Emerging Universalism, Part 4
Strange Bedfellows of the House of One
In The Tempest, Shakespeare introduced an idiom that today has gained currency among religionists. “Misery,” he wrote, “acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.” Now, it might be said, “Universalism acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.” As I write, donations are being raised for “The House of One,” where the world’s first-ever church, mosque, and synagogue will share a single roof at the location of the city’s first church in Berlin, Germany.
Along with Rabbi Tovia Ben-Chorin and Imam Kadir Sanci, Protestant Pastor Gregor Hohberg initiated the unusual project. Architect Wilfried Kuehn designed each of its three areas – of equal size although different in shape. While Jews will congregate on Saturdays, Christians will pray on Sundays; and Muslims will attend mosque on Fridays. A fourth room with a 32 meter-high, domed roof will provide central space for inter- (and/or non-) faith-driven dialogue.
To be completed in 2018, the €10-35 million project commenced with a symbolic first brick whereupon a pastor, rabbi, and imam symbolically buried their shoes in the sand at the center of the construction site.
Reluctant Islamists Ride the Wave of Ecumenicalism
Muslims at first were reluctant until the Forum for Intercultural Dialogue came on board. FID’s honorary chairman is the controversial, U.S.-exiled cleric, Fethulla Gülen. Called “a living prophet,” Gülen preaches via web cam on the Internet. Though suspected of immigration fraud, he is praised in the West for promoting dialogue and for establishing a global network of schools that, despite leanings toward anti-Semitism, purportedly preaches Sunni Islam in a spirit of tolerance. In 2008, this unlikely Turkish scholar was voted the top intellectual among the world’s leading 100 thinkers.
With a mind to position Islam as the one-world religion, and Muhammad as the world’s premiere prophet, the strategic World Islamic League happily rides the wave of ecumenicalism. Imam Kadir Sanci applauds this House (likened to “Chrislam on Steroids”) as “a sign, a signal to the world that the great majority of Muslims are peaceful and not violent.”
The expressed vision of the so-called “wonder of Berlin” is to normalize relations between people of diverse backgrounds so that “our children have a future in which diversity is the norm.” After all, Allah embraces diversity, does he not? Caesar Farah explains, “Allah may vary his ordinances at pleasure, prescribing one set of laws for the Jews, another for the Christians, and still another for Muslims.” Unfortunately, “normalized relations” in Islam relegate unbelievers to the ranks of the hated dar-al-bughd. Conquered Jews or Christians living under Islamic law are allowed to exist, but only as second-class citizens subject to poll- and land- taxes. This is by no means the diverse future I envision for my children.
“Common Values That Unite” – Really?
Even so, at the close of this year’s Ramadan, President Barak Hussein Obama cooed, “While Eid marks the completion of Ramadan, it also celebrates the common values that unite us.” Really, Mr. President? In fact, Islamists sidestep values that Americans hold to be self-evident – namely, that all men are created equal, and each possesses unalienable rights (rights that Islamic law explicitly bans).
Sharia law actually forbids an infidel to offend a Muslim – or even to testify against one in any court of law (no matter the crime). Merely to disagree with the prophet is deemed a punishable, “blasphemous affront.” Where sharia is enforced, non-Islamic religious symbols are prohibited; and “the conquered” may not build new churches or synagogues. Nor may they construct their own houses higher than those of Muslim neighbors. Are these our nation’s shared values in the name of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”? I think not.
Some eighty percent of all imams in the United States sanction the Wahabi movement, distinguished by an orthodox theology that welcomes militaristic reform through the sword. The late Osama bin Laden adhered to the movement that, regretfully, our president celebrates. Make no mistake. Director of the London Muslim Institute, Dr. Kalim Siddique clarifies the objective of the modern Muslim movement – that being, “to eliminate all authority other than Allah and his prophet; to eliminate nationalism in all its shapes and forms (in particular, the nation-state).” “We, the people” do not recognize this objective as a “common value” that unites us with our Muslim brethren. To the contrary, Mr. Obama, patriots believe ours to be “a more perfect union.”
Dag Hammarskjöld All Over Again
House-of-One ideals mirror those of the United Nations Meditation Room, dedicated by Dag Hammarskjöld “to the God whom man worships under many names and in many forms.” A mural therein displays a cross, a crescent, and elements of the Star of David – thereby giving form to king-of-the-castle competition.
Assigned temporal authority over all civil rulers, the pope by 1870 possessed infallibility in matters of faith and morals. That is to say, he reigned as king of the castle. Even Catholic theologians concede this doctrine is not biblical, but then the Council of Vanlencia placed the Bible on the Index of Forbidden Books (AD 1229). Out of sight; out of mind.
In 1965, Pope Paul VI and Secretary-General U Thant spent time together in the U.N. Meditation Room, where mystical silence requires the soul, not the mind, to contemplate God. In like manner, Pope Francis invited Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to pray with him for peace. These shows of “togetherness” may warm the deceived heart; but recall: The disposition of the contemporary Roman Church hinges on the Council of Trent with more than 100 anathemas or curses pronounced against all who dare to differ with Council decisions. To deny any doctrine or practice so proclaimed constitutes a mortal sin. Sorry, fellas.
Conversely, prayer for peace through an alleged “Mediatrix of all graces” is certain to offend non-Catholics. Even more, “the peace of Jerusalem” coveted by Jews bears no resemblance to the peace envisioned by Islamists – i.e., complete submission, whether by conversion or force, to the moon-god Allah. Although Hamas’ mandate is to obliterate Israel and kill all Jews, Nobel Peace Prize recipient Jimmy Carter argues for “recognizing Hamas as a legitimate political actor.” Mind you, this is the same Hamas, whose leaders cheered the Attack on America and condemned Bin Laden’s demise.
Civility with compromise serves partnerships, friendships, and marriages very well; however, House-of-One interfaithism requires religionists to ignore or compromise core principles. Speaking of which, Islamists will never compromise the fatwa, pronoucing death to non-Muslims (i.e., infidels, likewise known as “cows”). The “holy” Qur'an urges believers to war, fight, seize, and kill, and that’s precisely what they aim to do.
To fundamental Muslims, House-of One idealism is little more than means to an end. As the story goes, while on a journey, a camel convinces his master to allow its head to enter his warm tent in order to rest better. The master concedes and gradually welcomes the camel’s neck and two feet – finally, its entire body. Once having assumed full occupancy, the camel evicts his master from out of what now has become the camel’s tent.
No doubt with this strategy in mind, increasing numbers of elaborate, expensive mosques are being built all over the world – even if they remain unattended. By 2004, there were over 1,200 mosques and seven million Muslims in the United States alone. Borrowing a phrase from Frazier, the camel has by no means left the building; a decade later, its gaze is toward Berlin!
The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue published this guideline for interreligious dialogue: “Since religions differ in their understanding of God, ‘interreligious prayer’ (meaning the joining together in common prayer by followers of various religions) is to be avoided.” Unless (might I add?) doing so allows access to the Roman camel.
King-of-the-castle competition in a crowded tent is clearly not what Jesus had in mind. Those not with Him are said to be against Jesus. Unbeknownst to some, Jesus came to bring division, not peace – and this, by the sword of God’s Word that differentiates between truth and error. At the same time, that Word provides the test whereby men ultimately are judged. By express command, His followers are not to be “yoked with unbelievers,” nor even to listen to them, for what agreement is there between the temple of God and that of idols? Frankly, the answer is “none.”
Fagin of Oliver fame had it right upon musing, “I think I’d better think it out again!” In the end, no amount of “wishin’ and hopin’ and thinkin’ and prayin’; plannin’ and dreamin’” will bring to pass a House-of-One utopia comprised of strange bedfellows. Syncretistic efforts of pie-in-the-sky religionists are fated to fail.