Sharm Al Sheikh: South Sinai, Egypt

Sharm el-Sheikh is an Egyptian resort town between the desert of the Sinai Peninsula and the Red Sea. It’s known for its sheltered sandy beaches, clear waters and coral reefs. Naama Bay, with a palm tree-lined promenade,is filled with bars and restaurants. Ras Muhammad National Park is a major diving destination, with marine life around the Shark and Yolanda reefs and the Thistlegorm wreck. tripadvisor.com

Photographs ©2017 B. Kraus. All rights reserved.

Moving Towards a More Tolerant Society

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I have managed, over time, to develop a courteous association and friendship with a young woman on social media. We have never met in person, although, from time-to-time, I think about her as I would my own adult daughter(s). I genuinely do care about her well-being and that of her family as they start a new chapter of their life in North America. We share a love for reading, writing, and history. We value the liberal democracies that we live in, and tend to look at modern culture, religion and politics from a moderate point of view.

Although we have grown up in remarkably different societies, we share a strong interest in understanding the world that we live in, including the desire to step out of the ordinary in order to truly understand the extraordinary. For a young woman, she possesses an incredible amount of wisdom and grace, pointing to many positive influences in her life including, perhaps, immediate family and friends. It is almost as though I know how she thinks and feels  – a kindred spirit as it were. We may not always agree on various aspects of modern culture, politics, and religion, but I value her directness, honesty, and that ever-so-British politeness.

I think that is what tolerance is all about – learning to listen to the points of view and perspectives of others without being dismissive and/or judgemental. It is when we genuinely care about the lives of others in a personal way, that the dividing walls of gender, race, religion, country of origin, politics, etc., come tumbling down.

I may have developed very strong convictions and beliefs in the religious and political arenas, but God help me if I neglect to LOVE another human being. Alas, this is where the rubber meets the road – loving others and exercising tolerance for individuals and whole societies that differ from our own.

There are many views of love and an equal amount of opinions on the subject. The love that I am referring to is something I am still working on – a work in progress, so to speak.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV

Recently, I read an excellent article, an opinion piece by Fareed Zakaria, published on CNN in June of 2016. Fareed could rightfully be considered as a moderate, who attempts to correctly differentiate between Islamic terrorists and ordinary Muslim people. Fareed, in discussing the current conflicts, asks the question:

How can we bring an end to this?

And then provides a succinct answer:

There’s really only one way: Help the majority of Muslims fight extremists, reform their faith, and modernize their societies. In doing so, we should listen to those on the front lines, many of whom are fighting and dying in the struggle against jihadis. The hundreds of Muslim reformers I’ve spoken to say their task is made much harder when Western politicians and pundits condemn Islam entirely, demean their faith, and speak of all Muslims as backward and suspect.

I tend to agree with him. Islam is not a stagnant belief system any more than Judaism and Christianity. Muslims around the world do want to reform their faith and modernize their societies. When one takes exception with Islamic terrorism, and works towards the peaceful coexistence of Jews, Christians, and Muslims in society, they are moving in the right direction. We may not concur on various elements of our respective faiths, but we can live in peace and mutual prosperity, demonstrating tolerance, respect, and love towards each other.

Utopianism you say? I know…I get a lot of flak from friends and foes alike when I publicly espouse the ideals of freedom of religion and conscience in society. Yes, I lean towards being an idealist who expects great things, not only in myself, but in others also. I hold on to the biblical concept that “we are our brothers keeper” wholeheartedly, and try to extend the same grace towards those outside of my own inner circle.

I am also a realist and truly understand, from my own life experience, how difficult it is for even like-minded people to mesh together in a continual peaceful coexistence. Nevertheless, if the Jewish and Muslim people of the Middle East could peacefully coexist for hundreds of years (before the tragic wars of modern times), there is hope for North American cultural, religious, and political plurality.

Fareed Zakaria said it best:

But if America is about anything, it is the idea that people should be judged as individuals with individual liberties and rights.

I agree with his sentiments. If that makes me a Liberal, so be it.

The Great Confusion: Part 2

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Christ crucified…a stumbling block?

In a previous post I touched on the subject of the human heart or soul as being the source of our actions, whether for good or evil. I also mentioned the theological concept that all of humanity has been separated from God through sin, i.e. we have all missed the mark of God’s highest standards for our lives, as individuals and as nations. Finally, I referred to the historical life and death of Jesus Christ as God’s way of reconciling Himself to all of humanity.

Continue reading “The Great Confusion: Part 2”

The Great Confusion: Part 1

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Tower of Babel. Image courtesy http://www.biblestudytools.com/

It is not difficult to understand the societies we live in when we look at the actions of individuals as stemming from the human heart or soul. All our actions stem from the desires of the human heart, both good and evil. A group of individuals is what makes up our villages, our towns, our cities, our provinces or states, and our nations. It is the corporate thoughts and desires of a group of individuals that also determines whether something good or evil will come out in our actions.

Continue reading “The Great Confusion: Part 1”

There is someone out there…

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©2017 Bruce Kraus. All rights reserved.

You won’t be popular as you step out of line

To befriend the lonesome slightly out of step with time

You see the world is full of people like you and me

But those who are alone are the ones we do not see

 

Show some compassion and reach out like a friend

You never know where this will end

I see tears of gratitude in my new found love

God sees their heart from far above

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

God…we will talk…just as soon as I finish being busy…

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This morning I woke up feeling a little out of sorts. My dreams were a bit of a mishmash of movies that I had recently watched and real life experiences all thrown together in a high-speed blender. The colours and seeming distortion of people and events was rather psychedelic almost like an impressionist painting.

I have learned over many years to pay attention to my dreams – no matter how bizarre they may be. I am certain that there is some sort of scientific explanation for our dreams and many old wives tales as to their meaning, nevertheless, I also believe that God can and does communicate to us through our dreams.

In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Acts 2:15 NIV

Continue reading “God…we will talk…just as soon as I finish being busy…”