Bad Meme, Bad (Talking bout Islam edition)

islamBeen thinking about Islam today for two reasons. First I saw Zero Dark Thirty this weekend. While I love reporting and love a movie that tells a ‘true story’ truly, I do worry that our continued focus on September 11th (even after a decade) is unhealthy. This is a dangerous movie, I thought midway through the flick; and salute Yasmin Hussein for her excellent article on why this may be the case. By now our grandparents had more or less put Pearl Harbor behind them and were in the midst of an enormous advance in American industry. True, some remained bitter to the end, but for the most part of country was able to put it behind them and move on. Second, I continually get misinformed, misleading, and malignant posts, tweets, and emails about the dangers of Islam. Many of these are ignorant at best, and malicious at worst. One of the best (or worst) came through this morning when I saw a call to ban Islam in America. That fact that this same person has spent the past month excoriating anyone who dared suggest gun regulation as un-American and fascistly opposed to the Constitution caused a brief bit of strained laughter. Irony, thy name is Facebook. Here are some collected thoughts and wishes for how we as Americans and Christians handle the Islam question.

1)      Let’s stop with pulling quotes out of context and imputing some malignant influence. Let’s be honest as Christians this tactic is one that could just as easily used against us (and often is by Harris, Dawkins, et al). There are plenty of verses in the Bible that can be yanked from the text, and used to “reveal” the “dangers” of Christianity. Paul’s submission passage is one that has been used to create all kinds of horrors in Western society, and many of our critics can rightly use that passage against us.[1] This use angers me to no end, and I will not see a practice that angers me put into use against those whom I debate.

2)      Let’s stop the “who’s better” game. Let’s be honest, most of us in America have enough trouble rightly putting our own scriptures to use. Much less read someone else’s holy book and have a clue what is going on there. Rather than pull things out and make points about how bad the other guy or girl is, let’s put our faith in practice and show love to all. Let’s “be” the better people and not just yell about “being” the better people. And here’s thing about being the better person, the better person does not worry about letting you know it. If you want to prove Christianity, Atheism, Islam, or whatever religion is better show us with your life, not your FB status.

3)      We don’t get to pick and choose. Let’s be honest much of our vitriol on social media sites is inane, hyper- emotional, and inconsistent. The same people yelling about Obama harming Hobby Lobby are seemingly the same ones protesting the building of a local mosque. If you want the government to protect your rights, support the rights of others. What makes our country great is that everyone, regardless, gets to participate. Don’t yell about the weakest encroachment of your own rights, and advocate gross infractions of another’s rights. There’s a word for that, and it falls under Rickman Rules of Living Right # 1.[2]

4)      No religion is monolithic. Let’s be honest everybody has ‘good’ and ‘bad’ adherents. Everyone has their haters. No one religion has a monopoly on rightness. No one religion has a stranglehold on wrongness. That is because all religions are practiced by humans, and humans are, well, consistently inconsistent. You wouldn’t want someone reading a post you wrote, making elaborate assumptions about you, and you shouldn’t either. All faiths have those who twist their words for evil, and all faiths have people who present the best of their faith to the world. The problem is that we often want to compare the best of our faith to the worst of someone else’s faith. This is flat out wrong, misleading, and insulting not just to the others, but to our own faiths. Rather than look for and maximize the worst in each other,  I vote we seek out, encourage, and grow the best inclinations of each other.

All this is not to say that we cannot disagree, debate, and discern truth. To act in these ways is not to condone, accept, or agree with everything the other believes. That is not to say that we cannot or should not speak to what we see as the weaknesses of each other. to my brother I do not think you were necessarily wrong to say that Islam has a bad track record with women’s rights; but the answer is not to yell for the infringement of their rights. the answer is to love the Muslim community, to help these women who are mistreated, to seek to bring the abusers to repentance, and to aid those Muslims who are doing these same things.

It’s not about being so tolerant that we lose our minds, but when we do we should take time to do so in community: by that I mean with love, with mercy, and with respect.

I love my faith. I believe I serve the true God. I also believe that it is the kindness of God that leads to repentance, and that has been in short supply on the internet, and the modern American world.

[1] I would argue that those who have used this verse to abuse women and slaves have greatly misunderstood the passage. This misappropriation should be condemned, but should not be used to “show” how Christians hate minorities and breeds hate. True Christianity brings freedom and love; and while we can all condemn these false Christians, I would hope even our critics could learn to distinguish us from them.

[2] Which reads, “Don’t be a basshole.” It’s also rules 2- 9. Rule 10 is don’t be the guy who doesn’t follow rules 1- 9.


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