Through an exchange of correspondence I’d like to explore something that is beginning to trouble me more and more. I begin with a caveat (as you know Suzy hates my caveats saying I’m being too much of a lawyer, but I am what I am). That caveat is — I dislike labels and categorizing individuals into groups, but I fear I must to some degree to make my point understood. Nevertheless, it is a poor use of language. I also will do this over time, so as to allow thought and comment from our readers. All that said I begin.
I fear we are moving to a time when those who have faith and love their neighbor are becoming more and more reticent to proclaim their beliefs for fear of being linked with fanatical elements of their faith. I do not limit my fear to Muslims or Christians, but I suspect the same goes for Jews, Sufis, Hindus, etc. I fear that fundamentalism in its worse sense offends most believers so much that rather than confront, we withdraw from being identified a Christian, Muslim, Jew, or Sufi. More importantly, we withdraw from the dialogue of what role our faith has in this earthly world.
I speak as a Christian, but I believe the same goes for other beliefs, that if I withdraw from the dialogue I relegate God to a God that is limited to my secret thoughts and sins. I allow others in the name of fundamentalism to define the role God plays in our society. Yet, the God I know is not limited to my private meditation but is Lord over everything, including scientific discovery. Lord over not just what we don’t know, but what we know and are discovering scientifically.
I fear that if we reserve God to a corner of the room, we allow others to place their view of vengeful God in the center of our life. We have an equal obligation to speak of a loving and forgiving God at the center, not in weakness but in strength, and not only in death and guilt, but as a constant presence in our life and the source of all goodness.
Tom, words escape me, but I hope by airing my concerns in inadequate words we can began a meaningful dialogue. Thanks. Your friend. Webb