Respectfully, the Pope is Not a Muslim

A link on the Islamica Magazine website will take the curious religiously inclined websurfer to an open letter to Pope Benedict XVI, written in response to the pontiff’s impolitic and regrettable remarks given during a lecture at the University of Regensburg, Germany last September. I was impressed enough by the letter to send my thoughts to Islamica Magazine, who, I’m told, will publish it as a letter to the editor. Said letter, somewhat expanded and extended is published below. Given the Pope’s visit to Turkey this week, now seemed like a good time to share my thoughts. This piece also can be found on UPI’s Religion and Spirituality page.

As I read over the list of Muslim leaders who have signed the “Open Letter to His Holiness Pope Benedict XIV,” I cannot help but be impressed. I’m not familiar with all of the names, but many of them are recognizable to me, and I am privileged to have made the acquaintance of at least one of the signers, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf Hanson of the Zaytuna Institute in California. It is a extraordinary list. The only name I wish could be added is my own.

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Chestnut Polenta: Better Than Fruitcake

This piece was published on UPI’s Religion and Spirituality page on November 20, 2006.

I’m the kind of religious grump who spends way too much time during the year’s waning days grinding my teeth every time I encounter the secularization of the holiday season. I am offended because Santa’s toy-laden sleigh has replaced Mary’s womb as the bearer of the gift of Christmas. I’m even prone to rant over the secularization of Thanksgiving, which already is secular, but in my defense, when we sit down to a meal of turkey and all the trimmings, we should be giving thanks for more than football.

But I want this year to be different.

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A Pastoral Letter to Ted Haggard

This letter was published on UPI’s Religion and Spirituality Forum on November 13, 2006. It also aired on the “Perspectives” program on KQED FM in San Francisco that day. The bold print in the text is the part I added to the Perspective piece when I sent it to be published on the UPI Religion and Spirituality site. An audio file of my KQED Perspective is available at the end of the text, courtesy of my friend JJ Chacon.

Dear Ted Haggard,

In the wake of your recent ecclesiastical discipline, you have promised to place yourself under the direction of your fellow pastors during your season of rehabilitation. I am a pastor, but since I don’t expect you to ask my opinion, I’m writing you a letter instead.

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