by Brigitte. I like to read and write about Christian faith and a variety of subjects. I live in Canada.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Reflecting on Ayaan's "Infidel" for a while, made me think about how meaningful criticism, major changes to systems, improvements--usually comes from within the respective communities. Outside critique may have its place, but unless someone comes from within, who may be persecuted quite severely in the end, there will not be effective change.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali comes from within Islam to critique Islam. Her experience includes life in several countries, among several cultures and languages. Her suffering was personal and profound. Another example is provided by Bill Cosby, the comedian. Cosby wrote a book called "Come on, people", critiquing current black "culture", or in his view, lack of culture. Another example comes from the time when the Liberal party in Canada implemented all the Reform party ideas, while the Liberal party was in power. (If the Reform party had implemented all these policies on their rule, there might have been a huge outcry). Another-- St. Paul, the Pharasee par excellence, spearheaded the understanding that the rule of the law over the conscience was over and grace in Christ Jesus had come. Dr. Martin Luther, self-flaggelating monk par excellence and Dr. of the scriptures, was the one to hang out the churches dirty laundry, point out the wrong teaching and the soul killing legalism promoted in unbiblical tradition. In another vein, a significant number of the most ardent Pro-lifer's are women who have had several abortions themselves. We could probably think of many more different examples. Of course, on a different level altogether, the Messiah himself had to come from among the Jews. These "reformers" or "prophets" or "preachers" arise in the crucible of their lives and experiences. We can thank God for them all and pray for them.
In some sense, any leader of any group has the responsibility to help the group see itself in a self-critical light, not a self-righteous light. Of course, this will get him into more trouble than flattery or promoting a "poor me" attitude would.
Perhaps, Barak Obama will be able to do something for the poor among the blacks (African-Americans) by elevating and challenging them in the right way.
In Canada, too, now that the government has apologized for all the wrongs of the past committed against the native population, perhaps there will be some native voices to change the system for greater responsibility of the individual. Already there is a call for divorced native women to be able to obtain a share of the household assets when a split occurs. So far, they have been powerless on reserves and therefore this measure is not without vehement opposition.
Nevertheless, the principle of free speech must also guarantee that outsiders are able to criticize when they want to without being subjected to threats and being hauled before human rights commissions. See Ezra Levant's blog for some samples of unnecessary infringements on free speech in Canada at this moment.
Sometimes, only outside force can stop a horrible evil. Hitler was only defeated by outside forces. He was able to shut every critic up by killing him or threatening to kill him. Every plot against him failed. Innumerable lives where lost in stopping him.
It makes me wonder where we are in our respective communities and where we should speak up. I belong to a conservative Lutheran church. In general, I find that while the insistence on right doctrine is essential, it can be difficult to find people excited about leading and going to Bible studies, or asking questions about the Bible. Sermons are lacking in that they are not really dealing with, digging into a Biblical text. Put a little more Bible back into the church--criticism number one from me, on the inside.
Sometimes, I go to a "contemporary" Lutheran church service. This service wants to be "visitor-friendly", and indeed there are visitors, there. Yet, it is not obvious to me that these visitors are being instructed in the Christian faith enough--criticism number two.
I'll stop here, before I get going full steam. Enough for now.