Hooray for the Norwegian Muslims!

From the Times of Israel:

“In the wake of a deadly shooting attack at a synagogue in Denmark last week, a group of Norwegian Muslims intends to hold an anti-violence demonstration at an Oslo synagogue this coming weekend by forming a “peace ring” around the building.

One of the event organizers, 17-year-old Hajrad Arshad, explained that the intention was to make a clear statement that Muslims don’t support anti-Semitism.

“We think that after the terrorist attacks in Copenhagen, it is the perfect time for us Muslims to distance ourselves from the harassment of Jews that is happening,” Arshad told the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation NRK in an interview cited by The Local News website on Tuesday.

She noted that the group aimed to “extinguish the prejudices people have against Jews and against Muslims.”

The demonstration drew praise from the local Jewish community.”


A fine, intelligent act in an age of rage about religions. Has it always been this way? Across recorded history, it seems many people have been brutally tortured and murdered because of religious intolerance – perhaps more than all the wars from 1700 to the present. Even in the “civilized” United States today, religious intolerance is not above killing over abortion, sexuality, Islam, atheism, theocracies, and still ostracizes Roman Catholics and Jews.

Perpetually, philosophers and behaviorists ponder religious brutality and still have not discovered a way to discuss religious differences in a rational way.

What the mariner finds puzzling is that those who turn intolerance into murder and destruction are not exactly the devoted core of the faith, devoted to their god and seeking a holy world. Rather, it is the opportunists, bigots, self-anointed “religious” warriors, and psychologically unbalanced who make up the army of the “Lord.”

In the Mideast, conflict has become absurd. Belief in the sanctity of life disappeared centuries ago. Every type of zealot, from heads of state to violent, deranged thugs, fight under the same flag: Islam. Added to the broiling mess is the regional prejudice between theocracies and western secular countries.

What fuels this ongoing war is not really Islam per se, though that is important. It is the fossil fuel wealth of the area combined with inadequate governments still depending on sheikdoms (Saudi Arabia) city-states (Libya), and warlord authoritarianism (Iraq, Egypt and Syria).

The western countries went through this violence centuries ago and have evolved into nations run by constitutions and law. While extremists still cause problems in the western nations, the political infrastructure is robust enough to prevent anarchy.

The coming battles for the industrialized world are mercenary values versus the earth itself – a new kind of fervor based on ecology rather than religion and one that ignores national borders.


Some notes from the mariner –

Many do not check back to earlier posts to see if replies have been added. The “Purgatory” post drew some insightful responses:

One reader, self-described as an existentialist, defined purgatory as those moments when a person has lost his/her compass of life. “What do I do next? Where are the signs that will give me direction? Where will I stay for the next two weeks? It is a sense that life has come to a stop and there is no way to move ahead into the future.

Another reader suggested that purgatory could last no longer than the last living person who knew you – approximately four generations at most. After that, no one is around who will pray for your release from purgatory.

Another reader suggested the living have nothing to do with purgatory, that is, purgatory lasts from the point of death to the moment one must answer for one’s life at the Pearly Gates.

All these replies are fascinating and provoke extended thought about purgatory.

Thanks for your replies.

Ancient Mariner



The mariner apologizes for the long absence. Winter has been distracting.

The mariner has been pondering purgatory; a strange phenomenon traced to several religions and cultures and, as if in self application, sits in a position of purgatory in modern theology. This post is entered under the “Musings” category because it is an inquiry of interest and not an exposition of doctrine. What follows is a direct, unchanged copy on purgatory from Wikipedia. It serves as the scholarly background for those who want to pursue purgatory more deeply. Footnotes are retained for your reference.

While use of the word “Purgatory” (in Latin purgatorium) as a noun appeared perhaps only between 1160 and 1180, giving rise to the idea of purgatory as a place[7] (what Jacques Le Goff called the “birth” of purgatory),[8] the Roman Catholic tradition of Purgatory as a transitional condition has a history that dates back, even before Jesus Christ, to the worldwide practice of caring for the dead and praying for them, and to the belief, found also in Judaism,[9] which is considered the precursor of Christianity, that prayer for the dead contributed to their afterlife purification. The same practice appears in other traditions, such as the medieval Chinese Buddhist practice of making offerings on behalf of the dead, who are said to suffer numerous trials.[2] Roman Catholic belief in Purgatory is based, among other reasons, on the previous Jewish practice of prayer for the dead,[10] a practice that presupposes that the dead are thereby assisted between death and their entry into their final abode.[2] It is also based on various passages of Scripture and on the Sacred Tradition of the Church.

Belief in after-life “temporary punishments agreeable to every one’s behaviour and manners” was expressed in the early Christian work in Greek known as Josephus’s Discourse to the Greeks concerning Hades, which was once attributed to Josephus (37 – c. 100) but is now believed to be by Hippolytus of Rome (170–235).[11]

Shortly before becoming a Roman Catholic,[12] the English scholar John Henry Newman argued that the essence of the doctrine is locatable in ancient tradition, and that the core consistency of such beliefs is evidence that Christianity was “originally given to us from heaven”.[13

The mariner adds to this list the ancient Egyptian “Book of the Dead”, that not only stated there was a purgatory but that it was composed of demons and fire. Unless excused by Osiris, one would live there forever.

We all know about the abuses of the Roman Catholic Church in the 16th century using indulgences as a fund raiser to build Saint Peter’s Basilica. Martin Luther did not agree with the idea of buying release from purgatory, thinking release ought to be free. So began protestant thought.

Let us assume, given the human politics and abuse of purgatory, that purgatory is a state of being unaffected by us once a person dies and, we assume, enters a condition of transition. It seems to the mariner that all assumptions and opinions about the condition of transition are speculations by those who have yet to pass on. Are we simply judging the character of the deceased? Expressing our biasness or our doctrinal assumptions?

Humanists, existentialists, and spiritualists may have a different definition of purgatory. These believers, part of the spectrum of Christian believers, believe Grace, Divine Love, Heaven, Hell and purgatory are human experiences felt while still alive. What is the definition of purgatory if it is a living experience?

Is purgatory an unsatisfied life? An end of life filled with pain and illness? Feeling bereft of a “normal life?” How does Forgiveness fit into this experience?

Just the mariner musing. Your speculations are welcome.

Ancient Mariner