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The unfolding political facts on the ground in target countries, the “Arab spring” presently overwhelming the Middle East and North Africa are classic examples of proliferating violence. A compelling argument can be made that virtually all regions of the world are experiencing turmoil of one sort or another… Beyond the myriad influences that inform and animate this calamitous international environment of conflicting nation states and insurgent forces, is a religious dimension which is virulent, ancient and ignominious. Religion has often played a distinct role in the subtext of military and imperialistic undertakings by secular governments throughout history. Specifically, the juxtaposition and popular narrative between Judaism, Christianity and Islam continues to convince their respective adherents of their incompatibility with others. Although the concept of “religious tolerance” continues to be promoted broadly over the centuries, engaging it has proven to be utterly insufficient. Unfortunately the quality and scope of “tolerance” can be undermined by the invisible energy of arrogance as these ideas may be organically connected. Perhaps the concept of “religious tolerance” can be replaced with the concept of “religious appreciation,” going forward. The appreciation of another person’s religion or other differences does not suggest acceptance of the others beliefs or values. Religious appreciation implies acknowledgement, respect, mutual co-existence, and religious appreciation embodies ecumenism, that noble quality in human beings.
With religious juxtapositions in the popular imagination as a context, local governments as well as geo-political players and insurgents vociferously engage their political, economic and military objectives. Although the religious juxtapositions are individually challenged within their respective institutions by sectarian strife, their internal challenges are generally ignored in favour of pointing an accusatory finger at another religion… None of the three religions of Abraham, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, can tout their theological purity. Accordingly, contemporary expressions and observances of these three great religions are based on revisionist histories which have caused schisms in each religion along sectarian lines.
Currently the only unequivocal connection that these religions have is a shared past in their collective assertion that the prophet Abraham is the patriarch of these religions. Therefore the historical testaments of the three monotheist religions is a familial relationship by way of their acknowledged patriarch. Moreover, the theology of monotheism asserts that all of humanity is children of God: The Genesis narrative observed and articulated offers a familial account regarding the advent of humanity. Thus the essence of disagreements among the three Faiths can be viewed in the framework of family dynamics… Clearly, much was lost in translating the historical procession of the religions of Abraham, from Judaism, to Christianity to Islam. The political facts on the ground in regions impacted by these conflicts are rooted in popular revisionist renditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Religious hyperbole associated with these conflagrations maybe better understood by examining the historical procession of the Abrahamic religions and generating a broader appreciation and understanding of the dynamic factors that currently account for these human affairs/events in the world…
The earliest historical records of human society indicate an inclination (if not proclivity) in the human imagination toward a higher and invisible spiritual power… Peoples in all regions of the world in the earliest times organized their communities around the place of worship. The local place of worship and its priesthood became the center of early societies and communities. Consequently, religious leaders often became the organic rulers of fledgling communities and thriving societies until the advent of the “king” and secular power, authority and government. The initial rivalry between priest and king morphed into a precarious courtship, and frequently “marriage” between the “church” and “state.” The church and state relationship remained in place for millennia, until the advent of the America and federalism, which proclaimed the separation of church and state. The separation of church and state idea was a product of The Age of Enlightenment composed in the Protestant Reformation, the rise of objective science and reason, and the age of discovery in the western world… The Protestant Reformation bifurcated Christianity into Catholics and Protestants, while the industrial development in the western world generated enormous economic wealth in Europe and America. Ultimately, secular power in the context of the military and economic component eclipsed influences of the church and religion in the material world. It could be argued that the church still enjoys a clear monopoly of the spiritual concerns. Nevertheless, the relationship between church and state remains a dynamic and intriguing enterprise as they modulate the status quo from respective vantage points… Secular public and private powers in the course of achieving relative military victories, territory, resources and raw material often proposes a religious context to their geo-political objectives. In ancient Rome at the advent of Roman Catholicism in the 4th century Emperor Constantine utilized the “Faith” as a theme for his numerous military forays and conquests of the known world. The emperor’s military campaigns were done in the name of advancing Christendom throughout the world. The Christian Crusades authorized by the papacy during the 12th century established the Knights Templar, a military wing of Christendom, mandated to reclaim the holy land that fell to Islam in the 8th century. Interestingly enough President George W. Bush, in 2003 initially dubbed his intervention into Iraq, as a “crusade” which resurrected memories of that historical west vs. east military confrontation between Christianity and Islam. More recently, in the wake of the “Arab Spring” which began in Tunisia with a popular “revolution,” North Africa and the Middle East became active theatres of military conflict, unconventional and asymmetrical warfare, highlighting the ancient Christian and Muslim juxtaposition. The adversarial nature characterizing the current relationship between Judaism, Christianity and Islam thus has its origins in antiquity. This religious dichotomy continues to find its way into the popular narrative and backdrop of the competing geo-political objectives in target countries and regions.
The escalating conflict in the Middle East is perhaps a classic example of what happens when artificial and arbitrary boundaries are imposed on regions as they begin to unravel… While western powers continue to entertain strategic and tactical operations to contain the advances of indigenous Islamic military forces, others assert that the western powers can only forestall that which is inevitable… The Middle East as we know it, in terms of national boundaries of their respective people’s of the region, came about 100 years ago based on political and economical design by the British and the French foreign ministries. This scenario was the outcome of the exploits of “Lawrence of Arabia,” Napoleon and the French Foreign Legion. The British and French segmentation of the region was codified following WWI, when the authority for countries comprising the Middle East was divided between Briton and France. Now these artificial boundaries are deteriorating, strongman rule enabled by western powers has waned under the force of organic and indigenous uprisings, and the overall influence that the western developed countries enjoyed with “strongman” regional leaders may no longer be relevant.
Both secular and religious leadership can be cited for engaging in the diabolical and abominable behaviour over the centuries… But justice is anticipated in the secular as well as the spiritual world. It was Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who posited that the moral arch of the universe is long but it bends toward justice. The question whether there will be appropriate accountability remains an open question. Based on end time eschatology, accountability and ultimate justice will prevail… Increasing public opinion argues that world events as they are currently unfolding have profound biblical implications going forward…