Proselytizing

With what happened at Fort Hood, and the relentless stream of scary Muslim stories in the U.S. — tonight a report on the local news that some Mosques here are sending money back to Iran, I just have to point and laugh.

For a long time, churches here in the U.S. have been funding people to spread out around the world to proselytize. When I was a pre-teen, my mom’s church was where I discovered Africa — through its program to send missionaries there.

With the fall of the former Soviet Union, missionaries flooded Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Republics. I can’t tell you how many of my students in Latvia practiced their English with Mormons around pool tables. And the other Christians were there, too.

So why is anyone surprised that Muslims are proselytizing here in the U.S.? Why worry that there are Muslims in our armed forces? Why be concerned about growing Muslim populations?

I admit I am an innocent bystander. I don’t really care what crazy omniscient being you believe in, and none of them will convince me that their God is the one, but I still find it calmly humorous that now Christians are getting bent about Muslims horning in on their turf. Religions are funny that way.

Advertisements

20 responses to “Proselytizing

  1. If we are speaking about radical Islam (what’s the principal form of Islam in Iran?), then we are not just talking about proselytizing, as I am sure you know. Don’t know any Christian missionaries who avocate Jihad!

    • Well, your religion is your weapon. If you are afraid of jihad, then your side should get their own crusade going. It’s the only way, no?

      Fight fight fight!

      I’ll be here on the sidelines when you all are done.

  2. Uh, the principal form of Islam in Iran is the Shia variety (haven’t we all had that drummed into our heads for a couple of decades now?). But the radical missionaries are Wahabbis, who are from the Sunni variety.
    My favorite proselytizing story is from Nicaragua, a couple of years after the Sandinistas threw out Our Friend Somoza. Jerry Lee Lewis’s less famous cousin Jimmy Swaggart was praising the lord left and right because the Nicaraguans had allowed him to use the biggest soccer stadium in Managua for a faith-healing, laying-on-of-hands, snake-handling pep rally and didn’t that just beat all? Seeing that the Sandinistas (or at least those 2 Ortega brothers) were godless Communists etc etc. Anyone who knew anything about Nicaragua or the situation there could have figured out that it was a slightly heavy-handed way of slapping back at the Catholic Church (the Polish Pope had just started cracking down on liberation theology priests). And what gets the Vatican more upset than the prospect of losing some of the flock they’ve always taken for granted to some upstart Baptists?

  3. Even though they are Shias, the Supreme Leader and President seem willing to attack/kill westerners and even their own people for religious/political ends… And no thinking Christian in America takes Swaggart and his type seriously. The thinking missionaries go only to share the gospel in love…

    • I don’t think the missionaries are all about love. They want to change their subject’s point of view and make them beholden to a particular point of view.

      That’s what is happening in Africa. The religions are duking it out. I stand on the side with those who choose neither one side or the other, but their own side.

      And while the Muslims and Christians are fighting it out in Africa, the Chinese are doing an end run.

      Well played Christian person.

  4. As odious and barbaric as the Iranian President’s rhetoric is, there is still no compelling evidence that they have backed those words up with action. The argument that say, Hezbollah is a mere surrogate of Iran’s would bolster your claim somewhat, but from what I’ve seen Hezbollah is more than happy to receive monetary and other support from Iran but would bristle at the notion that they were anybody’s surrogate. The same would apply to the Shia militias in Iraq, who are their own men with their own agenda, which occasionally (and naturally) coincides with that of the Iranians. That they should be allies makes perfect sense, given the years of persecution under Saddam, and Iran provided Shia leaders a much-needed haven among friends. I think there are probably dynamics and frictions between the Supreme Leader(ship) and President Ahmadinajad (sp?) which no one in the west can begin to understand and there is definitely a leash that gets pulled from time to time with the SL doing the tugging, not the other way around. Since the US invasion of first Afghanistan and then Iraq the Iranians, it seems to me, have been put in the position of someone waving a torch and yelling at the top of his lungs because he thinks he’s surrounded by wolves. He may not feel that either his torch or his yelling will save him but it makes him feel better. Look at Iran on a map and then start ticking off the nuclear weapons in that part of the world: India, Pakistan, China, and Russia all have nukes & 2 of them share borders with Iran; the US and NATO are crawling all over the 2 countries on their eastern and western borders, and Israel with its nukes is not all that far away. Are they surrounded by wolves? The wolves say they won’t bite but the wolves have lied to them before.
    As to your second point: I’m not comparing Swaggart or people like him to violent Imams in the Muslim world, but I do think there’s a danger that “thinking Christians”, like thinking Muslims (read moderate and non-violent) may be too complacent, too willing to let the extremists basically distort their shared religion in the eyes of many.

  5. Well, having been a missionary myself, all I can speak for are me and those with whom I worked. I believe it is an assumption and no more for you to suggest MY motive was anything other than sharing the good news that Jesus died for people’s sins. My job was as a beggar (one in need of grace) sharing with other beggars where to find bread. You can argue that I was presumptious to assume that Jesus is the only source of bread, but then you’d have to argue with what He lived and died for and His own words….

    • Your religion’s missionary work has had a 2000 year history, and most of it is not of the variety you purportively experienced.

      • Michelle: you realize of course that the history of Christian missions with which you are familiar is not the whole story, by far. You’ve been exposed not to the countless Christians who’ve given their lives out of love to serve others, but by the anomolies that get the “press,” the horrific examples of missionary work that don’t fit the gospel at all. It would be wise to read one of the books about Christian martyrs or a missinary biography (Hudson Taylor, Elizabeth Elliot, for example) before judging 2000 years of missionary endeavor.

        • If you haven’t figured it out, I’m not a fan of missionaries. They are not martyrs. It’s their choice to go into dangerous situations — compelled by their god. There is no reason whatsoever to try to convince other people to change their belief systems. This goes for all religions, not just Christians. Muslims are doing what Christians have done; they just haven’t been at it for as long. When Muslims come to this country and start converting Americans to Islam, it’s just the same as when Americans go into Eastern Europe, Africa or South America and started converting the people there. It’s a pointless competition and I wish all of you religious types would just cut it out and leave people be. There would be a lot more peace and prosperity in the world if you would.

  6. Roberto: I understand your points, but what about the violence against the Iranian people. And, yes, thinking Christians aren’t complacent, but what can we do with the idiots out there? How do we “shut” them down? We’d like to, believe me (the stuff on TV makes me cringe). There are more of us then them, but the press shows more of them because they are more “interesting.”

  7. Holiday Longing, in response to your question regarding what “thinking Christians” like yourself can do about the radical hate-filled Christians who dominate the air-waves and get all the press … I think it is incumbent upon anybody who sees the message of what for them is a core and supreme belief being twisted and distorted by others who profess to share those beliefs to call them out. Being moderate does not need to mean being silent. I know there are plenty of Christians who are as repulsed and mystified by the tactics and statements and actions of televangelist/fundamentalist types. My father was such a Christian, as were most of his side of the family. But if there is no calling out of the haters, by those Christians who sincerely place love and charity and forgiveness at the center and forefront of their witness, than to much of the world looking on, that silence can be read as acquiescence. When the Vatican appeared to be reacting to the predator-priest horrors with an attitude of either dismissive bemusement or outright cover-ups, the Catholic parishioners in many places, from Boston to San Antonio to San Francisco, reacted with righteous anger and it did have an effect. This may be an inexact analogy, given the absence of a clearly defined hiearchy such as exists in the Roman Catholic world between Pope-Priests-Laypeople, but a pastor from a Methodist denomination certainly has a right to comment on something going on in say, the Baptist or Episcopalian community. Maybe it’s considered in poor taste or, given the long and sorrowful history of bloody religious wars between Catholics and Protestants and Protestants among themselves, but an attitude of ‘live and let live’ is usually a mistake when one of the members of the family is intent on burning down the neighborhood.
    It might be offensive for me to equate my political views and beliefs with someone’s religion, but I have never considered staying silent when someone on “my” end of the leftist spectrum indulges in oversimplification of complex issues or demagogery aimed at fogging the atmosphere or scapegoating any particular group, or dodging responsibility for genuine mistakes. Now my political views (social justice; intolerance for racism or sexism; diplomacy as a first step rather than bullets and bombs; the desire to see a world in which the working class and the underclass have something to live for other than a grinding nightmare of staving off hunger and disease and violence), now all these things mean very very much to me, they define who I am as a man and as an American, and so, I would find it impossible to stay silent or inactive were someone to distort my core beliefs and claim that they were the true representatives of my ideological views. It seems to me that a religious belief which is genuinely deep would be something so precious that it must be protected from those who would reduce it to an ugly package of intolerance and fanaticism.
    Jesus’s life is filled with instances of strong opinions strongly defended (from the bouncing of the moneychangers out of the temple, to the in-your-face challenging of religious and spiritual hypocrites, an extreme championing of the poor and the misused and the hated). Granted, Jesus’s claim to be the Son of God gave him, how shall I put this? … special licence for
    what might be called anti-social or rude behavior. So, on a less elevated level, one could take Saint Paul’s letters. I’m not a fan myself, but, his letters to his brothers and sisters in the faith are filled with calls to get back on the straight and narrow, and these calls are delivered in a variety of ways, from outright anger and scolding to gentle sarcasm and everything in between.
    If moderate Christians don’t begin to speak out then the delivery of their message will have been left to the haters and they (the moderates) will share part of the blame for being too fearful or unimaginative to take the risk of calling their wrongheaded brothers and sisters to order.

    • Oh, I totally agree with you. I do think these guys get called out, but typically you don’t hear about it much (what fun is that to report on?). For example I’ve read Rick Warren discussing the falacies of the prosperity gospel and Joel Osteen cried on Larry King because of all the guys who get down on his lousy theology. After 9/11, Tim Keller in NYC called down the view that made the war on terror a war between good and evil. Those statements are made, but because they aren’t as outrageous as those who act outrageous, they don’t get the press… And I do think there’s a desire to give the benefit of the doubt to others…. at least in public.

  8. Ola! strangeness! my comment appears above yours even though yours was already there when I started typing!

  9. Michelle:

    There’s no point in arguing. We won’t agree. But I’ll leave you with a video of magician Penn Jillette (by no means religoius) which I think underscores why most Christian missionaries go out:

    Roberto: I have to go finish some painting, but I’ll read your post and get back to you later!

    • Holiday, I see you routinely use others’ work without attribution. That’s stealing. Did you know that? I guess you have been luckier than ordinary thieves. Most of them go to jail.

      Using the work of others without giving attribution is a crime. Whether or not you get caught at it is something else. Do you feel that it is ok to steal another person’s work for your own benefit? Do you download movies or music illegally, too?

      Good grief, even wikipedia gives attributions to their common use pictures.

      Ah, but wait. It’s what makes you interesting. Funny how stealing might make you popular 😉

      Yes, there is no point in arguing. The Lord has you in his hands and you are sailing off to sea with him.

      Good luck with that. I just hope you haven’t used any copyrighted material on your blog.

      • Are you speaking of the link to YouTube? If it’s the pictures, I didn’t realize it was a problem. In one or two cases where I saw it was copyrighted I gave an attribution. Thanks for your kindness.

        • No, I wasn’t referring to the youtube link. Yes, it’s the pictures. Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Could you point to the times you gave attribution?

          Otherwise you are a common thief.

          A case in point could be your picture for your handle. Did you click that picture? If not, did you actually take it from someone else’s site? Are you legally using that image? Do you even know who that child is? Do you think it is funny to use that image?

  10. That would be my child (adopted from China) from Halloween three years ago (making a funny face), the same one swimming on the front of my site. I deliberately use pix of my children that disguise their identities. You can not be too careful. My daughter is thrilled to be used as my avatar. She’s a little star.

    I usually check the pix to see if I can give an attribute. Quite often they are copied by someone from somewhere else so there is no way to know who created them. Often they are in public domain. At times they are pix from company www sites (pix of their products). I recently found a picture of an old man from a blog that shows the author’s photography. In that case I made sure to put the attribution and the site from which it came (my Storing Up Thanks post if you want to check it. See the starred info at bottom). Some pix have the copyright info on them. I try to make them large enough for it to be seen. Since receiving your comment, I also checked with a fellow blogger (from whom I got the idea to use pix) to see what he knows of the law. Are you a lawyer? In any case, just as you seem quick to condemn missionaries (are you therefore just as much a missionary of your particular viewpoint -telling me I am wrong?), I think it quite harsh to call me a common thief. Therefore, this will be my last comment on and visit to your site.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s