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December 27, 2006


Sherry Weddell

I've visited the cathedral in Jakarta - very striking and gothic.

Historically, Indonesian Islam is fairly tolerant and easy-going although when I was there, the Catholic population had vivid memories of Muslim mobs in the streets just three years previously, burning Christian shops and raping Christian women. And the highways were lined with vendors selling various kinds of Islamic crescents and/or metallic word "Allah" in Arabic to put on the top of tiny houses or shops proclaiming the residents to be Muslim.

So it is very, very good to see Indonesian Muslims taking a stand and refusing to give in to the violence.


No overt violence anyway.

Maybe they were being sincere and wishful for "peace on earth, good will to all," but if I was there at the Jakarta Cathedral, seeing "Muslim leaders," I would probably have thought that they were sending a different message from their presence -- the message that they are in control, they are in charge, even at a Catholic Mass -- they will go where they want, do what they want, and Christians will have to subserviently take it.


"a stone's throw away" hahahah, no slip on that one, probably wouldn't have said that if it were in Jerusalem.

Eileen R

Bender, I think you'd need to put forth some evidence that this is the case. It seems better to take these people's good will at face value, given that they're going against the radical Islamist terrorists who will see their actions to protect the churches as a sell-out, and have been known to target people they regard as traitors to Islam. These people are putting their safety on the line to help the local Christians.


Eileen R.

That is the universal tension between Islam and the West that has yet to be resolved. Were the Muslim leaders in Indonesia acting in concert with the commands of the Koran or against them? Is an attenuation of jihad inherently heretical?

History and argument seems to support that it is.


Father Elijah

Pope Benedict has been encouraging not only Catholics and Christians but all peoples to learn "the language of God" which is Logos and Agape: Reason and Charity-Love.

I believe that this is an example of the fruit of the dialogue of reason and charity. Indeed Indonesia has experienced fanatical attacks on Catholics and other Christians in past years [and not just in East Timor]. However, despite the attacks,the Catholic bishops there have pleaded for Catholics not to answer attacks and persecution with acts of retaliation and violence. And the Catholics have pretty much listened to their shepherds. Meetings took place with religious and civil leaders. Indonesia also experienced the terrible attack on foreigners by Jihadist terrorists which put the government squarely against acts of terrorism---all of this has led to the climate which we see here this Christmas.

While it might be tempting to 'paint' all Moslems with one brush and color, the very facts of history we are witnessing now prevents this. Not all Moslems are terrorists or jihadists. We have a division between Islamic fundamentalist-terrorists and Moslem 'moderates' who are not afraid of but welcome reason. It is these 'moderates' that the Church in the person of Pope John Paul the Great and now Pope Benedict reach out to and speak.

The angels sang "Glory to God in the highest and peace to 'men of good will'" Certainly what that phrase 'men of good will' means are those who are open to and already seeking not simply peace that the world gives, but those who in their lives and in the way they live are indeed seeking God and His Kingdom of righteousness.

This is a very different foundation than the post modern world's secularist vision which calls for a pseudo tolerance while opposing itself to all religion and sees religion as the source of all divisions.

Can we not hear the angels' song and join it?


I think it's very easy to paint a group of people with a very broad brush...such as the Muslims. I definitely do not support Islam nor do I believe it's a religion of peace...but by that same token, I DO believe it is a religion that contains peaceful people. Individuals who do not support violence, who do not support terrorism, and want only what the rest of us want...to live good lives, to love God (Allah for them), and to worship without fear of death and dismemberment. People are still people, and sometimes their actions can be taken at face value without assuming some dangerous ulterior motive.

I'm glad the Muslims went to Christian churches on Christmas...it certainly gives us an opportunity to pray that the Holy Spirit touched their hearts and perhaps effected some conversions!

Christ calls us all to be charitible...and so that means to look for the good in people, not assume the worst. (Disclaimer on the last: I get paid to look for bad stuff and ulterior motives, etc...so I really struggle with this precept of finding the good in people.)


All Islam is not the same, no matter how badly some might want you to believe. The Central Asians, the Turks, the North Africans, the sub-Saharan Africans, and most strikingly, the Indians and southeast Asians all had their own local traditions that usually were quite a bit more tolerant - and less fanatically austere - than we associate with "Islam" post-9/11.

The problem has been Saudi Arabian oil money backing a gigantic missionary push by the Wahhabi sect (the sect that destroyed Muhammad's tomb about a hundred years ago so as to prevent "idolatry"). Tens of billions of dollars (and probably more) have been poured into these efforts that have been directed more at the annihilation of local Muslim traditions than that of non-Muslims. I probably don't even need to say that Osama bin Laden is probably the most famous product of Wahhabism.

What has always baffled me about the War on Terror isn't that we haven't invaded Saudi Arabia - that would be just plain dumb. What baffles me is that there has been seemingly no pressure at all on the Saudis to dial back the Wahhabi missionary push. After all, the "magic tree" in Jakarta that was hacked down by fanatical Muslim youth earlier this year survived for a long, long time with no such attacks. Why was it this historical momennt that made displays of anything non-Muslim so intolerable? Religious conflicts happened in the past, but they usually overlaid tribal and economic struggles. This is different.

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