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Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Noble Infidel, the Inglorious Christian

'Is it better to die free, having lived, or to exist, though in chains?'

To some, this question might have an easy answer; a quick acquiescence to the former platitude would suffice! To others, the answer may not come so quickly or easily, while on the other end of the spectrum, there are those who would rather exist in the relative comfort & safety of their chains, than to break free of those bonds, to live free, though dangerously! It seems that Christendom, for the past millenia or so, has adopted a policy of dying for principle rather than living at peace with those of another faith, or belief.

Over the past number of years, it has come to my attention that Christianity has officially become A Religion of Hate; now before you blow a gasket, keep reading! We are, as Children of our Heavenly Father, to hate every evil deed; I'm not denying that. There seems to be a growing trend, though, especially among certain of our Christian brethren, to castigate those who don't hold to the same principles we do, Muslims in particular. One might as well say that all terrorists are Muslims as to say that every Muslim is a terrorist, but this is just what some, Christians in particular, seem to be saying.

I have been reading a book by Montana's own Anthony Goodman, entitled 'The Shadow of God'. This is a historically fictitious novel concerning the siege of Rhodes in the latter half of 1522. The Muslim Sultan, known as 'The Shadow of God ( on Earth )' was pitted against the Christian Grand Master of Rhodes, who belonged to the Order of St. John. While the island of Rhodes had been home to the knights of the Order for two hundred years or so, it also played home to many other residents, citizens of this Greek isle which had changed hands many times over the years.

The rulers of the Ottoman Empire had, for years, suffered much loss through piracy at the hands of these Knights & had been plotting for some time to rid themselves of this pestilence. Having tried & failed, about 40 years previously, to take the Fortress of Rhodes, the siege of 1522 involved almost a limitless supply of troops & weapons on the side of the Muslims, against several hundred knights & little more mercenaries & citizens. The Cause was Just, according to the Christian Knights, who looked at the Muslim Infidel as a scourge that needed to be stamped out by any means necessary, even piracy & outright murder!

Now, war is hell; the citizens of Rhodes would agree! The Muslims themselves, according to Goodman's novel, suffered very heavy losses, maybe better ( ? ) than ten to one, but they were much more able to pay the toll that this siege exacted. The Knights of Rhodes, on the other hand, though they had some distinct advantages, eventually crumbled under the heavy bombardment of the Muslim cannons & the Janissaries as well as regular infantry of the Ottomans. While realizing that theirs was a lost cause, the Grand Master of Rhodes refused to capitulate, even though the Sultan continually offered peaceful terms of surrender, which involved the knights laying down their arms & living at peace.

The question of whether or not Islam is a religion of peace has been answered both in the negative & positive, though I might add, the same might be asked of Christianity over the past thousand years or so! Now, again, before you tear my head off, let me finish; I realize that the Coming of Christ & the New Covenant changed things for a lot of people, but the 'majority' of Christians for the past millenia or so have held to the same principle. Even though Islam claims the same God, though under a different name, as the Christians, both thought the other was the Infidel, but while most of the Muslims were willing to live at peace with the Christians, most Christians would not recapitulate, thinking they were 'doing God a favor' by ridding the world of the Muslim Horde!

'Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying that Islam has just as much verity as Christianity ( remember, things DID change in the first century! ): all I'm saying is that as many Muslims as Christians & other People of Faith, even no faith, just want to live in peace! Like the fictional Muslims in Goodman's story, though they had their own agenda ( the Empire ) & committed many acts of terror themselves, yet in the end, as in the beginning, they offered terms of peace, rather than war & destruction.

Our Holy Book is part of the Holy Writings, along with the Q'uran, as I understand it, of Islam. I would venture to say that maybe things are a bit different when it comes to, say, the writings of Peter, Paul & the apostles, but then again, I could be wrong, even there! However, as not every Muslim is a terrorist, not every 'Christian' wants to live at peace, it would seem. ( Using 'Christian' as a very general term, of course! ) The History of Violence in the world, in particular between Islam & Christianity, has witnessed to bad blood on both sides; if we are ever to see peace in that ancient struggle, we must bear the ascendance in our own hearts, minds & lives first!

It IS more honorable to die free than to live in chains, but is honor everything? More to the point, 'is it truly the honor of our Heavenly Father that we're seeking, or is it our own?' By killing or wishing death upon the Muslim because of their religion rather than seeking peace, as Jesus taught, are we not seeking our own honor & that of the Empire of Man rather than the Kingdom of God & Heaven? In order to seek first His Kingdom, we must ask ourselves & answer this question; 'is it better to live in peace, or to die in war?' I believe the question answers itself!

Charles Haddon Shank

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