Thursday, October 26, 2006

Even the Wind Obeys Him

Greetings, all. This is another poetical hiatus from my neo-monastic pieces (though I do plan to add another in that series this weekend). Recently I've entered into an informal sort of debate/dialogue with one of my professors here, a senior faculty member who has taught theology and spiritual formation for many years. I respect him greatly, but we differ on our perspectives regarding the proper response to the global advance of Islam.
The tendency in many evangelical circles is to view radical Muslims as the enemy, and often this degenerates into a paranoid sort of worry that Islam will soon take over Western Europe, and eventually America itself. Many Christians fear that radical Muslims are at the heart of a conspiracy to turn the world into a global caliphate under sharia law. This sort of idle worry troubles me. Though I admit that radical Islam is an obstacle to the work of the church, Muslims are not our enemies. The church has no enemies but sin and Satan. I yearn for the day when we hear more about how to show love to Muslims than about how they're such a threat to us. This poem, called "Even the Wind Obeys Him," addresses that sense of worry and helplessness as we observe the growing influence of the Islamic faith.
(Charles Martel, referenced in lines 3 and 4, was the grandfather of Charlemagne who in 732 won the Battle of Tours, effectively halting the expansion of Muslim forces from Spain into Western Europe).

Towers smoke in the distance
And slowly, slowly
The feat of Charles Martel,
The Hammer of the West,
Is undone.
They come, unstoppable now,
With quiet words
And prayers
And violent mobs
With guns and bombs.
The shadow of the minaret
Falls upon the West,
The Christian West,
Upon America itself,
The bright city on a hill.
In churches we gather,
Bewildered and afraid,
And speak of the rage of nations
And the clash of civilizations.
Our words have not stopped
This wild, violent mob,
Nor have our prayers
Or our songs
Or our armor-plated tanks.
We tremble and cry aloud
As the Last Day dawns for us,
The fall of everything we treasure
To the sword of the Arab Prophet.
Vainly we fight against the storm,
Vainly we hope to survive.
We cry aloud to the God of our hope,
And wonder why he sleeps,
Why he allows us to tread
So near the brink
Of utter decimation.

And the Savior wakes
To the frantic cries of his friends,
His chosen followers.
The sea rages around them,
Tossing them on waves of terror,
Driven by winds so fierce
That hope itself
Has been blown away.
All that remains
Is the stubborn inclination
To fight, to beat at the water
With a lashing oar,
To conquer the tempest
With the strength of their arms.
And then he rises among them,
The Desire of all Nations,
His eyes ablaze with furious peace,
And they all fall silent.
He stretches out his hands
And speaks one breath to the sea,
And the chaos of the deep obeys him.
The waves are calmed,
The violence ended,
As he stills the world
With a single word.
Turning then, he regards his friends
And softly shakes his head.
“Where is your faith?”