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Giving the trumpet a certain sound

March 2006

Muslim Cartoon Strife

Cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet Muhammad published first in a Danish newspaper then in other papers around Europe and on the Internet have been at the center of protests, riots, destruction and deaths around the world.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) -- Pakistani security forces arrested hundreds of Islamic hard-liners, virtually sealed off the capital and used gunfire and tear gas Sunday to quell protests against caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.

Pakistan had banned protests after riots killed five people in two cities last week.

Elsewhere in the Muslim world on Sunday, demonstrators with wooden staves and stones tried unsuccessfully to storm the U.S. Embassy in Indonesia, while tens of thousands rallied in the Turkish city of Istanbul and complained about negative Western perceptions of Islam.

Troops patrolled the deserted streets of the northern Nigerian town of Maiduguri, where thousands of Muslims attacked Christians and burned churches Saturday, killing at least 15 people during a protest over the cartoons. Most of the victims were beaten to death by rioters. . . .

The cartoons, which have been reprinted by other Western publications, have outraged Muslims. But protests over the past three weeks have grown into a broader anger against the West in general, and Israel and the United States in particular.

Demonstrations have turned increasingly violent and claimed at least 45 lives worldwide, including 11 in Afghanistan during a three-day span two weeks ago and 10 on Friday in the Libyan coastal city of Benghazi. The Libyan riot outside the Italian consulate apparently was sparked by a right-wing Italian Cabinet minister who wore a T-shirt with a caricature of Muhammad. (“Pakistani Forces Seek to Quell Protests ,” Associated Press, Feb. 19, 2005

Although the U.S. Secretary of State said that Syria and Iran had fomented the protests and violence, the scope of the protests was surprising to Western societies where support for freedom of the press has led to tolerance of all sorts of insults to various societal values.

Inspired Commentary

It appears the term “culture wars” which has been applied to the efforts of the U.S. religious right to shape society might be applied in a larger setting to the culture divide between the Western and Islamic parts of the world. It is apparent that the later divide could be the source of great hostility and conflict.

And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.

All these are the beginning of sorrows. (Matt. 24:6-8)

Philippine Mudslide

A mudslide on Friday, Feb. 17, following heavy rains buried a Philippine farming village.

GUINSAUGON, Philippines (AP) -- Standing in a light drizzle, the handful of mourners didn’t know any of the 30 people laid side by side in a mass grave Sunday as workers began burying the few victims recovered since a mammoth mudslide wiped out this farming village.

Anyone who could have identified the bodies was likely under a carpet of muck up to 30 feet deep, and hopes all but evaporated that more survivors would be found.

Only about two dozen battered, dazed people have been rescued from the debris left by Friday’s disaster, which left some 1,800 people missing and presumed dead. (“Filipino Victims Buried in Mass Grave,” The Associated Press, Feb. 19, 2006)

Inspired Commentary

Massive natural disasters cause many to ask about meaning, perhaps as a way to cope with the discouragement that can be caused by thinking about the frailty of human life. One of the questions is, if there is a God, why does he allow this to happen?

The Lord “formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited.” Isaiah 45:18. That purpose will be fulfilled, when, renewed by the power of God, and freed from sin and sorrow, it shall become the eternal abode of the redeemed. “The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein forever.” “And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and His servants shall serve Him.” Psalm 37:29; Revelation 22:3. (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 67)

Ten Commandments Day

The group promoting “The Ten Commandments Day” has moved the date from February 5 to May 7 and named a new chairman of the Ten Commandment Commission, a nationwide grassroots coalition promoting Judeo-Christian values. The new chairman is Belarmino “Blackie” Gonzalez.

Gonzalez, president of Son Broadcasting Network in Albuquerque, New Mexico, will replace Dr. Myles Munroe, who has served with Commission founder Ron Wexler since the Commission’s beginnings in 2005. Dr. Munroe, who pastors a church in the Bahamas, will continue to work closely with the Commission as it prepares for the nationwide Ten Commandments Day celebration on Sunday, May 7th.

Gonzalez, a board member with the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB), said he has been struck by the amount of excitement generated by the Commission. “Ten Commandments Day is truly going to be a coast-to-coast celebration of our nation’s reverence for God,” he said. “America was founded as ‘One Nation Under God,’ and we are praying and working to see the heart of America once more return to that rock-solid foundation.”

Gonzalez said he has contacted many NRB member media outlets to garner support for the effort, and the response has been overwhelming. “Our nation’s religious broadcasters take very seriously their mission of encouraging and challenging their communities with a message of faith,” he explained. . . .

Wexler explained that because of the dramatic response for Ten Commandments Day, the date of the celebration has been moved from February 5th to May 7th. “We literally have not been able to keep up with the incredible response we’ve gotten over the last few weeks for our Ten Commandments Pins and information on Ten Commandments Day,” said Wexler. (Ten Commandments Commission Appoints Belarmino "Blackie" Gonzalez, New Chairman,” Religion News Service, Jan. 10, 2006)

Inspired Commentary

Inspiration suggests that efforts to promote God’s law generally are efforts in the right direction. Social justice is encouraged in the Bible. A problem in the present promotion however, is the denial of the specifics and spirit of the fourth commandment. Perhaps our readers can help the promoters see that issue more clearly.

There are not many, even among educators and statesmen, who comprehend the causes that underlie the present state of society. Those who hold the reins of government are not able to solve the problem of moral corruption, poverty, pauperism, and increasing crime. They are struggling in vain to place business operations on a more secure basis. If men would give more heed to the teaching of God’s word, they would find a solution of the problems that perplex them.

The Scriptures describe the condition of the world just before Christ’s second coming. Of the men who by robbery and extortion are amassing great riches, it is written: “Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.” James 5:3-6. (Testimonies v. 9, p. 13-14)

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