Sunday, September 16, 2012

Cursing those made in the likeness of God

Timely reading today provided by the lectionary, James 3:1-12. In a world confusingly trying to work out whether the role of the President of the USA is to uphold freedom of speech or to make peace in the Middle East, James takes on speech as a topic of interest for disciples. Intriguingly James brilliantly illustrates the untameability of the tongue before telling us bluntly we ought to tame it! Unsurprisingly James does not debate whether we ought to have freedom of speech as a universal right or not. But he offers wisdom which is relevant to this week's conflict.

"With [the tongue] we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God" (3:9).

For James the freedom to say what we like is tempered by a fundamental human consideration. Speech can be directed against people made in the likeness of God. James does not spell out what this means, but we can fill in the dots. When we curse, we disrespect and diminish people. We do not love them as ourselves. We fail to treat people for what they are: made in the likeness of God. Conversely, to consider the true status of fellow human beings means a constraint on our speech we will not curse them.

That also means we will not ridicule them, even if they are a figure from the past whose name begins with M and inaugurated a great religion.

The part Christians could play in the current mess is to argue for people being treated respectfully. No videos disrespecting Mohammed. No missiles aimed at embassy staff. Not hard.

(Later) Tit for tat. No signs calling for people to be beheaded. Not nice. Peter FitzSimons makes a good point here.

10 comments:

Andrei said...

In a world confusingly trying to work out whether the role of the President of the USA is to uphold freedom of speech or to make peace in the Middle East

The problem with that thought is the misconception that if such things as that 'film' are suppressed by force of law that this will result in peace.

In reality our Faith is consistently trashed, even by Anglicans erecting billboards on occasion, not to mention "artworks" displayed in publicly funded and run institutions as well as TV and movies on an almost daily basis.

And we do not riot, Glynn Cardy's head remains firmly attached to his shoulders and likely to remain there for the foreseeable future.

So if we protect Islam while not doing the same for Christianity it is a surrender and would be viewed as such. It would be seen as a reward for violence.

Of course that stupid film is just a justification for what was going to happen anyway - if it didn't exist something else would be deployed to force the West into navel gazing as their embassies burn in unruly parts of the world.

The "film" should be recognized for what it is an evil thing designed to provoke and cause violence, wickedness in a fallen world.

My sense is that it is the Egyptian Copts who are actually going to bear the brunt of this, who are going to bare the brunt of this, while we stand idly by impotent to help them except through our prayers.

Father Ron Smith said...

Jesus: "Blessed are the Peacemakers; they shall be called children of God"

St.Francis of Assisi: "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace".

carl jacobs said...

Peter

The part Christians could play in the current mess is to argue for people being treated respectfully. No videos disrespecting Mohammed. No missiles aimed at embassy staff. Not hard.

A few comments about this:

1. "Disrespect" is something of a fluid concept in this context. A Muslim is likely to consider any denial of the truth of Islam to be disrespect. The question thus becomes "Who defines disrespect?" What you consider respectful, he might consider ridicule.

2. There is no equivalence between making a 'disrespectful' film and shooting a rocket grenade. Or killing people. Or dragging a corpse through the street. You should not have juxtaposed those two concepts as if they were opposite sides of the same coin. They aren't.

3. When someone kills your ambassador and drags his body through the street, you don't find some way to show him respect. You hunt him down and kill him. The Sermon on the Mount is not a Political treatise. The officer of the law does not turn the other cheek to the criminal. The soldier does not make peace with the enemy. That's why my father could justifiably kill Germans in 1944. That's why New Zealand isn't today part of the South East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere.

carl

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Carl,
I am not arguing for equivalence between making a film and shooting a missile. The equivalence we seek as Christians is that all respect one another as made in the likeness of God and act accordingly. That should mean neither shooting films which ridicule others nor shooting missiles. It is consistent, the missile having been fired for murderous purpose, or the film having been made to unsettle social harmony that appropriate response is made to the perpetrators. The lack of equivalence between action and reaction should entail, in a just world, a lack of equivalence between responses (e.g. fine v prison/execution).

Father Ron Smith said...

"The soldier does not make peace with the enemy." - carl jacobs -

This may be true - except on one occasion during the First world War when rival armies on the Somme agreed to cease hostilities on Christmas Day. (A miracle?)

There is also the occasion of Saint Francis visiting the Caliph (a combatant Muslim), speaking Peace, and being asked to stay to dinner before being allowed to proceed on his way without being harmed!

Both of these were instances of Christians 'making peace'. It can be made possible - but only by the grace of the Holy Spirit of God - and, of course, it's risky!

carl jacobs said...

Peter

The lack of equivalence between action and reaction should entail, in a just world, a lack of equivalence between responses (e.g. fine v prison/execution).

Making an offensive film isn't a punishable offense. There is no right to not be offended. In fact if offense was a legitimate criteria then someone should be prosecuted for "Passion of the Christ" because the Romanist doctrine dripping from that film offended me deeply.

Besides. This situation is waaaaaay beyond courts and trials and fines and imprisonment. This isn't a matter for law enforcement. It's a matter for the military - where justice is dispensed according to the rules of engagement.

carl

Shawn said...

Respecting that all people are made in the image of God does not mean we must respect their beliefs. I do not respect the views of Nazis. I do not respect false gods or false prophets. Exposing the truth about Islam and it's false prophet is perfectly legitimate. Firing missiles at those who threaten and are preparing to carry out acts of terrorism is legitimate.

We must not kowtow to the demands of the Islamic world so long as they continue to spew terrorism against Israel and the West, and so long as they continue to demand the enforcement of Satanic Sharia law on the world.

"Blessed be the Lord my Rock who trains my hands for war and my fingers for battle."

Father Ron Smith said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron and Shawn,
I have deleted your comment Ron and won't post your response to it Shawn: I am not prepared to engage in further moderation of perceived/real ad hominem comments between the two of you.

Ron: if you have a problem with the adjective 'Satanic' placed in front of 'Sharia law' please refute the use of the word by showing us how wonderful Sharia law is when strictly applied in a society.

Bryden Black said...

While I appreciate our host's editing of Shawn and Ron, re their last licit posts:

The word “discrimination” has an ironic edge to it, which we neglect to our literal peril. For how else will we know when we are believing yet another lie from some new National Socialism? How else may we learn to confess another, different reality? As Emil Fackenheim said in a Jewish-Christian dialogue in 1994: “A Nazi is someone who is incapable of repentance”. Some have learned the hard way that we must wisely discern the prevailing culture and the signs of the times. The perils of not doing so have proven fatal historically; the struggles of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Confessing Church naturally come to mind. See especially Eberhard Busch, The Barmen Theses Then and Now (Eerdmans, 2010).