Today I made the mistake of reengaging in the political debate that follows every mass shooting done by a Muslim. That debate specifically involves whether Islam is the problem or guns are the problem. And it seems we have to take an either/or position, something I am not good at, purposely.
Coincidentally, this morning I was putting in my contacts, something I rarely do because I hardly ever remove them. When I take my contacts out, my head vision is perfect. It’s crystal clear. The problem is I can’t see more than about two feet in front of my face. When I put them in, my distance vision is perfect, better than 20/20. It’s 20/15. But, I lose the ability to see anything within three feet of my face and I need readers. My eyes cannot see both near and far anymore. It’s one or the other.
I’m not going to rehash the debate here, but what ends up happening as I debate my conservative, gun loving, Christian friends is they think I’m afraid of an inanimate object and that I’m one step away from converting to Islam. Neither could be further from the truth. Islam is a step backwards from Christianity, at least from what Jesus taught. We didn’t need another canon. The Koran is more closely related to the Old Testament than the New. It’s a religion based largely on works. Islam is going to have trouble evolving because of their belief Muhammad’s revelation was perfect and their devotion to a book sermon stone 1500 years in a VERY different time. It has a jealous task master god. I’d be more likely to go back to Christianity than to convert to Islam. If I were having these discussions with an Islamic fundamentalist, I’d be making the exact opposite arguments I make with my Christian friends. So, why do I defend Islam? Well, while it might be slightly worse than Christianity, it’s very, very similar. Christians, when it’s convenient for them, cling to Yahweh and His jealousy, rage and ridiculous laws. Christian pastors declare from their pulpits that homosexuals are worthy not only of eternal torment but stoning. What separates Western society from Islamic societies is not that Chrisrianity is so superior to Islam, but that secularism, specifically secular government, has reined Christianity in. We need not be so high and mighty looking down our noses at societies that stone adulterers when we still kill murderers. We’re shocked that women are treated like slaves in some countries, but it’s been within a couple of generations that they got the vote here. We don’t stone gay people, but we can legally treat them like second class citizens.
What I typically argue against is extremism. If I’m arguing with a fundamentalist atheist, I’ll defend Christianity. If I’m arguing with a Christian who thinks Islam is of the devil, I’ll defend Islam.
Yesterday someone sincerely asked me if I was considering converting to Islam. I know quite a bit about it and I treat the faith and the Prophet with respect. But the answer is “Hell no”. Islam would be a big step backwards for me. He asked me if I had embraced any other faith tradition. Again, the answer is no. No religion has all of the answers and if you adopt one, eventually it’s going to “bind” you, by definition. It’s unlikely, I never say never, I will adopt another faith tradition.
The only things I am extreme about now are pursuit of the truth and trying to love more. That’s it. The gun debate and the “radical Islam” debate are complex issues requiring nuanced views and delicate solutions. People on the left have their contacts out and people on the right have their contacts in. Neither can see as we need to looking both at the forest and the trees. That is why I have little hope we will solve anything any time soon, I am sad to say.
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