Culture & Religion
July Wed 27, 2011
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The most immediate subject of concern to most Americans this past week has been the intense heat that has tormented more than half of the country with record setting temperatures (108F at Newark Airport), life-threatening heat indexes, and drought. However, the heat of the people’s discontent has apparently has not been felt inside the White House and parts of the Capitol Building in Washington DC, where President Obama and a select group of lawmakers have been unable to resolve the problem of the nation’s debt ceiling since they have been frozen by their fear of the liberal and conservative ideologues that have gained control of their Parties. Other news, especially about celebrities, has been able to attract the attention of the media, but beyond doubt the one event that has been able to attract the most attention has been the terrorist massacre in Oslo, Norway. Observers, pundits, social scientists, and psychologists have been trying to understand and explain the motivation behind the behavior of the accused killer and explain it to the people in terms of their secularist ideologies. In my opinion, the most interesting of these explanations has been to see it as an example of “Christian Terrorism”.Christian terrorism? Can there be such a thing as Christian terrorism? The idea, of course, is to equate it to Islamic terrorism, a concept that has come to explain the events of September 11. 2001 to most Americans, and to those that followed it in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Fear of Islamic terrorism has been the reason for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; one wonders what fear of Christian terrorism will be said to require as a response.
And what will be the next step after Islamophobia and Christianophobia? Sooner or later it will be a matter of religionphobia that will seek to eliminate the religious sense from any efforts to build a just, peaceful, and tolerant democratic society. I cannot speak for the adherents of other religions, but I am sympathetic with their being branded as dangerous adherents to a human search for the Infinite that excludes them from the efforts to build a just society by proposing to all what their religious beliefs see as essential to the struggle for justice. For my part. I can only insist that the Christian faith is not motivated by the need to build a better world. It is motivated by a desire to know the Person of Jesus Christ and learn to see Reality as He saw and sees it – as St. Paul put it, to “put on the mind of Christ”.Having encountered Him as a merciful gift of His love, we have experienced a change in how we judge and understand everything that happens, and it is this experience of love and mercy that prompts us to work for justice and peace.This is called conversion, and as Pope Benedict XVI has insisted, this must guide our response to the violence that hurts us all.
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