The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Life and death, Islam and Christianity in Egypt

Burning of a Christian church in Egypt (May 2011)
Yesterday evening, with one eye on Florida State's sloppy and losing performance in their game with Virginia, I used my good eye to read an interview of an Egyptian Christian that highlights the vast differences between the world-view of most Americans and that of Egyptians, whether Muslim or Christian.

Author and journalist Michael Totten spent much of the summer in Egypt observing and reporting on the continuing unrest in the country. He tried, unsuccessfully, to interview Egypt's Coptic leaders, who likely wanted to keep a low profile in the midst of all the turmoil. But Totten was able to interview an Egyptian Protestant, Ramez Atallah, head of Egypt's Bible Society. What Atallah had to say runs counter to what most of us believe about Islam and it's relationship with Christianity, and what it means to be a Christian living in a Muslim country. He also describes the impact of different forms of Islam on the average Muslim. It's really a remarkable interview, one I suspect will challenge your opinions.

I don't agree with some of what Atallah has to say, but that's probably because I'm a Christian living here in the USA while he's apparently come to terms with a life of accommodation in a society that considers him a second-class citizen at best. It would seem he has come to accept his condition, as have many Christians who live in Muslim nations. I'm not real comfortable with that, but then I don't have to live and worship under those conditions. The interview does, however, reinforce my own opinion that, contrary to what many Americans believe, some societies are simply not ready for any form of constitutional representative democracy in which real human rights are protected; and some may never be ready. For many Muslims today, an adherence to Islam does not simply define one's religious beliefs but should permeate every aspect of human life, including the political, through the imposition of Sharia Law. Such a belief is hardly conducive to democracy and looks instead to a strongly authoritative form of government. From the interview it seems many Egyptians, both Muslim and Christian, hope for a benevolent dictator. But the trouble with benevolent dictators is they never stay benevolent.

Anyway, it's an interesting interview and you can read Part 1 here: The Christians of Egypt, Part 1

I assume Part 2 will be available soon.

Peace is hard when we try to achieve it on our own.

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