On the day after the atrocities in Paris, which left over 120 dead and a yet uncounted number wounded, I am roiling with anger. Moments like these make the old adage, “the pen is mightier than the sword” seem impotent and frail in the face of tragedy.
I tracked the events last night from the distance of my smart phone. I watched the trending and live tweets coming from news reports and from people around the Bataclan Art Center. I shared the tweets, prayed, posted Facebook updates on events, which came in real time from Twitter accounts in Paris, and prayed some more. Today, a man was filmed playing “Imagine” on a piano outside the Bataclan.
It was very quickly assumed across the world that these attacks were from Muslim extremists. Those assumptions did not prove to be incorrect, and a connection to the Islamic State (IS) is building.
To my Islamic friends, I in no way hold you or your particular version of Islam responsible for these evils. Those of you I know are caring and peaceful people. But, this violence comes from a cult of Islam, and it is not a small cult. It is influential and growing. A girl from the Middle East tweeted in her own horror last night, saying, “I don’t know why the west does not nuke us.”
I wring my hands in concern over bad things done by Christians daily, because I am a Christian pastor, and my tribe has people doing oppressive things in the name of Jesus. Yet, my hand wringing is one concern of many within Christendom, who lift their like I do. From within we hope to change the status quo. But the bad things happening in the name of Christianity at this moment is history are tame in comparison to this so-called IS Caliphate. I know there are Islamic voices rising up in opposition to the IS, but they are not the loudest voices we hear. I pray that your religion would rise up with many voices, and that your countries would rise up with a counteracting force against the aberration of this dystopian nightmare.
I do not use these words “distopian nightmare” lightly. The Islamic State is built on the promise of establishing the Caliphate – the succession of the Prophet Mohammed, and with it the purification of both Islam and the world. It hovers over the Middle East with this utopian promise, but even Muslim people are fleeing its heinous violent stench. The purge to bring utopia is announced with promises to capture and rape our women turning them into sex slaves for 15 year-old boys with blood stained hands. It comes with declarations of destroying nations, which do not follow Mohammed, and its narrow interpretations do not allow for Muslims of any other stripe to exist. This is not utopia. This is a grotesque dystopian nightmare. The Middle East is suffering its carnage, and once again, that dystopian nightmare is being exported. French President Hollande has now promised a “merciless” response to this attack. This is the world this dystopian nightmare is creating.
Sensible and peaceful Muslims will flee this interpretation of Mohammed. It is not sustainable long term as a religion. They may flee into atheism, or they may run into the arms of my Savior whose personal sacrifice is not a bomb strapped to his chest, and does not necessitate the slaughter of others.
I am praying for the Middle East. I am praying for Paris. I am praying for Muslims everywhere. And, I am praying for the end of the Islamic State.
Until that time: #JeSuisCharlie #JeSuisParis