What Has Constantinople to do with Mosul–or Facebook?

Since I started this blog on July 9, 2017, replacing Mahdiwatch, I’ve tried to make good on its description as encompassing “culture, geopolitics and religion”–and of course focusing on Islamic eschatology (my academic area of expertise) whenever that topic revealed itself in the news. But today marks the first time I can adduce recent venues in which I opined on all three, AND zero in on Islamic eschatology, in one fell swoop.

Culture: On May 29 the inestimable Pete Turner’s “Break It Down Show” covered social media bias against conservatives.  He interviewed me and the co-founder of Wikipedia, Dr. Larry Sanger. I discussed my shadow-banning on Facebook (leading to my quitting that platform entirely), and the clear pro-Islam tilt in social media.

Geopolitics: On June 5 I was interviewed by Kip Allen on KFUO radio (St. Louis)–the flagship station of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (my denomination).  The program was “World Lutheran News Digest” and the specific topic was “Aftermath of the Fall of Constantinople.”

Religion: On June 2  the crowd-sourced, online analytical shop Wikistrat published my article “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi–Back from Occultation,” in which I analyzed what his reappearance means, and what future directions ISIS might take.

Tertullian

Here’s the guy whose line I plagiarized for this blogpost title.

“Making Gondor Great Again!”

Númenórean News Agency 

Ruling Steward Press Conference: “Making Gondor Great Again”

Lótessë 20, 3017 Third Age

The Steward of the Kingdom of Gondor (@SOTKOG) held an hour-long press conference earlier today.  Denethor II dealt with four key topics. He first defended his foreign and immigration policies.  He then rejected collusion charges. Finally, Denethor denounced “Elven social media discrimination.”  

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The ruling Steward dismissed critics of his Easterling policy.  He acknowledged the Easterlings’ military build-up.  But he went on to say “no matter how many battle wagons they build, Gondor’s technology will win out, if war comes. It matters not if they can make their wains run on time.” A journalist from Gondor Defence Weekly pointed out that many of the Kingdom’s weapons systems were centuries old.  Númenórean steel bows, in fact, are Second Age technology.  Denethor replied that his “huge” military increases would soon fix that. Furthermore, he continued, “we stand by our alliance with the people of Dorwinion, disputing Easterling territorial claims on the Sea of Rhûn.”  As for Gondor’s trade imbalance with the Easterlings, and their tariffs on Western products, the Steward vowed to respond in kind.  “Easterlings exploit cheap Balchoth labor to undercut our Gondorian workers. This must stop.”

Denethor then fielded questions about his opposition to undocumented workers from the southern border.  “Stop with the euphemisms,” he thundered.  “They’re illegal immigrants, many of whom are  bad people. All Haradrim are not saints.”  The Steward noted that, in fact, the rulers of Umbar were doing nothing to stop caravans of ‘refugees’ from Far Harad coming to Gondor’s borders. Also, the “Black Númenórean” Party, headquartered in Umbar, has been trying to “reclaim” southern Gondor for many years, claiming we “Northerners” stole their land.  (He also reminded the press corps that “Black Númenóreans” refers to their ancestors’ alliance with Sauron, not any racial slur.) This group is pushing a virtual invasion, claimed Denthor.  He also quoted Madril, advisor to his son Faramir, that “some thousands more come every day.”  “If that’s not a crisis on our southern border, then I don’t know what is.” Also, new migration laws are before the Gondorian Council.  “Chain migration, especially by invaders wearing chain mail, will no longer be tolerated,” said the Steward.

When asked whether his total ban on Orc immigration was racist, or at least speciesist, Denethor replied “Have you not seen those guys? They’re bad hombres. If we let them in, we’ll soon have the same problem as Rohan: Orcs roaming freely across our lands—unchecked, unchallenged, killing at will.  Plus, in case you hadn’t noticed, they’re not even human.”  My policies are “making Gondor great again,” said Denethor.  “You in the media just won’t admit it.”

Did he still expect allies to increase defense spending? Denethor’s elder son Boromir stepped forward to field that question.  “Yes!” Why? Because “by the blood of your people are their lands kept safe.” Boromir revealed that he would soon be leaving for a top secret NATO (Northern Arda Treaty Organization) meeting in Rivendell, assuming he could find the place.   “One does not simply walk into Imladris,” he reminded the press corps.  At that Council, called by Master Elrond, Boromir planned to press the Elves to “pull their own weight” and “stop free-loading on Gondor’s back.”  “It’s time the Eldar spent as much of their wealth on defense as on hair products and harps,” the Steward groused.  Key human ally Rohan, with its large commitment to heavy cavalry, remains immune to the same criticism.  And Denethor brushed off questions about King Théoden’s alleged infirmity, noting that “by all accounts his chief advisor, Gríma Wormtongue, is an able man and working with our ally Saruman the White—or, as I still like to call him, Gunpowder Man.”

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Haradrim “undocumented workers,” along with oliphaunt beasts of burden, moving into Gondorian territory. 

Veteran Minas Tirith Palace pool reporter Fomentor, son of Fulminatrix, badgered the Steward to answer charges of collusion with Mordor.  He replied “I don’t care what MSNBC [Mouth of Sauron National Broadcasting Company] claims. That never happened.  Yes, I am well apprised of the Enemy’s forces and their movements. But counsels may be found that are neither the webs of wizards nor the haste of fools. I have in this matter more lore and wisdom than you deem.” When pressed to explain the source of this amazing intelligence, the Steward replied “Do you think the eyes of the White Tower are blind? I have seen more than you know. I didn’t need Sauron’s help to become Steward. And my policies have been tougher on him than any other leader’s in Middle-earth. “  Denethor also pointed out that the Mithrandir Report, which the White Council had commissioned, had cleared him of any wrong-doing—although he was still unhappy with his younger son, Faramir, for his attachment to Gandalf the Grey making him, in effect, a “wizard’s pupil.”

In the last few minutes of his press conference, the Steward denounced what he called “Elven discrimination” against Men using the palantíri (the crystal balls given to Númenor by the Elves in the Second Age)  Although denying that he had access to a functioning one, Denethor noted he suspected that both Sauron and Saruman, as well as the Elves of the North, had been using such in recent years.  And in his long study in the library of Minas Tirith, he had found records indicating these Elvish devices were incredibly biased against Men in terms of usage and types of information sent and received on them.  In particular, traditionalists of both Gondor and the lost northern kingdom of Arnor had been singled out for exclusion, unable to post messages of which the Elvish censors disapproved.  Denethor said he would thus propose a magical device conference to examine this question.  Men and Elves would be invited; but also Dwarves, whose “never trust an Elf” attitude might prove useful.

Just as he was about to exit, Denethor fielded one last question. This was about rumors of the finding of Sauron’s One Ring and its being hidden in a northern region known as “the Shire.”  The Steward scoffed at this idea. Should the Ruling Ring ever resurface, sending it for safekeeping into the hands of a “witless halfling” would be folly.  Rather, it should  be “kept hidden dark and deep and not used unless at the uttermost of need.”  But this was all conjecture, Denethor stated—in fact, a pipe dream.  “Leave that sort of delusion to Gandalf, whose love of the halfings’ leaf has clearly slowed his mind.”  And with that, the Steward stalked out.

(Discussion About) God Is In The Radio

I’ve lost count of how many radio interviews I’ve done over the last decade or so.  Usually I am asked to opine on some aspect of Islamic history relating to modern terrorism, but thanks to my 2005 article “Beheading in the Name of Islam,” I’ve (rather unfortunately) been pegged as an expert on that specific dreadful topic.  Dr. Bill Bennett had me on his “Morning in America” show to discuss it, before the show went away (here’s the link via Hugh Hewitt and “Townhall”–I start at 28″ in).  “BBC 3 Counties” radio also interviewed me, back in 2015, regarding Islamic decapitation. The late Alan Colmes also had me on, mainly to argue about it–but FNC finally removed the link.

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No, I don’t get this dressed up for radio interviews.  Or do I?

The two stations that have brought me on the most times are KNUS AM 710, Denver and KFUO AM 850, St. Louis.  Regarding the former, a number of hosts have interviewed me for their shows–but by the far my most appearances have been on “The Peter Boyles Show,” which is an early morning one out there.  Perhaps some time this summer I will get around to providing links to the dozens (at least!) of times Peter let me opine.  But today I’d like to do so for the 22 times I was interviewed on KFUO, which is the flagship station for my own denomination: the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod:

March 3, 2012: Studio A, hour two: “Burning Qur’ans

June 16, 2012: Studio A, “Crusade v. Jihad

June 30, 2012: Studio A: “Is Islam Winning?”

September 14, 2012: The Bible Study, hour two: “General Info about Islam”

September 15, 2012: Studio A, hour two: “Attacks on US Embassies in Libya, Egypt

October 20, 2012: Studio A, hour one: “The Libyan Consulate Attack

November 19, 2012: The Bible Study, hour two: “General Info about Islam

December 1, 2012: Studio A, hour one: “The Morsi Power Grab in Egypt

August 18, 2013: Studio A: “Mahdism, Eschatology and Pew Data

August 17, 2013: Studio A: “Anti-Christian Violence in Egypt

February 2, 2013: Studio A, hour one: “John Brennan, the CIA and Islam

April 20, 2013: Studio A, hour two: “The Boston Bombing

May 25, 2013: Studio A, hour two: “The Murder of a British Soldier by Islamic ‘Radicals‘”

September 14, 2013: “The Syrian Civil War and Islamic Eschatology

October 19, 2013: Studio A, hour two: “The Battle of Vienna and the Reformation

October 20, 2014: Faith’n’Family: “The Appeal of Islam

April 30, 2016: World Lutheran News Digest [WLND]: “The Crusades

October 26, 2016: WLND: “Translating Arabic to English” [on Islamic theological terms]

August 23, 2017: WLND: “Eclipses and Islam

May 30, 2018: WLND: “US Embassy [in Israel] in Jerusalem

April 3, 2019: WLND: “Media Silence on Christians Deaths

May 1, 2019: WLND: “Attacks on Places of Worship

By the way: “God is in the Radio” is a hard-rock/metal song by Queens of the Stone Age.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The One-Eyed Man Is (Still) King: President Trump’s Policies Toward the Islamic World

On Saturday, April 27, I spoke before a metro Atlanta conservative group, the Madison Forum.  My topic was how President Trump is dealing with the Islamic world in four areas: Muslim immigration to the US; allies in the Middle East; ISIS in particular; and counter-terrorism in general.  The title of my discussion is a riff on a long blogpost I did last fall on the administration’s National Strategy for Counterterrorism.

Here’s the link to the 38-minute talk (my Power Point screens are embedded in the video).

And here’s the link to the 25-minute Q & A session which followed.

Pay no attention to the large painting of a rooster on my left.

MeMFrooster4.27.19

I’ve also been on radio even more than usual lately, commenting on the fire at Notre Dame, the jihad on Christians in Sri Lanka, and the mass beheadings in Saudi Arabia.  Peter Boyles, who has an early morning radio show in Denver (710 AM KNUS), has had me on four times in just the last two weeks:

Off With Their Heads,” April 30

Sri Lanka and ‘Easter Worshippers‘,” April 23

Easter Attacks,” April 22

Notre Dame Burns,” April 16.

 

 

 

 

Reformed Islam Finally A Reality! ISIS and “Islamists” Refuted Once and For All!

For over a decade now, the official Islamic affairs arm of the Turkish government, the Diyanet, has been examining “hadiths”—sayings of the Prophet Muhammad—in order to filter out the spurious and violent ones.  (A recent proposal to do the same in Saudi Arabia has never gotten off the ground.)  Thanks to massive funding by the ruling AK party, Turkish imams have been combing through these sayings, and back in 2013 published the first multi-volume set of these updated hadiths.  Among other modernizations, amputation of a thief’s hand was said to be only fit for 7th century AD Arabia, not the modern world.

But according to Dr. Abu Hamid Ghazzali, director of Diyanet, another program—which funding came directly from the office of Turkish President Recep Erdoğan—has also been running simultaneously alongside the hadith one.  Its existence was kept secret because of the much more sensitive nature of the project: to examine problematic verses of the Qur’an, and if need be to find a way to excise them from the Muslim holy book.

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This picture of Dr. Ghazzali, Dr. Kadizade and Dr. Sabbah was surreptitiously taken during a break in the committee’s long deliberations. 

Dr. Ghazzali, who holds a doctorate from al-Azhar in Cairo but is also a renowned Bektaşi Sufi, pointed out in an exclusive interview that the Sufis, or Islamic mystics, have long held that the Qur’an can be interpreted allegorically, not simply literally.  This perspective was brought to bear after long debate on the issue among Turkish scholars and vociferous opposition from the conservative imam Dr. Mehmet Kadizade.  Besides Sufism, Ghazzali pointed out that Isma’ili Shi`i scholar Hassan-i Sabah was brought in to advise and render opinions. And the reform committee even consulted the works of prominent Western scholar of Islam Christoph Luxenberg—a daring proposition, as Luxenberg’s works maintain that the Qur’an was originally written in Syriac, not Arabic, and that it is confusing and garbled due to bad translations into Arabic in the early days of Islam.

The major “exegetical paradigm” which this reform committee assumed was to question the centuries-old Islamic concept of naskh. This “abrogation” doctrine held that any of Muhammad’s revelations received later in his life trumped those from earlier; so since the ancient scholars had determined that, for example, Sura al-Tawbah was one of the last sent by Allah to Muhammad, its directive to attack non-Muslims (v. 5, in particular) overruled other, earlier-received passages promoting peace.

The Turkish reform committee approached the Qur’an differently, assuming that all sections are of equal divine authority.  Thus, Sura al-Baqarah:62, which states that Jews and Christians (and a more obscure sect, the Sabians) will be righteous before Allah and have no need to convert, is of equal weight with less tolerant verses.

It is clear why the committee had to meet in secret for years, as this sea change in the interpretation of the Qur’an will rock not just the casbah but the entire Islamic world.  Dr. Kadizade has already resigned his position and is rumored to have fled to an ISIS enclave in southern Libya, whence he has vowed to lead the world’s true Muslims against this Satanic heresy.  Dr. Ghazzali has sent a preliminary copy of the first volume—entitled The Prophet Motive: Islam for the Modern World—to Pope Francis I, in order to garner the pontiff’s approval and foster ecumenical dialog between the world’s two largest religions.  Ghazzali also said that he hopes for full reconciliation between Christianity and Islam to take place no later than 2076 AD/1500 AH, using this “reformed” Qur’an and a rumored new  holy book by the world’s largest Christian denomination, to be called the Orange Catholic Bible.

Goose-stepping Morons Banning Books

Yesterday TheStream published my first article: “Mohammed’s Koran: The Book Amazon Won’t Let You Buy” (a review thereof).  This site is conservative, both politically and theologically; and in terms of the latter, aims to run content that evangelical Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox Christians can rally behind.  Look for more offerings over there from yours truly going forward.

Since I open the piece by mentioning Dr. Henry Jones, I’ll take the liberty of posting a pic of me from Halloween 2017 attired as the famous archaeologist’s father:

MeasHenryJonesnoumbrella

A Fab Forum on Hoda Muthana and Ilhan Omar

“Mean Hoda Muthana thought she was a woman/But she was an ISIS bride/All Yazidis around her said she’s got it coming/’Cuz shari`ah love she’ll hide.”

My apologies to the Beatles, but something about the greatest band in rock history compels me to use their songs to introduce two radio interviews I did this week:

one on the aforementioned Muthana, suing to get back into the US after consorting with various and sundry ISIS husbands;

and another discussing Democrat Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and her repeated slams of Israel and Jews.

Despite Nancy Pelosi repeatedly telling  Omar you can’t do that, the latter continues to act naturally as a Muslim, articulating ages-old Islamic biases against adherents of Judaism. Perhaps the voters of Minnesota’s 5th district, and the Democrat House leadership, should have known better before they, respectively, elected Omar and placed her on the Foreign Affairs Committee–but they didn’t, and so can be treated to several more years of she said, she said.  Will Pelosi and Schumer be consigned to fixing the hole created in their party by Omar’s constant appeals to revolution?  As long as she tells Jews “baby, you’re a rich man” and accuses them of never giving her their money, it’s doubtful that the party can come together.  But sometimes it’s hard to tell whether Omar wants to go back to the USSR–or to Mecca.

I will mercifully stop now….but only because it’s time to go to the range, and happiness is a warm gun.

Ottomanband

The Beatles from one of their little-known gigs in Istanbul: John, Paul, George, Ringo and Clarence-bey. (From Wiki, public domain, “Ottoman Classical Music.”

Where’s Your Muslim Messiah Now?

For the last several months I’ve been a thespian trapped in a man’s body–playing the rogue, Shakespeare-imitating highwayman named Robert Middleton in a local community theater production of  the Bard-era comedy Thee & Thou.   Now that that’s over, and I’m on spring break from university teaching this week, ’tis time to get back into the blogging saddle–with a devil’s brew of Islamic topics from the first quarter of 2019.

Back in January,  the Turkish government began cracking down on a man claiming to be the Mahdi: Iskender Evrenesoğlu. (But he got off easy, compared to the two other major self-styled Turkish messianic leaders: Fethullah Gülen, who long ago had to flee the country, and Adnan Oktar, who has recently been arrested.)

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Pictured: Not Evrenesoğlu but Sultan Suleyman I  (from Wiki’s open source entry on Ottoman sultans)–but he does sport a similar turban, almost as large as Uranus, which you can see here.  

As I observed on this site last year, President Recep Erdoğan–who is vying for the leadership of the entire Sunni world–loathes these pretenders to the throne of Islam; and well he should since, as one of Erdoğan’s staunchest defenders said just a few days ago, “Erdoğan has earned the title of Caliph.”

Where does this leave the only overt caliph in the world today–ISIS’ Ibrahim al-Baghdadi? Out in the cold–and not just as far as the Turks are concerned, either: last month reports surfaced of discontented jihadists trying to stage a coup against their self-styled leader.  Maybe President Trump’s tweets–but more likely his unleashing of the US military–had something to do with the decapitating caliph’s demise. So if al-Baghdadi is not dead yet…he soon will be.

Meanwhile, over in the fantasy land part of the Islamic world–the Islamic Republic of Iran–a senior ayatollah recently reminded us infidel Great Satanists that “until we turn the White House into a Hussainiya [Shi`ite Islamic center], we will continue to shout ‘Death to America’,” after which “the one global and just rule of the Mahdi will be established.” (And in case you’d forgotten: the 12th Imam al-Mahdi will arrive in a spaceship,  and institute sex romps in which his followers will be allowed to carouse with numerous infidel slave girls.  Who won’t want to party with the unHidden Imam?!)

This being Ash Wednesday, as a Christian I must state that my answer to Chief Wiggum’s question is: nowhere in Islam–but in the crucified and resurrected Jesus Christ of the New Testament.

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The true Messiah: Christ from the upper level of Hagia Sophia Church (Haya Sofya Mosque), Constantinople (Istanbul)–from my 2008 trip there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ottomans and Albums and Trump–Oh My!

My plans on a grand, retrospective final 2018 blogpost having been shattered by Christmas trips and stage rehearsals (I play the Elizabethan highwayman and aspiring thespian Robert Middleton in a local production of Thee & Thou), I shall finish this year with a whimper, not a bang–by posting this hour-long interview of me discussing Ottoman counter-insurgency, Trump’s counter-terrorism strategy, classic rock albums, and my Middle-earth book(s).  I’ll be back with longer takes in early 2019!

And just for fun, here’s a pic of me as Dr. Henry Jones at Halloween (which allowed me to exclaim “JUN-yah!” more than once):

MeasHenryJonesnoumbrella

It’s Only Rock and Roll–But I Like (To Judge) It!

My friend Pete Turner hosts an Internet radio program, “The Break It Down Show.”  Pete did time in both Afghanistan and Iraq, and often opines about geopolitical and cultural matters. But he also regularly does a segment called “Album Fight,” in which Pete and a panel of “judges” weigh the respective merits of two recordings.  He’s asked me to participate four times–despite my thin qualifications, which consist primarily of lots of experience listening to rock, and being opinionated. But it’s been a helluva lot of fun, and I thank him for roping me in!

Here are those album fights:

Lennon v. McCartney, “Imagine”v. “Band on the Run

Aerosmith v. Boston (eponymous debut albums)

Led Zeppelin v. Led Zeppelin, “Houses of the Holy” v. “IV

U2 v. The Doors, “All That You Can’t Leave Behind” v. “The Doors” (debut album)

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U2 playing in Cleveland, OH, summer 2017, on “The Joshua Tree” tour. My wife and I were there. (Picture credit: me.)