Last night I went into one of our local Walmarts and was greeted by a very pleasant Walmart Greeter Muslim guy. He was all totally smiles and happiness. O.K. I loaded up my shopping cart with stuff like tomatoes, onions and whatever. I went to the cashier, a lady with a burka at the register, very nice. I paid, and then left, wishing all a nice day. O.K. There’s more to recount about Muslim stuff, but this is sufficient for this post. Just to say, it was a nice shopping experience all around. Great!
I didn’t buy any bacon or any pork products. I really never do. Someone had given me some bacon a few months ago, which I really really enjoyed. But anyway, what if I had bought some more bacon? Wouldn’t that force a Muslim to have contact with swine? Is that fair to them? Am I being hateful if I buy bacon at Walmart? Is it a hate crime on my part? Unfair religious provocation? Just some multi-cultural questions in a Dearborn age.
When I was teaching in the Pontifical seminary in Ohio in these USA, one of the seminarians was born a Muslim as his father was a Muslim and that’s how it is. Of course, in studying and being formed as a seminarian on his way to being ordained a Catholic priest, the youngster had converted to be Catholic, a capital crime in Islamic law, as was, in fact, proudly and loudly proclaimed by the local Islamic Cultural Center: the damned kid needed to be honor killed. Of course, the problem with this was, as the now seminarian told me, that his father had himself converted to be Catholic. Ha ha! The cowardly cowards at the Cultural Center cowered, cowards that they are. The seminarian told me that, for them, what counted was being treated with dignity and respect by the Catholics that they knew. They fell in love with the love that Jesus brings to us. Great.
Now, back to my question. Is this respect expressed in being a volunteer dhimmi, one who voluntarily lives under Sharia law because one doesn’t want to offend any Muslim customs, such as not having anything to do with pork? Just a multi-cultural question in a Dearborn age.
I put before you a text from the first generation of Christianity, a text from the letter to Diognetus:
“Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some outlandish way of life. Their teaching is not based upon reveries inspired by the curiosity of men. Unlike some other people, they champion no purely human doctrine. With regard to dress, food and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in, whether it is Greek or foreign.
And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labor under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country. Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them. They share their meals, but not their wives.
They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven. Obedient to the laws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law. Christians love all men, but all men persecute them. Condemned because they are not understood, they are put to death, but raised to life again. They live in poverty, but enrich many; they are totally destitute, but possess an abundance of everything. They suffer dishonor, but that is their glory. They are defamed, but vindicated. A blessing is their answer to abuse, deference their response to insult. For the good they do they receive the punishment of malefactors, but even then they, rejoice, as though receiving the gift of life. They are attacked by the Jews as aliens, they are persecuted by the Greeks, yet no one can explain the reason for this hatred.
To speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body. As the soul is present in every part of the body, while remaining distinct from it, so Christians are found in all the cities of the world, but cannot be identified with the world. As the visible body contains the invisible soul, so Christians are seen living in the world, but their religious life remains unseen. The body hates the soul and wars against it, not because of any injury the soul has done it, but because of the restriction the soul places on its pleasures. Similarly, the world hates the Christians, not because they have done it any wrong, but because they are opposed to its enjoyments.
Christians love those who hate them just as the soul loves the body and all its members despite the body’s hatred. It is by the soul, enclosed within the body, that the body is held together, and similarly, it is by the Christians, detained in the world as in a prison, that the world is held together. The soul, though immortal, has a mortal dwelling place; and Christians also live for a time amidst perishable things, while awaiting the freedom from change and decay that will be theirs in heaven. As the soul benefits from the deprivation of food and drink, so Christians flourish under persecution. Such is the Christian’s lofty and divinely appointed function, from which he is not permitted to excuse himself.”
From a letter to Diognetus (Nn. 5-6; Funk, 397-401)
Am I abusing that text? Am I caving to Islam? Can I buy bacon at Walmart?
I am hungry for bacon, but I’m not interested in provoking for the sake of provoking.
What to do?