2007, An-Nahar, Articles

The Politicization of God / 03.02.2007

More than once the president Bush said that God has commissioned him and has ordered him to occupy Iraq and other than Iraq. Whoever thinks this, how could you deal with him? The Lebanese have certain humor or education, and some of them think that God speaks to them in these matters; however they do not express it. I understand that the almighty God condescends to you in order to heal you from a sickness, since you are God’s creature and beloved, but that God should have a policy for Lebanon, or for a sect [or a denomination] in Lebanon, this sounds funny to me. The Lord does not consolidate you for a worldly benefit and does not consolidate a sect [or a denomination], making it superior to others, strengthening it in order that it might be in charge of God at a certain period of history. This is even funnier. Sects [denominations] are humans and humans are rogue and toilsome. The Lord does not favor a group [against another] and makes no interference in war or peace. People make war and peace according to their strength. And a proof for this is that the same country wins in a battle and is defeated in another. Thus, where is God’s faithfulness to this people as God conceals Godself from them for some times? This was haw the German pastors prayed for the support of their country in the First World War, and the French pastors for their country at the same period. And each of the two groups thought that it is on the side of God.

There is no room here to mention the Crusaders and the belief of their leaders that God has sent them to these countries. Why did God not leave them in these countries to our day? And why did God want their victory and then their defeat? And why does Israel win and then also is defeated?

There is an ingrained tendency in humans to make God the savior of purposes they have reposed. And every nation [or people] thinks that God is its ally and that they are a chosen people. Whatever was the meaning of the statement [the chosen people], why the Hebrews conquered several times before the coming of Christ and why they were defeated several times? The human being needs an ally, and it is he/[she] who declares God an ally. Why have Christians lived seven centuries in the Levant as overwhelming majority, and then have become completely obliterated in North Africa?

In my view, one of the reasons of the progress of the West, since the eighteenth century, is that they have studied politics intellectually. They considered neither the success of the French Revolution as a crown from God nor Bonaparte’s coming to rule, and also the other kings’, as the descent of grace upon them. The age of prophecy is over. Today, neither victory nor conquest is left to God, and the story is the story of weapon, political understanding, and either cultural progress or regression.

God is not with Shiites, or Sunnites, or Christians or others as they are in war, since God is the God of peace, or God is peace, as the inspired Books say. And the religious groups are playing their games to the extent of their power. No one carries a divine mandate to gain any position and God is not with the defeat of any position. And if any of these was true, then this is concealed for us to understand.

God has left for us spiritual values to live according to their content. God has not left military maps. God is not the Chief of Staff. In case we say this, it would mean that the conqueror army is the army of God. Does [then] God lead another army in case it wins? And does God have temperament [or mood] in order to take sides? Whenever our perception of war and peace is not secularized, then, we are in wars which in reality are religious, and seemingly mundane. Charles Helou used to say that our wars with Israel are wars of prophets. By this he used to refer to the religious nature, which the Jews used to give to their assaults. However, any child would know that prophets do not fight and that commissioning the prophets are forged papers which people write for their own benefit.

Whenever we leave God out of this matter, and we invite God to our repenting souls; wars would stop, since they are the work of the hearts full of abhorrence. Hope is necessary here and also to realize that we all endure not with the power of weapon, but with the power of love. Then, you will feel that you value the Other, and that his/[her] love retains your existence, and that on earth there is enough space for you and for him/[her]. This assumes that you believe that the Other cannot threaten you, though he/[she] says that, since you endure through divine gratification. [This also assumes that] you are unarmed and that you have a message to the Other to the extent that you are abstinent from the world and maybe from politics. I was telling some of my Christian friends: when you were absent from the political stage in Ottoman Empire you were more prosperous in thought and creativity, namely in domains which do not need weapon or political status.

Today, I do not have lessons for the politicized Christians. They are more eloquent than me in their fields. Whenever you can spare no effort in the fields of thought, art and economic activity, then, the people’s need of you will increase, and you will have your own space and they will have theirs. And you will together discover that the great humanitarian work sets you free from fear and consequently frees you from the trade of arms and their use. In the fifties, as I recall, André Gide presented us a lecture in cinema Roxy in Beirut and he said that the world was made by minorities. Whenever you do not immigrate, do not fear of extinction. Extinction comes from fighting. Do not fear of having children, since this is the will of God and God will provide for you and for your offspring. Do not think that you will endure by defending yourself, unless by politics’ honorable means, since then it would be a defense of the whole homeland. People should compete in thought and economic production and to clear their spiritual and philosophical thinking because of some outstanding ones among them and this is beneficial for the whole nation. Whenever we do not immigrate of fear, then, Muslims and Christians will exist in this country forever, since the one who is not selfish and not indulging in luxury loves children and they live with him/[her], in front of him[her], with joy and knowledge. Sectarianism will abolish by itself whenever each sect [or denomination] strives along the paths of sharing and progress. Then, though you would be physically coming from your family, nevertheless, the sublimity of your heart and your cognitive excellence will come from all communities.

Whenever you insist to remain only as from the people of the world you will remain in conflict, since every hungry person of the world will strive to swallow it up alone. But whenever you renounce glory you can share your bread, then, the physical bread will seem to be of less value than the bread of knowledge.

To take off the weapon from you quiver starts, then, as you purify yourself and you have hunger for God and knowledge, and also for work which comes from them. And whenever you swallow the divine word others would receive it from you, and you would live together and you would form a people who long for purity, which is more powerful than sin. The problem of the sinner is that he/[she] is not aware of his/[her] depth. And the problem of the armed is that he/[she] does not completely believe that he/[she] is exposed to die and there is not any aspect of creativity in death.

In these countries there is no way for national partnership between us without deeming God far beyond being an ally to a sect [or a denomination]. The danger comes from this god that you make according to your own likeness and your own example. Your endeavor, then, is to return to the image which God has drawn in you; and not the image of the god of war which you have drawn for yourself.

The problem is not solved when you say that this group is unarmed. I do not have intelligence services to know the truth of the issue. However, the error is not only in acquisition of arms, but also in the desire to obtain them. And the greatest danger is whenever you obtain a weapon and you believe that God’s hand is on the trigger or that it aims at the bomb. To me, no idolatry is compared to this. I do not invite you to become secular in all the areas of politics. Though that’s what I opt for. However, I invite you to deem God far beyond planning for wars, or leading them. Since then, you fall in the sin of commercializing with God for your own benefit and for the benefit of the faction to which you belong. And commercializing with God is your enslaving of God intellectually, while you are God’s slave.

To depart from possessing or politicizing God is the way for your salvation in the days in which we live. I am not eligible to point to the internal, regional and international factors which intervene and cause our death. We die in the depth because of the lack of depth of the soul and the mind, and also from the incapability to perceive the Other as our brother/[sister]. And we die of fear, namely of the lack of love.

Everything seems to be as if we will not escape adversity, unless by a special divine compassion.

Translated by Sylvie Avakian-Maamarbashi

Original Text: “تسييس الله” –An Nahar- 03.02.2007

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