I am sure that all of us have been appalled at the tragic events in Paris this week which have captivated a horrified world. How can it be some followers of any world faith based upon peaceful teaching can think that it is ok to massacre innocent people?
Islam, though it may be a massive worldwide movement is nevertheless a largely “unreformed” religion. It has not had the opportunity to reform itself in the same way that, for example, the Catholic Church had in Europe in the 16th century. The Reformation, though horribly painful at the time, laid the groundwork for Christian churches (of which our church is one) to deal with the trials of the “Age of Enlightenment” and develop a changed, yet stronger faith. Our faith is no longer based upon flimsy tales and a desire to take holy words literally,(let’s be honest, there are more than a few difficult passages in The Bible) but one securely based upon principles of peace and justice and the love of a caring Father.
How it is that some Muslims attacks Muslims, Christians, Jews and those of no faith alike based upon a literal reading of a just a few passages from the Quran? But is this fair? How about the right wing Christians in America who believe that scripture justifies the murder of staff who work in abortion clinics? Are they so very different?
It is also not a problem limited to Christianity and Islam. I have been in Jerusalem in streets with signs which say “please leave, your presence here offends God”, and let us not forget that Sikhism, one of the world’s strongest faiths was primarily started as a means of finding middle ground between Hinduism and Islam, a war in which tens of thousands died.
The essential problem is one of fundamentalism – of believing that God speaks to me more than He speaks to you, of believing that I hold a truth which you do not. The magazine “Charlie” is no respecter of Faiths and taunts Christianity along with Islam, but perhaps we all need it to remind us that we should not take ourselves too seriously, and that any faith which believes that it has the right to hurt people is no faith at all.
Two thoughts to end this with. The first is to remind people that we are still (technically) in the season of Christmas, a season in which we celebrate God becoming human, sharing our faults and failings. Immanuel – God is with us? Really? I wonder what He makes of all this.
The second, to quote directly from the Quran, '’if an innocent man dies, the whole of humanity dies”.
Je suis Charlie