Thursday, August 20, 2015

Session 1 The War Revealed by Dr Tony Evans from Victory in Spiritual Warfare: field guide for battle

In the blockbuster film Inception the main characters discovered a way to enter 
another realm—the realm of dreams. Though the dream seemed as vivid and 
authentic as the real world, the dream realm was not their reality
Because the dream felt real to their five senses, each character created an item 
used to let others know if they were in a dream or in reality. Without the item, 
the person in the dream might believe the dream was reality, and they might 
stay there—operating by the laws of reality within the realm of the dream.
The main character’s item was a spinning top. If his top kept spinning endlessly, 
that meant he was in a dream. If it fell, he had woken up. The knowledge that 
he was in a dream enabled him to take more risks and live differently because 
he knew at any time, he could simply wake up in reality.
Is it possible that right now our ultimate reality isn’t happening in the physical 
world as we see it? Could it be that right now there is a spiritual battle waging 
all around us in the unseen realms and that battle has physical effects in this 
world? If that’s true, then most of us walk around in this world with no idea of 
what’s happening in the spiritual one. The top keeps on spinning.
The spiritual world is real. Conversations, decisions, and battles that occur in 
the spiritual realm unilaterally impact what takes place in our physical lives. 
Unless we realize that truth and wake up to the battle, we will continue to 
look for physical solutions to solve spiritual problems manifesting themselves 
in our physical lives. Time to wake up and get in the real fight!!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Get in the fight! by Dr Tony Evans from Victory in Spiritual Warfare: field guide for battle

Whether you recognize it or not, there is currently a war going on all around you.
It’s a cosmic conflict of such ferocity, size, and scope that it makes all other wars
pale in comparison. This is the battle being waged in the heavenlies, and it’s a battle
God is calling you to wake up to.
This wake-up call is being issued to Christian men and women, for the vast majority
of us, though we know Christ and might have a pew reserved in church every
Sunday, are nonetheless living defeated lives. We try and fail, and then try and fail
again. No matter what we do, we can’t seem to live in the way the Bible describes
the life of the Christian.
We are plagued by anxiety, hang-ups,
 compulsions, and addictions.
No more!
God has already given the Christian everything needed to live in victory. Because
of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, victory is not only possible—it’s
already been assured. His victory is our victory. All that’s left is for us to connect the
visible, physical world with the victory already given to us in the invisible, spiritual
world. Amazingly, we aren’t fighting for victory; we are fighting from victory.
That’s what this study is about—understanding and implementing the victory
of Christ through the essential pieces of spiritual armor God has given the believer
to wear.
Over the next eight sessions, we will learn about all God has already secured for
the believer in Christ. We will discover together what each piece of armor is and
how to put it on. We will see that this armor is to be employed every day in real
life situations. And together, we will learn to live in the victory God has won for
us in Christ.

Psalm for the Second Day of the Week from the Jewish Prayer Book (p. 50-51). Vook, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

This is the Second Day of the Week on which the Levites in the Temple used to say:— (Psalms 48:1-14) A Song; a Psalm of the Sons of Korah. Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised, in the city of our God, in his holy mountain. Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth is mount Zion,— at the sides of the north,— the city of the great king. God hath made himself known in her palaces as a stronghold. For, lo, the kings met each other, they passed on together. They saw it; then were they amazed; they were confounded, they hasted away. Trembling took hold of them there; pangs as of a woman in travail. With an east wind thou didst break the ships of Tarshish. As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the Lord of hosts, in the city of our God: God will establish it for ever. (Selah.) We thought of thy loving kindness, O God, in the midst of thy temple. As is thy name, O God, so is thy renown unto the ends of the earth; thy right hand is full of righteousness. Let mount Zion rejoice, let the daughters of Judah be glad, because of thy judgments. Compass ye Zion and go round about her: count the towers thereof. Mark ye well her rampart, traverse her palaces; that ye may tell a later generation, that this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Most Powerful Prayer You’ll Ever Pray by Adam Houge from The 7 Most Powerful Prayers That Will Change Your Life Forever! (Kindle Locations 56-146)

It is written, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3: 16-17

When understood in the proper light this scripture has a truly profound impact on our lives. One that will transform our hearts and change our lives forever. But in order to understand it, we need to understand the most powerful and life-changing prayer you could ever pray. This prayer we are about to discuss is so important that it will always be the first in several of my prayer books. I can’t express enough the need for us to pray this. Without seeking and praying for God’s saving grace, there is no grace for us at all. God desires a relationship with us at a personal level. He is a very intimate and relational Person Who loves each and every one of us. He knows everything about us, but treasures us so much that He still wants to know us more. There is a difference between knowing things about someone, and knowing him personally and intimately. I’m sure you could think of a famous actor and say, “oh I know about him!” But then someone who is a personal friend with that actor would brag, “yeah, but I know him personally!” The person who is a good friend of the actor will know the truth about him: whether the rumors the magazines publish are true, or just made up to get readers. They’ll know everything about that person’s life, and enjoy every moment with him. Why? Because they’re friends! God works the same way. There are many things said about God, but there is only one way to know the truth about Him –through an intimate relationship with Him. God desires that friendship with you, and wants to enjoy every minute of it. He loves you! No matter where you’ve been and no matter what you’ve done, God loves you. A few of you reading this may have done something so terrible that it would lead you to think that God can’t possibly love you. But God says He still does. Can you believe Him? Can you believe that God is better than you and can love you even when you wouldn’t love yourself? Can you believe He will forgive you even when you can’t forgive yourself? You already know that a relationship with Him requires faith, and this is one of those times you need faith. Have faith that God is better than you and can love you even when you can’t love yourself. Now God does love us, but He does NOT love our sin. In order for you to be saved, God had to come down as a man and suffer a horrible and gruesome death. We read in the Bible that He was “Pierced for our transgressions.” So because we sinned He needed to be crucified. If He was not mocked, beaten, tortured, whipped, stripped naked, and crucified, neither you nor I could be saved. There would be no hope for us AT ALL! Due to our sins against God, His wrath would still abide upon us. But God is a loving God and doesn’t want to have wrath. He, as a Judge, has perfect justice. So His heart dictated that He needed to have justice on our sins, and our sins require wrath. Because God loved us, He decided to give us a way out of judgment, and yet still have justice on our sin. He chose to have that wrath laid on His own shoulders for our salvation. You need to understand how much He loves you! Even though we deserve Hell for sinning against Him, He can’t stand the thought of sending us there. He’s not a vengeful wrathful God, but perfectly loving. He made you. He formed you in your mother’s womb and sewed all your sinews. He connected all your bones and brought you forth in life. He gave you your life to love you, not to condemn you. We read in the Bible that God knows all things. He knows your heart, your frame (remember He made it), everything you’ll ever need, and everything you’ll ever aspire to be. He hasn’t only known you now that you’re alive, He’s known you since before time. Before He ever created time, He thought of you. You are not an accident! You are a purposeful well-thought, out creation of God. He’s been spending thousands of years thinking of you. How you will look, and act. How you will respond to life, and how life will respond to you. He’s been thinking of these things before the world ever spun on its axis. Before He created anything He’s been cherishing you in His heart and in His thoughts. He planned you and has always had a plan for you. God has spent so much time thinking about you and cherishing you that He treats you like His own child in His heart. If your child does something wrong, don’t you want to turn them around again? If your child committed a crime deserving of death, wouldn’t you
try to save them from it? “Maybe if they’re sorry and change their life, they won’t have to die,” you might think. What would you do if you were told someone had to die, and were given the choice to die for them? What if that person sinned against you or your children? Would you die for them? Would you give your child’s life for them? But God is so loving that even though we sin against Him, He chose to give His Son’s life to save us. He doesn’t want vengeance. He wants to give you life. Your life was His plan to begin with and it’s the reason you were born! But perfect justice must be served. Any sin we commit is deserving of death. It is an act of rebellion against God who gave us life. God knows what we deserve, and must administer perfect justice for our crimes. Even the smallest sin separates us from Him. He’s an all holy and perfect God who knows no sin. He declared from creation that anyone who sins in any way, no matter how small, is worthy of death. But He has loved you so much that He couldn’t stand the thought of living in eternity without you. Nothing would break His heart more than being without you. So He, like any loving parent, chose to stand in your place. He came down and was born as a man, and named Himself Jesus, which means “deliverer” or “savior.” He called Himself this because He wanted to save you from the penalties of your sin. Perfect justice needed to be met, and someone needed to die for your sin, so He like any loving parent chose to stand in your place. Even though we were wicked against Him, He still chose to die out of love for you. He chose to die to save you, in the hope that His death would convict you of your sins. He hopes that you might repent and live for Him as you were created to do. Remember what we said, “Maybe if they’re sorry, they won’t have to die.” This was His mindset when He sacrificed Himself for you. He wants us to be sorry for our sins, and repent. Repent means to do a complete 180 in life –to turn and go the opposite direction from the way we’re going. And this is His heart toward you. God doesn’t want you to go to Hell, He loves you! He cares so much about you! He has shown you by His sacrifice that He would rather be beaten, whipped, tortured, completely humiliated, stripped naked, and murdered on a cross than spend another moment in eternity without you. You’re so precious to Him! Don’t turn Him away, and don’t turn Him down. He has loved you, even when no one else has. How could you pass up this kind of love? No matter what your decision is now, God will always love you. Even if you hate Him, He’ll still love you. He’s perfect and can’t help but be perfectly loving. But He has perfect justice too. He doesn’t want to have wrath on us, but if we can’t be sorry for the things we’ve done and change our lives, He can’t save us. It is our own decision and not His. He gave us that decision and gave us freewill. He gave us a way out, and if we don’t take it, there is no other way to be saved from condemnation. There is no other name by which we must be saved than Jesus Christ. If we don’t take His gift, then in Judgment, God with tears in His eyes, will guide you down the path you wanted. He will love you and guide you all the way to the gates of Hell. It’s never what He wanted, but if you pass Him up today, that’s what you wanted. He wants to give you a way out and chose to die for you so you could have one. Don’t pass up this opportunity. There will never be another one. I want to encourage you to take this opportunity for grace, right now, and ask Jesus Christ to be your Lord and Savior.

Please Pray With Me, “Lord, I know I’ve sinned and I’m sorry. I’m sorry for every way I’ve ever hurt You or anyone else. God, I repent! I want to change my life! I want to be better for You. Please forgive me. God I can’t do this myself. I failed at this life You gave me the first time I tried. Please help me God. Please help me to do this right. Please give me your Holy Spirit now that I may be alive in You. Give me Your Spirit, Lord, that I can have strength to please You in all things. Create in me a new heart. I devote my life to You now. Please, Jesus, be my Lord and Savior forever. Amen.”

The Lord’s Answer, “Oh Beloved! Oh My precious baby! I’m so happy with you! I’m so proud of you! I’ve never been happier with you than right now! I am telling you the truth, there are tens of thousands of angels rejoicing before Me because of you! You have set a fire in their hearts, and they can’t help but sing and dance that I have my baby back! “This is all I ever wanted –for you to be sorry, and give your life to Me. I created you to have a relationship with you. I made heaven and earth for this reason, that I may have a place to meet with you and connect with you: My new friend. How could you not think that I love you? I’ve done all these things for you, because you mean so much to me! Now let Me mean much to you, and devote yourself wholeheartedly to Me. “Let Me be the center of your life. Let Me live in you and with you. Let Me guide you and take you by the hand. Let Me choose your path in life, because I know what will lead you to perfection. Let Me take care of you. I will take care of you! You are My baby after all! “Surrender to Me, and let Me be your Lord in everything. I will take care of you and I will save you from everything that comes your way. I promise! But be good to follow Me now, and listen to My convictions. I will speak into your heart through My Holy Spirit, so incline your ear to Him. Listen to My convictions and do the right thing. Obey His conviction! I know what is best always. So always follow Me and obey Me. “Grow in Me and grow close to Me. Serve Me and where I am you will be also. You are not serving Me if you don’t listen to Me. Be diligent to obey Me, and not your own heart. If you’re making Me your Lord, then deny your life and let Me rule over you. I have a use for you. I have a plan for you. Let me take you by the hand to fulfill it. Let Me lead you in your walk with Me. Besides, I know the way to where we’re going, not you! “I’m going to give you eternal life so you can be with Me, where I am, forever. I will do this so long as you continue in Me, and obey Me as I have commanded you.”

Sunday, July 5, 2015

15 Things All Dads of Daughters Should Know by Justin Ricklefs

,"I feel SORRY for you when they become teenagers." "Dude, you're surrounded by women." "What did you do to deserve that?"

Being a dad of four daughters (we also have one son), I hear stuff like this almost daily. And honestly, I'm the one who feels sorry for people who think this way.

Having daughters is one of the greatest joys I could imagine. We have a saying at our house that goes like this, "I love you more today than I did yesterday." Raising girls is a privilege, not a burden.

I certainly don't have it all figured out, but I have learned 15 things about raising girls these last 11 years.

1. She wants to be loved. More than she wants the stuff you can buy her or the things you can teach her, she wants you to love her. No one else on Earth can assume YOUR role as daddy. Your daughter will let you down, make huge mistakes, and maybe even turn her back to you for a season, but don't ever let her doubt your love for her. Look her in the eye and tell her you love her. Lots.

2. You have an influence on her future partner. Scary thought, but the kind of man you are to her will have a direct impact on who she chooses to marry some day. For years, our third daughter would beg me to marry her when she grew up. I had to explain that I was ALREADY married to her amazing mother. If you're doing it right, she'll want to marry someone like you one day.

3. Listen to her music. When my girls are in my car, you'll be able to catch us rocking out to the following PANDORA stations: Taylor Swift, One Direction, Cody Simpson, Kidz Bop Radio, Katy Perry, you get the point. Not stations I'd listen to on my own (with one exception -- I love Taylor Swift), but when it lights them up, it lights me up.

4. She's watching how you treat her mom. If you take one thing out of this entire list, make it this. One of the best things you can do for your daughter is to love her mom well. It's easy to be child-centered. Running from one kid ACTIVITY to another. But fight for your marriage and make it a priority. The seasons of life when I lose focus on dating Brooke (my wife) are also the same seasons when our children have more issues. I don't think that's coincidental. Love your wife, make time to date her, take her on trips, and show your kids that she is a bigger priority than they are.

5. Don't shrink back as she grows up. Our oldest is almost 11, so we haven't hit the dreaded teenage years, but I say bring them on. Dads who are further down the road than I am regret not being more emotionally engaged with their teenage daughters. It will be awkward for all of us, but I'm leaning right into it. Periods, boyfriends, shaving armpits, Snapchat, whatever it is. My girls won't know any different than their dad being every bit as engaged when they're 15 as he was when they were 5. Don't DISAPPEAR when their emotions and bodies start changing.

6. Teach her how to do a real push-up. I won't be mistaken for Billy Blanks, but we take health and wellness seriously at our house. My girls aren't wimps. They know how to do real push-ups. They play sports hard. They think "throwing like a girl" is a compliment, not an insult. They bring it. And more than the physical toughness, we're raising mentally tough girls. Like their momma. In a world where femininity gets assigned far too often to princess dresses and fairy tales, my girls are tough as nails.

7. Make memories. A friend once told me that my job is to be the Chief Memory Maker of the house. It's morbid, but I have 50-60 years left on this Earth, tops. That's not a ton of time, so I'm going to go hard and create as many memories with my girls as I possibly can. We celebrate big things like a 10-year-old trip, but we also take the little things seriously. Family movie nights on Friday nights. Big breakfast Saturdays. Hikes after church. It doesn't have to be expensive or elaborate, but it does have to be intentional. Fill up YOUR daughter's emotional journal with memories of being with her dad.

8. Teach her that it's not about her. Something amazing happens when we realize that the universe doesn't SPIN around us. We're not modeling it perfectly for our girls, but we're trying to show them that life is best lived when we give ourselves away. To serve others. To go last. To not always have to be right.

9. Show up to her EVENTS. As dads of young daughters, most of us are building CAREERS at the same time. So it's not possible every single time, but make the effort to get to her stuff. Even if it's not your favorite stuff. I hate the commercial of the dad at the daughter's dance recital who is watching a football game on his phone. I love a good football game as much as the next guy, but clap as hard for your daughter's recital as you would on your couch watching sports.

10. Proximity doesn't equal presence. I'm guilty of forgetting this often. The simple fact that you're there doesn't mean you're really there. Especially in an era of constant information and entertainment. Turn your phone off when you get home from work. Or at least put it in another room. Your daughter couldn't care less about your Twitter feed, YOUR EMAILS, your fantasy football team, or your group texts. She cares about spending time with you. Playing with you. Being with you.

11. Do her hair and nails. Brooke does this 99 times out of 100, but I make it a point to tell all my girls that daddy can make a killer ponytail. And I can paint their nails like a champ. Heck, they've painted mine on many occasions as well. Show her that a man can be gentle.

12. Date her. I wish I could say I do this consistently, but even once every few months is better than not at all. Dating your daughter is critical to showing her how a man should treat a woman. Call me old school, but on my dates with my girls, I OPEN the doors, pay the bills, look them in the eye, and make them feel like a million bucks. This doesn't have to cost a ton of money. A walk around the block. A short bike ride. A trip to the ice cream store. Doesn't have to be fancy, but again, it must be intentional.

13. Her heart is more beautiful than her appearance. Guess what, dad? It's your job to tell your daughter, and then remind her a million times, that what's on the inside of her is what will make her go far in life. The heart is how we talk about it at our house, but it can be her character, her self-worth, her core. Raising girls in this sensual world isn't easy, but they don't have to settle for the belief that to be pretty means you must fit into a size zero or show almost every piece of your skin when you walk into a room.

14. Don't blink. Kenny Chesney was right. She calls you daddy. Enjoy that role -- it flies by.

15. Will you forgive me? I forget 1-14 more than I would like to admit. I'm doing my best. You are too. But when I blow it, when I hurt her feelings, and when my intentions were better than my actions, I'm learning to ask her for forgiveness. Not a simple apology, but a sincere plea for forgiveness. Model being a dad who gets down on her level and admits that you don't have it all together. She'll forgive you for that.

Dads, YOUR role is a precious one. Love your daughters well.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Former Evangelical: The Truth About Christian 'Sexual Purity' The author of "Virgin Nation" talks about her experience with the anti-premarital sex conservative Evangelical Movement y Sara J. Moslener / Religion Dispatches June 30, 2015 (There are so many disturbing things in this article)

What inspired you to write Virgin Nation?

I’ve been familiar with evangelical purity movements since I was an evangelical teenager. When I was young, “Why Wait?” by Josh McDowell was the only national program available—everyone was watching this VHS series in Sunday School or Youth Group.

One girl at my Christian school wore a shirt that said “I’m NOT Doing It” and listed all the bad things that could happen if you had sex. I myself wrote a letter to my local newspaper that had run a story about how teaching sexual abstinence was not realistic. I, the ever-zealous—and completely naïve—young evangelical, argued otherwise and offered myself as an example of teenagers who believed it wasn’t right to have sex.So though there weren’t yet OPPORTUNITIES to take pledges and wear rings, I made a point to publicly declare my commitment to sexual abstinence before marriage.Several years later I was in my senior year of college (also a Christian institution) and was hired to stage-manage a large concert EVENT at a local church. The event was being sponsored by True Love Waits—one of the more prominent purity campaigns developed by the Southern Baptist church.

The main speaker was a young woman named Giana Jessen who promoted the value of sexual purity by describing her mother’s experiences as a pregnant adolescent. Her mother had attempted to abort her child and had failed. A NURSE at the hospital rescued the child who, it turned out, was Jessen herself. By this time I no longer affilliated with the evangelical tradition and harbored deep suspicions about their tactics and theological assumptions. Hearing Jessen’s story and being part of the context in which it was used became a memory that practically etched itself in my skin.

Her story was something I needed to make sense of, and as the years wore on it became a heavy ghost that seemed to follow me everywhere.

It took me a while to formulate the questions I needed to ask about the history of evangelicalism, gender, and adolescent sexuality—and eventually a graduate school course would allow me the resources and OPPORTUNITYto look into them. The project took on different shapes as a course paper, doctoral dissertation, and eventually Virgin Nation. I had to be talked at the dissertation stage by my advisor, whose prodding was instrumental in giving me the courage to move forward given my own past affiliation with the movement.

I’m a big believer that most academics are really writing their own stories. The more authentic we are with those stories, the more people CONNECT TO the histories we are trying to uncover.

Researching this history was a practice in chasing and catching those ghosts that seemed to haunt my life as a young adult. The timing for Virgin Nation is serendipitous to say the least. There are now many people who have passed through the purity culture and are telling their own stories of reclaiming their bodies, their sexuality, their relationships. Virgin Nation is a project in that same vein—though that may only be evident to those who know me well.Researching and writing this book was a way to give flesh to those ghosts, to exorcise the spirit of the over-zealous, evangelical teen. I turned out to be a historian, so that’s the medium I am able to make use of.

What’s the most important take-home message for readers?

Sexual purity movements, past and present, are not ultimately about PROMOTING a biblical view of sexuality. They are about explaining large-scale culture crises (e.g. Anglo-Saxon decline, the Cold War, changing gender roles and sexual mores) and providing a formula for overcoming those crises.

Today’s movement is laden with a therapeutic rhetoric that presents these choices as the best choices for those who seek to conform their behaviors to God’s will. It promises that those who conform will enjoy spiritual, physical, and emotional satisfaction in their MARRIAGE RELATIONSHIPS. Other scholars have parsed these claims in more sophisticated ways than I do and many other writers have demonstrated that these expectations are anything but a path to personal well being. What I’m saying is that sexual purity has never been about personal well-being for evangelical adolescents— or anyone.

Each historical example I analyze demonstrates that purity work and rhetoric has emerged at moments when socially conservative evangelicals seek to assert and maintain their political power. Sexual purity isn’t about what Abby and Brendan do on a Friday night, it’s about CONSTRUCTING a view of the United States as a nation in distress and claiming that evangelical Christianity can not only best explain the crisis, but save us from our demise.

Is there anything you had to leave out?

For a long time I considered writing an addendum about post-purity evangelicals. This is a concept introduced by Abigail Rine who wrote in The Atlantic about the growing NUMBER of evangelicals and former evangelicals who’ve been recounting their experiences with sexual purity. Many of these are women who are writing through their own struggles with sexual shame as a result of learning at a very young age that sex was threatening to their physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

What’s emerged, especially in the work of women like Rachel Evans Held, Sarah Bessey, and Dianna E. Anderson, is a new strain of Christian feminism. And that’s significant. Really significant. It needs a book of its own. In the end, I had to be the academic and recognize this narrative didn’t help me to establish the argument I was making about national SECURITY.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions about YOUR topic?

When I’ve given talks there is always someone who is expecting me to make a prescriptive statement about the movement. That is, they want to know if I support it or revile it. I was even asked this question at my dissertation defense. On the one hand, I’m pleased, because it means readers can’t necessary tell what my own biases are. While I do have an opinion on this, my opinion is not the same thing as my book’s argument—which is supported with evidence and argumentation. My work as an historian is to describe what is, not prescribe what should be. The goal of Virgin Nation is to examine the cultural and political work done in the name of sexual purity. Whether you believe that work is the salvation of America or the root of all sexual tyranny, the book OFFERS an important historical perspective.

Did you have a specific audience in mind when writing?

I’ve always had official and unofficial audiences in my mind. Primarily, I think about other scholars working on questions of religion, sexuality, and adolescence. Being part of a conversation about these topics has always been my goal. And I hope that my colleagues are able to use Virgin Nation to conduct their own conversations with students and readers.My unofficial audience is the group of people I mention above. Those who, like me, have been working to reclaim their adolescence from the fear-based rhetoric of the movement.

(Before I ever started this project I watched Randall Balmer’s interview with Josh McDowell in Balmer’s video series, Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory. In that interview Balmer asks McDowell if it might be problematic to use fear to teach evangelical teenagers about human sexuality. McDowell responds that it’s extremely important to utilize fear because the alternative to heeding the message is so much worse. All this to say, when I use the term “fear-based rhetoric” this is not pejorative, but descriptive of the deliberate strategies used by the contemporary movement.) Though not everyone turns to history to put their mind at ease, I find that when I can articulate the origins of something that has deeply impacted my self-understanding, I am more at home in my own mind and body.

Are you hoping to inform readers? Entertain them? Piss them off?

I leave that up to the reader, because each one will have a response based on the set of questions they bring to Virgin Nation. Some will have questions from their own lives, others will have questions related to their own academic projects. As a scholar-teacher, my goal is always to EDUCATE and inform. That’s not unimportant work, especially when making sense of issues that deeply impact how we feel about our bodies and sexual choices.

What alternative title would you give the book?

I love the title and can’t imagine what else I could call it. How do you feel about the cover?

Oxford UNIVERSITY Press made this decision and I was more than delighted with it. I had initially suggested artwork by Norman Rockwell—a cover of The Saturday Evening Post that showed a young girl in white looking into a mirror with a film magazine on her lap. In the corner was a headline for another article—“The GI’s Who Fell In Love With the Reds.” The juxtapostion of that headline with the image was the perfect illustration of my argument about sexuality and national SECURITY.

OUP was also excited about this image, until they encountered too many obstacles in getting the rights. I’ve always loved Mary Cassatt’s paintings and it’s an honor to have my work associated with one of her pieces. Is there a book out there you wish you had written?

I wish I had written The Courage to Teach by Parker Palmer. More precisely, I wish I could embody the authenticity and kindness in my own teaching that Palmer describes. This book helped me a lot in graduate school when I was overwhelmed and disillusioned by academia. It helped me remember who I was in the midst of feeling like I would never be good enough for this work.

Ironically, I read it before I ever started teaching. That was a rude awakening and I quickly recognized what Palmer meant by courage. Maintaining authenticity, kindness, vulnerability—all things that make a great TEACHER, these are almost impossible to achieve in the classroom. That is, you can’t make the teaching moments Parker describes happen with only rigorous course preparation and by being the expert in the room. But this is what students expect and what we’ve come to expect of ourselves.

I live with the constant tension that what is most expected of me as a TEACHER is not necessarily what makes for good teaching. This is the paradox that Palmer helps his readers to navigate—and I wish I had that ability.

What’s YOUR next book? I’m looking more closely at the racial origins of sexual purity. Right now I’m interested in the debate between the 19th century reformer Frances Willard and the journalist and anti-lynching activist, Ida B. Wells. Wells made it known that lynching in the late 19th/early 20th century was justified by the myth of the black, male rapist. Most lynchings occurred because black men were accused of raping white women. Wells’ investigation into hundreds of lynching cases determined that most of the time when authorities discovered black men and white women having sex, it was consensual.

In SHORT, she exposed that white women not only sought to have sexual relations outside of marriage, they sometimes did so with African-American men.

Wells sought the support of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, but its leader, Frances Willard, would not give it because Wells’ argument was based on the truth—that women were having sex across the color line. Willard believed that white women’s sexual purity was the source of their religious and moral authority. Conceding Wells’ claim would have jeopardized Willard’s own authority and the Victorian gender roles that shaped so much of late 19th century culture and PROMOTED Anglo-Saxon superiority. The public debates between Wells and Willard raise important questions about how sexual purity policed both women’s sexuality and the color line. As I discuss in the first chapter of Virgin Nation, sexual purity was the means by which Anglos achieved and maintained racial purity. My hope is to find other places in US history where race plays a significant role in the PROMOTION of sexual purity and see what else we can learn from them.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Ramadan 2015 began in the evening of Wednesday, June 17 and ends in the evening of Friday, July 17

Welcome Ramadhan.jpg

Ramadan (/ˌræməˈdɑːn/; Arabic: رمضان‎ Ramaḍān, IPA: [rɑmɑˈdˤɑːn];[note 1] also transliterated Ramazan, Ramzan, Ramadhan, or Ramathan) is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad according to Islamic belief.This annual observance is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. The month lasts 29–30 days based on the visual sightings of the crescent moon, according to numerous biographical accounts compiled in the hadiths.

The word Ramadan comes from the Arabic root ramiḍa or ar-ramaḍ, which means scorching heat or dryness. Fasting is fardh (obligatory) for adult Muslims, except those who are suffering from an illness, travelling, are elderly, pregnant, breastfeeding, diabetic or going through menstrual bleeding. Fasting the month of Ramadan was made obligatory (wājib) during the month of Sha'aban, in the second year after the Muslims migrated from Mecca to Medina. Fatwas have been issued declaring that Muslims who live in regions with natural phenomenon such as the midnight sun or polar night should follow the timetable of Mecca.

While fasting from dawn until sunset, Muslims refrain from consuming food, drinking liquids, smoking, and engaging in sexual relations with one's spouse. Muslims are also instructed to refrain from sinful behavior that may negate the reward of fasting, such as false speech (insulting, backbiting, cursing, lying, etc.) and fighting.] Food and drink is served daily, before dawn and after sunset. Spiritual rewards (thawab) for fasting are also believed to be multiplied within the month of Ramadan.Fasting for Muslims during Ramadan typically includes the increased offering of salat (prayers) and recitation of the Quran.

Chapter 2, Revelation 185, of the Quran states:

The month of Ramadan is that in which was revealed the Quran; a guidance for mankind, and clear proofs of the guidance, and the criterion (of right and wrong). And whosoever of you is present, let him fast the month, and whosoever of you is sick or on a journey, a number of other days. Allah desires for you ease; He desires not hardship for you; and that you should complete the period, and that you should magnify Allah for having guided you, and that perhaps you may be thankful.[Quran 2:185]

It is believed that the Quran was first revealed to Muhammad during the month of Ramadan which has been referred to as the "best of times". The first revelation was sent down on Laylat al-Qadr (The night of Power) which is one of the five odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadan. According to hadith, all holy scriptures were sent down during Ramadan. The tablets of Ibrahim, the Torah, the Psalms, the Gospel and the Quran were sent down on 1st, 6th, 12th, 13th[note 2] and 24th Ramadan respectively.

According to the Quran, fasting was also obligatory for prior nations, and is a way to attain taqwa, fear of God.[Quran 2:183] God proclaimed to Muhammad that fasting for His sake was not a new innovation in monotheism, but rather an obligation practiced by those truly devoted to the oneness of God.The pagans of Mecca also fasted, but only on tenth day of Muharram to expiate sins and avoid droughts.

The ruling to observe fasting during Ramadan was sent down 18 months after Hijra, during the month of Sha'aban in the second year of Hijra in 624 CE.

Abu Zanad, an Arabic writer from Iraq who lived after the founding of Islam,in around 747 CE, wrote that at least one Mandaean community located in al-Jazira (modern northern Iraq) observed Ramadan before converting to Islam. [not in citation given]

According to Philip Jenkins, Ramadan comes "from the strict Lenten discipline of the Syrian churches".[dubious – discuss] However, this suggestion is based on the orientalist idea that the Qur'an itself has Syrian origins which was refuted by Muslim academics such as M. Al-Azami.

Important dates
The beginning and end of Ramadan are determined by the lunar Islamic calendar.


Click to view larger image
Hilāl (the crescent) is typically a day (or more) after the astronomical new moon. Since the new moon marks the beginning of the new month, Muslims can usually safely estimate the beginning of Ramadan. However, to many Muslims, this is not in accordance with authenticated Hadiths stating that visual confirmation per region is recommended. The consistent variations of a day have existed since the time of Muhammad.

Night of Power

Main article: Laylat al-Qadr
Laylat al-Qadr, which in Arabic means "the night of power" or "the night of decree", is considered the holiest night of the year. Which occurs this year on Monday, Jul 13, 2015. This is the night in which Muslims believe the first revelation of the Quran was sent down to Muhammad stating that this night was "better than one thousand months [of proper worship], as stated in Chapter 97:3 of the Qu'ran.

Also, generally, Laylat al-Qadr is believed to have occurred on an odd-numbered night during the last ten days of Ramadan, i.e., the night of the 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th or 29th. The Dawoodi Bohra Community believe that the 23rd night is laylat al Qadr.


Main articles: Eid al-Fitr and Eid prayers
The holiday of Eid al-Fitr (Arabic:عيد الفطر) marks the end of Ramadan and the beginning of the next lunar month, Shawwal. This first day of the following month is declared after another crescent new moon has been sighted or the completion of 30 days of fasting if no visual sighting is possible due to weather conditions. This first day of Shawwal is called Eid al-Fitr. Eid al-Fitr in 2015 is on Friday, the 17th of July.Eid al-Fitr may also be a reference towards the festive nature of having endured the month of fasting successfully and returning to the more natural disposition (fitra) of being able to eat, drink and resume intimacy with spouses during the day.

Religious practices

Azim Azimzade. Ramadan of the poor people. 1938
The predominant practice during Ramadan is fasting from dawn to sunset. The pre-dawn meal before the fast is called the suhur, while the meal at sunset that breaks the fast is the iftar. Considering the high diversity of the global Muslim population, it is impossible to describe typical suhur or iftar meals.

Muslims also engage in increased prayer and charity during Ramadan. Ramadan is also a month where Muslims try to practice increased self-discipline. This is motivated by the Hadith, especially in Al-Bukhariand Muslim, that "When Ramadan arrives, the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of hell are locked up and devils are put in chains."

Main article: Sawm of Ramadan
Ramadan is a time of spiritual reflection, improvement and increased devotion and worship. Muslims are expected to put more effort into following the teachings of Islam. The fast (sawm) begins at dawn and ends at sunset. In addition to abstaining from eating and drinking, Muslims also increase restraint, such as abstaining from sexual relations and generally sinful speech and behavior. The act of fasting is said to redirect the heart away from worldly activities, its purpose being to cleanse the soul by freeing it from harmful impurities. Ramadan also teaches Muslims how to better practice self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice, and empathy for those who are less fortunate; thus encouraging actions of generosity and compulsory charity (zakat).

It becomes compulsory for Muslims to start fasting when they reach puberty, so long as they are healthy and sane, and have no disabilities or illnesses. Many children endeavour to complete as many fasts as possible as practice for later life.

Exemptions to fasting are travel, menstruation, severe illness, pregnancy, and breast-feeding. However, many Muslims with medical conditions insist on fasting to satisfy their spiritual needs, although it is not recommended by the hadith. Professionals should closely monitor individuals who decide to persist with fasting. Those who were unable to fast still must make up the days missed later.

Main article: Suhur

Iftar at Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey
Each day, before dawn, Muslims observe a pre-fast meal called the suhur. After stopping a short time before dawn, Muslims begin the first prayer of the day, Fajr. At sunset, families hasten for the fast-breaking meal known as iftar.

Main article: Iftar
In the evening, dates are usually the first food to break the fast; according to tradition, Muhammad broke fast with three dates. Following that, Muslims generally adjourn for the Maghrib prayer, the fourth of the five daily prayers, after which the main meal is served.

Social gatherings, many times in a buffet style, are frequent at iftar. Traditional dishes are often highlighted, including traditional desserts, and particularly those made only during Ramadan. Water is usually the beverage of choice, but juice and milk are also often available, as are soft drinks and caffeinated beverages.

In the Middle East, the iftar meal consists of water, juices, dates, salads and appetizers, one or more main dishes, and various kinds of desserts. Usually, the dessert is the most important part during iftar. Typical main dishes are lamb stewed with wheat berries, lamb kebabs with grilled vegetables, or roast chicken served with chickpea-studded rice pilaf. A rich dessert, such as luqaimat, baklava or kunafeh (a buttery, syrup-sweetened kadaifi noodle pastry filled with cheese), concludes the meal.

Over time, iftar has grown into banquet festivals. This is a time of fellowship with families, friends and surrounding communities, but may also occupy larger spaces at masjid or banquet halls for 100 or more diners.

Main articles: Zakāt and Sadaqah

Men praying during Ramadan at the Shrine of Hazrat Ali or "Blue Mosque" in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan
Charity is very important in Islam, and even more so during Ramadan. Zakāt, often translated as "the poor-rate", is obligatory as one of the pillars of Islam; a fixed percentage of the person's savings is required to be given to the poor. Sadaqah is voluntary charity in giving above and beyond what is required from the obligation of zakāt. In Islam, all good deeds are more handsomely rewarded during Ramadan than in any other month of the year. Consequently, many will choose this time to give a larger portion, if not all, of the zakāt that they are obligated to give. In addition, many will also use this time to give a larger portion of sadaqah in order to maximize the reward that will await them at the Last Judgment.

Nightly prayers
Main article: Tarawih
Tarawih (Arabic: تراويح‎) refers to extra prayers performed by Muslims at night in the Islamic month of Ramadan. Contrary to popular belief, they are not compulsory. However, many Muslims pray these prayers in the evening during Ramadan. Some scholars[who?] maintain that Tarawih is neither fard or a Sunnah, but is the preponed Tahajjud (night prayer) prayer shifted to post-Isha' for the ease of believers. But a majority of Sunni scholars regard the Tarawih prayers as Sunnat al-Mu'akkadah, a salaat that was performed by the Islamic prophet Muhammad very consistently.

Recitation of the Quran
In addition to fasting, Muslims are encouraged to read the entire Quran. Some Muslims perform the recitation of the entire Quran by means of special prayers, called Tarawih. These voluntary prayers are held in the mosques every night of the month, during which a whole section of the Quran (juz', which is 1/30 of the Quran) is recited. Therefore, the entire Quran would be completed at the end of the month. Although it is not required to read the whole Quran in the Tarawih prayers, it is common.

Cultural practices

Striking the bedug in Indonesia

Fanous Ramadan decorations in Cairo, Egypt

Ramadan in the Old City of Jerusalem
In some Muslim countries today, lights are strung up in public squares, and across city streets, to add to the festivities of the month. Lanterns have become symbolic decorations welcoming the month of Ramadan. In a growing number of countries, they are hung on city streets. The tradition of lanterns as a decoration becoming associated with Ramadan is believed to have originated during the Fatimid Caliphate primarily centered in Egypt, where Caliph al-Mu'izz li-Din Allah was greeted by people holding lanterns to celebrate his ruling. From that time, lanterns were used to light mosques and houses throughout the capital city of Cairo. Shopping malls, places of business, and people's homes can be seen with stars and crescents and various lighting effects, as well.

As the nation with the world's largest Muslim population, Indonesia has diverse Ramadan traditions. On the island of Java, many Javanese Indonesians bathe in holy springs to prepare for fasting, a ritual known as Padusa. The city of Semarang marks the beginning of Ramadan with the Dugderan carnival, which involves parading the Warak ngendog, a dragon-like creature allegedly inspired by the Buraq. In the Chinese-influenced capital city of Jakarta, fire crackers were traditionally used to wake people up for morning prayer, until the 19th Century. Towards the end of Ramadan, most employees receive a one-month bonus known as Tunjangan Hari Raya. Certain kinds of food are especially popular during Ramadan, such as beef in Aceh, and snails in Central Java. The iftar meal is announced every evening by striking the bedug, a giant drum, in the mosque.

Penalties for infraction
In some Muslim countries, failing to fast or the open flouting of such behavior during Ramadan is considered a crime and is prosecuted as such. For instance, in Algeria, in October 2008 the court of Biskra condemned six people to four years in prison and heavy fines.

In Kuwait, according to law number 44 of 1968, the penalty is a fine of no more than 100 Kuwaiti dinars, or jail for no more than one month, or both penalties, for those seen eating, drinking or smoking during Ramadan daytime. In the U.A.E., eating or drinking in public during the daytime of Ramadan is considered a minor offence and would be punished by up to 150 hours of community service.
In Egypt, alcohol sales are banned during Ramadan.

In Kermanshah, Iran, a non-Muslim was sentenced to having his lips burnt with a cigarette and five Muslims were publicly flogged with 70 stripes for eating during Ramadan.

Other legal issues
Some countries have laws that amend work schedules during Ramadan. Under U.A.E. labor law, the maximum working hours are to be 6 hours per day and 36 hours per week. Qatar, Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait have similar laws.

Health issues
It has been suggested that fasting during Ramadan has numerous health benefits, including: improved brain function and alertness due to greater brain cell production; greatly reduced stress levels due to a reduction in cortisol;  a reduction of cholesterol;  a reduction of blood glucose LDL cholesterol levels; increases in HDL cholesterol; Weight loss due to the use of fat for energy while preserving muscle; decrease of waist circumference; decrease of body mass index; decrease of blood sugar; decrease of mean arterial pressure; better control of diabetes; reduced blood pressure; and a detoxification process.

Kidney disease
Ramadan alters the circadian rhythm and the necessary water supply for humans. An updated review of the literature by an Iranian group suggested fasting during Ramadan might produce renal injury in patients with moderate (GFR <60 ml/min) or worse kidney disease, but was not injurious to renal transplant patients with good function or most stone forming patients.

Infectious disease
Mass gathering events like the gathering of huge numbers of pilgrims traveling to Saudi Arabia's holy sites during Ramadan and Hajj may give infections, such as Middle East respiratory syndrome and Meningococcal meningitis, the opportunity to spread.

Athletes participating during Ramadan should keep in mind the necessary nutrition and sleep patterns during their training regimens. Most Muslim athletes have said that they experience their best workouts during Ramadan in the morning. Evening time workouts may cause them to feel sick. A big component of recovery after a workout is the consumption of carbohydrates. During fasting, they are not allowed to consume this, making it more difficult for the body to recover.

Crime rates
The correlation of Ramadan with crime rates is mixed: some statistics show that crime rates drop during Ramadan, while others show that it rises. Decreases in crime rates have been reported by the police in some cities in Turkey (Istanbul, and Konya,) and the Eastern province of Saudi Arabia. A 2012 study showed that crimes rates decreased in Iran during Ramadan, and that decrease was statistically significant. A 2005 study found that there was a decrease in assault, robbery and alcohol-related crimes during Ramadan in Saudi Arabia, but only the decrease in alcohol related crimes was statistically significant.Increases in crime rates during Ramadan have been reported in Turkey, Jakarta, parts of Algeria, Yemen and Egypt.

Various mechanisms have been proposed for the effect of Ramadan on crime:

An Iranian cleric argues that fasting during Ramadan makes people less likely to commit crimes due to spiritual reasons. Gamal al-Banna argues that fasting can stress people out, which can make them more likely to commit crimes. He criticized Muslims who commit crimes while fasting during Ramadan as "fake and superficial".
Police in Saudi Arabia attributed drop in crime rates to the "spiritual mood prevalent in the country".
In Jakarta, Indonesia, police say that the fact the traffic of 7 million people leaving the city to celebrate Eid al-Fitr results in increases in street crime. As a result, police deploy an additional 18,000 personnel.
During Ramadan, millions of pilgrims enter Saudi Arabia to visit Mecca. According to Yemen Times, such pilgrims are usually charitable, and consequently smugglers traffic children in from Yemen to beg on the streets of Saudi Arabia.
Ramadan in polar regions
Duration of dawn to sunset time varies in different parts of the world according to summer or winter solstices of the sun. Most Muslims fast for 12–16 hours during Ramadan. However, in polar regions the period between dawn and dusk may exceed 22 hours. For example in 2014 Muslims in Reykjavik, Iceland and Trondheim, Norway fasted almost 22 hours, while Muslims in Sydney, Australia fasted for only 10 hours. Muslims in areas where continuous night or day is observed during Ramadan follow the fasting hours in the nearest city where fasting is observed at dawn and sunset. Alternatively, Muslims may follow Mecca time.