To be consistent, why don’t the Swiss just ban algebra?
Jason Van Boom is a consultant, lecturer, and writer.
by: Jason Van Boom on December 4th, 2009 | 64 Comments »
[Tikkun Daily has an update on this story here].
The news about Switzerland’s ban on the construction of minarets has made the headlines, providing shocking evidence of the strength of increasing intolerance in Europe. I shall be writing more about the minaret ban and its implications later, God willing, but right now I wanted to share an interesting side note.
Daniel Streich was a member of the Swiss People’s party (SVP), the political party that pushed the minaret ban initiative. Streich is a military instructor in the Swiss Army and a local politician in the commune of Bulle. Formerly a devout Christian, he converted to Islam–and kept it a secret for two years.
by: Jason Van Boom on November 19th, 2009 | Comments Off
Books? Videos? Whichever you like (most likely both), there are two new releases that are important for those who are interested in human rights — Abdulaziz Sachedina’s Islam and the Challenge of Human Rights, and a short documentary video on the use of white phosphorus in Gaza by Human Rights Watch.
by: Jason Van Boom on November 18th, 2009 | 4 Comments »
When a couple gets married, they traditionally have a wedding. When a child is born, people usually throw some kind of celebration. When a ship sets out on its maiden voyage, it is customary to break a champagne bottle against its bow.
A position as a blogger is, of course, nothing compared to those things. What are the opinions of one pundit, compared to a marriage, a new human life, or the ocean-crossing journeys of a ship? Nevertheless, all traditions teach us that origins are important, and that we should try to begin our first ventures as well as possible–even such humble ventures as this.
So, where to begin? Why not start with the most famous of all accounts of origins, the creation of humankind? But Genesis, by its very nature, covers so many things, so I shall cite just one aspect: its account of the spiritual reasons for human communication.
Genesis portrays the beginnings of communication with the existential need of human beings to be in union with other persons. We can have the whole of inanimate and animal creation brought before us. But we need to engage in the back-and-forth of linguistic communication (whether verbally or in body language) with another person. And the most profound kind of inter-personal communication is that of intimate love between two people.
We know the need for something from its lack. Genesis shows communication as a divine gift to overcome the pain of loneliness. The late Pope John Paul II spoke about this in his lectures on “The Theology of the Body.” Judaism and Islam have their own “theologies of the bodies,” which predate this development in Christianity. As a Muslim who loves poetry, both Eastern and Western, I have decided to give a poetical interpretation of the loneliness of Adam, as described in Genesis, from the standpoint of Sufism (or Islamic metaphysics).