Rest A While

Wrigley Field, which was built in 1914, will be playing host to Major League Baseball for the 99th season in 2012 – and to the Cubs for the 97th year. via Wrigley Field | Ballpark.

In the Christian scriptures prescribed for reading in church last Sunday came Jesus’ instructions to the disciples: “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while.” The twelve had been out preaching repentance and healing the sick, so they were understandably ready for a break.

In such a spirit of renewal, Religion in the Balance will be resting in the upcoming couple of weeks. While Wrigley Field (and Miller, Comerica, and PNC Parks) are not lonely places, they will be places of rest for this author, his 14 year-old son, and two of his son’s friends. We’ll be back to Balance at the trading deadline.


Destroying the Sacred Sites of Others

Destruction of Otherness

I remember when the Taliban were destroying Buddhist holy sites in Afghanistan. It was over 11 years ago (I had to look up the date). Now we have this report (excerpt below) of an Al-Qaida offshoot group destroying Sufi holy sites in Africa.

What is the significance of this kind of destruction? What does it mean?

In some circles, a popular theory is that Islam is, by its very nature, a particularly violent religion– and that Muslims are, ipso facto,  particularly prone toward violent behavior. This is unhelpful analysis, because it is based on a caricature of Islam, and on a cherry-picked selection of historical and contemporary events to count as evidence. It is also dangerous analysis, because it attempts to deny the destructive impulse that lies here– close to home– by placing that impulse in the only place where we can tolerate it– which is out there, with those foreigners and their barbaric ways. This is dangerous because such thinking creates the conditions by which we can avoid taking responsibility for our own destructiveness.

The meaning of this kind of destruction does not lie in its apparently “religious” motivation. That’s superficial, and fails to account for something deeper than religion: the dark human heart. In any account of what is happening in our world today, fear has to be factored into that account. Fear is a life- and other- denying power that is incapable of entertaining difference and diversity; fear is a wedge that separates us from hope, possibility, and creativity. Fear is a powerful motivator, and fear is thriving– not just over there, but here too.

BAMAKO, Mali — Despite international condemnation, the radical Islamic faction controlling the northern Malian outpost of Timbuktu continued destroying the city’s ancient tombs on Monday, laying waste to the city’s five-hundred-year-old heritage.The destruction began on Saturday, after the al-Qaida-linked faction Ansar Dine secured its hold on the three main towns in northern Mali, including Timbuktu. They descended on the tombs of the city’s Sufi saints with axes and shovels, as well as automatic weapons, saying that they were idolatrous. Their destruction spree continued through Monday.

via Al-Qaida Linked Islamists Destroying Timbuktu Sacred Sites Heritage.