The Plan Of Starvation

 Photo: Counter Extremism Project

Photo: Counter Extremism Project

Religious Extremism

One thing we are waking up to as society is that religious extremism in any form (yes, even Christian) only breeds terror and death. 

One of my favorite pieces of writing by Aaron Sorkin is housed in an episode of his hit show, The West Wing, titled, "Isaac and Ishmael."

In the episode, The White House goes on lockdown because of a terrorist threat. When the lockdown occurs, a group of students happen to be in the White House for a tour and they are required to stay inside until the threat is dissolved. The senior staff wait with them in the mess hall, and the students begin asking them about terrorism.

Watch the clip, below, then read on.

At the very end of the episode, Josh Lyman (the man speaking in the clip you just watched) says something profound that we all need to be reminded of. 

He tells the students who are paralyzed with fear exactly how to combat religious extremism in whatever form it chooses to manifest itself. He says,

You want to get these people? I mean, you really want to reach in and kill them where they live? Then keep accepting more than one idea. It makes them absolutely crazy.

Look Up

I think that statement from Lyman (or rather, Sorkin) is a prophetic word for our time, especially in a world filled with threats. The words point us to a "plan of starvation," if you will, for the terror at work in our world.

What are we to do when terror strikes? 

Will we sit down, be silent, hide and feed the fear exactly what it wants? Or will we heed the words of Jesus:

On the earth, people will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.
— Jesus

When we look around at the world, sometimes all that we can we see is tragedy. All that we might feel is despair. We see the immediate and not the possible. We see ourselves and not others. We act out of self-preservation instead of selfless compassion. But when we look up, we breed courage. We see a world where we can work together toward healing.

In doing this, then and only then will we starve the terror in the world. Bullies travel in herds, but so do those who seek peace. We are not alone. We are many, but we must set aside our differences and work for the common good. Before doctrines and traditions, we are firstly, "human."

Above all, keep accepting more than one idea. Don't feed the terror. Starve it.

The weapons of our warfare are mighty. And they look like peacemaking.

Selah.


 
 Ryan Phipps is the Senior Minister at Church In Bethesda.  Raised in the church, becoming a pastor was the one thing Ryan vowed he would never do. After spending many years away from faith, he found that for all of its flaws, the church can still occupy a unique place of good in the world if it is willing to evolve with reason and empathy.  Ryan has a special place in his heart for those who have been damaged or disillusioned by the church, and longs to lead those within it toward a more just and generous expression of itself.  Ryan is an  INTJ  on the MBTI and a  5w4  on the Enneagram.

Ryan Phipps is the Senior Minister at Church In Bethesda.

Raised in the church, becoming a pastor was the one thing Ryan vowed he would never do. After spending many years away from faith, he found that for all of its flaws, the church can still occupy a unique place of good in the world if it is willing to evolve with reason and empathy.

Ryan has a special place in his heart for those who have been damaged or disillusioned by the church, and longs to lead those within it toward a more just and generous expression of itself.

Ryan is an INTJ on the MBTI and a 5w4 on the Enneagram.

Ryan Phipps