Was God There?

— Midweek Meditations:
thoughts, inspiration and encouragement
from ACF community members —

[Ramble Alert!]

Surely there have been times when you have wondered if religion didn’t do more harm than good.  Looking at the history of the American West, for example – the destruction of life and cultures in the name of Christianity – makes me loathe to identify with that kind of fanaticism. The Crusades, when Christians attempted to annihilate Muslims, St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre in France, during which thousands of (Christian) Protestants were killed by (Christian) Catholics. The list goes on and on.  I had such a moment on our recent trip to Scotland.

Standing in front of Edinburgh Castle, I questioned what kind of religion allows such carnage? According to Wikipedia, “Edinburgh Castle was involved in many historical conflicts from the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century to the Jacobite rising of 1745. Research undertaken in 2014 identified 26 sieges in its 1,100-year history, giving it a claim to having been “the most besieged place in Great Britain and one of the most attacked in the world.” And so many of these conflicts were religious in nature. Taking the castle as a microcosmic example of religious heinousness, the horrors abound:  we are all familiar with the story of Mary, Queen of Scots, her turbulent reign and controversial presence based on her Catholicism.  The violent murder of her Papal advisor. The mass killings of the “Covenanters”, so called because of their connection, their Covenant to God.

In my discomfort, I searched the internet for answers and came upon Peter DeHaan.  He writes:

“Seldom a day goes by when we don’t hear of terrorists who commit violence and murder in the name of their faith. These religious zealots believe a higher calling gives them the right to kill others in order to elevate their beliefs.”

Peter DeHaan

This seems barbaric, ignorant, and misguided. We, as followers of Jesus, would never do that.  But Christians, [or at least the early Jews] did.  In the name of religion they killed. And we only need look at the Old Testament for a precedence that seems to give permission.” Hmmm, not much help.

Then I found:

“If you hear a Mozart aria being sung really badly, do you blame Mozart?” I disagree that the Bible “allows any kind of bad behavior. On the contrary, it guides humanity towards the best behavior possible. The fact that humans have ignored Christ’s teachings and manipulated religion for their own ends says more to me about human beings than it does about God. In fact, it surprises me how often people seem to blame God for situations which have been brought about by human decisions and actions.”

Lesley-Anne Weir, Elder in Church of Scotland

So I need to remember that this religious strife was accompanied by socio-political agendas.  The plunder of the American West was for territory and riches. Calling it religion was only a smokescreen or at best, ethnocentrism.  Perhaps, if those acting in the name of religion had really listened to the message, the words of love and peace,  the carnage would never have happened.

The ACF Midweek Meditations
are written by a diverse group of our church members with the intention to seek God’s fingerprints in our lives. They range from somber to humorous and are inspired by all facets of live and faith. Written by ordinary people from all walks of life, they reflect a wide range of Christian backgrounds and spiritualities.

Each week’s text portrays the individual viewpoint of its author. They might not always resonate with everyone, and are not meant to be understood as representing the Anglican Church Freiburg as a whole. Yet, as a church that is aiming to ‘Build a Community of Grace’ we seek to practice learning from and listening to one another.

We pray that these humble ponderings add a small spark of blessing to your week.

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