Saturday, May 21, 2005

Materialism & The Sacred.

I can not recall where I saw this but it is worth thinking on.

Someone noted the rage over the alleged desecration of the Qurran is misguided. They said it is the spirit of the Qurran, the concepts on the paper is important, not the actual paper, ink and binding. To become enraged over the desecration of paper, ink, and binding is an endorsement many Muslims claim they oppose: Materialism.

Note, by materialism I am not talking about consumerism the acquisition of material things. I am talking about a deeper outlook on life. Are we spirit beings or are we just nothing more than piles of organized cellular activity?

Asking myself (I knew you would ask!) I would say we are a combination. The spirit and the material work together in this life and one proceeds on to the next. Those who say we have no control over who are work much closer to a pure materialism than to spiritualism.

Many in the Islamic world condemn the Western way of life as purely materialistic. I am going to work on the assumption here they are not confusing materialism and consumerism; that their statement is saying we in the West do not believe that we have a spiritual component; that we do not believe in the immortal human soul.

Their overemphasis on the material of a Qurran betrays their claims of being more spiritual than those they condemn as materialists. If burning or desecrating a Qurran is going to destroy Islam and the spirit of that message then the message itself is weak (or at least those espousing the message are weak and have no confidence in the message's strength). In fact, I have found at least more truth in the West when it comes to religion.

Many people are skeptical of religion, and here in the West those people sleep in on Sunday morning. In the Islamic world they still go to the Mosque, conspicuously play with their worry beads, and carry on with the superficial trappings of Islam. Many times I have heard the story that since a child attends Mosque with their father they can not possibly be throwing rocks at their neighbor's car.

However, I do not want to get into the business of disrespecting things people consider holy. We treat our religious symbols with care. It comes down to what one values. We have a nice car. I take care of it, why? Because I value it. We have a corner in our bedroom which is a shrine to Jesus and Mother Mary, we value it and take care of that area. If someone comes in and trashes it I am not going to scream bloody jihad! and get my sword out and start lopping off heads. God and His saving message is much more powerful than a vandal and the vandal will have to treat with God over that vandalism someday. In fact, one may accuse the Muslims who are upset over the Qurran desecration of something they accuse us Christians of: idolatry.