This, Virginia, is why I do not put any great weight on my own ordination; any fool can be ordained and seeking God has nothing to do with it; witness the blatant bearing of false witness to further a political agenda exercised by this so-called minister. Here a so called minister of God is even bearing false witness against his own religion, if you can believe it!
Here we have an analysis of the ranting’s of one Charles Kimball, the director of Religious Studies at the University of Oklahoma and a Baptist minister regarding the culpability of Christians and Christianity for the Oslo massacre and bombing by mass murderer (alleged, I think we are supposed to say Virginia) Anders Breivik.
The horrific events in Norway this past weekend provide yet another powerful teachable moment in the ongoing and increasingly dangerous saga of religion becoming lethal.
I can’t imagine how. Unless the good reverend’s point is somehow that the actions of non-Christian religious folk caused Breivik to snap I don’t see the point. Breivik very pointedly explained that he was not, would not be, and did not recommend being a religious Christian; to him “Christian” seems to be no more than a catch-all term for non-Muslim of European culture! He also never used Christian theology in his writings to base his actions upon.
Indeed it would be hard to find any Christian “church” today, anywhere, that would be able to propound a theology based in the teachings of Jesus that would support the killing of anyone merely to make a point, let alone try to justify the slaughter of children to make said point. Even Fred Phelps and his sad band of haters do not promote violence, other than making decent people wish for an excuse to righteously kick their asses. Sadly, Phelps and Co. have been too clever so far to give the rest of us an excuse to use our laws to put them away… This is the price you pay for freedom.
Reality aside, facts aside, respect for his own religion and co-religionists aside, the good Rev. wants to use this as a teaching moment. Such aggressive compassion surely must be a good thing, right, Virginia? Right?
The murderous rampage by Anders Behring Breivik brings several important lessons more clearly into view.
Indeed, it does, but not in the way you seem to feel, Sir!
First, religion is an extraordinarily powerful and pervasive force in human society. Throughout history, people within various religions have been motivated to their highest and noblest best actions. At the same time, some of the worst things human beings have done to one another have been done in the name of or justified by religion. Religion is a powerful force inspiring constructive and destructive behavior among believers.
Right, but what does this have to do with a man, Breivik, who justified his evil with secular arguments, and did not use any religion’s message or theology to base his horror upon?
Second, we live in a world with many weapons of mass destruction. Quite apart from the horrors associated with chemical, nuclear or biological weapons, we now know that a devious plan can utilize automatic weapons, fertilizer, box knives and commercial airplanes as weapons of mass destruction. Attacking a summer camp for youth vividly reminds us that there are many ways people bent on doing great harm can accomplish their goal.
As far as I can tell that last paragraph was no more than background music for an ongoing apologia for the “free speech is good, but it can go too far” crowd who equate free speech with inoffensive (to them) speech.
Third, we now know with certainty that it doesn’t take many people to wreak havoc on a wide scale. Breivik may have acted alone or within a small circle of cohorts, as did Timothy McVeigh. Nineteen men carried out the attacks of Sept. 11. Small numbers of zealots who are convinced they know what God wants for them and for everyone else are capable of almost anything.
Notice how the oh, so honest Revd. throws in McVeigh, another secular terrorist who explicitly rejected any theological grounds for his crimes against humanity to balance the unarguably theocratic 9/11 terrorists, among others too numerous to count. What this compulsion he shares with other Leftists, to beat his breast and declare “We are just as bad!” instead of solving the problems, is all about is simply beyond me.
I can’t think of any modern religious terror committed by other than lone madmen at all except for the Islamic kind… Even the Irish terrorists who divided on religious lines never used Christianity to justify what they did, nor did the clergy in any way justify or support them, in fact for the most part they were Marxists whom the local Catholic clergy would not trust any more than they would Protestants!! The same can be said about abortion clinic bombers, they are lone wolves and, are not backed up by mainstream theology or communities in any way.
Not surprisingly, many preachers and pundits who have spewed hateful rhetoric and fanned the flames of Islamophobia are now scrambling to disassociate themselves, their published statements about Islam and Muslims, and what some call “true” Christianity from the actions of Breivik.
No my dear wolf in minister’s clothing, you are the one who is scrambling to tar innocent people with the taint of Breivik’s evil in order to further your own agenda That is the very epitome of bearing false witness against your neighbor! I highly doubt even one of the people you seek to demonize ever called for violence against Muslims in any way; certainly none of the “influential” ones have; they certainly did not promote violence against the enablers of Islamism, which seems to be what Breivik thought he was doing in the dark buzzing cloud pretending to be his soul. At the same time, others quoted by Breivik have promoted violent and totalitarian schemes… but they are never mentioned by the oh, so righteous Reverend.
But words matter. Examine the path taken by violent extremists claiming inspiration from Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism or Buddhism and you can trace connections with the fiery rhetoric of influential, sometimes self-appointed leaders in madrasas, in books, at religious rallies, on websites and the like. There are consequences when cocksure Christians or Muslim militants proclaim God’s truth while stoking fear of the “other” in the minds of their would-be followers.
Here “Rev.” Kimball is bending over backwards until his spine snaps to attempt to “level the playing field” between Islam and other religions when it comes to directly inspiring violence. He fails to make his case. Show me the violent Christian, Jewish or Buddhist movement, in the lifetime of this nation, that was encouraged by “fiery rhetoric” from “influential” books, churches, synagogues and leaders? Can you think of any in the last two hundred years? I can’t, just a handful of nutjobs who are universally excoriated by their own co-religionists. No-one complained about what kind of burial Jim Jones got, no Christian thought it important how a lunatic mass murderer should be buried!
Meanwhile, the good reverend goes back to his “free speech is bad in the wrong hands” theme. The wrong hands here of course being hands that are possessed by someone who disagrees with the enlightened view of Revd. Kimball.
While there are no easy answers or simple solutions, there are constructive ways to move forward in our increasingly interconnected and interdependent world community. It begins with education.
Study programs in schools and colleges, churches, mosques and synagogues are essential. Interfaith dialogue and engagement with people of different religious and cultural backgrounds are invaluable ways to dispel generic fears and help humanize the “other.” All across the U.S., Christians, Muslims and Jews are working together to build Habitat for Humanity houses and work on common problems such as crime and drug abuse within their communities. These kinds of intentional efforts at education and cooperation are vital at the local, national and international level. We need more and more such endeavors in the U.S., not only for the well-being of our communities, but also as a way to model the kind of healthy religious pluralism our future requires.
The truly sad part about Kimball’s misguided view is that the above actions are not being done, and never will be done by the kinds of religious extremists he worries about; not the handful of Christian ones and, not the thousands upon thousands of Muslim ones. At most they will use such activities as a smokescreen while they pursue their theocratic agenda’s unmolested. I can only assume that either Mr. Kimball’s seminary did not offer a real course in history or, that he flunked it.
He also seems to be guilty of the sin of Liberal Racism. To that mindset the “underclasses” of past racist philosophies have not vanished, they are poor, helpless children that must take under protection, for their own good.
Because they are “of the oppressed”, a state of permanent victimhood, their actions do not make a difference compared to the actions of the evil, dominant White Man from Europe and America that is Kimball’s real devil, and God.
He will never compare the fruit of Muslim and Christian fairly, because then he would be forced to speak of Islam (from the perspective of any devout Christian clergyman) as a religion that might stem from God but, that has been mired for most of its existence in a theo/political system of worldly evil.
The path to a more hopeful and healthy future also requires people of faith and goodwill to speak out clearly and directly against extremists of all stripes.
I can’t argue with that. That is what the Heretics Crusade is.
Although most of us were taught by our parents not to talk about religion or politics in public, the stakes today are far too high for deferential silence or casual indifference. Ignorance is not bliss; silence is proving deadly.
Once again, I agree, I don’t think anyone reasonable would try. But, that is not the pitch, that is just the windup with a lean to the left to imply a slider, this next bit is the pitch; a spitball, knuckleball covered in tar.
Just as many people continue to call on Muslims to speak out forcefully and unambiguously against violence and extremism, so too must Christians and Jews openly challenge those who advocate extremism and foster hatred in the name of religion. This means, for example, naming names and identifying the theological and political positions of Jewish fundamentalists and Muslim extremists who block potential paths to peace in Israel/Palestine.
The problem with this little gem is that the Jewish and Christian communities in this country as a whole have always stood against anyone who used violence and extremism to advance or defend their faiths! It has been held a virtual truth that to do so is to abrogate that faith entirely!
Just what more is it that they are supposed to do when the mainstream Islamic community complains about how Osama Bin Laden was buried after assuring us for years that he was not a “real Muslim”?
For me, as a follower of Jesus and a Christian minister, it means strongly disagreeing with TV preachers with political clout such as John Hagee and Rod Parsley. They have every right to espouse their religious and political worldviews. But their ill-informed and hateful rhetoric about Islam and Muslims, as well as their certainty that Jesus will be arriving in the next couple of weeks, has very real consequences.
That is nice Chuck, when are you going to do it? This whole piece reads like it is aimed against free speech and, to me, seems to be intended to gently brush Oslo/Breivik tar on anti-Jihadist bloggers and writers who have never propounded, or invoked, an ideology of violence; yet gives a pass to Breivik “inspiring” figures and writers (in his own words) who happen to be on your side of the war in your mind. You haven’t even given us a clear idea of just what they say that you oppose! If that last paragraph was really the point of your post then, I have to say I think your point fell flat.
The mind-boggling terrorism manifest in Norway will continue to provide hard but important lessons about the dangers all around us and the need to find more constructive ways to move forward in the 21st century. It is a stark reminder that we share a fragile planet where ignorance, hate and fear can link easily with religious worldviews and produce horrific consequences.
Yes Virginia, the world is a dangerous place, especially if you equate the evil acts of lone scumbags with the evil acts of organized and ideologically driven scumbags who are numerous and active instead of isolated and sporadic.