Fundamentally Extreme

On an April morning in the mid-1990’s, news reports began streaming in about an horrible tragedy unfolding in Oklahoma City. We were all stunned that someone would do something so terrible.

And waited for word of who we could blame.

Most people expected middle-eastern terrorist groups to be the cause of such misery, destruction, and death.

Turns out it was a couple of angry white guys with ties to Christianity in their background. Some might even consider them “Fundamentalists” of some sort.

And we prosecuted them. And we sentenced Tim McVeigh to death.

Tim McVeigh, a U.S. Army veteran who was born two days before I was, died by lethal injection on June 11, 2001 as punishment for the 168 lives cut short by his retaliation against what he perceived to be the ultimate bully, the U.S. Government.

Numerous attempts were made to connect him to some middle eastern group, but as best I can tell, it never proved to be the case. He was a radical extremist American, willing to kill innocent lives for his beliefs. Nothing more, nothing less.

Flash forward exactly three months from his execution date. The stomach-churning nausea begins again as news reports pour in about airplanes crashing into the World Trade Center towers in New York City. Additional reports followed stating a similar tragedy was unfolding in Washington, D.C., and in Pennsylvania.

This time, a group of murderous fundamentalist extremists, passionate about their beliefs and willing to kill innocent people to prove their point, were responsible.

Oh, and they also happen to be Islamic.

Unfortunately, an immediate hatred of all things and people with any ties to the Islamic religion began to develop. We targeted an entire religion rather than the “Fundamentalist Extremists” who invaded our country and killed our citizens.

We began to analyze their Qur’an to support Christianity’s claims that they are a horrible, terrible murderous people. And of course, we found plenty, according to those who would insist on perpetuating a blanket hatred of Islam and Muslims.

What has occurred to me today, however, are the similarities that exists between the murderous, blood-thirsty deity of the Qur’an, and the murderous, blood-thirsty deity of the Bible.

You might say we have a bona-fide case of the pot calling the kettle black, or in terms of the Holy Bible we seem to hold as absolute truth, we may be trying to pick a speck out of someone else’s eye (in this case, their religion), when there is in fact a plank in our own eye.

Add to this the irony of an idiot fundamentalist in Florida who claims to be a Christian (a Jesus-follower), who was willing to put the lives of hundreds and thousands of military personnel at risk by deliberately pissing off the Islamic fundamentalist who don’t need much of an excuse to blow up a few thousand people, and we have a serious plank/speck problem on our hands.

He is not alone in his beliefs.

We have so-called Christians who will murder abortion doctors.

We have so-called Christians who will shun or even intimidate and torture gays and lesbians in the name of religion.

We have so-called Christians who will advocate a ban on immigration when they themselves are only second or third generation Americans.

All of which is VERY scary.

Today, September 11, 2010, we remember and we honor those whose lives were ended by religious extremists. We also honor those who stepped forward in service to defend our right to experience religious freedom.

I trust that today those of us who claim Jesus as our spiritual leader will also ask ourselves…

…what would Jesus be doing and saying to remember, to honor, to heal the tragic events of 9/11.

Radical fundamentalism is enmeshed in every religion. It would serve Christians well to remember that while Jesus was radical, he was severely lacking in the fundamentalist-violent-characteristics category.

Look around today. Find a way to honor the memory and sacredness of the 9/11 tragedy by identifying a person in need and honoring them the way Jesus would have honored and served them.

It’s the best possible way to memorialize 9/11.

Need some ideas? Here are a couple to get you started:

Relieve a little poverty.

Host a unity party.

Do something nice for a person of a different religious faith.

Study another religion with an open mind. Look for the gifts and blessings it offers rather than the death and destruction. We’ve got enough death and destruction in Christianity to tie us over for awhile.

Make a list of the incredible blessings you have, then find a person lacking some of those and bless them.

Find someone who needs a little love and give it to them.

Add your own ideas in the comments below.



One Response to “Fundamentally Extreme”

  • Well said. I love the part about looking for the gifts and blessings everyone has to bring to the table. What a different world it would be if we could all only do that.

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