Friday, August 16, 2013

Let There Be Peace On Earth


It is the third Friday in August.  "Summer" (that time of the year when school is out) is nearing its end.  The kids are restless.  Supplies and school clothes are being purchased.  College students are registering for classes.  I'm making final plans for my sabbatical.  Life goes on as usual.  Except that for many life doesn't go on as usual.

I have been ruminating on the violence in Egypt.  A little over a year ago, after Hosni Mubarak fell it looked like a new day for Egypt and for the Middle East.   Democracy looked like it stood a chance of succeeding there, even is it had in Turkey.  In places like Egypt, Tunisia, and perhaps Libya there was the possibility of advancement.  But the violence that has erupted in Egypt has dashed many of our hopes.

I still have hope that one day peace will prevail, but I also recognize that there are a lot of forces out there that benefit from wars and rumors of wars.  Countries that produce weaponry need to make sure that the demand remains high.  Nations where a small ruling elite have complete control, fear democracy and will seek to undermine it.  There are forces that seek to use religion to motivate suspicion and even violence.

When it comes to Egypt, one isn't really sure who to side with.  The Muslim Brotherhood had won a democratic election.  They were failing in their attempt to rule.  And in this day and age there is little patience for those who are seeking to learn how to govern.  In addition, as a Christian I am concerned about the fate of co-religionists who are a significant minority in Egypt and Syria.  They have gotten caught in the middle of the violence as well.

One of the problems I have with religiously affiliated parties in any region, no matter what the religion is, is that political power tends to corrupt religion.  We have seen this throughout time.  Consider the effect that Constantinian embrace had on Christianity.  When religiously affiliated parties gain power they inevitably seek to protect their religious position.  What is happening in Egypt isn't unique to Islam or Egypt.

Remember the Wars of Religion that followed in the aftermath of the Reformation.  Nation rose up against nation and people against people intent on establishing their religion.  Egypt's violence may not be unique, but it should concern us.    

So will  you join me in prayer for those regions that are suffering violence?  Will you also pray that the hearts of all people might be turned so as to transform our vision of the world.  

Cure thy children's warring madness,
Bend our pride to thy control;
Shame our wanton selfish gladness,
Rich in goods and poor in soul.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
Lest we miss thy Kingdom's goal.
Lest we miss thy Kingdom's goal.

Harry Emerson Fosdick

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