Muslims in Zanzibar Throw Acid in the Face of a Priest

The BBC:

A Roman Catholic priest in Zanzibar has received treatment in hospital after attackers threw acid at him on a street in the island’s capital, police say.

Elderly priest Joseph Anselmo Mwagambwa was attacked as he was leaving an internet cafe in the island’s old town.

It follows a similar attack on two young British women there last month.

Tensions between the majority Muslim population and Christians have been on the increase in recent years, as well as on mainland Tanzania.

“He sustained burns in his face and shoulders. The acid burnt through his shirt,” Zanzibar police spokesman Mohamed Mhina told Reuters.

Tanzanian police say they are searching for witnesses to the attack which occurred in the old part of Zanzibar City, Stone Town, on Friday afternoon.

Tourism is a key source of revenue, with some 200,000 visitors to Zanzibar last year

It is the latest in a series of assaults on religious figures in the country and the fifth acid attack since November, when a Muslim cleric was hospitalised with acid burns.

In a sign of further tension, a Catholic priest was shot dead in February.

The attack on the British girls in August occurred in the same part of Stone Town.

Zanzibar’s President Ali Mohammed Shein said the assault had “brought chaos and confusion to our country and outside”.

Zanzibari officials offered a £4,000 ($6,000) reward for information leading to the arrest of the suspects.

A popular tourist destination, the acid attacks came as a shock to many residents of Zanzibar who say attacks on foreign travellers are rare.

Police say no suspects have been arrested over the attack on the priest.



What Makes Jerusalem So Sacred?


Perhaps the most repeated observation about Jerusalem is that it’s a sacred city for the three monotheistic faiths of the west, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Hundreds of tour guides tell it to the busloads of tourists brought to the city each day. Journalists who have to file stories from and about Jerusalem will use this description in their leads.

But what does that observation really mean? What does it mean to call a place, a city sacred?

Of course, this immediately refers to sites and buildings which contain and make concrete the sacred or the holy. In Jerusalem, there are literally hundreds of these containers, some better known than others.

One can immediately think of the Western Wall for the Jews, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher or the Garden Tomb for Christians, or the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa mosque for Islam.

These containers are only the hardware of a sacred place. A more fundamental question is what are the dynamics or the software that make a place holy?

In each case the containers “mark” the breakthrough of the divine and transcendent world into the mundane, immanent world of humans.

This is the rock where God ordered Abraham to bind his son Isaac for sacrifice, and where later David and Solomon would build the central ritual structure of Judaism, the twice-destroyed temple that many Jews dream will be rebuilt in a messianic future when the dead are revived.

These are the streets and stones touched by Jesus, the son of God, the place where the central ritual of Christianity was revealed, which identified bread and wine with the sacrificial body and blood of the savior, and the place where the End Times will be orchestrated.

This is the place where God brought his Prophet Muhammad in a miraculous night journey.

From the very same rock, chosen by God, Abraham nearly sacrificed his son, Jesus was crucified and Muhammad ascended into paradise to receive the order of daily prayer for Islam. It’s also where the Day of Judgment will begin, where the righteous and the wicked will receive their rewards and punishments.

A sacred place pivots the heavenly world and the human world; it’s the meeting point between the two.

This means, of course, human behavior must be more disciplined and guarded than if one where just visiting another place like Los Angeles or Miami.

Rituals are required to maintain the presence of the sacred. Pilgrims and residents dress differently and speak differently, and often become nervous, tense and even violent when they think others are not behaving appropriately.

Time in sacred places is heavier than in other places. The present is soaked with the past and the future.

Memory is both individual (my mother and father owned a bakery there on that corner) and collective or national (my people began here) and is present in every action and in every encounter.

Your existential history is here, who you really are, and every event of consequence happened in this place.

In a place like Jerusalem, religion is politics and politics is religion. These human activities are seamlessly bound together.

Holy cities are not just divided by religion and politics, but, as the distinguished Israeli urbanist and former Jerusalem deputy mayor Meron Benvenisti noted, are polarized by religion and politics.

The sacredness of places like Jerusalem is never static. It always is changing, another layer of meaning and symbolism is built on those before, and others will be built in the future.



Australia Now Has Suicide Bombers…

Has blown himself up in Syria.

An Australian jihadist fighting in Syria has reportedly blown himself up in a suicide bombing near a military airport in the country’s east.

For some time now concerns have been growing among the Australian intelligence community about the involvement of Australian jihadists who have travelled to fight in the Syrian conflict.

At least four Australians are known to have been killed in the fighting, but the news of the first Australian to become a suicide bomber is seen as a significant and troubling development.

According to various jihadi websites, at 5:45am on Wednesday the Australian known as Abu Asma al Australi drove a truck loaded with 12 tonnes of explosives into a checkpoint close to the Deir Al Zour military airport.

The website reports say the checkpoint, considered to be the first line of defence for the airport, was completely destroyed and 35 soldiers from the Assad regime were killed.

Abu Asma is described on one website as “our immigrant Lion”…

Rest here.



Can Demons Unite to Influence Society?

… can demons unite and concentrate their efforts to influence  society?

A. The greatest power of the demons lies in tempting us to sin. Since they  communicate among themselves, demons certainly  work together and concentrate their efforts to influence human society. They do  this by collectively devising strategies and by putting them into action in a  specific place. While they desire to tempt everyone to sin, they know very well  that certain individuals have the ability to influence society as a whole  because of their wealth, fame, or power. The communications media are a  particularly powerful influence on today’s society. As such, the demons  especially target these elites.

In politics, demons are never neutral – they always analyze the situation and  focus their energies on those political officials and candidates who will  (wittingly or unwittingly) favor their goals. Undoubtedly, in the German  election of 1932, the demons understood perfectly that their goals would be  better served by tempting the German people to vote for a rather unknown, fringe  candidate named Adolph Hitler. Does this mean that Hitler’s rise to power can be  attributed solely to demonic forces? No, human choice was involved; but demons  were undoubtedly involved, too. Similarly, the Church Fathers, in their writings  about Christian persecution by the state, often point out that such persecution  is rooted in the instigation of demons on rulers and the population as a  whole.

We must always remember that the devil is the Father of Lies, and he seeks to  make evil appear good and good appear evil. At the heart of much evil is the  rejection of human dignity; the demons want us to forget that we have been  created in the image and likeness of God.

There is the famous vision of Pope Leo XIII in which he saw the infernal spirits  concentrated on Rome. This vision was the origin of the Prayer to St. Michael, which the Holy Father sent to the  world’s bishops in 1886 and asked the entire Church to recite. The work of the  angels and the prayers of Christians can impede the plans of darkness. This is  why prayer and sacrifice are so important; they are a bulwark against the powers  of hell in this world and a source of abundant blessings.

Though we must do battle in this invisible struggle with spiritual powers, we  should always remember that in the exercise of our free will we are the authors  of our own destiny. The demons can only influence us to the extent that we let  them. In the end, we do what we choose and are ultimately responsible for these  choices. Not even the concerted effort of millions of demons can force us to do  something we really don’t want to do.  When tempted, prayer is our greatest  weapon, a weapon as powerful as the greatest army or wealth. The demons know the  power of prayer and fear it.




We Can’t Cast Away Our Bible

The Telegraph:

For this surely is the point: the Bible is at the heart of our national culture, just as Shakespeare is, perhaps even more so. For centuries it was found in any home where someone could read. The family Bible might be the only book there; often it might sit next to John Bunyan’s allegorical Christian novel, The Pilgrim’s Progress. This makes one thing clear: our historical culture, which has formed the country we have inherited, is a Christian one. Many today may no longer think of themselves as believers. Perhaps a majority of us have abandoned the faith, and yet we have been formed by it. Our ideas of what is right and what is wrong remain essentially Christian, and have been inculcated by the reading of the Bible over generations. We may have come to disregard many of its prohibitions, but whatever is admirable and generous in our morality derives from it, and especially from what Jesus taught, notably in the Sermon on the Mount.

Desert Island Discs is not itself important. It is agreeable easy listening, no more than that. And yet in one way it is significant. It has always been a favourite programme of Middle Britain. If it were to decide that its castaways should no longer be provided with the Bible, this would say something about the BBC’s understanding of the country it exists to serve. It would be tantamount to a rejection of our inherited culture, a rejection of our history, and an acceptance that the National Secular Society is more representative of Britain today than the Churches. Lord Reith, the BBC’s first Director-General who established the ethos of the corporation, would surely be whirling in his grave..

Read the whole piece from the start here.



An Awe-Inspiring Obituary

“If you’re about to throw away an old pair of pantyhose, stop” is not the way most obituaries begin, but, then, according to her family, Mary A. “Pink” Mullaney was no ordinary woman.

The Wisconsite died on Sunday, Sept. 1, at the age of 85, leaving behind six children and 17 grandchildren who adored her so much they crafted an obituary so heartfelt and touching that it has made national headlines.

The obituary’s opening line stems from one of Mullaney’s most well-known maxims: Never throw away old pantyhose.

“Use the old ones for rosary repairs, to tie the gutter, childproof the cabinets, tie up the toilet flapper or hang Christmas ornaments,” reads the obituary, written by seven or eight of Mullaney’s children and grandchildren who gathered together in their hometown of Milwaukee after her death.

“We wanted it to portray who she was and her love for people and just her funny ways of going about it,” one of her sons, Kevin Mullaney, of Wake Forest, N.C., told “She was an extraordinary person in an ordinary way. Survived by so and so and accomplished this and that didn’t capture that.”

Mullaney, a devout Catholic who volunteered in a nursing home and delivered Communion up until age 81, also had kind and gentle rules surrounding the rituals of her faith.

“Let a dog (or two or three) sleep in bed with you. Say the rosary while you walk them. Go to church with a chicken sandwich in your purse. Cry at the consecration, every time. Give the chicken sandwich to your homeless friend after Mass. Go to a nursing home and kiss every person there, and let them have Communion, no matter if they are Catholic. When you learn someone’s name, share the story of their patron saint and when the feast day is, so they can celebrate,” the obituary reads.

“I see her as the hands and feet of Jesus,” said her son, 59. ” What she taught all of us is to love others as Christ loved us.”

Calling them the “many valuable lessons from Pink,” the “extended family of relations and friends from every walk of life and corner of the globe” also offered these nuggets in Mullaney’s obituary:

Invite new friends to Thanksgiving dinner. (“Every Thanksgiving there’d be somebody from Nigeria or somebody from Poland that nobody knew,” son Kevin Mullaney says of this rule.)

Never say mean things about rotten people, instead think of them as “poor souls who we should pray for.”

Put the children who are picky eaters in the laundry chute in the basement, close the door and tell them they are hungry lions in a cage and feed them their veggies through the slats.

Make the car dance by lightly tapping the brakes to the beat of songs on the radio.

Offer rides to people carrying a big load or caught in the rain or the summer heat.

Offer to help anyone struggling to get their kids in a car, into a shopping cart or across a parking lot.

Give to every single charity that asks. Choose to believe the best about what they do with your money, no matter what your children say they discovered online.

Take magazines you’ve already read to your doctors’ waiting rooms for others to enjoy. Do not tear off the mailing label … “because if someone wants to contact me that would be nice.”

Mullaney’s family says its beloved matriarch adhered to the time-old practice of writing letters to “communicate with everybody from every walk of life.”

To end their tribute to Mullaney, her family listed her survivors, “those whose photos she would share with prospective friends in the checkout line, and her children and grandchildren,” and whom she will join in heaven, “her favorite dance and political debate partner, her husband Dr. Gerald L. Mullaney.”

Source (where there is a link to the full obituary too).

What kind of legacy are you leaving?