Peace Train (Cat Stevens – Yusuf Islam)

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“Peace Train” was a huge 1972 hit by singer songwriter Cat Stevens (now Yusuf Islam).   He is actually Greek/Swedish and was raised in England and attended Catholic schools. Cat Stevens was one of the first “adult” musicians I loved when I was still in grade school, and “Peace Train” was one of my favorite songs from 1972.

I think there couldn’t be a better time to post this almost forgotten song, with the horrible things going on in our country (and the world) right now.   Cat Stevens converted to Islam in 1977 and now devotes himself to philanthropic and educational causes and promoting peace.  So much for Islam being a violent religion.  That’s a stereotype due to a few fundamentalist extremists within Islam.  There are loony fringes of all religions.  Christianity is not immune and includes its own kind of terrorists driven by hatred and fear, and they’re right here in America.

Here is what he said immediately following the September 11, 2001 attacks:

I wish to express my heartfelt horror at the indiscriminate terrorist attacks committed against innocent people of the United States yesterday. While it is still not clear who carried out the attack, it must be stated that no right-thinking follower of Islam could possibly condone such an action. The Qur’an equates the murder of one innocent person with the murder of the whole of humanity. We pray for the families of all those who lost their lives in this unthinkable act of violence as well as all those injured; I hope to reflect the feelings of all Muslims and people around the world whose sympathies go out to the victims of this sorrowful moment.

He wrote this about his religion:

In Islam there is something called the principle of common good. What that means is that whenever one is confronted by something that is not mentioned in the scriptures, one must observe what benefit it can bring. Does it serve the common good, does it protect the spirit, and does it serve God? If the scholars see that it is something positive, they may well approve of what I’m doing.

Cat also continues to make music but it’s an avocation now, something he does because he loves making music.  He has added Islamic music to his repertoire.

Let’s ride on the peace train!

 

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A culture of abuse.

It looks like these are the “official” attitudes toward women by fundamentalist Muslim men in places like Afghanistan.

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I realize not all Muslims believe this, just the most fundamentalist sector. It’s like they live in the 14th century. It’s been speculated they ARE living in the 14th century–Islam is a young religion, compared to Christianity, which held similar attitudes toward women during the Middle Ages. I can’t even imagine survival in such a culture.

Even people who are not psychopathic can embrace such attitudes if they are led to believe a certain group of people aren’t really human. In fundamentalist Islam, women are thought of as objects, not human, which justifies the men’s abusive treatment of them.

Serial killers and abusers in general do not think of their victims as human. In war, soldiers can be brainwashed into thinking of the enemy–even women and children of the enemy–as something other than human, and that justifies killing them. It was attitudes like this that led so many Germans to embrace Hitler’s beliefs about the Jews and other targeted groups, such as homoesexuals and the mentally deficient.

Which religion is the One True Religion?

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I came across a fascinating post over at Godless Cranium’s blog. Although I’m not an atheist, I always find his posts thought-provoking and he raises a lot of great questions. This one really got me thinking.

Until recently I’ve been agnostic, and I still have a lot of agnostic views. I don’t expect those to all change any time soon. But this week I decided to become Catholic. I know, I know, a lot of you are thinking, WTF? Why would you choose such an ancient, archaic, bloated religion that has a violent past full of hypocrisy, bloodshed and immoral practices such as people being bilked out of their hard earned money to get someone out of Purgatory? I have my reasons. If you’re interested in why I chose this faith over others, you can read the two posts I wrote a few days ago.

That being said, do I think the Catholic church is the “right” religion? Not really. It may be all wrong for someone else, but for a number of reasons, I think it will work for me. Catholics actually believe all Christians are going to heaven, and some non-Christians who do good works are going there too. I like that. But they still have their doctrine that holds that it’s much, much better to be a Christian, even a non-Catholic one, so a non-Christian’s chances of getting to heaven still aren’t very good.

Muslims believe they are the only ones going to heaven. Allah will save a faithful Muslim but everyone else, including all Christians, will go to their version of hell. What if they are right? I mean, they could be, right? They are as convinced as any Christian that their Allah is the One True God and believing anything else is heresy.

Closer to home, many fundamentalist Protestant denominations think only members of their particular denomination will go to heaven. There are about 30,000 Protestant denominations. Which one is right? Then of course there are the offshoots of Christianity that don’t really fit into traditional Christianity–Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists and Mormons come to mind. Without exception, they all believe their faith is the one true religion and only their Bible is the correct one.

There are the non-Abrahamic religions too–Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism and other eastern religions, as well as Wicca and various forms of paganism and shamanism, not to mention Scientology and Santeria. Even though they don’t worship the western God and don’t use any version of the Bible, their adherents all think they’re right. Who is to say they aren’t?

Who is right? Is anyone right? Maybe the atheists are right and there is no God or afterlife at all.

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None of us will know for certain what will happen until we die. If we are just annihilated at death we will never be surprised there is no God waiting for us at the pearly gates because there will be no consciousness to draw such a conclusion. Perhaps reincarnation is what will happen. I can imagine many evangelical Christians being gobsmacked when they realize the Buddhists were right all along. Who’s to say? There are some very good arguments in favor of reincarnation. There are even some Christians who don’t think the idea of reincarnation can’t be reconciled with Christianity.

My head is swimming.

Maybe what happens is whatever we believe will happen. If you’re a good Christian and believe you will go to heaven, then better start shining that halo. If you’re a miserable person who thinks you deserve fiery torture, then to hell you go. If you worship Allah and believe you have pleased that God, then expect Arabic to be spoken in heaven. If you’re a Jew you will find the promised land. If you’re a Buddhist get ready for Nirvana (but be ready for a few more thousand earthly lives first). If you’re a Scientologist, L.Ron Hubbard instead of Jesus will meet you at the gates. If you’re an atheist you may be surprised you aren’t annihilated after all, but what to do then? It might be nice to be free of an earthly body, but you’ll have to decide on some sort of afterlife for yourself. Maybe if you don’t believe in anything you’ll spend eternity floating around aimlessly here on earth. Maybe ghosts are really confused atheists who have passed on.

Is it possible everyone is right and there is no one true religion? Because if only one of them was right, wouldn’t there be a way for God to show us slow-witted humans which one was the One True Religion, while identifying the rest as false? Answering “The Bible answers this” doesn’t cut it, because so many groups of Christians can’t seem to agree. Even those that use the same Bible can’t agree on how to interpret many of the passages. Then of course there are different translations of the Bible and not all are exactly the same. Some even include extra books (Catholics and Mormoms) that are considered heretic by other Christians. And of course, the Muslims can counter any Christian argument by smugly stating, “It’s all here in the Q’uran.”

It’s enough to make my head explode.