Monday, October 31, 2011

In Response
to a Critic
My Criticism of Islam

Following my article titled The Period of Decline, a Vashon Island man accused me of being a bigot, calling my words anti-Muslim hate speech. He further compared my words to those of Anders Behring Breivik, the insane Norwegian man who murdered countless youth on an island in Norway some months ago. As an American of Norwegian decent, this was particularly hurtful. I participated in the memorial service held at the Nordic Heritage Museum for these young innocents and am still grieving for their families.

My friend, Archpriest Basil Rhodes responded to this man's words with the following: "Argumentum ad Hominem. The fallacy of attacking the character of an individual who is advancing a statement or argument, rather than trying to disprove that statement or argument."  It has been my experience during 65+ years that many of us become angry and attack those who hold to different views because it takes more effort to refute the views with good argument.

That said, nothing would make me happier than to be proved wrong in my views of Islam. Over the years I've made numerous attempts to connect with local imams, asking Muslim individuals if they could arrange a meeting between myself and their Muslim religious leader. I have always enjoyed a wide rang of friendships, which have included Native Americans, a Buddhist abbot, black friends, Jewish rabbis, protestant and Roman Catholic clergy, and a number of close friends who declare themselves atheists. Vashon Island has afforded me the widest range of friendships I have ever enjoyed.

Back in my graduate school days I had a number of close friendships with Muslim and Zoroastrian Iranians, people whose friendship I deeply valued. I am not a bigot. I have a relative whom I deeply love who is a practicing Muslim. I also have a number of close relatives who are converts to Judaism. One of my aunts divorced my uncle to marry a black man back in the late fifties. Wally became like an uncle to me, and I grew to love and respect him.

Nothing would make me happier than to be convinced that there is no threat to democracy and religious freedom by the religion of Islam. Yet I am convinced that this religion is indeed a great threat to world peace, and to the safety and well being of countless non-Muslims. History is on my side, and I am not happy about that.

All it would take for me to change my mind is to hear the Saudi Arabian government allow her Christian population to be granted the freedom to build churches and worship without discrimination. Nothing would make me happier than to hear important Islamic leaders take a stand for religious freedom for their Christian countrymen and call an end to the burning of Coptic churches and attacks on the Coptic people in Egypt. Nothing would please me more than to host a group of Muslim religious leaders who would call for an end the violence and intolerance of religious minorities in Islamic countries.

The individual who called me a bigot is a good man who contributes to making Vashon Island a very special place. It saddens me that he would choose to call me names rather than prove me wrong. The problem with many liberal thinkers is that they expect everyone else to see the world as they do. These people champion the rights of women and gay people, yet fail to see how these two groups are treated under Sharia law. They see the execution of the two Iranian teenagers for homosexual acts as a fluke, brought about by extremists, but fail to see public execution for homosexuality has a long history in Islamic countries. They refuse to notice the historical fact that most black slaves brought to the American soil where traded by Muslim Arabs. They refuse to notice Sudan is the only country in the world that still openly operates in the slave trade, with black African Christians as their primary source of slaves.  

Should the Islamists become the dominant religion in the West, all the programs and legal reforms that have been the pride of these liberals will be wiped out in a day. Gay rights, abortion on demand, equality of women in the work place, equal educational opportunities for women, and freedom of religion will all disappear. 

Islam is not just the enemy of Christianity, but is also the enemy of all the liberal causes. The fact that Egypt, previously known as a secular state, is now moving toward Sharia Law, demonstrates how dangerous this religion can be for anyone who holds to different views. A Coptic woman who grew up in Egypt told me she always had Muslim friends, but all that ended with the societal pressures that estranged those former friendships. The pressure to conform to religious law and practice caused such fear among her female friends as to cause them to dress in traditional clothing, not because they wanted to, but because they feared for their lives. They feared being seen with Coptic Christian women. Not much different than those Jewish and Christian friendships that ended during Germany's Nazi period, with many protestants being swept up in a collective hatred that made them turn against former friends.

Religion should promote peace and understanding between people, not hatred and hostility. That there are extremist, hate filled Christians out there in no way reflects upon the founder of the Christian faith. It was Jesus Christ who instructed His followers to love their enemies and do good to those who persecuted them. The founder of Islam instructed his followers to spread this faith by violence and war. History is on my side, unfortunately. I do not bring these historical facts concerning the religion of Islam to public debate because I hate Muslim people. I do so for the very same reasons I would speak out against the KKK, who would do harm to black people in this country. I speak out for the very same reason I stepped into the fray, preventing a group of high school boys from further abusing a young man whom they presumed was gay.

I do not deny the fact that Christianity also has had periods of violence in her past, yet these moments of shame were departures from the faith taught by her founder. Christ's message was to go into all the world with the Gospel of love. Islam spread by conquering wars and bloodshed. No evangelists there.

If any of you know an Imam who would be willing to meet with me, have a meal with me, and let me share my concerns, please know that I am most open to such an opportunity, and that I will treat him with love and respect. Meanwhile, I must, in conscience, share what I believe to be truth, that Islam is a danger to our Western culture, religion and democratic way of life.

I am sorry I offended this Vashon man. I'm sorry he has chosen to punish me by refusing to ever purchase another bag of our Monastery Blend Coffee. I'm sorry he chose to respond to my article in anger, rather than asking to meet personally with me (over a cup of Monastery Blend Coffee). Sorry that a good man, meaning well, has chosen to dismiss me outright, as a bigot.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Trypho

My long time friend, Archpriest Basil Rhodes

Monday October 31, 2011 / October 18, 2011

21st Week after Pentecost. Tone three.
Holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke (1st c.).
Translation of the relicts (2001) of Venerable Joseph of Volokolamsk (1515).
New Hieromartyrs Andrew,Serius, Nicholas and Sergius priests, Virgin-martyr Elizabeth (1937).
Martyr Marinus the Elder at Anazarbus (4th c.).
Venerable Julian the Hermit of Mesopotamia (4th c.) and Venerable Didymus the Blind.
Martyr Chrysa (Zlata or Golda) of Bulgaria (1795).
Venerable David, abbot, of Serpukhov (1520).
Hieromartyr Mnason, bishop of Cyprus (1st c.) (Greek).
New Martyrs Gabriel and Cirmidol of Egypt (1522) (Greek).
Venerables Symeon, Theodore (monks), and Euphrosyne, who found the Icon of the Mother of God in the Great Cave of Peloponnesus (9th c.) (Greek).
St. Peter of Cetinje, metropolitan of Montenegro, Serbia (1830) (Serbia).
Sts. Gwen and Selevan, martyred Welsh missionaries, in Brittany. (Celtic & British).

Galatians 1:11-19

Call to Apostleship

11 But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.
13 For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. 14 And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.
15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, 16 to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.
Contacts at Jerusalem
18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord’s brother.

Luke 8:5-15

5 “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. 6 Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. 8 But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold.” When He had said these things He cried, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
The Purpose of Parables
9 Then His disciples asked Him, saying, “What does this parable mean?”
10 And He said, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that

      ‘ Seeing they may not see,
      And hearing they may not understand.’
The Parable of the Sower Explained
11 “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. 13 But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. 14 Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. 15 But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.


  1. Dearest Abbott Tryphon,
    We have really enjoyed BOTH your articles and support you 100% in your assessment of Islam. As well, your assessment of liberals is accurate...they would rather call names than explain and discuss their side of the issue. Having known you for 20 plus years, we know in FACT that you are not a bigot. It is not in your DNA, nor is it reflected in your devotion to Christ and his teachings of Love and Foregivness. In Christ's Love, Athanasios and Eleni

  2. Thank you Abbot Tryphon for your thoughtful and fearless response to your critic. I hope that meeting will happen! God bless you.

  3. Christ is in our midst!

    Dear Abbot Tryphon;
    I am not qualified to speak about the larger political forces and tendancies within Islam. However like you I have known several very good and loving Muslim people.
    My spiritual father, a monk of Egyptian discent, told me several stories of his pilgrimages to Egypt during which Muslim people would often treat him with great respect and ask his blessing and his prayers! He also knows full well that being a Christian in Egypt is a definite risk. Each time he prepared for his pilgrimages, he and the monks with him prepared themselves for the possibility of martyrdom.

    I do also have a wise Orthodox friend, David Goa (, who has established many connections and friendships with even very high ranking Muslims and Muslim clerics (from various nationalities). He has a very nuanced evaluation of Islam and Muslim people(s).
    It would be my pleasure to put you in touch with him.
    Please feel free to email me at:
    man or they [all one word] at gmail dot com
    I will then email you and David together, introducing you two.

    And finally, I dont know if you are familiar with the movie, "Of gods and men" (about the martyrdom of Dom Christian de Chergé and his Brothers, at the hands of Muslim terrorists)? I watched it recently with some church friends at the recommendation of my confessor, Fr Michael, who blogged about it here:

    I highly recommend watching this movie yourself if you are interested in the different faces of Islam.

    I think any who know you from your online presence alone even, can see that your opinions are in no way tainted by bigotry.
    Love in Christ;
    -Mark Basil