November 21, 2010
It's All the Rage: Islam and the Culture of OutrageBy Hugh MacKenzie
Our Lady of Perpetual Outrage? Well...not really -- the reason in this case being that you can't really imagine the Virgin Mary outraged, let alone perpetually so. Perpetually Sorrowful...Perpetually Supportive...Perpetually Interceding...
But outraged? Probably not.
However, there is one world faith that fits that mode very well: Muslims seem to always be outraged about one thing or another. Perpetual outrage describes their state of mind to a tee. (Thanks to Michelle Malkin for the phrase.)
The "Arab street" always seems to be in a furor over some perceived atrocity committed by the West. Burning effigies, stomping and burning flags of various nations, waving swords, Korans, signs...chanting "death to ____________"...it's as if the whole victimology thing has infected a third of the world's population and has been ramped up and wrapped in a religious/moral package. So what's beneath the wrappings? What's the source and reason for so much hatred, vitriol, and rage?
I don't know about you, but it's hard for me to relate. Not that there aren't attitudes held by our culture regarding my religion, Christianity, that plain torque me off. Andres Serrano, the artist of "Piss Christ" (a crucifix suspended in urine), didn't endear himself to me. And what about that "Dung Madonna" (a Virgin Mary composed of elephant poo)? Especially when the former was rewarded with a grant generated by tax dollars!
My initial reaction was outrage. My second thought was "What's this dude's problem?"
I actually prayed that the Lord forgive these fools for what they had wrought. Why? Because that's what my faith teaches me to do: "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."
Nary a thought of beheading or burning crossed my mind. Just moderate disgust and sadness that someone would think so ill of the Lord (and His Mother) whom I worship and adore.
So. What's up with the Muslim world?* You really have two choices here: 1) It stems from their core beliefs, or 2) it's a technique of control and/or manipulation.
1) It flows from their faith beliefs.
Now, I'm no Koranic scholar, and I was taught about Islam by an Egyptian Coptic scholar...not your most disinterested party. But I do know this: at the very least, history tells us the Islam is an aggressively exclusivistic cultural movement as well as a religion. I know that of the five great cities of early Christian faith, only one survives: Rome. Seen or heard of a Nestorain Christian lately? Where are all the great cathedrals of the East that once stretched from Constantinople to India? Fifty-eight dead in an Iraqi cathedral as couple of weeks ago shows that the thousand-year-old trend continues. They didn't go gently into that good night, either. Islam takes few prisoners. But read for yourself.
I remember during a history course, a very full-of-himself student was pontificating on a point that was totally wrong and off the wall. The professor began to write in huge letters across the wrap-around blackboards: "READ THE PRIMARY DOCUMENTS." In this case, that would be the Koran and the Haditha or Commentaries (sort of a Muslim Talmud). Read and contrast, that's my best advice -- read and contrast.
2) A technique for intimidation and control?
Say it ain't so! But one must wonder...seen any cartoons depicting their Prophet lately? The Florida pastor never did do his dirty deed, did he? The "Ground Zero Mosque Imam" flat-out warned us (to Larry King) that not building his community center would have "serious consequences." Ever see a politician bend over backwards for any other faith as they do for Muslims?
Want to bet that we have an Islamic community center in the Ground Zero area before Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church gets rebuilt...St Nick's being the only church destroyed on 9-11 and still not restored after nine years of bureaucratic nonsense? Nothing like seizing the moral high ground with a vengeance, eh?
Well, to borrow a phrase, we report (or opine), you decide. Just stop putting your chip on my shoulder, dear Muslims.
Come. Let us reason together.
*The author has been certified Islamophobia-free by the Polytechnical Institute on Governance (PIG).
Rev. Dr. Hugh MacKenzie is pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Long Branch, NJ.