If a man walked onto the field during the Super Bowl and began to wreak havoc with a baseball bat, I would be surprised if there would be a public outcry about the evils of football. Reasonable folk would simply conclude that that wasn’t football.
So when I’m asked to publicly comment on the Christian religion’s propensity to promote hatred and violence, my response is simply, that’s not Christianity.
People are fond of listing a litany of malicious misdemeanors as proof of Christianity’s (religion’s) destructive core. I’m always a little awestruck by this insatiable appetite for low-hanging fruit. And I acknowledge and repent of my own.
In the case of the recent Koran burning by Florida’s Rev. Terry Jones and the murderous response his mind-numbing irresponsibility triggered, there are just a couple of things I’d like to say:
1. In my own city of Winnipeg alone, there are several hundred churches that have not, have no plans to, and wouldn’t if they could get away with it, burn the Koran. Indeed, in my 20 years and 1500 concerts in Churches across the world I have never knowingly met any person or congregation disposed to such a reprehensible deed. I know they exist, I’m just pointing to their rarity.
2. In Winnipeg there are also several Mosques. As far as I know, not one has advocated for a violent response to Mr. Jones’ actions. This doesn’t surprise me. In my travels around the world I have met and worked with many Muslims. All have been lovely folk with gentle souls. I’m just sayin…
The word “religion” derives from the Latin religare from which we get the word ligament suggesting that true religion is that which connects and binds together, not that which dissects and alienates.* In the case of Christian specific religion, it is the Bible (Old Testament, no less) that suggests that true religion is this: to tend to the orphan and the widow – the marginalized (the de-ligamented.) The New Testament suggests that God “knows” those whose devotion to God is evidenced by their self-giving kindheartedness. Conversely, those whose lives are marked by self-securing callousness, God simply… doesn’t know. Indeed, the witness of Jesus in the face of “religious” intolerance and imperial aggression was to absorb the toxicity in his person (the buck stops here) allowing for the possibility of a new way of life made possible through the mechanism of humble self-donation born of an unwavering faith in the counter-intuitive power of love.
It is my opinion that Mr. Jones and those who have responded to him murderously need not shed religion; rather, they need to get some.
Below is a song from my recent album Kin.dness. The song is in no way meant to be uncharitable to those committed to scientific progress, or dismissive of legitimate boundaries (be they ethnic, political, religious, gender, emotional etc.) My point is this, that bereft of re-ligamenting love, it’s hard to imagine any human endeavor coming to a good end.
* Thanks to Brian McLaren for drawing my attention to the etymology of the word religion
Click song title to listen…
ABOUT LOVE | Steve Bell/Diana Pops/Mike Janzen
It’s not about science
or benefits the dead contest
but there’s some strange reliance yet
on particles to fix the mess.
Who knows if this thing we call life
Looks fine in another one’s eyes
Or bellies-up with the goods everyone can approve of
One thing that I’ve learned in my time
You can’t win if you have to draw lines
When it comes to the struggle to show and to prove love
Oh… It’s always been about love!
It’s not about borders
Borders have their place no doubt
But who gave the orders
To abandon hope for common ground
To visit a website dedicated to Steve’s 16th career release KINDNESS click HERE…