I have been involved in a discussion about the recent upheavals in Egypt.I can’t say that I’m an expert in international affairs — far from it. I actually was thinking very simplistically about it at first, like “hey, they’re standing up for a more democratic system, that’s good, right?” In conversation with courageous, thoughtful Christian friends I began to understand that there is more to it than that. But political struggle always leads us back to the personal. It may always look different every time it plays out, but the same issues are always lurking underneath the surface. It may take different forms, but the same questions are always at stake.
Yeah, I think that my view is really simplistic; not simple-minded, but simplistic in that I don’t have good information available in the political arena.
So when the Egypt stuff started I thought, oh — maybe this is good: they’re calling for more democracy. But then the “news flashes” began coming out of the Christian world: that it was the devil, that it was overthrowing one of the last stable elements in the Middle East, etc. But I still thought it could be a good thing. So I posted on FB somewhere that we just had to pray that it does indeed result in more democracy in Egypt, and doesn’t slide toward the Muslim Brotherhood — and caught a firestorm of near hate responses! In the midst of it I found a woman who agreed with me, and we prayed together, but everyone else was trying to convince me (sometimes quite viciously) of their conservative “change is bad” view.
“what happens when some SOB of a dictator gets over thrown, ‘free and fair elections’ happen, and a totally conservative Islamist regime takes over which institutes Sharia, harbors open hatred for western ideals, and promptly does away with the semblance of democratic ethics that helped it to rise to power in the first place?” I understand that this is what happened in Iran, and this is what the “change is bad” people are trying to say, but I’m hoping (and praying) that it doesn’t have to go this way. … and I agree with you about revolutions.
I look at hundreds of years of peace and prosperity all over Central Asia under Sultans and Caliphs. There was unrest and war too — but while we were tearing Europe apart after the Romans, the Middle East was enjoying an unprecedented era of development in the arts and sciences, mathematics and engineering… it was overall very beautiful! Muslims, Jews and Christians lived side-by-side in prosperous little kingdoms. …and that’s probably the point. They were kingdoms and not democratic societies. But the rulers seemed to know how to mostly leave their subjects alone to live lives of relative freedom under Muslim regimes where they lived largely well and prosperously. I wonder what has changed within Islam to effect such a dramatic shift?
“It’s kind of like the days of communism. The U.S. supported a number of ruthless dictators on multiple continents so long as they did not side with Soviet interests (or maybe so they WOULD NOT side with Soviet interests…)” Yes, I agree — but I think that history has shown us that those policies were VERY shortsighted, and didn’t ultimately work. Those regimes most often came back to bite the US in the butt — besides being morally reprehensible!
This gets to what I was saying about democracy and the privileges of democracy. We have been trying to give it away for decades, and that just puts us in moral and ethical fixes. It’s even worse when we try to FORCE it on people. Democracy is like a box of chocolates. As long as we are giving it away wholesale, people are going to use it for their own purposes. If it’s always free they’ll use it to plug their sinks, to wipe their butts, despots will hoard its benefits only for themselves, and people who don’t understand it will come to take advantage of it. That’s because, as long as we are trying to glut the world’s systems with it, it won’t be valued. …And when we try to cram it down people’s throats, they’ll come to despise it!
” How do we justify our social systems, and how do we support the upheaval of governments in the name of enshrining new systems more like our (American/western) own, if we truly follow the teachings of Christ? Honestly? This is a paradox.” I couldn’t agree more! BUT, if we would realize the value of chocolate ourselves, we’d begin to use it more judiciously. We’d encourage others to invest in chocolate manufacture while we enjoy it, and share it — but sparingly — with friends. We should model the benefits of chocolate, talk about them, even promote them — but not consider ourselves the military purveyor of chocolate around the world. We could even help others build their own chocolate factories; but that’s just it: their own factories producing the kinds of chocolate that benefits the tastes and gastronomic needs of their people most. I think it’s wrong for us to be fighting to cram our own brand of chocolate down other nations’ throats, and worse — when we build our own factories everywhere else, and feel we have to defend them at every turn.
Democracy is not a tool for world domination — democracy is a privilege that is only effective in a people who have fought for it. That’s when we value it.
I used to be a pacifist: when I was 16 I became a registered conscientious objector. But God has since shown me that He sometimes uses warfare — because there are things worth fighting for. God told me, before the second Gulf War started, that He was bringing down Saddam Hussien because He had heard the cries of the people Saddam was slaughtering. I believe in world peace, and that it will be achieved when Jesus returns to sets up His own Kingdom — but even then, it will be because He has conquered His enemies. Your pacifist Jesus is coming back to fight a war! Read it. AND turn the other cheek; give your cloak too; pray for your enemies; love those who hate you! Because it’s not about being a pacifist or believing in war, it’s about being committed to doing the right thing (the righteous thing) in every situation. That’s why the systems of the world are so messed up: they actually still believe in the Machiavellian “Do the wrong thing for the right reason”. Those dictatorships will come back to show you that the original choice was evil.
Jesus reminded me when I was twenty years old that I couldn’t live the “Christian Life”. I couldn’t live Baptist theology, I couldn’t live Charismatic theology, you can’t live Liberation theology, just like no one could live the Law. It’s all a dead letter. He told me that there are only two things I can do: Stay close enough to listen, and when I hear Him, just obey. That’s how I have lived my life since. I come close to Him every day, I talk about these things with Him and I listen to what He says about them to me. I compare what I am hearing with what others are hearing that I trust. Sometimes I have to speak out. Often I have the privilege of telling others what God is saying to me.
I really respect others who care enough to research things and come to an opinion. I compare that to what God is saying to me. I also really like it when I find someone who has studied in a field and has a good grasp on the underlying causes and effects. Then I compare what they say to what God is saying to me. I allow myself the pleasure of seeking things out and thinking about them, and coming up with my own opinion — God has made me for that. But I bring everything to Him and seek out what He says about the matter. I have found that He often has a VERY different take on things than the theologians. Theology is ABOUT God, relationship is WITH God. These things are very different.
Concerning Egypt, I haven’t heard much from God. I originally thought it was a good thing that the people were standing up and peacefully demanding a more democratic situation; then the rioting started, and more violence once the military forces became involved… I can’t see or hear for them. But I think that’s a spiritual principle — I can see and hear as far as my sphere of influence extends. I can’t “hear from God” for the Egyptian people, and I cannot begin to tell them the answers for their people and their land. I think that’s in God’s order, and that it’s right and good. I wish my own people didn’t consider themselves the worldwide “oracle” and go meddling so much around the world. We need our chocolate more than ever, and if we valued it more, people around the world would too.
I just pray God’s protection on the people of Egypt, and that He will be given the opportunity to give them more peace, freedom and democracy. I pray for the most constructive resolution there for the people of Egypt — not primarily for Western interests, and NOT for radical factions! I pray for salvation for the people of Egypt, and that tyrannical chains of both western and Muslim extremist interests would fall away. Thank you God, and you’re big enough to do it!
God is Able! If He can love me and change me, He certainly can love and change radical Muslims! Thank you, God — I ask you to do it.
It’s not about your theology, it’s about your relationship!
Bless you Brothers and sisters