Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Identifying the Infidel

It is perhaps not for me to say, but this strikes me as a straightforwardly honest accounting of what Christianity requires:

[I]f God is hospitality, it suddenly isn’t about me anymore. I cannot show hospitality to myself. Hospitality is what is shown to others; and if God is hospitality, then God directs me, not into myself, but out to others. But others, and which others? My friends? My neighbors? The members of my social class, my economic class, my ethnic clan or nationality or race or creed or culture? Am I directed to those who do not share my ideas about hospitality, who do not understand what I mean when I offer my hand for a handshake, or look them directly in the eyes? Am I directed to pedophiles and child molesters and rapists and murderers? And also, to attempt to leave no one out, to their victims, the families of the victims, the people who would punish them, banish them, put them beyond the social law of a hospitable society? Am I directed to do this by the God I worship, the God of Abraham and Jesus?

I can admire the spirit of standing ready to cross many of these lines -- race, class, gender, nationality, proximity. And yet candidly, there are those I would merrily place beyond the reach of hospitality, charity, love, or forgiveness -- rapists, torturers, oppressors, bigots, others -- and this is among the reasons I am not a Christian. I do not love the enemies of mankind. I can promise only to take care in defning them, and to stand ready to accept them, if ever, should they cross to my side of the line.

In The Age of Reason, Thomas Paine gave a definition of infidelity that has not been improved upon: "Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe."

(H/T Bouphonia)


Anonymous said...

I honestly never heard the phrase "god is hospitality" before.

Thomas Paine nailed it,and I (I'm sure wronfully) take his ball and run with it, and say because I don't see how anyone could believe in the crap religion teaches, I don't "believe" that anyone really believes it.

Anonymous said...

By the way, when I get all wound up and make comments, there are going to be un-edited typos, and I beg your indulgence.

Dale said...

twoblue, no worries at all. I appreciate the comments and I hope to consider them with more care soon.

Dale said...

twoblue, sometimes I am tempted to believe these folks don't "really" believe as they say they do. But sadly, I think they do in numbers large enough to be worrying.

Warren Isleib said...

Recently wrote a commentary with the same heading and related thoughts.

Identifying the Infidel
by Warren Isleib
The Islamic faith uses the term infidel. Do you know what an infidel is? Who do you think the prophet was making reference to? His writings were intended to be applied by the individual to themselves, and as an example to others. What others? The typical Muslim’s neighbor, by definition, lives nearby. You will find infidels there. I suggest the Muslim look inward to find the infidel, and that there is a basic truth being avoided by all people.
There are dominant faiths in any area we call a country or nation, but there is no nation which believes a certain way. Nations draw an invisible boundary, establishing theoretical governments and monetary units. Israel is not Jewish, Italy is not Catholic, India is not Buddhist, and Iran is not Muslim. Countries like these will eventually try to justify their actions with religious conviction; convincing themselves they have the .moral right. The United States called it “manifest destiny”. We’ve all seen it, perhaps done it, and history proves the pattern.
Original religions and ancient wisdoms advocate a peaceful mind, and actions intended to promote the welfare of those around us. A casual observer can see the common philosophies at the root of these beliefs.
Anyone with an agenda beyond their God and family is at risk. If I lose focus I will get caught up in self-promoting desires, and eventually make the conscious choice against the greater good. I will have become the “infidel”; the “unfaithful”.
Ethics and morality are issues avoided by most people. “Business ethics” has become an oxymoron. Defense attorneys argue against individual accountability. The reality is simple.
There is no excuse, exception, or escape from our human condition. We have two choices (it is that simple); love of self or of others. Denial of this is merely an attempt to avoid responsibility. Every human makes the same basic choices daily, regardless of nationality or lifestyle. This is the moral equalizer.
Greed and paranoia (fear) have long been recognized as forces that drive stock markets, governments, and entire civilizations; though often to their own collapse. These are sure signs of self-love, or infidelity. We also know that an individual’s view of success has root in their value system; what they desire most. As with any of us, an infidel’s behavior reflects their beliefs. What are we doing, and how does it influence those around us?
Know that there is someone worse than an infidel; the one who encourages distractions from basic principles of peace. They twist and manipulate beliefs to justify desires, and convince others to help maintain the delusion. Pay attention and you’ll know who they are.
Walt Kelly, creator of the comic strip Pogo, used the expression “We have met the enemy and he is us” in 1970 to comment on the trashing of nature. It is also well applied to the nature of man.