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September 19, 2005

Religion and the tunnel vision of the typical Liberal

The title of a post at Big Lizards caught my eye...Where Are All the Moslem Methodists?...so I went there to read it. You can go there, but I warn you, it's long, and generally quite stupid, since it's based on some basic Liberal prejudices regarding religion. For example...

The reality is that whatever most Christians (and Jews) may say about the depth of their faith -- in real-life encounters, faith is secondary to comity, commerce, employment, and secular-civic involvement (the PTA, for example).

For Liberals yes, but not for real Christians (or real Jews or real Moslems, etc.) The author (DafyDD) assumes that the rest of the world shares his ambivalence toward religion. But that's ludicrous. It would make as much sense for me to assume the world shares my ambivalence for sports in the face of the billions of dollars people spend each year on sports related crap.

And then there's this..

I know there are some, because one works with Sachi: he's a Moslem, he claims to be kosher (he avoids pork; that's about it), and he prays at least once a month or so, when he remembers. I think it pretty obvious we're not at war with him.

Moslems don't do kosher. That's a Jewish thing. Moslems do have a diet they observe, but also quite a few other things. DafyDD's Moslem friend sound more like one of the many nominal Moslems that you see doing just enough to convince himself he's practicing his faith, pretty much the way Liberal Christians do. Now I had a roommate in college who prayed five times a day, refused to eat pork, refused to touch a dog and was very sincere in his faith. In fact we hung around together a lot because we found that we had more in common with each other (as sincere believers in our respective faiths) than the nominal Moslems and Christians there at that college. My roommate, Nazi, was about the least violent person I'd ever met. The closest to anger I ever saw him exhibit was when I discovered several hundred Arabic books stored in a toilet in the dorm's TV room, which turned out to be copies of the Koran. He and some Moslem friends quickly moved them to a more respectful place, but it was apparent he was angry — but not violent.

DafyDD seems to want to equate devotion and sincerity with violence, as illustrated by his comment...

Such a person could still think of himself as an Islamist, if he sees it as more of an internal thing: the mere fact that he tells himself that sharia is the goal may liberate him from having to live by it in practice. The trick is to divorce Islam (or at least Islamism) from the here and now and transplant it to the afterlife. Specific inconvenient rituals can be largely abandoned, even while the Moslem bemoans their abandonment in a general sense...

Making your faith part of your life is not an automatic recipe for violence. In fact, it is a recipe for non-violence, in that for the most part violent Moslems are those who tend to not understand the Koran very well. The Christian Science Monitor, in February told of a effort by Islamic scholars to defeat violent extremism...

When Judge Hamoud al-Hitar announced that he and four other Islamic scholars would challenge Yemen's Al Qaeda prisoners to a theological contest, Western antiterrorism experts warned that this high-stakes gamble would end in disaster.

Nervous as he faced five captured, yet defiant, Al Qaeda members in a Sanaa prison, Judge Hitar was inclined to agree. But banishing his doubts, the youthful cleric threw down the gauntlet, in the hope of bringing peace to his troubled homeland.

"If you can convince us that your ideas are justified by the Koran, then we will join you in your struggle," Hitar told the militants. "But if we succeed in convincing you of our ideas, then you must agree to renounce violence."

The prisoners eagerly agreed.

Now, two years later, not only have those prisoners been released, but a relative peace reigns in Yemen. And the same Western experts who doubted this experiment are courting Hitar, eager to hear how his "theological dialogues" with captured Islamic militants have helped pacify this wild and mountainous country, previously seen by the US as a failed state, like Iraq and Afghanistan.

Dismissing religion is not the answer to violence, as is amply illustrated by Judge Hitar. Also remember that the greatest violence committed last century was not done by the religious, but by the irreligious — Atheist Communism in Russia, China and Southeast Asia.

Posted by Danny Carlton at September 19, 2005 07:49 AM

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Great commentary's on the value of faith when properly understood and practiced. I've started a new blog after years of absence and would appreciate your feedback as well. God Bless.

Posted by: Dean Remy at September 19, 2005 10:00 PM

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