Friday, September 10, 2010

To Mosque or not to Mosque. . . . .

There is a very powerful moment in Richard Attenborough's movie Gandhi in which a man, amid the terrible race riots in Calcutta, tells Gandhi that he is going to hell because he killed a Muslim child. When questioned by Gandhi concerning why he would commit such a horrendous act, the man says that he was driven to it because the Muslims rioters killed his own son. Gandhi then tells the man that he knows a way out of hell. "Find a boy," Gandhi says, "whose mother and father are dead and raise him as your own. Only make sure he is a muslim and raise him as one." The man is taken aback but after a moment of reflection he is overwhelmed and kneels at the Mahatma's bedside weeping. It is a remarkably powerful moment because it is an amazing reminder of the most basic kind of religious notion of forgiveness. Peace is made not in retribution but in embracing the flip-side of anger and mourning. In other words, peace is constructed by taking the energy associated with hate and funnelling it into acts of goodness; and not just acts of goodness but acts which help us better understand those that made us angry in the first place. This is what I have to say about the Mosque on the sight of the World Trade Centre and those who oppose it. Christian ethics teach me that one should not oppose such a mosque, in fact directly the opposite. I think Christians should not oppose a mosque on the sight but should create volunteer brigades to help build it. And furthermore, they should seek to build a multi-faith centre there in which people of all faiths can come together in an open spirit that promotes understanding.

Of course if that actually happens I will be watching the skys out my window for flying pigs.

1 comment:

Margaret Anne said...

The site is not actually on the World Trade Centre site, but is two blocks away. On the joyful celebration and embracing of others - you are right on (I think tolerance is too mean a position). See especially:
"The news didn't sit well with many people in New York, most notably people who didn't live in Manhattan. This is because they were told by a gaggle of dumb Islamophobes that what was planned was a "Ground Zero mosque." Of course, the planned community center was not, strictly speaking, a "mosque." And it was most definitely not "at Ground Zero." "Ground Zero" is the site of an interminable municipal construction project. There are no plans to build a mosque there. "Ground Zero" is also not the name of a recognized New York City neighborhood, like DUMBO or Murray Hill. But, here's the thing: even if it was, the battle to stop the "Ground Zero mosque" was already lost, because there already is a mosque in that neighborhood."