July 21, 2004

Kristoff Misses the Point

Since Kristoff seems to be fighting the dark side (in mocking christianity) I was reluctant to comment on his recent slam on the Left Behind series of books. But let's face it, he's losing to the dark side currently so every little effort to fix things might help.

No doubt, the Final Judgment is a harsh topic, and has been throughout the history of monotheism. The muslim version is equally harsh and is preached and written about throughout the muslim world. The idea that God comes and judges unbelievers harshly is not a matter of division between christian and muslim and really not one of controversy. The controversy is much more of what does one have to do not to end up on the left hand of God as he returns to sit in final judgment. The harshness that we condemn in muslims is their futile and counterproductive methods in attempting to spread a flawed version of God's commandments.

It is the harshness that muslims commit prior to the final judgment, their flawed telling of who shall be on the right and left hand of God that is the problem. The Left Behind series gets it wrong too, but theirs is an error that can be corrected by persuasion, by speech, by evangelization.

If a Catholic talks to a christian fundamentalist, seeking to convince him of the rightness of Catholic belief, no knives will be drawn, the worst that will happen is some harsh words. The process of working out differences with the Islamists is much more perilous. It is not only more dangerous for christians and jews to talk things out, but even other muslims. Salman Rushdie is, after all, a muslim and was so throughout the period of time he guarded himself against Ayatollah Khomeni's death fatwa.

The central secret of america's religious peace is that you are free to think that God will strike down every other faith. You only have the obligation to allow God to do the smiting and if he chooses to hold his hand for the time being, you must not rush him with your own violent actions. Ultimately, the only way to stop evangelicals from issuing such books as the Left Behind series other than peaceful persuasion is violence. In the liberal PC book, it will be a violence of fines, discriminatory taxation (by pulling tax exempt status), and eventually closing down their places of worship via police action (and that will get violent if the evangelicals don't fall in line).

No, we have a mote in our eye, but it isn't the one that Kristoff is speaking out against. It is that the most popular christian writers who actually apply themselves to writing about their faith are members of such a small, minority faith and the great, mainstream faiths are producing so little in terms of theologically superior books to drive them off the #1 best seller lists.

Posted by TMLutas at July 21, 2004 10:12 AM