Fitna and the Acceptable Bounds of Criticism Wednesday, Apr 9 2008 

And another interesting article.

I think it oversimplifies a bit (after all, we have seen terrorist acts carried out by non-Muslims — the Oklahoma City bombing comes to mind, not to mention the Irish “Troubles” — though I’m not sure to what extent these people ascribed their actions to divine guidance). So does Geert Wilders’s Fitna, which I watched online a few weeks back. (I won’t bother linking to it because it comes and goes so often who can keep track?) Fitna looked amateurish, and it’s pretty short, I don’t recall exactly but maybe about 15 minutes. You can’t get all that deep in 15 minutes. Yes, there are Koranic verses that sound pretty horrid, and yes, some horrid things have been carried out in the name of Islam. And, I’ll take Geert’s word for it and say, yes, there are a lot of Muslims in the Netherlands. (If you haven’t seen Fitna, that pretty much covers it.)

The point I most take away from the article, and to a much lesser extent from Fitna, is that it is a very surreal (and frightening?) world when the response to a terrorist attack in the name of Islam is another round of politicians’ speeches about how Islam is a peace-loving religion (I’m not saying it is or it isn’t, not the point, I’m just sick of hearing the phrase), and leaders across Europe beat down the door to be the first to condemn this guy’s amateurish video, more quickly than they condemn actual attacks. There really isn’t anything new or shocking in this video, yet apparently all kinds of servers were refusing to host it. This isn’t freedom of speech. This looks like fear.

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Interesting Clip From Al-Jazeera Saturday, Mar 29 2008 

And, finally, check out this interesting video clip from Al-Jazeera, posted to a blog by Peter, who, as you will quickly see, is quite likely Baptist. = ) The speaker makes points which are politically incorrect in this country, much less in Qatar and other places in the Islamic world. Interesting that she was able to give them voice in this forum.

Old News on Christian Apology to Muslims Saturday, Mar 29 2008 

…which was new to me.

Actually I think I’d read about this before, but hadn’t seen the specifics, or the names of those who signed it. The letter itself didn’t shock me (as the title to the blog post said “liberal” Christians), but the signers did.

I’m not a big fan of apologizing for someone else’s actions (not to mention someone on another continent some…700 years ago or something, as in the Crusades?). I think it cheapens the sense of what an apology actually is. How can “I’m sorry that I spoke harshly to you yesterday” and “I’m sorry that (I? we? my/our ancestors? they? some European Americans?) unjustly drove (you? your ancestors? them? some American Indians?) off their land” really be the same thing? I don’t have the power to apologize for (atone for, rectify) what someone else did. (I can, of course, acknowledge that it was wrong.)

And I’m all for expressing cultural sensitivity and for loving one’s neighbor, no matter their religion or anything else about them (it’s kinda in the Bible). But I can love my neighbor while not agreeing with all the choices my neighbor makes; it’s not my place to condemn a person for his/her decisions, but nor is it appropriate for me to adopt those decisions myself or accept them as equally good. Equating Christ and Mohammed (or any other person), or the Bible and the Koran (or any other book) is…well…I can certainly understand how a non-Christian might do this, but I’m not quite sure how a Christian can. How can you claim the name of Christ, and place Mohammed’s teachings alongside Christ’s as if they are equally valid and essentially the same? This is an aspect of liberal Christianity that I just haven’t been able to wrap my head around.

So…the signers? They included Bill Hybels (Wilow Creek) and Rick Warren (Saddleback), neither of whom I would consider liberal (at least before this!). I can’t put my finger on what specifically I know about Hybels, but clearly I’ve absorbed enough about him to be shocked that he would put his name on this document. And Rick Warren? I had some concerns, or call them quibbles, about him, but I try very hard to avoid the vitriol and witch-hunting that has so infected some corners of Christianity, and assume the best about my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Reading this post has, shall we say, greatly increased the concern, and “quibble” is probably no longer the appropriate word.