and personable, being replaced by bigger and more economical. There's so much happening in the world that some have tried to normalize. This is the new normal they tell us, while bodies and minds are being ripped apart, 'we can't let the terrorists win.' We can't let them win, they say; its hard for one to normalize what you know is not normal, because one remembers a time when such events were extremely rare.

And so I have this memory that I keep alluding to, I was 11 or so, at this little country school in rural Nova Scotia, which closed long ago, in favour of the bigger and amalgamated. We were sledding outside in winter, it wasn't so cold in the morning air. We weren't so concerned about the buttons on our coats, and someone had just told us that we needed to go inside for religion class. They reminded us that it was now held in the morning before school, instead of during school. For some reason this bit of instruction stayed with me, not really understanding why, but maybe it was because on some level I knew that the year before, all of the Catholic kids like myself did have religion class in school, while the non-Catholic kids (being a small minority in that town), left the class for the library. Strange that I would remember that, isn't it, with my sled on top of the hill, ready to go down, excitedly.

What I then remember is that years later, likely as a teenager, seeing a news anchor person on television discussing political correctness. "How do we know what is politically correct," she had asked the person being interviewed. I don't remember his response, which seemed quite formal and drawn out, but I remember the questions being asked. Looking back in hindsight, political correctness came in not long after religion class went out. Am I right? I'm guessing, less than a decade later.

Why am I asking this; why am I remembering this at 4 o' clock in the morning? It seems very ironic to me, when I think about what amounts to my life experience to this point. I grew up in the 80's and early 90's. I'm old enough to remember when there was still prayer in school, O' Canada followed by the Lord's prayer. I'm old enough to remember when that ended, and when political correctness came in years later, and when the announcer asked, but what is political correctness? How do we know what is politically correct?

When I was a kid in grade school, it's funny, but I don't remember there being a need for discussion, as to what was right and wrong. Everyone knew when the Challenger blew up around that time that this was a great tragedy. People were shocked at the loss of life and human potential. Teachers didn't really have to explain to us why something was right or wrong, everyone knew. It was expected. When I went to university years later, people there seemed to know too. I gained an appreciation for the greats of western civilization, western thought and culture. I was inspired by the greatness that I saw all around me, in people, and in the books that I was reading.

What am I getting at here? What I'm trying to express is that looking back now, to that moment on that snow hill in the middle of a Canadian winter, I was seeing or living through the decline of western Judeo-Christian society. It is very ironic to me, with that moment in time, now but a memory in my middle-aged mind, after years upon years of seeing my personal beliefs and values denigrated, after much thought and bewilderment at the changes that I see all around me, to come back to that announcer's question while our society seems to be in disarray, floundering with a new reality, a lost security: what is political correctness? How do we know what is politically correct?

When that kid grew up and moved to Ontario and found, as a simple rural Nova Scotian girl, many of my small town values challenged, I learned to curb my accent and expressions. I learned to expect to pay more for everything, to not be quite so simple in my outlook I was told, like one from the country. I continued into adult life and found that my personal beliefs were not welcome, were scorned as an artifact of an earlier time, too simple, too not -politically correct.

The ironic thing to me, as someone who responded to that challenge to question my assumptions, who did spend my time in the trenches looking at various worldviews, looking at arguments for God's existence, looking at Christianity historically and philosophically, among other options...I honestly think that we as the western world have abandoned a more coherent worldview for a less coherent worldview. What is political correctness? How do we know what is politically correct? I would now add my own question, what is it based on, if not simply, Judeo-Christian cultural assumption, or what's left of it.

And the funny thing to me, as a kid who grew up in a time when investigative journalism meant something, when ethics meant something, when we were taught to ask questions and think critically and think through what we said and wrote, who through study is realizing that we had a culture that was based on the historical church and the historical life of Christ, fused with Greco-Roman thought and culture as well. A foundation for ethics, if there ever was one! What do we have now? It is so ironic to me as I hear about news broadcasters literally having to set up the shots that they need -to get their story, the narrative they crave, Judeo-Christian cultural assumption.

What I think we're seeing is the failure of a worldview in secularism, which does not have the depth to compete with radical Islam, and so it clings to its own Christian heresy, a world without evil, where the human heart needs only to be educated, not redeemed. And it is so ironic to me as a seasoned Christian, to realize that the worldview that my culture has abandoned, orthodox Christianity, is the worldview that can compete with radical Islam, and expose Islam for what it arguably is, a 7th century, politically inspired Christian heresy. Along with Marxism and every other ism that sees history as linear and progressing toward a sought after utopia, whether God-made, or man-made, echoing their biblical influence, and unlike pre-Christian or Eastern religions, which see history as cyclical. This cultural sense of human dignity and purpose, yet progressing toward what, if there is no natural design and if Jesus said his kingdom is not of this world?

To be fair, getting back to the topic of changing norms and our seeming inability to confront present extremist realities, our secular society could confront the early history of Islam or other ideologies on historical grounds, or the Quran on scientific or ethical grounds, but based on what, if truth is relative and morals subjective? Am I arguing for the reintegration of church and state here? No, I'm simply saying that in the writing out and rewriting of western Judeo-Christian society as solely secular, we've lost a lot of the cultural and historical starting points that would really come in handy right about now, while a lot of people seem to not know what to say, or what to think. While more and more instead of discussion, we see denial and ignorance of our own history. I would like to see more openness in our society. I would like to see more of an acknowledgement on a cultural level, or freedom to appeal on a cultural level to our Judeo-Christian and classical history. We have a history too. We have a culture too, and it isn't all bad. Much of it, was extraordinary.

In closing, I'm left with my memories, and a present that doesn't fit with what I know to be true. In a world that demands uniformity, while it talks about diversity, while demanding intellectual submission. The authoritarian left with its Christian heresy shaking hands with authoritarian Islam and its Christian heresy. All in the name of tolerance and pluralism, while they cling to a egalitarian heritage that is not their own, though they strive to subdue and obliterate, what amounts to their very foundation. I think back to the little boy next to me on that little hill, waiting patiently for a little girl to go before him. He wasn't Catholic or even Christian that I knew. He was just a nice little boy, as were other kids that I grew up with, some from far away. I watched him go before me, contentedly, before I went to class. I miss him. I miss those kids. I miss those years, I miss that little school. Sometimes what seems like progress, may be the loss of our foundations.

Thanks for listening,

Margaret Harvey

Image result for children sledding