Live and Let Live?

Nobody needs to be reminded of the horror that took place last week in Paris. The uncertainty of possible copycat episodes in other places around the world causes each of us to doubly consider where we go, what we do and what we say. It’s not an ideal way to live, trying to think two steps ahead in anticipation of potential dangers. I’m not normally a worrier but I’ve known people who were. They can wear me out quickly!

lashesFailure (even unwillingness) to describe what occurred at Charlie Hebdo (and other places over the last several years) as Islamic Extremism or Radical Islam has lit up Twitter feeds and apparently surprised people around the world.

The twisted verbiage used to avoid such terms is laughable and maddening … for me at least. One State Department official tried to explain they were “… going to focus on all of the different kinds of extremism” and when challenged to identify other specific forms of extremism they’d be focusing on, the official replied:  “… there are people out there who want to kill other people in the name of a variety of causes.”

Oh, I get it. This walking on eggshells is because lots of unspecified other people (with their unspecifiedvariety of causes“) want to kill us. Perfectly clear. Should we just cede now that being liked by everyone is our chief goal? Close up the State Department offices. Close up the White House and Congress. Maybe Joel Osteen (with his feel-good, positive message) would step up and get all the various world parties together for a group hug?

Hearing today a new fatwa has been issued – this one banning the building of snowmen – seemed almost like it had to be satire … was I reading The Onion? No, it was indeed The Guardian (US Edition) to which I’d turned my attention.

snowman1Now as far as I know, this fatwa is not an order to kill or behead anyone who’s found guilty of building a snowman. But were I building a snowman (there’s a 50% chance of snow in our neck of the woods tonight around 9 p.m.), I’d have pause about doing so. I mean, look what happened at Charlie Hebdo because of something as simple as satirical cartoons!

snowman3The old saw – sticks and stones may hurt my bones, but names will never hurt me – was a worthy guideline when I was a kid. I learned that people can (and will) say things about you. I learned to develop a thick skin. But in our current culture, it seems nobody even understands what a thick skin is!

Anymore, countless people are offended by practically everything! And if I happen to be perceived as criticizing the Islamic religion? Well, I’d better learn to duplicate the Salman Rushdie disappearing act! (He’s lived under a fatwa since 1989!)

snowman2As a person of faith, I’m occasionally criticized for my beliefs. It can be frustrating, but I’ve never once been driven to express my faith in destructive or murderous ways. The way I see it, my Lord Jesus Christ is big enough to handle those challenges. It’s never fun to have your faith demeaned … but genuine faith won’t be damaged by honest inquiry.

Furthermore, as a person of Christian faith, I’m not interested in demeaning people who sincerely hold other beliefs (i.e. Islam). Embracing the believe or be beheaded route isn’t a winning strategy, if you ask me. While I wish everyone knew and trusted Jesus Christ as I do, I will happily encourage others to investigate Jesus Christ and make their own decisions, even if that means rejecting Christ. Isn’t it great that Jesus never forces us to trust Him?!!

snowman4And for any little children who’ve been swayed against building snowmen because of this newly-issued fatwa, I’ve posted several snowmen here for their enjoyment.

There is something beautiful and magical and blessed about the joy of building a snowman in one’s youth. Without having shared the wonder of creating at least one snow critter, no child should be allowed his or her walking papers into adulthood! Throw in some snow angels as well. Those are almost a prerequisite of childhood perfectly experienced!

Who knows? If the flakes start coming down this evening, I might have to grab my boots and head out the door. Perhaps snow and the moonlit night are magical enough to neutralize even the most deadly fatwa!

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