Why are Aussies anxious about Muslim refugees?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

St. Sophronius of Jerusalem

Thursday, July 8, 2010

St. Sophronius is a very interesting person. Born in Damascus, an Arab, an ascetic, and finally Patriarch of Jerusalem when the Muslims took over. He viewed the Muslim control of Palestine as "unwitting representatives of God's inevitable chastisement of weak and wavering Christians". As Wikipedia summarises... he died soon after the fall of Jerusalem to the caliph Umar I in 637, but not before he had negotiated the recognition of civil and religious liberty for Christians in exchange for tribute - an agreement known as Umari Treaty. The caliph himself came to Jerusalem, and met with the patriarch at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Sophronius invited Umar to pray there, but Umar declined, fearing to endanger the Church's status as a Christian temple. It sure would be interesting to interview him! (Oh for a TARDIS).

the Courage of Hallaj

Friday, July 2, 2010

Well my paper for the AEMA (Australian Early Medieval Association) November Conference in Perth has been accepted. I've been reading lots of Peter Brown and Hallaj at the same time and noticed some very interesting connections. The abstract:
The martyrdom of Mansur al-Hallaj in Baghdad in 922CE was the culmination of a spiritual journey involving frequent courageous provocation of the Islamic state authority. Hallaj persistently demanded martyrdom, but was only killed when his presence became too destabilizing. In many ways Hallaj is a variant of Peter Brown’s “holy man”, occupying a unique space between the community and the divine, often at odds with official religion. He is also a pivotal figure in Islam for a number of reasons, including his extremely influential marginality which defines the limits of acceptable Sufism, and his unusual death by crucifixion near the date of Easter, possibly due to his miracles and Christian sympathies. Hallaj’s peculiar position exemplifies the quest for authentic individual spirituality in the face of growing institutionalisation. His courageous martyrdom provides a significant alternative exemplar to the current stereotypical violent martyr.