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Jesus, anti-semitism, Muslims, and Michael Jackson…

January 28, 2010

…not a really cohesive group of topics, huh? For class tomorrow I had to read excerpts from the New Testament and a chapter in our textbook about the rise of Christianity (it’s a Western Civilizations class). The portions from the NT were teachings of Jesus:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your friends, hate your enemies.’ But now I tell you: love your enemies, and pray for those who mistreat you, so that you will become the sons of your Father in heaven…If you speak only to your friends, have you done anything out of the ordinary? Even the pagans do that!”

Then there was the reading out of our text-book (Western Civilization: A Brief History, Perry, Sixth Edition) speaking of early Christianity:

Christians identified opponents – Jews, pagans, and heretics – with Satan and viewed conflicts in a moral context: a struggle between God’s faithful and Satan’s servants. Over the centuries, the view that they were participants in a cosmic struggle between good and evil led Christians to demonize adversaries, a practice that exacerbated hatred and justified mistreatment, even massacre…The diabolization of the Jew, which bore no relationship to the actual behavior of Jews or to their highly ethical religion, and the “theology of victimization,” which held that the Jews were collectively and eternally cursed for denying Christ, became powerful myths. Over the centuries, these myths poisoned Christians’ hearts and minds against Jews, spurring innumerable humiliations, persecutions, and massacres by Christians who believed that their actions were pleasing to God.

Then tonight I went to an event called Why Do You Fear Me?. The premise was to approach the unconscious (maybe sometimes conscious) ideas we as Americans have in our heads when we think of Muslims and Arabs. We talked about how Jesus’ idea of loving our enemies can be expressed when all we feel is fear when we see someone whom we identify as “enemy”. How can you have love if there’s no affection (in the amazing words of Ted Dekker)? How can you have affection if you have no interaction with those people? It was an amazing conversation that seemed to perfectly contrast the things I was learning earlier about the actions of our early church forefathers.

As I was leaving the event, Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” was on the radio. It was the ideal sum-up for a day like today. Thinking through implications of what it actually means to “love” my neighbor as myself…to not be caught up in hyper-religiosity that corrupts and maims…to walk through life with affection for those I may not understand or agree with…it all starts with looking at myself and making a change in me. To choose to let His love transform me.

Also, while I was writing this blog tonight, I’ve been listening to the Hope for Haiti Now album…amazing stuff…you should check that out as well…

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. January 28, 2010 11:22 pm

    Phew, Candace!! What a day. Loved how you wove it all together. I love having a bunch of gems presented to me so I can cogitate. You have me cogitating! Thanks! http://souldipper.wordpress.com/ – Amy

    Like

  2. Sam Banks permalink
    January 29, 2010 1:40 pm

    I am very impressed at the well rounded, intelligent and insightful woman you’ve become. This was the time I’ve read your blog, but I read your face book status regularly.

    My observation on the issue of Muslim/Judeo-Christian relations is that when we are confronted with things we don’t understand, we access the very basest and childlike places of ourselves. That is, we fear the things we don’t understand and that fear fosters distrust and misjudgment. To courageously walk forward in faith and seek to understand things and people you don’t understand takes a spiritual maturity that I regrettably don’t always maintain.

    The American arrogance and mentality of “our way or the highway” is really just a societal extension of our fear of what is different and our reaction is sometimes just as juvenile. Instead of walking into the closet to meet the monster, be carry a baseball bat and put a beat down on our own jacket. In reality I think we are two steps behind opening our minds and hearts.

    First, we have to realize that everything has it’s place in this world (minus sin). Second we, as followers of Christ, have to purposefully commit to viewing the world and the people in it as Jesus does. If you were to ask my goal for the year (okay, life) it is to mature in Christ to the point where I am able to put down the baseball bat and ask the monster to tea.

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    • January 29, 2010 2:08 pm

      love your thoughts Sam. Taking the monster to tea would be an amazing thing for the revolutionization of American politics and foreign policy. PS – have you seen the new book by Ted Dekker called “Tea With Hezbollah”? I think you might like it 🙂

      Like

  3. February 2, 2010 6:42 am

    How wonderful that you were able to attend the Why Do You Fear Me? event! I watched it on the web. LOVED IT! I’m so glad I found Carl’s book a year or so ago. I have been a fan of his ever since. 🙂

    Like

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