Yesterday, in a class discussion on Wiesel's "Night", I asked the class what constituted "group identity". They listed many identifiers such as; clothing, food, beliefs, music, etc. It is in effect, culture. We talked about how we identified, if we did, with each of these identifiers. Then, I asked them how they 'judged" others based upon the differences in these identifiers.
We talked about authority , i.e., parenting, good government and what transpires when there is not good government. What responses should we take when a government is not a good one.
We then discussed how Nazi Germany saw the Jew. Did they know or have the experience of seeing some with "eyes of prejuidice". On what basis did they 'judge' the other and if that judgment was reasonable. We talked of the principle of scapegoating others, as a psychological response, instead of owning our own behavior and opinion. Prejuidice is not necessarily "bad", if their are reasonable reasons why one holds to a certain view, as we are all biased.
I asked them how they would "counsel" those who were going through suffering, as we had talked about what was important to do when someone suffered in our last class. When we talked about the reasons for suffering, I used Bart Ehrman's divisions in how Scripture understood suffering; prophetic (sin of the past, that results in present suffering), apocalytic (belief in God's sovereignty, and purpose for the future), and wisdom( cyclic view of history and an acceptance of "no reason"). I then, asked them how each of these views would be understood or felt by Wiesel, if they were "counselling" him. It was a good discussion.
I write all of this because I think it is an important discussion when the West is in crisis with understanding where proper boundaries must be defined and defended. We, in the West, have brought about our own demise in the political and philosophical arena where we have become so tolerant, that we undermine or devalue reason itself. As Christian faith has been based on personal commitment and conviction, the West can no longer hold any resistance to Islam's claim to equal "tolerance" and representation. Certain convictions cannot be tolerated when it comes to human rights. Human rights are undermined in Islam's claim on knowing "Allah's will". Allah becomes an all powerful "EGO" that over-rides rationality and demands obedience and the sacrifice of life to his "glory".
As a nation that believes in the individual's conscience and right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, we must also stand for rationality when it comes to faith and faith claims...
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