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Tuesday, April 16th 2013


Love your Enemies!

  • IN THE BACKDROP: A train whistle

Love your Enemies!

Before we get into this rather thorny issue, let me first of all mention a few items of more personal nature. June's mom tolerated her surgery well, but--as always--her body resists the effectiveness of pain medication. Please pray for June's sister Kris as well as her mom.

Today Nick saw his doctor in Fort Wayne. He is approaching the situation with great care and is going beyond telling Nick to stay off the soy sauce. Please pray for Nick, Meghan, and Dr. P, and give thanks for Dr. P's professionalism. Actually, I don't really have to abbreviate Dr. P's name since revealing it does not really give you his identity. Every hospital I have ever worked in, suffered in, or visited has had at least one South-Asian-originated Dr. P on staff.

June and I have been going through the normal period of "recovering from a trip," viz. trying to get back into the daily equilibrium, which has been a little more difficult this time due to coming home to Nick's situation. On the other hand, as I mentioned before,we certainly got the timing right insofar as we got back just as spring decided to make a serious entry into Hoosierland. Of course, that means a lot of rain (there's a thunderstorm raging outside as I am writing this), but the grass has turned from its repulsive winter color to green, and the daffodils, hyacinths, and forsythias are showing off their presence. Herewith some pictures from our yard.

Willow Tree in early spring

Swing Corner 




Now, with some trepidation, let's get back to Luke. The topic hits particularly hard today.

Luke Bible Study      

        Bible Reading:         Luke 6:27-36

v. 27-28:  But I say to you who listen: Love your enemies, do what is good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. (HCSB)

Boston Bomb FBI PhotoAt least three people are dead so far due to the terrorist bombing at the Boston Marathon. If that fact does not make you angry, you are either one of the perpetrators or it would seem to me that you've allowed yourself to become desensitized to mindless killings. Remember that being angry is not synonymous with being in a rage, screaming for blood, seeking retaliation (let alone revenge), or engaging in some irrational act of hate. Anger, as I've mentioned before, is one of the emotions with which God has endowed us; he himself shows it from time to time. There's no point in not acknowledging the fact that you're feeling angry. Furthermore, quickly covering it up by referring to the next segment of the passage about "turning the other cheek" may demonstrate how pious you are, but does not make much sense in this situation. Are we going to invite whoever these terrorists are to blow up a few more bombs and kill and maim another bunch of people? I don't think that's what Jesus had in mind. I've talked about the above matters at greater length in the second edition of Neighboring Faiths, chapter 4, which is entirely devoted to 9/11, radical Islam, and our reaction to such acts. Having said that, I need to quickly clarify that, as of the moment that I'm writing this, even though the event has been officially labeled as "terrorism," it has not been linked to an Islamic group, to the best of my knowledge. There are resemblances to bombs used in Afghanistan and Iraq, but resemblances are not evidence; they can only be leads in an investigation.

Christ's exhortation is premised on the fact that we have enemies. When I say "we" and look at the context, it is clear that he is talking to 1) individuals or groups of individuals who are serious about walking in divine righteousness and 2) who are being hated for the sake of Christ. This is not a piece of advice to a government to abdicate its god-given authority to carry the sword so as to bring wrath on the one who does wrong (Rom 13:4). Nevertheless, in a democracy I am one small constituent of the government, and I need to take that fact into account. So, in order for me to sort out my thoughts on the incident, I need to look at the event from a "governmental" perspective and then deal more explicitly with the effects of Jesus' words on that point of view.

What most news commentaries seem to be agreeing on is that in some ways this bombing may potentially have a worse effect on our nation's psyche than 9/11. Such statements may possibly overreactions of the moment, but there does seem to be a difference in terms of how invidious this attack was. The bombs appeared to have been two pressure cookers filled with shrapnel of various kinds. Some of the injured people have up to forty hurtful objects spiking their bodies. These bombs are called IED's (Improvised Explosive Devices), and according to news reports they are becoming increasingly popular, but are quite difficult to trace. They could be the product of a major terrorism group, such as al-Qaeda, or they could be made by your local crackpot who wants to destroy humanity so that bats (mammals of the order Chiroptera, not baseball implements) can rule the world.

In a rather thoughtful editorial, psychiatrist Keith Ablow makes some worthwhile points. He observes that

    We are no more vulnerable today than yesterday, but we will feel more vulnerable, because we had no known hint of what was to befall us. (Emphasis mine.)

He goes on to describe how this event will cast a shadow over many a large gathering where people have come together simply for enjoyment. And he is at least implying that this shadow it will not go away as long as America is America. To quote:

Here is the irony:  We are vulnerable, because we are free and strong.  These qualities attract the ire of those who would have us shackled and weak, who are consumed by hatred for individual possibilities, rather than love for what a free person can dream about and strive for and accomplish.

Flying FoxNo question about it: In straightforward theory, the more we allow these incidents to limit our freedom, the less enticing it should be for terrorists to disrupt our freedom. But, as right as Ablow may be in the part of his analysis he provided, he does not cover the subject in sufficient depth to rationalize even an unacceptable solution, viz. to limit our freedom--not that he either pretends to have done so or that such a travesty would be his point. To the contrary; he wants us to cherish and maintain all of our freedoms. In any event, things are not quite that simple.

Rational theory concerning pro or con freedom certainly plays little role in the mind of the deluded person who makes bombs to advance the cause of the Flying Fox. And if you want to talk about the theory of Qutbism, the main ideology behind a-Qaeda, the goal is such that there's nothing we can do that would please them sufficiently to stop their misdeeds on the way (the "milestones") to achieve it: to destroy every government around the globe (including supposedly Islamic ones) by violence so that the entire world can be governed by Shari'a directly. Please see various posts of the past, as well as my lengthier piece on groups of Islam and, of course the book. Actually, when I say "the book," I should say "the books." I am, of course referring to Neighboring Faiths, but I also continue to plead with you to please read Seyyid Qutb's Milestones so that you can see the reality of the blueprint for yourself. 

Thus, whatever we are going to do to ourselves to suspect each other, up to and including scrotal searches by TSA functionaries, is not going to make serious differences, I'm afraid. The only thing that I can think of that will help solve the problem is a) serious profiling, particularly--and here's the hitch--by the so-called moderate Islamic nations themselves within their borders; they know better whom to trust than we do (there, I said it, and, if you are angry at me for saying it you're making my point), and b) serious inspections of locations around large groups of people. It would be wrong for me to insinuate that someone should have found the bombs, but I'm wondering if it would be wrong to consider such an insinuation.

This is a minimal response, in my opinion, but we dare not turn our anger into blind acts of retribution, least of all against ourselves. But neither may we simply ignore in the name of love the horrendously unloving acts done by some people to others. That would not be love on our part, but the opposite of love, which is not hate, but indifference.

So how can I make sense of the above as well as Jesus' exhortation to love my enemies? Once again, I'm going to have to break up my discussion into some segments. Thus: more on this topic next time.

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