Recently at the God Politics Blog, Brian McLaren posted some thoughts on his time at Davos in conversation with a few Muslim friends. While the thoughts are quite refreshing and the kind I have come to respect and admire from Brian, they strike me as deeply curious today as the Archbishop’s thoughts on Sharia law in the UK seem to have created such a fuss. He is quite frankly be accused of everything by the lawyers, clergy, politicians, and by the the media. But the man is, more than just rambling here…he is protestifying to a greater reality with even bigger questions about who God is and where God comes into politics within the diversified unity of nations.
Now, I am no Englishman (Sting’s song in my head), but I really can not get what all the fuss is about. As one of the Spiritual leaders in the kingdom, he is merely reflecting back ‘facts’ to a country about itself and, quite possibly, about ‘how’ it can continue to exist as a whole nation, under God or, maybe even a different reality, under Gods. Though he doesn’t say this, it seems to be implied not merely by his role in the life of the Church and the nation, but by his mystical understanding of Christian unity.
I feel like these conversations are just the beginning of what is going to prove to be a long debate among countries where there have been long held religious and cultural values, which begin to need to flex or die. As a mystic, I feel that Rowan is trying to lead the way on a discussion that has sensitivities which are beyond the body politik and which, as a spiritual leader, he understands. For this, it feels he is very much on the leading edge of the dialogue. Maybe, almost shockingly so, the church is there for the first time in a while?
I hate to say it, but in many ways, I fear that this is the same reason why Brian and others get such criticism. Why? Because they too are asking questions as spiritual leaders who professionally have thought about certain issues in certain ways that others might not have. With Brian and others, of course, the even greater challenge lay in the realities of the landscape of America’s existing democracy. Not to mention the fact that most Americans, probably more than admit it, have some sense of fear about anyone who is Muslim because of the way in which the media has been used for the last 8 years to portray them. A portrayal which has unfortunately been reinforced by a politic and policy.
And Bono, what of him? Where does he come into this equation or conversation? One word: COEXIST.
Now what we should not hear in the words of the Archbishop are we need to all become a weird a-typical sort of religious body which is neither Christian nor Muslim. But, what Bono and other continually call us to, is to asking the question of how in a multi-religious society, we must be able to live and habitate together. Not as inferior or greaters, but as equals. This is the essence of coexistence. We hold in tension not merely our disagreements, but the autonomy of our similarities.
There are lots of others who have thoughts on this discussion now. But just you wait. The discussion is really, only beginning.
i am an alien…