Thursday, June 14, 2007

A Covenant Zone

We don't always have the time to write as much or as intelligently as we would like. But we do make a commitment to meet in public and talk every Thursday, 7-9 pm, in the atrium of the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library, in front of Blenz Coffee. We carry/wear blue scarves.

Why join us? For starters, where else in Vancouver can you find people openly discussing essential questions regarding the future of public life and constitutional democracy in the West, questions such as Rebecca Bynum poses for the USA:
The problem is, we haven't had the debate over whether we should classify Islam as a religion in this country. Did Islam advance morality beyond the point where Jesus left it? And if not, what about its claim as the "last revelation" and the "only true religion?" And if a religion does not advance morality, what is its purpose? If its purpose is political and its goal to attain political domination, should we then accept it as a religion? I think not.
Of course, what is really more interesting (if not always more urgent) to discuss is not the anthropological nature of Islam, which in many ways is not very different from countless other, if less successful, ritual codes in the primitive world that mix together what the West has come to distinguish as "religion" and "politics", but rather how it has come to pass that we have developed national covenants in the West that, to a significant degree, separate church and state, so that we have a concept of religion that need not entail politics. How is it, for example, that the Christian faith can try to convert the world by distinguishing what we owe "Caesar" and what we owe God, while in Islam, violent religious sacrifice, which goes by the name of Jihad and Sharia, is conducted in order to make this worldly world submit to the will of Allah in all matters of life?

What makes Western culture what it is, is not something for which many Western people have sufficient regard. What allows us Westerners, traditionally and constitutionally, to rule ourselves instead of being ruled by a code of ritual sacrifice, is something all too many take for granted. And what you take for granted, you risk losing. And there are many signs we are losing a viable self-ruling culture. These are the kinds of things we talk about every Thursday because we want to help provide our friends the inspiration and resolve to go out in our public life and make a difference there in any of many particular actions that need to be carried on. Covenant Zone: a place to learn and network about who we are, today, in this given historical time and place.

But if you still need to learn more about Islam, here's a useful link I just came across. We can provide many more, yours for the asking, at Covenant Zone.


maccusgermanis said...

I think that's the best synopsis of "covenanting" yet.

truepeers said...

Thanks. I was inspired by Rebecca Bynum's post and went from there. And that's what covenanting is all about: connecting with other people who want to formulate a hopeful response to a developing problem without making this response definitive: in other words, coming to some shared understanding about the boundaries and distinctions that provide us our societal playing field and allow for (and not, as some people think, disallow) an expanding freedom. We have to share some understanding of what is sacred, e.g. the individual person, without trying to have the outcome of our actions, or any definitive representation of the sacred, pre-determined in law, ritual, or ideology.