Sunday, March 05, 2006

A Lenton Prayer

Here is my prayer for this Lenton season:

When I am strong
make me weak;
for when I am weak
You are my strength.

When I am rich
make me poor;
for when I am poor
You are my wealth.

While I yet live
help me to die;
for when I die to myself
in You I rise.

This Lenton season let us participate in the 40 day period in which Jesus prepared himself for his ministry, just as we prepare ourselves for his suffering, death, and resurrection.


MississippiMud said...

Very nice blog. If you would, I would be interested in reading your thoughts on Islam and Mohammed. Best wishes.

Jeff Davis

Sandalstraps said...

I'm not much of an expert on either Islam or the prophet Mohammed, though I do read some Sufi authors from time to time. What specifically are you looking for?

I can see from your blog, for instance, that you have a bit of an axe to grind against contemporary Islam. I won't be able to help you there. I don't see Islam as any more necessarily violent than any other absolutist religion.

Within my own Christian tradition, for instance, we have a long history of burning those who disagree with us. That tendency has been culled not so much by elements within our religious tradition (I once served as the pastor of a church which very well might have burned me if the culture would have allowed it) but by cultural forces parallel to our religious tradition.

Every time anyone assumes that they have the comprehensive truth of God, and excludes others from participation in that Truth, very bad things happen.

What we're seeing from radical Islam is but little different that what we've seen from Christianity and Judaism in the past. Islam is still a relatively young religion - the youngest of those three great monotheistic faiths. Hopefully they will grow out of it.

Inthe meantime, however, there are two major problems:

1. Technology is such that even a very small minority of a tradition like Islam can kill a great many people with relatively little effort.

2. So-called "moderate" Islam is not strong enough (or "moderate" enough) to stand up to the radicals from within their religious tradition.

But Islam has a number of good points.

Most important for me is the Muslim emphasis on the "oneness of God." That divine unity could pave the way for tolerance as soon as Muslims realize that all humans, by virtue of having been made in the image of that God who is one, participate in that divine oneness. The unity of God as a doctrine could, then, under the right circumstances, pave the way for a unity of humanity, granting equal participation in the divine image to men and women, and to both Muslims and non-Muslims.

Within each generation of each religious tradition some doctrines are emphasized and other excluded. Right now the emphasis on the distinctions between Muslims and infidels are preventing the doctrines pertaining to universal human participation in divine oneness from being emphasized.

Much like in 1st Century Judaism, purity is being emphasized over compassion. That battle between purity and compassion, between justice and mercy, between law and grace, takes place from time to time within each of the great monotheistic faiths.

While Christianity has at its foundation the emphasis of Jesus (who was a Jew) on compassion over and against the Jewish purity laws, many Christian groups still choose the paradigm of purity laws over the paradigm of divine compassion. This is also true in Islam, and is at the root of religious violence.

Sandalstraps said...

Jeff Davis,

Having looked into your site more, I wonder how you could say that I have a very nice blog, unless you only read the post you commented on. I would particularly direct your attention to my posts on abortion.

Here you will find food for thought, but probably not someone who shares your moral or religious convictions. Though you might have guessed that by my comments on the dangers of absolutism and the value of compssion.

I am concerned about your site, which reads more like hate speech than a thougtful criticism of Islam.

Tyler Simons said...

Unsurprisingly, no one like Jeff Davis has ever told me that I have a very nice blog. Haha, Strappy. I did really like your prayer, too though.