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Not asking if Muslims have a right to build a mosque an arrow’s shot from ground zero at a place that was covered by ash.

I am a constitutionalist and believe that they have every legal right as Americans to build the mosque.

But the real question is: Is it the right thing to do? (props to J. Michael McCoy in Iowa on whose radio show I appeared yesterday).

So please don’t post that they have a right to do it. They do. Our constitution says so. I agree with you.

They also, with millions in donations from those who see this as a victory monument (if you haven’t already heard them, the views of those foreigners backing this would curl your hair), are very assertive in wanting to build it in that place. The leader of the project refuses to condemn, without reservation, the attack on the WTC. I will remove this line if you can prove otherwise.

Can such people, with such views, still build, according to American laws? Yes.

But is it the right thing to do?

And do we have to like it? And do we have to be supportive? I’m planting a flag on this issue–I am totally against the building of the mosque.

Since our constitution guarantees that we have a free society (thank God) I have a right to be against it and to say so. And I choose to do so in a civil way. This blog is my playground and I will edit/delete any non-civil comments. Keep it upscale folks. I will not tolerate any hate speech against Muslims.

Here are some random truths:

1) Islam is an especially assertive faith system. All religions are not the same. Not all are equally peaceful and constructive.

There doesn’t seem to be a firewall between extremist Islam (the WTC terrorists were avid Muslims shouting “for Allah” at the collision) and enlightened world-citizen Islam. That firewall would be easy–the world leaders of the Islamic movement condemning the fringe, and the clear de-demonizing Israel and the US. They are very reluctant, however, to do so.

2) There are hundreds of millions of peaceful Muslims. I love them. God loves them. Great world citizens just trying to raise families and be happy. Bless them.

3) You may think that the pic at the top of the post is needlessly provocative.¬†Unfortunately, it’s a common sight in much of the Islamic world, and was not staged–you trip over scenes like this is many areas. If you don’t know that, you haven’t been there. It’s more or less unthinkable to see smiling Buddhist, Latin American Catholic, Scandinavian Lutheran, or secular humanist kids in such a picture. This gun-fetish stuff among boys is heavily encouraged in much of the Islamic world.

4) The weapon they are brandishing is the Kalashnikov AK-47. The most lethal rifle on earth. One of them shot down a B-52 in Vietnam. Probably the biggest military reason we had to leave Vietnam. Without a troop surge and the multiplication of high tech, Kalashnikov-proof armored vehicles, this rifle would have chased us out of Iraq–it almost did. In an equal un-armored firefight against AK-wielding semi-trained troops, we would lose–the M-16 is no match. 50 million of them are in circulation, and the vast majority are in the hands of informal militias led by extremist Muslims. Thousands of Imams encourage Muslim men to spread Islam with the Kalashnikov (by name) this week, and every week in the mosque. In what other faith system is this happening on this scale?

This rifle is the very Icon of Bin-Laden–you never see him without one. In the area where Bin-Laden is hiding, there are more AK’s than young men, literally. One of the main reasons we can’t find him.

Every religion has a lunatic fringe. Let’s just say that the fringe of Islam is gigantic. It is not a sliver. It is huge and armed to the teeth.

5) There is a philosophical question involved. To what extent do you allow a non-tolerant system into the heart of your tolerant system? In some countries that are governed by Islam, women can’t even get a driver’s license. The Taliban is not a tiny fringe of Islam–you can find Taliban-like views all over the Middle East and Indonesia in every coffee shop and hookah lounge. Don’t believe me, go see for yourself.

6) This same system that says we should be open minded and let them build won’t allow Danish cartoonists to draw pictures of Mohammed. The ones who did will live under death threats for the rest of their lives. Tolerance is a one-way street on this issue.

7) Can you imagine Japanese people buying land and putting up a Shinto shrine within walking distance of Pearl Harbor? Praise God they know better. Or us building a nuclear-research office in downtown Hiroshima? We can, but we won’t. Certain places have deep visceral meaning to people. Ground Zero is one of them. It is sacred.

Of course they can build it. But the fact that they don’t know better bothers me deeply.

God bless all humans, Muslim or otherwise. But guys, build it somewhere else.

Took a Sabbath today.

The Bible says we have to.

So I did.

Rode around on my beach cruiser bike in the sunshine. Surfed in nasty big waves this AM. Bought a Mothers’ Day card. Tried and failed to get a haircut.

Stopped in at the Huntington Beach Library and looked through their massive for-sale books offerings.

Picked up a musty, moldy volume by H.G. Wells called The Outline of History.


Between the World Wars.

He sees all of history as a struggle between civilized obedience-oriented river cultures and free, nomadic will-oriented cultures. Royalists and Roundheads. Loyalists and Colonial Patriots. Unionists and Rebels. Versailles and the Barricades. US Army and Viet Cong. The Nimitz and the Taliban. M16 and Kalashnikov AK-47. Priests and Revivalists. Aristocrats and Barbarians. Churchill and Che. Sebastian Coe and Steve Prefontaine. Oxford and NASCAR. Episcopalians and Pentecostals.

Neither is purely good or bad. Both have dark sides.

“As if it were a necessary process–efficiency and energy give way to pomp, indolence and decay. They finally succumb to some fresher child-rich lineage from the desert or from the steppes.”

-HG Wells, 1925


Follow me on Twitter @RobinwoodChurch (the barbarian child-rich little church from the steppes….)

I have been especially aware of patterns this week.

People all have a certain way of being in the world. A pattern.

There is a Muslim way of being in the world, a Mormon way, a Right-Wing-Fox-News way, a PC-liberal way, etc.

Some of these patterns are potent (Islam). Some are not so potent (mainline Presbyterianism). Some are on the rise (Hipster-ism), and some are on the decline (the “emerging” church).

I’ve done extensive live-in stints with:


Action Sports World (surf/snowboard)

Theological Academia (22nd grade and a Fulbright Scholarship)

Pentecostalism (even wrote a book on it)

Each “-ism” has abundant self-serving circular reasoning and tribal litmus tests. They have buzzwords and enemy images. Perhaps they are even necessary–but none of them correspond perfectly to naked reality and truth.

It’s a trade off; you get security and you tolerate errors and inaccuracy when you “buy in” to any “-ism.”

I am about to be voted off the Lutheran island for good. Sad, because I have nothing against it, and, on better days, I consider myself one of its more intentionally constructive, original, and helpful thinkers. I appreciate the good in Lutheranism, my family of origin, but I don’t pretend that God depends on it, or that it is the highest possible way of being in the world.

I am increasingly troubled by the American liberal/conservative polarized political thinking. The left doesn’t understand the power and creativity of the free market and globalization, and the right doesn’t understand sustainable environmentalism, and the potency of collectivism for certain public endeavors (fire, utilities, roads, etc.). We are disintegrating into TV attack ads with stupid sound bites. We need an intellectual like Lincoln to come back, who sees deeper nuances.

In any case, these political “patterns” relieve everyone of the responsibility to think.

And the much of the world is just plain out-growing the need for religious patterns. Especially the overwhelming majority of non-fundamentalist global young people. If you don’t believe me, you’re not spending much time with them.

Let’s just have real conversations about who God really is. Let’s pray together. Let’s talk about Jesus and how his message is so different than that of the Buddha (see E Stanley Jones and his “Egg and the Bubble” analogy). Let’s talk about God’s preferred future, and include him in on the conversation, rather than argue about the merits and errors of competing eschatological “systems.”

Does God Almighty really care about the victory of Confessional Lutheranism or TULIP Calvinism? Is he secretly pulling for a return to a stricter Reformed theology? Is he really upset about the idea of married Catholic priests? Is he hoping we finally secure the Mexican border? Is he worried that Health Care Reform will ruin the world he created? Is Oprah his worst nightmare, wrecking his weekly Sabbath rest? Hardly.

Are we willing to set aside our patterns, even ones we love, to seek the truth? Look it right in the eye?

I have this crazy idea that God is real, and that he doesn’t report to a pattern.


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