Terrorism and Separation of Church and Mosque

I’ve heard the oft repeated meme that Islam is a religion of peace, and that the terror unleashed upon the world is not representative of the vast majority of Muslims.  I’m willing to believe that for the simple reason that were we to have a majority of the over 1 billion people who identify as Muslim committing acts of terror, the things we deal with now would be minor.  If most Muslims were committed to violent jihad there would be no place to hide.  We would be engaged in global guerrilla warfare all day every day.  I must infer from the fact that this isn’t happening that most Muslims are not willing to kill people for the advancement of their religious ideals.  But that is not the same thing as believing most Muslims are committed to peaceful coexistence with anyone who is not Muslim or those who oppose Islamic ideology.  The question is one of utmost importance to the future of the world.  muslims-worship-mosque_b40491f9dd7f912f

I know the secular West has done its best to take the teeth out of religion.  God is dead is a pretty explicit cannon shot in the face of religious ideologies.  But there is also the blurring of any remaining religious systems of thought into a homogenous blob that attempts to domesticate them.  Nietzsche was killing religious thought with nuclear weapons; the radioactive religious leftovers at ground zero decided to tame it.  All roads lead to God.  All religions are basically the same and noble in their effort to bring about unity of mankind; love and peace. But religious ideologies have proven to be remarkably resistant to nukes and to assimilation.  Islam is impervious to Nietzsche and to secularization because it sees itself as it really is; a competing worldview with as much right to its claims of truth as anyone else’s.  Nietzsche proclaimed that all claims about the nature of truth were power plays designed to elevate the group making the claim.  What he seems not to notice is that while he was fiddling with his own brand of jihadist nuclear weapon, he set it off in his own face.  For what greater power play could there be than to claim God is dead?  What great truth claim could anyone make than Nietzsche did?  And so he taught us we should disregard his own claim as a mere attempt to gain power over us.  There is a big bang for you.  And the secularists did no better when lumping all religions into one thing that has no real edges.  The problem with their claim that all religions are the same is the same as Nietzsche; it is a statement about the nature of reality that by its very nature elevates itself above all the other claims.  In other words the secularist attempt to lump all religions together is itself a religion; a set of beliefs that has no foundation better than any of the religions it attempts to dethrone.  Muslims and other people of faith can see the hypocrisy  and the search for power in these claims.  Their truth is able to compete on the field of ideologies along with every other ideology.  If the nukes and the blurring lines didn’t touch them you can be sure that mocking them as a people stuck in the stone age won’t effect them either.

Now to the real question.  Muslims are not going to give up their ideology; is their ideology compatible with peace?  We know that in the history of the world there have been ideologies that were not peaceful and could not coexist within the civilized world.  They had to be defeated.  The case for Islam is very complex. If Islam is going to continue as an ideology it can only go one of two ways.  Either Islam conquers the world or Islam conquers itself.  The first scenario is obvious.  It means that persistent insistent conversion of all people through any means necessary is an Islamic principle, core to the ideology.  There is no negotiating with this Islam.  The second scenario is that Islam rejects any coercive form of conversion and instead decides to depend upon the attractiveness of its core beliefs to bring people into its way of life; to make more Muslims.  This may be possible.  At this moment there are obviously more non-violent Muslims than violent Muslims.  But where is the rejection of the violent means of advancing Islam?  If I am to believe most Muslims are non-violent because there are not more terrorist attacks in the world, I must also believe that a majority of over 1 billion people raising an outcry against the portion of their religion’s people who are violent would be very loud and clear.  Very loud and clear.  If extremist Christians were regularly blowing up abortion clinics all over the world in some wrong headed and perverted version of Christian belief, would Christendom police itself?  Would Christians attempt to uncover their plots and bring these terrorists to justice?  Or would they sit back and allow these bad apples to advance their agenda without implicitly supporting them.  Would they say to themselves that abortion is a very bad ungodly thing and, while they would never blow up a clinic personally, is it really so bad that one less abortion clinic is in the world and one less baby butcher is alive?

It is going to take active rejection of evil for Islam to prove that it is peaceful.  Just as I would expect Christian churches to separate themselves from anyone doing evil in the name of Christianity, I believe mosques must do the same.  There must be a movement to seek out and stop Islamic terrorists by people who follow Islam.  It must be worldwide and it must be soon.  I’m afraid the silence of the mass is already too deafening and ominous and may mean that either Muslims are not sure about what their religion demands of them or know that it demands extreme and violent activity that they themselves are not willing to carry out, but they are glad to have someone else do in the name of their god.  The non-Muslim world should not accommodate Islamic coercion.  No threat ever led to a valid conversion to any ideology.  We should encourage Muslims who see this and accept this point to speak up loud and clear.  This generation will not pass away before we find out what Islam really is.

 

 

 

Personal Story: A Wrecked Pastor

What gets your attention more? A story about a point of interest in life, or a story from someone’s life that makes an interesting point?  Personal stories get my attention.  When a person starts off a conversation with “I was out to sea in a huge storm…” I am about 20 times more likely to perk up and listen than if they start out saying “There are many things you can learn by being at sea in a huge storm.”  I’d say up to this point I’ve written what I would call general interest posts here on my blog.  I do share personal stories from time to time, but mostly I am writing topically about things that get my attention.  The more I read it the more it feels so…analytical, and, well it feels a bit sterile.  Its too clean.  I like analysis.  I 527767289_HAeJMiyiSgiJ1V9oFX7A_wrecking_ball_xlargeespecially like to take apart false belief systems using the gospel.  I also like applying the gospel to practical matters like raising children and being married.  I think I’m pretty good at it, but it doesn’t seem to get much traction with people.  By traction I mean pulling people along, hopefully into a better place or better life.  Some people always find a handle on what I write and get pulled along, but it doesn’t seem like in general folks are connecting with the message.  Good analysis without good handles accomplishes little.  The funny thing is, I don’t think I’ve learned much of anything that didn’t come through a story; either mine or someone else’s.  I’m feeling like I may be able to accomplish more if I just give you the story as it unfolded and unfolds.  Maybe you can come with me and we can figure some stuff out together.

So at the moment I am a wrecked pastor.  Do you have a pastor or a church?  Some have one or the other; some have both; some have neither.  You want to know the really strange thing about becoming a pastor?  You don’t really have a pastor any more; at least like most people do.  You want to know another weird thing about being a pastor?  You can’t read the Bible right any more.  It messes with your head.  Between those two things alone you could lose your mind.  Most of the pastors I know got into it because they had a pastor they admired and/or they loved the Bible.  Once you are a pastor every pastor you meet wants to find out “how the church is doing,” and every time you open the Bible you start 5914doing a sermon outline.  It sucks.  Oh and another thing is you don’t have many people you can say things like “this sucks,” to without thinking you might not want to say that out loud.  Stuff piles up in a pastor’s life like papers on a desk.  Why do pieces of paper start cluttering your desk?  Because at some point you lost the energy to put them away, or you just can’t think of any good place to put them.  They don’t fit into any category.  You don’t know how you’d label a file folder.  This is what it is like being a pastor.  I’ve always got things pending that don’t fit anywhere but they are not things I can forget about or shove into a drawer; they’re pieces of lives.  A couple divorcing with children.  A woman discovering she married a person she doesn’t really know at all.  Parents who found out their son is gay.  A bounced check in the offering.  A man who wants to tell me the fantastic thing God just revealed to him that everyone needs to get on board with.  Living clutter.  Pieces of love.

It surprised me when I got my first bout with depression.  It surprised me so much that it took two years and a bazillion tests and doctor visits before I knew what was wrong with me.  What does a pastor do when depression sits down on him?  Who preaches the good news to the good newser?  And who is going to help clear up the clutter?  I don’t know.  I’m striving to overcome depression.  I think that’s right.  My therapist friend tells me its not helpful to say I suffer with depression.  I get his point.  But I have suffered.  I’m not suffering at the moment.  You bet I’m not or I wouldn’t be writing this…well I might be, but nowhere as efficiently as I am now.  I want to help with my suffering though.  My Tina and I agreed years ago to share the bad things in our marriage – the things that gut punched us and hurt the worst – so we could give hope and guidance to other married people.  It feels like suffering, when it is offered up brings life, but suffering when it is covered up just rots.  If you are a pastor, maybe our story will bring life to you.  If you have a pastor, maybe you can get a better understanding of the story they can’t tell you by reading ours – and help bring life to them.  I titled this “A Wrecked Pastor” because at my worst that’s what it felt like.  LIke a car wreck, I’ve discovered over time that, while there was some considerable damage, the car isn’t totaled.  It still runs.  Part of getting it on the road again is telling the story to you and for you.

Bible: We are cast down but not destroyed…

Reading: The Anointing, R.T. Kendall

Listening: Lucifer’s Hammer, Larry Niven

Watching: The Americans, FX

Kellerism Today:  We worship that to which we ascribe ultimate value

Show Up

What does God require of us?  What is it that we supply to the One who creates all things, and who says to us  “If I were hungry I would not tell you, For the world is Mine, and all it contains.”?  There is one thing we can do and one thing only.  We can show up.  The church is nothing more than a group of people who show up before God freely while acknowledging it is the only thing they can do.  How we have been made free and what it means to show up before God is the area we need to explore together.SF Upper Haight Thank You for Showing Up

Why Most Church Meetings Suck

Most church meetings I’ve attended appear to be a group of believers attempting to maintain their belief and convince someone else to adopt that belief, rather than a gathering of followers mapping out their course and trying to convince someone else to come along for the ride as they go where only Jesus can go.

The first kind of meeting is not only boring it is intellectually offensive; the second is the only kind of meeting Jesus ever conducted.images (4)