People Of The Book, Unite?
I just had one of those odd insights that happens from time to time. You soak up information from a million places, then some little item causes a “CLICK” and disparate parts get connected…
One is the Muslim phrase “People of The Book”. It is used to reference all believers in the basic Word of God from the “original” Bible. That is: Jews, Christians, and Muslims.
Side Bar on Muslims and The Bible
FWIW, I finally found out why, if Muslims believe in Jesus and The Bible, they ban Bibles. The assertion is that the present Christian Bible is not the one that Mohammed held in his hand, and has been corrupted. There is some foundation for this in that most likely The Book of Mohammed was a Coptic version, not one washed through the Nicene review process. A process that left The Apocrypha as a thorn in the side of Catholic / Protestant relationships for generations. Why Muslims don’t pick a copy of the bible they DO believe is correct, is a topic for another day… but basically they hold that it is irretrievably lost, despite the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Hammadi library showing the modern version is pretty well intact. That the Catholics have what appear to be “idols” in their church “confirms” to Muslims that all Christians are not true believers and have been mislead by a corrupted Bible – even though the idol worship prohibition is clearly still in the text of The Bible and it is more about interpretation of what those images are at the front of the church than it is about The Bible… Also FWIW, IFF I had to “pick one” Bible closest to the original of Mohhamed, it would be the Peshitta text that is still in the original Aramaic and never was washed through Greek or Latin. But even then, the differences are mostly trivial and few.
Another was a story about Obama as the worlds greatest gun salesman. Seems sales are up 35%+ on the Democratic control of congress (66% for Baretta). Folks voting with their wallets while they can… “Clinging to their guns and religion.”
Finally, an interview with students at Notre Dame protesting the awarding of an honorary degree to Obama and his speaking at their graduation (seeing as he does not support a Catholic set of beliefs in things such as abortion being a sin and “gay marriage” prohibited by The Bible.)
Clinging to their religion, at least inside their own religious school…
At that moment, I had several images in my brain at once. (I suspect that mild synesthesia plays a part in “borderline Asperger’s” and “the flash” effects – though a particular kind of image/thought synesthesia. The rest of this posting was “thought” in what seemed like a second or two of images, then starts the slow translation into words and linear representation…) At any rate, the “flash” was of nuns habits and muslim women in the hijab, of rednecks “clinging to their guns and religion” and Muslims “clinging to their guns and religion” and of Jews in Israel “clinging to their guns and religion”, of Muslim Religious Leaders in an authoritarian power structure and Catholic Bishops (and the Pope) in an authoritarian power structure. Of devout Orthodox Jews in plain modest dress, of devout Amish in plain modest dress, of devout Muslims in plain modest dress. And the question formed:
If they were not so busy fighting each other, but instead recognized their similarities, who would lose?
And the answer was that the communists, the secular socialists, and the secular capitalist governments of the world would lose. Whether this is a bad thing or a good thing depends on which side you are on, religious or not. But this stimulated a second question: “My enemy’s enemy is my friend”, so at what point do these religious groups become “friends” against the secular movement? (The Muslims have a particular problem here in that the Koran repeatedly admonishes Muslims to never take Jews or Christians as friends, though it does allow for alliances of convenience, so a coalition could still form and be in conformance to the rules. Their vehement hatred of Jews, though, is almost certainly an insurmountable barrier at this time.)
Speculation Then Followed
And that led to the final step:
Is the secular movement aware of this and promoting division between The People Of The Book in order to advance the secular agenda? I don’t mind having a good fight against my enemies, but I very much resent someone providing an artificial enemy to me, for their own ends…
“Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity”
(a foundation belief of my world view).
So is it just stupidity that these three groups have been fighting each other for 1000 years and continue to do so today? Were the geographic divisions assigned to the Muslim world post World War(s) accidental, or a deliberate attempt to cause strife between Shia and Sunni? Was the creation of Israel an innocent attempt to correct a 2000 year old wrong (and psychological payback for The Holocaust)? Or was it a way to assure 1000 years of religious strife? Was the support of the Muslim side by the secular west in the Yugoslav break up based on a sense of justice, or a desire to keep hatred alive between the Christians and Muslims of the area?
For hundreds of years the division between Catholics and Protestants led to murderous wars in Europe. For example, the Catholics have images of Christ and Mary near the altar. Protestants hold that this is against the explicit Word of The Bible. That I need to explain this ‘conflict’ to most Americans speaks volumes about the convergence of the Catholic and Protestant worlds; but at one time this “idol worship” by Catholics led to much war and persecution. I have talked with Muslims who still find this to be “idol worship”, yet they were oddly unaware that this same issue united them with the historical position of Protestants. They painted all Christians with the same brush. There is a similar congruence of beliefs over the presence of The Pope as the only legitimate interpreter of The Word vs the Protestant and Muslim style of “read the text yourself” – with some guidance from a fellow traveler a bit further along. (At one time, the Catholic Church mandated the death penalty for anyone who was not an ordained priest and dared to read The Bible themselves… we’ve come a long way.)
If Protestants and Catholics can “agree to disagree” over an issue that had led to churches being burned, “idols” being broken (“iconoclast” has an interesting history- look it up…), death for possession and reading The Bible, and countries going to war: Could not The People Of The Book “agree to disagree” if pushed too far by secular beliefs?
If Jews can live at peace in countries dominated by the same Catholic Church that brought us The Inquisition: Could not The People Of The Book live together in peace if pushed too far by the secular agenda?
Would that be a good thing?
I don’t know. But it’s an interesting question…
My History and Biases
My biases? I’m a “sort of a Christian” in that I was raised in a Christian environment. Mom was Church of England – but having no such church in America, I was raised in an odd mix of Southern Baptist, Methodist, an occasional bit of Lutheran, and visits to the Presbyterian and Mormon churches. About age 14, an Episcopalian Church was built and we went there for a few years. Dad was raised Catholic, but with an Amish mom. By his actions he passed on some of the Amish ideals. A good friend was Catholic too, so from time to time I went to the Catholic church. Both my father and my mother (who converted to Catholicism when I was about 25) were buried with Catholic services at the Catholic church – and I spoke from the front of the church at both services.
Why such a mixed background? Mom didn’t drive until I was about 8. We walked to the nearest church, whatever that was… I’ve spent a fair amount of time reading the Koran and researching the older copies of the bible even to the point of reading some bits of the Latin Catholic originals and getting books on the Dead Sea Scrolls and Hammadi texts. Probably stimulated by the early awareness that my Protestant Bible was missing some bits that the Catholic Bible had in it along with The Book Of Mormon having lots of interesting books in it beyond those in my Bible, and wondering why… It is an interesting pastime for purely human interest reasons. In a way, I belong to all of them, and none of them, at the same time.
Over the years I’ve accumulated a few Jewish relatives and several Jewish friends. I would say I’ve had a couple of Muslim friends, but that would put them in jeopardy with their sacred text, so lets just say that I “get along well” with Muslims. In the end, what do I believe? I don’t know if The Book is true, but I do know that it contains much wisdom and history and is generally helpful; though much evil has been done in its name. I’ll die soon enough and I’ll find out the truth then. Until then, I pick no sides, but wish we could “just get along”… and appreciate the wisdom from the past, however and by whomever preserved.
And now I’m wondering just how much “getting along” could be advanced by outside pressures, and how much is prevented by outside pressures…