Posts Tagged ‘Iran’

The Crazy Danger Of Fundamentalism

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

With the election for Iran’s next President about to take place, the leader in the race is outpacing his competition by a wide margin through the slogan, “No compromise. No submission. Only Jalili.”

Such is the crazy danger in religious fundamentalism.   No compromise.  No submission.  Only demagogory.

And the challenges of fundamentalism is far from “over there.”  We face the same forces be that within our churches or within political parties.  Wrap the human propensity for machismo in a flag, add religious language, and label a bad guy, and fundamentalism can rapidly spin a nation into a spasm of reactive violence.

How do we find a way out of that cycle?

That is where we will, in the coming years, need to fully re-dedicate ourselves to answers that heal.  That is a large task, a task beyond purely military answers and one where faith communities can find a place of real service.

A case in point was reading a recent article on the refugee camps in Jordan filled with thousands of displaced Syrians.  Living in a compound without jobs or education is hardly a breeding ground for the kind of enlightened action that leads one along the higher roads of human nature.  With guile replacing an open mind as the modus operandi for many of these youths living in these camps, it is hard to see it ending well.

We can however choose to add our voice to the conversation.  Christ’s voice would not be one of evangelization.  I believe it would be one of love, tolerance, and compassion realized through the service.

What does it look like?  I am unsure of the specifics.  But it would not look like “No Compromise.  No submission.”


Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Today marks another anniversary of a day we will not forget.

The thoughts for me are deeply mixed.  The first thoughts go clearly to those who lost their lives that day and in the days since at the hands of an inexcusable act  of violence directed against the United States that in turn spilled out across the Middle East. There simply are not words for it.  I remember reading day in and day out the New York Times obituaries of the deceased.  As the wonder of the people’s lives unfolded so did the sadness at seeing so much life snuffed out prematurely.

The other part yearns for the 9/12 world, a world we no longer speak of.  Nicholas Kristof, a columnist for the New York Times focusing on human rights, wrote in a column yesterday that, “One way or another, I fear that we may well end up at war with Iran in the next four years….”  It appeared as a throw away line in a long column.  With 10 years of war behind us and a future war looming ahead of us, when those who do write of 9/12 comment on the uneasy inevitability of another conflict, I am saddened.

I would love to hear a 9/12 voice … a growing chorus in this country and in the Middle East.  Will we rediscover, as humanity, the prophetic words of Isaiah for this generation, not as a saccharine sweet platitude but as an unsettling call?  ”God will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.”  (Isaiah 2:4)  Hearing that call is hearing the call to hope.

Please parents …..

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

This week a group of Israeli teenagers, including a 13 year old female, beat an Arab youth unconscious on a Jerusalem street.  The same day, another group attacked an Arab taxi in Israel, throwing a firebomb through the vehicle’s window.

It was interesting reading the legitimately concerned reaction in Israel as citizens expressed worry about their own form of homegrown terrorism.  One commenter offered this insight.“This is directly tied to national fundamentalism that is the same as the rhetoric of neo-Nazis, Taliban and K.K.K.,” Mr. Aloni said. “This comes from an entire culture that has been escalating toward an open and blunt language based on us being the chosen people who are allowed to do whatever we like.”

Such attacks, as he saw it, were an inevitable and logical outgrowth of escalating intolerance.  Given the saber rattling around what appears to be a fall attack on Iran, he is correct.  Just last week, I read an article in the same paper of a hero’s welcome accorded to 100 some odd young Americans returning to Israel to enlist in the Israeli army for the upcoming showdown with Iran over the development of atomic weapons.

Shame on Israel right.   Easy for a Pastor in the states to point to the Middle East in condescending judgment about how wrong they are as the cycle of violence churns, and churns, and churns.  Were it that easy to press the issue “out there.”  But the fact is it is “in here.”  So the shame is rightly on us, me included.

Thomas Merton famously wrote how the “sane ones” are the most dangerous.   Sanity without a moral compass endangers our soul. Much of violence is “sane” in the simple math of retribution and protection.  We live a sail in dangerous waters.  And where is the voice for the evolution of the human soul?  Nothing soft about stands around non-violence.  God’s call: “Blessed are the peacemakers.”  God’s gifts: Not “a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, love, and self discipline.”  (2 Timothy 1:7)