Stranger In An Even Stranger Land - blog by Gurdur


A blog of random jottings on events, science, renfairs, travel, reading, music, humanism, religion, atheism, and even the odd spot of gardening.


A new school of Islam based on ijtihad, the concept of critical thinking, rejecting extremism and fundamentalism?

Posted 21-Jan-2015 at 05:40 AM (05:40) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 21-Jan-2015 at 07:00 AM (07:00) by Gurdur

At the end of an article on the loose collection of those who try silencing anyone who challenges extremism, Asra Q. Nomani (@AsraNomani), an author and former Wall-Street-Journal reporter, proposed founding a new school of Islam based on ijtihad, the concept of critical thinking. Her article is here; she further gave a link to a new net site for this project, where another basic principle for this proposed new school of Islamic thought and law is given as adaab, good manners. Unfortunately, I...
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Thank-you, @Nature! A stand made for both science and society against terrorism

Posted 15-Jan-2015 at 09:01 PM (21:01) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)

Nature, the famous, international, weekly journal of science, made a strong stand on the Charlie Hebdo terrorism attack. Nature issued a statement pointing out that free "scientific thinking and satire — both religious and political — are crucial in challenging and undermining dogma and authoritarianism". The statement also contained:
"The terrorists who murdered 17 people, including 8 staff members of the French weekly satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, falsely claimed to act in the name
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More details breaking as news on the Woolwich murder attack

Posted 22-May-2013 at 10:03 PM (22:03) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 23-May-2013 at 02:40 AM (02:40) by Gurdur

There are details as breaking news right at this minute of the crime at Woolwich, London, in in which two attacked a victim with knife and cleaver. My last blog post was about a series of tweets from a person who was an eyewitness at the Woolwich crime scene; this blog post is about the news just breaking now, and also the already-known video footage obtained by British Channel 4 News, as well as some questions of reporting ethics.

The man shown in the video below, and in the screencapture...
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Islamism resurgent? Events in Libya and Egypt on 9/11

Posted 12-Sep-2012 at 02:05 PM (14:05) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 13-Sep-2012 at 12:12 AM (00:12) by Never (fix date to American)

Sad news from Libya, apparently the American ambassador has been killed there. The murder of the ambassador happened yesterday, on 11 September, 2012, during a protest outside the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Two to three security staff of the ambasador's were apparently also murdered, and three members of Libyan security forces were injured. On the same day there were also large protests outside the American embassy in Cairo, Egypt. An Egyptian blogger, @Zeinobia, has raised the point...
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Rating: 4 votes, 5.00 average.

A confusion of gods: Rev'd Peter Mullen, Gavin Drake, the Church of England, Occupy London Stock Exchange, and a discussion

Posted 31-Oct-2011 at 08:58 PM (20:58) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 31-Oct-2011 at 10:04 PM (22:04) by Gurdur

This is a blog post written more or less directly for Church of England members, even though written by an atheist. There has been much to-and-fro about #OccupyLSX in relation to St. Paul's, the resignation of no less than three clergy staff (Fraser, Dryer, Knowles) there and the possibility of a fourth, and much blame has been put on the Occupy people for this. Is that fair? Let's first look at the official Church of England Chaplain to the London Stock Exchange, the Rev'd Dr. Peter Mullen; after...
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The (a)theology of being blown up; atheists in foxholes

Posted 20-Sep-2011 at 06:09 PM (18:09) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 21-Sep-2011 at 09:24 PM (21:24) by Gurdur

Owing to comments on a previous blog post of mine, I started thinking about comparisons between being burnt badly and being blown up. Having had both happen to me, being blown up is definitely better than being burnt badly, as long as you survive, lose no limbs or hearing permanently, and don't get burnt too much. Being blown up is over in a flash, leaving you to recover (I once knew a bloke, a fellow worker in a mine, who was blown 100 yards through a tunnel by an explosion, like a pea in a shooter...
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9/11 - the USA and beyond, as in Pakistan

Posted 11-Sep-2011 at 07:38 PM (19:38) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 11-Sep-2011 at 07:44 PM (19:44) by Gurdur

9/11 was marked today in the USA by a minutes' silence and, in New York City, sirens, and a remembrance ceremony at Ground Zero. Pakistan managed to officially send its support through its Foreign Ministry to the USA, also pointing out that Pakistan itself remains very much a victim of Islamist terrorism. And so it does; in the years between 2001 and now, Pakistan has suffered over 10,000 dead in that struggle.

And only a short while back the son of Salmaan Taseer, Shahbaz Taseer, was kidnapped in Pakistan;...
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Society, Ethics And Science Weekly blogs round-up - 17 August 2011

Posted 17-Aug-2011 at 06:08 PM (18:08) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 17-Aug-2011 at 09:11 PM (21:11) by Gurdur

So much to do, so much to write about. But first, let's see what everyone else is writing about, in another Society, Ethics And Science Weekly (SEAS) blogs round-up.

Religion, society, ethics, atheism, politics: The blog "Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion" takes a look at a spat between Maryam Namazie and Adam Barnett on the one side against Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller and the English Defence League (EDL) on the other side. Maryam Namazie and Adam Barnett wrote a report titled, "Enemies...
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A new mass-murder of gays in the making in Ghana, West Africa?

Posted 06-Aug-2011 at 05:29 PM (17:29) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)

Some Christian and Muslim groups in west Ghana have united to try forcing the mass round-up and arrest of gays. The suspicion is naturally that that would only be quickly followed by mass-murder, and by state-condoned lynch-mobs. Ghana's minister for the Western Region, Paul Evans Aidoo MP, ordered mass-arrests of gays purely and simply only for being gay. Another member of the Ghanian parliament, David Tetteh Assuming, called for gays to leave Ghana before they were subjected to mob violence. His...
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Society, Ethics And Science Weekly blogs round-up - 01 August 2011

Posted 01-Aug-2011 at 05:51 PM (17:51) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 01-Aug-2011 at 07:03 PM (19:03) by Gurdur

Yes! The Society, Ethics And Science (SEAS) Weekly blogs round-up is back! This took one loooong vacation first because of my trip to the USA, then the emergency surgery and long recuperation afterwards, then far too many events happening all at once. But I see a real need for this weekly round-up; when I look around at the British religion/atheism scene, there simply isn't any good, comprehensive round-up going on, so someone has to do it. Lesley is still in her honeymoon period, and the Church...
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Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.

Support the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) in the USA: putting my money where my mouth is

Posted 29-Jul-2011 at 04:53 PM (16:53) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 29-Jul-2011 at 05:08 PM (17:08) by Gurdur

This is just a filler while I work slowly on two horribly complex and controversial blog posts (both should be up later today - wish me luck!), but it's an important filler. If you want to see better science education in the USA, if you care about the new generations, then support the National Center for Science Education (NCSE, @NCSE), by becoming a member. I did (last night), as a foreign member; it only cost me $40 for full-rate as a foreigner.

The NCSE is the main actor out there...
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Rating: 3 votes, 5.00 average.

Dr. Tim Stanley is clueless about theology, psychiatry, the law, ethics or the mind ....

Posted 26-Jul-2011 at 03:17 PM (15:17) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 26-Jul-2011 at 04:55 PM (16:55) by Gurdur

... but he really, really doesn't want you to make any connection between violent rhetoric and violent deeds. Dr. Tim Stanley has a PhD, but it would seem to be in history, and when he writes on psychiatry, you find out quickly why you go to a medical doctor and not a historian for medical matters including psychiatry. Stanley has written an ignorant piece for the Daily Telegraph blogs. In it, two of his concluding sentences are, "The kind of person who can systematically shoot and kill that many...
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Rating: 3 votes, 5.00 average.

Anders Behring Breivik, the problem of evil, the demonization of the mentally ill, medicine, science and ethics

Posted 25-Jul-2011 at 07:01 PM (19:01) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 25-Jul-2011 at 07:22 PM (19:22) by Gurdur

As people struggle to cope with Breivik's deeds, they often call him "deranged" and "insane", which is simply wrong, unscientific empty name-calling, and adds to the demonization of the actual mentally ill - most of whom will never hurt anyone but themselves if anyone. Most of us can agree that Breivik is evil, but evil is a very loose concept, often misused by people, adding to the confusion. Many of us can agree that there is no point in describing natural events or sheer randomicity as evil;...
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Rating: 4 votes, 5.00 average.

Anders Behring Breivik, terrorism, and those who make excuses for terrorism

Posted 24-Jul-2011 at 06:37 PM (18:37) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 24-Jul-2011 at 07:42 PM (19:42) by Gurdur

Terrorism is the use of violent acts intended to create terror and which deliberately target or disregard the safety of non-combatant civilians, in pursuit of any alleged goal. By that and by any other reasonable definition of terrorism, Anders Behring Breivik is a terrorist. There is no excuse; he is a terrorist. The murder of innocents; Breivik went out of his way to specifically murder innocents, whether in Oslo or in Utøya, many of them young teenagers. He is also a classical narcissist, unable...
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40-volume work on historical Muslim women imans, jurists and scholars

Posted 17-Apr-2011 at 08:01 PM (20:01) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 17-Apr-2011 at 08:33 PM (20:33) by Gurdur

Mohammad Akram Nadwi, who is forty-three years old, and is a Sunni alim (religious scholar), has after eight years of work compiled a forty-volume set all on the relevant biographical details of women over the centuries who have been Islamic scholars, imans, jurists and so on. [Edited to add: please see correction at bottom.] In this report here, Nadwi is quoted speaking of the Muslim scholar women through the ages he has found:

"I thought I’d find maybe 20 or 30 women," he says.
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Jeff Bercovici, his personal grudges, citizen journalism, social media: Journalism 2.0 and the deaths in Afghanistan

Posted 08-Apr-2011 at 06:26 PM (18:26) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 08-Apr-2011 at 07:38 PM (19:38) by Gurdur

Very recently, as you know, UN and support staff were murdered in Mazar-e Sharif. Further demonstrations and riots have followed in that part of the world, all allegedly in response to the theatrical burning of the Qur'an by Pastor Terry Jones. "When Journalism 2.0 Kills" was how Jeff Bercovici, a columnist, described it, in his headline on his blog post made on the Forbes site. In that post, he used the deaths of UN staff and others to first blame, rightly or wrongly, a 21-year-old student who...
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Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.

The silliness pushed by Bishop Nazir-Ali and the Christian Broadcasting Council of Britain

Posted 29-Mar-2011 at 04:33 PM (16:33) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 29-Mar-2011 at 04:46 PM (16:46) by Gurdur

I have often seen tropes around the religious blogospheres, with claims of Christians being persecuted in Britain, and less ludicrous claims of Christians being marginalized there, often blaming the mainstream media for allegedly being overly sensationalistic or even hostile. Additionally, there are more valid concerns about Christians feeling unable to do theology in public, being disregarded and ignored, or even feeling a hostile reception. There's a lot to say about all of that, but one main...
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Society, Ethics And Science Weekly blogs round-up - 27/28 March 2011

Posted 29-Mar-2011 at 01:04 AM (01:04) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 29-Mar-2011 at 12:04 PM (12:04) by Gurdur

My weekly blogs round-up, on science and society and, well, everything. This time round including as much info as possible so you can see how to garner info yourself, giving Twitter handles and so on, and a fair few press reports.

Science, nature conservation, ecology:
Some good news at very long last (with thanks, h/t to @geostuff for the alert): "Tiger Numbers Increase in India". And while on the animal/nature conservation front, the Scientific American blogs have a guest post up...
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Covert medicating through wives, with or without the doctor's knowledge

Posted 07-Mar-2011 at 04:17 PM (16:17) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 08-Mar-2011 at 09:11 AM (09:11) by Gurdur

I'm just working my way through "Forensic Psychiatry In Islamic Jurisprudence", by Kutaiba S. Chaleby (I will blog a proper review of the book later; USA edition, British edition), at the moment. It's a good deal better than a great many books which discuss religion (of any sort), law and psychiatry together, but it's still a bit too lightweight at times to suit me. * This blog post is just a small couple of random, wry, off-the-cuff remarks from me here made in passing, prompted by this bit of...
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The murders in Pakistan just go on and on and on and on; attack on Sufi shrine, Akbarpura, Nowshera District, eleven dead

Posted 05-Mar-2011 at 04:23 AM (04:23) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 05-Mar-2011 at 06:50 AM (06:50) by Gurdur

At least eleven people have been killed, and thirty-seven more injured, by an explosives attack on a mosque, at the Akhond Panjo Baba shrine in the village of Akbarpura in the Nowshera District, Pakistan. The attack came during the distribution of food after prayers.

The significance of this is that the mosque and shrine are Sufi Muslim. The Islam of the terrorists is often Barelvi, Deobandi (which both belong to the Hanafi school of Sunni Islam) or similar.

All moderates...
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