Splashing around in theology.

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Location: Ottawa, Canada

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Getting Extreme About Extremism...

A while ago, I mentioned that I had been reading a book called The End of Faith, by Sam Harris. I quoted, at that time, an excerpt from the book. [The blog itself is here, if you would like to refer back to it.]
When I posted that same excerpt on another blogsite, I got a response that was arguing for the fact that the excerpt itself was a tad bit whacky.
I do not think it is whacky at all.
And I have since found that someone else had written something along the same lines as Harris, opinion-wise.
The ever controversial Salman Rushdie had written a piece in the New York Times, on November 2, 2001. His article was entitled, “Yes, This Is About Islam.”
What he is referring to in the title is the fact that so much of the media had been saying [of the Sept.11th attacks on the World Trade Center] that “this isn’t about Islam.” And [admittedly] this rhetoric was for good reason: to keep innocent Muslims from being harassed and to keep the peace with other Muslim countries.
Rushdie said: “The trouble with this necessary disclaimer is that it isn’t true. Of course this is about Islam.”
But then he explained his comments by saying it was not so much about religion, as religion in politics. Again…
“The restoration of religion to the sphere of the personal, its depoliticization, is the nettle that all Muslim societies must grasp in order to become modern. If terrorism is to be defeated, the world of Islam must take on board the secularist-humanist principles on which the modern is based, and without which Muslim countries’ freedom will remain a distant dream.”

Can there even be a more significant statement than that last one, in light of the American [and coalitions] effort to inject or instill some kind of a sense of “freedom” in the areas where they are now so committed, and involved?
I agree with Sam Harris, and I agree with Salman Rushdie.
‘Taint gonna happen, this “freedom” that the West is trying to politically impose upon a problem that is inherently religious, at its root.
The WAR on terror?
The term itself [to me] is ridiculous.
Terror defeating terror?

The restoration of religion to the sphere of the personal.
Not only when it comes to politics, or some kind of national concerns, or my neighbor across the ocean, but even when it comes to my neighbor next door or across the street.
Granted, what Muslim extremists want is for their religion to be imposed upon the West, or for that matter, the entire world. And that is wrong. It is just plain wrong. Yes, we can talk about political problems till we are blue in the face, but I agree with Harris and Rushdie, that when all is said and done, Sept.11th, 2001 was about RELIGION.
It was about FAITH!
And what was done, in the name of religion and faith, and God, was wrong.
But, it is equally wrong for the West [Christianity, if you will], to even begin to want its own brand of “rightness” imposed upon someone else, be it the nation or religious grouping that represents this specific event [Sept.11th] in particular, or any other one!
The current state of things between these two worldviews should not be viewed as being linear, which would imply something with an eventual endpoint. No, we are now currently thigh-deep in something that is cyclical. A vortex.
Contrary to popular [Western] belief, Christian extremism is no better than Muslim extremism. Both are currently proving that they will kill to achieve their “extreme” means.
The restoration of religion to the sphere of the personal is the only hope for mankind.
I agree with Rushdie. The only point at which I differ is his use of the word "restoration." Historically speaking, when has religion ever been merely personal?


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