It’s me, Jason- Tamed Cynic. You know, the Christian whose blog you hacked.
What’s that? You don’t remember me? There were thousands of other random, anonymous victims just like me?
Oh, I see.
I guess that’s a valid excuse. Of course- and this is just a word to the wise- it’s a not a compelling excuse, morally speaking. It’s like Ray Rice explaining that he’s hit so many women, he can’t really recall the one in the elevator. See my point?
But you still don’t remember me?
Fine, never mind. Let’s just indulge my narcissism for a moment and pretend you do.
Now that we’re speaking one-on-one, maybe I should begin where you began and take you to task for your big, bold header you left on my hacked homepage:
‘Muslims are Not Terrorists.’
I get it. I even agree with you, Muslims aren’t terrorists. Terrorists are terrorists, and some of them happen to be Muslim and some of them (more than we care to remember) are Christian and most of them are motivated by something else entirely (politics, economics etc).
So I agree with you, but it’s like Marshall McLuan said way back at the time of the Shah and SNL: ‘The medium is the message.’
Following McLuan then, the fact that the medium in this case is a cyber terrorist hacked website belies the message you want to lead with in your headline.
You could post ‘Mom’s Chocolate Chip Cookies are the Best’ in that header but your creepy, comic sans-meets-Osama-hacker-font still would make us wonder if maybe Mom was a baby-eating witch who lived in a hovel deep in the Black Forest.
You see, you want your message to be that ‘Muslims are Not Terrorists,’ fine, but your hack-attack medium makes it inescapably obvious that at least one Muslim IS a terrorist.
You’re lucky I’m a Christian, Mr Islamic Cyber Terrorist.
I’d love to torment you with the irony of you declaring that Muslims are not terrorists whilst cyber-terrorizing me, but then it wouldn’t really be fair to ridicule you when the fundamentalists of my own tribe don’t do irony well either. After all, Christ’s non-violent cross was painted on chainmail and swords long before Mohammad came on the scene.
While we’re at it there’s the other little irony that the instigating sermon in this case wasn’t critical of Islam at all.
Indeed you hacked me for a sermon that wound its way to telling Christians that they needed to love people like you.
Well played, Mr Islamic Cyber Idiot.
When it comes to those Christians who question the veracity of your headline that ‘Muslims are Not Terrorists,’ your I-didn’t-read-all-the-way-to-the-end, irony-laden screw-up speaks volumes more to them (to indict you) than anything I said to them (to love you).
Way to take a semi-decent, conscience-afflicting sermon and let all my listeners feel like they were justified for suspecting it was just a load of horse s@#$.
‘Because,’ they’re all thinking now (thanks to you), ‘we can’t love terrorists.’
Speaking of which- and I ask since this is your area of expertise, what’s a few notches down from terror? I mean, the feelings you induced in me weren’t exactly terror, yet it was more than inconvenience. While it’s true the craptastic havoc you wreaked on my blog was a giant pain the @#$, it was (a bit) more than a bother you made feel.
For starters, you scared my mom a little more gray, and (thanks to you, again) now I’ve got to text her every night, like a cub scout away at camp, that we’re all okay and not, say, bound and gagged inTurkey.
Your shenanigans provoked feelings in others too.
I can’t tell you how many finger-wagging notes I got messaged to me scolding:
‘This is what you get for letting them worship at your church.’
You see, thanks to you, a whole bunch of otherwise open-minded Christians think its defensible to assume that the old guy at Starbucks or the lady who drives the neighborhood ice cream truck are probably party to an Islamic terrorist network.
Hearing this, Mr Islamic Cyber Terrorist, should irritate you at least as much as it irritated me. But irritation is not what you made me feel either.
After all, my kids’ faces and names are buried there, in bits and bytes, in my blog. So is my wife’s. And, a bit further down, as you no doubt already know, is our address. Where our credit card number is to be found as well.
I’m not trying to play the martyr, that’s your forte. It’s not like I ever felt my life was in danger, and I’m definitely not suggesting I’m on the front line of freedom. We’re talking about a freaking blog, let’s not forget, I’m not on the front line of anything. Still, you made me- anonymous me- feel…vulnerable.
Yes, I think that’s the right word.
I can’t help but think, Mr Islamic Cyber Terrorist, the feeling you made me feel is exactly what so many of my neighbors and friends and congregants feel all the time. Vulnerable. And when you’re feeling vulnerable, convinced that yours is an exceptional situation, I can tell you it’s not long before the rationalizing kicks-in, reasoning your way away from Jesus:
Surely we can’t forgive that person… It would be irresponsible to forgive that sin…
Jesus doesn’t really expect us to turn the cheek in this situation…
What am I supposed to do, just give them my children’s cheeks too?
Loving this enemy is no strategy to make them no longer an enemy, it will only get you killed…
Jesus must be talking about life in the Kingdom not in this world…
Our enemies sure won’t abide by any of these commandments…
Those were the thoughts running through my head in the hours and days after your ‘attack,’ Mr. Islamic Cyber Terrorist. They’re all thoughts similar to the ones a good many of my friends and congregants hold, and, truth be told, I used the word ‘rationalizing’ above for a reason.
They’re all incredibly reasonable rebuttals.
They make a lot sense; in fact, truth be told, they make a hell of a lot more sense than Jesus.
And that wouldn’t be a problem if Jesus was politely removed elsewhere, a figment of history or an absentee lord. We could raise our reasonable, real-world rebuttals to his teaching and then get about dealing with the likes of you. Conscience cleared.
The problem is Jesus has this annoying tendency to show up.
That’s what makes him different from your prophet.
You might not know this, Mr Islamic Terrorist, but the night before he dies Jesus sits his twelve disciples down and he says: here’s bread, here’s wine. Eat. Drink. Do this.
Do this and I’ll be with you.
Admittedly, this is irrational and it can’t be explained and it can’t argued with.
And maybe that’s the point.
Maybe it has to be that way because people like me are always going to have to deal with people like you.
Maybe Jesus knew that without bread and wine, we would forever think and argue and rationalize the claims he makes on us as a way of keeping him from us.
Maybe Jesus knew we’re no different than those two disciples on the way to Emmaus, who’d heard all the stories, who knew all the beliefs, who could recite the Easter Gospel and yet had no intention of doing a damn thing about it, who were quite content to say ‘isn’t that interesting’ and not have it change their way in the world.
Maybe Jesus knew that without bread and wine we’d always find a reason to reason our way away from him.
So then, maybe Jesus gives us- Christians, I mean- bread and wine not so we can get close to him as we- Christians, I mean- so often imagine.
Maybe Jesus gives us bread and wine because it’s the only way he can get close to us.
And therein lies my problem, Mr Islamic Cyber Terrorist. You see, I know how I feel about you. I know what I’d opt to do to you had I not made the mistake of giving my life to Jesus, and I can come up with several dozen cogent reasons why you and your ilk warrant an asterisk at the bottom of the sermon on the mount.
My problem is that I can mount my own reasonable arguments against you, but I can’t argue away what Jesus says about you (worth dying for). I can’t avoid how Jesus would regard you (with grace, for you not what you do) or deny what he’d tell me to do about you (love and mercy).
And, like I said, this wouldn’t be a problem if Jesus had conveniently absconded to the great by and by, but tomorrow is Sunday, Mr Islamic Cyber Terrorist.
Tomorrow I’ll set the table with bread and wine. We’ll all ask Jesus to come join us at the table. And if there’s one thing the Gospels make clear: Jesus never refuses a dinner invitation.
Tomorrow, Jesus is going to show up, real and present. It’ll be the same the Sunday next and the Sunday after that ad infinitum, or at least to the eschaton.
I can come up with all kinds of good reasons why you should be the exception to Jesus’ teaching, and I’d be happy to list them for you someday, but what in the world am I supposed to say to Jesus tomorrow morning when he shows up in bread and wine?
How can I tell Jesus to his face that he’s wrong about you?
How can I tell Jesus that you don’t deserve grace or mercy for your sins when he’s sitting right there at my table?
Talk about an awkward dinner conversation.
Like a lot of dinner parties I’ve been to, to be stuck with the host often means you’re stuck with the other guests too; likewise- and you can be damn sure I never saw this coming- when I gave my life to Jesus, I also in some odd way gave it to you even though I’ve no reason to expect you to treat it well. I guess that counts as another irony.
Anyway that’s my problem, Mr. Islamic Cyber Terrorist. I don’t want to love you; I don’t think you’re lovable.
I don’t even know what it means, practically speaking, to love you.
But tomorrow morning I’m having breakfast with Jesus and I know, if it were up to him, he’d save a seat for you.
So maybe GI JOE was right all along: knowing is half the battle.
Maybe whatever it means to love you starts right there, with bread and wine, and knowing that whenever we invite Jesus to dinner he invites the likes of you.
Maybe the first step in no longer seeing you as an enemy, the first step towards regarding you as a friend, is seeing you as a fellow undeserving guest.