Unity in the face of terror
This article was originally published in the 9 July 2017 Christian Science Monitor Daily, Christian Science Perspective feature “Unity in the face of terror“.
In a Spanish castle that was historically a point of contention between Christians and Muslims, contributor Robin Harragin Hussey found this quote attributed to the Quran: “Two religions, one God.” This idea gave her comfort and hope in the wake of a recent attack in a part of London her family frequents. She related it to a statement by the Monitor’s founder, Mary Baker Eddy: “One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself;’ … leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 340). When we hear of or witness acts of terror, we can draw hope from this powerful promise.
Last week I visited Lorca Castle in central Spain. In medieval times it was the flashpoint between Islamic and Christian territories. In the beautifully structured ancient cistern, the castle curators have created a simple display about the two religions. Across the floor are sayings attributed to the Islamic sacred text, the Quran. One of them simply states, “Two religions, one God.”I was deeply moved because I live very near the two bridges over the River Thames in London where twice in the past two months terrorists created mayhem by deliberately driving into pedestrians. In the most recent attack, three Islamists also stabbed many people in the popular area of Borough Market, where my daughters and I go often. So this has added poignancy for me, and the idea of one God has brought me particular comfort.
The terrorists believe that there is good and bad religion, but both the Bible and the Quran tell us that there is one God. No matter what is going on, the spiritual fact remains that there is only one God, one cause and creator of man – of all of us – and the universe. There is deep, healing meaning in this, especially when we consider what Christian Science explains of the nature of God as entirely good.
As we come to understand our God-derived common goodness, divisions, hatred, and fear can begin to melt away. Such transformation has been described in a marvelous way by Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, who said: “One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself;’ …” and, she goes on, “leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 340).
In the Bible’s book of Genesis, there is a story about two boys, Isaac and Ishmael, who became the progenitors of two great peoples – Jews and Arabs (see chapter 22). They were Abraham’s sons, and he had to choose between them. Crying out to God in consternation about having to send Ishmael away, Abraham was assured by God, “Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad,” and God added the promise that both sons would achieve their destiny. In God’s eyes, both were loved. One was not better than the other.
This is what it means to have one God. All of us are equally loved and valued by the Divine, who created us purely spiritual and good. When we’re expressing love and caring, we’re living in line with our true, God-given identity.
Therefore our role, when we witness these acts of terror, is not to despair. It is to consciously live according to the First Commandment acknowledging only one God, and to draw hope from the powerful promise that this God’s ever-active love for us all does preserve and unify us.