H/T to my Martha for pointing me (via Twitter) to the great Fresh Air interview with Eliza Griswold. I've listened to it several times now and it is very, very thought provoking and good.
Griswold's new book is The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches from the Fault Line Between Christianity and Islam, which I immediately requested from the library and look forward to reading.
Stepping back a moment: Over the weekend while Ken was away, I read approximately 18 books. Seriously. Leave me to myself and I have a reading orgy.
One of the books I read was Nomad by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I have been deeply interested in her work since she spoke at UNT in 2008. At that time I had listened to the audiobook, of Infidel, read by her. It is not an easy book to listen to, with its tales of abuse and female genital mutilation.
Ali is an atheist and espouses Enlightenment views (which, when I read them in college, fed my budding agnosticism). (I was pretty impressionable.) She has some excellent points, but she believes that the Christian church is the way to defeat the violent, sexist, dysfunctional elements of Islam. I have a problem with that.
As one reviewer on the Amazon site states: From my angle of interest, she is a staunch advocate of a more vigorous Christian encounter with Muslims who have moved to the West. She sees the church as the most powerful vehicle of modernization and rationalization, which in light of her experience is the only hope for Muslims held captive in darkness. The Christianity she advocated, however, is a "moderate," Lockean version of the faith, mostly interiorized and reduced to "God is love." I'm not convinced that there remains a significant segment of the church in the West that is (a) evangelistic, (b) committed deeply enough to sacrifice to reach Muslim immigrants, and (c) convinced that they OUGHT to reach Muslims. In my experience, most of the "moderate" Christians who are energetic in their faith are perfectly happy to say Islam is adequate for Muslims, and repulsed by the idea of trying to change someone's religion.
Ali seems to see the church as a big anti-Islamic social service agency...? which takes us back to the issues raised by the Glenn Beck crowd.
And this returns me to something that Eliza Griswold said in the interview: "Who gets to speak for God?" Glenn Beck is sure that he does. Others are sure he does not.
I think that perhaps everyone, every single one of us, needs to hush up and stop assuming that God wants us or NEEDS us to speak for God, especially with regard to a mosque at Ground Zero or a march in Washington. Maybe if we listened more and talked less we would get somewhere.