He Must Be Mad!
James Russell Lowell, in the Boston Courier, December 11, 1845
Abdul Rahman, 41, faces a possible death penalty for converting from Islam to Christianity 16 years ago while working as a relief worker in a Christian camp in Pakistan. He has been charged with rejecting Islam, a crime under Afghanistan's Islamic laws. "We are not against any particular religion in the world. But in Afghanistan, this sort of thing is against the law," the judge said. "It is an attack on Islam. The prosecutor is asking for the death penalty." Appeals have been made to Afghan President Hamid Kharzai for clemency, but Rahman was caught red-handed in possession of a Bible.
Porcupine loves church. While a member of a rather plain-vanilla denomination, Porcupine has been a member of the same congregation for decades, and knows the comfort not only of spiritual guidance, but of a genuine church family. There are the songs, the after-sermon coffee with the dry cleaner from the next village, the gasp and sadness when a crisis is announced for the Prayer Chain, but most importantly, the sense of community, the way that the congregation reaches out to the lonely and mobilizes to help the poor and disaffected in their midst, and elsewhere. As the Old Creed says, Porcupine basks in the Communion of Saints, and derives hope from the Forgiveness of Sins and the Life Everlasting.
But face execution for the well-loved white clapboard building, and the fellowship and inspiration within? To find that kind of courage?
The Chattering Classes, those champions of Situational Ethics, probably wonder why anyone would be willing to die for such an arcane principle. Perhaps to jump start their sense of righteous anger, they can contemplate a society where you must condone the clubbing of baby harp seals or face execution (surely, there is something they care about, for after all, what’s another dead Christian, some ideal that they cannot rationalize – they cannot be entirely dead to outrage). Perhaps now, they will understand that Sharia law does not recognize the concept of us ‘all just getting along’, and that cravenly tossing Israel into their hungry maw will be nothing more than an hors d’ouvre to these zealots.
Afghanistan has offered a way out, according to this news story HERE . In almost Soviet fashion, Rahman must simply admit that converting to Christianity was the act of a madman. So far, he has refused admit insanity, or convert to Islam, so he remains slated for execution.
“By the light of burning martyrs”, says the old hymn. It’s been a long time since we in the West were so tested or tried. Porcupine prays for Abdul Rahman, and prays for the courage of his own convictions as well.
(Link to the entire text of the Hymn at the beginning may be found HERE)