Let’s be honest

Sometimes you have to pause for thought and take stock: to remind yourself where you have come from and where you are going. To recall promises you made along the way. To remind yourself that the process of reform is ongoing and continuous: that it doesn’t stop just because you stop. That a vow you made still stands, even if you have slipped or fallen; that the door remains open, that change is still possible, that you still have work to do. Continue reading “Let’s be honest”

Forrest Gump meets the Internet

Have you heard it too: that enchanting, haunting hymn of crickets singing in the garden, slowed down to an unspecified speed, that has gone viral on the internet? It is beautiful, spellbinding. But alas, the first thing this soul asked himself on encountering it is what happens if you speed this track up again?

A little probing around carried me to an audio track entitled “Twisted Hair” by Robbie Robertson, which features the raw cricket choir for a while, uninterrupted by that recognisable insect chirping. If you were to take that raw sample and speed it up again, would you end up with the natural sound of crickets? Someone must be able to do that, and I’d really like to know the result.

Och, perhaps this Muslim has absorbed the science of Isnad too much into his life. Every time I come across these viral tales I end up asking too many questions. Is it real, who created it, when did they create it… on and on…

My area is in graphics, so adventures in Photoshop are easily analysed, be it a miracle in the clouds or a mysterious creature in a cave. But enter the world of audio or even video manipulation and I’m at a loss. If Forest Gump met Osama bin Laden today we would most certainly believe it. In an age of technological deception it is easy to be deceived.

Inter-faith Dialogue

If dialogue is to be of any benefit we should set aside philosophical debates on our approach to different faiths and come as we are with a view to first understanding what we each – as faith communities – believe. I have encountered time and again Christians writing about Islam with no real knowledge of its basic teachings; and, yes, Muslims writing on Christianity in a similar manner. The question of forgiveness is a key example, many writers convinced by the notion that Christianity exclusively amongst the world religions has addressed the issue. The opinion of the prominent evangelist associated with the Alpha Course is just one example amongst many.

Perhaps understandably, authors often view the beliefs of others through the prism of their own theology. As a result Christians are concerned about salvation to such an extent that they view its absence in other faiths as a great oversight. Salvation by good works, for example, is a Catholic concept, for Muslims do not believe that humans are by nature fallen and thus do not seek salvation. Instead, good works are undertaken for the pleasure of God, who loves goodness and beauty. We also believe that we are not judged by the deeds themselves, but by the intentions behind them. Thus one could feed the poor seeking people’s good opinion and it would not be of benefit at all. Yet sin is addressed by Islam, with a huge emphasis placed on forgiveness; it just happens to be a practical step, rather than a metaphysical one: ‘as long as you call on Me and hope in Me, I will forgive you whatever comes from you and I do not care.’

Falsehood

Paul, in his letter to the Romans (Revised English Bible, Romans 3:7), wrote, “…if the truth of God is displayed to his greater glory through my falsehood, why should I any longer be condemned as a sinner?” And therefore, on these grounds that saint Paul says lying is alright, I will announce to you all a new religion and you will all follow me because I say it is true and you will not question me. Actually, I won’t announce anything of the sort; that was a wee lie; but there is a point to my incoherent meanderings.

Whatever makes you happy

According to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the meaning of life is 42. By some people’s definition, I could take that as my faith and I wouldn’t be any worse for ware. Choose another stance, and nothing will ever seem quite right again: “God? Why bring ‘that’ up?” I suppose if you want people to respect you, you don’t. “It’s something private” at the very least. But mid-term I did what nobody expected; it shocked some, offended a few and upset one or two. “I’ve got something to tell you,” I said to my partner in crime of the first year, as I stood on the steps outside, warm in the summer heat. “I became a Muslim.”

Continue reading “Whatever makes you happy”

Honesty? Lying’s the best policy. Mate.

It’s true (if you believe me): lying is the best policy. Why tell the truth when you know that the truth will only hurt? Question everything, but don’t tell anyone. When you’re on that journey of yours, never confess that you’re completely lost. Just smile, grin, and bear it. It’s going to infuriate you, but nobody will understand. In their control rooms, they have their timetables and maps. To them it’s obvious, so why can’t you see that?

Continue reading “Honesty? Lying’s the best policy. Mate.”