It certainly has been an interesting week as we approach 9/11 tomorrow.
I love to read the paper in the morning while I eat breakfast. There's something about it that just isn't the same as reading news on the internet. I love the 3rd page of the Seattle Times because they do indepth articles on particular subjects.
It caught my attention on Wednesday when they featured an article entitled "US Muslims Brace for Anniversary Backlash."
The reason that this 9/11 anniversary is so much more tense is a cumulation of several events.
Interestingly enough, 24% of all Americans still believe that our President is Muslim.
This suspicion, along with the proposed Mosque by Ground Zero, further fueled by a crazy fundamentalist in Gainesville, Florida who wants to burn 200 Korans on Saturday, feels like a domino effect that could start a chain reaction of events around the world.
But wait, there's one more domino to add to the train: the fact that Eid alFitr, a joyful holiday marking the end of Ramadan, will fall around 9/11. Authorities fear that when people see Muslims celebrating, they may misinterpret the celebration to mean that they are rejoicing over the World Trade Towers being taken down. Victor Begg of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan, says, "Americans in general support pluralism, it's just that there's a lot of misinformation that has created confusion."
As I read this interesting article, in my mind I could see a boomerang of activity that starts in one place that creates a reaction in another area of the world, causing a crisis in yet another. The recognition that we are so globally connected that a fundamentalist preacher with only 50 followers could have the entire world skittish is unsettling. It's also a reality that we have to deal with.
The internet has created a world of information, some of it true, a lot of it not. We are the first to know about storms and accidents and fires, sometimes before the area involved because they are busy dealing with it.
The internet has created a world where one small event can set off a chain reaction that could bring the entire world into crisis.
Because of this reality, it is even more important for those who follow Jesus to live a lifestyle like his. He wouldn't have burned the Koran, he would have invited the person to dinner to have a respectful dialogue, all the while loving him with his Father's love. The person may not have become a Jesus follower in the dinner, but he would have left feeling respected, heard and loved.
So, isn't this what we are to do?
How many of us even know some who is Muslim?
What do we actually know about their Islamic faith?
Are we more prone to read an internet article about their conspiracies, or do we pray for those that we encounter?
Do we start a conversation?
Have we intentionally sought out a Muslim family to befriend?
When we have sat across the table from those of different faiths, we are much less likely to want to go to war against them.
We need to be light in this area of life right now. There will always be crazy people who do sad acts such as burning another faith's holy book, but if enough of us live like Jesus in this area, perhaps those stories will overshadow the others.
Interestingly enough, this week the Seattle Times carried one editorial and one article about moving in a different spirit. The article Monday states, "Michael Ly, a young, self-described Chinese Cambodian American Evangelical Christian, is reaching out to build better understanding between evangelical Christians and Muslims as a purely grass roots effort."
He states, "There's a part of the evangelical Christian church that believes the rhetoric out there about Muslims is ignorant. That part of the church is saying,'This is not the way Jesus would want us to respond to the Muslim community.'"
So far, Ly has organized a panel discussion on who Jesus is, attended by some 150 Muslims and 150 Christians from local evangelical churches. He's led workshops on what Muslims and Christians believe.
This is being proactive in our faith. This is a productive, respectful and honoring response to our world challenge.
Even the editors got in the game on Thursday when they wrote an editorial entitled, "The Gainesville Idiot." It's a scathing article about Jones behavior, but they ask some true questions, "Where in his faith and teachings does this Christian outlier find the motivation and divine calling to fuel hatred for others?"
"What is the second commandment of the Christian faith? Love God and love our neighbor. Two thousand years of religious instuction rest on these commandments."
They end the editorial with a great idea: pray for him.
9/11 changed our world. It changed the complexity and conversation of the world. It isn't going away. It's time for us to do what Jesus would do and begin to reach out across the great divide of the Islamic faith and find a way to be salt and light. I know that 99.9% of the people in the US wouldn't attend a book burning for the Koran, but how many of us will ignore the situation until the boomerang of world events becomes a crisis?