Thursday, July 22, 2004

Bdos: The balkanization that dares not speak its name

IN the improbable event that the government of Trinidad & Tobago permits the establishment of Muslim villages,other countries in this region, especially those embraced by CARICOM, will very likely take a hard look at their common approach to multi-culturalism.

While this approach is widely adopted in more developed societies, cultural diversity is causing problems in parts of Europe – France, for example, where Muslims [and others] are prohibited from wearing religious symbols; in Italy as well because of efforts to entrench Islam in ways that impinge on traditional Roman Catholicism.

However, these are tangential issues for comment at another time. What attracts immediate attention is that T&T, long reputed to be a cultural melting pot, now finds itself embroiled in controversy over a call for setting up exclusive villages to protect the Islam against “the ills of society”. These are identified as prostitution, homosexuality, lesbianism, adultery, having illegitimate children, fornication and drinking alcohol.

The promoters do not say how to achieve this without further dividing a population already deeply split along ethnic and political lines.
Looks like the Caribbean is beginning to wake up. Let me touch on one little thread of this column.

Christians are simul justus et peccatur, which is to say, saint and sinner together, and we remain like this until we die. Then, in Christ, we are justus, saint. This means that we recognize that while still yet in this mortal flesh, "all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life," will and do plague us. We succumb and fall at times, and, when we do, we confess our sins to our Lord, and we rise again in the newness of life in Christ Jesus. This is the essence of Baptism life. It's not easy, and God never promised us that it would be easy. We are in the world, and assailed by its temptations; however, our consolation is this that God who is in us is greater than he that is in the world, and Christ Jesus has overcome the world. (See Romans and the Gospel of John for a more complete exposition of the thoughts found herein.)

So, how does this play out in life living? In living life, I cannot withdraw from the world; for, even if I withdraw, I am still tempted and still fall because I am simul justus et peccatur, saint-sinner. Sin goes with me wherever I am because I am in the flesh still. What then? I live out my life in this assurance, I am baptized. That, too, is my check against temptation. Therefore, I drink, I smoke an occasional cigar maybe once a year, and I generally live my life trusting in the promises of God to His people. I know that I am capable of anything because flesh is weak. No illusions here.

Sinners of any stripe are not to be shunned but spoken to and treated charitably. If they will not hear, they are not shunned, nor are they to be killed, but they are prayed for. You see, they are no worse than I, the chief of all sinners, who often needs to be spoken to about my sin.

It would be nice to live in some little "Christian village"; however, after a while, one would soon discover therein the same sins as exist in the world. Homosexuality, lying, adultery, idolatry, fornication, drunkenness. Case in point, look at any monastery or nunnery. That is the nature of the human condition, simul justus et peccatur, saint-sinner, until Christ comes again. To pretend otherwise and entertain utopian notions of a pure Christian society is folly. It is equally folly to imagine that a pure and sinless Islamic community can exist. Draconian punishments only serve to push the sin deeper underground so that the society grows to believe and live a lie.

Withdrawal, for Christians, is not separation from the world, but adherence to the faith and its doctrines and the living of Baptism life. Can Christianity be protected from the world? Only by her Lord; no man can protect the Church because it is not of human devising. Christ Jesus, the Lord of the Church, desires Christians and Christianity to be in the world without being worldly; for, He intends that the Church should influence the world, and not the other way around.

So, what is the point of the balkanization? Perhaps a desire to promote notions of ideological superiority, and to promulgate the folly that sinful man is capable of creating a sinless utopia.


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