Sunday, January 17, 2010

Speaking of Faith

One of the best shows on radio or tv is Speaking of Faith from MPR. The host, Krista Tippett, takes faith and its consequences seriously as they address a wide range of issues and topics. It's worth a listen to every week, but let me draw your attention to this week's episode:
British activist Ed Husain was seduced, at the age of 16, by revolutionary Islamist ideals that flourished at the heart of educated British culture. Yet he later shrank back from radicalism after coming close to a murder and watching people he loved become suicide bombers. He dug deeper into Islamic spirituality, and now offers a fresh and daring perspective on the way forward.
Of the many interesting things Mr. Husain said was that (if I may paraphrase) "in Britain politicians don't understand faith, so they focus just on the consequences of Islamic extremism and think they can deal with the problem by shoveling money at it."

For me, this highlights one of the great failing of secular liberal democracy (including Western Europe and USA) and its battle against Islamic extremism. Secular, capitalistic, liberal democracies fight the battle as if they were fighting communism, i.e., the lifestyle of the West is so rich and great and irresistible that if we can only get our message out, than the other folks will understand. You get this sense when people talk about how its folks in poor economic conditions that become terrorists. This is obviously false. Nevertheless, what the "West" needs to realize is that the western lifestyle is not only not irresistible, but repugnant to some. We can not buy our way of the problem. We need to make sure we are telling the better story.

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