What does Islam say about homosexuality?

The Qur’an doesn’t mention homosexuality at all, and when it does mention “men who are not in need of women” it doesn’t condemn them. All of this might be surprising when you consider the impression most of the media has given about Omar Mateen’s killing of nearly 50 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

The Independent reports how the recent rise of political Islam and jihadism by extremist groups, had lead to more homophobic talk by not only Muslim extremists but also the general Muslim population. A study in the UK over the last 12 months showed that 50% of Muslims thought homosexuality should be made illegal. I wonder what the Christian population of Britain would say? Would they have a similar opinion?

Whereas homosexuality is not explicitly condemned in Islam sacred writing, in the Bible it is clear: homosexuality is a sin.

  • Leviticus 18:22, “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.”
  • Leviticus 20:13, “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltness is upon them.”
  • 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

However we know from studying Christianity that different denominations of Christianity follow these Bible teaching to different extents. That some Christians would rather follow the Golden Rule or try to follow Jesus’ teachings of always doing the most loving thing and remembering to forgive.

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California has 743 prisoners on Death Row

A slightly disorganised article on the Independent at least clearly lets us know that about 743 prisoners in the state of California (USA) are on Death Row but that California has only used the death penalty on 13 prisoners since 1978. Keeping all these prisoners on Death Row, they’ve been handed the death penalty in court but haven’t been executed yet, costs the American taxpayer $4 billion which is £2,820,377,320!

A useful fact within the article is that death row inmates are waiting longer and longer to actually get the death penalty because DNA is repeatedly proving that people deemed guilty in the past were actually innocent. Last year alone, six death row inmates were cleared of wrongdoing. It’s anyone’s guess how many more wrongly convicted murderers are still there.

 

Innocent 60 year old freed after 30 years in prison

A man who was wrongfully convicted of a crime in 1982 has just walked his first steps outside prison for 30 years. He had been found guilty of murder and rape mostly based on one eye witness’ evidence and teeth marks, but newly acquired DNA evidence shows another man, who has already died in prison for a different offence, was the perpetrator.

Perhaps this is a good case study to use in arguments against the death penalty?

Really amazing photographs of San Francisco

david le

David Levene has taken some amazing new photographs of San Francisco with the same camera angle and perspective as some historical photographs. This shows the most dramatic transformation of a city over a hundred years. From a partly rural  landscape we see how urbanisation has created a city with business district, organised public transport and some historic buildings which still shine in their old glory.

map1_san_francisco

 

 

Useful films to watch for GCSE RS

Here are just a selection of films Year 11 might try to watch over the holidays to help them think about topics in our RS GCSE.

ABORTION

Cider House Rules Honored with two Academy Awards, Best Supporting Actor, Michael Caine, and Best Adapted Screenplay, John Irving, THE CIDER HOUSE RULES tells a heartwarming story about how far a young man must travel to find the place where he truly belongs! Homer Wells (Tobey Macguire) has lived nearly his entire life within the walls of St. Cloud’s Orphanage in rural Maine. Though groomed by its proprietor, Dr. Larch, to be his successor, Homer nonetheless feels the need to strike out on his own and experience the world outside. Then, while working at an apple orchard, Homer falls for the beautiful Candy (Charlize Theron) and learns some powerful lessons about love.

Vera Drake In 1950, in London, Vera Drake is a simple woman of a low-class but happy family. She works cleaning upper-class houses; her beloved husband is a mechanic and works with his brother in a repair shop; her son is a tailor; and her daughter tests and packs electric lamps. The helpful Vera is a very good and cooperative woman, helping her sick mother, a handicapped neighbor and whoever needs her. She also induces miscarriages in women who do not want to have children, for no payment. When a woman has complications with her intervention and goes to the hospital, the police investigate the occurrence…

Juno A whip-smart teen confronts an unplanned pregnancy by her classmate.

CAPITAL PUNISHMENT

I can’t find a decent quality trailer  so this will have to do for The Life of David Gale When anti-death penalty activist David Gale is convicted and condemned to death for the murder of a colleague, reporter Bitsey Bloom sets out to learn the story behind Gale’s crime. What she finds challenges her belief in Gale’s guilt and, finally, in the justice system.

Dead Man Walking A nun, while comforting a convicted killer on death row, empathizes with both the killer and his victim’s families. Here’s also the Reconciliation scene near the end of the film.

ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS

This 2004 film The Future of Food can be watched in its entirety on YouTube; offering an investigation of genetically engineered food which is in the shops without you realising it. I’m squeezing in these TV programmes incase the thought of watching a whole documentary is just too much to stomach: Horizon: Goats with Spider Silk and a very short trailer for Genetic Engineering Intelligent Babies.

WAR AND UN

Hotel Rwanda Nominated for 3 Oscars, including for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Don Cheadle) and Best Original Screenplay. Hotel Rwanda is  based on real life events in 1994 Rwanda, when hotelier Paul Rusesabagina attempted to save his fellow citizens from the ravages of the Rwandan Genocide. The film, which has been called an African Schindler’s List, documents Rusesabagina’s acts to save the lives of his family and more than a thousand other refugees, by granting them shelter in the besieged Hôtel des Mille Collines. Hotel Rwanda explores genocide, political corruption, and the repercussions of violence.

Fog of War A film about the former US Secretary of Defense and the various difficult lessons he learned about the nature and conduct of modern war.

The Unknown Known This time about the former United States Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, who discusses his career in Washington D.C. from his days as a congressman in the early 1960s to planning the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The Interpreter Political intrigue and deception unfold inside the United Nations, where a U.S. Secret Service agent is assigned to investigate an interpreter who overhears an assassination plot.

 

“I think I’m dying, too hot, too hot, I’m dying”

8 June 1972, Vietnam

South Vietnamese forces follow after terrified children, including 9-year-old Kim Phuc, center, as they run down Route 1 near Trang Bang after an aerial napalm attack on suspected Viet Cong hiding places, June 8, 1972. A South Vietnamese plane accidentally dropped its flaming napalm on South Vietnamese troops and civilians. The terrified girl had ripped off her burning clothes while fleeing. The children from left to right are: Phan Thanh Tam, younger brother of Kim Phuc, who lost an eye, Phan Thanh Phouc, youngest brother of Kim Phuc, Kim Phuc, and Kim's cousins Ho Van Bon, and Ho Thi Ting. Behind them are soldiers of the Vietnam Army 25th Division. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

Such a famous image: young children crying and running for their lives from a napalm attack. The young girl in the centre cried “I think I’m dying, too hot, too hot, I’m dying”, and now fifty years later Kim Phuc who’s lived in Canada since the early 1990s, is having medical treatment in the US to reduce the pain from her scars. The napalm on the eventful day in 1972 had been accidentally dropped on civilians by the South Vietnamese.

Students often learn about Vietnam when they choose GCSE History. If you don’t know much about the Vietnam War, here’s a helping hand…

This BBC Bitesize website has revision, videos and tests about the Vietnam War. Whereas this BBC news website article gives a general summary of the war for both young and old.

15 cases of the plague in USA this year

An incredible fact that the USA still hasn’t eradicated the plague; and that fifteen cases have already been reported this year.

There are still lots of cases of the plague in other countries too: Madagascar, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Peru are three more places to take care in!

gangrene

Apparently it was in 1900 that rat infested steamships brought the bacterium to the US. The disease is generally passed from rats to humans and has a 30-60% fatality rate (i.e.. 30-60% chance of dying if you catch it). Areas to be most careful in are New Mexico, California, Arizona and Colorado.

Most cases of the plague in the US are the bubonic plague, which is the most common form, which affects the lymph nodes and causes gangrene. There are two other types of plague, septicaemic, an infection of the blood, and pneumonic, which infects the lungs.

The Great Plague of 1665 was the last major plague in England. The outbreak began in London in February. Within seven months 100,000 Londoners (20% or one-fifth of the population) were dead. Many fled the capital to escape the disease. Victims were shut in their homes and a red cross was painted on the door with the words ‘Lord have mercy upon us’. The theatres and other public entertainments such as football were banned to stop the disease spreading.

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Most experts believe that the plague that struck London from the 1300s to the late 1600s was bubonic plague. Bubonic plague is a disease of rodents, especially black rats. It is passed between them by bites from their fleas. When a rat dies from the plague, its fleas must find a new host to live on. If their new host is a person, the disease can spread to humans too. The disease takes many forms but the most common symptoms are:

  • headaches
  • fever
  • vomiting
  • painful swellings on the neck, armpits and groin (buboes)
  • blisters and bruises
  • coughing up blood.

The French doctor Alexandre Yersin discovered the bacterium that causes bubonic plague in 1894. In 1908 experts realised that rat fleas spread plague.

Moving further back in history to the 14th century we go to the Black Death. During the Medieval period the plague went by several names, the most common being “the Pestilence” and “The Great Mortality”. Theories about the cause of the disease were numerous, ranging from a punishment from God to planetary alignment to evil stares. Not surprisingly, many people believed that the horrors of the Black Death signaled the Apocalypse, or end of time. Others believed that the disease was a plot by Jews to poison all of the Christian world, and many Jews were killed by panicked mobs.The truth was that the Black Death was a bacteria-born disease; the bacteria in question being Yersinia pestis, which was carried in the blood of wild black rats and the fleas that lived off the rats. Normally there is no contact between these fleas and human beings, but when their rat hosts die, these fleas are forced to seek alternatives – including humans!

The plague produced several different symptoms in its victims. Bubonic, the most common form of the plague, produces fist-sized swellings, called bulboes, at the site of flea bites – usually in the groin, armpits, or neck. The swellings were intensely painful, and the victims died in 2-6 days. The buboes were red at first, but later turned a dark purple, or black. This black colouring gives the “Black Death” its name. Pneumonic plague occurred when the infection enters the lungs, causing the victim to vomit blood. Infected pneumonic people could spread the disease through the air by coughing, sneezing, or just breathing! In Septicemic plague the bacteria enters the person’s bloodstream, causing death within a day.

The speed with which the disease could kill was terrifying to inhabitants of the medieval world. The Italian author Boccaccio claimed that the plague victims “ate lunch with their friends and dinner with their ancestors in paradise.” In the summer of 1348 it was abnormally wet in Britain. Grain lay rotting in the fields due to the nearly constant rains. With the harvest so badly affected it seemed certain that there would be food shortages. But a far worse enemy was set to appear.  On November 1 the plague reached London, and up to 30,000 of the city’s population of 70,000 inhabitants succumbed.

Over the next 2 years the disease killed between 30-40% of the entire population. Given that the pre-plague population of England was in the range of 5-6 million people, fatalities may have reached as high as 2 million dead.

One of the worst aspects of the disease to the medieval Christian mind is that people died without last rites and without having a chance to confess their sins. Pope Clement VI was forced to grant remission of sins to all who died of the plague because so many perished without benefit of clergy. People were allowed to confess their sins to one another, or “even to a woman”.