A Dangerously Weak god

16 09 2010

A coworker named Albert  attempted to explain to me that another coworker named Tuan thought he was far better than anyone else at the lab.  When confronted with what were perceived to be his shortcomings, Tuan reacted by insisting that he was the very best among us.  In fact, he might have had us believe that he was near perfect.

“He doesn’t really think that,” I told my other coworker, “He’s just insecure.”

“No, he’s not insecure,” replied Albert, “He thinks we’re all down here.” He indicated an arbitrary position with his hand, palm-downward, “And he thinks he’s way up here,” he said, raising his hand above his head.  “When I tried to correct him, he got defensive and argued with me.”

“Secure people don’t get defensive,” I replied.

It’s true, though.  Confident people can take harsh criticism in stride.  It may bother them, but they don’t lose confidence in who they are and where they stand.  It is with this in mind that I note how, with a Koran in one hand and a cigarette lighter in the other, I can make the entire Muslim world jump with every flick of my thumb.  With a pencil and a wild imagination I can draw a face and call it “Mohamed,” earning myself a death sentence.  But all of this zealotry runs amok when we put it to the magnifying glass.

I understand that offenses against Muslim icons are an offense against Muslims.  Insults to my mother are offensive to me, and insults against my God are all the more so.  In a sense, everything that I hold dear and close is part of what I call home.  In a beehive, the queen bee is home.  To the mockingbird, the nest is home.  We naturally fight to protect our home.  However, against these physical things, there lies a real threat of harm.  The bees fight for the queen, because she could really be killed.  The bird fights for the nest, because the young might really be devoured.

On the other hand, fighting to protect one’s god is like fighting to rescue a wooden idol from a burning building.  When a person finds himself filling the role of a self-appointed guardian of his own god, then he ought to reconsider what this thing really is.  I might ask, exactly how fragile is this Allah, that he cannot defend his own honor?  Why does any supreme being need mere mortals to run to his rescue?  It’s like the idol-makers at Ephesus fighting to protect their trade from the teachings of Paul and Barnabas.  That Muslims feel any need to fight for their god is all we need to see their insecurity.  No one dies in defense of the invincible.

They have every reason to feel insecure, though.  The whole Muslim world is economically, militarily, socially and technologically weaker than the industrialized Western nations.  If Allah were strong, then he would have lifted them above the infidels in all respects, for this god is not known for its modesty.  All the worse, though, that Allah is immodest, for weakness is never an act of voluntary meekness, as it is with Jesus.

Our God humbled himself and became a human so that he might be mocked, torn apart and murdered.  In light of this, one might threaten the burning of thousands of Bibles and never come close to the desecration that Christianity suffered.  Yet, this desecration was part of our theology.  Humiliation is central to our faith.  No derision proves our God too weak to respond, and no lack of faith or weakness of character would keep us from defending him.  We don’t need to defend him, and he is not weak.  It is through our persecution that we are proven strong.

Allah takes nothing in stride, and neither do his followers.  He proves his might through violence, which, ironically, is all the proof of his weakness.  Those who look to him for deliverance have become his protectors.  It’s the grandest of all role-reversals.  The loyal adherents have become the gods and made their god as weak as a newborn babe.

You can burn my Bible.  It’s just a stack of papers with ink scribbles on them.  Only the ideas contained within are holy.  The book is just a book.  Even the ideas don’t exist within the pages of a book.  Ideas can only exist within a mind.  A book never read is a book without meaning.  In this case, the book was read, and the meaning, which is the only thing holy about it, was stored within the soul of the one who read it.  The only thing holy about the Christian holy book lies hidden within the hearts of the Christians who believe in it.  There, no match can burn, nor any heretic desecrate it.  We have nothing to fear.  The real Bible cannot be burned.  That which can be burned is not the Word of God.

It is the weakness of Allah that causes the infidels to die.  A polytheistic god that was hardly more than a myth was built up to parade in the place of God, himself.  Such a vainglory was but a house of cards, and the effort to protect that house is more than the world can bear.  If Allah were stronger, then his followers would not have to fight so hard to protect him.  So far, though, he has managed to make a solitary prophet snort and gag while uttering proverbs.  His people have done the rest.  We are the victims of a dangerously weak god.





Managing the Forced Dilemma

23 01 2010

They want to kill us, and we want to live.  This is the problem at hand, that Muslim fanatics in this world aim to destroy as many of us as possible.  The question is how we are to stop them.

Every person has a list of priorities.  When we let someone take something from us that we value highly, this is only for the sake of something that we value more highly than what we lost.  A man in Beirut was assigned to guard Bathist headquarters.  He was not disloyal, nor was he willingly derelict in his duties when he let PLO terrorists inside to steal paperwork and set explosives.  He did it for a note and a lock of hair.  He did it to save his kidnapped wife.  A forced dilemma was set before him.  He could sacrifice his job and his employer’s property, or he could sacrifice his wife.  It was the essence of any effective diplomacy.  If you want a thing that someone values highly, then you offer him something that he values more highly, or else you threaten to take it away.

There are those who value our destruction highly.  We must bribe or threaten something that they value even more if we wish to have diplomatic leverage.

Eve was not generally a disobedient woman when she took the forbidden fruit.  If she had been, then she would already have been fallen.  Therefore, it stands to reason that she was not without loyalty to her God, and she did not disobey for disobedience’s sake.  When the matter came down to the fire, she valued her vanity higher than her loyalty to God.  The snake appealed to the higher priority, and the lesser one was sacrificed in the process.

A man may value his job, may wish to be appreciated for his work and may wish to be esteemed by his coworkers.  However, he may also wish to relax, and this priority may be higher on his list.  Everyone has a list of priorities, and no two things are of equal value.  When put to the test, when forced to choose between two things, a person’s prioritization determines the outcome.  The homeless bum does not wish to be homeless, but, very often, his desire to avoid strenuous work is a higher priority.  A homosexual does not necessarily want to be a sinner or face possible wrath in the afterlife, but his desire to live the homosexual life is a higher priority.

Life is all about priorities.  We can all say that we want to be good people.  We can all say that we want to do the right thing.  Even the common criminal could say it, but the will to do the right thing is a lower priority than the desire to indulge in someone else’s property, some defiled lifestyle or some manner of vengeance.  One might easily say “I can’t help it.  That’s just the way I am,” when we want to do the right thing but never actually do it.  Of course we want to do the right thing, but we value something else even more.

Of course we don’t want to die in a nuclear inferno.  We must find that thing that the enemy wants more than our destruction if we are to survive.

Iran is working on making nuclear weaponry.  This is not for energy.  They have enough crude oil to provide them with plenty of energy.  This is not for defense.  They don’t need provocation.  The people in charge over there just want us dead.  We make fools of ourselves when we threaten sanctions.  We could starve their economy into oblivion, but it wouldn’t touch their nuclear ambitions.  We in the West put such a high priority on the almighty dollar that we can’t imagine other people not shaking in fear when money is at stake.  If they don’t stop their uranium enrichment, then we’ll stop buying their stuff.  Money, for the terrorist, is just a means to an end.  The bad guys in this case aren’t looking for prosperity this side of the grave.  Some of them are, but the martyrs aren’t.  When a man is willing to blow his own flesh to a thousand bacon bits just to kill you, one might wonder what a person could possibly offer or threaten to convince him to stop.  If Iran gets nukes, then Iran will use nukes, and unless we can find something more important to the Ayatollah than paradise, then this is the unavoidable end.

How did we come to the point where a weak nation with one bomb could cow a superpower with many bombs?

It’s all in the priorities.  We wish for prosperity.  We wish to live normal lives.  We wish to think well of ourselves.  We want people to like us.  We want to avoid conflict.  We want to close our eyes and make it all go away.  A few nukes from submarines and the Iranian threat could be gone by tomorrow.  It could be gone forever, but we have a higher priority, which is the preservation of human life.  Much as the crazies want to kill us, we don’t want to actually lash out and hurt their people.  But, even if we did, the question to ask is whether those madmen value their own peace and security above our demise.  To this, the answer is a resounding no.  If they wanted to live in peace, then we would not be in this situation to begin with.

They want paradise.  Can we take paradise away from them?

Much as people whined about the war in Iraq, it had the worthy effect of casting doubt as to whose side Allah is on.  If I’m going to blow myself to bits for God, then I’d better be absolutely certain that I’m really on his side.  There’s no sense in losing Paradise with a misdirected waste of life.  Then, the Muslim must be in a bit of a bind in that department.  Allah doesn’t make his intentions very clear on the specifics.  When the Muslims lose war after war, the favor of their god is in doubt.  When that happens, the dynamite belt might just be a blast-off to nowhere.

But the defeat of a Sunni regime is no deterrent to a Shiite.

All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  We know that.  They know that.  At least, people are conscious of their own evil.  Show a man his shame, crush a woman’s pride, reveal that sin and do what you like, you only illustrate something that nags universally at the back of the human mind.  We are a bunch of sinners.  Promise a man his get-out-of-Hell-free card, and he’ll do anything for you.  We are all aware of our shortcomings.  The suicide bomber doesn’t don that belt because he’s a faithful Muslim.  He does it because he knows he’s screwed up, big time.  Death by jihad is to him an automatic win, despite his failures.  Overcoming sin is a higher priority than life, itself.  Losing life means losing everything.  When you kill yourself, you give up on friendships, family, prosperity and everything else.  It means you don’t get that promotion, that sunny weather, that cup of coffee, or anything else.  What does the terrorist want?!  He wants to be absolved of his sins when his own efforts are clearly in vain.  He wants to be forgiven by God for all of the wickedness that stains his soul like grease on a new white dress shirt.  Every other thing is a lesser priority.  Nothing trumps it.  There is no higher priority to use for diplomatic leverage.

That man needs Jesus.

Once, so long ago, there was a martyr who gave his life in a battle to absolve all sin, but the sin that he absolved was not his own.  It was yours.  He died the martyr’s death so that we, who could not get into Heaven by merit, could still get into Heaven.  That martyr was Jesus.  He is that automatic pass to Paradise.  It is only through him that we are saved.

Because an exploded sinner is just a sinful mess.