Sunday, August 22, 2010

Stepping into Controversy

I've been following the ongoing banter on Facebook and Twitter regarding possibly locating a mosque near the site of the World Trade Center.

It seems with our interconnected social media world it is much harder to step gingerly past those topics one would avoid in polite conversation. Opinions are broadcast without filter to our "friends" and "followers."

And I have to admit, I'm not so fond being subject to these broadcasts.

Much like the persuasive and sometimes denigrating e-mail forwards that attempt to guilt you to passing them on lest you announce to the sender that you are: not dedicated in your love for Jesus, not an adoring friend, or simply not interested in whatever cause or opinion they tout, Web 2.0 allows us to foist our opinions on everyone we know without the repercussions of an uncomfortable conversation to hash out fact versus fiction and share mutual understanding.

One can simply click on "like" and announce to the world that "so and so shouldn't be president any more," "republicans are the downfall of modern society" or "Iowans are hicks with no moral fortitude."

And so it goes with current events, politics and the issues that continue to splinter and divide us.

I do my very best to keep to daily life updates, anecdotal stories and general fluff in my updates. I just don't feel the need for the world to know how I feel about every little issue or to convince others that I am "right."

However, in recent days, an issue has taken center stage, and I feel drawn to share my thoughts.

It seems there may be a mosque built near Ground Zero, and that notion has caused quite the uproar.

Comments I've witnessed include allegations that President Obama is the architect and orchestrator of this development and was placed in office to carry out the Muslim agenda and that 9/11 victims would find this location insensitive and unacceptable.

When it comes to baseless accusations, I really don't care.

The question I would raise is one touted by the Conservative Christians of the '90s and popular yet today ...


What Would Jesus Do?

Do you remember the bracelets, and the implied expectation of divine perfection in human behavior?

If Jesus were faced with a situation in which he was held prisoner, beaten, mocked and put to death, he would certainly not extend a gracious and open heart to anyone with similar religious beliefs and customs, much less those who were responsible for his demise, right?

He would not ask for God to have mercy on them "for they know not what they do"?

He wouldn't turn the other cheek and love those who persecute him.

Would he?

My opinion is not backed by an all encompassing knowledge of the complicated political and social circumstances that precipitated and continue to haunt the issue.

I do not have years of Biblical study and an advanced degree to support my suppositions.

I don't personally believe it is right to attribute the actions of extremists to an entire group. However, even if some who attend this mosque support those actions, would Jesus call us to turn the other cheek and extend love?

Would Jesus deny them and spew anger?

Or would he extend his hand and heart, aware that he may perish, but knowing that the only way to break the bonds of anger and hate is with tolerance and love?