Yesterday evening, I led a prayer meeting linked to the "30 days of prayer for Islam" campaign sponsored by the Evangelical Alliance in Germany. The growth of Islam in Europe is a hot topic in Germany right now, especially after the recent arrest of three would-be terrorists, two of which turned out to be German converts to the Muslim faith.
How do we react to the fact that another truth system is gaining ground? Looking at it in a purely postmodern/relativistic way, it shouldn't matter too much. Someone has another idea of truth -- so what? As long as I am allowed to keep my own version, I shouldn't be concerned too much. But of course, I am not buying into that ...
First of all, I think there might be some real danger in a large-scale Islamization of Europe, at least in the long run: If one day, Islamic political interest became dominant in our country, I fear that the choice of your own truth and your own religion would be done away with rather fast. Fortunately, this frightening perspective does not seem to be realistic any time in the near future. Still, Islam is growing in Germany.
The second, and much more important reason why I think we cannot sit back and do nothing is because we do have a metanarrative to defend. I've argued before that I don't think we can live without one, and that we have the best metanarrative there is -- and a non-violent one, at that. The question then is, how do we face the growth of a new belief system in a non-violent way?
I tried to illustrate the proper approach at church yesterday evening by imagining what we would do if the local Islamist union (yes, we do have that in Freudenstadt) set out to build a large mosque in our city. I proposed two possible responses:
- We could gather all believers from our city and go for a large protest march, leading from the building city right to the mayor's office. We could carry signs saying "We don't need no mosque here!" and "Let them build their mosques in Turkey!" (and while we're at it, the logical next step would be something like "All Muslims are terrorists, anyway" and "Send all foreigners home". The result? Well, the non-believers all around would be confirmed in their view that all religious folks are completely insane, anyway. And we would have resorted to the very violence that caused the total rejection of metanarratives in postmodern thinking. Not good, then.
- We could let them build their mosque. Why not, actually? They have the right to do it under our constitution (with it's guaranteed freedom of religion, which is a great treasure we don't want to lose), anyway. At the same time, we will go back to our church and pray for the Holy Spirit to act through us in a new, mighty way. We would then devote all of our energies to proclaiming and living our own (better, even best) metanarrative in a positive way -- and see to it, that God's work is so clearly expressed in our private and church lives, that nobody even cares to go to the new mosque, because they're all coming to us to see what God is doing. How about that for a non-violent defense of a metanarrative?Of course, having said that, it becomes apparent that the ideal approach would be to implement solution (2) even right now, without waiting for a specific "threat" to arise. Why not push the metanarrative just today -- but in a positive, non-violent way. We've got the best message there is, so why hide it?
[...] Christoph takes a generally pessimistic (perhaps realistically so) view of postmodernism [...]I'm not sure I do. I am in the process of formulating my stance towards post-modernism for my Ph.D. dissertation. So far, I haven't completely worked out my conclusion on this question -- which, first of all, depends on how you define post-modernism. And, again, that's something I'm not sure you're even able to do. Anyways, I have recently written up a partial definition, along with the pros and cons I find in post-modern thinking in a presentation I made to my doctoral promoters while in Amsterdam. To summarize a little bit (you can read the article here), I find positive as well as negative aspects to the underlying philosophy. more »