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Coptic Martyr

The Coptic Martyr of Cairo

The latest international thriller from best-selling author Martin Roth

Four Americans in Egypt on an archaeological dig. In the blistering summer heat they are fighting amongst themselves. Then they unearth a body. It is an old priest who has been murdered.

The gruesome discovery sets in train a sequence of events that leads to a deadly Islamist attack on the ancient church where the Americans are working.

The leader of the expedition, Professor Rafa Harel, must decide whether to withdraw his fractious team or continue on a mission to unveil a controversial series of wall paintings, knowing that these images have the power to spark even greater violence.

Meanwhile, watching over all of them is a dreamy young Egyptian Christian named Amir. His only quest in life is to become a martyr...

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“Religion Goes Better When You Don’t Think About It Too Much” - Derbyshire

National Review Online columnist John Derbyshire says every writer “nurses a lurking ambition to say something that will be widely remembered and quoted”. It’s not easy. “Practically all the interesting things that can be said about the human condition were said long ago.”

I agree. I happen to have out from the library The Doubleday Christian Quotation Collection. In a gallant attempt to be relevant, it devotes more than a third of its 350 pages of quotes to writings from 1950 onwards. (I had no idea there were so many feminist and third-world theologians.)

Yet investigate almost at random any of the themes from the back of the book, and the poverty – and verbosity - of modern thinking becomes clear.

For example, compassion:

Man may dismiss compassion from his heart, but God will never.

- William Cowper (18th-century English poet)

Theology of compassion is the theology of love with no strings attached. It does not pre-determine how and where God should do God’s saving work. It does not assume that God left Asia in the hands of pagan powers and did not come to it until missionaries from the West reached it.

- Choan-Seng Song (20th-century Taiwan theologian)

I’m a fan of John Derbyshire’s online writings. I especially like his occasional diversions into religion. His approach to his Christian life seems to be remarkably like my own - one of muddling through.

Muddling through. Now there’s a theme that the ancients missed. The moderns don’t seem to have picked up on it yet, either. It’s got to be good for some interesting quotations.

In future, we’re probably going to seek out notable quotes from collections on the internet - rather than from books - using Google-like search engines. So here’s a suggested entry:

Religion, Muddling Through

Religion goes better when you don’t think about it too much.

- John Derbyshire (21st-century writer)

That’s from his column yesterday. Here’s what he wrote:

Religion, to my way of thinking, is one of those things that go better when you don't think about it too much. You practice the observances learned in childhood, try your best to cleave to the moral precepts, hope (according to one British survey, successfully about a third of the time) for spiritual revelation, and enjoy occasional fellowship with like-minded people. That, at any rate, is the religion that comforts and enriches my life. Whether my God is one in three or three in one, is something they broke heads over back in the fourth century - frankly, I couldn't care less.

I think that’s something I’m going to remember.

November 29th, 2002


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