Archive for March, 2012
Mexico has a very long tradition of making delicious meals which guests remember long after they have left the place. Even as far back as the Aztecs, the Mexicans had been enjoying huge foods of a variety of styles, with one feast served exclusively for the Rulers containing around three hundred dishes in a single day. This fierce love of food, and plenty of it, is still at the heart of many of the los mejores restaurantes en mexico, but modern cooking also reflects the nation’s days of success, disturbance and variety. From very simple food stands on the streets of the capital city, to big, modern restaurants helping a variety of different culinary styles.
Majority of the best eateries in Mexico have now transported away from the old Mexican dishes of the past, which are rather turning back to European cuisine for their inspiration. Which will most often confuse travelers to the region, who are expecting to be served Tacos and Chili Con Carne, but rather finish with food cooked in the Basque custom. However, it should not arrive as any surprise to those who know the country well, as Mexico has always prided by itself in being a melting pot of cooking types, and just now French, Spanish and Italian dishes are regarded to be exciting.
Perhaps the most ordinary dishes cooked in Mexico’s modern diners are those that reflect the heritage of the Mexican people, reflecting Spanish, Italian and Argentine tastes in baking styles, though there are even other styles including Moroccan and Japanese. These restaurants are designed to give the tourists with the option to sample the unique tastes of the world, without ever having to leave the ease of Mexico City. The locals wish to combine their foods, and eat regularly.
There are even plenty of places further ways from the capital that shall even offer you with the chance to eat at some of the best eateries in Mexico. Few of these locations is Beja California, that has a number of places to dine based across its access to the sea.
The Cook of the Merotoro, for instance, offers a number of seafood dishes, as well as very best traditional cooked meat fare. Any other locations give the residence for other kinds of diners, so that you can always be able to explore somewhere great to eat, no matter how far you stray from the capital. Accomplishing to eat in these locations is a privilege that only guests to Mexico restaurantes shall ever take pleasure in, so you should enjoy your moment while you have the chance, and not fritter away any time.
There are various other markets for an individual to choose from when pursuing the opportunities connected to financial investment. Some investors seek the simplicity of stock investing whereas others turn to the more predictable nature related to futures trading. If the probabilities connected to the Forex trading system appeal to your investing interests there are a lot of resources you can depend on so as to enhance these results. One of the greatest assets a person may take advantage of is seen with the options provided from forex trading software and the lot of advantages which accompany this resource.
Primary Advantage: Effective Training
One of the greatest mistakes private investors do while it involves the foreign exchange market is to neglect the demand of education and simply invest based on a limited understanding. This is the leading cause of why numerous individuals have failed with investing in the past. The primary benefit presented from forex trading software is the flexibility to achieve access to efficient training tools to improve a person’s information of the market. This will increase your investment outcome as you easily understand elements like exchange worth, market trends and different factors.
Secondary Advantage: Proper Analysis
When it involves finding real success in any financial market an individual should have the resources necessary to analyze each investment. The secondary advantage provided by Futures trading software can be seen with the analytical tools you can currently utilize to evaluate currencies. It can prove tough for someone to do this on their own and relying on the thoughts of analysts does not at all times guarantee success. With a software program intended to account for many parts affecting currency worth you may have access to a tool providing you the greatest chance for success.
Third Advantage: Greater Understanding
Through the combinations of effective training and appropriate analysis you will be able to access the third advantage of obtaining a greater knowledge. When accessing your forex trading software you will now be able to select the most effective currencies to pursue so as to provide you with the greatest opportunity for financial success. With this improved understanding you will be in a position to acknowledge trends or determine patterns that can be invested into and even areas of the market that ought to be strictly avoided.
The three benefits seen with effective training, correct analysis and greater understanding just scratch the surface of the opportunities available from investment into forex trading software. There are a number of different financial risks concerned with any kind of investment therefore be sure you have access to each of the tools needed to help improve your own investment efforts.
The success of a company is often based upon 3 basics. These components include how you lay the foundation of your business, how you market your business, and the way you support your business. Any weaknesses found in any one of these elements may significantly impact your businesses capacity to generate revenue over time. While the foundation of an organization and also the promoting of a company are often major priorities, one area of concern often ignored is how you support your business. One of the best options to impacting such a concern is noticed with the potential of sales training programs.
No business can be successful in the long term unless they use the business structure of owner, managers and sales professionals. Such a order of hierarchy may be discovered in each successful business and assists to breakdown the many important roles needed to determine long term success. This pyramid of trust represents the support a company requires so as to strengthen other elements of business like structure and marketing. Of course weakness in this resource of support could considerably damage your company, introducing the need for sales training programs.
From these programs you will find out a way to improve the capability of your staff on every level of your company pyramid. The first area of opportunity found is seen with the potential of enhancing the selling skills of your major staff. These individuals are the primary line of defense while it involves generating sales as they directly interact along with your consumers. The capacity to impress customers and close sales shows how your company could build revenue and establish repeat business in the future. The lessons of those programs will enhance your sales team so that all these advantages become available to your business.
The next resource of opportunity you can capture from the solutions of sales training programs exists with improving the talents of your managers’. Your managers represent the core of your business when it comes to maintaining long run business success. These individuals manage everyday tasks, facilitate to stay your staff in line with company policies, and represent an image of inspiration for your associates. While weakness is found in this section of the business pyramid, it could cause loss sales and even impact the ability your primary associate have in making regular sales.
Training is a resource available to each company, it could help to drive sales and encourage business success. While your company is trying to move beyond its current restrictions, discover how training may enhance your sales management teams’ selling skills and improve your manager’s capability to lead.
Many website owners know the necessary role for which ranking plays in driving traffic towards your website. They spend many hours trying to get the perfect tags and the proper search engine optimization to make strong website rankings, simply to be at risk as Google includes a huge range of search engine software designed to detect flaws along with your website and would just grade you on what is great.
It is popular among website owners that no-one really knows the specific boundaries that Google has set so as to rank websites, but they do know the way to improve their rankings and how you deal with this part of the site could determine the final ranking of site in search engines.
There are a few things that you may do in order to improve the ranking of site in Google, Yahoo, or any similar search engine. First you may want to regularly carry out a ranking check on your site or have somebody else do it on your company’s behalf. You can be surprised about how many people fail to realize that their website may easily fall within the rankings from one month to another and if you wish to keep a high ranking of site in search engines, you may have to produce usual monitoring of your keywords, tags, links and backlinks.
Before you even start opening your online store for business, you require to do several things that would help improve the later ranking of site. One such element is the naming of pages. Not many individuals use the big description box for the page, but it may be essential. Google usually uses the title description of the page as an ‘anchor’, therefore any links which have ‘untitled’ or ’2′ are considered to be unwelcoming to the search engine bots and you will lose an important ranking of site points.
Another issue that you need to think about while you are maintaining your website is the number of times you utilize a keyword or phrase. You need to include all of the keywords within the first 200-300 words of your page, because Google search page ranking bots have restricted attention spans and would not usually read to the bottom of a 1000 word essay. Keep the density of the keywords in this frame to a reduced amount as this will help you with the ranking of site and add to the amount of traffic that is traveling to your website. Always remember that it is the general impact of the site which is probably to make the best impression on your customers and craft your SEO behind the closed doors of your admin panel.
Cellulite can be difficult to get rid of. And that’s a large problem, considering how it affects the vast majority of women.
Cellulite is outlined as a topographical skin condition related to the anatomy directly situated beneath the skin. It predominantly occurs in women, and is visible mainly within the pelvic buttocks, and thigh regions.
Contrary to popular view, this state isn’t the outcome of a unhealthy diet or lack of work out. Though both these things could contribute to the prevalence of cellulite, they don’t cause it. Though they won’t totally eliminate the cellulite, they could drastically decrease its prevalence.
Therefore if diet and exercise don’t heal cellulite, what will?
Well, for starters, the idea of a “cellulite cure” is flawed – until now. Also the most advanced cellulite removal processes aren’t permanent. Instead, they’ll take away—or mask—the cellulite for a brief period of time, then, when it inevitably comes back, treatment would need to be applied again and again. Although this isn’t a “magic bullet” cure, it was the only choice available up until recently.
Cellulaze: A New and Promising Cellulite fat Removal Technology
Recently, in the world of cosmetic surgery, Cellulaze has been making a large impact. It’s the latest advance in cellulite removal technology and the only one to make a statement by promising to get rid of cellulite from the body for up to two years.
Additionally, it works to stimulate the body’s natural healing processes by using state of the art laser technology to alter the underlying anatomical problems. No other available technology today addresses the three anatomical issues related to cellulite, i.e., herniated bulging fat, thin skin and dimples caused by shortened/contracted soft tissue strands.
It’s permitting the body to do its job naturally, with solely least intervention, guaranteeing the end result is completely natural.
Is Cellulaze for everyone?
Well, not necessarily. Because of this, your best bet is to speak to a Manhattan cosmetic surgeon while having the treatment. Although it’s a lot more suitable and secure than the most of cosmetic surgeries, it’s still not something you want to do if you don’t need it. Rarely can cellulite be eradicated or improved by diet and exercise routines.
Another huge feature of this modern technology is the rapid results. Right away following your treatment, you’ll see improvement with final outcome happening over the following months.
It’s a very simple procedure that—in many cases— requires just 90 minutes. At the end of the process, you’ll immediately notice that the Cellulaze has improved virtually all visible cellulite.
Lastly, not just does the treatment takes off cellulite, it also stimulates collagen within the body to thicken and tighten the skin. Basically, after the treatment, not only will your cellulite be dramatically improved or gone completely, however your skin would retain its “youthful” appearance also!
Where to Get Treatments?
To experience this revolutionary new treatment, select only the best cosmetic surgeon Manhattan NY . Although it’s a relatively straight forward procedure, you’ll still need to make certain the surgeon has received all necessary training and features a track record of satisfying patients. For this reason, consider Dr. Theodore Diktaban, a 34 year veteran with a stellar reputation for precision work and unmatched patient care.
One of the most irritating factors found in the current medical community could be a lack of personal interest between patient and physician. A person gets sick so they go to a physician only to be quickly diagnosed and provided a random medication that has been subscribed randomly to hundreds before. Such a generic approach to meeting medical wants has left several people wanting greater attention and improved remedies specifically designed for them. While many medical facilities will not supply you with this want for personalized solutions, one choice may be found with the solutions of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy.
Hormones Analysis give many different roles within the human body so it is important that each person maintains a balance which is precise to them. Through the utilization of hormones people benefit from growth, mental stability, improved health, and a way of balance in their life.
While your hormones are out of balance a person’s growth can be stunted, mental stability is devastated, health begins to reduce and you have a general sense of worry. Through the solutions of hormone replacement a person may begin seeking new balance in their life. However, avoid the generic solutions of hormone replacement and seek the one of a kind opportunities created from bioidentical hormone replacement therapy.
When seeking to take benefit of this risk, the first step is to take the time to go to your doctor and address your specific worries. If you are experiencing symptoms which are uncharacteristic of you then seek their medical opinion so as to determine if such symptoms could be a result of a hormone imbalance. Such individuals would run a variety of tests that will display not only that an imbalance may exist but even the specific hormones your body may require. This creates a chance for the development of a bioidentical hormone replacement therapy.
Keep in mind when trying to replace hormones which may be out of balance, a doctor’s first instinct will be to turn to generically created hormones produced by pharmaceutical companies. This instinct is not a result of giving you the best medical recommendation but from years of established patterns encouraged by the massive and powerful companies. Rather than using a generic hormone solution that may or may not impact your present symptoms, seek the customizable solutions offered to someone through the resources of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy.
To take full advantage of the options that exist with bioidentical hormone replacement therapy the primary step is to get a compounding pharmacy. These pharmacists specialize in creating customized solutions which are designed around you rather than a single solution to be offered to each person. This level of customization actually assists a person in finding bigger results which would impact your health throughout the long term.
It’s not always easy for businesses to develop new means of promoting themselves to customers. They have a tendency to struggle with any inventive measures, however one way which is really taking off is putting your business to work with social networking. Building up a brand could be a vital part of making sure that you get repeat business, but companies would usually struggle with this and tend to use specialists to ensure that their brand has a good image. This is where social networking branding may become a key feature of the campaign.
Bringing clients into a website once is not too difficult, there are many ways to encourage individuals to visit you once, such as SEO and website rankings, but the majority of a company’s profit is done through repeat visitors. Such visitors are often brought back to the site by one thing fascinating or uncommon and they will seek it even easier to recognize if you have got efficient branding from particular colour schemes. Such changes even want to be continued into any social networking that you do, so you have an effective branding choice throughout the website that you use. This creation of social networking brands can function an effective way of getting the guests to return more than once.
So as to make sure that your branding is the same across all of the websites that you utilize it could be a good plan to employ somebody to make a particular brand design and then implement it across each site. This is often particularly vital, since a clear and logical branding is very essential to encourage people back to the site.
Effective social network branding is important to confirm that your visitors could recognize your site once they see it. Every big business, from Amazon to Apple, features a clear and dynamic branding which allows people who want to identify the website which they want. Branding your site could assist your clients to get you whenever they want.
In order to ensure that your social networking brands are to the most effective of your company’s ability, you need to make sure that the colors and images that you just broadcast on each website is the same. These designs assist to make your site immediately recognizable, so that potential customers do not get annoyed with attempting to find you and visit a rival website.
Foreign investment is becoming one among the most necessary aspects in Mexico, with investment from overseas countries increasing the Gross National Product of the nation by close to 4%. In the fixed capital percentages, the percentage has risen from just over 3% to over 16% in less than twenty years and the ratio feels likely to continue. The outcome of these figures suggest that the liberalization of investment policies has had a dramatic result upon the numbers of foreign investors in Mexico.
This investment has also had a significant impact on industry in Mexico and in particular its influenced the rise of IT and electronics building in the nation. Probably the areas outside of Mexico City most usefully impacted is found at Guadalajara. This town is house to a huge percentage of the IT business in Mexico and after all it is often referred to as Silicon Valley due to the number of IT production, trade (comercio) and commerce that occurs there. Whereas nearly all of the competing nations around the world, like China, India and Japan, has a rapidly growing IT industry, the IT business in Mexico is among the largest.
Because of the interest in different nations, the Mexican government has devoted itself to promoting IT and also the foreign investment which comes with this growth. The information technology and electronics business in Mexico has even been targeted by outside investors, together with Hewlett-Packard and IBM. While there has also been some movement into different countries like China, the progress of jobs has allowed young individuals in Mexico to develop better careers and business models. The model of Mexican involvement with the North American IT business has turn out to be the plan by which different countries, such as India, have tried to make their way into the electronic age.
The majority of the goods done in IT business in Mexico are transferred to the North American or European marketplace for sale, however there is also a significant want in South America for electronic goods also. This market has opened up lately and Mexico is among the sources for goods being sold right across the rest of the American region.
Overseas companies using industry in Mexico to create their products are surely able to find interested parties in the adjoining countries, furthermore being able to ship the products wherever they choose. With the right type of foreign investment (inversion extranjera), the Mexican IT industry could still flourish well into the twenty first century. Mexico is actively pursuing the interests of foreign corporations who want to make investments in the country and there are more opportunities than ever.
Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. 25Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one. 26So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air; 27but I punish my body and enslave it, so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified.
“I do not box as though beating the air,” says St. Paul, and all the boxers in the congregation say … Amen!
There was a great choice of readings to work with today – from Elisha’s healing of Naaman the Syrian to Jesus’ healing of the leprous man in today’s Gospel reading – but I don’t think anybody will blame me today for choosing this passage from St Paul’s first epistle to the Christians at Corinth – “I do not box as though beating the air” – when today we have baptized a lad of such prestigious pugilistic pedigree and who promises to be such a fantastic future fighter!
“I do not box as though beating the air”! You might have thought that I had dug through the Scriptures and specifically plucked this passage out today, but it is not so! This is the reading scheduled in our lectionary, believe it or not!
Evidently it was meant to be – predestined from before the foundation of the world perhaps – that on this auspicious day, when there are so many boxers in the house, that St Paul’s one and only reference to boxing would be read!
Of course, Paul wasn’t referring to the Queensbury-rules-style of boxing with which so many of us are familiar. In St Paul’s day boxing was far more brutal!
There are no shortage of people today, of course, who consider modern boxing to be barbaric. It might help put such things in perspective by comparing the type of sport-fighting to which St Paul was accustomed – namely, the ancient Greek Pankration, which was the original fighting art of the Olympic Games.
Even though it was considered a noble sport, the Pankration was a brutal form of no-rules fighting where too naked men tore away at each other until the one left standing was ultimately able to claim the wreath with which he would be crowned Olympic champion!
Legend has it that when Ulysses returned from the Trojan wars his own mother didn’t recognise him. I’m told though that when the Pankration champion returned from the first Olympics that his own dog couldn’t recognise him! First-century boxing was a brutal activity, which is why it might strike a to be a strange sort of metaphor to use with regards to the Christian life!
In our culture, being a follower of Christ is often considered to be a bit ‘girly’. Indeed, not only in our 21st century Australian culture but worldwide, Christianity seems to have taken on a certain feminine character.
I remember our dear friend Father Elias (the colourful Catholic monk who served us so well here as a part of our community a few years back) saying to me that in France now, where his community is based, you are considered a Christian if your wife goes to church!
Now … I am not regretting that it is chiefly women who are now leading the church into the future (and this despite the best efforts of certain elements of the church’s leadership to hold them back) but I am sensing a certain cognitive dissonance between the imagery of the Christian life that is current in our own culture and that which is here being propagated by St Paul.
“I do not box as though beating the air,” says Paul, and his point is that real faith is a hands-on experience, and there is an implicit contrast here between two ways of trying to follow Christ – one that is a hands on, body-on-the-line type of stoush, and another which is something more akin to boxercise, where you appear to be fighting but when, in fact, you’re only punching the air!
Now I’ve got nothing against boxercise, but as a boxing trainer and fight club manager I can tell you that I often have to make the point to our clients that “this is not a boxercise gym”.
Most people do recognise that of course when they turn up to ‘Father Dave’s Fight Club’. They realise that they are joining a fight club and not a boxercise class, but occasionally people do need to be reminded, because there is a big difference between the two types of gym, and people attend the two for very different reasons, just as people attend church for very different reasons.
Some attend because they want to look good, and because they are interested in self-improvement. Am I talking about the gym or the church? I’m talking about both!
I can tell you though that in our case people do not join because they want to look good nor simply for the sake of self-improvement. They join because they want to fight! Am I talking about the gym or the church? I hope, once again, I’m talking about both!
For this is the key difference between the Fight Club and the boxercise gym. When you come home from Fight Club you sort of expect that you’ll be a little bruised and bleeding.
As most of you would know, I’ve been training pretty hard of late, and I’ve been coming home bruised and bleeding pretty regularly. Indeed, as I look out on the congregation today I think I am in a reasonably unique position as a preacher, as I am looking at most of the people who are responsible for those bruises and blood loss! There’s quite a few of you in fact!
I’ve had the privilege of doing quite a few rounds lately with my brother, Lovemore, and I can tell you that I have come away bleeding on every occasion, though I must add that the only person who has actually stopped me recently (that is, the only person to have actually forced me to stop fighting and take time out before being able to continue) is young ‘Bruiser Dayal’ (16-year-old Irena).
Anyway, the point is that the path of Christian discipleship is likewise a bloody experience. We wish it were not that way but it is.
We wish we could love others without having to make real and costly sacrifices but we cannot.
We wish that we could speak out against injustice without having people ridicule us, malign us, and deliberately misrepresent us, but we cannot.
We wish that it were possible to care for the poor without having to impoverish ourselves but it is not.
We wish we could care for the homeless without having to open our own homes or sacrifice our own privacy, but it is just not possible.
We wish that people weren’t so complicated, and that all our friends and family and children needed was just a few wise words, after which they would sort themselves out, but instead it turns out that family and parenthood and even friendship itself is a life-long commitment where those we love never seem to get things entirely right and where nothing ever seems to get ultimately resolved and where we are nonetheless expected to continue to pour ourselves out without ever necessarily seeing any results for our efforts.
We wish that Christian discipleship was not like this but it is! We wish that fighting the good fight was something more like a boxercise class, where we can go through the motions, look good, improve ourselves, and do so at a minimal personal cost, but this is just not possible. The path to glory is soaked with blood. Am I talking about the Fight Club or the church? Both!
I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air; but I punish my body and enslave it – I do the training. I put in the hard rounds. I put in the work in the gym and in the ring – so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified.
The path of Christian discipleship, like the path of the athlete, can be a hard and lonely path. And just as the boxer needs to train properly if she is going to survive in the ring, so the follower of Jesus needs to take her training seriously, to focus, and to put in the hard yards if she is going to make it to the final round.
I know that there are a lot of theories going about as to how best to accomplish that training (and I’m talking both about the Fight Club and the church).
In the world of boxing there are a lot of theories as to how to best prepare for a fight, and I’ve heard most of them. Most recently though, in my own training, I’ve been taking my lead from a wise indigenous friend and boxing trainer who told me that I should simply follow the example of the indigenous fighters of this country in my fight preparation.
Our indigenous sisters and brothers tend to excel in boxing like no other group in the country and this guy swears that all his indigenous fighters do in preparation for their fights is two things – they run and the box.
So that’s all I’ve been doing for the last 12 months in my own fight preparation – I’ve been running and boxing (trying to box at least 10 rounds per night and run a minimum of 10kms/day, six days per week). And I have found that it works!
And at the risk of being simplistic, I want to suggest that, spiritually speaking, there are really only two things we need to focus on in preparing ourselves for the spiritual fight too, and they are ‘prayer’ and ‘praxis’.
Prayer and praxis – those are the keys I believe.
Prayer is what we are doing now – meeting for prayer and worship, and we can’t expect to progress far as a Christian warrior unless we spend time with the commander in prayer and worship.
And praxis is the other key element in the training program. Praxis means doing. It means getting our hands dirty and vigorously doing the work of Christian ministry – feeding the poor, working for justice, sharing the Gospel of hope, and doing all the ordinary, every-day works of love that Christ calls us to do.
I often reflect on the words of Jesus recorded in John chapter 8: “If you hold to my teaching … you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (vs. 31-32)
Doing the truth leads to knowing the truth (rather than the other way round). The more time we put in to actually doing the work of Christian ministry, the more we understand of God and of ourselves, and the stronger we become as Christian pugilists, just as the ring-fighter, the more times he boxes, the better boxer he becomes.
Prayer and praxis – that’s the exhortation I want to finish on today. That might not sound like much of a climax for the sermon but hard work is the flip-side of glory!
I always warn the boys in the Fight Club, ‘winning a fight is glorious, but training, for the most part, is just hard work.’ Perhaps that sums up how a lot of us feel about church at the moment too? Well, we don’t have to enjoy every session, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be there.
For we didn’t follow Christ for His entertainment value, or because we wanted to look good or simply because we wanted to improve ourselves. If those were our goals we would have joined the boxercise class at the local punching-the-air boxercise gym. No! We knew what we were letting ourselves in for when we chose to follow Christ. We knew we were getting ourselves into a fight.
For we don’t have to look to hard around our world today to know that there’s a war going on, and it’s not a fight for the faint-hearted.
We know that if we are truly going to follow Jesus in this world that it is going to cost us everything that we have. But we know, too, that if our resolve is firm and if we train hard, if we develop our spiritual muscle and self-control, if we can endure the pain and keep our cool that we will survive until the last round is over.
We will hear that final bell, we will see the enemy at our feet, and we will receive that imperishable wreath that the apostle speaks of, reserved for those who have fought the good fight, finished the race and kept the faith. Training is hard, but victory is glorious. Amen!
Fighting Father’ Dave – Parish Priest, Community Worker, Professional boxer, Martial Arts master, Father of three. Dave’s goal is to offer an alternative culture for young people, based on values of courage, integrity, self-discipline and teamwork. He is available to help work your corner as you fight the good fight. Visit http://www.fatherdave.org for more information.
I had the privilege last Friday night of being back amongst my friends at the Imam Husain Islamic Centre where we met to grieve the death of the father of my dear friend, Sheikh Mansour Leghaei.
And it was good to be back amongst those lovely people, and it was good to a part of the live Skype linkup with Mansour back in Esfahan (in Iran) and it was to once again enjoy the experience of being kissed by an enormous number of bearded men (an experience that [sadly] I just don’t get anywhere else).
And I was reminded very clearly, while I was there, of one particularly endearing thing that one of the members of that community had said to me on a previous visit. It wasn’t Sheikh Mansour who said it to me or any of his family members but one of the elders there – a retired professor from Newcastle University.
This man had been looking after me on one of the previous times that I’d been there and we had been talking very warmly and candidly, when said to me, “You know, before I was a Muslim, I was a Christian!” And I was taken aback and said, “Really?” He said, “Yes, and before I was a Christian, I was a Jew”.
Then I understood, of course, that he didn’t mean that he’d actually been a convert from Christianity, but that rather he was expressing our common spiritual heritage.
And of course I could not share his perspective – that Islam fulfils the Christian hope, just as we believe the New Testament Gospel fulfils all the hopes and dreams of the Old, but I appreciated that this elder in the Islamic community was basically just expressing his closeness to me, and I found that touching.
And I’ve thought of that man and his message to me often because I think the whole world needs to hear what he has to say!
I do sincerely believe that if we could somehow get rid of all the dirty politics, we’d find that the common heritage of the three Abrahamic religions is so great – at least in terms of basic ethics and values – that we really have no ideological basis for enmity, let alone for any ‘clash of civilisations’!
‘Before I was a Muslim I was a Christian, and before I was a Christian I was a Jew’ – it was an impressive thing to say, but it was also a statement that required a response, I felt – a response that I wasn’t able to give at the time, but I’ve thought of one since – a good response – and I got it from the story of Noah!
One thing that always comes to mind for me when I think of Noah and the Flood is an old Peanuts cartoon, featuring Linus and Lucy sitting at home, looking out of the window, and it’s raining!
Lucy says to Linus, “I can’t believe how long it’s been raining for! Perhaps it will just keep raining until everything is flooded and we are all drowned?” Linus replies, “No, in Genesis chapter 9 God tells Noah that He will never again allow a flood to take over the whole earth”. Lucy says, “Wow! Thanks”. Linus pauses and says, “Good theology is a beautiful thing!”
Good theology is a beautiful thing, and it’s the theology of Genesis 9 and the flood story that has interested me, as I think it’s a story with a very important message.
The Noah story is a tale of pain and passion – the pain caused by humanity on the one hand, through their violent and reckless behaviour, and the passion of God, who is grieved by His creation and seems to be ready to throw up his hands!
If you’re familiar with this part of the Bible you know that the Noah story is a component part in a series of similar stories that span the first eleven chapters of Genesis – starting out with the very beginning of creation – where things just seem to go from bad to worse.
First there is Adam and Eve and the incident with the snake. Next thing, there’s a murder in Adam and Eve’s immediate family, and things just seem to degenerate from there until, by the time of Noah, we’re told that “every inclination of the human heart was only evil all the time”. (Genesis 6:5)
And I appreciate that that’s a very black and white way of looking at the world, but if you look at what’s going on in the world today, you could be forgiven, I think, for coming to exactly the same conclusion!
And it makes you angry! I find myself getting angry about things all the time! I’ve been getting angry this week about Syria, though not so much over what’s going on in the country itself, but over the way it’s being reported out here!
I’m convinced we’re being hoodwinked again by our media on this one, and I spent extensive time on Friday evening with a guy who had just returned from Syria, and he said exactly the same thing. He said that he and his friends would watch the foreign media coverage from Syria, where CNN or BBC would tell them what was going on in the area they were living in, and it was clearly entirely inaccurate!
And it makes you angry, and people do crazy things when they’re angry. They take up arms and they strap bombs to themselves and they commit acts of violence.
But God is not exactly depicted as getting angry here, but rather as grieving.
“The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. 6 The LORD regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.” (Genesis 6:5-6)
And perhaps that depiction of God strikes you as sounding ‘all too human’, but perhaps that is the point!
The God we read of in these early chapters of the Bible is not one who sets the whole machine in motion and then steps back and lets it rip. On the contrary, this is a God who engages with his creation from the outset, and engages passionately!
And so this God gets frustrated, exasperated, and ultimately regrets ever having created the human race. And so the flood comes, not so much as an act of angry vengeance on God’s part, but more out of a desire for a fresh start.
Even so, the flood is a violent act, and there’s no getting around that. It’s exactly the sort of incident that leaves people shaking their heads and asking “why would God allow such a thing to happen?” to which we are generally respond by trying to excuse God from blame.
Here though God seems happy to take the blame, and yet the conclusion to the story is rather telling. God makes a covenant with Noah, and with all flesh through Noah, such that God will never allow another act of such universal cataclysmic violence to ever happen again.
And so God hangs up His bow as a sign to all flesh that such violence is never going to come from His hand again. Just as the modern-day farmer might lock away his rifle in the shed, or the master swordsman sheaths his sword, so the warrior-archer hangs up his bow! And this is what God is does – hangs up His bow above the mantle-piece (so to speak) as a sign that He will never be using it again!
And it’s a covenant. It’s a promise. And if you know your Bible at all you know that the concept of ‘covenant’ or ‘testament’ is a very key Biblical concept.
We divide our Bible into covenants (or ‘testaments’) – the Old Testament and the New Testament, which would suggest that there are only two covenants. In fact, Biblically speaking, I think there are five:
•#The covenant with Abraham and his children forever (Genesis12)
•#The covenant with Moses and his people at Mount Sinai
•#The covenant with David – that one of his children will always reign as king
•#The ‘new covenant’ with Jesus
And in each case what we are dealing with fundamentally is a promise – a commitment on the part of God to His covenant partner.
And you can see that there’s a progressive narrowing of the focus of these covenants. They begin with Noah, with a commitment to all flesh. After that there is a commitment to a particular race of people, then to those members of that race that make it to Mount Sinai, then to one particular family within that group (the line of David) and finally to one particular individual (Jesus).
And my dad used to say that it was like a funnel, with the promises of God becoming increasingly focused – from the children of Abraham to Moses, to the specific line of David, and finally to an individual – Jesus, through whom the Grace of God becomes available again to everybody!
And that’s a good way of looking at it, with the funnel ending with a universal shower of love, and it’s appropriate too because it all begins here with Noah with a universal and unconditional commitment to ‘all flesh’, and it is a commitment of mercy – a promise on the part of God that He will deal gently with His children – with ALL His children, and with animals too!
God has hung up His bow. The days of divine violence are over. No matter how bad things get, God is going to find another way of working things through.
It’s a bit of a strange parallel, but I don’t know if you’ve been following the story of Khader Adnan Muhammad Musa –the Palestinian hunger-striker?
I find that story really fantastic, because Khader Adnan is a leader of Islamic Jihad, which is an organisation committed to armed resistance against the Israeli Occupation of Palestine. Islamic Jihad believes that dialogue and so-called passive resistance are useless. As I understand it, he’s openly encouraged people to strap on bombs and do whatever they have to in order to bring an end to the injustice.
And this guy has been arrested a lot of times, though it seems the Israeli authorities rarely have anything to charge him with. So this time when he was arrested, he insisted that he get a trial or be freed, and when they refused to do either he went on a hunger strike!
And he fasted for 66 days, which I believe is a world record (so long as you don’t count the famous Irish ‘terrorist’, Bobby Sands, who didn’t survive his hunger strike). Anyway, Khader Adnan was successful, and the Israeli authorities have said that they are going to let him go! Islamic Jihad, it seems, have one a victory though, ironically, it has not been through armed resistance but through using a form of protest that Mahatma Ghandi made famous!
Yes, there are better ways of dealing with evil and injustice than the resort to violence, and God Himself, according to this ancient story, has committed Himself to finding other ways of dealing with evil and injustice. God will not punish without mercy. God will be gracious because God has made a commitment – a solemn promise of love – to us and to all flesh!
‘Before I was a Muslim I was a Christian’, he said to me, ‘and before I was a Christian I was a Jew’. And my response is, ‘and before we were men of faith, we were men’ – brothers in the flesh (so to speak) and still, as brothers in the flesh, recipients of the promises of God and beneficiaries of His Grace!
For the Covenants begin here, with Noah, with a commitment from God to be merciful to all flesh.
And yes, we enjoy the Grace of God made ours through Christ, but let’s remember that the promises of God were extended to us first not as Christian people but simply as people – simply as creatures of flesh, for God has made a commitment of love to all creatures of flesh.
Good theology is a beautiful thing, isn’t it? And the story of Noah, while many elements of it may be difficult to come to terms with, is ultimately a beautiful story too, I think, for it affirms the fundamental equality of all flesh before God, and it proclaims the unconditional commitment of God to all flesh.
‘Before I was a Muslim I was a Christian and before I was a Christian I was a Jew’. And before I was a man of faith I was a man, and before being a man (in a sense) I am simply a human being – a creature of flesh. But that is nothing to be ashamed of. For on the contrary, it is creatures of flesh that God is committed to, and He has committed Himself to all of us!
Fighting Father’ Dave – Parish Priest, Community Worker, Professional boxer, Martial Arts master, Father of three. Dave’s goal is to offer an alternative culture for young people, based on values of courage, integrity, self-discipline and teamwork. He is available to help work your corner as you fight the good fight. Visit http://www.fatherdave.org for more information.
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