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. . . . .  

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 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yiKFYTFJ_kw ).  

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

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.”

Warren Wilhelm Jr.

Warren Wilhelm Jr. was born in New York City in 1961. He received a B.A. from NYU and an M.A. in International Affairs from Columbia University. In 1987, he became a political organizer at the Quixote Center in Maryland. A year later, he traveled to Nicaragua to distribute food and medicine during the Revolution. Mr. Wilhelm was an ardent supporter of the Sandinista Movement and the National Liberation Front. He served as a fundraiser for the Sandinistas in New York. He considers himself a democratic socialist and he has espoused the tenets and policies of that party.

He married in 1994 and honeymooned in Cuba despite the U.S. travel ban. Mr. Wilhelm has been active in politics in New York. In 2001, Warren Wilhelm Jr. changed his name. To Bill de Blasio. . . . .

I Don’t Want to Drop Her

I was “there” when our daughter Lauren was born. Around 2:00 a.m. on the big day, I was sound asleep but I sensed Donna pacing around the bedroom. I drifted out of sleep and mumbled “what are you doing?” And Donna said “I think I’m in labor.” My eyes jerked open and I catapulted out of bed. “Let’s go to the hospital” and I started pulling on my trousers. Donna – calm and cool – said “maybe we should wait a little bit.” And we did until 5:00 a.m. when Donna said “okay – let’s go.

Lauren was born in the mid afternoon of that Thursday, June 24th. As she arrived, a nurse wiped her down, wrapped her up and handed her to me. What happened next has become legend in our family. Picture this – I’m holding my brand-new, just born baby girl. I walked over stood – with my left arm propped against a wall. The nurse – who had been walking around – came over to me and said “Mister Petersen, what are you doing?” I responded “I want to make sure I don’t drop her.” The nurse laughed “Mister Petersen – you will not drop her.” And so far, I haven’t. . . . .

When Lauren was married, my father of the bride speech bore a reflection of that day. Of that special moment. I quoted Psalm 17:8 in saying that Lauren would always be the apple of my eye – and in the shadow of my wings.

Billionaires

Do you know how many billionaires there are in the United States? Answer – 630. Do you know what the combined assets are of these 630 billionaires? Answer – $3.4 trillion. That’s about what the United States deficit was for the year 2020, The national debt is now escalating well over $21 trillion. Thus perhaps what we should do is simply confiscate all the money of billionaires to make up the deficit. But wait . . . .

I figure when I win the Power Ball Lottery tonight ($550 million) and then win Mega Millions tomorrow ($970 million), I will then be a “billionaire.” And then – the number of billionaires will be 631 and. . . .

Ugh . . . what a problem to have. . . . .

Wow!

In the late summer of 1994, Donna and I drove Lauren to Nashville — to begin her college career at Vanderbilt. As Donna and Lauren went off to do some mother-daughter bonding, I sat in the hotel room and thumbed through the Yellow Pages. I first looked under “Autographs” then under “Books – Antiquarian.” I had been publishing listings and catalogs of historic autographs and occasional rare books for perhaps a dozen years. And I was always on the hunt . . . . .

One old book store caught my eye. So I hopped in the car and drove to the location – a block down from campus. I walked in the door – sniffed – and thought hmmmm this could be interesting . . . . . I walked around for a few minutes then headed toward the back where an elderly chap sat hunched over a desk. “Do you have any old autograph material – old letters or documents?” The old fellow grunted “Nope.” I then persisted – “do you have anything handwritten? Any old signed stuff.” He looked up – grunted again – and shuffled off to a back room. After a few minutes he returned with a two inch thick file folder and – true – he blew dust off the top. And handed it to me. I could tell it was full of really old stuff.

I set the folder on a table and opened it. My jaw dropped. The top item was a Washington College diploma dated June 18, 1868, for “R. C. Morrison.” The second item was a Washington College report card dated May 31, 1867, for “William Cochrane.” Both were signed by the President of the College — Robert E. Lee. “Washington College” later became “Washington and Lee University.” I looked up. The elderly chap was back at his desk burrowed in some papers. I held up the diploma – “whaddaya want for this?” He thought – “a hundred bucks.” The second item he said was a “hundred and a quarter.”

Long story short, I bought the entire file folder for five hundred dollars. It was full of other gems. I sold the Robert E. Lee items to a dealer friend for many times what I paid for the batch. I still have copies of the Lee items. And I remember being glad I checked out the Yellow Pages instead of watching a football game.

The Dead Bug

On March 22, 2020, I discussed how I was dealing with excruciating lower back pain. Add to that was sciatic pain that radiated with a vengeance from my toes to my hip. We’re talking 9.5 on the pain scale. In the mornings, I could barely move. It was physical therapy that caused the sciatic pain to abate — all within the space of a day or two. True. . . .

Given that the back pain has morphed and seesawed, I had a couple of diagnostic injections that have helped considerably. The pain is now manageable at night and during the day – it is barely there. But I wisely continued with the PT.

Two clinicians at Athletico (Sarah and Brittany) helped greatly – with a protocol of exercise, movement and therapy. I sometimes walk out the door after PT winded – like I’d been pummeled by a personal trainer or a drill sergeant at Quantico. The exercises vary – in part to strengthen my back. In part to work on my “core.” And also to work on my weak knees (which is prescribed in Hebrews 12:12 – “Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees“). There is one exercise though – that when assigned, I cringe. It’s called “The Dead Bug.” And I feel like one when I do it. . . . .

Visualize this. . . . the “Dead Bug” is an exercise where you lay flat on your back. Raise your legs – knees bent. And then (are you ready?) raise your arms – straight up in the air. What’s interesting (and I guess therapeutic) about the “Dead Bug” is that . . . . oh wait. Did I tell you? You have to hold the “Dead Bug” position for 15+ seconds. You’re laying there – arms up. Leg’s up and bent. For 15 seconds. This exercise strengthens your core, works your back, your legs, your arms and tests your self restraint when someone walks by and goes “oooh – look at the dead bug.

Three Ministers

A not-for-profit organization started a support group for clergy. At the first session, three ministers entered the room, introduced themselves and sat down. The facilitator gently invited each to share his troubles and concerns.
The first minister lowered his head and said “I am married – but I have been seeing another woman. She is a member of our congregation.”

The second minister shook his head. Tears began to flow down his cheeks. “I have a problem with the bottle. I begin drinking in the morning and I can’t stop until I collapse in bed. Often I give sermons while I am totally intoxicated.”

The third minister hesitated and slowly began to speak – “I . . . I . . . . I am a hopeless GOSSIP. And I can’t WAIT to get out of here!”