Martin Luther King, Jr.
We have before us the glorious opportunity to inject a new dimension of love into the veins of our civilization. There is still a voice crying out in terms that echo across the generations, saying: Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you, that you may be the children of your Father which is in Heaven.
This love might well be the salvation of our civilization. This is why I am so impressed with our motto for the week, 'Freedom and Justice through Love.' Not through violence; not through hate; no, not even through boycotts, but through love.
It is true that as we struggle for freedom in America we will have to boycott at times. But we must remember as we boycott that a boycott is not an end within itself; it is merely a means to awaken a sense of shame within the oppressor and challenge his false sense of superiority. But the end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the beloved community.
I frequently go off on a tangent about religion. There are a couple of reasons for that. One is that I think it's a waste of resources to be pining for a celestial paradise when living in the here and now require so much attention. Two, I think that god, if she does exist, does not want people to try to understand the bronze age mythology and morality of a tribe of warriors, sheep herders and Taliban precursors. She wants a major rewrite.
But I don't really have a problem with average religious people as long as they don't expect me to participate. I DO have a problem with fundamentalists from any religion. They're the ones that give the rest of their religious adherents a bad name and that goes for Christianity as well as Muslims.
Where I live, there are a lot of Muslims. I see them pushing strollers on the sidewalk, serving shwarma from a grease wagon, at my old place of work and among my friends. The right wing noise machine has a lot of right wing voters convinced that these people, who in total are a tiny fraction of the American population, are going to receive a fatwa and murder us all in our beds. Setting aside the fact that the numerical probability of this happening is about as likely as being sucked down the bathtub drain, it's just a ridiculous idea. Who has the time to go all jihad on anyone anymore? There's work, chauffeuring your kids around, going to back to school night, shopping for food, cooking, cleaning, mowing the lawn. Muslims are just as exhausted as the rest of us. And besides, not every Muslim is a fanatical, fundamentalist in the mold of Pat Robertson or Jack van Impe.
The timing and severity of the events in the past couple days point to a political motive to me. They are designed to make Obama look bad, to make his foreign policy staff look overwhelmed (too bad that Hillary is as steady as a rock) and to make the less reflective and conscientious Americans among us to take their anger out on innocent people. That would be bad. I don't care how unhappy I am with Obama, there is no excuse for using innocent Muslim Americans to score political points.
I hope I am wrong about this but as the rioting escalates (and who knows who is behind that really and with how much money) the conservative Fox News viewer, indoctrinated by endless Muslim jihad scenarios, might start to lose it. It's just the kind of chaos scenario the right wing would delight in. And where has Karl Rove been lately? He's been entirely too quiet.
So, keep an eye out for your Muslim neighbors and friends. Don't let the mob impinge on everyone else's religious freedom, even if all that praying is a waste of time after all.
Does “post-theism” mean the end of God or does it mean that as reason and religion find increasingly common ground our understanding of what the concept of God means is expanding as exponentially as are the dimensions of scientific inquiry?
Dr. Harold W. McSwain will examine various interpretations of “post-theism” at a free public lecture to be presented by the Interfaith Alliance of Marion County at the Islamic Center of Ocala at 7 p.m. on Monday, December 2, 2013. The Islamic Center is located at 1410 NE 14th Street in Ocala.
Pastor of the progressive First Congregational United Church of Christ in Ocala which is part of a community of churches subscribing to the belief that “god is still speaking, ” Dr. McSwain has been an ordained minister for 34 years. He holds a Master of Divinity degree and Master of Church Music degree from the Methodist Theological School in Ohio and a Doctor of Theology degree from Boston University . Currently vice president of the Interfaith Alliance of Marion County, Dr. McSwain also conducts the Central Florida Master Choir of Ocala which in December is performing seasonal concerts at area churches on December 1, 8 and 15.
For more information see below or telephone 352/629-3897 .
The Interfaith Alliance of Marion County inaugurated its 2013-14 lecture series on November 4, 2013 when Larry Collins, chairman of the Islamic Association of Central Florida , explored our comprehension of God within the context of contemporary scientific studies of our ever expanding universe. He delivered his talk entitled “Does God Need Our Help?” at the Temple Beth Shalom in Ocala.
One Community - Many Voices
The Interfaith Alliance of Marion County, Florida, is committed to protecting the integrity of both religion and democracy in America. We champion religious freedom by respecting individual rights, promoting policies that protect vital boundaries between religion and government, and uniting diverse voices to challenge extremism and build common ground.
We celebrate the diversity of paths within our community and join together to promote compassion and civility and create opportunities for mutual respect and and understanding.