Similarly, I have just now read J K Rowling's last book in the Harry Potter series -- and have seen a very interesting parallel to the Passion story, complete with a self-sacrificial quasi-death and quasi-resurrection and triumph by the hero of the series as he has his final duel with Tom Riddle, aka Lord Voldermort aka He Who Must Not Be Named, etc.
Then, too, I noticed that a trench dug by the Muslim authorities in defiance of proper archaeological procedures, at Temple Mount, has now revealed some interesting Solomon's Temple era artifacts, despite insistent Islamist claims there was no ancient Jewish connexion to the site. (By the way, some Israeli citizens have now sued to protect the site from such wanton or willful Islamist vandalism against inconvenient history and concrete evidence.)
While we are on the subject of Jerusalem, another recent dig has unearthed one of the Wall-towers built by Nehemiah.
Last but not least, overnight, we can learn of the Iranians saying they just happen to have been given nuclear bomb making blueprints by a black market supplier. (Apparently Mr El Baradei has known about this ever since 2005, when inspectors working for the UN's IAEA "stumbled upon them among a batch of other documents during its examination of suspect Iranian nuclear activities." What else does he know that we need to know for ourselves and be able to make up our own minds on the significance of? Why isn't this all over our headlines this morning?)
All of these apparently almost-at-random observations are deeply connected, and deeply (and, sadly) revealing on the temper and trends of our times:
1] Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran put his finger squarely but diplomatically on the key, generally overlooked problem with the Muslim invitation to "Dialogue": "Muslims do not accept that one can discuss the Koran in depth, because they say it was written by dictation from God . . . With such an absolute interpretation, it is difficult to discuss the contents of faith." In fact, an examination of the letter will reveal that it is not an invitation to true dialogue, but a demand for surrender to the Islamic Faith and its core assertions. That is, a prelude to and pretext for war of subjugation, or Jihad. This is immediately apparent from page 2 of the letter, where we may read the following quranic citation:In short, we again can clearly see the two tidal waves in action: Dechristianisation from the North, and Islamisation from the East. And their common tactic: persuasive, plausible but in the end dangerously misleading stories.Say: O People of the Scripture! Come to a common word between us and--> In short, far from an invitation to dialogue, the letter (properly understood in Islamic textual and theological contexts) begins its theological stance with an accusation of idolatry by Christians! For, it refuses to accept that the historic Christian understanding of the tri-une nature of God is at least a possibly legitimate understanding of the credible facts we have on how the One God has revealed himself to us, especially in the face of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ.
you: that we shall worship none but God, and that we shall ascribe no partner unto Him, and that none of us shall take others for lords beside
God. And if they turn away, then say: Bear witness that we are they who
have surrendered (unto Him). (Aal ‘Imran 3:64)
But, let us compare, e.g.:
They do blaspheme who say: "God is Christ the son of Mary." But said Christ: "O Children of Israel! Worship God, my Lord and your Lord. Whoever joins other gods with God -- God will forbid him the Garden, and the Fire will be his abode..." Surat-ul Maida (5):72
--> So, the letter unfortunately polemically subverts the possibility for real, mutually respectful dialogue from the outset. Sadly -- and ominously given the direction of the letter to many Christian leaders in regions under Islamic domination -- it is a call to surrender and a pretext for violent attack on failing to do so, not at all the invitation to dialogue it tries to present itself as.
--> Cardinal Tauran is therefore right to point out that aggressive stance, and to then point out that: The fact that Muslims can build mosques in Europe while many Islamic states limit or ban church building cannot be ignored, he said. "In a dialogue among believers, it is fundamental to say what is good for one is good for the other."
--> Bottom-line: No respectful give-and-take, no dialogue; only, a call to surrender that historically has been preparatory to the launching of war to subjugate alleged idolaters under Islam.
2] On The Deathly Hallows, we observe that, as the Harry Potter series recently drew to a close, Ms Rowling dropped the bombshell that the most positive adult role model in the series, Albus Dumbledore -- [as of the end of Book 6, late] Headmaster of the Wizards' High School, Hogwarts, and mentor to Harry Potter -- is a homosexual character; instantly colouring (and, frankly, further poisoning) much of the series. Especially, how we should read his two-month involvement with a crucial Dark Wizard, Grindelwald -- but also how he came to be and how he functioned as an educator, headmaster and mentor. (So, plainly, had that announcement been made been up-front, for excellent reason, I doubt that the books would have been favourably reviewed by so many Christian leaders or enthusiastically bought to the tune of US$ 1 billion.)
--> Is it any surprise to read that, according to Wikipedia, Ms Rowling also says now that her series is "a prolonged argument for tolerance, a prolonged plea for an end to bigotry" and that also pass on a message to "question authority and... not assume that the establishment or the press tells you all of the truth"?
--> Even that apparently innocuous plea takes on a sadly different colour in our new context. Shapiro's rebuke is ever so apt:By most accounts, there is nothing in any of the books to suggest that Dumbledore is gay. It's easy enough for Rowling to retroactively adopt politically correct attitudes about homosexuality -- she never had to face the public scrutiny that surely would have ensued had she made Dumbledore openly gay. Instead, she raked in over $1 billion by appealing to kids and their parents, then conveniently announced Dumbledore's orientation before a swooning fan base in New York . . . . Rowling's gutless decision to "out" Dumbledore months after the release of the last book in the Harry Potter series smacks of manipulation.--> Now, multiply this by the obvious borrowing of the plot-line of the Passion of Jesus, and we see the rise of in effect yet another pseudo-gospel that tickled our itching ears with what we wanted to hear, and now strikes hard with the hidden hook.
3] We live in an era where in order to promote "Palestinian" national identity and claims to the Land of Canaan, Islamists routinely and brazenly assert that there is no historical connexion of Judaism to Jerusalem, and especially to Temple Mount. So, the archaeologically destructive behavior of Muslim authorities on Temple Mount over the past decade are obviously not at all innocent, but amount to attempts to destroy inconvenient evidence. How ironic, then, to see that such attempts have again backfired as the digging has unearthed exactly what Jewish and Christian leaders have always pointed out would be likely indeed to be under that Mountain, evidence not only of the NT era Temple but now also Solomon's Temple.
4] Multiply this, too, by the current news that the increasingly bellicose Iran -- whose president has openly announced intent to wipe Israel off the Map -- has been in possession of blueprints for the construction of the cores of nuclear bombs, which only have one use: making nuclear weapons. Worse, over the past two years, they have foot-dragged on allowing even the toothless IAEA to properly inspect the engineering diagrams. (I am astonished to now observe a common attempt to infer that Iran is morally equivalent to far more transparent, far more responsible, rights-respecting though of course all too humanly imperfect democratic regimes. We should have learned that long since that Hitler played that same card in 1939, just as he was on the verge of launching the most destructive war in history to date. But then, one of the most frequently repeated lessons of history is that we usually refuse to learn form it -- at least, before it is too late.)
For, in both cases, persuasive stories have been put out that have drawn us in to nibble contentedly, and the question is whether we will spot and back off from the hook before the angler strikes, fatally.
Or, will we -- yet again -- refuse to listen to today's Cassandra's and Churchills, even as we eagerly gather around those who pleasantly tickle our itching ears with what we want to hear? END