Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Anders Breivik oxymoron

Christian terrorist.  Sigh. Do you even try to sort these things out, or do you just say, that guy was mentally ill, and leave it at that?  I don't know. But having said that, I'd like to add a few thoughts to the Anders Breivik story, the young Norwegian who took the lives of scores of people in an attempt to preserve "Christian Europe" from "Muslim invaders."

The thing that's interesting to me is that Anders Breivik himself said that he was not "excessively religious," and identified himself as more of a cultural Christian who "had always been influenced by the secular culture around him."  He wanted to preserve the basics of the "European Christian cultural legacy," but yet was not necessarily practicing the faith himself. And that's what I want to get at here. When I see this sort of xenophobic knee jerk reaction against immigration, that sees other cultures as a threat to our way of life, I have to ask myself, are they sure they're Christian? But I'll get to that later.

The irony to me about the Anders Breivik story, is that the media tends to lump religious conservatives into a big pile and say those are the ones to look out for, and if you don't take your faith all that seriously, a la Anders Breivik in this case, then you're probably alright. But he wasn't alright, and I think his example demonstrates it's not that simple. In fact, it's not simple at all. There seem to be many Christianities, depending on who you talk to, just as there are many Islams, and many Buddhisms and so forth. You almost have to ask the individual, what is your belief, followed by, and what does that mean to you?  Further, how does that affect how you live your life? And perhaps the most revealing question, how does that affect your relationships with people?"

Well, for me, I'm a follower of Jesus, I think of myself as a Christian, and what does that mean to me?  Well, to me it means having the indwelling presence of the holy spirit, or having a personal relationship with God.  When I think, well, how does that affect my life, the words of St Francis of Assisi comes to mind, to "go everywhere and preach the Gospel and if necessary to use words." It influences how I live in short, and so I would expect, that to truly have a Christian culture, that culture would flow from the expression of that relationship. And I think it has, so often we're reminded of the mistakes of Christian history, but what of the people who were inspired by the teachings of Christ to build great cathedrals and paint masterpieces, to build hospitals, to educate the poor including little girls and to fight for the rights of slaves?  I at least appreciate that Breivik seems to have an understanding that a good chunk of our quality of life arguably comes from that heritage.  But it does make me wonder, if that faith is not there, what exactly does Breivik think he's preserving, empty Cathedrals? Or maybe the benefits of that heritage are enough for some, without the meaning behind it.

But this is where I'll come back to my earlier question, and that is, are the people who seem to be so afraid of immigrants truly Christian?  Now that's not for me to answer, I have no idea and that's ultimately between them and God.  But you see, this theologically conservative Christian, evangelical at that (one of the bad ones haha), does take the Bible seriously, and the teachings of Christ to love others despite our differences.  And that is why when I think of some of the wonderful Muslims that I have had the privilege to get to know, that I see on a daily basis when I'm picking my kids up from school... one lady, a grandmother who has the most beautiful smile, and is always waving and smiling and saying hello to me, and then her son tells me that he is happy when he sees his kids playing with my kids. Or, the Muslims I have known who have invited me into their homes, and I've thought to myself that we in the west could really learn something about hospitality from Muslims, or how they take time out of their busy day to find time for prayer, even in public places, now that takes courage.  But mainly, I am reminded by that person's smile that they are created in the image of God, just as I am. And that is what we must not forget, that this new global world, scary at times, also presents a tremendous opportunity for dialogue, and to share the love of Christ with others. That's what Gospel means, after all, good news. What do you do with good news, you share it. You don't keep it to yourself.

thanks for listening,

M.A. Harvey

Taken from Wikipedia:

In 2009, he wrote "Today's Protestant church is a joke. Priests in jeans who march for Palestine and churches that look like minimalist shopping centres. I am a supporter of an indirect collective conversion of the Protestant church back to the Catholic."[187] On his Facebook profile, Breivik described himself as a Christian,[117] though he is critical of the Catholic and Protestant churches, objecting to their "current suicidal path". Before the attacks, he stated an intention to attend Frogner Church in a final "Martyr's mass".[188]
The manifesto states its author is "100 percent Christian",[3] but he is not "excessively religious"[3] and considers himself a "cultural Christian" and a "modern-day crusader".[2][3] His manifesto states "I'm not going to pretend I'm a very religious person, as that would be a lie", calls religion a crutch and a source for drawing mental strength, and says "I've always been very pragmatic and influenced by my secular surroundings and environment." Regarding the term cultural Christian, which he says means preserving European culture, he notes, "It is enough that you are a Christian-agnostic or a Christian-atheist (an atheist who wants to preserve at least the basics of the European Christian cultural legacy...)"[2][179] Furthermore, Breivik stated that "myself and many more like me do not necessarily have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God."[2][189] Nevertheless, he stated that he planned to pray to God seeking for his help during his attacks.[190]
Breivik condemns Pope Benedict XVI for his dialogue with Islam: "Pope Benedict has abandoned Christianity and all Christian Europeans and is to be considered a cowardly, incompetent, corrupt and illegitimate Pope." It will thus be necessary, writes Breivik, to overthrow the Protestant and Catholic hierarchies, after which a "Great Christian Congress" would set up a new European Church.[191] He has also condemned Christian missionary activity in India as it would lead to the "total destruction of the Hindu faith and culture", and he expresses support for the Hindutva movement against Indian Communist movements.[192]
American Christian press has also highlighted that Breivik appears to have addressed followers of the Neopagan religion of Odinism in his writ. In regards to them, he says, "even Odinists can fight with us or by our side as brothers" in the Knights Templar organisation of which Breivik claims to be a founding member. He later says to reject Odinism, saying that the Thor's Hammer cannot unify the people of Europe, but that the Christian cross will.[193]
Deputy police chief Roger Andresen initially told reporters that information on Breivik's websites was "so to speak, Christian fundamentalist".[68][194][195][196] Subsequently, others have disputed Andresen's characterisation of Breivik as a Christian fundamentalist.[191][197] Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, head of the World Council of Churches and himself Norwegian, accused Breivik of blasphemy for citing Christianity as a justification in his murderous attack.[2][198]

No comments:

Post a Comment