How are we to make sense of the Easter attacks in Lahore? What will the world look like in 5, 10, 20 years for our grandbabies, and for babies everywhere?
These are questions that you and I are asking after the news that a blast by a suicide bomber in Lahore, Pakistan killed at least 69 people in a park playground, many of whom were women and children celebrating Easter. Hundreds were injured, and the count keeps mounting. A Taliban faction has claimed responsibility for the worst attack in Pakistan on a Christian minority, and their defenders.
This follows last week’s brutal Brussels bombings by ISIS. Yesterday, while standing vigil, mourners from different cultures and faiths were heinously assaulted by right-wing hooligans.
No terrorism expert, I think that a violent response by the extreme right wing, and fanning anti-Islamic sentiment by the general pubic, are exactly what the attackers want to achieve, besides revenge. Horrible events assail … Syria … Iraq …
Many of us in the West have abandoned the Christian faith, but it continues to grow in many parts of Asia, Africa and South America. Yet everywhere, the young continue to question the meaning of life, what it means to be different, and want a moral compass. Asking for justice, for themselves for others, denouncing evil – these sentiments are at the heart of religion. For me, what these attacks show is that religion without God is deadly. And religion without God is not faith.
I cannot speak for Islam or other religions. Along with about 10% of fellow Australians, I am a practicing Christian, and hasten to add that I am no more just, kinder, gentler, or better than anyone else. But my faith provides me strength for today and hope for tomorrow. You may not think so, and I can live with that. “Is there a God” is a question posed by atheists and I completely agree that this an important question, perhaps the most important one we can ever address.
Is religion a sop for the weak as Nietzsche says? Hardly. Roy Williams, author of God Actually proclaims in a recent ABC interview that the Church today has values most closely aligned with secular feminist left, and we know that this group is NOT weak! Williams also refers to a quote by Tim Costello, an Australian Baptist minister, who asks – how did the message of Jesus ever become associated by elements of the American right with tax cuts, guns and disdain for the environment? Surely, a call for action.
So yes, even amongst the brutality, there is something good about Friday and Easter. This season combines first sacrifice followed by joy. I sympathise, even mourn for the victims. There is an opportunity to sit silently, light a candle, and reflect on the role of faith in our society. I’ve just downloaded the kindle version of God Actually and will be reading it the rest of this weekend. We need to actively understand other faiths, build peace for our grandbabies and babies everywhere, and may we all find joy.