Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A Violent History: A Violent Now

Kathleen Rusnak is a pastor at the ECLA Lutheran church in Cresskill, NJ. Being a neighboring pastor, I was intriqued to discover that she has her own blog. In her last entry, she articulates an interesting similarity with the fundamentalist Muslims who want to force Christians to convert to Islam in relation to the Christian Crusades, where our ancestors of the faith demanded a similar conversion. It makes us think mightily how religion, power, and a self righteous determination can become a violent and dangerous mixture.

How we respond to such threats goes part and parcel with our Christian faith. What would Jesus do? (WWJD) is a popular mantra. A mantra that also fits us is "WWYD", What Would YOU Do? Acting and reacting with our faith and sensibilities, we are sometimes confronted with diameterically opposed solutions. Sure, Jesus would turn the other cheek. If we turn the other cheek, would that mean a forced conversion on our part or would we be begin another era of Christian martyrdom?

But more important to responding to such threats from extremists, how do we respond to peaceful muslims who want to dialogue and become acquainted with us? How do we find common grounds in which to share our faith and better understand our shared faith traditions? Perhaps we can meet at the table and discuss our common lot when it comes to using one's faith as a weapon of destruction instead of as an opportunity of peace. Many Christians have learned through the moral failings of our ancestors. How might we share what we've learned with those now in it?

Rusnak's post is good food for thought as she examines the similarities and asks us to be thoughtful in our response. Here is a brief excerpt of what she wrote:


Both Christian and Muslim estremists teach us something important. They have found the seeds of genocide in each of our faiths, and they have acted on them. One thing is for sure, neither of us can remain scriptural literalists any longer. These deadly passages, the theology that flows from them, cannot be ignored. The long theological and scriptural investigation, which already began in Christianity after the Holocaust, hopefully will begin for Islam now. That is our only hope!

Yes, extremists are ours. Both Christians and Muslims, both past and present, whom we would love to disown, but cannot. They are ours then and they are ours now. Only by this claiming can we repent. Only by this claiming can we change. Only by this claiming can we become whole.

Read the entire post here.

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