I’m CPO of Cubic Zirconium Cathedral Ministries. What’s CPO? Oh, that’s Chief Pastoral Officer. Anyway, I’m so glad you could make it today. Thank goodness you brought the lighter fluid. I was going to have to rummage through the kitchen pantry for a bag of briquettes.
And nothing quite ruins an immolation like a slow burn.
I see you’ve brought a covered dish too. Tater Tot goulash—how lovely. Are those French-style green beans? Hmm. Well, just this once.
We’re still not over those demonic Charlie Hebdo cartoonists. I mean, who cares if they show Mohammad in flagrante with King Abdullah’s corpse. But did you see the one where they depicted Jesus as an ethnic Middle Easterner? Unpardonable!
(Everyone knows Jesus came out of Mary looking like a Norwegian slalom champion.)
Anyway, I’m glad you could make it to today’s CZM Barbecue Buffet & Intercessory Prayer Tenth Crusade Kickoff Extravaganza. It’s been a good 700 years since Christendom delivered a banner-waving ass-kicking to scimitar-wielding Saracens in the name of our Lord and Savior.
Listen, I don’t care if every scholar worth his weight in juniper berries insists that Christians slaughtered Christians during the 1204 sack of Constantinople—besides, what’s a little friendly fire? And I have it on good word that even the Catholic League insists the Crusades were just wars fought against Muslim madmen.
Anyway, see that pig in the cage over there? He’s our little victim today. We’ve named him Isol. Pretty soon we’ll lather him in mustard, squirt a little fluid on him, then get the YouTube live feed going.
Now if you’ll just cough up $75, I’ll let you through the gate to the Maccabean Barbecue Barn. Sorry if the price seems a bit stiff—drones don’t pay for themselves! You know what they—
I apologize, but let’s put Pastor Pillow on the shelf this week. Truly, it was going to be a doozy. He was just about to get to the gay fart demons and Dr. Mark Barclay caught up in a Parisian glossolalia Nic Cage fiery vision of God v. Satan.
This is your author addressing you. I don’t come out from behind the veil very often in this column, but this week is an exception.
Bill Moyers wasn’t the only person who had trouble sleeping after news of the barbaric murder of Jordanian pilot Muath Safi Yousef Al-Kasasbeh by ISOL (or however you choose to label the caliphate wannabe madmen who call themselves Islamic State).
I tossed and turned a bit myself. But I spend a good bit of every week tracking down superlative examples of unreasonable religiosity. Why should Lt. Al-Kasabeh’s murder trouble me more than the tens of thousands of Iraqi and Afghani civilians who died (and are still dying) in order to keep the global military industrial complex well-lubricated?
You know, I don’t really have an answer. I have to admit that I hardly felt anything when I learned that the two jihadi prisoners held by Jordan were executed in retaliation for Al-Kasabeh’s murder. But I should have.
In the video clip at the link in the previous paragraph, you can watch Pat Robertson and Christian Broadcasting Network “terrorism analyst” Erick Stakelbeck discuss how Muslims all over the western world “are drawn to this kind of sadistic violence.” Thank God they clarified the religion, because for a second, I thought maybe they were talking about Christians flooding theatres to cheer on Bradley Cooper in American Sniper. (Gee, I wonder how many of those theatergoers also spend their evenings watching wrestling and playing Call of Duty.)
Back to Bill Moyers. It’s wasn’t just the incineration of a Jordanian pilot that interrupted Mr. Moyers’ bed rest. It was the graphic, 1916 photograph of African-American Jesse Washington, following his public castration and immolation in—no, not the Middle East. This happened in Texas, less than 100 years ago. Take a moment to soak in this quote:
When the flames died away, Washington’s body was torn apart and the pieces were sold as souvenirs. The party was over.
It was quite the week. My community experienced a public murder-suicide. (The tragedy made international news.) It was a senseless gun tragedy. A scientist the victim. Years of dedicated study, of acquired knowledge, of future discovery, eliminated with one pull of the trigger.
Later in the week, I was in a bookstore searching for a birthday gift. Before me on a shelf appeared that one title that always gives me pause: The Rape of Nanking. It’s a book the spine of which I cannot ever touch again. Military murder as sport. Soldiers playing soccer with the heads of victims. But ask a loyal Japanese citizen, and it never even happened. Same with a loyal Turk about the Armenian genocide. Heck, not even O.J. admits his crime.
What, then, is the appropriate response to ISOL? Why, war of course! More killing! One must kill the killer in order to stop the killing!
No wonder the Crusades lasted for several hundred years—wait, have they ever really stopped? From Jericho to today, human beings seem determined to fight fire with fire. And so it goes.
The Wisconsin Christian News has always been the antithesis of everything the “Christian Right Weekly Round-Up” stands for—a go-to publication for the worst that the Christian Right Media has to offer: everything from “A Syria Scenario” to “Churches ORDERED to Perform Sodomy-Based Wedding Ceremonies.”
But this week, I froze in my chair when I read the following words by Mike LeMay in WCN:
“There are talk shows out there—Christian and secular—that are only clanging noise. They are quick to point out problems, but slow to point out real solutions. Their goal is to whip up passions in people, creating angst and discontent. And many of the hosts have an agenda to make them look better or smarter than anyone else. Deep down, the host wants to be known as the smartest person out there, and they want people to look to them for the truth.”
I took those words to heart. Unfortunately, it’s easy to lose oneself when one’s mission is to point out lunacy and irrationality in Christian fundamentalism.
But how could I have any impact on the “pending Tenth Crusade”—on a world that seems poised once again to finger-point in the name of God all the way to the grave? What was my “real solution”?
I thought about it, then walked to a neighbor’s house. My neighbor is a brilliant scientist—a recent immigrant from one of the war-torn nations mentioned in this article. My child plays with his children. He and his family are Muslim.
I knocked on the door and quickly struck up a conversation about the recent tragedy that had befallen our community. We both have connections to the incident.
I noticed a Quran displayed prominently in his living room. I steered the conversation in the direction of ISOL and the recent events of the murdered Jordanian pilot. Within 20 minutes, we had conducted a nodding heads, shared survey of Middle Eastern history since World War II. We both agreed that our mutual religions are stained by fundamentalists. To this end, he quoted the Quran, and I quoted the Bible—with enlightened hermeneutical approaches.
We arrived at a point of mutual understanding, then paused. How should we proceed?
Spontaneously, I asked him if I could join his family for service at the local mosque. He nearly fell over backward. His wife’s eyes bugged out from her hijab.
Then he practically hugged me and shouted, “Yes, of course! We would be very grateful to take you!”
I explained that I have been to Muslim services at large mosques in Istanbul and other places in the Near East, but never in the United States.
“I want to worship God with you,” I explained. “There is only one God.”
“And many prophets,” he added.
“Yes, and many prophets,” I agreed.
I have been writing the “Christian Right Weekly Round-Up” for nearly two years. The two most consistent complaints I receive from readers are:
- this guy bashes Christianity too much
- this guy doesn’t pick on Islam enough
The fact is, I’m tired of Mammon worshipers, haters and hermeneutical troglodytes ransacking the lifesaving message of justice found in the Gospels. At the end of the day, I’m a Christian and am not bashing Christianity. I’m trying to save it from “charlatans in leisure suits.”
Second, the horrors of Boko Haram, of ISOL, of Sharia law are no more authentic Islam than Joel Osteen’s mansion and Mark Driscoll’s misogyny are poster children of the Sermon on the Mount.
Authentic Christianity and authentic Islam are what happened in my neighbor’s foyer the other day: families whose children openly play with one another, who are willing to worship together, who strive to identify mutual truths in respective holy books.
Those who seek solutions of violence and hate in the name of Christianity and Islam are liars and hypocrites.
It really is that simple. Period.
That’s a wrap!
Please open your hymnals to No. 632.
Za is for Zakat to pure our greed, when we give our money to those in need;
Sa is for Salamu alaikum, peace be with you wa’alaikum assalam
Progressives, the November Elections are—damn, you missed it. It’s too late. While we Progressives sat around drinking craft beer, more than one-third of our fellow fundamentalist countrymen rushed to the polls and elected the most idiotic group of human beings ever yet to rule a superpower.
But don’t worry. We’ll get another shot to right the Good Ship Civilization on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. Hopefully our Little Blue Planet will still be alive and kicking by then. And hopefully we can all get off our Balaam’s asses this time and find a voting booth.
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