Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Friday, August 06, 2010

To be religiously convicted

I can only imagine how angry some muezzinine must be. They're the men--an office apparently not open to women--who, five times a day, call their fellow muslims to prayer. In Cairo apparently, soon enough they'll be out of a job.

According to NPR yesterday, "no longer will the melodic call, the azan, be delivered by a sea of voices from minarets across the sprawling Egyptian capital," because in Cairo the call to Islamic worship is going solo: the Ministry of Religious Endowment has announced that, each day, a single voice will sound throughout the city, not the hundreds now employed at the task.

Why? Because some believe the cacophony is just plain out of control. Imagine a couple of hundred singers--not all equally talented--singing what have become different songs at once over powerful public address systems. From the other side of the world, I can hear the need for change.

Up close, I'm betting the unemployed muezzinine are singing a different tune. You just don't mess with what people--all people--hold sacred.

Years ago, I was on a denominational committee studying whether children should participate in holy communion. I remember that one of the first things our chair said was that we don't mess with holy things with impunity, something that had to be remembered.

All of which reminds me of this Wisconsin highway sign, something I found on-line.

The second paragraph says, "On April 6, 1832, a dissatisfied faction led by Black Hawk returned [east over the Mississippi] with 400 warriors and 1200 women, children, and old men. Why he risked this return to "my town, my cornfields, and the homes of my people" in the face of certain opposition is not clear. . ."

Say what?
I'd just finished reading The Autobiography of Black Hawk, where the old chief makes very clear why he crossed the Mississippi east to return to his homeland. "Would you leave all, even the graves of our fathers, to the mercy of an enemy without trying to defend them?" he asks the reader, not without sarcasm. And later: "What right had these people to our village, and our fields, which the Great Spirit had given us to live upon?" And more: "I refused therefore to quit my village. It was here that I was born, and here lie the bones of many friends and relations. For this spot I felt a sacred reverence, and never could consent to leave it without being fored therefrom."

"Why he risked this return. . .is not clear?"

Okay, maybe Black Hawk is blowing smoke in his autobiography, trying to justify the violence his own bands perpetuated on white settlers. But I doubt it. The truth is, he went back over the Mississippi in 1832 for deeply religious reasons. One doesn't need to embrace his theology to understand why he felt so strongly. God himself, the Great Spirit wanted him back there east of the river.

When people mess with the faith of others, there's going to be return fire. Watch it boil now, with the California court's decision on gay marriage.

For better and for worse, what human beings hold sacred doesn't go down without a fight. A couple hundred silenced Cairo muezzinine will let you know, I'm sure.


Anonymous said...

For CA., it's a win-win with Kagan being and pro-rights for the G & L gang........double whammy. AND, who do we have to thank for that!?!?!?

Joel said...

It's true - the call to prayer in Cairo is totally out of control. :) I always enjoyed it, but I can see how the chaos might get old after a while.