My friend Maggy sent me a quote today by the man speaking above- Richard Rohr.
It hit the spot for several reasons. Firstly, Rohr usually has something interesting to say, and his take on the role of the outsider as a source of renewal to the church feels like something important.
Important too as another friend had recieved one of those chain e-mails, and sent it on to me to ask what I thought. This is what it said;
Last month I attended my annual training session for maintaining my security clearance in the prison service.
> There was a presentation by three speakers from the Roman Catholic, Protestant and Muslim faiths, who explained their beliefs.
> I was particularly interested in what the Islamic Imam had to say about the basics of Islam, complete with video.
> After the presentations, question time. I directed my question to the Imam and asked: ‘Correct me if I’m wrong, but I understand that most Imams and clerics of Islam have declared a Holy War against the infidels of the world and, that by killing an infidel, (which is a command to all Muslims) they are assured of a place in heaven. If that’s the case, can you give me the definition of an infidel?’
> There was no disagreement with my statement and, without hesitation he replied, ‘Non-believers!’
> I responded, ‘So let me make sure I have this straight. All followers of Allah have been commanded to kill everyone who is not a follower of Allah, so they can have a place in heaven. Is that correct?’
> The expression on his face changed from one of authority to that of a little boy who had just been caught with his hand in the biscuit tin.’
> He sheepishly replied, ‘Yes.’
> I then stated, ‘Well, I have a real problem trying to imagine Pope Benedict commanding all Catholics to kill Muslims, or the Archbishop of Canterbury ordering all Protestants to do the same in order to guarantee them a place in heaven!’
> The Imam was speechless!
> I continued, ‘I also have a problem with being your ‘friend’ when you and your brother clerics are telling your followers to kill me! Let me ask you a question. Would you rather have your Allah, who tells you to kill me in order for you to go to heaven, or my Jesus who tells me to love you because He will take me to heaven and He wants you to be there with me?’
> You could have heard a pin drop as the Imam remained speechless.
> Needless to say, the organizers of the Diversification seminar were not happy with this way of exposing the truth about the Muslims’ beliefs.
> Within twenty years, i.e. 2031, there will be enough Muslim voters in the UK to elect a government of their choice, complete with Sharia law.
> Everyone in the WORLD should be required to read this, but with the current political paralysis, tolerant justice system, liberal media and P.C. madness, there is no way this will be widely publicised.
> Please pass this on to all your e-mail contacts.
I replied to my friend, but rather than share with you my own ramblings, here is what Richard Rohr had to say;
The Sin of Exclusion
Those at the edge of any system and those excluded from any system ironically and invariably hold the secret for the conversion and wholeness of that very group. They always hold the feared, rejected, and denied parts of the group’s soul. You see, therefore, why the church was meant to be that group that constantly went to the edges, to the “least of the brothers and sisters,” and even to the enemy.
Jesus was not just a theological genius, but he was also a psychological and sociological genius. When any church defines itself by exclusion of anybody, it is always wrong. It is avoiding its only vocation, which is to be the Christ. The only groups that Jesus seriously critiques are those who include themselves and exclude others from the always-given grace of God.
Only as the People of God receive the stranger, the sinner, and the immigrant, those who don’t play our game our way, do we discover not only the hidden, feared, and hated parts of our own souls, but the fullness of Jesus himself. We need them for our own conversion.The Church is always converted when the outcasts are re-invited back into the temple. You see this in Jesus’ commonly sending marginalized people that he has healed back into the village, back to their family, or back to the temple to “show themselves to the priests.” It is not just for their re-inclusion and acceptance, but actually for the group itself to be renewed.
Adapted from Radical Grace: Daily Meditations,
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They are not outsiders, though. In fact, they are very much in the public sphere. While love and acceptance are definitely the approach towards Muslims, we must also look at the doctrines of the Koran and deeds of Muhammad, whom the Koran claims is the role model for all Muslims.
Thanks for the comment- outsiders are not any less outside our self defined boxes just because they are in the public eye surely?
Your wider point about looking at doctrines and the Prophet himself suggests that you feel that both are negative and somehow reprehensible? I wonder though just what you actually know about both- I do not mean just a surface knowledge of selected texts (consider how someone could do the same with the Bible!) Rather I mean actually engaging in a process trying to understand the perspective of the outsider to your perspective?
Unless we do this, can we really claim to be demonstrating any kind of love and acceptance?
>Your wider point about looking at doctrines and the Prophet himself suggests >that you feel that both are negative and somehow reprehensible?
It is historical fact that Muhammad was a ‘negative’ and ‘reprehensible’ character, not a feeling. He murdered and tortured thousands. One of his many harem members was a little girl of 9. He was cruel and inhumane. You can find proof in any of the Hadithes online. There were many like him throughout history, but the problem with Muhammad is that he is called the ‘role model’ for Muslims for ‘all time’, of ‘exemplary behaviour’. That is why there is so much violence in Muslim majority countries, and why 9 is the age of consent and marriage for girls in many. A good Koran to start with is The Abridged Koran by Warner. The Koran repeatedly calls for the killing of non-Muslims, and its teachings are open-ended.
>I wonder though just what you actually know about both
Believe me: a lot 😉
I always encourage people to learn about Islam, and here is a good site run by ex muslims that takes the Koran apart piece by piece:
>Unless we do this, can we really claim to be demonstrating any kind of love and >acceptance?
It is absolutely vital to separate people from ideology. Do not be afraid to lose your love and acceptance of people if you look honestly at Islam. Islam is a totalitarian ideology disguised as a religion: it is the cause of violence, poverty, lack of rights of minorities, all the low measures at UNICEF …. and oppression and killing of ‘outsiders’.
I am saddened by your conclusions. I am a follower of Jesus, not of Mohammed, but the statements of ‘fact’ that you make are in fact a set of biased prejudices based around a fixed view that leaves little room for the real complexity of the experience Islam. I will not refute these statements as we both know that this would be a waste of time, but I will just state this- Islam contains light as well as darkness. So does the religion we call Christianity. What we see depends on what we look for.
Prejudice means to ‘pre judge’ something: decide what something is before looking thoroughly and deeply into all facets of an issue. Both this accusation and ‘bias’ are not arguments but Ad Hominem attacks. Please take time to thoroughly check the accuracy of my claims. It is not something that you can do overnight: it takes time and a careful (unbiased) analysis of the Koran and Muhammad.
That Islam contains light as well as darkness IS the problem: it is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Christ, though, contained no darkness: he was sinless.
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