Promise and Peril of Faith and Globalization: Miroslav Volf

This is the fifth in the Yale series I downloaded. Now you can watch it too. It’s only 16 minutes and well worth the time. A masterful bit of teaching and analysis.

I take from it the valuable lesson that in issues as complex as faith and globalisation single cause explanations are indeed always suspect. Second, that faith or faiths hold both promise and peril is illustrated on the positive side by two other things I have read recently.

Pancasila and Religious Tolerance in Contemporary #Indonesia by Maximos62 is very inspiring.

Today is the Feast of the Nativity in the old Orthodox Christian calendar and last night I attended an Orthodox Liturgy celebrating Christmas at the Holy Trinity Orthodox church in Solo, Central Java. For me this has been a very special journey because I’ve returned to Indonesia, for the first time since the Bali Bombings of October 2002. This time I’ve come to celebrate with Indonesian brothers and sisters in Christ.

So far this hasn’t been a difficult journey for me, far from it. I’m already accustomed to the sensational black and white representations of Indonesia in the mass media, particularly in Australia. Now I have a much deeper sense of the true character of this country and it’s people. Although a country with the world’s largest Islamic population, Indonesia shares little with the versions of Islam so frequently represented in the Western media…

Maximos was a colleague at Sydney High a few years ago. I well remember his return to school after the Bali bombing.

The second item is Tanveer Ahmed in yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald.

I am regularly pulled aside at airports for ”random checks”. It is a source of amusement for my wife. I am a young Muslim doctor of South Asian ancestry; it makes more sense than searching little old ladies or stray toddlers, which would occur if the searches were truly random.

As the spate of recent foiled attacks demonstrates, terrorism remains a potent threat to Western countries, including Australia. Would-be terrorists are almost always tertiary educated and from middle-class backgrounds. The aspiring attackers are increasingly of African ancestry. Yemen is becoming the incubator of most concern, and not Pakistan…

A dissection of Abdulmutallab’s online blogging reveals a young man struggling with loneliness and agonising over gaining entry to major American universities. He failed and attended a specialist Islamic school in Yemen instead. There he was influenced by the same religious academic linked to the army psychiatrist, Malik Nadal Hasan, who committed mass murder at Fort Hood army base.

The attackers are lonely outcasts whose social disconnection is preyed on and invested with meaning by groups such as al-Qaeda. They are reactions to wider society and often the backward traditionalism of their ethnic communities. Focusing entirely on the battle of ideas argument implies the actors’ actions are rational and not rooted in a yearning for belonging and meaning…

In an earlier Yale lecture Tony Blair made a good point. People keep telling him, he said, that Northern Ireland and, indeed, Israel/Palestine have “nothing to do with religion.” He found that odd as the participants on the ground seemed to disagree with that quite strongly.