New Year’s Bus Ride

January 2, 2015 An ad on a bus I rode home today carried this message: It normally takes seven attempts to quit smoking. Don’t give up. You can do it. Why can’t we keep people from starting the tobacco habit? Why don’t we make the sale illegal? The reason we don’t is that prohibition doesn’t work. The prohibition of alcohol resulted in the expansion of criminal activity and the corruption of the...

Christmas Meditation for Christians & Muslims

WHAT IS GOD LIKE? A LESSON FROM ABRAHAM, MOSES, AND JESUS FOR CHRISTMAS 2014 We know something about what a person is like by what he or she does, whether it is good or not good. We know something of what an artist is like by what he or she creates, whether it is beautiful and inspiring or not. We know what God is like by seeing what God does and what God creates. We also know what a person is like by what...

On Church Conflict: Avoiding the Rock in the MIddle of the River

Avoiding the Rock in the Middle of the River When a river meets a large obstacle in its path, it separates into two channels and goes around the obstacle, coming back together once the obstacle has passed. At the end of Acts 15, Paul and Barnabus ran into a rock. Barnabus wanted to bring his cousin, Mark, along, while Paul felt Mark would be a liability. The missionaries parted ways with Barnabus taking...

The Great Arab Conquests, initial thoughts

The Great Arab Conquests: How the Spread of Islam Changed the World We Live In, by Hugh Kennedy In the introduction to Kennedy’s book, the author contends that we can really know almost nothing about the first century of Islam, because the data is sparse and mostly anecdotal, but the material we do have is precious, mainly in how it reveals the official story of what happened from the perspective of a...

IN HONOR OF COLUMBUS (A play with tongue in cheek for Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Minneapolis)

(A play with tongue in cheek for Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Minneapolis) Copyright Philip E. Friesen SCENE I,  Somewhere in Spain Bishop (B) & Monk (M) Monk:  I just heard some news! Bishop: Yes, what news? M         (In a hoarse, excited whisper) This Italian guy, Columbus, is asking the king for ships and men to sail to India. B         What a crazy idea!  They’ll fall off...

GOD AND VIOLENCE, a presentation at the Islamic Center of MN Oct. 6, 2014

GOD AND HUMAN VIOLENCE PART I MOSES AND SOCIAL CONTROL Every city has its police and every nation its army for the purpose of controlling violence. When all else has failed, the bottom line is to meet violence with greater violence. Moses reformulated the basis of social organization as a revelation from God on how to build a peaceful society. However, the Bible is not primarily a revelation of laws, but...

Muslim/Christian Dialogue: My Recent Contribution

IS JESUS THE SON OF GOD? How the disciples understood the term, and how Jesus deepened their understanding   Philip E. Friesen Presentation at the Islamic Center, Fridley, MN on Sept. 7, 2014 at 2:00 P.M. by Representative evidence from the synoptic gospels-            (The synoptics use the term 24 times.) Matthew 16:13-17 13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he...

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