Thoughts on 9/11 protests
I must admit that I’m disappointed in those protesting the mosque that is to be built near the WTC site, especially the Christians who are riding this wave of anger toward Muslims.(I’m not even going to mention the idiot in Florida) I just can’t square it with the way Jesus taught that we should treat each other. It’s not that it doesn’t agree, it conflicts with the very heart of Jesus’ message. And not only that, I think even not-necessarily-religious people understand this is not the way we should be acting.
As I was thinking through this, I asked myself where did I read about this recently. It wasn’t in the news, nor in a blog post – it was in the special edition of the French magazine, Philosophie which is all about the philosophy of Tintin. The author of the first article, Michel Serres is saying that Tintin’s adventure called “Tintin au Tibet (Tintin in Tibet) is basically a retelling of the Good Samaritain story. The young hero is called on to deal with a huge, ugly, dangerous abominable snowman and in the process learns that he’s quite a kind and sensitive being.
“En réalité, ce qu’on oublie toujours, c’est qu’à l’époque du Christ, les Samaritains représentaient pour les Juifs une population impie, haïe comme d’abominables hommes de neiges. La parabole du Bon Samaritain, dont l’adjectif contredit le nom, nous dit donc le contraire de ce qu’on croit : qu’il faut aimer non pas son prochain, celui qui est aimable, mais au contraire celui qui est banni, honni, considéré comme le pire d’entre nous.” p10
We forget that in the time of Christ the Samaritans were rather abominable to the Jews. So the parable is not about your neighbor, who’s rather likable, but about loving those who have been banned, shamefully expelled – the worst among us.
But look where Jesus tells this story. A really classy guy whose been doing everything right has just asked Jesus a “bottom line” question, one of those questions that cuts through everything to the essence of what Jesus was all about – What do I need to do to have a rich, full, meaningful, eternal life? Jesus has the chance to tell him all kinds of important things but simply says “Love God and love your neighbor as much as you love yourself” The guy’s follow up question was “who’s my neighbor?” Jesus’ story is not just saying that the abominable Samaritan is your neighbor, but he’s saying that even the Samaritans “get this” but the two other Jewish leaders don’t.
So in our quandary over allowing a group of Sufis (notice you don’t ever hear about Sufis in the news because unlike the Shiias and the Sunis, they are peaceful) to exercise their constitutional right and build a mosque, a lot of people “get it” more than many religious leaders.