March 23, 2017

August 22, 2013

A Prayer for Niceness In Egypt

So the Muslim Brotherhood wants to impose a radical Islamic regime on Egypt, is burning churches and monasteries and kidnapping nuns, hundreds have died in the streets of Cairo, and the country totters on the edge of civil war. In the face of that, the Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Gradye Parsons, offers a prayer that is positively awesome in its triviality:

God of righteousness
you have taught us through your Son
to set our minds on your kingdom and justice
before everything else.

In the heritage that we share
and the sacred texts we read,
all “Peoples of the Book” know a moral law
and see that the role of governments
is to ensure order
and protection of all citizens.

Give the people of Egypt courage and energy at this time
to think for themselves clearly and fairly,
to seek for the truth
and to follow it wherever it leads.
Help them to believe
that whatever is right is always possible
and that what accords with the mind of Christ
is upheld by God.

Grant that in us, the Egyptian people and in others
Suspicion may give place to trust
And stridency to peace
That we all may live and work together
In unity and love;
through Jesus Christ the Lord.

That second paragraph is especially weird. He seems to be referring to Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, yet the expression “Peoples of the Book” is a strictly Muslim term for followers of the other two religions. What’s more, if he is indeed referring to all three, then he’s factually incorrect: Islam does not believe that the “role of government” is the “protection of all citizens,” but to advance Islam at the expense of all other religious expressions, and to impose whatever penalties it wishes on those who refuse to convert. That practice of relegating non-Muslims to second-class status–characteristic of many supposedly “moderate” Islamic states, not just the “radical” ones–is one of the reasons that Egyptian Christians welcomed the overthrow of Morsi. But Parsons doesn’t evince any understanding of that.

It probably seems gauche to criticize a prayer, but given the lack of any specific intercession on behalf of our Christian brethren–the minority being turned into scapegoats by a violent, totalitarian,  fundamentalist movement–and the studious vagueness of the plea, it just seems like another example of mainline cluelessness.

(Via Naming His Grace.)

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It’s a peculiar prayer.  The three religions really don’t all know the same “moral law.”  Observant Jews follow the Mosaic law as they see it, but also understand that to do justice towards one’s neighbors is part of the commandments.  Islam is a much more rigid faith.  Do what is prescribed, and that’s about it.  “All religions teach the same thing” is simply not true.

[1] Posted by Katherine on 8-22-2013 at 07:14 PM · [top]

It would be more accurate to say that all regions proscribe the same things or that they articulate similar ethics.  (At least that’s what ole C.S. tells us in The Abolition of Man.)

Criticizing the mainline is about as interesting as shooting fish in a barrel, which is to say it is loud and wet but sooner or later gets tedious and yields diminishing returns.

[2] Posted by Clive on 8-23-2013 at 11:47 AM · [top]

Except that they don’t all proscribe the same things.

[3] Posted by Katherine on 8-23-2013 at 03:11 PM · [top]

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