Comments: weekend godslots

I am profoundly disturbed by the extract of Miroslav Volf's book in the Times. It's only an extract, so by nature it's incomplete. But I find Volf's Christian response wholly inadequate. I would hate to think that this woman would read the book and see how her situation is examined by Volf.

After letting her tell her story, he goes on to say, "Set aside for a moment the fact that the woman was a Muslim." That's a big setting aside... and it gets worse when he starts to say that the answer to her anger and humiliation is Christ. "Indwelled by Christ, will that teacher of literature be able to forgive? "

Given that she was tormented and humiliated and betrayed by Christians, the last thing she needs to hear is that Christ is the answer. (And where was all that divine love while men encouraged a boy--her own student--to piss in her mouth?)

And in any case, why are we (who weren't there) pondering how *she* needs to change, to forgive?

The only Christian response I can think of is to stand by her side and demand her tormentors be brought to account. And Christians need to hold thir co-religionists to account on religious grounds--they have betrayed the faith, betrayed Christ. (Don't we in the West continually clamor for moderate imams to speak out against Muslim extrimism? Where is our voice raised against the Christian extremists here?)

And perhaps her story is a wake-up call to all of us that when being Christian becomes another 'identity', we've already twisted the Gospel message. The only Christian identity that's acceptable is a fully realized humanity, beyond the calls of ethnicity or ideology.

I hope for that woman that she finds peace and healing in Allah, in her own faith tradition. And if she comes to a time of forgiveness, it is in her own way, and for her own well-being.

Posted by Christopher Calderhead at Saturday, 25 February 2006 at 1:47pm GMT

I generally don't judge a book on just an excerpt, but I may just do that in the case of this one. I have the same reactions as Christopher. The excerpt seems to lack compassion, empathy and ecumenical spirit.

If this excerpt is an example of the whole, I wonder if the Archbishop couldn't have found a better book to recommend?

Posted by L. Ryan at Saturday, 25 February 2006 at 3:34pm GMT

Volf's response is more than "inadequate" or even preposterous: it demonstrates blank incomprehension of the scenario he describes, and it is therefore dangerous as a voice claiming to be representative of Christianity.

Surely the only proper Christian response is to call for justice for this violated woman, and for all within her community who were treated so barbarically: and to implement practical programmes of aid and restoration for shattered lives and cultures. To call for their conversion adds only grave insult to terrible injuries already sustained.

Posted by Alan Marsh at Saturday, 25 February 2006 at 4:03pm GMT
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