The Radicalization of Everyone(?)

What’s a pacifist Christian to do,  the world being what it is? The question has rolled around in my mind all week. In the meantime, while I’ve tried to answer it, I’ve mostly done ordinary pastoral things: played soccer with my churchmates; baked zwiebach; prayed.

Baked more zwiebach. I baked a lot of zwiebach this week, in preparation for a complicated and opulent worship service we call Heavenly Banquet. The cooking left me with a lot of time for thinking, and when that got too exhausting, a lot of time for listening to the news. As if the most important thing I could do was know what’s happening. To think about Paris all the time. To know each day in the city. To collect quotes from politicians around the world. To know, to know, to know. As if in the knowing I’d know what to do.

One of the newscasters this week offered this analysis: the mission of terrorism is radicalize everyone. By committing terrible and unrepentant acts of violence in the name of a Muslim God, ISIS pushes everyone to the extreme. Each new explosion drives a deeper wedge between the Christian and Muslim world, so that Christians become more afraid of Muslims; so that moderate Muslims have less ground to stand on; so that moderate Muslims either assimilate or radicalize, until to be Muslim means to be a terrorist. And at the same time Christianity radicalizes, until to be Christian means to be anti-Muslim, by definition. The objective of terrorism is to radicalize everyone. Continue reading

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