A Few Thought About Recent Events


Yet another terrorist attack in the west, and who knows how many more outside of western interests where these things are not as rare or infrequent as they are closer to home? (At least one in Indonesia reported today 25th May)

And not unexpectedly, the murderer was a deranged Muslim extremist expecting to get fast-tracked to paradise. Imagine the disappointment on arriving at his eternal destination.

the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. (Rev 21)

I can see at least two of those labels are clearly relevant to that deluded young man (cowardly and murderer) and possibly more.


At these times debates always arise about the nature of Islam. There are inevitable contradictory contrasts presented, with some declaring Islam a religion of peace, others that it’s a religion of violence and hatred.
While arguments fly, with people taking one side or the other, equally valid arguments could probably be made for both views.


Firstly, most Muslims are probably no less peace loving, peace desiring than the majority of non-Muslims. They just want to get on with their lives, taking care of their families in safety and security. They are Muslims because they were born into a Muslim family and follow the rituals and practices they’ve been taught. There would be little difference between them and their attitudes and those of most western “Christians”, except the Muslim often has a much more developed daily awareness of their god than the majority of westerners (even church goers) and are often far more devoted to their beliefs than a great number of professing Christians. And remember, it is only in recent decades that the Muslims among us have become targets of suspicion. Previously they lived  among us with little cause for concern, and Christians need to resist  demonising the people no matter how we view the religion they’ve been brought up to follow.


Moving to the other side of the argument, we only have to look at those nations where Islam dominates and see how it affects their laws, their governments and the lives of their people. Those nations include some of the most openly brutal and intolerant in the world, often responding to perceived lawbreakers with violent punishments, and dealing harshly with those alleged to have been insulting to Islam. All of that is justified by appeal to Islamic teaching.
Those who insist on portraying Islam as violent need only to point to those nations, and also highlight those parts of the Koran that justify the harshness in those nations – the parts that teach intolerance for and retribution against “the infidel” (or non-Muslim) and the lawbreaker. And parts of the Koran can make that an easy argument to prosecute. It is to this view of Islam that the terrorists belong, seeking to bring down those outside of their particular religious view of the world.


However is pointing out Koranic violence the wisest argument for Christians to make, when it is equally easy to turn the accusatory finger to point the other way?
The Bible itself isn’t free of violence commanded by God. God given Law also demands lethal and violent punishment (some punishments the same as in the Koran, which partially draws on the older scriptural writings that preceded it).
It can be non-productive and unhelpful, to make arguments against Islam citing violent instruction in the Koran, that can equally be levelled against Christianity and Judaism through citing the old and New Testaments.


So is there any difference? Are Judaism and Christianity any less condemnable that Islam for having violence at their heart (as provable from the evidence of their holy writings)?

I say there is a difference.
The unfolding message of the Bible is different. There is an ongoing purposeful development throughout. The Bible presents a history of God’s relationship to mankind, showing where we came from, through to God’s ultimate purpose for us.
The Bible starts with God’s creation of the universe and the planet where we live, and how he populated it with an incredible variety of living things, culminating in man and woman.
It tells of how His perfect creation was tainted by the introduction of sin (rebellion) and continues with an unfolding account of God’s means of restoring the relationship between God and man that was lost through that initial rebellion.


The violent events recorded in scripture fall within the context of that developing history of fallen mankind struggling with a Holy God of perfect justice. A history that continues to unfold, heading towards a complete renewing of creation. In fact a totally new creation where only righteousness can dwell, a creation free of the hatred and violence that became the inevitable result of man’s rebellion against God.
It will be a new creation, a new heavens and earth populated only by those who have chosen to be willing followers of God through the gift given via His Son Jesus.


And that is the difference I see – that there’s an end purpose; GOD’s purpose, where the continuing cycle of men’s violence and other corrupt actions are stamped out, and God’s ways become man’s ways.


There’s a reason why we are told that the enemies we face aren’t flesh and blood. That we don’t wage war as the world does. And yet Christians often go against that instruction and put hope and trust in, and support, man’s violent military solutions to the evils of groups like ISIS, Al Qaeda, and their blind foolish followers. Support that can take on a misplaced patriotic fervour. Support for military action often conducted against relatively small groups who have established themselves in poor, vulnerable and insecure nations, or nations MADE insecure by earlier military action. Military action that exacerbates the problem and supercharges the recruitment drive of the enemy “we” are intended to defeat, to the extent that it’s “our” purpose that is defeated and not the enemy “we’ve” been fighting.


And while they turn their military might against the nations unwillingly harbouring terrorists – our governments continue to align themselves with gulf state sheikdoms, particularly Saudi Arabia, home and supporter of extremist Islam; who have thrown hundreds of billions of dollars into exporting the extremists Islamist ideologies that we allegedly want to destroy.

And why is that the case?
Indian researcher Professor Brah-ma Chellaney of the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi says:

“Money is the main reason why the United States in particular is unwilling to break its longstanding alliance with the gulf sheikdoms.”
(http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/breakfast/saudi-arabia-responsible-for-worlds-terrorist-ideology/8553832 )


As the title of this article says, this post expresses a FEW thoughts about recent events.
There’s probably a lot more that could be said to add to the topics I’ve touched upon. Some of the subject matter is far more complex than many people like to think, and therefore I’m not sure whether I’ve clearly expressed some of the things I wanted to say. I just hope I’ve made enough sense to take a glimpse beyond the glib political and religious rhetoric we tend to be bombarded with through various mass media, so we can avoid the same feelings and expressions of hatred that we accuse others of harbouring.

11 thoughts on “A Few Thought About Recent Events

  1. “Taken to its extremes, the infection of Pharisaic self-righteousness (the Pharisees were obsessed with purity), which Jesus compares to a yeast that creeps its way through dough, would lead us to deem it our duty to rid the world of losers and evil-doers . . ., like pulling weeds out of a garden.”

    The Irresistible Revolution, by Shane Claiborne, p. 237

    I think it all starts from self-image. If we (and our faction/ideology/nation) are “the righteous”…and of course we always ARE…those not with us are, by definition, “the unrighteous:” and therefore the root-cause of all the world’s problems.

    Remove “those other people”…problem solved.

    Tea-party Republicans driving out the “moderates” (and vice-versa), Serbs “ethnicly cleansing” their country of Croats and Bosnians, Moslem terrorist bombers, and every nation going to war against any other nation: same rationale. “Those other people” are the problem, and violence against them (which THEY make necessary by resisting removal) is the solution.

    When “they” are out of the way, the world will be peaceful and righteous. That’s of course what God desires: so we are doing His will when we remove “them.” God will be pleased with us.

    Two scriptures come to mind:

    “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)

    “These things I have spoken to you so that you may be kept from stumbling. They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God.” (John 16:1,2)

  2. … losers and evildoers ….

    Emphasis on losers (manipulation of perception of evildoers).

    It’s important not to hold too closely the Pharisee as definitional of the problem we face.

    In the time of Jesus, the religious leadership was about power and positioning (and was too often corrupt with respect to piety/purity/law given by God). Now, we again are looking at a disdain for losers.

  3. Now, we again are looking at a disdain for losers.

    A few years ago I heard an Australian author talk about changes in language that he’d observed as more an more American culture influences Australian attitudes.

    He noted that Australians used to speak of “battlers” – those who constantly struggled against the odds without ever seeming to get ahead; but more an more those people are now being labelled “losers”.

  4. http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-portland-knife-attack-20170528-story.html

    Portland praises its heroes after fatal stabbing —

    By Thacher Schmid

    When he was in college, Taliesin Namkai-Meche took an introductory religion class on Islam and impressed his professor with a deep desire to understand how others see the world.

    Rick Best spent years in Muslim countries as an Army platoon sergeant in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    And Micah Fletcher won ……

  5. That’s an illuminating observation by the author, Tim. “Battler” bespeaks some admiration of a person’s continuing effort: “loser” judges them worthless.

  6. Our sympathy and desire to help go out to one who is making an effort: our contempt to a worthless person.

    The verse introducing Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the publican comes to mind: “…He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt” (Luke 18:9)

  7. Meanwhile have to notice that failing or succeeding in finances or toward comfort/income and capital (while illustratively helpful) isn’t what’s exactly in view, isn’t the same as valuing Spiritual direction. And, as the recognition of the influence of America on Australia indicates, they’ve been equated.

    I used to be a “conservative” (still am in terms of the true values I had and still have and thought were held in common). But I caught on that when fanatics say half the people are takers, and one stops to think about it, the very people who are asked to trust and live out the risk of Christianity lose out.

    Of course, there aren’t easy definitions. There are pastors who can lose out, depending on how things go, even if they do nothing wrong. And there are pastors who do just fine in the realm of mammon (even if they are upstanding). At the same time, there are pastors who do wrong (maybe behind the scenes) but do well as it were in terms of being provided for or providing [however (dis)honestly] for themselves. And there are women who can get the luck of the draw and not be tricked into devoting concern to their children while their husbands don’t direct concern to them. Note that half the population is female. Note that there are not more corrupt women than corrupt men (but there are more women who suffer to get by).

    Consider the people who said {reflecting the Roman culture in Israel} they didn’t know who could be considered Godly or good if the rich were not good enough. And consider that “forgiveness” — or excuses really — are more expected for the powerful among us today (even if it is often only the relatively powerful, such as a manager or owner of a business or local bank, as examples, or the “head” of a family as opposed to a worker or member). Forgiveness is a new commodity as afforded to the most impressive or needed (in perception).

    It has gone so extreme that a true sinner is often “forgiven” (more like eyes are averted before or during the fact) while a victim [sorry, but there is such a thing] isn’t forgiven for finding him or her self victimised. All the forces of religiosity go-to the likely breadwinner (however wishful this may be) who will relieve society of needing to care while compassion is largely absent for the person whose “sin” was to be born or to give up a career in order to submit to her husband or who was honest in business.

  8. It has occurred to me to state that I wasn’t thinking of the old indulgences and other ways [a current one is sometimes getting a questionable annulment] of paying for forgiveness when I posted the last post. I was simply looking at what the article topic was. It kind of amazed me a well-mannered leader would ask. I’m glad he wasn’t totally crass about it. Glad he asked too. More has to happen beyond apologies, though. It looks like Canada might be seriously working on that.

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