Going to Extremes
Hamas is now in power in Palestine (a Boston Globe article is here). Previously identified in the west dismissively as extremists, "Hamas" means "zeal" in colloquial Arabic and is an acronym for Harakat al-Muqawamah al-Islamiyyah (which means "Islamic Resistance Movement"). A helpful Wikipedia article is online here with more complete (if disputed) information on the group.
The group has been closely involved in the Intifadah which started in 2000. Hamas often claims responsibility for retalitory attacks for the roughly 3,700 Palestinians, including over 600 children that have been killed by the Israeli army and settlers (Note: Palestinians are not all Muslim, and the Palestinians who are Christian are predominately Anglican, as is King of Peace). In the process of the Hamas and other attacks, nearly 1,000 Israelis, most civilians, including more than 100 children have been killed by Palestinians (numbers from Amnesty International).
The election gives the group with which Israel will not negotiate 76 of 132 seats in the parliament. Exactly how that group, identified as a terrorist organization by our government among others, will operate now that it has moved from the radical fringe to the reigns of power is not exactly clear (see article), but there are deeply troubling clues. Hamas's logo gives a pictorial representation of the group's stated goals in showing crossed swords, the Islamic Shrine in the heart of Jerusalem—the Dome of the Rock—and the geographic boundary of all Israel as its land, indications are not good. Perhaps the group's slogan (as quoted at Wikipedia) is most succint in stating of Hamas: "God is its target, the Prophet is its model, the Qur'an its constitution: Jihad is its path and death for the sake of God is the loftiest of its wishes."
In the archives is the Tribune & Georgian religion column on Becoming a Christian Extremist, which rather than guessing whether Muslim Extremist are being faithful to their faith, considers what the extremes of our own faith would be. That column ends with the conclusion
Jesus himself summed up all the teachings of scripture with love, saying you are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul, and to love your neighbor as yourself. For Teresa of Calcutta, as for Francis of Assisi, to be a Christian is to love. To be a Christian Extremist is to love the unlovable even more.So do these two things go together or hopelessly contradict? Can the hatred, which is Hamas previous stock-in-trade be countered with love? And if so, at what cost? Furthermore, in what way should Jesus' ideal of love play itself out at the level of nations, presidents, and parliaments?
The extremists in the news seem to get big results with their actions. Can we counter their great violence with love? How can we get big results by loving?
Mother Teresa knew better than to concentrate on results. One quote of hers sums up for me what it looks like to be a Christian Extremist, “We can do no great things; only small things with great love.”
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church