Managing differences between people, and containing potential violence, is a challenge as old as clans and kinship. What’s new, is both the unprecedented proximity of very different people, and the distance that their violence can be projected. This is true of both state-sanctioned and “religion”-sanctioned violence. (For “religion”-sanctioned violence projected over a large distance, think 9/11; for state-sanctioned violence projected over a large distance, think US drone attacks in the tribal regions of Pakistan.)
This report of today’s violence [excerpted below] in Nigeria is getting some airtime in the mainstream American media, as it should. I think the only faithful response to people who kill others because of their Other-ness, is to continue to build the bridges that make our unprecedented proximity less threatening.
While the history of Christianity is littered with instances of shameful violence directed at “infidels,” the child of Bethlehem came to reveal both the humanity and the divinity of all victims. The Other is not a devil; we share a humanity. And the humanity we share is in the image of God.
In honesty, I remain unconvinced that non-violence is the best– or even the most faithful– response in all situations. However, if we take seriously the God who is revealed in Christ, then we need to think much more deeply than we do, before we kill.
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI issued pleas for peace to reign across the world during his traditional Christmas address Sunday, a call marred by Muslim extremists who bombed a Catholic church in Nigeria, striking after worshippers celebrated Mass.
The assault on the Catholic church left 35 dead in Madalla, near the Nigerian capital. A failed bombing also occurred near a church in the city of Jos, followed by a shooting that killed a police officer. The blast came a year after a series of Christmas Eve bombs in Jos claimed by Islamist militants killed 32.