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This Month's Scripture Verse:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
2 Timothy 3:1-5

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Friday, August 13, 2010

Mr. Krauthammer, Only God Determines What Is Sacred

In a recent article, Charles Krauthammer criticizes the proposed building of a Mosque and Islamic Center "at" Ground Zero. This is because of the horrific 9-11 attacks and the deaths of close to 3,000 Americans at that site has made the ground sacred. Krauthammer joins a chorus of conservatives in implying that building a religious building belonging to the group responsible for the destruction is sacrilege (http://article.nationalreview.com/439065/sacrilege-at-ground-zero/charles-krauthammer). We will leave it to the reader to prove the implication. The answer key says false.

Mr. Krauthammer seems to not know what sacred means. Rather, he shows the all too natural human tendency to deify one's own group, this is similar to when we anthropomorphize what is dear to us. According to both the Old and New Testaments, only God is holy and thus only He declares what is sacred. If we were to put this in modern jargon we would say that only God can say what is special. Everything else is profane, including us and all of our endeavors.

The human tendency to try to do God's job of declaring what is sacred is sometimes used to maintain one's superiority over others and that is what Mr. Krauthammer et. al. are doing here. In the land of religious liberty, these conservatives are calling for an exception to the amendment guaranteeing this liberty because who would be exercising this liberty are Muslims--see the above implication.

In addition, the conservative logic here has another problem because it pits a "sacred" place vs a "sacred" document: Ground Zero vs the First Amendment. And to conservatives like Krauthammer, the winner is obvious. The problem for the rest of us is that this puts the Constitution in the loser's bracket where we would have to speculate what else could beat it and thus what liberties do we have left.

So Krauthammer suggests that if the Islamic religious center is built anywhere else, there would be no problems. And we could believe him unless we watched a recent episode of the Daily Show where Americans were protesting the building of mosques in Tennessee, Wisconsin, and California.

If we would keep to the rule that only God determines what is sacred, then, perhaps, we would stop trying to use religious language to declare our own superiority over others. If only God determines what is sacred, perhaps we would truly regard all others as equals. If only God determines what is Sacred, perhaps we would be better people who have a realistic chance at making peace than being those bent on committing global suicide through war. If only God determined what is sacred.

4 comments:

klatu said...

Only God determines:

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Curt Day said...

I appreciate you stopping by. From a Christian Fundamentalist point of view, we have already had the final and complete revelation of God in his Son, Jesus Christ.

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Iambic Admonit said...

Hello there, Curt. Thank you for this post. For once, we agree! While I think that the building of the Muslim Community Center in Lower Manhattan might be a little tactless, and perhaps a little unsympathetic with the feelings of some victims' families (in an ideal world, perhaps this controversy would not have arisen; but in an ideal world, neither would the attacks have occurred), I agree that the space is not "sacred" because of the tragedy that happened in that location. Also, it is not a mosque -- it is a community center that includes a prayer room, which counts as a mosque. And it is not at Ground Zero; it's a few blocks away. A couple of points opponents tend to overlook. So, thanks for your thoughts.

Curt Day said...

Actually, there is a coalition of family of 9-11 victims and troops returning from the Middle East who eagerly support the building of the community center.

In addition, I don't think it is a bit insensitive at all. In fact, the stated purpose for building the center there was to further peace by showing that Islam is not defined by the acts of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of violent extremists. The Imam behind the building of this center is a Sufi. Sufism rejects political Islam.

When we are tempted to say that this center is insensitive, we should ask if all crosses should be removed from the South. The reason is that since the KKK has committed their atrocities in the name of Christianity, then placing a cross anywhere in the South should be offensive. Of course, that would be foolishness because we can make the distinction between the KKK and Christianity as a whole. So why can't we make the distinction between the 9-11 attackers and Islam as a whole?