Sunday, April 3, 2011

Diabolic Christianity

Diabolic.  If you're interested in words and where they come from, you ought to pay attention to this one.  Diabolic.  Pick up the trail and follow it back, back, back; and you find two Greek words.  One means "to throw" and the other means "across."

Diabolic.  Think about a pathway, a broad road, a trail blazed for pilgrims.  The "diabolic" is something 'thrown across' that path, 'tossed across' the road.  It makes passage difficult.  It makes the journey troublesome.  The "diabolic" seeks to impede our travel, aims to frighten and divide pilgrims.  A land mine is diabolic.  A sniper is diabolic.  Fear the journey.  Trust no one.  Be afraid all the time.  Diabolic.

In just this way, what Pastor Terry Jones and his Florida church have done--in putting Islam on trial and publicly burning the Qur'an--is nothing less than diabolic.  Is there any other way to read their action?  They represent a kind of Christianity I find repulsive and disgusting.  It intends simply to frighten, to antagonize.  It resents traditions it can't understand.  It condemns poetry and metaphor.  And this week, it has sown the seeds of violence once again, resulting in murder and mayhem in Afghanistan.  People have lost their lives, literally, because of the diabolic action of Terry Jones and his church.  I have to imagine he had this in mind all along.

For my part, I resolve today not to sit idly by when I hear meanspirited talk in any setting about any group.  I resolve today to be particularly attentive to Islamophobia and bigotry directed at Muslim friends and neighbors.  It's not enough to chill out on the sidelines.  Democracy and decency demand my participation.

And--as far as Christianity goes--I reject any practice that sows fear, division and hatred.  Even and especially in the name of Jesus.  Jesus imagines a world of sisters and brothers, a world where difference is celebrated not feared.  Jesus blesses peacemakers, not warmongers.  And Jesus dismantles our ugly walls.

Somehow, Jesus holds out hope--even for Terry Jones, especially for Terry Jones.  Jesus sees our cruelty and beyond it to who we can be.  In my prayers today, I pray for Pastor Terry and for his church.  As I pray for my own congregation.  We rely--all of us--on God's grace and mercy.  We all fall short.  And we're all cherished just the same.

If Terry Jones wishes to hear this gospel for himself, I'd be delighted to travel to Florida and preach it in his church.  One Jones boy reaching out to another.  "Perfect love casts out fear."  That's where I'm at.  No more diabolic Christianity.  I've had enough.