Faith and violence have no business being in the same room. Whenever they mingle, their handiwork is hell-bent.
True religion, as James described centuries ago, involves reaching out to the widows, orphans, the most vulnerable. Violence only creates more vulnerability.
Our postures of prayer, hands clasped or bodies bent forward and prostrated, should create space in us for faith in increase, hope to stir, love to rise up. Our houses of prayer should move us to the threshold of the world poised to proceed with goodness and grace.
But when our faith harbors hostility, violence already stands close by – waiting. In our shared humanity we all struggle with hostile tendencies in our faith communities, none are exempt.
We have hard hearts – hardened by arid conditions. Throw a match – and see that a small spark can alight a firestorm across continents. Even on a day set aside for prayer. Even in countries once celebrated as most Christian. (None of us can throw the first stone.)
And when our various countries and cultures, faiths and freedoms collide… our hostility, hatred and most hellish inclinations can wreak such unholy havoc. Our fear, ignorance and indignation can make it worse.
All the words, all the footage, the heated demonstrations and deaths (oh Libya, oh Tunisia)… and all I have to offer: tears and heaviness of heart.
And a wisp of a dream emerges – the divorce of faith and violence forever. One day our faith won’t remember where violence lives.
Lord, have mercy.
Beautifully said. Until you said it, I hadn’t thought about how the physical posture of prayer is so utterly opposite to the physical posture of violence. As you said, the two cannot be held together.
So true… thank you for taking a moment to lament with me, on a Friday no less.
this is beautiful – we do face arid conditions, so vulnerable to our own raging. i feel encouraged to be a person that brings a cup of water to the table we have set before us in the desert. globalization makes space for hate-filled media to be self-published and travel at cyber-speeds; it also gives opportunity to correct stereotypes and sow seeds of justice and shalom, even with people of different faith backgrounds and nationalities right up the street. thanks so much for giving words to my own lament.