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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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A perspective on the Middle East

Uploaded: Dec 30, 2014
Earlier this month, a friend from church wrote a thoughtful email to members of our choir after they presented their Christmas concert.
He is retired military, served in Desert Storm (the first Gulf War), and lived in Saudi Arabia for five years. He writes from experience. I thought excerpts would be worthwhile to share.
"As I so enjoyed your music tonight, I could not help but think of the Arabs I knew, lived with, and worked with for many years in Saudi Arabia and how if they heard your music, it would make such an impact on them. Most of them are good people, not all, but most. And they just want to live and have a good life.
"It is their religion that is so depressing. In all of Saudi Arabia, there is not a church or a synagogue and worship of any god other than Allah is forbidden. They have no music, no choir, no bells, no inspiring music at all. Instrumental music is not taught in any school. There is no ballet, no national symphony, no theatres, no plays, and television is extremely bland.
"Tourists are not allowed to visit, so there is no chance to see anything like we saw tonight by a visiting choir. Worse still, if a Muslim converts to Christianity, they will likely be killed by their own family, and it isn't a crime.

"I remember years ago when we had a visiting pastor from Mali, as black as coal, with a booming voice. When he was twelve, he and a little friend were encountered by a traveling Christian missionary and he had a pen, a clicker, that fascinated them. Said he, if you learn one Bible verse, I will give you each a clicker. When he went home, his father questioned him about how he came to receive the pen, and when he told his father that he learned a Bible verse, his father beat him almost to death and threw him out of the home.
"Forever. His friend's father beat his son so badly that he is crippled to this day. So I ventured to ask him how he was doing in converting Muslims to Christianity. Remember that Mali is 100 percent Islamic. He said it was almost impossible. If one converted, he would never be able to marry, and no one would give him a job. He would be an outcast in his own country. He would usually recant to keep from being murdered. It's pretty much that way in the Islamic countries.

"I have spent a few Christmases in some unfriendly places and what you did for us tonight was what I missed most. We Americans are so blessed. Music is God's gift to his people."
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Canyon Creek,
on Dec 30, 2014 at 9:57 am

As much as I appreciate the above story, I also know that millions of Christians are not good people. Christianity is responsible for the deaths of millions of innocent people worldwide. That's history and it's well documented.

There are many incidents in which the deaths of people is not a crime.

Posted by Formerly Dan from BC, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Dec 30, 2014 at 1:25 pm

Formerly Dan from BC is a registered user.

Cholo (or whatever your name is today),

To deflect the current events with events of 200, 300, 400 (!) years ago is nothing but moral equivalency.
If you want to excuse what's happening in the greater muslim world then just come out and say that you approve of what's happening there - the beheadings, the massacres...etc - and be done with it. I can't stand the constant 'oh they did it so we can do it' excuses.


I fail to see how the description "black as coal" has any relevance in this post, otherwise, I liked the post.

Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Dec 31, 2014 at 5:44 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

You know Tim, religion is a subject that makes the heart pump. On some occasions more so than politics.

Most all of us became connected to a religion by way of our parents.

I will never understand how one religion allows two factions of the same religion to exist. One faction interprets the bible to allow them to murder and cause general mayhem.

The other faction of the same religion interprets the bible to love thy neighbor.

Posted by San Ramon Observer, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jan 2, 2015 at 3:16 am

San Ramon Observer is a registered user.

This depiction of Muslims as intransigent and violent may be true of the people the writer encountered. It is definitely not true about members of the Islamic faith in San Ramon and many other places in the US where there are large Islamic communities.

Many people are not aware there is a sizeable Islamic community in San Ramon. They expanded the Islamic Center here a few years ago. The only concern residents had about it was, as usual, increased traffic downtown on Fridays.

San Ramon is God's gift to those of us who live here.

Posted by Tim Hunt, a DanvilleSanRamon.com blogger,
on Jan 2, 2015 at 2:31 pm

Tim Hunt is a registered user.

Following up:
1. I considered taking out the comment about the skin color of the visiting pastor from Mali, but decided to leave it in because it was something the author thought helped in the description of the pastor along with his booming voice. Having worked with many Africans in a variety of countries during my mission trips with Heart for Africa, that description aptly fit one of the African faith leaders I respect the most.
2. Michael's comment about factions within denominations. I have shared with our congregation (thanks to the Rev. Greg Roth) the wiring diagram of the Presbyterian Church USA and its various other denominations. Since the formation of the church in the early 1700s in New England, there have been more than 1,700 divisions and about as many re-unions. As one author wrote, the history of the Protestants is "protest." One way to protest is to divide when some people believe differently or interpret the Bible differently than others.

Posted by BobB, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Jan 3, 2015 at 9:56 pm

BobB is a registered user.

" So I ventured to ask him how he was doing in converting Muslims to Christianity."

Maybe he should stop trying to convert people to Christianity or any other religion.

Secular music and art other forms can be deeply inspiring as can science.

Books I'd recommend:

Web Link

Web Link

Posted by BobB, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Jan 3, 2015 at 9:57 pm

BobB is a registered user.


" ... other art forms ..."

Posted by Formerly Dan from BC, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Jan 7, 2015 at 1:28 pm

Formerly Dan from BC is a registered user.

So lemme get this straight: 3 men in Paris slaughter 12 people while shouting "Allah Akbar, and we're supposed to be empathetic because of Christian brutality some 500 years ago?

Do I have that right, Cholo (or WYNIT)?

Goodness gracious...

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