Who he said he was: I am writing to congratulate you for publishing Thomas Korosec's excellent piece "Crusaders" in the November 14 issue.
I have no idea what I was expecting to find in this article when I picked up the Dallas Observer. As a "fifty-something" grandfather, I am not a regular reader--although I enjoy your excellent restaurant review section and try to take it in whenever I can.
In this case, your cover caught my attention. I was prepared for an article that would be generally condemning of Christian folk who feel called to seek to bring the Jesus of the Bible to the Muslim world. I guess the term "crusader" is as challenging to most Christians today as it no doubt is to folks in the Middle East--regardless of their religious affiliation. So I was somewhat surprised and delighted by the calm, balanced tone of Mr. Korosec's piece as well as with its overall nonjudgmental approach to this subject.
Today it is quite popular in some circles to see various faiths as "different roads up the same mountain." That concept falls on its face where Christianity and Islam are concerned. Jesus is either who he said he was and who the Christian faith says he was, or Christianity is no faith at all but a farcical veneration of history's greatest egomaniacs.
Muhammad's teachings stand against all that those men who knew Jesus and wrote about their years with him have to tell us about him. Either they were liars--and in many cases willing to die for their lie--or Muhammad 400 years after Jesus' death was a liar. It does not surprise us too much to find that there are those among us who are willing to make great sacrifices and undertake great risk to set the record straight.
C.R. (Bob) Hefner Jr.
Before the fall: First off, I am a Texan, born in Fort Worth. American by birth, Texan by the grace of God. That said, one thing that really annoys the hell out of me is the misguided, self-righteous blather by so-called "evangelicals" who feel they simply must force the world to their own belief system. These fools say they are called by God to force other people to the "right" faith. Sadly, God does not call these people; they are called by ego. "Look at me," they say. "Look how wonderful I am!" Wonderful, they are not. It is said that pride goeth before a fall. These "underground evangelicals" are going to fall, and fall hard.
Dayna Curry and Heather Mercer should not be called heroes. They knowingly broke the law. Whether or not that law is popular is a different question. There is a call now to make marijuana legal. Are potheads now to be called heroes for flouting a law they believe is unjust? Obviously, the answer is no. But those two women believed they were "right," so their belief must be more important.
But you know something? The Nazis believed they were right. Look what happened to them.
As someone who lived in Saudi Arabia for several years, what I find most interesting is that for all those 1.2 billion Muslims, I have yet to see an Islamic evangelical. I lived in both Riyadh and Taif. Taif is less than 300 miles from Mecca, the holiest city in the Islamic faith. I got to see for myself, firsthand, the tradition and experience that go into Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca a devout Muslim should undertake once in his life. None of the pilgrims I met on the street, in the souks, ever once tried to convert me or told me that being Christian, or American, was evil or wrong. The pilgrims "witnessed" in the most effective way imaginable: They lived their lives the way they felt God wanted them to. No more, no less. Islam was never forced on me. There was no church for me to attend, but neither was I imprisoned, arrested nor even spoken harshly to by the Muslims I knew when I spoke of my faith.
I am strong in my faith in God, and Jesus was perhaps the greatest teacher ever known, for his words and ideals are spoken this day, 2,000 years after his death. But my belief in his ideals does not automatically make the ideals of Muhammad, Buddha or David more or less wrong because of my belief. My faith is actually stronger because I learned the different viewpoints of Christ from the Jewish and Muslim perspective. Muslims accept Christ as a prophet of God, but to them, Muhammad is the last prophet, and to Muhammad they listen first. Who am I to tell them they are wrong?
There is no right or wrong, there is belief. The right and wrong come in the human interpretation of that faith.
World's biggest cult: Perhaps the real reason Christian evangelicals have had trouble converting Muslims is that Islam is the world's biggest cult. Like a typical cult, it has some extreme beliefs and practices (women are nobodies, it's OK to kill nonbelievers, etc.). It's very hard to convert someone away from a cult.
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This is just my opinion, of course, but I'm too scared of them to give my name.
Stand at the gate: What a good piece on the "Crusaders," assuming all the information is accurate. It says several things many have suspected: "Our God is better than your God." Mr. Korosec accurately noted that many Muslim converts do so to grease their migration to the United States. Surprised? Why don't more of these converts stay in their countries to further the Christian cause? For Christian missionaries, it is just another way to travel and see the world. If it were not so, then why not in our own back yard? I am reminded of the prophet Jeremiah in the Old Testament. Jeremiah is called to preach, but instead of sending him out to the pagan and idolatrous world, the Lord sends him to the gate of the Lord's House. The Lord tells Jeremiah to "stand at the gate of the Lord's House [temple] and proclaim there this word...amend your ways and your doings, and I will let you dwell in this place." Even worse, when these people get in trouble in these volatile foreign countries, they deny everything (Dayna Curry and Heather Mercer, now on tour promoting a book), and then it takes tax money to figure out a way to get them back.
Rafael G. Sustaita