Cultural Glimpse

Enjoying diversity

Saddam vs. King of Saudi Arabia

My trip to Iraq in 2000 where I celebrated Easter with my relatives

My trip to Iraq in 2000 where I celebrated Easter with my relatives. Here we are having a nice picnic in Mosul

A week ago an Iranian student emailed me. He was angry that I had written something negative about Saddam. He called Saddam a hero. I was surprised, not because he likes Saddam (there are many people who do). I was surprised because he’s Iranian. His country was at war with Iraq for nearly ten years.

I thought about the trip I took to Iraq in 2000, how safe Iraq was during that time. I thought about the honor that the Saudi King’s death is receiving, and the discrepancies and double standards in politics. I thought about the following facts:

Saddam

  • Protected Christians and encouraged women to wear western clothing (women were not veiled in Baghdad and those few who were only covered their hair)
  • Received the keys to the city of Detroit in 1980 after donating substantial amounts of money to a church in the city.helping build Chaldean churches
  • Credited with creating one of the strongest school systems in the Middle East.
  • Iraq won a UNESCO prize for eradicating illiteracy in 1982. Literacy rates for women were among the highest of all Islamic nations, and unlike most Middle East school systems, Iraqi education was largely secular.
  • Hated Osama Bin Laden
  • There were no terrorist groups inside Iraq while he was in power
  • He did not gas his own people (CIA officer Stephen C. Pelletiere, the agency’s senior political analyst on Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, wrote in a New York Times article that Saddam Hussein has much to answer for in the area of human rights abuses. ”But accusing him of gassing his own people at Halabja as an act of genocide is not correct, because as far as the information we have goes, all of the cases where gas was used involved battles. These were tragedies of war.” He also wrote that these facts have “long been in the public domain but, extraordinarily, as often as the Halabja affair is cited, they are rarely mentioned.”

Saudi King

  • Permitted over 400 terrorist groups to exist in his country
  • Locked up four of his daughters into dark and suffocating rooms since 2002
  • Allowed beheading of citizens for crimes like apostasy and adultery
  • Prohibited movie theaters, social mixing, music schools, gyms for girls and Valentine’s Day
  • Prohibits women from traveling without permission or driving a car
  • Bans other religions: twelve Filipino Christians and a priest were arrested while attending a service in a private home, in October 2010. They were verbally charged with ‘blaspheming against Islam” and cordially banned for life from Saudi Arabia (quiet deportations are a new tactic of the religious police – it avoids the media scrutiny that heavy-handed arrests generate).
  • Allows anti-American hate speeches in their mosques

John of God

John of God

I had an interesting and wise visitor come over for lunch. As we sat over a meal of zucchini stew and red rice, Reverend Barbara told me stories of her several trips to Brazil where she went to see John of God at work.

John of God, a Catholic, is an unconscious medium and healer who sees over 1000 people a day, free of charge. It is estimated that he has treated, either directly or indirectly, up to 15 million people during the past 40 years. He has cured malignant tumors, made a blind person see, and the lame suddenly walk. Yet he always says, “I do not cure anybody. God heals, and in his infinite goodness permits the Entities to heal and console my brothers.”

Reverend Barbara recounted the story of John of God’s childhood and young adulthood. In the past, he was persecuted by the church and government authorities as a result of this gift. That did not stop him from his mission and he continued to help anyone who asked him for help. In the end, he gained the respect and acceptance of high-profile politicians such as the president of Peru and the mayors of assorted Brazilian towns who protected him and allowed him to continue to use his gifts to heal people.

I asked why she thought the church saw him as a threat.

“They think it goes against the Bible’s teachings,” she said. “But the Bible had books that talked about incarnation and women having leadership roles. Those books were ultimately not included in the Bible.”

Not included. You see, there was an editing process to the bible that today continues – with mainstream media and publishing outlets. Gary J. McDonald describes it best in his article Why Christianity Rejected Reincarnation:

Who created the New Testament? Was it Jesus? Was it His apostles? Was it God? The answer is none of the above. The first Christian emperor of Rome, Constantine the Great (285-337 AD), in the year 325 AD called together the First Ecumenical Council (a religious council) which consisted of the five main churches at the time to determine which opposing viewpoints concerning Jesus’ teachings would constitute religious doctrine. Hundreds of writings by a wide range of authors were considered and voted on. Yes, voted on! A number of writings received a majority vote while many other books, some with opposing viewpoints, were subsequently excluded. A few of the more noteworthy texts that did not make the cut include The Gospel of Mary, The Gospel of Thomas, and The Acts of Paul.

As additional ecumenical councils met over the centuries, certain words or sentences contained within the Bible were altered or deleted; in some instances, whole sections were removed. Many of the translations from Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek (the original languages of the Bible) to other languages were incorrectly translated and as a consequence, the wrong meanings were applied to them. Those that believed in ideas or texts that contradicted the decisions made by the councils were called heretics and faced excommunication from the church. Ecumenical Councils over time determined what was to be considered religious doctrine and what wasn’t. Many scholars believe that the Fifth Ecumenical Council (553 AD) deleted most verses addressing reincarnation from the Bible. But why? The reasons are simple. The church elders wanted the general populace to believe that it was only through the church and its elders could anyone communicate with God or ever hope to reach heaven. This kept all power within the church versus within the people themselves. And since the elders were men, this kept women at a subordinate level as well.

As we finished our lunch and were enjoying tea with clotted cream and date syrup, Reverend Barbara casually brought up a powerful point. “Jesus said whatever I do you can do the same and better, which means we’re capable of healing as well. If Jesus is telling the truth, if he was not lying, then why aren’t we doing what he says?”