Tag Archives: Sermons

Jihadists rock to jihadist poetry

The Rhyme and Reason of Jihad | Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

The Rhyme and Reason of Jihad

The Rhyme and Reason of Jihad

Clifford D. May
10th June 2015 –The Washington Times

You probably didn’t know it but Osama bin Laden was a poet. In fact, according to Yale’s Robyn Creswell and Princeton’s Bernard Haykel, “of all jihadi poets, bin Laden was the most celebrated, and he prided himself on his knowledge of the art.”

They add (in the June 8 edition ofThe New Yorker): “A large part of bin Laden’s charisma as a leader was his mastery of classical eloquence.” Here, for example, he elegizes the mass-murderers of 9/11/01: “Embracing death, the knights of glory found their rest. / They gripped the towers with hands of rage and ripped through them like a torrent.”

Professors Creswell and Haykel further report that a wide range of Islamist groups are now producing “a huge amount of verse.” This art is an expression of the “the culture of jihad” which, they say, we should regard as a “culture of romance. It promises adventure and asserts that the codes of medieval heroism and chivalry are still relevant.”

– See more at: http://www.defenddemocracy.org/media-hit/may-clifford-d-what-rhymes-with-decapitate/#sthash.OtrmyAOt.dpuf

This provides a vision,

Which leads us Christians and Jews to poeticize our tradition?

Which calls for an impassioned embrace of our doctrines.

Our Scripture is full of the poetic, the vision, the sheer otherworldiness. So much of it in undiluted form is nonsense to the man and woman, but especially the man, of today. We should do what we can, in schools, for instance, to encourage embrace of the poetic — a reasonable embrace of it. There I go, two sides of the issue.

Hearing trivia from the pulpit? What’s this Last Coming thing anyway?

The Advent season conundrum:

At some point during this Advent season, there will undoubtedly be a priest somewhere with a smattering of biblical-critical trivia he picked up in seminary who will confidently inform his congregation that Paul changed his mind on the coming of Christ.

Early on in his ministry, he’ll say, Paul believed Christ would return soon, during Paul’s own lifetime . . . .

Later, however, it is claimed, Paul supposedly came to the disappointed realization that Christ was not returning “soon,” and that he (Paul) would be dead when Christ came.  . . . .

Confused parishioners may then be allowed to swing hopelessly in the winds of confusion. There’s nothing some people like better than showing how much more intellectually sophisticated they are than the supposedly “naive” early Christians.

Oh those early Christians, oh those early Christians (to the tune of Oh Dem Golden Slippers) . . .

What do do? Well, for starters keep this in mind:

The Catholic way of reading Scripture is based on the faith that Scriptures weren’t merely a random jumble of books by various authors gathered together by some Church bureaucrat in the Fourth Century, but that the Holy Spirit inspired all of it, so that we can use texts from one book to illuminate our reading of others.

What Christ tells us in the Gospels about the end times is that “no one knows the day or the hour” (so for the life of me I can’t figure out why people keep listening to people who claim they do); that it will “come like a thief in the night;” that in the meantime, we should, like the wise virgins, “keep oil in our lamps,” “be sober,” and “stay alert,” for when the time comes, a man on his roof won’t have time to come down and go inside. There’ll be no time for grabbing one’s coat or packing up a few nice things for the trip. When it’s time to go, it will be time to go.

Beyond that,

we should live our lives, caring for our children, planning prudently for the future, finishing our little projects, and doing all those things that we can do to be “provident” in the image of the God in whose divine providence we participate.

And yet at every moment we should also be asking ourselves the ultimate . . .  question: If Jesus were to return right now, and I were to be asked to give an account of my life and my soul, what would I want the Lord to find me doing and thinking about?

Good advice.

Sermons of Holy Week

Not for attribution

Heard a two-finally sermon on Easter Sunday. That’s one where the preacher says “finally” twice, a number of paragraphs apart, raising hopes with the first one, dashing them with the second. Here’s a rule: Never say “finally” twice in the same sermon.

I did not time this sermon, so have nothing to report in that respect, though I am sure it broke another rule: Keep It Short, Father. I did not time it because of my Lenten resolution not to time sermons any more.

I broke it, however, on Holy Thursday out of terrible habit, in the case of a visiting Jesuit — with bracing results. He went a mere 11, at the most 12 minutes. I might have sung Alleluia two days early if I did that sort of thing.

Good man this Thursday preacher! Not only for his brevity but also for his single, clear message: pay attention more to…

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Decline & fall of a sermon-time doze

I was neither flummoxed nor gobsmacked when the preacher tossed off a reference to “Captain Grimes in Decline and Fall” this morning.  I was, however, wakened from that pious semi-slumber that too often attends sermonizing.

Of the Roman empire? I wondered, distracted from my fascination with the family of mother, father, and seven kids aged an estimated six months to 10 years old in the pew in front of me.

No, I quickly decided.  Decline and Fall as by Evelyn Waugh.  Said and done.  Without explaining, as in saying, “I was reading a novel the other day called Decline and Fall, by the English Catholic writer Evelyn Waugh, and in it he said . . .”   Blah, blah, and blah.  What you hear in your average parish.

So it goes.  Point he was making would not have been lost, however, on the listeners who got not the reference: Captain Grimes enuntiated the wild “liberal” claim that freedom (and contentment) lay in doing whatever one wants to do, wherever, at any time.  Didn’t work that way for him in the novel, my priest said, going on to point out what should be obvious but isn’t: things don’t work that way.

So.  I was out of my reverie and on my way to a contented half hour or so of doing what I wanted to do, where and when I wanted to do it: hear the rest of mass and let the mystery of it wash over me, not to mention an edifying drama in which two young parents worshiped on Sunday in the company of their seven perfect youngsters.

Not bad, and I had only to walk a half mile to find it.

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