Thursday, July 28, 2011
Over the past weekend I struggled with deep sadness brought on by the massacre of innocent people in Norway. The depth of the depravity of this act was hard to fathom. You may have noticed that in the immediate aftermath there were media reports that Muslim extremists were the perpetrators. As it turned out a blonde, blue-eyed Norwegian who claims to be a form of Christian of his own making was the sole murderer. In his 1500 page manifesto this is what he says:
A majority of so called agnostics and atheists in Europe are cultural conservative Christians without even knowing it. So what is the difference between cultural Christians and religious Christians? If you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God then you are a religious Christian. Myself and many more like me do not necessarily have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God. We do however believe in Christianity as a cultural, social, identity and moral platform. This makes us Christian.
This is a grim reminder that extremist religious views of any stripe are vile and rarely reflect even a semblance of the values at the core of the belief system. Religion is coopted as an excuse for racism and hatred, as was the case in Norway.
It is a brutal irony that in this peace-loving country only about two percent of the population worships regularly, although most still go through the motions of "hatch, match, and dispatch." Yet it was someone who describes himself as a Christian who carried out the violence. And then a hundred thousand or more gathered in and around Oslo Cathedral for the memorial service of those slain. We all search for meaning and often religion provides the context, even for those who distort it.
What was your reaction to the events of last weekend? What about extremist views, and what we can do to counteract them?