Friday, November 7, 2008

What's in a name?

I'm not feeling quite as frivolous this Friday as I consider how far we as the Church have set ourselves back with all of our political wranglings and machinations. Having said that, this will be my last political post regarding the elections. The idiocy of tracing Barack Obama’s ‘ties’ to terrorists is at best a remarkable display of how, uninformed yet blind allegiance can sometimes turn the best of intentions into the most embarrassing displays of foolishness. As Christians, we appeared singularly devoted to putting McCain (or was it really Palin) into the White House at the expense of objectivity and sometimes honesty. We were quick to point out, and consistently use Obama’s middle name, Hussein, so that it remained forefront on people’s minds that he had Islamic ties. Frankly, I found this rather bothersome largely because I am personally acquainted with quite a few Moslems that I would trust with my life before I would any number of Christians I know. The problem, as I’ve highlighted in a previous article, is not with Moslems in general, but with Radical Islam, yet the use of his middle name and constant references to his Islamic ties would seem to indicate that, if indeed he was secretly Moslem it lent credence to possible terrorist ties.

My given middle name is “Abdullahi.” It is of Arabic descent and it literally translates as “Son of Allah.” In addition, I have been in the Middle East on previous occasions. Ergo: I’m potentially associated with terrorism? That’s how foolish the arguments regarding Obama and his potential terrorist ties sound too! Why on earth do we think that he could have legitimate terrorist ties, and in his 2-year run for the office of President of the United States, with all the extensive background checks done on him, the FBI would not have found any damning evidence to prove that fact? It is one thing to stand vehemently opposed to his worldview and disagree with his choice as president on the basis of that. It is quite another, and in fact is entirely disingenuous to raise unfounded speculations as if they were proven facts, just to push our agenda of preventing him from attaining the highest political office in our nation.

In blindly pointing attention to an insignificant detail in order to create a desired impression, we are in danger of becoming the very thing that we fight against. How would we be any different from the pro-choice movement who will stop at nothing (no method seems beneath them) to promote their agenda? For example, to highlight their cause they refer to themselves as being pro-choice. To highlight ours, we refer to ourselves as being pro-life. In their unveiled attempt to deflect attention away from the real issue of human lives being arrogantly expended, they choose to refer to the pro-life movement as anti-choice. Wouldn’t it be more appropriate that they be called pro-abortion, since that is the larger issue at stake? Why are they not referred to as anti-life as a direct opposite of pro-life? After all, to be fair, both sides should get equal billing. If one side will be referred to as anti-choice in direct opposition to pro-choice, shouldn’t the other be referred to as anti-life in direct opposition to pro-life? Reality though is much different than what should obtain, and we must recognize that there is a bigger “war” being waged behind the scenes that cannot be won through rhetoric and incendiary remarks or comments.

For us to sink to the disparate level of indulging in such underhanded tactics by referring to Obama’s middle name, yet never making mention of McCain’s, is to suggest a hidden agenda. Such agendas ultimately do not promote godliness and serve to undermine God's greater purpose being fulfilled, which is to reach the lost, the hurting, and the next generation. So, as we begin the journey towards 'fence-mending' within the Body of Christ, let's refocus our attention on things that have more eternal value. Things such as loving and serving hurting people. Hurting people like the woman in the picture above.


Anonymous said...

My name was originally spelt Khamsin (and still is on my birth certificate), and is also Arabic in origin. I guess that makes me a terrorist too!

Ash said...

this is a good post. thank you, also for being transparent. i have a friend who is actually Muslim by designation (her father i think)- but she is christian by practice. last year, as part of her job, she went to the Hajj and came back inspired...what was she inspired by? the prayers- the fact that she saw so many people who just committed to prayer. how cool is that? as believers in Christ, that is what we should be committed to as well, rather than pointing out "outward" appearances, such as Obama's middle name or blood heritage. to me? it's rather absurd

Joseph said...

Kamsin, welcome to the 'terrorist' club. :)

Ashley, thanks for that story!

~C said...

I'm personally frustrated at the lengths that the radical extreme will go to push an agenda politically that may or may not be the best thing for the country. It does seem that we, as a Christian-whole, are more interested in seeing our God-ordained candidates in office than we are interested in perpetuating the very thing that Jesus mandated we do - love our neighbors and love ourselves. He did say that the greatest of the commandments was this, did he not?

I find it easy for we as people to box ourselves in with our principles and ideologies, to carry forward with a certain idea of how things should be, and to that particular end, use every bit of information in our path or accomplish our goal. It is a sad state of affairs - a sad report card on the status of these individual's hearts.

The truth is that God is love. He always has been, always will be and is right now, in this moment - love. If we are not walking in love in everything that we do, say, in every way that we are - we are to question ourselves and bring ourselves back in line - with love. So many of the things I hear said are out of fear - fear that the wrong man will take office, fear that our country will fail and die, fear that "God's man" for the job will somehow be spited by Satan... fear.

Fear is not of God. Fear cannot exist in perfect love.

As Christians, we have a strong and urgent responsibility to get back to the core of who Jesus is - in EVERYTHING we do. We cannot be one way politically and another in church. We are to be and walk in love. That is our only job. Every behavior and decision is to come out of that.

Perhaps we should get off of our soapboxes and into our meditation corners and take the time to truly experience who Love really is. Perhaps, if we let love change us, we will find our lives and the people's lives around us better for it. And perhaps - just perhaps - God is bigger than we are and can handle the fate of a country we all love.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your assertion that seriously taking this line of reasoning is unfair and completely unhelpful.

I would like to mention that many of the "Hussein" comments are more a matter of cynicism than any actual claim. One person that comes to mind who uses it alot is Ann Coulter (Who believe it or not dated Dinesh D'Souza, did you know that?).

Anyway, I would like to point out that being from the North East (New York City to be exact) she is very sarcastic (ironic for other North Easters sarcastic to the rest of the Country) in her tone and repeats the word more as a matter of humor than any real assertion.

Many of my Colorado Springs friends would find that in poor taste, but it is more a matter of translation than actual hate mongering. Believe it or not everything a Coloradan says does not settle well on our ears either, not for a while anyway.

If it is offensive it is only superficially. It is irony, and I'm afraid I do feel that it breaks up some tension. Her concerns with Obama are actually grounded in the real issues, she simply sums those issues up as "Hussein". It is a way of saying he doesn't stand for my values as an American, and not necessarily claiming that he would order people to strap bombs to themselves or drop people off of roofs. Anyone that seriously goes that far is frankly absurd. I know that, she knows that, and so we joke a little because we both already know that.

Joseph said...

rrrryan (I wonder what your name actually is), thanks for adding your voice to the conversation. I'm sorry but, while I concede that it may be superficial (where Ann Coulter and certain others are concerned), I also believe that some things are not expedient. For instance, in understanding racial tensions in our diverse culture, calling a black man a "nigger" under any circumstances, will not sit well no matter how "superficial" the context.

There are many unfounded assertions about Obama having ties to terrorism and to supposed Islamic roots. That means harping on his middle name, which happens to be Islamic, is incendiary and serves no greater good, superficially or otherwise.

Anonymous said...

I agree somewhat, however it's just not true under "any circumstance." Jackie Chan made whites and blacks alike laugh hysterically when he dropped the "n" bomb in "Rush Hour".

Also among blacks, as though I'd have to tell you, it "sits" fine. I come from an area of the east where even whites would say that to each other proceeded with a "Wassup". It is a dangerous word, and using it in this way among friends is a way of asserting intimacy and trust, despite the lack of sensitivity. I did not use it but I've been on the receiving end many times, and it had nothing to do with my skin color. It was a term of endearment. That's all, as strange and twisted as it sounds.

Finally, let me add, that in the North Eastern, Jerry Seinfeld, type of culture irony is hilarious. When someone does not like a president's policies, especially on the war on terror (ie: let's sit down and negotiate with Ahmadinejad after he insists publicly that Jews have no right to exist), it is very ironic that his middle name is Hussein, and very funny, albeit in poor taste.

I live immersed in cultural diversity and insist that my challenge is not just to speak carefully but to listen carefully as well.

Thea said...

It's good I didn't run for President...I don't have a middle name. :)

My best thoughts to share after reading that are simply "thank you". Great perspective check - I heard a disturbing statistic recently that stated 97% of Christians had never led someone to the Lord & realized it has been a number of years since I've prayed with someone personally to make Jesus Lord of their life. Hello...serious gut check there.

With respect to the lost...what do you think is the most effective tool for reaching others? Maybe a blog topic?? :)

Hope you guys are doing great -

Joseph said...

Thea, you're right, without a middle-name you'd have been 'nixed' :) Seriously though, I appreciate you sharing that stat. Here's what's really scary about that: How effective can 3% of Christians be in reaching a lost and hurting world with the love of Jesus Christ? If 97% would rather concern themselves with who's in the White House more than who's in 'God's House' we are in mortal danger of disobedience to the "Great Commission." Here's an interesting thought: what if you weren't allowed to voice an opinion about effective Christianity and what is or isn't God's will unless you had led someone to the Lord that week?!