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Ukraine and the Churches

Saturday, October 25th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- playing catchup with a world that seems to spin faster as it gets older, unlike my weary self ]
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tent_chapels_on_Maidan_Square_in_Kiev__Jakub_Szymczuk
One of two tent-chapels on Maidan Square in Kiev, February, 2014. Photo credit: Jakub Szymczuk

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Here’s a backgrounder from the Ukraine, excerpts from several key articles & letters, in roughly chronological order.

ecumenism in ukraine

First, George Weigel, from January 14, 2014, writing under the title The Exhaust Fumes of Stalinism:

The religious dimension of the EuroMaidan protests in Ukraine these past two months has gone largely unremarked. Yet in Kiev and elsewhere, the day’s activities at these oases of civil society are punctuated with prayers offered by clergymen of a variety of Christian communities: Orthodox, Greek Catholic, Protestant. That fact in itself says something about the nascent civic community that is being born in Ukraine today. Ecumenical fellow-feeling and cooperation have not been a prominent feature of Ukrainian religious life in the past. Yet now, with the future of the nation (and no small part of the future of Europe) being contested amids snowstorms, tent cities, flying universities, and police brutality, Ukrainian Christians have discovered a common cause: the moral and cultural renewal of Ukraine, which the brave men and women of the various EuroMaidans understand is essential to free politics and free economics in the future.

The-Exhaust-Fumes-of-Stalinism
Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Major Archbishop of Kyiv-Halych, Primate of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

Letter from His Beatitude Sviatoslav (Shevchuk), Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, on the very difficult situation in Ukraine, dated August 29 2014:

All of the Churches and religious organizations of Ukraine stood together against the violence of the Yanukovych regime, the annexation of Crimea, and the division of the country. On the Maydan-Square for months, every day, and hourly in the night, in common prayer they insisted on respect of civil rights, non-violence, unity of the country, and dialogue. This civic ecumenical and inter-religious harmony and cooperation has been an important source of moral inspiration and social cohesion in Ukraine.

In annexed Crimea and in the Eastern war zone some of the Churches and religious communities have been targeted for discrimination, enduring outright violence. In Crimea the most exposed have been the Muslim Tatars. The Tatar community as a whole is in daily danger. Some of its leadership has been exiled, barred from their homeland. The existence of Greek and Roman Catholics ministries, Orthodox parishes of the Kyivan Patriarchate, and the Jewish community in Crimea has been variously menaced.

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Here’s Timothy, Cardinal Dolan, September 15, 2014:

The Catholic Church in Ukraine is young, alive, growing, and prophetic. This, from a worldly point of view, is illogical, near miraculous, as Greek Catholics were viciously persecuted by Stalin in the years of Soviet oppression. Even after the breakup of the communist empire, and the restoration of freedom in Ukraine, Catholics were not given back their former churches that had been given to the Russian Orthodox, and the courageous yet decimated community almost had to start afresh.

Through the optic of the Gospel, we know that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the faith,” so believers are hardly surprised by the vitality and growth of the Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine.

and John L Allen Jr, reporting from the 2014 Synod of Bishops in Rome, October 16, 2014, under the striking title Synod is more and more like a soap opera:

On a different front, Metropolitan Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church used his speech in the synod today to take a shot at the Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine, basically telling them to stop complaining about Russian foreign policy and the support for Russian incursions in Ukraine voiced by Russian Orthodox leaders.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York was sufficiently outraged that be grabbed Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Greek Catholic Church, who was also in the synod hall, and immediately taped a segment for his radio show in New York to object to Hilarion’s rhetoric.

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Putin and Kirill

On the other side of things, there’s the close alliance of Vladimir Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church in the person of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow to consider:

After weeks of defying international pleas to free eight European officials they had captured in May, pro-Russian rebels in east Ukraine released them unexpectedly in June following a public appeal by the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill.

The role Kirill’s resurgent church played in the release of the monitors, who were from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), sheds light on how a close cooperation between the state and the church in Russia is now playing out in Ukraine.

What the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) presents as its humanitarian mission in east Ukraine, Western diplomats see as a pattern of cooperation in which the church is acting as a “soft power” ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

During the OSCE monitors’ captivity, Moscow gave no public indication that it was heeding calls to help their release by using its influence with the rebels fighting to split east Ukraine from Kiev.

But what looked like a solo venture by Kirill was the culmination of a flurry of diplomatic contacts that, behind closed doors, involved the OSCE, Russian and church officials, separatist leaders and a rebel Cossack unit, according to interviews with parties to the talks.

With questions lingering over Moscow’s role in the turmoil in east Ukraine that has killed more than 3,500 people, European diplomats say the ROC was used to strike a deal and conceal Moscow’s influence with the rebels.

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There have been church destructions — perhaps the most note-worthy being that of the all-wooden Chuch of the Annunciation in Gorlovka in the Donetsk region of Ukraine, which is reported to have gone up in flames after being hit by an artillery shell:

Cathedral of Gorlovska

I should note here that the only reports of this incident I have ound have been from RT, the English-language Russian state new source, and Daily Stormer, a white nationalist site — caveat emptor.

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And then there’s propaganda, notoriously a grey area as far as authorship is coincerned. According to RT’s piece, War on religion: Orthodox Christian priests, churchgoers face threats in Ukraine:

Using both the years-long strife between the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and its breakaway Kiev branch, as well as allegations of the Moscow-tied Orthodox priests particularly supporting anti-government fighters in eastern Ukraine, radical activists have distributed leaflets with alarming threats addressed to the clergy and parishioners.

The rhetoric is worth noting:

Every coin given to the Moscow Patriarchate Church – is a bullet for a Ukrainian soldier. Every candle burnt in a Moscow Church – is your citizen burnt alive.

and:

For every Ukrainian soldier killed in Crimea, one priest from Moscow Patriarchate will be killed. Blood for blood.

As to authorship? Even RT admits it is uncertain:

As the fliers have been widely distributed, the Security Service of Ukraine has issued a warning, saying that citizens should not “fall for this primitive provocation.” Some Ukrainian mass media went as far as saying that “Russian special forces” were behind the distribution of the leaflets.

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Mary Qualit and Martha Quant

Friday, October 24th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- quality and quantity, subjectivity and objectivity, the hard problem in consciousness, and what truly counts ]
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quantbyquant
Mary Quant, as Wikipedia has it, was “one of the designers who took credit for the miniskirt and hot pants” — a quantitative approach to fashion, albeit minimalist.

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I’ve written a couple of post recently with the qualit and quant tag [1, 2], in fact in one of them [3] I referred to “quantity and quality” as a great koan.

I don’t pretend to know how they work together, but a question has been hovering in the back of my mind for a while, and cropped up as I was making those recent posts — what’s that quote about quantity being a form of quality, and where does it come from? And today, reading some more from DigitalTonto, I ran across this:

  • As Stalin said about armies, “quantity seems to have its own quality.”
  • **

    So I started searching, looking to see if anyoine had a Stalin reference — and found this, on a Marxist site under the heading

  • Dialectical Materialism:
  • Dialectics explains that change and motion involve contradiction and can only take place through contradictions. So instead of a smooth, uninterrupted line of progress, we have a line which is interrupted by sudden and explosive periods in which slow, accumulated changes (quantitative change) undergoes a rapid acceleration, in which quantity is transformed into quality. Dialectics is the logic of contradiction. [ .. ]

    The transformation of quantity into quality was already known to the Megaran Greeks, who used it to demonstrate certain paradoxes, sometimes in the form of jokes. For example, the “bald head” and the “heap of grain”—does one hair less mean a bald head, or one grain of corn a heap? The answer is no. Nor one more? The answer is still no. The question is then repeated until there is a heap of corn and a bald head. We are faced with the contradiction that the individual small changes, which are powerless to effect a qualitative change, at a certain point do exactly that: quantity changes into quality.

    **

    Then I found…

  • Clausewitz, On War, II, On the Theory of War, tr. Howard & Paret, pp. 194-195:
  • “Superior numbers, far from contributing everything, or even a substantial part, to victory, may actually be contributing to very little depending on the circumstances…But superiority varies in degree…it can obviously reach the point where it is overwhelming…so long as it is great enough to counterbalance all other contributing circumstances

  • Well, quantity has a quality all its own, as Napoleon liked to say
  • The quote credited to Mao, Lenin and Trotsky, “Quantity has a quality all of its own”, continues to have resonance at a national level, especially in regard to military force.
  • As Stalin said about armies, “quantity seems to have its own quality.”
  • and finally:

  • Quiddity has a qualia all its own, Eric Raymond.
  • **

    The story of Mary and Martha is one of the more interesting in the Gospels, since it effectively DoubleQuotes the contemplative and active aspects of life. Jesus visits two sisters, Mary and Martha, and while Mary “sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word”, Martha “was cumbered about much serving”. Luke 10. 38-42 tells the story:

    Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

    Martha enacts the spiritual life in service, while Mary directly enhances her own in listening. Martha, if you like, represents the virtues of the outward life, Mary of the inward.

    I mentioned the British fashion designer Mary Quant at the very top of this post. Her name has stuck in my mind from the sixties, giving rise to my coinage, used in the title of this post: Mary Qualit and Martha Quant.

    **

    Here’s a discussion of the hard problem in consciousness, which may be the same koan as that of quality and quantity, of our inner and outer lives, diferently phrased:

  • Keith Frankish on the Hard Problem and the Illusion of Qualia
  • And I am brought back once again to that powerful quote by Castoriadis:

    Philosophers almost always start by saying: “I want to see what being is, what reality is. Now, here is a table. What does this table show to me as characteristic of a real being?” No philosopher ever started by saying: “I want to see what being is, what reality is. Now, here is my memory of my dream of last night. What does this show to me as characteristic of a real being?” No philosopher ever starts by saying “Let the Mozart’s Requiem be a paradigm of being, let us start from that.” Why could we not start by positing a dream, a poem, a symphony as paradigmatic of the fullness of being and by seeing in the physical world a deficient mode of being, instead of looking at things the other way round, instead of seeing in the imaginary — that is, human — mode of existence, a deficient or secondary mode of being?

    The more I contemplate it, the more I see that quote as a pithy summary of my own weighing of the balance between the imaginative and physical worlds.

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    Grand Theft Caliphate / Daesh

    Friday, October 24th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron -- an oriental carpet video game, would you believe it? -- and one from IS ]
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    GTA Daesh headlights

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    The intersection of war and games is a fascinating one. You may recall the Stone Throwers game, built at the start of the Al-Aqsa Intifada, and set against the backgrop of the al-Aqsa mosque:

    The Stone Throwers Game 2000

    It’s a pretty primitive pro-Palestinian game built by a sympathetic Syrian, and you can still play it here.

    **

    Far more sophisticated — and utterly unrelated to propaganda, unless and until malicious UFOs attack us in droves — is the 2002 Carpet Invaders game devised by artist Janek Simon:

    janek simon carpet invaders game

    An Eastern prayer rug ‘lies on the floor’. As opposed to real prayer rugs, its design is not fixed. Using a gamepad, the beholder can fight against the rug by attacking parts of its design. Those who manage to destroy them all go on to a higher level. Playing this game could prompt reflection; this is, after all, a new battle against a rug whose design was once full of significances that have, in the meantime, been suppressed and degraded to the role of decoration. In a perverse way, the game restores life to this ornamentation by turning it into a hostile being that must be destroyed in combat.

    **

    Then there’s Hezbollah‘s game, Special Force, from 2003. Shown here is a screen shot from Special Force 2, 2007:

    specoial Force 2 Hezbollah Game

    There’s an interesting article about this game by a video game designer with a degreee in Arabic studies, and you can play the various parts of his explanatory walkthrough here.

    **

    Countering it, there’s Amir Lotan‘s far simpler game Nasralla, which uses a Google Earth map of Southern Lebanon as the backdrop for a whack-a-mole game in which the player takes out the head of the head of Hezbollah:

    Amir Lotan's game Nasralla

    You can play it here.

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  • Craig Detweiler‘s book, Halos and Avatars, has a chapter on Islamogaming.
  • The Israeli Center for Digital Art has collated a fine set of introductions to “Forbidden Games” with Middle Eastern implications.
  • **

    Ah, but past is prologue, as the spear-shaker noted. Here’s about the Caliphate game as promised in the title. The story seems to have broken about a month ago…

    GTA Daesh

    It is not clear to me yet whether the YouTube video of Grand Theft Auto: Salil al-Sawarem which is going the rounds is simply a machinima made from a game of GTA, or video of an actual IS / Daesh game —

    Here’s Fiona Keating in IB Times:

    The Isis video is entitled “Grand Theft Auto: Salil al-Sawarem”, which roughly translates in Arabic as “the sound of swords coming together”.

    According to Arabic journalists, Isis’s media wing stated that the game aims to “raise the morale of the mujahedin and to train children and youth how to battle the West and to strike terror into the hearts of those who oppose the Islamic State.”

    “It’s ironic that they are using Western games to demonstrate their wrongly guided hatred towards them,” said Mufaddal Fakhruddin, an editor at the Middle Eastern branch of video games and entertainment site IGN.

    Ironic? Not unless flying western jetliners into western skyscrapers is ironic — or capturing weapons we’ve supplied to their “moderate” opponents, and using them against us.

    GTA Daesh 1

    **

    Source:

  • Al-MonitorThe Islamic State’s media warfare:
  • IS even produced a game that resembles all aspects of its war against its enemies featuring similar terrain to areas the group is fighting in and audio that reflects its ideology. The game that Al-Monitor inspected is a modification of “Grand Theft Auto” and still has the original logo on it.

    “These materials are essential for IS’ recruitment campaigns,” Kayed said. “It’s the best propaganda for their ideas.”

    Mentions:

  • Al Arabiya, Grand Theft Auto: ISIS? Militants reveal video game
  • News.com.au, Islamic State adapt Grand Theft Auto game into ‘virtual jihad’ recruitment drive for kids
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    New mag: now there’s a Brit preaching the Ghazwa e-Hind

    Friday, October 24th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron -- we've ignored the apocalyptic aspect of Khorasan for years, now we're admitting it, but still overlooking the second prong ]
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    Ihya-e-Khilafat

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    Introducing the first English language issue of Ihya-e-Khilafat — which is in effect a new magazine, since it has a new intended readership — Tufail Ahmad, director of MEMRI’s South Asia Studies Project, writes:

    A Pakistani Taliban organization that was recently expelled from Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP or the Movement of Pakistani Taliban) has released a new English-language magazine that aims at recruiting Muslim youths from the West, praises the 9/11 hijackers, and indicates that some British youths have recently joined the group in the Pakistani tribal region.

    The magazine, Ihya-e-Khilafat (Revival of the Islamic Caliphate), has been published in the past in Urdu language, but this is the first time it has been published in English. Its Issue No. 1 is dated October 2014. In an editorial, the magazine states one of its objectives: “[T]here was a need to address English-speaking population of the world. To address that need, we decided to start Ihya-e-Khilafat in English as well and Alhamdolillah [Praise be to Allah] the first English magazine is in your hands. Kuffar [infidels] famously say that the first casualty of the war is truth but we shall try to bring you the news and articles based upon truth even though we are fighting a war.”

    **

    Ahmad mentions a British contributor, “identified as Abu Okasha Al-Britani” — but not the Ghazwa e-Hind, which is in fact one of the core ideas in al-Britani‘s piece, Why? I chose to join Jihad-e-Pakistan, pp 37-40:

    Upon further studies I also came across numerous hadiths about the Jihad that will happen in Hind or as it has been mentioned in hadiths by the name of “Ghazvatul Hind”.

    It is narrated that by Rasulullah Sallalahu Alaihi Wasallam that “Two groups amongst My Ummah would be such, to whom Allah has freed from the (Hell) fire; One group would attack Hind & the Second would be that who would accompany Isa Ibn-e-Maryam.”

    And in another narration Abu Hurairah said, “The Messenger of Allah, promised the invasion of India. If I become martyred, I will be from the best of the martyred; and if I return, I am Abu Hurairah, the saved.” (Ahmad)

    From the above two hadiths, we can see the virtues of participating in the Jihad of Hind or Ghazvatul Hind. One of the virtues is that if you are martyred in the Jihad of Hind, than you will be among the best of martyrs but if you return and are granted victory, then Allah has freed this Mujahid from the fire of Hell. Some people may think that Hind refers to India but that is not correct because Hind at the time of Rasulullah referred to a very large area in which today includes Pakistan, Kashmir, India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Burma. All these countries are a part of Hind so without doubt the Jihad in Pakistan is the launch of Ghazvatul Hind. Abu Hurairah also narrates that if he is alive and Ghazvatul Hind or the Jihad in Hind starts, he would participate in it with his wealth and life. If he is martyred than he would be among the best of martyrs and if he is a Ghazi and returns then he will be Abu Hurairah who Allah has freed from the hell fire.

    I also invite Muslimeen make Hijrah here, aid the Mujahideen in Khorasaan and work for an Islamic state in Pakistan. The blood of the shuhada is calling you and the screaming and oppressed pure sisters are calling for the helpers to help them. Will you answer? Our Jihad will not stop till Pakistan is conquered but we will keep fighting till entire Hind is under the Shari’ah of Allah. We shall keep going and conquering every country in our path bi’ith nillah till we reach Filisteen and there we shall erect the black flags in Al-Quds. Insh’Allah.

    **

    IMO, this new magazine should be read side-by-side with the AQIS magazine Resurgence, which also mentions the Ghazwa, see The new AQ magazine: Ghazwa e-Hind & more. Thomas Joscelyn at LWJ also wrote up Resurgence recently, noting:

    “Resurgence” returns to the Indian Subcontinent as its point of reference.

    “This wave of Jihad that originated in Afghanistan and has spread to Iraq, the Levant and North Africa is also the ultimate hope of the Muslims of the Subcontinent,” Yusuf writes. “It was Jihad that brought Islam to the Indian Subcontinent, and it will be Jihad again that will overturn the legacy of imperialism from Pakistan to Bangladesh and beyond.”

    Various pieces from other authors are dedicated to waging jihad in the Indian Subcontinent.

    Like Ahmad at MEMRi, Joscelyn makes no direct reference to the Ghazwa — but it is there by name in the magazine.

    It is surely worth remembering that the “Khorasan” tradition is of two victorious armies pursuing independent but related paths in the end-times — “the group that will invade Al Hind (the Subcontinent) and the group that will be with Eesa (A.S), the son of Mariam” — the latter being the one we hear more about in the west, the one which will capture Jerusalem.

    Note that according to al-Zawahiri, the Ghazwa e-Hind encompasses a greater area than “India” alone — or “the subcontinent”. As I quoted Bill Roggio writing in Al Qaeda opens branch in the ‘Indian Subcontinent:

    Zawahiri says the group will defend the “vulnerable in the Indian subcontinent, in Burma, Bangladesh, Assam, Gujurat, Ahmedabad, and Kashmir …”

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    These are the days of Elijah

    Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron -- a Youtube video of Marines singing a praise song goes viral, some love it, some hate it, what is it? ]
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    Here’s a Christian “praise song”, These are the days of Elijah, sung by Donnie McClurkin:

    I love me some good, rousing gospel music.

    **

    Here are the lyrics:

    These are the days of Elijah
    Declaring the Word of the Lord
    And these are the days of Your servant, Moses
    Righteousness being restored
    And though these are days of great trial
    Of famine and darkness and sword
    Still we are the voice in the desert crying
    Prepare ye the way of the Lord

    CHORUS:
    Behold he comes
    Riding on a cloud
    Shining like the sun
    At the trumpet’s call
    Lift your voice
    It’s the year of jubilee
    Out of Zion’s hill salvation comes

    And these are the days of Ezekiel
    The dry bones becoming as flesh
    And these are the days of Your servant, David
    Rebuilding the temple of praise
    And these are the days of the harvest
    The fields are as white in your world
    And we are the laborers in your vineyard
    declaring the word of the Lord

    CHORUS 2X
    Behold he comes
    Riding on the clouds
    Shining like the sun
    At the trumpet call
    Lift your voice
    It’s the year of jubilee
    Out of Zion’s hill salvation comes

    There’s no God like Jehovah (x8–modulate)
    There’s no God like Jehovah (x8–modulate)
    There’s no God like Jehovah (x7)

    CHORUS X2

    **

    Please note the end times references here, particularly in the chorus:

    Behold he comes
    Riding on a cloud
    Shining like the sun
    At the trumpet’s call

    These four short lines manage to plait together:

    • Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him (Revelation 1.7),
    • and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength (Revelation 1.16), and
    • for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible (I Corinthians 15.52)

    The writer of the song, Robin Mark, writes:

    The chorus is the ultimate declaration of hope – Christ’s return. It is paraphrased from the books of Revelation and Daniel and the vision that was seen of the coming King and refers to the return of Christ and the year of Jubilee. Theologians and Bible commentators believe that Israel never properly celebrated this particular 50th year jubilee, and that it will only be properly celebrated when Christ returns. That might be true but I reckon that a Jubilee is an apt description of what happens when Christ comes into anyone’s life at any time; debts are cancelled and a captive is set free.

    Similarly, Similarly, these lines:

    And these are the days of the harvest
    The fields are as white in your world
    And we are the laborers in your vineyard

    braid together:

    • Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest (John 4.35),
    • The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest (Luke 10.2), and
    • the parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard (Matt 20.1-16)

    Robin Mark’s comment here is:

    Finally the “days of the Harvest” point towards what is the purpose of the Christian to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations. By the way “The fields are as white in the world” is from the old King James version and means, their ripe for harvest.

    Those lines at least overtly reference the end times — but Mark does not see the entire song in that way. In fact he suggests the phrase:

    “Days of great trial, of famine, darkness and sword” is a reflection of the apparent times in which we live when still thousands of people die every day from starvation, malnutrition and war.

    — not necessarily describing the “great tribulation” — and indeed, further specifies:

    Firstly the song came from watching a television “Review of the Year” at the end of 1994. This was the year of the Rwandan civil war tragedy which claimed 1 million people’s lives, and also when the first ceasefires in N.I. were declared.

    So it’s the song of a soul distressed at all the destruction, not at all a militant cry. And he goes on to note that his own interpretation may not be the final (authorial) one:

    There is a post script to this story for those who (by letters to me!) believe the song means something entirely different. A few years ago I was privileged to be in Israel at Yom Kippur for a celebration with hundreds of Messianic Jews. A very kind, gentle and humorous messianic brother had a bit of fun arguing with me that I, as an Irish Christian, could never have written a song which explores some of the themes that many (non-replacement theology here!) Jewish believers believe are the themes and indications of Christ’s return. The Spirit and Power of Elijah in the Church, The restoration of Israel to righteousness in Christ (David’s fallen tent), The restoration of praise and worship (David’s tent also!) and the unity of the body particularly with a renewed and redeemed Israel under Christ.

    For me, I only know what I wrote. I felt prompted by the Holy Spirit. Perhaps it was His desire to say something more than I personally intended and to do more with this song than I first considered.

    **

    So that’s the song, and there’s quite a bit of nuance to it, and to its interpretation.

    Here is the same praise song, sung by a congregation of US Marines from Camp Pendleton at a “Faith Warrior service”:

    This version of the song has recently gone viral, and is giving great delight to those who view it as “this bunch of Marines unabashedly praising the true living God” and “Holy Spirit takes over, Oorah-style!” — and considerable to concern to those who see in it more “crusade” than “praise”.

    **

    Two comments on YouTube illustrate the way in which this overtly apocalyptic battle song can be interpreted as supporting the notion that the war agsinst jihadist terrorism is a spiritual clash between the Christian and Muslim Gods — something the jihadists are at pains to convince their followers of.

    It’s wonderful to see our troops worshiping the one, true God with such fervor. Despite the fight for political correctness and the squelching of faith under the current leadership, nothing can hold back the praise of Yahweh. This is the only thing that will strengthen the military and give them power in the fight against ISIS and the other evils that threaten us.

    and:

    The Game is now over for the Taliban, Isis and all the rest who want to challenge our God! These boys and girls just invited Jehovah to the fight! This battle is not ours, but the Lords! If 1 can put 1000 to flight and 2 can put 10,000 to flight what about a whole company of Marines! So lift your voice (hoorah) this is the year of jubilee out Zion’s hill salvation comes!

    **

    You might say I have me some mixed feelings about that video.

    From my own perspective, viewing the fight against IS / Daesh as a war between apocalyptic Islam and apocalyptic Christianity is:

    • a permissible religious position for a US citizen to hold
    • a dangerous position to the extent that it influences US foreign policy

    And I’m sure those Marines at Camp Pendleton, who had presumably signed up for that particular worship service, thoroughly enoyed themselves — and felt uplifted and bonded by their praise song.

    **

    Then again, I wonder if those who dislike it, fearing the impact of a hard Christian dominionist right American military, would have similar qualms about a Catholic Mass celebrated at Pendleton — or the one depicted here, in which Fr Charles Suver SJ celebrates the Catholic Mass Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima, at about the same time the famous flag was raised…

    Chaplains WWII Mass on Mt Suribachi
    Source: http://www.mcu.usmc.mil/historydivision/Chaplains/Chaplains-WWII-110605.jpg

    uti accepta habeas et benedicas haec + dona, haec munera, haec sancta sacrificia illibata

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