Sunday, July 11, 2004

"a war against Islam"?

It is my goal in these pages to say much more about Jesus than I say about President Bush. I apologize that my last few entries have centered upon the latter. It's just that the outrageous, relevant news keeps on coming.

A Washington insider close to the White House reported Friday that Christians "do not need to be concerned" about President Bush's favorable public comments about the religion of Islam. According to this source, the President knows "the real score" and does not really believe that Islam is a peaceful religion that has been hijacked by the lunatic fringe. It is politics, says the source, that keeps Bush from saying what he really believes: "that America is in a war against Islam."

I think that Jesus' parable about the hated, heretical Samaritans (Lk 10.33) tells us all we need to know here. We must remember that the parable of the Good Samaritan was a part of a larger dialogue between Jesus and a smart aleck lawyer. A lawyer stands up to "test Jesus," and asks him how he is to live. Jesus' response is that you must "love...your neighbor as yourself." (Lk 10.25). But the lawyer, not content, asks "And who is my neighbor?" (Lk 10.28). The parable about the Samaritan is Jesus' response to this question. In other words, we must love even those groups of people who we have the strongest desire to hate. And, yes, that includes even those with a different religion. (Note Jesus' choice of a character that Jews knew had religious beliefs that varied from theirs.) Loving them, moreover, is not something abstract; it means performing acts of love. Consult the "Want to Really Fight Terrorism?" post below for a perfect example of how this would translate in the modern world.

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