Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The heresy of bumper stickers (or why Abd el-Kader is not like George Washington)

It's been a while.  And while there are many thoughts on peace and Otherness floating in my soul (thanks to the writings of Helene Cixous, Virginia Woolf, and so many other feminist writers), I am between lectures, so the thoughts will have to ruminate a while longer.

If you have a minute, however, here's a link to some food for thought: "No Christ.  No Peace.  Know Christ.  Know Peace?" a short reflection by Peace Catalyst International.  While I generally agree with the thoughts expressed, I have to say that my ambivalence with the original statement goes beyond that of the blog's writer.  It isn't that I disagree that Jesus is "God's Comprehensive Peace Plan," it's just that while the Church (or those who label themselves in the name of the Church) continue to be perpetrators of conflict and supporters of war -- some of the loudest voices in the battle to eradicate "Otherness" from our midsts -- toting such bumper stickers is not just reductionist, it's heretical.  And as someone who doesn't actually believe in heresy, let me define my usage as meaning a mis-representation of the call of God in our lives, and our witness to that call.  If we can't live the call to peace, writing it on our cars (while simultaneously positing a position that labels "us" as the only possessors of that peace) seems somewhat blasphemous.  If we believe that peace is sacred enough to have required the death of God to achieve, doesn't it deserve a bit more respect, as a concept, than being used as a tool for further dividing "us" from "them"?

And on a different note, why, pray tell, would a 19th century Algerian Muslim, responsible for saving thousands of Syrian Christians from massacre, be compared to George Washington?!  Who exactly did our first president prevent from being slaughtered?  Seems like an example of our overt privileging of Western stories, despite evidence that non-Western histories might supersede them . . . but who wants to admit that an Arab Muslim might have achieved more than one of our illustrious founding fathers?