Deus non alligatur. God is not bound. Nibbanam paramam sukham. Unbinding is the Highest Happiness. The Heart is Divinity. God is the primal radiance of Divinity. Nature is the primal manifestation of Divinity. The Buddha is the primal realization of Divinity. La ilaha il Allah. Allah is Complete Wholeness.

30 June 2007

Full Moon?

[27 February 2004]

Technically speaking, the Moon is never full.

Let's back up a moment. The actual moment of Full Moon that time when the Moon is opposite to the Sun in the sky can be found in any almanac. Some newspapers also provide the exact time. It occurs each time the Moon has swung around on its roughly 29-day orbit.

We could then say that the Moon is officially "full" for only one minute. The Full Moon of Feb. 6, for instance, occurred at 3:14 a.m. EST. In the very strictest sense, one minute before that time, the phase of the Moon was a waxing gibbous; one minute after that time, it was a waning gibbous phase.

But the mechanics of the celestial alignment -- the Sun, Earth and Moon all in a line -- adds a twist to the idea of fullness.

Learning Scripture

You should learn the scriptures up to a point, but then do tapas (austerities). Only that will bring your learning to the plane of experience, bring peace to you, and enable you to do something good for the world.”

-- Sri Mata Amritanandamayi

27 June 2007


The Universal Scale of Cinematic Appraisal, or USCA:

10: Would want to buy the movie
9: Would want to see it twice
8: Would want to see it once
7: Would want to see it once, matinee
6: Would want to see it once, cheap theater
5: Would want to wait for DVD rental
4: Would want to wait for TV (cable)
3: Would want to wait for TV (no cable)
2: Would want to read the book
1: Would prefer to read the reviews
0: Would rather do something productive
-1: Would prefer to sit at the beach for 2 hours
-2: Would rather stare at a wall
-3: Would rather wash clothes
-4: Would rather spend a summer in Mississippi without air-conditioning
-5: Would rather be car-jacked
-6: Would rather be on a high-jacked plane
-7: Would rather survive 10-rounds with a hungry Mike Tyson
-8: Would rather walk a tight-rope over a den of vipers
-9: Would rather undergo appendectomy without anesthesia
-10: Would rather invade Iran during Ramadan

Black Eyed Peas and the Black Hat Lama

His website profile is that of many 24-year-olds. He likes the band Black Eyed Peas and action films such as Spider-Man; he watches the BBC news, The Simpsons and Lost, his heroes are Kevin Pietersen, Andrew Flintoff and Peter O’Toole and he would like to have met Elvis and Mahatma Gandhi.

He includes on his MySpace blog film of his Mum and Dad, a gallery of his friends and comments and greetings from readers and admirers.

But this is no ordinary blog. The author is His Holiness 17th Karmapa Trinlay Thaye Dorje, otherwise known as the Black Hat Lama, one of the most senior and revered figures in Tibetan Buddhism.

The Four Noble Truths

[Inspired by the Dhammacakkappavatthana Sutta]

"Now this, monks, is the noble truth of rasa: birth is rasa, maturity is rasa, peace is rasa; contentment, praise, wholeness, joy, and a sense of adventure are rasa; association with the beloved is rasa; patience with the unbeloved is rasa; creating what is beneficial to all is rasa. In short, all conditioned processes are rasa.

And this, monks is the noble truth of the origination of rasa: the acts of love and wisdom that makes for richer life, accompanied by passion and delight, not discouraged by pain and suffering — i.e., acting compassionately; cultivating wisdom; and integrating body and mind.

And this, monks, is the noble truth of the cessation of rasa: the remainderless fading and cessation, renunciation, relinquishment, release, and letting go of those very acts of love and wisdom that make for richer life.

And this, monks, is the noble truth of the way of practice leading to the fullness of rasa: precisely this noble eightfold path: full view, full resolve, full speech, full action, full livelihood, full effort, full concentration, and full awareness."

Sundara, Rasa, Rocana

[Inspired by the Dhamma-niyama Sutta]

"Monks, whether or not there is the arising of Tathagatas, this property stands — this steadfastness of the Dhamma, this orderliness of the Dhamma: All conditioned processes are beautiful.

"The Tathagata directly awakens to that, breaks through to that. Directly awakening & breaking through to that, he declares it, teaches it, describes it, sets it forth. He reveals it, explains it, & makes it plain: All conditioned processes are beautiful.

"Whether or not there is the arising of Tathagatas, this property stands — this steadfastness of the Dhamma, this orderliness of the Dhamma: All conditioned processes are enjoyment.

"The Tathagata directly awakens to that, breaks through to that. Directly awakening & breaking through to that, he declares it, teaches it, describes it, sets it forth. He reveals it, explains it, & makes it plain: All conditioned processes are enjoyment.

"Whether or not there is the arising of Tathagatas, this property stands — this steadfastness of the Dhamma, this orderliness of the Dhamma: All phenomena are bright.

"The Tathagata directly awakens to that, breaks through to that. Directly awakening & breaking through to that, he declares it, teaches it, describes it, sets it forth. He reveals it, explains it, & makes it plain: All phenomena are bright."

Sabbe sankhara sundara: All conditioned processes are beautiful.
Sabbe sankhara rasa: All conditioned processes are enjoyment.
Sabbe dhamma rocana: All phenomena are bright.

25 June 2007

Eternity Explained

The fact is "aeonios" wherever it is used in the New Testament has one uniform meaning. When applied to God, He is the aeonis God, or the God of the ages, i.e., the Being who through aeons of time is working out His wonderful plan. The word "aeonios" has the force of belonging to, or in connection with the ages; for example, "aeonios life," "aeonios salvation," "aeonios redemption," "aeonios inheritance," "aeonios fire," and "aeonios punishment" (see John 3:16; Heb.5:9; 9:12,15; Jude 7; Matt.24:46). To suggest that "aeonios" means "endless times" or "endless ages," is not only a contradiction of terms, but nonsensical and confusing. It is equivalent to suggesting an "infinite finite," a "limitless limit," a "something nothing" or a "full vacuum." An age is a span of time, a period of existence. Though seemingly immeasurable to man, nevertheless it is of limited duration.

God’s Punishments Have Purpose

In examining "aeonios" as it is applied to punishment, we see that this too pertains to a period of time or age in which God is working out His purposes. The Greek word translated "punishment" is ""kolasis," which means "to curtail, retrain, chastise, or prune." Aeonios chastisement would then be a sentence of chastisement with both a beginning and an end, for the purpose of correction. The fact that the sentence of chastisement has an end does not in any way take away from its severity (Rom.11:22). God has promised judgment to theGentiles until He sends forth judgment unto victory-Matt.12:18-20. For when God’s judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness-Isa.26:9. Never are God’s chastisements meaningless, as they would be if aeonios punishment were forever. Even those who have not benefited from His judgments while living on this earth, will one day experience His judgments, for "it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" Heb.9:27. The marvelous truth of the gospel is that God’s chastisements are redemptive. Ultimately all the ends of the earth shall know God, for He has sworn by Himself, and the word has gone out of His mouth in righteousness and shall not return void, that unto Him every knee shall bow and every tongue shall swear-Isa.45:22-23; Phil.2:10-11.

Generosity First

Several years ago, when Ajaan Suwat was teaching a retreat at IMS, I was his interpreter. After the second or third day of the retreat he turned to me and said, "I notice that when these people meditate they're awfully grim." You'd look out across the room and all the people were sitting there very seriously, their faces tense, their eyes closed tight. It was almost as if they had Nirvana or Bust written across their foreheads.

He attributed their grimness to the fact that most people here in the West come to Buddhist meditation without any preparation in other Buddhist teachings. They haven't had any experience in being generous in line with the Buddha's teachings on giving. They haven't had any experience in developing virtue in line with the Buddhist precepts. They come to the Buddha's teachings without having tested them in daily life, so they don't have the sense of confidence they need to get them through the hard parts of the meditation. They feel they have to rely on sheer determination instead.

If you look at the way meditation, virtue, and generosity are taught here, it's the exact opposite of the order in which they're taught in Asia. Here, people sign up for a retreat to learn some meditation, and only when they show up at the retreat center do they learn they're going to have to observe some precepts during the retreat. And then at the very end of the retreat they learn that before they'll be allowed to go home they're going to have to be generous. It's all backwards.

Over in Thailand, children's first exposure to Buddhism, after they've learned the gesture of respect, is in giving. You see parents taking their children by the hand as a monk comes past on his alms round, lifting them up, and helping them put a spoonful of rice into the monk's bowl. Over time, as the children start doing it themselves, the process becomes less and less mechanical, and after a while they begin to take pleasure in giving.

At first this pleasure may seem counterintuitive. The idea that you gain happiness by giving things away doesn't come automatically to a young child's mind. But with practice you find that it's true. After all, when you give, you put yourself in a position of wealth. The gift is proof that you have more than enough. At the same time it gives you a sense of your worth as a person. You're able to help other people. The act of giving also creates a sense of spaciousness in the mind, because the world we live in is created by our actions, and the act of giving creates a spacious world: a world where generosity is an operating principle, a world where people have more than enough, enough to share. And it creates a good feeling in the mind.

-- Thanissaro Bhikkhu

24 June 2007

Marking Out Common Ground

Marking Out Common Ground for Eastern Orthodoxy and Mahāyāna Buddhism: Correspondences in the Works of Gregory of Nyssa and the Mahāparinirvāna Sūtra

Gregory of Nyssa (c.330-385 C.E.) is one of the earliest systematic theologians of the Orthodox Christian Church. Gregory defended the Christian faith against the undue influence of Greek philosophies, all the while relying upon those same philosophies to explicate orthodox doctrine. The nature of the phenomenal world, the relation of body to soul, the doctrine of the resurrection, and the eschatological expression of heaven became key topics in this debate with the Gnostics who championed ancient Greek ways of thinking. In this dispute, it is of particular interest that Gregory developed a Christian worldview that strikingly parallels the Mahāyāna theology described in the Mahāparinirvāna Sūtra. While there are seemingly irreconcilable tenets of faith separating Christianity and Buddhism, the writings of Gregory reveal surprisingly subtle distinctions between these religions on the dialectical monism that constitutes phenomenal reality and the 'blessed passionlessness' of the afterlife.

While important details vary considerably, it still remains that the basic schema of the cosmologies and eschatologies in both religions are surprisingly analogous. Phenomenal reality is defined in both by a dialectical monism, and non-human nature possesses intrinsic value that extends to an eschatological presence and consummation. Moreover, in each case, the human element is bound to non-human nature in this process of revealing; all of phenomenal existence is to be reconciled to ultimate reality in both Orthodox Christianity and Mahāyāna Buddhism through the human element achieving soteriological fulfillment. Eco-theologians will want to make special note of these common underlying themes. But the significance of this analysis also extends to other topics for interfaith dialogue. Profound doctrinal correspondences exist which make possible deep meaningful exchanges on other questions of theology, cosmology, and eschatology. The Nirvana Sutra and the works of Gregory do indeed reach toward the other, revealing a path of common, and in places, adiaphorous ground that can support a wide range of subjects for mutually enriching exchange.

Nevertheless, a declaration on the universality of salvation may not be a realistic goal for interfaith dialogue. Still, it is possible to increase mutual understanding and appreciation of other faiths, especially when those faiths confess many of the same basic truths of one's own. This analysis has shown that an important inroad for respectful discourse exists for Orthodox Christianity and Mahāyāna Buddhism, a path leading through the works of Gregory of Nyssa and the Nirvana Sutra. And so, while the soteriologies of these two great world faiths may be incompatible, Christians of today can still find themselves in a position similar to that of Clement of Alexandria (d. circa 215 C.E.) in admiring the extraordinary sanctity of the Buddha yet remaining true to his or her own religion. Mutually widening and deepening this admiration is perhaps the noblest aspiration for interfaith outreach.

Matrceta's Hymn

2. In Praise of Causes

10 Having brushed aside doubts
about whether or not it could be done,
of your own free will you took
this helpless world under your protection.

11 You were kind without being asked,
you were loving without reason,
you were a friend to the stranger and
a kinsman to those without kin.

12 You gave even your own flesh
not to mention your wealth and possessions.
Even your own life's breath, O Kindly One,
you gave to those who wished for it.

13 A hundred times you ransomed your own body and life
for the bodies and lives of living beings
in the grip of their would-be slayers.

14 It was not fear of hell or desire for heaven
but utter purity of heart
that made you practice the good.

15 By always avoiding the crooked
and adhering to the straight,
you became the highest receptacle for purity.

16 When attacked you used your fiery power
against the defilements, but in your noble
heart felt only sympathy for those who were defiled.

17 The joy beings feel on saving their lives
equals not the joy you experienced
when you gave your life for others.

18 No matter how often murderers cut you to pieces,
regardless of the
pain you felt only compassion for them.

19 That seed of perfect enlightenment,
that jewel-like mind of yours,
only you, Great Hero, know its essence.
Others are far from understanding it.

20 "Nirvána is not won without perseverance":
thinking thus you roused great energy
without a thought for yourself.

21 Your progress towards excellence never faltered
and now you have attained
the state that cannot be bettered.

22 But you did not practice in order to experience
the pleasant and fruitful results of meditation.
Always in your heart the motive was compassion.

23 For the happiness which, though sublime,
cannot be shared with others,
pains rather than pleases those like you, O Righteous One.

24 You imbibed good speech,
bad speech you shunned like poison,
from mixed speech you extracted what was sweet.

25 Purchasing words of wisdom even with your own life,
in birth after birth, O Knower of Gems,
you were zealous for enlightenment.

26 Thus striving through the three incalculable aeons
accompanied only by your resolution,
you gained the highest state.

-- Matrceta's Hymn to the Buddha

23 June 2007

Seven Levels

The conditioned cosmos manifests in two processes: wholeness and fragmentation. Religion and spirituality, at their best, transform the dis-ease of fragmentation into the health of wholeness. In the human body, the process of fragmentation/wholeness appears within seven levels: (1) the physical body; (2) the pranic and energic body; (3) the emotional and devotional mind; (4) the intellectual and discriminative mind; (5) the causal soul; (6) the causal soul enlightening the body-mind; (7) the uncreated Divine enlivening both the causal soul and body-mind. True religion; true therapeia; or true healing, health, and wholeness; operates at all seven levels.

22 June 2007

Wayside Worship Venues

Wayside worship venues draw people, symbolize religious harmony

BANGALORE, India -- Catholic shrines located alongside Hindu temples in the slums of Karnataka state are common sights, symbols of religious harmony to some.

One such site is in Frazer Town, an area of Bangalore, the state capital. The Catholic shrine, dedicated to St. Anthony, shares a wall with a temple that honors Durga, a Hindu [G]oddess.

The two worship venues have separate entrances and are open around the clock. Vendors, business people, slum dwellers, street children and students frequent them.

Jimmy Mathew, who travels around Karnataka as regional manager of Caritas India, the Catholic church’s national social service agency, says Christian shrines and Hindu temples coexist in several towns in the state. “They are very good means of promoting religious harmony,” said the Catholic layman.

The special prayers to St. Anthony held on Tuesdays attract about 500 people from various religions. Neither shrine nor temple has official sanction from church or Hindu bodies. Neither facility has priests to conduct rituals or lead prayers.

This does not bother Arokya Mary, a 27-year-old Catholic who visits the Frazer Town shrine daily. It “is a place to pray,” said Mary who lives in a nearby slum. In fact, the lack of “rigid” religious rules is what attracts her to the shrine, she added.

A trust comprising Hindus, Christians and Muslims manages the shrine and temple, which sit on the side of a busy road.

A marble plaque on the shrine wall says a woman named Theresa Mary built it on June 13, 1980. The shrine committee then built the temple later, said M. Krishnan, who has been associated with the structure from the beginning.

“I am a Hindu, but I am a daily visitor to the church,” Krishnan said. The retired postmaster recalled that about 30 years ago, shanty people placed a small statue of St. Anthony at the spot where the shrine now sits.

Krishnan believes churches and temples should be part of people’s daily lives, not centers for priestly domination. “People know how to pray. Let them pray the way they want,” he said, adding that “simple people” who want “easy access to God” visit the wayside religious sites.

-- UCA News

19 June 2007


Last Life

One common criticism against the notion of reincarnation, or re-birth, centers on memory and fairness: "If we reincarnate because of our non-beneficial, harmful, and un-ethical actions in previous births; then how is that fair, since we don't remember or recall those particular actions? How then can we avoid those actions in this life, if we don't remember our past lives?"

There is a simple method of remembering which non-beneficial, harmful, and un-ethical actions we performed in a past life. This method takes Three Easy Steps:

1. Read the Ten Commandments; read the Five Precepts.

2. List the commandments and precepts you've broken in this life.

3. The ones you've broken in this life, are the ones you've broken in past lives.


16 June 2007

Protestant Theosis

He deigns in flesh to appear,

Widest extremes to join,

To bring our vileness near,

And make us all divine;

And we the life of God shall know,

For God is manifest below.

Made perfect first in love,

And sanctified by grace,

We shall from earth remove,

And see his glorious face;

His love shall then be fully showed,

And man shall all be lost in God.

-- Charles Wesley, Hymn #5, Hymns for the Nativity of Our Lord, 1745

14 June 2007

Belief-O-Matic Knows

Discover your real religion, with Belief-O-Matic:
Even if YOU don't know what faith you are, Belief-O-Matic knows. Answer 20 questions about your concept of God, the afterlife, human nature, and more, and Belief-O-Matic™ will tell you what religion (if any) you practice...or ought to consider practicing.

Warning: Belief-O-Matic™ assumes no legal liability for the ultimate fate of your soul.
My results:

1. Mahayana Buddhism (100%)
2. Unitarian Universalism (99%)
3. Sikhism (94%)
4. Liberal Quakers (91%)
5. New Age (89%)
6. Neo-Pagan (86%)
7. Jainism (81%)
8. Hinduism (81%)
9. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (77%)
10. Theravada Buddhism (74%)
11. Bahá'í Faith (74%)
12. Reform Judaism (63%)
13. Orthodox Quaker (62%)
14. Orthodox Judaism (62%)
15. Taoism (59%)
16. Secular Humanism (53%)
17. Islam (52%)
18. New Thought (48%)
19. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (40%)
20. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (39%)
21. Nontheist (38%)
22. Scientology (38%)
23. Seventh Day Adventist (37%)
24. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (36%)
25. Eastern Orthodox (31%)
26. Roman Catholic (31%)
27. Jehovah's Witness (29%)

13 June 2007

Acts of Merit

If you really want to honour and help your departed ones, then do some meritorious deeds in their name and transfer the merits to them.

According to Buddhism, good deeds or ‘acts of merit’ bring happiness to the doer both in this world and in the hereafter. Acts of merit are also believed to lead towards the final goal of everlasting happiness. The acts of merit can be performed through body, speech or mind. Every good deed produces ‘merit’ which accumulates to the ‘credit’ of the doer. Buddhism also teaches that the acquired merit can be transferred to others, it can be shared vicariously with others. In other words, the merit is ‘reversible’ and so can be shared with other persons. The persons who receive the merit can be either living or departed ones.

The method for transferring merits is quite simple. First some good deeds are performed. The doer of the good deeds has merely to wish that the merit he has gained accrues to someone in particular, or to all beings. This wish can be purely mental or it can accompanied by an expression of words.

Deus Non Alligatur

There is "one greater than the Temple" (Matt. 12. 6), and greater than the Holy Mysteries. The scholastic axiom Deus non alligatur sacramentis -- "God is not bound to the sacraments" -- may have a Western origin [in St. Thomas Aquinas], but expresses quite well the Eastern mind. What Orthodox would dare to assert that the members of the Society of Friends [i.e., the Quakers, who deny that the sacraments are needed for Christian life] are deprived of the graces that the sacraments represent? The angel went down at regular times into the pool, and whosoever stepped in first after the troubling of the waters was made whole; but our Lord directly healed the paralytic who could not step in (John 5). This does not mean that a man could disregard, or slight, or despise, the channels of grace offered by the Church without endangering his soul. It means that no externals, however useful, are necessary to God, in the absolute sense of this word, and that there is no institution, however sacred, which God cannot dispense with.

-- Moine De L'Eglise D'Orient [A Monk of the Eastern Church]. Orthodox Spirituality: An Outline of the Orthodox Ascetical and Mystical Tradition. Second Edition. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1996, 31-32.

12 June 2007

Keep Thy Mind in Hell, and Despair Not

"Keep thy mind in hell, and despair not." What does it mean to "keep thy mind in hell"? Can it be that we are to use the imagination to conjure up circumstances for ourselves similar to those figures in some primitive painting? In this instance, no. Father Silouan, like certain great Fathers - St. Anthony, St.Sisoe, St. Makarios, St. Pimen - during his lifetime actually descended into the darkness and torments of hell... They took refuge in it when passion - especially the most subtle of passions, pride - reared its head... Blessed Staretz Silouan said that many ascetics when they approached that state - which is vital if one would be cleansed of the passions - would fall into despair and be unable to continue. But the one who knows "how greatly the Lord loveth us" escapes the pernicious effect of total despair and knows how to stand prudently on the verge so that the hellish fire burns away his every passion and does not fall victim to despair. "And despair not." If the Staretz' s account is a simple one, the power and mystery of the matter will remain incomprehensible for anyone who has not known a similar experience of hellish torment, on the one hand, and the great gifts of grace, on the other.

-- Fr. Sophrony

Father Sophrony was one of the most respected spiritual figures in 20th-century Eastern Orthodoxy. The phrase "Keep Thy Mind in Hell, and Despair Not" is packed with significance. It can also be seen as an alternative phrasing of what in Buddhism is known as the Four Noble Truths. Perhaps I'll say more about this later.

10 June 2007

Five Things to Keep in Mind

Dhamma Talk, 2003:

Many times we like to think that simply by adding meditation to our lives, the effects of the meditation will permeate throughout our whole lives without our having to do much of anything else. Simply add the meditation to the mix of your life and it will change all the other ingredients: that’s what we’d like to think, but it doesn’t really work that way. You have to remake your life to make it a good place for the meditation to seep through, because there are some activities, there are some states of mind, that are really resistant to receiving any influence from the meditation.

This is why, when you’re meditating, you also have to look at the way you live your life, your day-to-day activities. See if you’re creating a conducive environment for the meditation to thrive and spread. Otherwise the meditation just gets squeezed into the cracks between the rocks here and there, and never gets to permeate much of anything at all.

There’s a teaching in the Canon on five principles that a new monk should keep in mind. These principles apply not only to new monks, but to anyone who wants to live a life where the meditation can seep through and permeate everything.

09 June 2007

Bush and Benedict XVI

Vatican City - US President George W Bush drew gasps at the Vatican on Saturday by referring to Pope Benedict XVI as "sir" instead of the expected "His Holiness", pool reporters said.

They could clearly hear the US leader say "Yes, sir" when the pope asked him if he was going to meet with officials of the lay Catholic Sant'Egidio community at the US embassy later during his visit.

03 June 2007

On Being Christian and Muslim

A little more than a year ago, the Rev. Dr. Ann Holmes Redding [page 9] found herself
at the doorway of a new world, Islam, and wasn’t quite sure how she got there.
As she reflected on her journey, she realized Jesus was her guide. Now both a
practicing Muslim and an Episcopal priest, Redding shares her thoughts on how the
two faiths inform each other.

“The way I understand Jesus is compatible with Islam,” Redding explains, “and
although there are Christians and Muslims who think I must convert from one to
the other, the more I go down this path the more excited I am about both Christianity
and Islam.”

Redding credits her upbringing for early exposure to interfaith relationships. She was
baptized by an African Methodist Episcopal minister but the only Sunday school she
attended was Episcopal. She attended a Unitarian youth group in high school when
the Episcopal group disbanded. She was influenced by a cooperative community near
where she grew up that was comprised of mostly Quakers, Unitarians and Jews. Her
father was a prominent civil rights lawyer whose work brought him and the family into contact with people of many faith backgrounds.

After an introduction to a Muslim prayer practice in early 2006, Redding knew
she had been wrestling with a call to Islam. She approached a Muslim woman and
told her so, and the woman replied, “Christianity has been good to you and you to
it, and you don’t have to choose.” That made all the difference in Redding’s choice to
practice Islam.

“What Islam has done for me is shed this light on Christianity and shown for me
anew what a glorious way Christianity is,” she explains. “We Christians, in struggling to express the beauty and dignity of Jesus and the pattern of life he offers, describe him as the ‘only begotten son of God.’ That’s how wonderful he is to us. But that is not literal,” she continues. “When we say Jesus is the only begotten one, we are saying he’s unique in some way. Islam says the same thing. He’s the only human aside from Adam who is directly created by God, and
he’s different from Adam because he has a human mother. So there’s agreement—this
person is unique in his relationship to God.” Christianity also says that we are all part
of the household of God and in essence brothers and sisters of Jesus. Muslims take
the figurative language of “only begotten,” make it concrete and contradict it: God “neither begets nor is begotten.”

“I agree with both because I do want to say that Jesus is unique, and for me, Jesus
is my spiritual master,” Redding says. “Muslims say Mohammed is the most perfect.
Well, it depends on who you fall in love with. I fell in love with Jesus a long time ago
and I’m still in love with Jesus but I’d like to think my relationship with Jesus has

She added that what Islam does is take Jesus out of the way of her relationship
with God, “but it doesn’t drop Jesus. I was following Jesus and he led me into Islam,
and he didn’t drop me off at the door. He’s there, too.”