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126  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / Al Mohler Fox News Appearance on: March 21, 2006, 23:52:23
Quote from: Xernous
I am starting to come to the point that ignorance is a very strong source of negativity in this world.

Without doubt Xernous.  

Origen of Alexandria was a 2nd-3rd century Greek Christian theologian/philosopher who had a very different spin on Christianity than did the Roman literalists.  Origen was persecuted as a heretic and his works were banned from the Roman Catholic Church for many centuries.  Ironically, now his works are being acknowledged as the first systematic theology of Christianity, and also that Christianity may well not have ever gotten off the ground without him.

Of course, what Christianity became was NOT Origen's take on the stories...

My signature saying comes from him:  "Ignorance is the greatest of all Sins."

127  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / Al Mohler Fox News Appearance on: March 21, 2006, 22:54:11
Thanks Xernous for posting this clip!

First, I must say that Bill O'Reilly actually did a very good job this time of arguing against these evangelist's public denounciations of Islam.  I have seen Bill O. not be so circumspect in the past.

Second, I must echo O'Reilly's charge that these publicly voiced people are putting us all in very grave danger!!!  As far as Homeland Security ranking goes: This Issue Should Be Put On A RED ALERT!

Americans, and especially Christians that don't feel that way, need to stand up and come out against such atrocious rhetoric...NOW...Our lives and the future of this country may very well depend upon it.

128  Astral Projection & Out of Body Experiences / Welcome to Out of Body Experiences! / I think I went out of body on: March 21, 2006, 03:37:46
Congrats!!  It is definately an exciting thing to become a traveler!!  

Good for you!  There is A LOT to discover now...more than you can possibly imagine!!  

Happy Astral Trails To You,

~Beth grin
129  Astral Projection & Out of Body Experiences / Welcome to Out of Body Experiences! / Rush on: March 21, 2006, 03:30:51

I don't think I can remember one where I was feeling rushed at all, but I have had quite a few where I became aware that I was returning to my body and I didn't want to!! grin

130  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / Re: Abraham, Osama, Islam and Astral Projection, bad assumpt on: March 17, 2006, 23:21:53
Quote from: kamals
I begin with and end with this: True spiritual growth requires the ability and willingness to face what you don’t like facing, consistently. Ruthlessly.
I agree wholeheartedly kamals, with this and with your comments about 'questioning' your own assumptions.  I have found in the past 3 decades of my adult life that unless you ask questions, you will receive no answers--and--that the beauty of knowing how to ask questions, and coming to enjoy the process, gives the added benefit of finding new questions with every answer that you discover.  That is progress.  That is evolution of the mind.  

A few other general comments:  When people take it upon themselves to become educated outside of their primary education, and outside of their inherited religion, they will find that there is a vast store to be learned about the world in which we live.  Most of the people that know only one religion, or one worldview, see only the differences between 'theirs' and 'others' and usually end up jumping to erroneous conclusions as a result.  Personally, I try to find the similarities in religion first, and only if pertinent to a topic at hand, do I seek the differences.  

Most of the posters on this forum (and so many others) are coming from a Christian background alone--either by still being involved or by trying to disengage from it.  This lack of exposure naturally narrows the scope of understanding. While Christianity is based upon the necessity of 'Jesus' suffering' very few Christians have truly experienced it in its full scope. Not because the opportunity does not present itself, but rather, because they oftentimes turn away from it in denial and forgetfulness.  

For some people, the whole state of 'suffering' is seen as 'needless' and 'inhuman'.  Many of these people then wonder that IF there is a God, then why doesn't God do something to stop it?  Because there is no answer to this, other than first hand, face-to-face experience, many of these people just negate the existence of God at all.  

If I were to offer spiritual advice to any would-be projector, or to any critic of astral projection for that matter, it would be:  When you face your sufferings full-on, see them with all the twists and turns involved, and then see them magnified within the physical world at large, you will then find a real motivation to seek God.  When you truly seek God, don't stop with religion...question even what you find them saying about God, and amazingly enough, when you do, GOD will then show you things that would amaze every pope, saint and prophet that ever lived!  

God is much more vast than any human religion can possibly reflect, and we--as humans--are also more vast than what we see in the mirror everyday.  When we all come to terms with this, we can finally begin to comprehend the vast wonders of the universe and truly begin to seek its true essence.

Ruminations over for now... wink

131  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / Religious OBE's/Phasings/Lucid's, etc. on: March 14, 2006, 23:23:27
Quote from: ubiquitous
Its maybe not a very religious astral experience but maybe somebody would like to say/explain more about reaching nirvana.

Symbols are not static...they have different meanings for different people.  Religious symbols are just those that are culturally connected to a religion. If the context was nirvana, ubi, and there was a church present in the dream...well, that would be an experience with religious symbolism!!  

On Nirvana itself...I know little to nothing (nothing being 'nothing'-- not 'NOTHING'.... wink )  But I am sure someone here will be able to help you...if not...don't let that stop you from investigating other sources--i.e., as the dream is showing you: excuse yourself politely from present company and go on over and talk to the nirvana lady....

132  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / contradictions in religions on: March 14, 2006, 23:11:11
Ryuji, since it was your post that spurred me to start the new thread on these kinds of astral experiences, I am glad to see that you reposted it there!

133  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / Religious OBE's/Phasings/Lucid's, etc. on: March 14, 2006, 12:51:14
Hey all,

Some of us (maybe even more than not!) have had religious OBE's/Phasings/Lucid Dreams, etc., in that religious themes/symbols from either your own root religion, or another, were presented as provocative details.

If you want, share those experiences here!  I have certainly had a few (  wink ) but I will let others start with theirs first!

Thanks for sharing!
134  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / contradictions in religions on: March 14, 2006, 02:05:18

I am weary of trying to get you to use your own intellect.  An intellect, I might add, that Allah gave to you so that you may use it for discernment.  You are not using your gift from God, Abraham.  

If you think that the person who conceived the Quran could not read or write, then you believe in fairy tales.  Even if I were to allow the possibility that the author was illiterate, if you believe that he verbally quoted, verbatum in some cases, from out of both the Old and New Testaments--as a direct revelation from Allah--then, I have the unpleasant task of telling you that Allah was a lover of fiction.  

The Old and New Testaments were a collection of fictional stories put together over a long period of time, by various writers, and as you admit yourself, written by 'man'.  Since you know that at least the NT was written by man, then have you asked yourself why Allah would have given such man-made stuff in the precious task of direct divine revelation??

As to the fact that the bible had to have been consulted in the writing of the Quran, well...I am not going to go into the philological process of the development of languages with you, but I will say that just because there was not a full 'Arabic translation' of the NT during the 5th century (which I question anyway) that does not mean that Arab people of the region did not speak and read Greek and Latin--and those were the primary languages that the bible was written in at the time (and a few other languages as well.)  

During the early centuries of the first millennium, Abraham, the world was a very different place than it is today.  Multi-culturalism was the accepted norm, and most people were at least bi-lingual and some tri-lingual plus some.  I am sure that all educated Arabs knew at least all three of these languages.  

Where you say that the "The knowledge of Jewish scripture was kept secret and hidden by the Jews in Madinah" -- I must point out the Hebrew Bible itself was not compiled until the 7th-8th centuries AD, several centuries after the supposed days of Mohammed!!  Until then, 'Jewish scripture' was found in full in both the Greek Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate.  

Abraham, you are not doing your homework.  You are not even trying to see things from a wider perspective.

By the content of your posts, I must conclude that you are only here to try and convert people to Islam.  You are wasting your time....and MINE.  People that come to the this forum do not want to be converted.  Either they have their own religious beliefs, or they are trying to unwind themselves from the ones that they have been offered.

This is not a religious forum.  We have a religion section only because astral travel and other aspects of our metaphysical reality calls many religious beliefs into question.  Because the reality of astral travel is so profound in a person's life, people come here to learn more about it...and to work out those religious problems that are confounding to them.  I am here to try and help them cope with and try to understand their experiences.  They do not come here looking for a new religion. There are plenty of other forums for that.

135  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / contradictions in religions on: March 13, 2006, 00:37:05
Abraham wrote:
The reality is that nothing he said regarding the religion was from himself, but completely from God(as a revelation)
Yes and No.  

No, not completely. Mohammed was definately very familiar with both Jewish and Christian scripture; he obviously greatly depended upon it because he quotes it a lot, and...

Yes I agree, in that it can certainly be said that he did receive revelation.  Mohammed opened his mind and 'allowed God to give him revelations' and God did so by 'acting upon Mohammed's intellect'.  Therefore, Mohammed was able to 'receive revelations' which is the same thing as 'using one's intellect to apprehend the divine'.  

Revelation is a two-way street Abraham:  there must be a giver and a receiver.  In the case of Divine revelation, the Divine is the giver and a human intellect is the receiver.  

Mohammed was, no doubt, a very special man, but, no more special than any of the rest of us---if we are willing to live our lives in such a way that 'our intellect is open to God's'.  This is not easy at all.  To live in such a way requires a negation of many things that this physical world is made of---it is just too 'noisy' otherwise.  It is, however, possible, and there have been many 'great thinkers' that also 'received revelation' through the millennia.  Mohammed was probably one of these, but.....Not the only one.  

God Is.  And God decides who will receive revelations.  Humans do not.  

By adhering to these ancient and antiquated religions (all of which are well over 1,000 years old) we have cut our world off from the very source that these religions claim to know so much about.  

'Religion' is blocking any chance of new revelation.  'Religion' has closed the 'mouth of God'.  

I think God is stirring the waters of this world through gradually chipping away at the religions created in 'His Name' in order to allow for 'new revelations'.

136  Astral Chat / Welcome to Astral Chat! / Members Pictures 2006 on: March 12, 2006, 20:24:26
Well if they really want me, and they can't find any other way of seeing my face except to look here, well....they aren't very good at what they do, are they???

Besides, I wouldn't mind a ride in a long as it's in good operational order, that is.

137  Astral Projection & Out of Body Experiences / Welcome to Astral Projection Experiences! / Recognising people in the astral world on: March 12, 2006, 18:46:32
Hey all,

Great topic Doug!!  I have spent countless hours contemplating such things myself.

I must agree as well that we are probably living mulitple lives at this very moment.  

I too have had such experiences, where either I:

1) easily recognized and conversed with a person--although upon awakening and recall, they did not look much like the way that I know/knew them--(my mother for example after she passed on...)

2) knowing very well, some people, that I have no recollection of knowing in this (the one we are sharing) version of reality.  

3) and there is also the case where I spent quite a bit of time in the astral with one particular person who I certainly recognized from this version of reality, but they had no recollection of it all that we were spending time together in another reality.  

So, I think it is a mixture of all of these.  

If the soul/astral body/mind (whatever we want to call it) is a free moving multi-dimensional entity, then I see no reason why we can't be multiple people simultaneously.  

When one of the physical bodies that I inhabit is at rest, then it stands to my reasoning that in a 'lucid dream' state I can become aware of myself functioning in other realities.  Granted, it is definately very puzzling to awake after such an experience, and I oftentimes wrack by brain to try to figure it out!!  But I think that this too is also quite 'normal' !!!  It is a part of becoming aware of our multi-dimensional selves.

As to the response of laughter Doug, this may be because you seem quite 'normal' to them at the time...thus, the apology is a non could be that upon lucidity, you are have a feeling of being intimidated by your own ability to be somewhere that is not familiar, or intentional, and that you are apologizing for something that they know is quite extraordinary.  Thus they 'giggle' at your humble apology...does that make sense?

Anyway, great topic, and these are just a few of my own ideas on the subject...

138  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / contradictions in religions on: March 12, 2006, 16:24:21
Abraham wrote:
Islam is based upon revelation from the Lord of the Heavens and the Earth which can be applied in accordance with the intellect. The difference is our refernce point is the revelation, and their reference point is their own intellect.

What do you think 'revelation' is, if not 'apprehension by the intellect'?

And just where, Abraham, do you think the earliest Islamic writers got the ideas that there even is an intellect that can be in accordance with the earth and heavens, let alone the fact that the intellect could ever apprehend anything of a divine nature at all??

I'll answer this one for you:  Plato and Aristotle.

Did it ever occur to you that perhaps the most important message that Mohammed was communciating, was to set a most excellent example of how essential it is for humanity to use its intellect?  

Somehow I don't think that Mohammed would approve of his people 'ceasing to use their own intellects' in favor of totally depending upon his.  

The Quran is an excellent example of applying the intellect to certain revelations (apprehensions by the intellect) that concerned the most pressing issues of the 6th-9th century world.  

Mohammed set an excellent example that we can learn from him:  that is, to apply 'our own intellects' to the most pressing issues concerning the 21st century world that we live in, instead of trying to keep 6th-9th century ideas alive.  

Mohammed thought for himself...Mohammed recognized the need to update the Jewish and Christian ideas that were ancient even in his day, so he took those ideas and applied them to his 6th century world.  I think he would want us to do the same for our 21st century world.  

139  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / Islamic Knowledge versus Western ideas on: March 12, 2006, 06:04:52

This is Economics 101.  This is knowledge of the development of societies ad religions. This is also common sense.  

If you are so sure that this is not the case, then why don't you show me where Islam is, and has always been, a poor peasant religion ...

and then ...

explain to me how the religion was financed without a lot of money...

Mosques are not cheap...especially when topped with golden domes.

140  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / contradictions in religions on: March 12, 2006, 05:47:40

While Gandalf can certainly speak for himself, and I hope he does, I can say right now that Judaism, Christianity and Islam would not exist if not for Platonism.  In fact, unlike Judaism and Christianity, Islam is additionally dependent upon Aristotle as well.  

You want proof???....Read something besides the Quran and Surah... read something academic, like the history of religions in the western/near/middle eastern some of the ancient Islamic philosophers such as Averroe:  

Averroe--1126*1198 also Ibn-Rushd Spanish-Arab philosopher & physician; wrote philosophical works (ca. 1179), especially commentaries on Aristotle, on Plato's Republic; chief reconciler of Islamic and Greek thought.

If you want proof of the things that we talk your homework.   STUDY about the world that you live in...not just your religion.  

We have done our homework; it is not our job to do your homework for you.

141  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / The Farewell Pilgrimage - Prophet Muhammad's Sermon on: March 12, 2006, 05:31:10

What is your point?  

The Religion Forum here on the AP is not for proselytising religions.  

If you have a topic that you wish to put out on this forum for discussion with other members, then feel free to do so....BUT...this kind of post will be locked down if it doesn't have a forum purpose.

142  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / More Contradictions in Religion... on: March 12, 2006, 05:09:57
Judaism and Christianity did indeed arise out of paganism, and as history moved forward--even after the establishment of the Trinity--Christianity continued to absorb pagan festivals, etc., in order to convert people to the rapidly growing religion.  The same thing would hold true for Islam as well.  Since the Quran is totally dependent upon Judaism and Christianity for its foundational material, then the paganism inherent in it, is also present in Islam.

This would also, of course, include all subsequent versions of Judeo-Christian religions, including Mormonisn.  In fact, all of western and near/middle eastern religious tradition is fundamentally based upon paganism.

In total agreement with what someone else wrote:  Christianity today is NOT reflective of Christianity when it was first conceived...Mormonism and other sects of Christianity are much later developments and most people think that the 'paganism' has been stripped out of it, but, most of it has just been renamed into something else, e.g., the "Goddess" became Mary the Mother of Jesus in Catholicism, the Dionysian ritual meal of bread and wine became the eucharist/Lord's supper, the birth of the Sun God Mithra, became Jesus' birthday, etc.  

Most importantly, at the core of things, monotheism is pretty much the same as polytheism, except the stories written about the 'gods' are told as though 'all the gods' were 'one'.  It is a semantic distinction without a real difference.

143  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / Biological Evolution - An Islamic Perspective on: March 12, 2006, 04:35:47

Ah....first and foremost....

I do not....I repeat....I do not have any feelings of hatred for Islam.  I have read about the history of the Prophet, and I have studied Islam from an academic/religious studies perspective, and one of my old professors was very studied in the topic.  I have also studied Sufism on my own.

I am a biblical scholar Abraham.  I study it everyday...and have for well over 10 years.  The Quran (and Surah) are TOTALLY dependent upon the Jewish and Christian Bibles for its primary resource material, and without the Bible the Quran would never have been written.  

I also think you should know that I think the Quran is a beautifully written and wonderful book!  Much more poetic and well written than the two bibles that precede it...but that does not mean that what any of the books say is TRUTH.

As far as my research into the biblical wordplays is concerned, I only gave you three examples, but the book I am soon to publish shows many, many more.  There are over 3,500 proper names in the Bible and they all are created for the sake of the literary genre, and the theological message, but not for historical recording.  

Watch for links in this section for a PDF version of my book that you can purchase and download on your computer for your own personal study.  You can then judge for yourself the proof of my claim.  Yes, the claim is definately bold.  The evidence is shocking.  I have been working with it since August of 2001, and I am still amazed!!   But ... bold and shocking that it is ... it is still the truth of the matter.  

In addition to my book, when it is ready, I suggest that you read something in addition to the Quran, such as the history and development of the near/middle eastern world during the centuries before and after the rise of Islam.  This will give you a better idea of the social clime during the period that Mohammed wrote his works....

One final note: Even if the Surah claims that the Quran is 'true' and cannot be refuted, it does not mean that it is...or that it cannot be.  That is a classic circular argument...think about it.   Christianity makes the exact same claim and argument about their bible...

144  Astral Chat / Welcome to Astral Chat! / Members Pictures 2006 on: March 11, 2006, 23:59:16
Okay young people!!!  Here comes one of your elders!!!

The first one is the one that I look like most of the time when I am posting here on the AP...

The second one is a bit of a softer me...

145  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / Suicide bombing on: March 11, 2006, 23:33:49
In looking over this thread, I think all that can be said about this subject has been said.  Ergo, I am going to lock the thread.  It will, of course, still be available for viewing.

146  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / Suicide bombing on: March 11, 2006, 20:10:55
Okay AP members, velmwend and ubiquitous, you are now warned as well.  

I specifically asked that AP members not respond to Abraham's post and -- those who are mature thinking individuals know exactly why I made such a request.  The two of you disregarded that request, so now both of you are walking on very thin ice as well.

Be rational, and BE NICE, or I will see that all of you are banned from this forum.

147  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / Suicide bombing on: March 11, 2006, 15:57:39

In the capacity of being a moderator for the AP, I will allow that one post just made, only because it reflects the language of radical Islamic rhetoric that is wide spread among some people at this time.  

I will not, however, allow any more posts to reflect such scathing language.  This is not the place to vent our emotions, to call each other names--and most importantly--this is not the place to make any kind of threats.  

This is a place where we can rationally and logically explore ideas, hopefully, to the betterment of our world.   If you cannot create rational posts in this manner, then you should perhaps find another forum to participate in.

This is your first warning from me.  My second warning will come after I delete any other post of this nature.  If I then find another, I will request that the administration ban you from this forum.  


Note to Other AP members:
I respectfully request that you do not take the bait and respond to Abraham's post, but rather, continue with the original purpose of the thread.
148  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / contradictions in religions on: March 11, 2006, 15:44:07
My response to this is the same as the one just posted in another thread:

149  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / Biological Evolution - An Islamic Perspective on: March 11, 2006, 15:01:48
Abraham, you wrote:
Allah says: “The similitude of Jesus before Allah is as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him: ‘Be’ and he was.” [Sűrah Âl `Imrân: 59]

We also know that Eve was created from Adam without the agency of parents.

In the Qur’ân, Allah states clearly: “O mankind! Be careful of your duty to your Lord Who created you from a single soul and from it created its mate and from them twain hath spread abroad a multitude of men and women.” [Sűrah al-Nisâ’: 1]

Therefore, the Qur’ân tells us that Adam and his wife were the father and mother of all human beings living on the Earth today. We know about this by way of direct revelation from Allah.

The direct creation of Adam (peace be upon him) can neither be confirmed nor denied by science in any way. This is because the creation of Adam (peace be upon him) was a unique and singular historical event. It is a matter of the Unseen and something that science does not have the power to confirm or deny.
First of all, it is absolutely true: Adam and Eve were not created through the agency of human parents, but this was not a 'singular historical event'.  

I agree wholeheartedly that 'Adam' was created out of the 'dust of the ground', but not as a one time historical event, but rather, as a literary wordplay/pun.  In Semitic, it was the proper noun/proper name Adam that was created from 'dust' because the noun for 'dust' is 'adamah'.  Thus, the name 'Adam' was 'created out of adamah'.  In very simple terms, drop the 'ah' in 'adamah' and you have 'Adam'.

Likewise in the myth, Adam gave his wife the name 'Eve' (Chavah in Semitic) because 'she would be the mother of all life'.  The proper name Eve/Chavah was then created as a proper noun usage of the verb 'to give live to'.  The Greek LXX also shows this to be a Greek wordplay: Adam named his wife 'Zoe' because she would be the mother of all life.  In Greek the verb 'to give life to' is 'zonton'.

All of the Biblical names were created as wordplays/puns.  Even the character 'Jesus' was a wordplay:  In Semitic this proper name--'Yeshua'--is derived from the verb 'yeshu' which means 'to save' which is at the root of the nouns 'salvation' and 'deliverance'.  Likewise in Greek, the name of Jesus is 'Iousous' and is derived from 'sos' which means 'safe' and shares the root of 'soter' which means 'savior' or 'deliverer'.

Bottom line, biblical charcters were not real people--but rather, they were all literary characters created by very clever ancient writers in order to tell stories about a monothesitic god, and how that monotheistic god could have interactive relationships with humanity.

The first few books of Genesis are merely myths that provide a starting point for the existence of humans.  The creation of the character Jesus and all the other NT characters were merely part of the ongoing stories that built upon the epic myths that preceded them.  Later, the Qur’ân and Sunnah used these myths as reference material for a more updated message, but that does not change the fact that the material referenced was mythological.  

Did the writers of the Qur’ân and Sunnah know that the biblical material was mythological?  I cannot say, for I do not know. All I can say for sure is that the Qur’ân and Sunnah find their fundamental resource material in ancient myth.  

The importance of 'myth' in our lives cannot be underestimated.  Myths are fictional creations that tell us how things might have been, but not about what actually happened.  Ancient myths--including those that were collected in the Bible and Quran--were created to entertain and to provoke mature human thought, but not to record actual history.

What you have posted here is a modern day interpretation of ancient religious texts that is attempting to show that the religion behind it can be used in response to scientific theories.  By nature, myths will always reflect some nuggets of real history, and even evidence of some real science, but the nature of myths is to talk about-- not to figure out.  

It truly saddens me to have to be the bearer of such bad news, but Abraham, the Hebrew Bible, the Christian Bible and the Qur’ân and Sunnah are not history books nor are they scientific theories.  

So, these are my 'proofs' and they are 'truthful'.  I think Allah would approve.

150  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / Islamic Knowledge versus Western ideas on: March 11, 2006, 14:08:30

I am not sure where you live, or what resources you have access to, but check for books on the actual history of the ancient near and middle eastern region---during the 5th-10th centuries.  There is a new book that I heard a review of on National Public Radio (here in the US) by a historian who takes a socio-religious approach to looking at the area vis-a-vis the crumbling Roman Empire.  

I am not a specialist on Islam; I am primarily studied in religion in general, most especially in the origin and development of Judaism and Christianity, and how civilization was affected by the rise of these religions.

I also do not know how Muslims teach their own history, of both the religion itself and the history of the ancient near/middle east, but I do know that only a very small minority of Christians actually know the real history of their religion.  Most Christians know only the 'history' as told by the Bible alone, and as sanctioned by the modern church, but not the real history of the religion as it was originally conceived and developed through the centuries.

As far as my comment on the $$$ is concerned, that is just economic common sense.  "Money" (and lots of it) have always been required to sustain religious movements--whether the ancient Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Romans, Christians, Muslims, the later European monarachies of France, Germany or Britian, and now the US and Arab nations--the detailed histories of western religions clearly show that the most powerful people have money, and it is the religious choice of the most powerful that can make or break any social movement, most especially religions.

If I can find that most recent book I heard about, I will post the author and title, but until then, just look to actual 'history books' and not just religious material.

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