Sunday’s Sermon



Muslims and Islam are in the news everyday. Most of the commentary is thoughtless and fear driven. Two works that have actually helped me to understand the complexity of the conflict raging between the fundamentalists (Islamic) and the fundamentalists (Christian) are presented here for your consideration. First a link to my review of Heretic, a book that argues for reformation of Islam, and more interestingly, that such a reformation is possible.

And second, an important article by Zena Ryder, a PhD student in philosophy. Her article, “Secular Values can be Islamic Values” was published in the Humanist Perspectives magazine, Issue 193, Summer 2015, and is published here with the kind permission of the editor and the author.

If you are not a subscriber you may want to go here to purchase the issue, “Speaking of Humanism” or to subscribe.


“Secular Values can be Islamic Values” by Zena Ryder

I had a profound experience last night. You know that feeling when you skip the small talk and you feel a deep connection with another human being, as a human being? That’s what happened. But it was between what is perhaps an unlikely pair: on the one hand, myself, an outspoken atheist and, on the other hand, a teacher of Islam, whom I will call Hassan.

Click on this link to read the article: ZenaRyder

Comments are most welcome!

4 thoughts on “Sunday’s Sermon

  1. Interesting! There is often a gap between what Bob (in his book on the bible) calls “the official line” and the “story line.”
    The human sized Abraham is in the biblical text; the knight sized Abraham is in Kierkegaard’s text. Fear and trembling flow from Kierkegaard’s reading while the story tells of fear and surviving. Two different stories are at play here. One proclaims that this god (the establishment, authority, the official line) values unthinking obedience above all else, and, indeed, will reward blind faith with the ultimate prize. A second reports on how to live, and how to survive, in an arbitrary world filled with powerful and tyrannical forces. Abraham, who earlier was Abram, carries not only two names, but also two radically different intentional “lines”: one with the authority of the religious doc- trine which it proclaims, the other with the authority of the human voice it can not drown. What one must do to survive or advance oneself is not always identical with what one believes in one’s heart or says in public. There is always an official line, proclaimed as true by priests and kings, and it is often in con- flict with the story line that makes up a human life. Official lines change: now blind obedience is of utmost importance, later it will not be enough. Official lines change because they are based on a complex of beliefs and doctrines, which as we all know are relative to time and place. But each of us realizes that some things never change; these things are not to be found in official lines because they reside in story lines. In part the story line reveals ways of surviving in spite of the official line.

    Patriarchy is the official line of Genesis. Men’s names and men’s stories make up much of the Old Testament. Yahweh appears to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, to Moses. We have come to think of God the father. This privileging of the masculine over the feminine is also part of the official line, and although it is, it is countered by the story line. Who are the characters with sparkle, intelligence, and ability? The women. Rebecca over Isaac in every way – except in the official line. (RTB, page 96)

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