For many months when I have tried to begin to write these things I have been at a loss to know where to start, or claimed I do not have the time. But when the heaviness gets to be too much, it just has to be written, with full knowledge that my words are offensive to people I love. I have held back for literally years from speaking my heart in honesty, for fear of what people may think. I can now no longer look at myself in the mirror as the fearful person I have been, but speak as I have been burdened to speak.
Early this morning I had a dream I was driving an old, junky car (with a passenger, but don’t know who it was) and came to an intersection in a small town business district that looked as any in America might look, with old brick buildings and cars parked along the street. As I pulled up, a jihad-style army marched toward us from the opposite direction. They wore all black and carried banners with symbols on them. Their machine guns pointed straight at us. They stopped at the intersection as well, keeping their weapons held up, ready to fire. I felt terrified at first, and unable to move. But then suddenly the fear disappeared and I decided to turn the car around and go the other direction, whatever the outcome may be. I realized they might shoot, but it seemed better than sitting there waiting and wondering. As I turned the car around, behind me was a procession coming from the other way – almost like a parade. Women were in the front dressed in beautiful Arab clothing as if for a wedding or some special occasion. Suddenly we heard people shouting at us from all directions to get out of the way, but I was blocked in and couldn’t get out. I realized at that moment we had driven onto a movie set and ruined an entire scene someone had gone to a great deal of trouble to create.
I don’t claim to understand or interpret dreams, and I’m sure there is a great deal here that I have missed, and possibly just a dream reflecting how I deeply feel. But it occurred to me when I woke up that all these world events are like a stage – and people have been appointed their parts to play. Anyone who would interject that this isn’t our true reality, and decide not to be ruled by fear, will be seen as an extreme nuisance for botching the “picture” everyone has dedicated themselves to playing out.
In this world you can find an opinion in every direction from any source. You can find someone who has converted to any religion from any other religion – with convincing testimonies. My husband recently ran across a zealous evangelist for Islam who was raised a fundamental Baptist. Every human being seeks a group to express and define identity, whether that ideology is religious, political, or simply a lifestyle.
Doris Lessing in her book, Prisons we Choose to Live Inside, astutely observes,
“The fact is that we all live our lives in groups – the family, work groups, social, religious and political groups. Very few people indeed are happy as solitaries, and they tend to be seen by their neighbours as peculiar or selfish or worse. Most people cannot stand being alone for long. They are always seeking groups to belong to, and if one group dissolves, they look for another. We are group animals still, and there is nothing wrong with that. But what is dangerous is not the belongings to a group, or groups, but not understanding the social laws that govern groups and govern us.
When we are in a group, we tend to think as that group does: we may even have joined the group to find “like-minded” people. But we also find our thinking changing because we belong to a group. It is the hardest thing in the world to maintain an individual dissident opinion, as a member of a group.” – p. 47, 48
We see “freethinking” movements today as many in our culture seek to reject the norms, yet this group will have its own dogmas and expectations and restrict free thought into areas it seeks to reject.
In my lifetime, I have been carried away in currents of more groups than I care to remember. I have discovered that to align my life with the pattern that Jesus taught does not seem to be congruent with many groups I am aware of, chiefly because so many of the groups that claim to follow Him have allied themselves with other influential groups that imprint another belief structure on top of His, most of which I feel drown out and alter His true message.
Many world religions seem to have a violent faction and an arm of peace, which I find interesting. Christians have a tiny slice of their group who reject active participation in violence, most of which exist on the outside fringe of what evangelicals accept as orthodox.
The Church in America denounces the violent past of the Crusades and Inquisition, explaining this was not “real” Christianity, yet the religion as a whole here supports without question the flag of a country, and its military, that have been one of the most and aggressive and meddling since World War II. Although, when we are finished with a country, the Christians living in those areas are running for their lives, offered no protection from this great military might we Christians here support without question.
Evangelicals also widely support Zionism. Along with the Hebrew Roots Movement to which I subscribed, these groups set up Israel as the modern fulfillment of Bible prophecy, therefore cannot be in error in any of their methods or goals. These groups believe Israel must not be questioned on any grounds for any reason, and refuse to believe any report that may suggest that the Jewish people may in fact be supporting a very oppressive, systematic breaking down of millions of people. Many I know would in fact not even care. They believe in the Jewish right to this real estate at any cost. “Turn the Arab world into a glass parking lot…” – that’s what I hear. This loyalty is based in religious belief, which ironically is not at all shared by the most devout followers of Judaism.
In the Hebrew Roots Movement we enamored ourselves with the teachings and way of life of the most faithful in Judaism while at the same time, never getting clued into the actual stance of many of them toward the political state of Israel itself. This group does not believe in serving in the military (but are being forced to) and contend that the fulfillment of prophecy will come through the Messiah without violence and oppression. Interesting viewpoint!
Evangelicals and Orthodox Jews both agree that the prophecies of Israel’s restoration will take place, but have very different views about the methods.
All religion aside (if that’s possible in this case), a brave voice in Israel wrote an article recently that explained most clearly and simply the situation as I had come to observe it as well.
The single most overwhelming item of evidence of Israel’s rejection of peace is, of course, the settlements project. From the dawn of its existence, there has never been a more reliable or more precise litmus test for Israel’s true intentions than this particular enterprise. In plain words: The builders of settlements want to consolidate the occupation, and those who want to consolidate the occupation do not want peace. That’s the whole story in a nutshell. –Gideon Levy
This Palestinian hatred does not emerge in a vacuum. Even the war hero, Moshe Dayan, honestly acknowledged this fact, while still holding to the line that Israel must march forward no matter the reprisals or dangers. But at least he didn’t glaze over the root cause of the conflict.
“Let us not cast the blame on the murderers today. Why should we deplore their burning hatred for us? For eight years they have been sitting in the refugee camps in Gaza, and before their eyes we have been transforming the lands and the villages, where they and their fathers dwelt, into our estate,”
When this injustice of continued land-grabbing ceases to take place, and Palestinians are not treated as sub-human on a daily basis in their encounters with the IDF checkpoints, and their basic human rights are acknowledged (speaking of the overall strategy here, not the wonderful exceptions to the pattern), then the claims of persecution and threat may be taken more seriously in the world community. I applaud that warning shots are sent to a house before it’s destroyed. It’s great to be courteous when taking over a land. I am not sure my own country is as thoughtful. But attempts to minimize civilian casualties does not a moral army make if the directives are wrong in the first place.
I implore you to take less than 10 minutes to hear this alternative voice:
I understand Israel has a deep-seated fear, and a genuine danger from her neighbors, which she herself feels obligated to escalate and perpetuate. These nations are on track to bring about destruction of the entire region. Palestinians are not that immediate threat to Israel’s destruction, although they do manage to cause pain and suffering. Their rockets shut down the economic activity but harm little else. They are pawns – used by opposing sides – to justify activities that profit a few.
Jesus says to live by the sword is to die by the sword. If Moshe Dayan was correct in his assessment that to have a nation state of Israel in this region is to commit to a life of the sword for survival, then what does it mean to pray for the Peace of Jerusalem? What would be the prayer for Jerusalem now that Jesus would pray? Would it be similar to the one He prayed in tears when He walked the Earth?
If my survival, and even more commonly – my prosperity, depends on bloodshed, the damage to my soul is greater than I have done to the body of my enemy. I speak this of my own country even more so than Israel.
Can we form spiritual and political alliances or are they mutually exclusive for a Christ follower? Are there people being called in all areas of the world who see that this path as one of self-extinction, not of peace? For those who believe this theology of spreading the gospel to save the world, is it more effective behind the sights of an assault rifle or not? Does the person on the other side of the rifle barrel or in the drone target zone understand the difference between your soldiers and missionaries? And why you support both?
I close with one last quote from Doris Lessing. She was a humanist, but echos my observations of the polarization of mankind into extremes. I however have to differ with her on the point of reason and sanity. The Narrow Way doesn’t usually follow into those categories. But while there is great evil increasing, I also see rays of light coming out from unlikely sources. Come quickly Lord Jesus – if not in the clouds today – at the least in our hearts.
“This is a time when it is frightening to be alive, when it is hard to think of human beings as rational creatures. Everywhere we look we see brutality, stupidity, until it seems that there is nothing else to be seen but that – a descent into barbarism, everywhere, which we are unable to check. But I think that while it is true there is a general worsening, it is precisely because things are so frightening we become hypnotized, and do not notice – or if we notice, belittle – equally strong forces on the other side, the forces, in short, of reason, sanity and civilization.” p. 3,4 Prisons We Choose to Live Inside