He doesn’t get the usual R.I.P., because I’m rather hoping that he’s finding his 72 virgins all look like Yasser Arafat. A few random thoughts:
1) There’s no question that Islamic fundamentalists will seek revenge. That could take any of a number of forms, but one that should especially drive us to our knees is the possibility of mob violence against Christians throughout the Muslim world. At the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph, columnist Damian Thompson has a blog out on that subject, complete with an AP photo of an attack on a church in Pakistan yesterday. Our brothers and sisters in North Africa, the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent need our prayers in abundance today and in the days ahead.
2) There’s a real threat to both America and Europe. There are reports that al Qaeda has a nuclear device somewhere in Europe that they’ve threatened to explode if anything happens to bin Laden–that’s may just be bluster, but standard issue explosives can kill lots of people as well. It’s all find and good to celebrate the death of the poster boy for Islamic fundamentalism, but it’s important to keep in mind that such accomplishments will come with a cost.
3) Certain people have an opportunity to show their true colors, and one of them already has. From Reuters:
The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas on Monday condemned the killing by U.S. forces of Osama bin Laden and mourned him as an “Arab holy warrior.”
“We regard this as a continuation of the American policy based on oppression and the shedding of Muslim and Arab blood,” Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip, told reporters.
Though he noted doctrinal differences between bin Laden’s al Qaeda and Hamas, Haniyeh said: “We condemn the assassination and the killing of an Arab holy warrior. We ask God to offer him mercy with the true believers and the martyrs.”
Remember this next time the PCUSA’s Israel Palestine Mission Network or the mainline church-supported U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation tells us that Israel, and the United States, should deal with Hamas.
4) No official reaction yet from the World or National Council of Churches, or any of the the mainline denominations. When and if there is any, I’ll post it without comment. The Christian Post reports on some tweets that a handful of pastors have put out, but only one prominent name has responded substantially. Brian McLaren writes:
Brian McLaren, considered an emergent church leader, lamented the image he saw on television of “American college students reveling outside the White House, shouting, chanting ‘USA’ and spilling beer.”
Currently in the U.K., McLaren blogged that he saw the same scene as he flipped through the channels.
“I can only say that this image does not reflect well on my country,” he stated.
“Joyfully celebrating the killing of a killer who joyfully celebrated killing carries an irony that I hope will not be lost on us. Are we learning anything, or simply spinning harder in the cycle of violence?”
He quoted an email he received from his friend back in the U.S.: “When I received the news of his death, I must confess that my primary emotion was not excitement, but sadness…deep sadness that his life did not reflect God’s intent for the world…deep sadness as I anticipated the rhetoric that awaited me on Facebook, the internet, and TV.
“I do not understand a world that allows for a man to cause so much pain and I do not understand a world that rejoices in the death of that man who just happens to be created in the image of God.”
The email continued: “Perhaps everyone is right. Perhaps the death of Osama Bin Laden has made this world more safe. I do not believe, however, that his death has made this world more beautiful.”
5) I’m conflicted. It is never right to rejoice over the death of one of God’s creatures. At the same time, there is a certain satisfaction that this one reaped what he sowed. Feel free to offer your own reaction in the comments.