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02 February 2010

Oh, Lord, What Hath We Wrought in Your Name? or Living Faiths

Speaking of living languages growing and changing in ways that writers and speakers have never imagined and may or may not want, the same would hold true for many interactive creations, like faiths.

Surely, even the WWJD movement did not imagine (although some within it may nod in satisfaction) of what extremist Christians have encouraged and applauded in Uganda, the death penalty for the crime of being homosexual. Only after months of sporadic news coverage and resulting negative opinion from within and without the Christian faith has founder of "superchurch" and author Rick Warren finally called the idea of killing people "unChristian."

I may not be a member of a Christian community (although, for what it's worth to you Gentle Reader, many have described me as a "christian with a small 'c'" person), but I believe I can say that What Would Jesus Do is decry this as a foul act, fomenting violence in his name and ignoring the maxims of doing unto others as you would have them do onto you (allow you to walk the streets without fear of harm from your fellow humans or your government) and live and let live. A civil society demands tolerance and understanding of others, so that nobody is persecuted. The Christians used to be persecuted, but instead of turning the other cheek as Jesus would do (at least he taught that he would and we should do; who's questioning that?), what I'm seeing is a case of uncreative turning the tables (now we're on top and we can do to all by whom we feel threatened what they did to us).

The suggestion that either this kind of response is historically and culturally Ugandan (given its history of rejecting homosexuality), a kind of "do in Rome [or Uganda] as Romans do" when it falls conveniently in with the "Christian" agenda of eliminating the "abominations" of the faith or that to remonstrate otherwise is a sign of colonial paternalism not appreciated by countries who were once colonies. These are actual reasons given for not discouraging this kind of attitude, from those who pray for "respect of human life, from conception to natural death."

Not to appear simply highlighting the very scary adnascentia of distorted Christian faiths, we could speak too of what Mohammad would think about what is happening in the name of Islam. The chief preceptor of enlightened free speech, good literature and a good cup of coffee at Books on First has just finished (and is on the verge of writing his newest blurb for the Staff Picks webpage, ahem!) has been recommending The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright. Apparently, even free will is considered

Also, interesting is a recent Speaking of Faith rebroadcast, in which British Muslim Ed Husain speaks articulately about how he too at age 16 found the luring passion of faith, rationalized and intellectualized violent views, and saw his fellow seductees killed before rejecting those teachings as extreme. Most interesting was his perception that gentle, young idealistic men are the most self-sacrificing and thus, they were the most exploited. Instead of angry young idealists, these kind, loving barely men made the best candidates for suicide bombers, as they so believed in the cause and had no second thought about saving their own corporeal selves. His book about his story, The Islamist: Why I Became an Islamic Fundamentalist, What I Saw Inside, and Why I Left, which was shortlisted for the George Orwell Prize for political writing.

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