literature

September 11, 2001. That was twenty years ago. I used to read international news in the Stockholm City library’s newspaper room. There were , among other things, articles about some Christian missionaries in Afghanistan who had been arrested by the Talibans on suspicion of violating Sharia laws on proselytism. This was in August 2001.

And I was distracted by the terrorist attack on September 11, when I tried to follow up on that matter ! It almost fell into oblivion.

Now, however, I found those old articles. They were published by the New York Times, among others (at the time, the newspaper was called the “International Herald Tribune”).

There were at least two missionary organizations whose staff had been arrested. One of them was the Germany-based “Shelter Now“, and as some of its captured employees feared during the interrogations, their words spread around the world, as they carefully sought to avoid identifying some of the Afghans who had been the subject of their outreach activities. . On August 26, 2001, the New York Times published their “Confession”: “We gave two copies of a book about Jesus to a family. We have not given anything else, no other books or any material to anyone else. We sang alone one song about God, not about Jesus. They did not sing with us. We drank green tea ”.

The paper continued: “This may not exactly sound like the centerpiece of some grand collusion, but today a Taliban spokesman, Abdul Hal Mutmain, said that the first phase of the investigation was complete, and that the tentacles of a far-reaching Christian plot had been found to clutch not just Kabul, the capital, but other cities as well. The inquiry will now extend elsewhere“. So it had stirred up international attention, especially from the United States, Germany and Australia, that had individual citizens in Afghanistan who were involved in “Shelter Now”.

George Taubman, Margrit Stebnar, Kati Jelinek and Silke Duerrkopf from Germany, Diana Thomas and Peter Bunch from Australia and Dyane Curry and Heather Mercer from the United States spent nearly four months in detention in Afghanistan before being rescued. The Guardian wrote about the matter on November 16 of the same year, recalliing the evacuees’ words: “They also told of their dramatic night rescue, when women in the group set fire to their body-masking burqas so American Special Forces pilots could find them. .. they were airlifted to safety by the US helicopters …

And I also found that in 2002, a book was published in which this their story is developed, a book written by the two American women in the group.

So I got it, and read it. “Prisoners of Hope” thus tells about difficult questions that need to be answered before going to a country like Afghanistan to spread the message of Jesus Christ, and about even more difficult questions asked by the Taliban interrogators.

The stay in three different prisons is described in realistic detail, and individual Afghan life stories are highlighted with great empathy. The sparse contacts with relatives means that information about events in the outside world, even about the terrorist attack on 11/9, comes only in small portions. And the appalling realization that the great United States has gone to war against the Taliban in Afghanistan comes in a very awkward position for these captured Christian missionaries from the West.

And the message about “praying for Afghanistan” feels more urgent than ever.

The Hill about the situation today

“Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?”

– 1 Corinthians 10:22

The pope has spoken out about homosexuals. He endorse a civil union. In a comparison with Swedish gay politics ( I am from Sweden), he has thus reached the year 1994, when the law on civil unions for homosexuals came into force.
In a comparison with the sources of Protestantism, perhaps Swedish Protestants (and protestants generally) can be said to have a bit left until the year 1520, when Martin Luther had the pamphlet “On the Church’s Babylonian captivity” published. He then said that the Roman Catholic Church had fallen into a Babylonian captivity, from which she must be freed. Hence the Reformation.
One of the seven sacraments is Marriage. Interestingly, Luther also dealt with that sacrament. He believed that this, together with the Church’s celibacy requirements for priests, created an impossible situation, which often developed into homosexuality among priests.
The sacramental view of marriage thus remains in the doctrines

of the Roman Catholic Church, and when the pope speaks in recognition of civil unions, some Catholics fear that he will cause change in marriage itself, depriving it of its sacramental status as a relationship exclusively between a man and a woman.

Two examples of that reactions:

An American bishop, Thomas of Rhode Island, has asked for more clarification from the pope:
The Church cannot support the acceptance of objectively immoral relationships. Individuals with same-sex attraction are beloved children of God and must have their personal human rights and civil rights recognized and protected by law. However, the legalization of their civil unions, which seek to simulate holy matrimony, is not admissible

French Le Monde: “Though the sovereign pope tries to open up to homosexual couples by outright confirming that they are welcome in the Catholic Church, he still remains very determined against their entering a religious marriage, which necessarily only takes place between a man and a woman “.

And one example of the opposite reaction:

A pastor and professor at Fordham University who is gay himself says: “Yes. I personally – and I know many others, gay and lesbian persons and those who are allies and who love us – would want the church to be able to one day recognize the loving commitments of LGBTQ persons in the sacrament of marriage

The discussion is on… ?

Is the “sacramentally valid”, gay wedding ring a political “ring of power” that somehow attracts the pope ?

Be watchful for the next step !

Catholicsentinel

The other day I was able to read the last part of a book in russian that shook the Russian society last year , not least it’s  Orthodox circles – “Ispoved” (= Confession) by Maria Kikot. It hasn’t been heard of much in the West, as I see. Not in any western european language, anyway.

All-focus

She writes about her experience of going to a Russian Orthodox Monastery today. It is like old times and modern times in collision. Old church-buildings and monasteries that sometimes fit well into the Russian landscape. Sometimes only walls left. Ruins after the Bolshevik ravages. At the same time, a lot of reconstruction work is taking place . And even experiments ..

The author apparently ended up among people who experimented in the field of religious life. They combined old Russian traditions, and modern Greek “Athos” – monks ascetic exercises, as well as something that reminded me of a modern therapeutic method I’ve heard of. People are using that method sometimes, when they want to rehabilitate drug addicts – a group of people sits and talks, and suddenly everyone turns against one individual among them, everybody shout, criticise and accuse him or her for an hour or more. A kind of “cleansing” experience ..

The Abbess in the monastery just south of Moscow used a similar method as a pure authoritative technique, and in a really terrible and elaborate manner. She chased the collective against the individual. The “sisters” broke one by one, becoming either docile and subservient for the rest of their lives, or kicking back and breaking up. Kikot couldn’t stand it anymore, but she did quit and wrote her “confession”.

It’s a bit of Russia today. Pretty orthodox. And a lot more.

I hope someone will translate this book to english.

x

An english-language blog that mentions (in passing) about the book – here

 

C-3PO

 

For me it was a kind of relief to read about this Jedi self-critic in “Labyrinth of evil“, by James Luceno:

 

 

..Anakin was suffering, and the only balm he (Obi-Wan) offered were Jedi platitudes..   (p. 344)                                                                                                                                             

 

Here is my  reflexion on the fate of Sifo-Dyas .

 

 

The Verge