By now we have heard all about the case of Gillian Gibbons, the British elementary school teacher in Sudan who was convicted of blasphemy. Her great crime? She let her students name the class mascot “Muhammad”. The students were apparently naming him after a boy in the class, not the Prophet, but still it upset someone enough to report her and have her convicted. Today she received a pardon from the President of Sudan, and at last report was in the British Embassy awaiting her return to Britain.
And I thought the cartoons were bad! It’s. A. Bear. We’re seriously talking about giving forty lashes to someone for naming a BEAR after the Prophet?!? How ludicrous can you get? Stuff like this is why we westerners have such a hard time taking the Islamist world seriously. The knee-jerk reaction over such a trivial matter leaves us all shaking our heads and wondering just how they can think like this. Then some westerners wonder why we should have to show reverence for their Prophet when they obviously don’t show reverence for Jesus.
Here’s a thought: Why should they? We don’t.
(Bear with me a moment. I’m just playing Devil’s Advocate here and bouncing a few thoughts around. I’m not even sure where this train of thought is going yet, but the scenery should be interesting.)
Look around you. What season are we in right now? If you are Lutheran or Catholic, your answer would be (should be) “Advent”. We are preparing for the birth of our Savior. These weeks should be used to focus the mind and make us ready to accept Him. But what are we doing instead?
Now I’m not going to go all Bill O’Reilly here and say that there is a War going on. That isn’t the point I’m trying to make. I say Merry Christmas when it is Christmas and Happy Holidays the rest of the time. And according to my liturgical calendar, it’s not Christmas until the 25th, ok? Besides, his focus appears pretty superficial, so it’s clear to me where he’s going with it all. If he and the Christian Right were so serious about their ideas, they would be pushing for the abolition of all things Christmas that had nothing to do with Jesus. And since that would drop the economic activity this time of year to somewhere just north of ZERO, I don’t think that his sponsors would approve.
Where I’m going is that it has been a long time in the western world since the focus of Advent has been on Jesus. Not to say that you can’t or shouldn’t have fun. This is a time to celebrate! Our Savior is coming and we should whoop it up! Nothing wrong with exchanging gifts, having parties, and decking your halls. But as a culture, there hasn’t been respect for Advent for a long, long, time. I would say at least 50 years. And I won’t even start on Easter.
So. On the one hand, we have a culture that has a knee jerk reaction to the slightest of slights against their Prophet. On the other we have a culture that has let one of the holiest times of year become perilously close to secular.
I’m just sayin’….