Grumpy tilted back his head, did a deep quick-think and sighed. These kinds of questions are the kinds of questions that make GP’s eyes hurt and his stomach churn. GP thought he ate a romaine salad with Thai vinaigrette and nuts for lunch, but now it felt like a combination of poison ivy leaves, WD-40, and nails. GP answered. “No. Islam isn’t a religion of peace.” But Grumpy didn’t stop there. GP continued. “...and neither is Christianity.”
Whoa GP… what are you saying? Haven’t you read the bible? Our God in Christianity is the God of peace that surpasses all understanding?!?! You must be crazy!!!! While GP does wax on the crazy side a bit, GP has indeed read the bible, probably more times than you have. And yes, that is exactly what I am saying. See, the peace of God surpasses all understanding. It truly does. I have experienced it. But God ain’t the church… the mass of folks who claim to follow Jesus. There’s sometimes some great, great peace in the church. But often times there is not.
If you think that Christianity as it has been expressed through the Church has offered nothing but peace to the world, then you haven’t seen this photo:
Since Muslims have tended to be the perpetrators of evil in the last 25-30 years, our Judeo-Christian side of the world tends to think in broad terms that we Christians are the good guys, and they, the Muslims are the bad guys. And this is just entering into more tribal either-or thinking that is so easy for humans to latch on to. Every movement has it’s examples of how peace is the last of its priorities. If you still don’t believe GP…
- Just ask a Muslim or a Christian who resides in the West Bank if they find Jews to be peaceful (things like forced evictions and violent border control doesn’t really make great neighbors).
- Ask a Muslim in Thailand or Myanmar if they find Buddhists to be peaceful (yes, Buddhist terrorists and Buddhist nationalistic police forces actually exist).
- Look at Hinduism. There isn’t much peace to that entire caste system. GP needs to say no more.
So why is Islam not a religion of peace? It’s because no religion is a religion of peace. And if you are an atheist who is thinking, “Ha! Religion is the problem!” Um… no. Jozef and Mao, two of your atheist buddies, are responsible for somewhere between 70 million and 100 million deaths combined! Oh, and one of your atheist leaders, Richard Dawkins, thinks GP and other Christians should be publicly mocked for believing that Jesus is in bread and wine. Huh. Grumpy Pastor can’t help but wonder about Dawkins, who peed in his cereal?
A body of humans practicing a faith will not bring peace to the world. This is because religion cannot do that. It’s not possible. Religion ain’t God. Religion is about two things. It’s about the human story and your soul. It’s about living and dying, and how you are going to go about each one of them. See, Grumpy Pastor knows you are going to die. The question is… so what are you gonna do about it? That’s religion.
If you think your religion, your communal or individual belief system is one of peace, then you don’t understand yourself very well. Or, actually, you don’t understand all of humanity for that matter. People are jerks. All of us. Some are way, way, way more extreme jerks than others, but we’re all in the same jerk boat. You don’t understand that in the garbage dump of life, even you have broken the rules and tossed in some old paint cans in the dumpster reserved for grass clippings.
So, go figure out that living and dying thing. Call upon God in your distress, and it might, it just might, result in some inner peace in yourself, and that peace just might shine through and eek into the rest the world.