Wednesday, December 26, 2007

More Law

I feel like law, Jewish, sharia, or other, is a topic that comes up way too much on this site. Law is not the spirit of a religion but simply a result of it. If everyone were to follow the spirit perfectly, the law would be unnecessary. If there were no theft, murder, adultury, greed, jealousy, or hate, there would be no need for laws. I should be addressing the spirit underlying the different religions. However, as all religions have basically the same intentions and I'm not trying to differentiate between goals but between authenticity, I have to analyze what I can. Since much of the Bible addresses law, I'll analyze it. I'll just save spirit for another day.

Jesus said:
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished (Matthew 5:17-18).

This quote, more than any other that comes to mind at the moment, worries me. If Jesus did not come to change the law then why don't Christians adhere to the stricter set of laws followed by Judaism? I've heard and read that Jesus' sacrifice fulfilled the "until everything is accomplished" clause of the above quote but that seems to completely ignore the "until heaven and earth disappear" clause. It seems to me from the current state of the Earth that there is still much to be accomplished. I could easily accept that Jesus' second coming with accomplish all that there is to be accomplished. He will raise the dead, separate good from evil, and bring about God's kingdom here on Earth. At that point, all will be living in God's paradisial utopia where there is no law because no law is necessary. Everyone loves and respects each other and praises God perfectly. At that point, not only is Jesus' job complete but the current heaven and earth will have disappeared to be replaced by the new Eden.

It would be more convincing if Jesus had, after his resurrection, then begun ignoring the Mosaic laws but I know no mention of Jesus or his disciples doing so until later when the apostles began preaching to the Gentiles who did not follow Judaic law. I suppose it could be argued that Jesus had not completed his task at the time of the resurrection and did not do so until his ascension. However, the fact that the Mosaic laws held firm until conversion of the Gentiles began makes me question the validity of throwing away the Mosaic laws.

This didn't stop me from eating our Christmas ham this week. As I said, unless I convert, I'm sticking with Christianity, which means I drink wine and eat ham. However, these thoughts and questions are floating around my head through any of these questionable activities.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

At the moment I'm visiting my parents for Christmas. My siblings are here visiting as well so we're all together as a family, which is a blessing.

While attending church with my family this Sunday and again this evening for Christmas Eve, I've been hit by some pretty hard feelings. As I've mentioned in the past, should I convert, I expect the holidays and family events to be the hardest parts. I haven't converted, the family events are wonderful, but the holiday is still a little tough. Truthfully, my eyes watered and I almost cried a few times while at church at the thought of leaving behind everything that I've believed for so many years.

I've decided that Islam appeals to the mind whereas Christianity appeals to the heart. The thing I like about Islam is that the contradictions of Christianity appear to be accounted for; there's no Trinity to boggle the mind. Obviously, faith is required but it is much more straightforward and well laid-out. However, when attending jumuah, I've never once had the feeling of spiritual communion with God that I often have while attending church services.

Jumuah consists of a lesson, prayer, and fellowship. They're informational and effective; you learn, you pray, you be friendly to your neighbors; in the prayers I assume the usual praise, concerns, and thanks take place but it's not a very joyful atmosphere. Church, on the other hand, has all of the above but adds spirit. Besides just listening to the readings and the sermon, the congregation participates in the sacraments and gives praise through song. The entire package is a much more spiritual experience than jumuah. I'm sure there are also spiritual Islamic events, I've been told that hajj is a very powerful experience, but jumuahs, at least the ones I've attended, aren't.

Spirituality is an important part of religion but it can definitely go overboard. However, religion lacking spirituality is simply dry rules and regulations; it's law. I can't accept a religion without spirituality but, on the other hand, there needs to be substance behind the spirit. Both have substance but at the moment I'm having trouble unraveling Christianity's. I'm able to understand Islam's substance but can't find the spirit.

In any case, I need to wrap it up for the night so Merry Christmas or Happy Eid!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


Now that Christmas season is upon us, I'm having recurrences of guilt about my exploration of Islam. I feel like I'm betraying Jesus, whom I've come to love deeply throughout my life. From the earliest years of my life I'd been attending Sunday school, singing "Jesus Loves Me," celebrating his birth, mourning his death, and rejoicing at his resurrection. He's been my Lord and Redeemer and I kind of feel like I'm just dropping him for the new guy.

Obviously, there's no need to feel guilty if Jesus was actually the Muslim version of Jesus rather than the Christian version. If Jesus was only a prophet and not the earthly incarnation of God, then as God's prophet he wouldn't want to be worshiped. This, of course, brings us back to the root of the problem... was Jesus simply a prophet or was Jesus the Son of God, sacrificed for our sins, resurrected on the third day?

Even though Easter is the most important holiday in Christianity, Christmas is always the season that most reminds me of Christianity. Although Christmas has been overly commercialized and many people go through the Christmas season without ever giving a thought to the reason for the holiday, the decorations, food, and music are a constant reminder to those who are conscious of the reason. The rest of the year it's easy to lose sight of God. Most of society is secular and one has to work to keep God in focus. During Lent it's a little easier because fasting is a constant reminder; I'm sure Ramadan is the same. However, during Christmas, secular society hangs out all sorts of reminders of God and Jesus.

More important than the community traditions are my family traditions, which are probably pretty common among American families. What makes them important is that they are my best memories. As a child, I spent my everyday with my immediate family but the holidays were also spent with my extended family, which made them special. We'd get dressed up, have nice meals, go to candlelight vesper services at church, and gather together to open presents and play games. Now, that my siblings and I are adults and scattered around the country, the holidays are one of the few times I see my family each year and I just keep adding to my best memories. Without Christmas, I wouldn't have any special time with my family. I could still visit but the chances of all of us being together at once is slim without a special occasion as a catalyst. Even if it did happen, the magic of Christmas would be missing.

Truthfully, without family, this whole process would be much easier. It's not that my friends won't question me; I wouldn't be surprised if a few are absolutely horrified. However, I don't hold them on the same level as my family. I've gained and lost friends in the past but one can't just make new family. My parents brought me into this world and raised me. They made me who I am and gave me so so much. Growing up with my siblings, they were always my closest friends. Of course we fought plenty but now they're my closest friends.

However, my relationship with God comes above my relationship with anyone else so, if it comes to that, it's a sacrifice I'll have to make.