Oh brother! Where art thou?! I mean really, where do you get this stuff?
There must be something in the water here. A few weeks ago, a bizarre prognostication of smiting from outer space appeared on the pages of this newspaper. In the religion section. Apparently asteroid BL86, in just 12 short years, is going to collide with our planet in a cosmic fulfillment of ancient prophecy. Oceans will turn into blood (literally) and a bunch of critters, including us hairless apes who walk around on our hind legs, will turn into barbeque. Bodies will be “torn apart with their blood being mixed with blazing chunks of metal or debris.” Golly, gee whiz!
Not to be left behind in the mad dash towards the squishy fringes of what increasingly passes for church in America, a regular contributor of exceedingly odd letters offers frothy opinions on everything from global warming to how the “feckless” black man in the White House is hurting our BFF Israel by “obviously” helping his bosom buddies, those nefarious, boogedy boogedy Muslims. All while spouting bible verses and trotting out the same gaggle of discredited Fox News darlings who offer us nothing but wars without end.
Will we never be rid of these carnival barkers in the make-believe midnight ramble of fundamentalism? Quoting from the pre-Jesus Old Testament to somehow prove that the end is near? Or that post-1948 Palestine is now the world’s biggest, baddest lucky charm? Curious, isn’t it, that these favored few, on an apartheid trajectory we must never, ever criticize, have a free pass from the peculiar particulars of your born-again salvation mechanics. Repentance and sincere incantations of sinners’ prayers are apparently unnecessary if you have a righteous pedigree.
The hypocrisy is galling. Martin Accad, director of the Institute of Middle East Studies, in a recent essay about ISIS, wrote that it is absurd for Christians to “join the calls for bloody war against the Muslim world in the name of the fight against terror” while, in the same breath, they support a Zionist ideology that has crushed the Palestinian people for over 6 decades. Amen, Brother Martin!
Are there alternatives to all the rage and fear and flying spittle that darken these pages? Yes. Read the testament of Christian de Chergé, abbot of a Trappist monastery in Algeria. Christian was killed in 1996, probably by extremists much like today’s ISIS. Two years before his death, he finished his testament with these words to the unknown Muslim fundamentalist he anticipated would someday end his life:
“May we meet again as happy thieves in Paradise, if it please God, the Father of us both.”
That, my friends, sounds a lot more like the Prince of Peace I try to follow. Fundamentalism in the service of fascism doesn’t represent my Christianity. And neither does hoping for asteroid BL86 to come blow us all up. We seem to be quite capable of doing that all by ourselves…
Hot Springs, Arkansas