Thursday, September 30, 2010

Love Home Group and Baptism service

Was nice to have the LOVE home group take charge of the worship service last Sunday and I look forward to the FAITH home group doing the same this coming Sunday.
Always a refreshing change! And the bonus was it was also a baptism service.

Finally Greg and Su leading the worship! Praise God!

Almost a full music team which was an added bonus!

Shuren saying a few words before his baptism

"MJ" Moon Ho as usual had us in stitches with his natural  humour which was also as usual a moving honest sharing.

One of the best parts of being a pastor - I get to be a baptizer!
Baptizing Shuren

Baptizing MJ

It has been a while since we had people come up to sing during Sunday service - especially men! So this was really nice

LOVE group women were as usual the string singers

Am glad Li-Ann got such good shots like this. Their first communion. Something special that brings back memories for me!

Right-turn rule to change but not before World Cup (NZ Herald)

Finally! Though the problem will be that I have gotten used to the NZ give way rules and will have to relearn. Hope there are no additional accidents due to this transitional change ...

Right-turn rule to change but not before World Cup

A big advertising campaign will prepare drivers for a change to the idiosyncratic right-of-way road rules, but the change will not come until after the Rugby World Cup.
Transport Minister Steven Joyce yesterday confirmed that give-way rules for turning vehicles would be brought into line with the rest of the world by early 2012.
He said the Government did consider bringing the law change in before next year's cup, which is expected to attract up to 85,000 visitors to the country, many of whom will be driving and will be unused to the quirky rule.
"But it just isn't practical to bring it in in time. You've got to have time for the rule change and the consultation which is prescribed in legislation. You would end up doing it right on the World Cup."
The rule, which dates back to the late 1970s, says vehicles turning left at an intersection have to give way to right-turning traffic coming towards them. The change flagged this year and confirmed yesterday by Mr Joyce will mean left-turning vehicles will have right of way.
For the rest of the report, go HERE

Malay-speaking Christians spurn Jala’s ‘Yahweh’ overture (Malaysian Insider)

It is sad that the "name of God" is a cause for tension among Christians. Bu then again, it is about theology and convictions, and I am just as "stubborn" as the rest in my view on this :-(

Malay-speaking Christians spurn Jala’s ‘Yahweh’ overture

By Debra Chong
September 29, 2010
Jala’s personal appeal for his church mates to concede the “Allah” dispute has ruffled feathers. — file pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 29 — Cabinet minister Datuk Seri Idris Jala is heading the Barisan Nasional (BN) government’s efforts to convince Christians to use the word “Yahweh” instead of “Allah” in Malay, but he is facing stiff resistance from within his own church.

Putrajaya has dispatched special envoys — including Jala, a Christian — to parley with his community and seek a peaceful end to the “Allah” court dispute, amid Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s overtures to world leaders urging pragmatism in dealing with extremists.

The Malaysian Insider understands, however, that the move at home may have caused a rift within the Christian community — in particular Jala’s own Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB) church — with the English-speaking, urban and middle-class members on one side and the poorer, rural churchgoers who mainly use Bahasa Malaysia in their worship, on the other.

 Sources disclosed that the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) had last month tried to sway his SIBKL church mates to adopt a less hard-line approach in what word to call their God.

“Idris Jala said he’s willing to use ‘Yahweh’ instead of ‘Allah’,” recounted a man who had attended the three-day church conference from August 26 to 28 with Idris.

“He made quite a few people there unhappy with his statement,” observed the man who requested anonymity as he was a church leader and considered Jala a friend.

“But he added that it was just his personal opinion,” the stout man said.

“Actually, Idris, he’s not a politician. He’s only a man doing his work. He is genuine… he has the heart for the country, but [there are] a lot of ‘hanky-panky people’ around him,” the man added, in defence of the Sarawakian pastor’s son.

Go Here 
for the rest of the article

Baptism, a Call to Commitment (Henri Nouwen)

Baptism, a Call to Commitment (Henri Nouwen)
Baptism as a way to the freedom of the children of God and as a way to a life in community calls for a personal commitment. There is nothing magical or automatic about this sacrament. Having water poured over us while someone says, "I baptise you in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit," has lasting significance when we are willing to claim and reclaim in all possible ways the spiritual truth of who we are as baptised people.

In this sense baptism is a call to parents of baptised children and to the baptised themselves to choose constantly for the light in the midst of a dark world and for life in the midst of a death-harbouring society.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Quick notes on baptism (Pastor's Notes)

Just posted up this Sunday's Pastor'as notes (for the 26th September bulletin)

Not on Jeremiah. Taking a short break as this Sunday we will be having a baptism service so it's just some quick notes on baptism for the sake of guests. To read, click HERE

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Random Facebook related humour

Sad that this is probably true for many people

I wonder if this will ever get off the ground. Would be interesting if it did. as a website actually exists but is basically a shell.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Garden and Orthodox Study Bible ramblings

Woke up very early this morning full of energy. Surprised myself and got a lot of little things done multi-tasking.

Looking forward to planting seeds today. Figured out a simple way to neatly start my seed germination indoors so I get a longer season and more consistent yield despite my limited garden space.
I could of course buy "plantlings" but that would be for me costly ("Mr. Stingy" speaking .... :-)) but more importantly it is more fun and thrilling to see things grow from seeds. This season I hope to collect seeds from my own crops for next year's garden. I am getting more ambitious and more "Kiwinized".:-)

Been reading the Orthodox Study Bible and enjoying it. I think the articles in it have been every educational for me and gives me a good introduction and summary of the Orthodox perspective. Most things I have been exposed to before but it is nice to have many things systematically available in easy access.

Lots of stuff resonates with me (though not all). For example - the view that salvation is seen as NOT LIMITED to a point in time. "Salvation is not a one dimensional event, a past tense occurrence with merely philosophical or "positional" implications for the present." I do agree it's a journey! It's a life time experience. This is something I slowly became aware of /. suspicious of (?) (hard to find the right words)  during my early years of theological education (back in 1989 during my 3rd year of my B.Th) - which resulted in me exploring and decision to do my B.Th thesis on John (on the meaning of salvation) in response to then then controversial book by John Mac Arthur on the "Lordship Salvation" debate.

It was for me a difficult position to hold to especially since it meant being seen as "heretical" as the accepted position in all the circles I served in was(and I suppose for most, probably still is) "once saved always saved" (i.e. The Four Spiritual Laws version). Of course as the years passed by I have been more bold to speak up and defend my position. Enough on that ...

I also like the way the Orthodox Christians teach on how we should read the Bible. Their approach is:

1. Read the Bible in a spirit of obedience!
How we need to recapture this!!

2. Interpret Scripture through and in the Church.
This needs a little clarification. I am not comfortable with "the church" telling us what we should believe based on tradition (though again I have a high regard to tradition - as in a biblical definition of course) BUT we do desperately need to get away from reading and interpreting the Bible as "isolated individuals". I love this sentiment ...
"We read as members of a family, the family of the Orthodox Catholic Church" (I am not going to explain and qualify this statement as I will end up dying a death of a thousand qualifications :-)

3.We need to have a Christ centered approach to reading Scripture.
I think this needs to be recaptured - no offense to the good that the biblical theology approach brings.
Typology as a method of course will have its pitfalls but I have been slowly re-evaluating my neglect (due to my rejection of what I thought in the past as many examples of bad exegesis).
Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old TestamentBut Christ is indeed the heart of the Bible so I think my reading of Scripture needs a strong re-emphasis on this (especially when I read the OT). I recently bought the Commentary of the NT use of the OT to help me better see the connections.

4. The Bible as Personal

Now this I like and yet I tread with much trepidation (basic exegesis / eise-gesis concerns). This is often misunderstood and therefore misapplied. BUT I think that the approach by the Orthodox Church has helpful great safe guards / guidelines.

a. Reflect on Scripture as sacred history
- it is historical faith and this fact has always resonated with me

b. Observe the particularity, the specificity of this sacred history.
- this includes areas which I have always deemed important such as geography, history and cultural practices and I am glad that in my recent series on parables, I have a lot of good feedback as I add these to the mix to help bring clarity to the text.
"If we really love the Bible, we will love genealogies and details of dating and geography." 

c. After all this, apply it directly to ourselves
"We are to say to ourselves, 'These are not just distant places, events in the remote past. They belong to our own encounter with the Lord. The stories include me."

Ok, enough for now. And yes, I am also reading the Bible text too :-)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Ramblings on messed up rhythms, God's grace, Daredevil and Orthodoxy!


This week has been another unpredictable one for me. Sunday did not start well as I had a low grade fever on Saturday night, which meant I did not sleep well. Sunday being Sunday was busy and I looked forward to my Monday off. Sunday night, I slept well and work up early on Monday and had a fun morning doing stuff related to gardening. But then by late afternoon started having headaches and that irritating low grade fever. Suddenly I had very little energy. My eyes could hardly open and even lifting my hands to hold up a book / comic book :-) was cumbersome. So I actually skipped prayer meeting! (Yes I know! It's something I hardly ever do, even when I have a cold!) I figured it is best to just sleep so I wake up on Tuesday morning refreshed and well, knowing that I had a busy week ahead.

So I slept early (think by 8 PM I must have been asleep). But as life would have it, I woke up at around 9.30 PM because someone texted me! (I keep my mobile on 24 / 7 it is usually with me) *Sigh* For someone like me, when my sleep is disrupted, I find it hard to go back to sleep. So I ended up working on my sermon till I got sleepy and then went back to bed .... then had all kinds of dreams, woke up a few hours later with a dry throat, coughing and unable to return to sleep. So I did some more work (sermons, devotions, Bible study preparation, reading), then back to sleep and then suddenly up bright and early ...

I did warn you that this may be a boring post ....To try to cut a long story short, this situation kept repeating itself all week. Tired, feeling under the weather, resting but not able to rest fully, then feeling better and re-energized, but quickly feeling "down" again etc. I was feeling rather stressed as I had people I planned to visit, a couple of meetings that required me to be very focused and clear, a number of meetings to prepare for, sermon to complete, a special devotion to write and present, my weekly Pastor's notes to write, and extra ferrying of my boys around (personal as well as ministry related). Stressed because when I am doing a project, I hate having to stop until I have reached a certain stage of progress. If I am too often interrupted, then my rhythm gets really off and it is hard to recapture the momentum (i.e. it is so much harder and takes so much longer to finish in a satisfactory manner). And I hate it if I feel that I have not put in enough effort to get a job done well.

But strangely everything has worked out well - the odd sleeping and waking hours were actually productive and I realized this last night when I got up at around 3 AM (again irritated throat and cough). There was a strange calmness too coming in today knowing I had some appointments but sensing that this too would be taken care of. (Indeed ... as another one got cancelled earlier this morning!)

So interestingly I have spare time to take it slow today, to reflect (and blog) and catch up on some internet links I have put aside due to busyness. I realized too that I even got to do learn some interesting things that is directly unrelated to my ministry activities! God is good and gracious in how he works things out. A number of planned appointments were cancelled (out of my control and I could not substitute at the last moment). A super busy week is ending up in a more relaxed pace.

What is interesting to me is that I can see some of my seedlings starting to burst forth from the ground  - some flower seeds, chillies, coriander, long beans .... Will blog on that another day.

Here's two unrelated things that got "squeezed in" due to messed up rhythms in between "work".

 This DAREDEVIL graphic novel was a great read! Kevin Smith, the author , from what I read is a successful Hollywood script writer who moved as a "big fish in a big pond" to be a "big fish in a small pond" (i.e. a comic book writer).  Move over Frank Miller?

I have always liked the Daredevil character even if he is considered a 2nd stringer superhero. What I liked about this particular story is that it revolves around Matt Murdock's faith (or faith struggle) in God. While messy and not a model to follow, his faith is nevertheless shown to be an important part of trying to deal with the conflicts in his life.


The story was interesting as it had to do with the immaculate birth of a child (touted as the return of the promised Saviour of the world), He is called upon to both to protect from the anti-Christ as well as to kill the child whom he is also told is the anti-Christ who will bring upon the destruction of the world.

His lie detecting ability is of little help as he sense both sides telling the truth! The child's mother truly is a virgin and evil people are indeed trying to kill her and the child ... yet the other party that warns him of the child and how she (yup it's a girl) will corrupt and ruin the lives of all  she touches seems to be also telling the truth - and evidence piles up. He even attempts to kill the child, and then changes his mind at the very last second to rescue the child.

Important characters from his life gets involved and the story is incredibly gripping and moving. But that's another story ...

I love how the story doesn't make fun of Christianity and in fact has great biblical themes, and even a story cum parable based on Pascal's Wager! (Pascal's Wager is one of my all time favourite philosophical challenge and I have even used it in a sermon!)

And how does Daredevil figure out his dilemma as to whether this child is truly the "Christianity's Redeemer" who has returned?  I love the way the author brings this to a climax ... using the words of a demon which I think is simply hilarious and has something important to teach Christians! (hey, it is comic book fantasy and I need to add that in real life the rule of thumb is that demons words are not to be trusted) But read this cool dialogue (the bold parts are my emphasis). Dr. Strange is involved in this scene helping Daredevil and Mephisto is speaking ... (you need to sift through the truth and the lies of this particular dialogue)

"Why is one so mighty as myself brought here to instruct as a Sunday School teacher? Have (sic) your Christian friend read his Bible -- more specifically the Apostle John's Book of Revelations, when the so called Son of God returns, presumably to end his Father's floundering exercise ...the blunder known as mankind ... it won't be as he came originally. In a rare fit of good sense, he is prophesied to return not born as a lowly woman, but as judge, jury and executioner - as a lion not a lamb, as that which will end your world and deliver the pure to his father ... and the rest to us. Now I'm no literary major, but I'd say the text is indicating a far different manifestation of the so called redeemer than as a human infant, wouldn't you, my inquisitive friend of Strange?

And then the though box of Daredevil ... "My God ... he's right, biblically, the Saviour is to come back as he left - a man!

Okay, that's enough spoilers BUT I think it is great that despite his ability to sense if someone is telling the truth, daredevil is stuck -as someone can believe sincerely he is telling the truth but still be wrong. He gets "his revelation" and realizes he now can discern what to do based on objective fact - the words from the Bible! 

Okay, just got a call confirming that I have got a substitute appointment to go to! :-) So looks like the Orthodox Study Bible bit will have to wait! But basically in between my sleeping times I have been enjoying reading this!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Jeremiah 3: Are we taking our “marital relationship” with God and our spouses for granted? (Pastor's Notes)

Just posted up this Sunday's (19th September) Pastor's Notes. To read click here.

I will not try to be too ambitious and just select one thought from each chapter or I may never complete Jeremiah! :-) 5 parts to chapter 2 was probably way too much ...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Quick thoughts on "Remaining Faithful"

This couple of paragraphs (below) from Henri Nouwen is much needed. An extra reminder to me which is a "serendipitous coincidence" as one of the key themes that is jumping out in my Sunday sermon's preparation is that Jesus' focus for us is to be faithful not successful. I know that too often this "being faithful" and not "successful" focus is used as a cop out for lack of growth and even declining church attendance and commitment. Also related of course to the misuse of the "remnant theology" found in the Bible as if to say that a dying church is an automatic sign of faithfulness!

But when understood and applied correctly, I think it is an important biblical concept that will result in "success" (as a by product). Of course the "success" may not be the kind of success that is sought after.

Oh, the passage I am working on and referring to is Luke 19:11-27 (The Parable of the Minas / Pounds) . Not something I have the time to blog on yet as my priority is to work on and finish my Sunday sermon preparation! :-) I wonder if I should use this Nouwen quote on Sunday .... haven't mentioned him for months so should be ok! LOL Don't want people to misunderstand and think I am a Nouwen junkie :-)

Remaining Faithful (Henri Nouwen)
Many people live with the unconscious or conscious expectation that eventually things will get better; wars, hunger, poverty, oppression, and exploitation will vanish; and all people will live in harmony. Their lives and work are motivated by that expectation. When this does not happen in their lifetimes, they are often disillusioned and experience themselves as failures.

But Jesus doesn't support such an optimistic outlook. He foresees not only the destruction of his beloved city Jerusalem but also a world full of cruelty, violence, and conflict. For Jesus there is no happy ending in this world. The challenge of Jesus is not to solve all the world's problems before the end of time but to remain faithful at any cost.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Jeremiah 2: God’s legal charge against Israel (part 5): Irrational Idolatry (pastor's notes)

Just finished my Pastor's notes for the 12the September 2010 bulletin.

For CE work this week, now only just two Bible studies and  my Sunday sermon to prepare complete.... :-)

To read, click HERE

Ramblings and a nice video of a possible new superstar magician

Had a miserable night of pain last night (abdomen and half my back?!). This has messed up my rhythm and schedule. Have a pile of papers sorted out into things to do in front of me (actually all around me) and am almost feeling overwhelmed. But thanks be to God for amazing grace yet again as things are starting to flow despite feeling so tired and aching all over.

Nice to get an email highlighting this performer on America's Got Talent (he made t he finals) and had to check out his performance. Nice!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Gardening update - planter box

Don't want to blog on the earthquake and the many after shocks.. Grateful for the miracle that no one was killed though there is going to be a lot of long term hardship for thousands of people.

My planter box has been built. A good 6 hours of hard work but also fun work by SAM the BUILDER, assisted by my son Andrew and myself. Of course most of the time I kept out of the way and did weeding and smaller stuff as I am a bit of a klutz and did not want to mess things up.

God was really nice to us and stayed the rain till we were done (weather report was for rain)

It's done but not ready for planting as I now have the headache of getting soil. Headache as my back yard is not easily accessible to a truck that brings in dirt. Dread the prospect of having to manually carry many dozen trips with a wheel barrow. Already I have mild aches in my thighs from a lot of squatting yesterday! :-)

Sam with one of his many tools, especially important as he had to make my planter box  octagonal in shape as he needed to modify my sand pit.
My messy sand pit after Sam removed the original borders

After measuring the various sides (they were not equal in length) he made the first layer of walls with the foundation posts. Section by section ....

The basic frame once completed. Andrew learned a lot and is here putting in the additional nails. I love how nice it looks with the 2nd layer of planks fitting so neatly on tip of the first.

Amazing simple tools - forgot what it is called now but it's a tool to help nail in nails that have to be nailed at difficult angles. So many tools!

Forgot the name of this saw too. An added touch by Sam to make the box look much nicer. He trimmed the posts at an angle. Nice.

Really appreciate the little touches by Sam. Small cut to make sure my planter box seat fits perfectly as it sits very close to the fence that borders my neigbour's property.

The seats a nice touch as it means I can sit and weed etc and also just sit and enjoy my garden plants. Again Andrew was in charge of the additional nails.

The final product. If you look closely you can see that the planter box looks slanted and "out of shape". Actually, it is not. My original deck is actually slanted! But the planter box is perfectly level. We checked using that measuring tool. This one I know the name!! ... just slipped my mind :-(

Monday, September 6, 2010

Friday, September 3, 2010

This political young gun is a spark of fresh air and hope

This political young gun is a spark of fresh air and hope.  I think her father can learn a lot from his daughter :-)

'Princess of Malay traitors' gives Perkasa royal lashing

By Patrick Lee and Stephanie Sta Maria

FULL REPORT KUALA LUMPUR: Umno leaders labelled her father Anwar Ibrahim a traitor to the Malay race, and now the same title has been bestowed on Nurul Izzah.
Adding a royal touch to their rebuke, the Malay right-wing critics labelled her as the "princess of Malay traitors" and filed a police report over a recent article she wrote.
The bone of contention was her interpretation of Article 153 in the Federal Constitution which touches on Malay rights.

According to the Lembah Pantai MP, the Article only referred to the "special position" of the Malays as opposed to "special rights".

However, Nurul lambasted her critics, especially Perkasa, and stopped short of calling them ignorant for not being able to broach the subject in a rational manner.

Speaking to reporters after filing the report with the Dang Wangi district police headquarters this afternoon, Federation of Malay Students' Union secretary-general Zambry Mohd Isa had warned the MP not to question the  Article.

Also taking a swipe at her was Perkasa leader Armand Azhar Abu Hanifah, who said: "It (Article 153) is not supposed to be discussed outside of Parliament."

He warned that questioning the Article could spark off tension in the country.

Calling Nurul a fledgling MP,  Armand advised her to consult her senior colleagues on what issues should be discussed "before opening her mouth".

"This is her first term. Perhaps she is not well-versed or is politically immature regarding Article 153," he said.

Perkasa Wirawati chief Zaira Jaafar, who was also present, cautioned Nurul against "stirring a hornet's nest".

"As an MP, she should not say such things," she said, adding that Nurul was not acting like a Malay.
Nurul: Shameful and pathetic

In an immediate reaction, Nurul had described the police report against her as a "shameful and pathetic" action which justified the prejudice towards groups such as Perkasa.

"There was a reason why I wrote the article in two languages. So that it would not get lost in translation. But obviously these groups did not take the time to read it thoroughly. Their reaction is a testament to their failure in arguing in a rational manner on the issues raised.

"It also shows that our prejudice towards these Malay right-wing groups are justified. I invite you for a debate and this is the way you respond? It is shameful!" she told FMT.

Refusing to be rattled, Nurul vowed to continue her efforts to ensure that ordinary Malays were given access to the truth.

Launching a scathing attack on Perkasa, she said the movement led by Ibrahim Ali did not represent the masses and was drowning the voices of many Malay nationalists with intellectual depth who could argue rationally.

"I don't think Perkasa even understands what it is fighting for. I don't think Perkasa understands the plight of the ordinary Malays trapped in poverty.
"I do because I deal with them everyday in Lembah Pantai. It makes me so angry that these hypocrites are politicising the issue to dominate the political landscape and benefit economically," she said.

"I want my race to progress. I consider myself a progressive Malay. But when I raise important issues essential to progression I am labelled a traitor. This is exactly what happened to my father as well.

"This is a scare tactic on Perkasa's end. Many Malays share my views but are being forced into silence because Perkasa is perpetuating a culture of fear," she added.

Gardening update

When the weather is good and time permits, I have been doing gardening over the last couple of weeks. It's been fun and therapeutic. So much to learn.

Salad plants that survived winter. These grew from seeds that came out of one my original salad plants and I transferred them over a month ago to this container. The seeds were not planned :-) Bonus from God!

Reorganized this planter box as the plants planted last year all over in different places have grown new shoots and I have sufficient to replant and reorganize. The various flax plants were removed last year. The scrawny looking plant near the middle is a blueberry bush.Hope it makes it and I get to at least see lots of green in summer.

Reorganized and replanted too

Planted flower seeds for this planter box. Some I planted about 10 days back so I hope to see some green shoots next week.

Over a year ago I bought just ONE strawberry plant. I have been looking after this one plants and it not only made it survived a harsh winter outside, it thrived. Even now it has flowers! I transplanted it twice and last week divided up the plant and replanted it into rows of strawberry plants. Hope that I can manage the birds and other predators when they start to fruit as I decided to plant it in the front of my house!

These are two of three chilly plants that survived the winter frost. Note these chilly plants has been fruiting the whole year round. Nice - though the chillies while fresh look like half dried chillies due to the cold.

Some other plants that made it. My lemon grass plants - I had one small stalk which grew and I separated  into three lots. Two survived. And my mint plants - the every hardy mint. My shallots!! And my "daun kesum"- another hardy plant that is thriving.

My sand pit where I have been experimenting with my vegetables. I hope to clean it up in the next few days so I can construct a proper planter box next week.

In this garden bag I have my potato plant. I transferred it from my sand pit and it is very exciting to see the many tiny baby potatoes stuck to it. So it has been growing quietly. Planting in a bag idea was given to me by a Kiwi magician friend. The idea is to let add earth every time you see the leaves coming out so that eventually I have layers of potatoes in a nice tall bag.Looking forward to seeing how many potatoes I can get from my one original potato.

Timber that my friend Sam the builder cum chef helped me buy. He is going to teach and help me transform my sandpit into a planter box. I am looking forward to this project. So much to learn.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Views on "Moderate" Islam

Interesting read ... (Wall Street Journal). Anwar Ibrahim has an opinion .. but I have to admit being a skeptic in the area of and think Anwar is practicing political "double-speak" (taqiyya (dissimulation)) as I do not see him really loudly condemning Islamic violence and terrorism in line with his comments and "challenge".

Yet Muslims must do more than just talk about their great intellectual and cultural heritage. We must be at the forefront of those who reject violence and terrorism. And our activism must not end there. The tyrants and oppressive regimes that have been the real impediment to peace and progress in the Muslim world must hear our unanimous condemnation. The ball is in our court.

A Symposium: What Is Moderate Islam?

The controversy over a proposed mosque in lower Manhattan has spurred a wider debate about the nature of Islam. We asked six leading thinkers—Anwar Ibrahim, Bernard Lewis, Ed Husain, Reuel Marc Gerecht, Tawfik Hamid and Akbar Ahmed—to weigh in.

Editor's Note: The controversy over a proposed mosque in lower Manhattan has spurred a wider debate about the nature of Islam. We asked six leading thinkers to answer the question: What is moderate Islam?
•Anwar Ibrahim: The Ball Is in Our Court
•Bernard Lewis: A History of Tolerance
•Reuel Marc Gerecht: Putting Up With Infidels Like Me
The Ball Is in Our Court
By Anwar Ibrahim
Skeptics and cynics alike have said that the quest for the moderate Muslim in the 21st century is akin to the search for the Holy Grail. It's not hard to understand why. Terrorist attacks, suicide bombings and the jihadist call for Muslims "to rise up against the oppression of the West" are widespread.
The radical fringe carrying out such actions has sought to dominate the discourse between Islam and the West. In order to do so, they've set out to foment anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism. They've also advocated indiscriminate violence as a political strategy. To cap their victory, this abysmal lot uses the cataclysm of 9/11 as a lesson for the so-called enemies of Islam.
These dastardly acts have not only been tragedies of untold proportions for those who have suffered or perished. They have also delivered a calamitous blow to followers of the Muslim faith.
These are the Muslims who go about their lives like ordinary people—earning their livings, raising their families, celebrating reunions and praying for security and peace. These are the Muslims who have never carried a pocketknife, let alone explosives intended to destroy buildings. These Muslims are there for us to see, if only we can lift the veil cast on them by the shadowy figures in bomb-laden jackets hell-bent on destruction.
These are mainstream Muslims—no different from the moderate Christians, Jews and those of other faiths—whose identities have been drowned by events beyond their control. The upshot is a composite picture of Muslims as inherently intolerant, antidemocratic, inward-looking and simply unable to coexist with other communities in the modern world. Some say there is only one solution: Discard your beliefs and your tradition, and embrace pluralism and modernity.
Associated Press
The Ottoman-era Sultan Ahmed or Blue Mosque in Istanbul.
This prescription is deeply flawed. The vast majority of Muslims already see themselves as part of a civilization that is heir to a noble tradition of science, philosophy and spirituality that places paramount importance on the sanctity of human life. Holding fast to the principles of democracy, freedom and human rights, these hundreds of millions of Muslims fervently reject fanaticism in all its varied guises.
Yet Muslims must do more than just talk about their great intellectual and cultural heritage. We must be at the forefront of those who reject violence and terrorism. And our activism must not end there. The tyrants and oppressive regimes that have been the real impediment to peace and progress in the Muslim world must hear our unanimous condemnation. The ball is in our court.
Mr. Ibrahim is Malaysia's opposition leader.

For the other opinions and full article, go HERE