Archive for March 27th, 2006

You will be assimilated…

March 27, 2006

Any Star Trek: The Next Generation fans hanging around this blog? If so, they’ll immediately recognize the source of the title for this article.

It comes from “The Borg”, a cyborg alien lifeform that moves across galaxies colonizing planets by either assimilating the native species into their own “collective” or extermintating them if they refuse to assimilate. Their trademark phrase is, “We are the Borg. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.” Once assimilated into the collective, an individual unit that becomes dysfunctional is cut out of the collective and destroyed. An individual unit that is separated from the collective by capture or accident is hunted and re-assimilated or destroyed.

Sound familiar?

I can’t help but see some parallels with Islam. Just look at these points:

– The Quran separates the world into two “houses”: the house of Islam (Dar-al-Islam) and the house of war ( Dar-al-Harb). Any non-Muslim falls into the house of War. According to the Quran, these two houses are in a perpetual state of conflict that will not be resolved until the house of war is completely subjugated by the house of Islam. There are three methods of subjugation; conversion, destruction, or if you are one of the lucky “people of the book” (Christians, Jews, and some say Zoroastrists) you can live under Islamic rule as a second class citizen and pay a dhimmi (tax) to your Islamic masters. Bad luck if you happen to be Hindu, Buddhist, or any other religion. You either convert to Islam or get killed.

– The penalty for a Muslim rejecting Islam and converting to another faith is death. Unless you have been completely out of touch for the last couple of weeks, you couldn’t help but hear about the case of Abdul Rahman in Afghanistan. Born into the Islamic faith, he converted to Christianity while working in Germany 16 years ago. His own family turned him into Afghan authorities for prosecution. Charges have been dropped due to a “lack of evidence” but the cries for his blood in the Afghan street have not died down.

So to sum up… Islam seeks to convert, or at least subjugate, the entire world, by the sword if necessary. Once converted to Islam, you can never leave the faith under penalty of death. It’s kind of like a spiritual “roach motel.” It’s another practical application of the old maxim: “What’s mine is mine. What’s yours is negotiable.”

I don’t really have a point to all of this other than to throw out some thoughts I’ve been having lately. Islam worries me. I don’t trust it. I’ve actually read the Quran. I know what it says, and it bothers me. The hardliners aren’t the ones adding or taking away from the Quran. It’s the “moderates” that are sugar-coating it.

Take a quick look at these articles by Mark Steyn and Andrew G. Bostom. The Bostom article does an excellent breakdown of what the Quran actually says about apostasy. The Steyn article brings out this juicy tidbit:

In a more culturally confident age, the British in India were faced with the practice of “suttee” – the tradition of burning widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands. Gen. Sir Charles Napier was impeccably multicultural:“You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: When men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks, and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.”Needless to say, “suttee” is no longer practiced in India.

What is the Church?

March 27, 2006

Sorry it has been awhile since I have posted but this will also probably be the last time I post for awhile. My family will be moving overseas this summer and I just don’t have time to write and get everything else done before our move. My inspiration for what follows comes from here.

Let’s call her Rachel. She a girl from the midwest, in her 20’s, just barely, and has a hard time keeping from crying. She seems hesitant to share very much, but after a few minutes, she seems pretty comfortable talking with me. Her problem, as she says it, is that she can’t stop crying. She does not know why she can’t stop, but nevertheless, this is her problem.

As Rachel gets into her story, I come to find out that her boyfriend, with whom she is living, is addicted to pornography and is trying to get her to always do new and different things in bed. He does not realize he is addicted and she does not seem to think he is, but he can’t stop it and rationalizes to her why he needs to use pornography when she is not around.

She starts to go into her family background and lets me know that she is from a broken home where her parents divorced, she bounced back and forth between homes, and both stepparents didn’t like her, in fact one even hated her. She got into trouble at school, sold and used drugs as a teenager in high school and at one point almost died from a drug overdose. Her close grandparent has recently passed away and her boyfriend treats her like an object instead of like a person. Aside from his addiction to pornography, he is never happy with Rachel and is frequently yelling at her for even things such as cleaning the house. When she organizes, you see, he can’t find anything, so it’s her fault.

Neglected as a child, treated as an object by her boyfriend, and the loss of a close relative, no wonder she can’t stop crying. Sadly, except for a few minor details, her story is not unique. Rachel does not know what a normal, healthy family looks like. She doesn’t know what a healthy male-female relationship looks like. She doesn’t know what acceptance looks like. She knows a lot about condemnation, never being good enough, never anyone to care about what happens to her. One of her biggest needs is to be accepted and loved as a person, to have someone listen to her and try to understand how she’s feeling. She needs to be treated like a human being, as someone worthwhile. Where will she find this? In what kind of church would Rachel feel welcomed? Is there any such church? What would it look like?

It would be a place where people are vulnerable. A place where people admit that they don’t have everything right. Where people know that they are sinners and share their struggles openly. It would be a place where people accept and love, not judge and criticize. It would be a place where Rachel could be herself, with all of her problems, and not be expected to be perfect before she could belong. It would be a place where people would realize that they have not cornered the market on truth, even though they always strive for truth. It would be a place of forgiveness.

Sadly, I don’t think there is a church that meets this description. No, I’m not looking for a perfect church. That’s impossible among imperfect humans. But here’s what is possible: We can be a place of forgiveness instead of judgment. When we slip up and judge someone or treat him or her in an unloving way, we can say we’re sorry and reconcile with the one we’ve wronged. We can always strive to understand the word and strive for the most excellent theology, while admitting we have not arrived. Even Paul was able to admit that. Why can’t we?

I think a part of the problem is that we are afraid. We are afraid of being genuine and honest with others. We are afraid of taking off our masks and sharing our true selves with others. We’re afraid of what people might think. We are afraid they would judge us. We’re afraid that we are the only ones who struggle with the particular sins that tempt us, that no one else can understand. We are afraid they would use our vulnerability to hurt us even more. We are afraid to be human. How ironic. We sit on a pew hiding our problems from the very people who would be the best ones to help us with those problems.

What is the church anyway?