Saturday, January 13, 2007

Origins of Faith Traditions

Reading Tariq Islam's piece in the London Review of Books on Islamic history ( He writes:
"Judaism, Christianity and Islam all began as versions of what we would today describe as political movements. They were credible belief-systems which aimed to make it easier to resist imperial oppression, to unite a disparate people, or both."

While the statement is simplistic, one can certainly make this argument for Islam, and in large part for Judaism (as the worship of the Lord played a role in inspiring a Canaanite peasant rebellion that eventually led to the nation of Israel). It is less easy to argue this for Christianity, but there was a major element of political liberation in both Jesus' teaching and the preaching of the early Jesus movement.

So, how then shall we live? Is faith all about political resistance to oppression? How do we act when we ourselves are both oppressors and oppressed (see the Solzhenitsyn quote below), calling ourselves people of faith while living in the rich West? Stay tuned for answers (if I have any).

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