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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Convenient Targets

One of the truly surprising things about Christianity, as practiced in some parts of the United States today, is the stunning level of intolerance that is freely and cheerfully aired in the 'Christian media'.

the favorite target these days seems to be Islam. From a religion that recognizes virtually all of the Old and New Testaments (with the admitted downgrading of Jesus Christ to the role of prophet), a demon has been created. A major figure in Christian broadcasting recently spoke of 'sweeping away that old Mosque of Sultan Omar'...which now occupies Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

How did we come to this? How did a faith based on love, and a message of turning the other cheek, and refraining from judgement, become so vicious?

Recent events have clearly played a role, obviously. A large number of prominent leaders who happen to be Muslim have called for jihad in the form of mass slaughter...and have both planned and carried out these atrocities.

But condemning every Muslim, and condemning their faith besides, is a terribly wrong path, if only because Christians are hardly blameless. One has only to look at Northern Ireland in the 20th century. One can also go back to the Inquisition, if one likes...and beyond that, to the Crusades. (Which is where the infamous phrase, "kill 'em all and let God sort them out' had its genesis).

One wonders at Billy Graham's choice of the word 'Crusade' to describe his evangelical efforts.

And it's worth remembering that the belt buckles worn by Hitler's SS bore the inscription "Gott Mit Uns"...God With Us.

A simple explanation is pure xenophobia, the fear and hatred of the different. But there seems to be another, and more sinister force at work - a biased interpretation of the Book of Revelation, biased to justify demonization...and, at its worst, excuses extermination.

Revelation is a terribly difficult book. Almost completely allegorical, it's couched in symbolism that probably had very clear and specific meaning in the First Century AD.

Trouble is, that was 2000 years ago. Our culture isn't the same. The meanings we ascribe to words can change completely, even in a few decades. Think of the word 'gay'. it used to mean happy and carefree, but if you use it that way now you'll get some really weird looks. "He's so gay!", in its current interpretation, would be a point of disbelief in, say, 1950.

Revelation's a lot more than words, of course, and that's even worse. You can pretty well fill in the blanks, come up with a consistent model for the symbology, and someone will believe you. Pick a convenient enemy that's already suspect, and it makes it even more plausible.

So we now have 'Tribulation Timelines', and since we have the timeline, we have to identify someone, or some group, as the focus of evil.

Easy choice.

And we can even feel annointed, as we share the hate.


  1. My dad is from East of here. You can imagine the extra layer of crap we have to go through at airports. Add a titanium hip replacement, and lions and tigers and AY-rabs, oh my!

  2. The media has its share of responsibility. There is trouble at a few embassies (with a tragic outcome in Libya) caused by a handful of people. And the media blows it up out of all proportion, implying if not saying outright that a whole region is seething with rage, inflamed, out of control. There was no counterweight to the horrifying photos of flames, destruction, and angry faces.
    The word on the ground here is that the average person is sick of this stuff. Terrorists have killed more Muslims than anyone else. Extremists have gained ground in some ways, but have also lost credibility with many. The news media gives little hint of this.

    1. You're absolutely right, Marion. The media's really in the entertainment business, and the truth, horrible as it is, is that disaster is entertaining. Popcorn fodder.

      And, yes, terrs have killed more of their own. That's how they operate. As Sun-Tzu says, "kill one, frighten a thousand". And they kill more than one, far more, to instill a level of fear that is unimaginable to us, in our safe and privileged lives.

      If we could experience but a moment of that mortal fear, the world would change...in our elections, in the choices we make that affect the way we elate to the world.

      But it won't be the media that does this. They will continue to sell commercial time, and people just like us, born under a different sun, will continue to die.

      The only answer is...I don't know. Try to look past the salesmanship. Try to care about each individual life?