Many years ago my mother discovered through her genealogy work that she had close relatives living in the Great Lakes region which she had never heard of, nor they her.
When she arrived, they were warm and inviting, yet she found them staring at her oddly when they thought she wasn’t looking.
Finally it came out.
“You’re a Mormon, aren’t you?”
“Why, yes I am.”
“Can we see your horns?”
My mother laughed out loud and bent her head forward for a hands-on inspection. When no horns were found, they asked their next question.
“How many wives does your husband have?”
I would imagine that many of you have similar stories you could share. We laugh now about how silly people are to believe such nonsense about an entire group of people they know nothing about.
She was far more like them than she was different.
We discovered the same thing about a year later when they all traveled to Utah and spent time with us in our home. As a young, sheltered Mormon boy I discovered that all those “non-members” weren’t the devils to be avoided that I had always assumed them to be.
They were pretty regular people who were actually fun and had their own faults that added to their unique personalities.
Of course you know where I’m going with this.
Before you follow your inclination to just click to another page, please understand that I’m not saying that we should all just join hands around the campfire to sing Cumbaya and then everything will magically be great.
And it is running toward us.
Some of it has already made it here.
A significant part of our horror comes from knowing that they claim to do what they do in the name of their God.
It seems inconceivable that they can’t understand that God would never be the author of such terror.
We know that the devil … inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually. But … that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, everything which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.
It seems so straightforward and uncomplicated.
We have the tendency to complicate things.
Radical Judaism received direct condemnation from the Savior when he walked among them.
Radical Christianity crusaded almost unimpeded across the borders of the “infidels.”
Radical Mormonism broke away with their own interpretations of the gospel, including the practice of polygamy, which causes concern for all those poor “brainwashed” people.
The consistent theme here isn’t a religious faith; it’s the radicalization or perversion of the idea of faith.
Just as my mother’s new family learned that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are (on the whole) good people, and her impressionable young son learned that people of other faiths are (on the whole) good people, there are many today who understand that those who are balanced, even temperate, in their beliefs are also (on the whole) good people.
I don’t think the greatest danger that we need to beware of is radical Islam. These extremists are irrationally filled with evil to the point they have lost the ability to think for themselves.
Their malicious acts clearly define which side of right vs. wrong they have chosen.
I worry that our greatest danger could be radical Christianity or radical patriotism or radical political ideations.
You know, taking the time to be educated on the issues.
In the greatest war of our pre-existent state Satan stepped forward and said “They will be afraid when they get there. I’ll keep them all safe, I’ll bring them all back, I’ll protect them from all harm and danger. I guarantee it.”
“I’ll do all the thinking; there will be no need for them to think for themselves.”
We all recognized that as a pretty radical idea then.
It’s still a pretty radical idea now.
As near as I can tell, the only way anyone can guarantee that there won’t be any more terrorist attacks, promising no more need to fear, would be to do the same.
True Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, and even Islam are meant to cause a person to do good and fight against evil.
Now there’s a radical idea.