This is my personal blog. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the congregations or presbytery I serve.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Getting reliable information about Islam these days is very difficult.  The atmosphere is polluted with misinformed, hysterical, paranoid, bigoted, and mean crap.  This was especially true leading up to 9/11, with the “Ground Zero Mosque” and Koran-burning controversies.  There are a lot of sick people out there, motivated by fear, rage, pain, hate, and a lot of other mental illnesses, and we are allowing them to frame the conversation, on both sides.  The media fans whatever flames they can find because of course they feed on nastiness and violence… which is to say that we do, because the media only give us what we will buy.  The more outrageous the action, the bigger the feeding frenzy all around.

From the Islamic extremists whipping crowds into hysteria and violence because some lunatic in a tiny church in Florida wants to burn copies of their holy book, to the folks who froth against an Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero… it’s all stoking of bad emotions, usually for someone’s political and/or economic gain. 

If we want to learn about Islam we will have to actually get to know some Muslim people.  I suspect many of the people expressing fear and anger about Islam don’t care to acquire any accurate knowledge about it.  The point is not learning anything about Islam, it is feeding their fear and anger.

Last week Susan and I attended a wonderful, beautiful, delicious, and joyful Iftar dinner with our Muslim friends.  Iftar is the meal they have each evening when they break the Ramadan fast, after sundown. These folks, with whom we have been sharing an interfaith dialogue for a few years, are humble, kind, gentle, simple, hard-working people.  They are a joy to be with, and they have been more than generous and kind to us.  Their attitudes towards us and Christianity generally has been nothing but inquisitive and respectful.  We have even been given unique opportunities to tell the story of Jesus to folks who really never heard it before. 

Now, someone can say that the gentleness and kindness of these people is all just a false front, and their real agenda is world domination: BE AFRAID!  BE VERY AFRAID!  But I suspect that the people who would say such things probably don't know any Muslims.  

In most of the junk that is thrown out there purporting to tell us “the truth” about Islam there is never much evidence that any actual Muslims were consulted.  Anyone can sift through the Qu’ran for the most offensive pieces, taken completely out of context, and lift them up as the supposed essence of the whole religion.   

It should go without saying that the Bible can also be read through this kind of hysterical, paranoid, and mean lens.  One may examine the Bible and find the most alarming and negative passages, and use them to portray "Christianity."  

But that would not be real, lived Christianity.  The same kind of charges these people make against Islam can be made against Christianity as well.  Our Scriptures also make universal claims and damn others to hell, God knows.   There is frankly at least as much historical evidence that Christianity is a violent religion bent on world domination and the condemnation of all others, as there is concerning Islam.  From the Crusades, to slavery, to the Holocaust, our track-record sucks.  Imagine drawing conclusions about all of Christianity and all Christians from the teachings of Torquemada and Jerry Falwell.  

I just prefer to believe my own experience of actual people, rather than something clearly designed to promote at least fear, and could easily lead to hatred and violence.  If we want to learn about Islam, we need to develop relationships with actual Muslims.  

Meanwhile, we are subject to a Iot of garbage oozing out fearful, angry white  people who presume to call themselves Christians.  History has shown that there is no class of humans more capable of committing unspeakable mayhem and horrible atrocities than fearful, angry white people who presume to call themselves Christians.

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