By Sam Gerrans
For a Christian in the West, his religion is a matter of personal choice; it is a bolt-on to whatever he wishes to do the rest of the time. But he often makes an unfair comparison when he compares his religion with the barbarity of some forms of Islam.
The Daily Mail reported on February 18 that ISIS had beheaded a fifteen-year-old boy after he was “caught listening to Western music.” It is increasingly difficult to tell what is true in the media – what is photoshopped and what not – but it is safe to assume that ISIS is ideologically wedded to the practice of chopping bits off people whose moral standards do not concur with its own.
ISIS, clearly, is directed and enabled by Western agencies, and includes many mercenaries and outright criminals. While its job is to balkanize Israel’s enemies and provides the justification for the invasion of European nations by alien elements, its ideological orientation is founded on a medieval worldview and a tradition of tribal religion.
Very few Christians of whatever stripe would have any qualms about working in a bank, for example. Yet usury was repugnant to the Church when it had teeth; is expressly prohibited in Deuteronomy, and discouraged in Psalms. Nevertheless, today’s Christian can spend all week as a small cog in a big system which makes the poor of the world even poorer (which is what usury does) without giving the matter any thought. Because he sings some songs on a Sunday and provides a charity lunch to the homeless and exchanges some awkward hugs with other members of the congregation, he thinks that this is what religion is – or should be – for everyone else.
When he sees bearded psychopaths chopping off fifteen-year-olds’ heads for listening to what he can hear in any shopping centre, he mentally compares that with the last time he sang Kumbaya, sat through a homily of perfectly enunciated consonants, or shared a few cucumber sandwiches with some people who smelled a bit rank but were heart-warmingly appreciative.
And, naturally, he is horrified. But his horror belies not only a misunderstanding of the differences in what the word religion means for him and for the head-choppers, but also ignorance of the source from which his own tradition derives.