Sunday, July 24, 2005

Hoots has a dream

Sounds corny, doesn't it?
Well if you think the headline is corny, wait til you hear the dream. Downright naive. Profoundly so. Though it doesn't come naturally, I will try to be brief.
I have an ulterior motive here. It is to put the reader in the right frame of mind to read the post that follows, regarding developments in Gaza. Since there is a minimum of bloodshed and a politically fragile process, there is almost no news coverage. Either no one wants to risk derailing a peace process (I'm being charitable here; I don't think the media is that altruistic) or there isn't enough blood to make for good television. Perhaps that is just as well.

One tenet that sets Christianity apart from most of the world's faiths is the notion of reconcilliation and forgiveness. No one who has experienced the liberation that comes from having forgiven someone who has done an injustice will dispute that without that release, an abscess would take root that would enslave them to the grave. Even in the absence of repentance on the part of a perpetrator, forgiveness in the heart of a victim is the most powerful weapon in the Christian arsenal, more powerful than death itself.

The tragedy of Middle East conflict is ongoing in large part because the main adversaries have no tradition of forgiveness and reconcilliation. Central to their faiths is the manner in which they deal with evil. Their response to evil is either to destroy it or distance one's self from it. Anything but embrace it and overcome it with anything resembling love. That is the most important difference between the Old and New Testaments: overcome evil with love. The message resonates through the pages of the New Testament so often it is remarkable how many Christians seem to have missed it.

Alaa makes reference to the real challenge for the non-Semitic western broker in the following post. Here is my dream: the ingredient that Christianity can being to the table in the Middle East is reconcilliation and forgiveness. For a long time I have had this idea, but it seemed so far-fetched that I dared not put it in writing. It seems so crazy and idealistic. After all, there is a war on and what am I doing talking about peace when we need to be girding our loins for more fighting, not less?

Well I'm not alone, it seems. The next post illustrates a step in the right direction. I feel less alone in my thinking than I once did. I am encouraged by what is happening in Gaza. I am hopeful that the peace process can continue.

It is no mystery that terrorists want to destroy places where ordinary Arabs have a chance to interact with and get to know people from outside their culture. In the famous Global War on Terrorism, ignorance and isolation are on the side of tyranny. Understanding and interaction lead to what we so quaintly called in the sixties a "revolution of rising expectations."

Hamid Karzai, president of Afghanistan, was quoted today as saying...

"At this stage we do not have relations of any kind with Israel. But let us wait and see what happens in the future. The more the peace process moves forward, the more a new era of possibilities will be created in the area, especially as our Palestinian brothers see a brighter future, as a state and a nation, Afghanistan can weigh relations with Israel," Karzai reportedly told a reporter from the Maariv daily following a lecture in Rome.



Jim said...

Hoots, I don't think you're niave anymore than young Joseph was in Genesis.

I think one reason Christians haven't pushed for this earlier is that evangelicals (normally the most mission-minded) have understood Israel in ethnic, rather than spiritual terms, i.e., that the "Jerusalem" for whose peace we are to pray is an earthly city, rather than the spiritual city God is building.

Hence we, as God's people, have been prejudiced towards Israel and uncaring, if not unloving, towards Palestianians and Arabs. Yet it would take genuine love towards both parties to win enough trust to bring them to a peace table.

By the way, I think the only peace table that ultimately works is the one with the bread and wine of holy communion. We must believe St. Paul's dream, more outlandish than yours, that "all Israel will be saved" (Romans 11:26). But believing and acting on that dream will mean putting down the bushel of Left Behind books under which our light is covered, and then sending the Gospel to Israel with as much fervor as we do tour groups.

Sorry for the uppity tone. I've decided to rant a bit this week over at my place.

Jim said...

P.S. I really can spell naive.

Hoots said...

It's okay. I'm used to it.

I look for substance more than form. I like what you said about the communion table, Left Behind books and tour groups. That's a quick example of what strikes me as valuing substance over form.

The dynamic of forgiveness and reconciliation is like the law of gravity. It works for infidels as well as Christians. Christianity was founded on the notion. Ghandi understood as much when he made that remark about "Give me your Christ but keep your Christianity." (It is interesting, by the way, that the fellow in trouble in Iran is named Ganji.)