Thursday, May 11, 2006

United 93

I was in L.A./Malibu last week for the Pepperdine Lectureships and stayed over for the weekend to spend time with a couple of close friends. One of the things we did on Saturday was see the new movie, United 93. I strongly recommend that adults and older teens see it.

The movie is very straightforward. It pulls no punches but also takes no cheap shots (though there is one passenger on the flight who pleads [in a French accent] for the passengers to cooperate with the hijackers/murderers instead of resist them -- this was obviously a pointed barb at European pacifism).

The most dramatic and moving scenes in the movie, in my opinion, were not on the plane but in the air control towers. It was heartbreaking, and in a strange way heartwarming, to see the air traffic personnel slowly piece together what was happening as they watched their screens, tried frantically to regain radio contact with the four hijacked planes, and then viewed CNN on the big screen and realized the exact nature of what was happening. The theater audience reaction was much the same as to The Passion of the Christ: people exited in silence. To do anything else would be to cheapen the import of what we had just viewed.

One of my convictions leaving the theater was that we are in for a long war and we need to get very focused on exactly who the enemy is. As numerous commentators have noted, we are not in a “War on Terror” (as if this includes Basque separatists in Spain, IRA radicals in Ireland, etc.), we are in a war against militant Islamic imperialists whose very ideology compels them to seek to subjugate any society which resists their convictions.

One of the $64,000 questions in this regard is: Are the basic tenets of the Muslim religion itself complicit in this ambition? As Dennis Prager notes in a recent essay (“The war we are fighting needs a more accurate name”;, 5/9/06), “No one should have a problem with Muslims wanting the whole world Muslim. After all, Christians would like the whole world to come to Christ. What should matter to all people is the answer to one question: What are you prepared to do to bring the world to your religion? For virtually every living Christian, the answer is through modeling and verbal persuasion.”

There is much to suggest that Islamic theology itself compels imperialist, rather than persuasive, tactics.

Again, Prager: “Many listeners have called my radio show asking me if I consider Islam to be inherently violent or evil. From 9-11 to now, I have responded that I do not assess religions; I assess the practitioners of religions. Why? Because it is almost impossible to assess any religion since its own adherents so often differ as to what it is. For example, is Christianity the Christianity of most evangelicals or that of the National Council of Churches? On virtually every important moral issue, they differ. The same holds true for right- and left-wing groups within Judaism (note: Prager is Jewish). Nevertheless, one can say that from its inception, Islam has been imperialist.”

This is certainly politically incorrect. But if you watch the movie, you will be reminded how ludicrous political correctness is in a time of war. Christians in America need to avoid blanket judgments while seeking and speaking the truth in love. Or as Jesus puts it, “Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”


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6:19 PM  
Blogger Dustin said...

Having grown up at WHCC, I was pleased to have the opportunity to attend this Sunday with my mom, in honor of Mother’s Day. I was, however, disappointed to read the United 93 article in the pew sheet.

If Christians want to bring the world to Christ by “modeling and verbal persuasion,” we should start by steering clear of characterizing the practitioners of the world’s second largest religion as “inherently violent” and “imperialist.” The danger in your political incorrectness is that it discredits you in reaching out to non-Christians you seek to persuade. The conclusions you draw seem a bit over presumptuous, because your remarks (1) do not approach the world’s 1.2 billion Muslims with love and respect and (2) are historically inaccurate. Because religious leaders who propagate sweeping stereotypes about other faiths enable the violence that you and Prager pretend Christianity has left in the past, I feel compelled to respond to this entry.

All religions have adherents who are full of love and full of hate, and all religions claim members who are peaceful and those who are violent. When our nation was founded, Christian churches burned witches at the stake. The Holocaust borrowed its violent tactics from European state-Sponsored Christian Churches that had already forced European Jews to wear identifying marks and told their congregations that Jews were greedy and untrustworthy. Cathedral paintings in Europe today remind the visitors of the danger of such stereotyping. After World War II, many Christian Churches found themselves decidedly on the wrong side of the civil rights movement. While now considered fringe, the KKK was a large power within Christian Churches throughout the South, including the Church of Christ (which is documented in the writings of Fred Grey, a courageous Church of Christ elder and civil rights lawyer). To this day, we are reminded of Timothy McVeigh, whose terrorist bombings in Oklahoma City were reportedly fostered in the “Christian Identity Movement.” Clearly, one would not wish the Christian faith to be connected with such violent extremists anymore than a majority of the world’s Muslim population wishes to be connected to fundamentalists popularized in the media and addressed in your article.

In my view, religious leaders of all persuasions should be cautious about putting their faith’s seal of approval on political conclusions of any sort. Thank you for considering my opinion.

Dustin Rynders

12:50 PM  
Blogger Descendantofacrusader said...

Where to begin! Matt, unlike Dustin, I found your latest pew sheet 'United 93' to be very perceptive and courageous in the difficult questions that you ask about the world's second largest 'religion' - Islam. And, Dustin, although your emphasis on peaceful Christian Missionary practices in reaching the lost is indeed commendable and based upon sound Christian principles; I find hard to understand your suggestion that Matt's clear headedness is somehow in violation of 'political correctness'. I ask you: since when is 'political correctness' indeed correct? Because there are 1.2 billion adherents to this 'religion' makes it indeed 'correct' and 'respectable' by virtue of numbers alone. Have you read the Koran? I suggest you do so and let it's founder, Mohammed, speak for the religion it self as to whether it is 'violent' or 'non violent' in nature or as Matt very diplomatically put it 'imperialist'. Mohammed was first and foremost a 7th century, military commander bent upon conquest and who plagiarized the Torah and Bible to manufacture a believable ‘religion’ to justify his own lusts. Did you know that one of his many ‘marriages’ was to a 6 year old, Aisha, and that he consummated the marriage when she was 9 years old!! Or the Koran’s high regard for women when it when it speaks of men as farmers and says: “Your wives are a tilth unto you; so go to your tilth when or how you will.” (Koran 2.223) (Bukhari). Just read it, please. See also what Alexis De Touqville , Thomas Jefferson, Dante’, James Madison, Martin Luther, and Winston Churchill had to say about this ‘peaceful, non-violent, innocent’ religion. It’s all there for those ‘who have eyes to see’.

Jesus said in John 14:6 that 'I am THE WAY and THE LIGHT and that NO ONE comes to the Father except through ME' You either believe that or you don't - it is either completely true or completely false. There is absolutely no tolerant middle-ground here for the 'laws of political correctness. God is not 'allah' and his one and only messenger was not Mohammed but his one and only Son, Jesus Christ, who died for the sin of all the earth so that all men/women might receive Salvation. There can be no equivalence here - it either is or it isn't. And yes, Dustin, there is hope for the mission to the 1.2 billion lost Muslims but we must not me confused by the tyranny of ‘Political Correctness’, ‘Multiculturalism’, and ‘Relativism’ as our media is want to do. It is indeed ‘time’ as Matt said to 'speak the TRUTH in love' yet be 'wise as serpents and innocent as doves'. Thanks once again, Matt.

7:36 AM  

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