Christianity, Judaism and Islam

[It is a holy time of year for the three Abrahamic faiths, – a repeat of March 17, 2018] Islam, Judaism and Christianity all trace their lineage to a common ancestor  — Abraham.  And before that, Adam and Eve.  Abraham had two sons:  Isaac (by Sarah) and Ishmael (by Hagar).  Isaac begat the Line of David from which Jewish and Christian traditions derive.  Ishmael was the forefather of Muhammad — the Messenger of Islam.  God promises in Genesis 21:18 to make a “great nation” of Ishmael.   

Jesus (Isa) is revered in Islam as a Messiah and is mentioned nearly a hundred times in the Quran.  Mary (Maryam) is the only woman mentioned by name in the Quran.  She even has her own surra (19).  Islam accepts the Old Testament as “The Word of God.”  And most of the prophets are mentioned by name in the Quran.   

Common heritage, common prophets, beliefs and commands.  Yet many view the differences as irreconcilable.  Islam has 72 insular sects.  Christianity has its own islands of belief and Judaism has various divisions.  Despite common origin, there is distrust, misunderstanding and even violence — all in the name of religion.    While most Christian and Jewish traditions accept and tolerate competing denominations and other religions, violence seems to be confined to Islam.  I previously reported that statistically between 85% and 97% of all violence by Islamic terrorist groups is directed at Muslims.   

In my post of August 25, 2016, I commented on the ecumenical role the Archangel Gabriel – the Divine messenger.  Gabriel has been a messenger in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Mormonism, and Bahai.   Each faith urges “Shalom” [Peace]; “As-salamu Aleikum” [Peace]; “Peace be with you” [Peace].  Perhaps God, Allah, Jehovah is trying to give us mere mortals an ecumenical message.   

14 Years

[A repeat from October 21, 2018] In 1972, Donna and I took an extended honeymoon to Spain and Portugal. In Spain, we traveled around – sightseeing and attending the corridas of famed matador Diego Puerta in Madrid, Cordoba and Sevilla.  And we took pictures galore. In Ayamonte Spain, I traded three ice cream cones for a photo of three little boys (“It’s okay – he’s a tourist” said the woman working the open air shop). Then there was the fishing boat where the six men were quick to pose following my request. And in Lisbon, we walked the gardens of Jeronimos Monastery.  A gardener – wearing a black turtleneck and jeans – was suspended on a board over a large circular clock garden.  Clipping flowers.  He smiled, tipped his beret and posed.  Snap.  Snap.  Snap.  

Fast forward nearly 15 years.  Donna and I returned to Spain and Portugal with our 10 year old daughter, and friends, Diane and David and their son Dave.  Before leaving, I had the photograph assemblage mentioned above blown up to eight by tens.     

In Ayamonte, we went back to the same ice cream shop and I showed the same (now older) woman the photo of the three little boys.  She gasped.  And identified each one.  She asked us to be at her store in the morning.  And we were – greeted by a crowd.  And the three little – now grown – boys.  We gave each one an 8″ x 10″.   One mother cried on seeing the photo as she had no pictures of her son as a little boy.  

The fishing boats were gone – replaced by a small office of the Guardia Civil — the national police who sport the tri-cornered hat.  An officer identified one fisherman as the father of Ayamonte’s head of Guardia Civil – who marched over.  And began weeping when I gave him some 8″ x 10’s”.  His father had died a few years before.  He handed me his card – “if you ever need help in Spain, you call me.”  I still have his card. . . . .

And in Jeronimos, we found the gardener — now in a drab gray uniform.  Raking leaves.  And three weeks from his retirement.  He saw his photograph.  And his eyes filled with tears.  At his request, we buzzed through two rolls of Polaroid film taking pictures for our gardener friend – and each member of his entire gardening crew.

Creating memories. . . . .  

I’m Walkin’ . . . .

Some who receive this blog may remember “Ozzie & Harriet” – the sitcom that ran 14 seasons from 1952 to 1966. Ozzie and Harriet’s two sons – Dave and Ricky – also starred in the show. In 1957, Fats Domino wrote and produced a song – “I’m Walkin‘.” It was a smash hit that reached Number 1 on the R&B Chart –

Months later, at the ripe old age of 17, Ricky Nelson picked up the song and sang it on an episode of “Ozzie & Harriet.” And Ricky’s musical career took off. . . .

If I had a theme song for this last year of pandemic, it would likely be “I’m Walkin‘.” Walking. Donna and I have been walking 2 to 4 miles daily. Donna’s goal is 10,000 steps which is encouraged by her FitBit. Interestingly Amish men average about 18,000 steps daily. Amish women a mere 14,000. I suspect that in this last year, many folks have been walking since (a) it’s something to do; (b) it gets you out of the house; (c) it’s good for you. But how good?

George Halvorson is the Chair and CEO of the Institute for Intergroup Understanding and the CEO of Kaiser Permanente. He serves on several not-for-profit boards and commissions designed to help children and encourage education. Mr. Halvorson has produced a 6 minute YouTube video on “The Gift of Walking. And it is a gift. The health benefits of walking 30 minutes 5 days a week are truly amazing. The benefits are physical, mental and social. Do me a favor and take 6 minutes out of your day and watch this video.

Then – go take a walk. . . .

The All Blacks. . . . .

[A repeat from May 7, 2017] Rugby was first introduced in New Zealand in 1870.  The Kiwi team adopted the name “The Originals.”  But in 1905 – during a tour of the British Isles – the team became known as the “All Blacks” because of their uniforms.  And the name stuck.

The All Blacks are the greatest rugby team in the world.  Since the introduction of World Rugby Rankings in 2003, All Blacks have held the number one ranking longer than all other teams – combined!   And they have been the World Rugby Team of the Year ten times since the award was created in 2001.  

Before each international match, the All Blacks perform a “haka” — a Maori challenge to the opposition.  I can’t explain it.  Please — spend 2-1/2 minutes and watch the following video (or use this link – ).  

I’m teaching my granddaughters the haka.  Words too.  I’m gonna start doing the haka on Saturday mornings on the first tee when I play golf.  Wearing my All Blacks’ hat.  Ka mate!  Ka mate!    

Ka ora!  Ka ora!  Whiti te ra

Don’t You Like Our Looks?

[A St. Patrick’s Day repeat from December 1, 2013] Some years ago, Donna and I were in Galway with some friends. We decided to go exploring with another couple.  We reconnoitered the town and saw a pub called the “Quays” (pronounced “Keys”).  It was night.  Raining.  The place was off the beaten path.  Donna and I and our friend Ivo and his wife walked in. The pub was dark and filled with smoke.  Big men.  Heavy.  Bellied up to the bar.  Beards.  Black leather jackets.  Noise.   Many of the occupants turned to give us the eye.  Have you ever been somewhere and gotten that feeling you just don’t belong?  Once inside, we looked around and got that feeling.   

As we moved toward the door, a loud voice from a corner booth holding about 8 people caught our attention “what’s the matter?  Don’t ya like our looks?”  Ivo and I looked at each other and I – respectfully – pointed out that the place was “very crowded” and there was no room for us to sit.  The chap who’d called us out started to move – “sit here.  We’ll make room for ya.”   And people began shuffling.  Shifting.  All watching us.  I looked at my friend.  He raised his eyebrows like “let’s see where this goes.”  And we moved into the group – squishing ourselves into corner seats. 

They were curious about where we were from (Chicago/Edgartown, MA), why we were there (a meeting) and where all we were going (we detailed).  They bought us drinks.  More drinks.  And refused our offer of reciprocity.  After an hour or so, Morris – the chap who’d called out to us – invited us to join him and some of the others at another pub.  The Tribesman.  Where he was playing a horsehide drum in an Irish band.   At that point, how could we say no?   We walked a few blocks.  The Tribesman was packed.  Morris shooed people away as he pushed his way to the small alcove stage with us in tow.  He set two small stools right in front of the band.  Donna and I sat.  Listened.  Enchanted.  Then we traded seats with our friends who’d been standing in the back.  It turned out to be one of the most memorable evenings I’ve ever had.  It could’ve all turned out verrry differently if we’d said “gosh thanks anyway.”   And scurried out the door. 

Watch for Anomalies

[A repeat from June 18, 2012]

When my daughter was young, I taught her a phrase – “watch for anomalies.” As a young girl growing up, I wanted her to be keenly aware of her surroundings. To know where the exits are in a restaurant, theater or other public place. To be aware of what doesn’t “look right.”   People.  Places.  Things.  Assessment of concern. Situational awareness.  I cautioned her – if something doesn’t look right, get out.  Go the other way.

I have a feeling that my daughter at the age of 12 could “case” a room as well as anyone. Though today when I say “watch for anomalies,” she’ll usually respond “Oh dad. . . .”

I learned the expression years ago. As a State’s Attorney – working with police. Police watched for those situations that didn’t look right. Things that looked out of place or out of character.

Apart from teaching my granddaughters about music, the guitar, speaking Spanish, how to spit, hitting a golf ball, making spaghetti carbonara, playing poker, doing magic tricks, finding pennies on the street and so on, I want to teach them situational awareness.  And to “watch for anomalies.”

Fort Reno

[A repeat from April 23, 2015] In August 1865, the terrible pain of the Civil War was still white hot. Thousands of Confederate soldiers remained in Union prison camps. Cities in the South smoldered in ruin and the dead of both sides — 620,000 of them (2% of America’s population) — were still being buried.   Eight hundred miles west, Chief Red Cloud of the Cheyenne Nation began objecting – with violence – to the incursion of troops along the Bozeman Trail. 

So, in August 1865, two forts were built along the Powder River in Wyoming — Fort Connor and Fort Reno.  To staff these forts, the United States offered some Confederate prisoners the option of swearing allegiance to the United States and then going off to fight the Cheyenne in Wyoming.  Many signed on.  This contingent of newly-minted American soldiers was called “galvanized Yankees.”  They went out to Wyoming, took care of business and came home — to help rebuild the South.  Fort Reno and Fort Connor were abandoned in 1868 and disintegrated.  Fort Connor became a part of the meandering Powder River and Fort Reno was overgrown and disappeared from view. 

In 1969, while I was hoofing around Wyoming, I was in Lysite (population perhaps 20) – along the Powder River – and met with Mr. Skiles — a rancher.  He took me to the site of Old Fort Reno and pointed the way through perhaps a mile of high grass.  I waded through the brush and finally arrived at a place where nothing but a few brick foundations remained.  I pulled out my trusty metal detector and went to work . . . . . After a few hours, I had found some heavily-rusted artifacts:  some nails, a few horse bridle parts and two really neat pieces — the top of a cooking pot and — a perfect axe head formed by one piece of folded steel.  The axe head had been perhaps a foot beneath the surface — in a position where it leaned against the brick foundation.  I’ve got these pieces at home.  One on my desk.  Pretty special to think about those pieces being used by some chaps — 150 years ago.  No one remembers galvanized Yankees or Fort Reno.  But I sure do. 

The Parrot

(A repeat from July 19, 2012)

A man was looking for a present to buy his elderly mother. What to get he thought. An idea came to him. His mother had lived alone for years.  Maybe a pet?  Not a dog or cat – too much work.  So he went to the pet shop.

The owner said “I’ve got just the thing. I have a parrot. Smart as a whip. Speaks seven languages. Friendly.   She can talk to him.  Great companion.  Bird likes to watch t.v. too.”   The owner named a hefty price.

The man grimaced but said “I’ll take him.”  He had the pet store deliver the parrot to his mother.  And he called her the following week. 

Hi MomHey how do you like the parrot I sent you?”

He was delicious,” the mother said.

WHATDon’t tell me you ate him!” 

Of course I did.” 

Mom – that parrot was supposed to be a pet!  He spoke seven languages.”

Well he should have said something.”


I enjoy good coffee. Over the years, my mornings have included 2 cups of strong coffee with a little milk. However, since the pandemic erupted and I began working from home (with an eye toward retirement), my coffee consumption has edged up. Of late, it’s 3-4 cups in the morning and I put one large cup of coffee in the frig – to have with lunch. The cold coffee business is not new. Golfing buds with whom I lunch after a Saturday round know that my staple beverage is iced coffee (ideally a mix of regular and expresso). Oh – and the coffee I drink is “regular.” None of that decaf stuff for me. Besides – decaf gives me a headache.

In my house, I am the capo de tutti capi of coffee. I make the coffee in the morning (I use a locally roasted Alchemy coffee – “Harar” – from the Harar region of Ethiopia. “Harar” means “freedom” in Arabic). The water is filtered. And I normally run extra water through when the pot gets low. So in the mornings, Donna and I sit. Read two newspapers. Watch a little “Squawk Box” or the “Today” show. Work a Sudoku. Have breakfast. And sip good coffee. Ahhhhhh. . . . .

There are varied health benefits from drinking coffee. Statistically, they say coffee can improve energy levels, make you smarter, burn fat, improve physical performance, lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s, some cancers (for men it reduces the risk of prostate cancer), and possibly Alzheimers. It may protect your liver, fight depression and make you happier. In short, I don’t see much downside to knocking back a few cups of java.