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03/03/2015 01:48 AM

Eyes Wide Open Heading for the Abyss

When I began work on Revelation 11 two years ago, I thought it was a pretty straight forward story centered around a group of people who either genuinely believed or claimed to believe for their own reasons that we were in the endtimes. I explored this from a purely Christian point of view. Near the end of writing the book, I decided to throw a curve into the mix and have the second witness be a Muslim.

As I began to look for a historical or scriptural basis for this assumption, I found that Islam has a parallel eschatology to the Christian narrative. Most Islamic endtime prophecies are contained in the Hadith. A one-eyed leader called, Masih ad-Dajjal, is the Islamic version of the Anti-Christ. Both religions point to a climactic battle in the Middle East. For Christians this is Armageddon and for Muslims it is Dabiq. As I explained in my previous post, Dabiq is generally considered to be the hamlet of Murj-al-Dabiq that sits just across the border from Iraq in Syria

The Hadith claims that Jesus (Isa) returns to earth to "break the cross" -- meaning He explains that Islam is the one true religion. This may simply be the Islamic version of "from whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead."

The parallels seem to have taken on a life of their own in the last two years. Islamic State leaders and fighters apparently believe they are and should be fulfilling the endtimes prophecies--in effect dragging the world toward a climactic battle between Islam and what the Hadith calls the "army of Rome." Under Islamic prophecy, the battle cannot take place until the Caliphate is re-established. Islamic State leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, claims to be the new Caliph.

According to a recent Atlantic article, a legitimate Caliph requires three things to fulfill the prophecy, "being a Muslim adult man of Quraysh descent; exhibiting moral probity and physical and mental integrity; and having ’amr, or authority." Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is of Quraysh decent, the tribe to which Mohammed belonged. He claims the second requirement, but the article notes there is more to the third requirement than meets the eye. To have "authority" in the sense the prophecy indicates, the Caliph must rule territory and hold the authority over the people living there by enacting and enforcing Sharia law. Islamic State fighters currently control or operate freely in an area larger than the United Kingdom.

Thousands of young Islamic men and women have traveled to the "Caliphate" from Europe and around the world to join the jihad. What is it about this ideology they find so appealing? The article quotes George Orwell when he was asked a similar question about Nazi fanaticism. Orwell describe Fascism as "psychologically far sounder than any hedonistic conception of life … Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a more grudging way, have said to people “I offer you a good time,” Hitler has said to them, “I offer you struggle, danger, and death,” and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet … We ought not to underrate its emotional appeal."

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Albert Davenport is the author of In the Shadow of Midnight: Daedalus, A Tale of Savannah and the upcoming novel Revelation 11

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03/03/2015 01:44 AM

Dorothy Richardson, Karl Ove Knausgaard, and Literary History

Amy Shearn on how and why Karl Ove Knausgaard’s champions have neglected the modernist Dorothy Richardson, whose roman-fleuve Pilgrimage anticipates My Struggle in mode and method: As much as I do love my dear prolific weirdo Knausgaard, he hasn’t really done anything all that revolutionary. In fact, exactly a century ago, England saw the beginnings […]

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John Pistelli was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He now lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he teaches literature and writing. His reviews and essays have appeared in Rain Taxi,, Dissident Voice, and New Walk. His fiction has appeared in The Three Rivers Review, The Legendary, and Whole Beast Rag.

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02/08/2014 12:45 AM


"White people are taking over the city," Marion Barry said tonight during a radio interview with yours truly and Lyndia Grant on her WYCB-AM 1340 program, which she billed as a Black History tribute to "MB's" civil rights work. So, under those ground rules, we all just had a blast shootin' the breeze with him about his health and his legacy. Contrary to rumor, the "Mayor-for-Life" sounded much stronger than we'd expected. However, he acknowledged that he is receiving therapy an undisclosed physical rehabilitation center and says he's walking better and his muscles are better and his spirits are high, and he's looking forward to celebrating his 78th birthday on March 6. He does, after all, he said "have a 77-year-old body" and "it's a miracle that he is alive." No kidding. He alluded to diabetes as the main culprit and said the city is not doing anything about the disease that affects so many blacks. Asked, of course, about his legacy, he said, "I've helped a lot of people." Asked what the "Mayor-for-Life's" public policy priorities would be if he was actually the mayor now, he answered, "helping people stay in the city," because "the white people are taking over the city." And, he'd try to get more "jobs, jobs, jobs" which was actually the priority of his first term.
On a lighter note, MB "loves" the show "Scandal." He pointed out that Judy Smith was working in the US Attorneys Office when he was on trial, and "she's the one trying to clean up that bullshit they were puttin' out there." Only MB; we let him slide on a few of the legal details -- this time. Graciously, he thanked me for being nice! As Mary Layton said, it was a "lovefest."

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Adrienne Terrell Washington is an award-winning journalist, commentator and professor. She has covered local and national news in the nation's capital for over three decades. Her "A Washington Note" blog provides throught provoking insight into current events. When not blogging, Ms. Washington writes memoir and historical pieces.

06/26/2013 01:00 AM

Barbecue Runs Through It

I love Southern food. Barbecue especially. Smoky, salty tender bits of pork slathered in spicy sweet tomatoey goodness with a side of slaw washed down with a Coca-Cola (sugarcane edition,) It’s the sandwich the family in A Good Man is Hard to Find eat at the Tower, brought to them by the pale faced wife of the owner, all five plates balanced in her hands and on her forearm. Their last meal.
In O’Connor’s time, the Tower no doubt was a segregated establishment much like Ollie’s Barbecue, the restaurant in one of the original Civil Rights Act challenge cases the Supreme Court heard in1964. Ollie’s Barbecue was a small, family owned restaurant that seated 220 white customers and provided black customers with a take-out counter. Ollie argued that he wasn’t required to integrate his dining room because he had the contractual right to serve whom he pleased and was not engaged in so-called interstate commerce. The Civil Rights Act was premised on the Commerce Clause, which gave the federal government the power to regulate interstate - as opposed to intrastate - commerce.
The Supreme Court shot down Ollie’s argument. It reasoned that because African-Americans travelled the highways just like everybody else, they needed to stop to eat just like O’Connor’s traveling family. To deprive any travelers of any race of the joys of barbecue was unconstitutional and impeded their movement across state lines.
One of the ironies of Ollie’s Barbecue is that the cuisine has its origins not in the Northern European lands of Southern whites, but in the cooking of the Caribbean and from there to the United States with the slave trade. Soon, Southerners were enjoying their pig roasted and smoked at barbecues. In fact, in the opening scene in Gone with the Wind has Scarlett O’Hara, the daughter of an Irish plantation and slave owner, attends a barbecue at neighboring plantation Twelve Oaks - all of it prepared by slaves.
Food and race are inextricably linked in the South. One need only look to recent revelations that Paula Deen harbored a nostalgia for times long gone with the wind when she told lawyers during a deposition that she had wanted a proper plantation wedding for her brother complete with servers dressed like those who had served Scarlett her barbecue. Those servers, by implication, would have pretended to be slaves. That this fantasy might have been misinterpreted was Paula’s stated reason for rejecting the idea.
So here we are, on the day the same Supreme Court that declared Ollie’s Barbecue open to all gutted a major piece of civil right legislation we are supposed to believe that the post-racial age has arrived. I beg to differ.

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Anniken Davenport is the author of the upcoming nonfiction book Sins of the Fathers: How a Miscarriage of Justice Brought Down a Capital City detailing the very human story behind Harrisburg, Pennsylvania's massive fiscal crisis.

She holds an MA in both fiction and non-fiction writing from Johns Hopkins University. Ms. Davenport, an attorney with vast experience in criminal, labor and employment law, has authored college textbooks, and numerous professional articles.