Monday, October 17, 2005

Arrogance of Power

At 4:30 this morning, munching on one of
Ellie divine biscuits, I was reading on
page 145 of A History of God.

(Karen Armstrong never fails to inspire
me with her keen intellectual and spiritual

Came a big vision- a coming together of many
ideas that had been germinating for days or
months (this often happens about 4:30 A.M.).

I was Reading her 38 page chapter on The God of
Islam. She was talking about how eloquently
inspired Mohammed's recitation of his
half-complete Koran was until, like John Wesley's
sermons, people came to scoff, but fell on
their knees.

These Bedouins were primitive people, polytheists,
bearing an uncanny resemblance to the children
of Israel when they were in Captivity in Egypt.
Christianity was about and in the air; Aden lived
in captivity to some 'Nestorians' just as it
later came into captivity to some English

The Bedouins resented this, just as the Arabs do
today. (Amazing how long the 'Christians' have
been up to those imperialistic tricks.) They had
a strong built in resistance to imperialistic
Christianity (as they do today).

Mohammed was a clear headed Bedouin; he admired
the faith of the Christians and Jews, and envied
it. Then he started having his visions. He was
illiterate, but he was given words of power that
provoked among his people a spiritual revolution.

Just like Moses; yes, yes; he delivered those
primitive, superstitious people into monotheism.
al Lah! A remarkable resemblance to the Jehovah
worshiped by the early Hebrews under the
inspiration given by God to Moses.

So what happened then? The same thing that
happened to their ancestors (and ours!): they
conquered. They soon had the mightiest empire
in the world, stretching from Cathay to Spain,
knocking at the doors of Europe, the western
stronghold of Christianity. Came the Crusades!

It struck me at 4:30 this morning that they had
reenacted the O.T.

In 1958 a wise old seminary professor, speaking
to proud young seminarians: "brothers" he said,
"why doesn't God give us more power? (pause)
because we arrogate it!"

That's the history of the world, dear friends;
God gives us power and we arrogate it; we
conquer; we exploit; we aggrandize ourselves
at the expense of the primitives; then we
suffer another Captivity.

Jesus came along; he understood that. He had
immense power, and he could have conquered the
world with the sword, like some of his latest
disciples mean to do. But he chose something


SinnaLuvva said...

Great post. Much food for thought.

Matt said...

Larry, I have often wondered if the three great religions of this world don't symbolize the triune God.
Buddhism represents the Mother principle - patience and wisdom.
Islam represents the Father principle - power and might.
Christianity represents the Son - the love of the Mother/Father made manifest.
Unfortunately we humans have arrogated all three for our own purposes.

Larry said...

That's good thinking, Matt. The beauty of the trinity as a metaphor lies in the freedom we have to use it in various ways.

As a dogma it has been responsible for a great deal of violence through the ages, epitomized by Calvin's execution of Michael Servetus.

Jon said...

I think that Islam, mirrors Judaism/Christianity very well. There are a few exceptions--the Empire came much quicker in Islam than in Rome, because there was not much of an existing empire to create centuries of suppression.

The Koran to me reads very much like the worst parts of the Old Testament glued together and amplified. I'm always grateful when Sufis share their favorite verses, because they find the lights in there that I can't. Unlike Christianity, whose Teacher basically forbade violence, there is no such prohibition in Islam--Mohammed is much like Joshua.

Also, it seems to me that Islam's history is somewhat like Christianity's with a 600-year lag. In the early 1500's things were getting nasty. The Reconquista drove Muslims and Jews out of Spain, the Reformation (and all its wars) were set to begin, colonization and capitalism were getting under way.

All of these are happening in certain strains of Islam today.

Larry said...