Getting Cheeky

I get a chuckle or two on pretty much a daily basis when I read media reports on all things Islam in our country. We have a mosque that is going to be built near ground zero in New York, and more recently a preacher in Florida is reportedly preparing to burn copies of the Koran (or Quran, however you want to spell it) on the anniversary of Nine-Eleven. The latter story has caused quite a bit of consternation on both sides, the gist of which appears to be the fear that it will anger Muslims and could cause them to kill Americans or step up their attacks on our troops. By golly, they are already protesting in Kabul and Jakarta and the first copy has yet to touch the fire! You’d think they’d go about things in a more civil manner, having been glowingly reported by media myrmidons as ‘A Peaceful Religion’ and such. Maybe go burn a few Bibles in retaliation, possibly boycott Coca-Cola, or pledge money to the Democratic Party re-election fund, etc. Instead they promise violence and systematic retaliation – who saw that one coming?

Personally, at this point I’m not worried about the mosque in New York. I’m past the notion of either fret or fear on the issue. The current slant of government, in both the Big Apple and in D.C. will allow them to build if they have the money, and if they can find a contractor to do the job. So be it. I know it will actually be a symbol of conquest as mosques have usually been in the past, (Jerusalem, Cordoba) and I know on the other side they are saying it will bring the faiths together in harmony (wink, wink). But for now at least, I do not see how a mosque will change my life, my faith, or my taxes one iota in the interim. I lived in Gotham back in the mid-eighties, within ear shot of ground zero to be precise (Governor’s Island). The people are a different breed than we hay-seeds down here in the South. They have a harder edge about them and can handle the situation no matter how it works out. I’m betting there are certain types already lining up to paint unintelligible (at least to me) graffiti on the sides of it.

I’m mixed on the book burning issue. I have a brother in Iraq, which despite the glowing reports on the evening news is still a bad place to be, maybe even worse so these days. I’m shaking my head at the same time at the thought of Americans bridling free speech because it might upset people in foreign countries – I don’t know how to wrap my mind around that part of it just yet. You can’t live in fear and be happy about it. We Americans just aren’t wrapped that way; at least we used to not be anyway.

Consider me a heretic to the Islamic faith because I do not believe in their god. Yet at the same time their faith is growing at a rate not seen in religion since the times of Rome. In New York City alone, there are already more than one hundred mosques, while back in 1970 there were only ten. What really alarms me it is the fact that most Christians know so little of their own Bible to the point they can easily be led astray by the teachings of not only the Muslim faith, but others such as Scientology or Hinduism. I do not blame the churches for this, as a personal walk with G_d is not complete without reading and studying His Word, and the key term I use here is ‘personal’. A Christian’s knowledge of the truth is something he or she must garner on their own – while I also believe a scriptural church can provide the necessary tools to aid in that very important pursuit.

So where does that leave us as Christians when we look at the perspective of Islamic growth, terrorism, and all of the things that fall in between? What I am going to say here is going to hurt. It will be hard to swallow. It might just make you angry or think I’ve lost touch with reality. But everything I do is based from G_d’s Word and the divine direction he provides for us in the pages therein.

We may decide to protest a mosque. I probably will when they finally get around to putting one up in downtown McNeill. (Fat chance - but there is an empty building across from Kahl's) But we should protest peacefully if we are going to go that route. We may be tempted to burn a few Korans while we are at it, if for nothing else than to show them we aint’ scared of ‘em. These are natural instincts and a part of our human nature. However, if in all honesty we are going to walk the walk and talk the talk as Christians, what should we really do?

Though it does not seem fair, and goes against our natural inclination, Jesus taught us the example we are to follow in Matthew 5: “But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” If our country does not return to what it once was, and if we continue instead to elect leaders that do not have our best interests or moral values at heart, there is going to be a lot of cheek-turning required in the near future. Unfortunately, it will be the Christians that are challenged to do this, not the other religions.

People who turn the other cheek are easily taken advantage of; therefore it is best not to reach a point in our society where it will be required of us. I’m going to pray. I’m going to vote in November. I’m going to do my best to talk to my neighbors, plead with them to give up 'America’s Got Talent' and 'Glee' long enough to pay attention and become informed as to what is going on in our country - right now. Maybe they will listen. Maybe we’ll buy ourselves a little more time this Fall.

If not then I’ll add ‘face slapping’ to my gym work-outs, to toughen up my cheeks in preparation for the things that will be sure to follow.

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