Dialogue useless until West learns about Islam
Islam is growing and is not centralized, and it is not easy to control or transform into something just political. The West should be absolutely dedicated to the gathering of the most objective information possible when it comes to Islam. We are totally oil-dependent, and much of the oil is under the control of Muslims.
Before the war on Iraq began, I said in our church bulletin that the United States is notoriously ignorant of other religions and that the war in Iraq was going to be carried by Americans who did not know what a Sunni or Shiite Muslim or Wahhabist was, let alone what Kurds were doing in the mix.
The allergy to knowing about Islam would not have made sense even in the Middle Ages. Somehow, Catholic Europe thought it could create a crusade against a religion it knew nothing about and a religion, we might add, that also controlled the turf and could carry on a defensive war indefinitely.
On the Muslim side, by 1492 Islam learned the same thing about Roman Catholicism when the last Western European foothold held down by conquest was swept away by the Spanish crown. Crusades or jihads that liberate are usually successful, but conquest and occupa-tion are usually fatal and expensively so.
There are Christians, I know, who would love to convert all Muslims to Christianity. But the enterprise is hopeless because these Christians know nothing about Islam, cannot read Arabic, and access the Holy Quran only in order to refute it.
There are Americans who want to bring democracy to Islamic countries (strangely, they concentrate on the oil-producing ones), but they will not succeed either because the "democracy" these Muslim countries see holds a gun. Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan have, for the past century, been the object of American, European or Russian overt and covert aggression.
I personally have no hope for the regions of Islam or dialogue until Americans switch to conservation with new technology and do not need the oil anymore. It will save the planet to do this, if the planet can be saved. It will make Islam less important, and we will threaten Muslim countries less because we do not need the oil. From this condition, the real assets of a religious faith that is as strong as Islam is could emerge and appeal to our consciousness and our conscience.
I wish the best for the Muslim community in Hawaii, for a visible strong existence that will surely emerge because of the talent of its people. I hope that the shrinkage that Christianity has experienced in these islands will slow down enough so that we will be around to benefit from the days of dialogue that will emerge as Islam is better known and less politicized.
The Rev. Halbert Weidner is pastor of Holy Trinity Church and St. Sophia Mission of the Ukrainian Eastern Catholic Church.