Welcome to Varied Expressions of Worship

Welcome to Varied Expressions of Worship

This blog will be written from an orthodox Christian point of view. There may be some topic that is out of bounds, but at present I don't know what it will be. Politics is a part of life. Theology and philosophy are disciplines that we all participate in even if we don't think so. The Bible has a lot to say about economics. How about self defense? Is war ethical? Think of all the things that someone tells you we should not touch and let's give it a try. Everything that is a part of life should be an expression of worship.

Keep it courteous and be kind to those less blessed than you, but by all means don't worry about agreeing. We learn more when we get backed into a corner.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Opus 2013-34: Religion and Culture: Fatalism, part 2 of 2

Religious ideas effect a culture.  Fatalism produces stagnation.  It resigns people to their fate. That is one reason why the Muslim world is so weak economically and so lacking in what the West considers basic freedoms.  One of the criticisms you hear voiced is that the Muslim world still lives in the 7th century.

It was not always so.  I can’t find my source but one of the books I read spoke of a split in early Islam over this issue.  One side took into consideration Greek and Roman scholarship and felt like that approach was the way to interpret the Koran and the teachings of Mohammed.  At first they had the upper hand but another voice arose.  That voice was totally parochial.  There was to be only one source for truth.  No other thinking need apply. 

This explains what is called the “Golden Age of Islam” and why the gold slowly turned to lead.  There was a time when Muslim scholars were open and questing for knowledge.  They were trying to put things together in the way that the Romans and Greeks had taught. 

Consider this.
“It is common knowledge that medieval Arab societies were far ahead of those in Europe in terms of science, philosophy, and medicine, and that Europeans derived much of their scholarship from the Arab world; yet in the early centuries, this cultural achievement was usually Christian and Jewish rather than Muslim.  It was Christians – Nestorian, Jacobite, Orthodox, and others – who preserved and translated the cultural inheritance of the ancient world – the science, philosophy, and medicine – and who transmitted it to centers like Baghdad and Damascus.  Much of what we call Arab scholarship was in reality Syriac, Persian, and Coptic and is not necessarily Muslim.  Syriac-speaking Christian scholars brought the works of Aristotle to the Muslim world...”  (Jenkins, Philip.  The Lost History of Christianity, New York:  Harper One, 2008, p. 18)
During the Golden Age, Islam was doing what other growing cultures have done, building on the foundations of others. 

One of the Reasons that Western cultures became so strong is that they were open to ideas from many sources.  These ideas stimulate thinking, innovation and experimentation.  This brings change and sometimes that change is for the better.  One of the strengths of America is that we have always been a diverse population.  Modern tunnel vision sees culture through the eyes of skin color and does not recognize the real diversity that is in our foundation.  They see the black slaves and the white slave owners.  The people of the Founding Fathers generation saw a vigorous mixture of Scots, highland and lowland, Irish, Welsh, German (from a multitude of different Germanic cultures), French, Danish...the list goes on.  They considered themselves different races.  They found a way to work together in spite of their differences. 

They rejected fatalism.  How you view the nature of God makes a difference in the world you encourage.

homo unius libri

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Comments are welcome. Feel free to agree or disagree but keep it clean, courteous and short. I heard some shorthand on a podcast: TLDR, Too long, didn't read.