Shane Clairborne and Ben Cohen are teaming up to create an event they are calling “Jesus, Bombs, and Ice Cream.”
“Jesus, Bombs, and Ice Cream” is scheduled to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the bombing of the World Trade Towers in New York City on September 11. The vision is to create an event that “will be a night of reconciliation and of grace.”
Shane Clairborne explains the motivation behind the event.
I was in Baghdad in March 2003, where I lived as a Christian and as a peacemaker during the “shock-and-awe” bombing. I spent time with families, volunteered in hospitals and learned to sing “Amazing Grace” in Arabic.
There is one image of the time in Baghdad that will never leave me. As the bombs fell from the sky and smoke filled the air, one of the doctors in the hospital held a little girl whose body was riddled with missile fragments. He threw his hands in the air and said, “This violence is for a world that has lost its imagination.” Then he looked square into my eyes, with tears pouring from his, and said, “Has your country lost its imagination?”
At the time I read this story on the Huffington Post religion page, there were 52 Comments attached. I do not know much about Huffington Post, perhaps if I did the comments would not come as such a surprise. But, the level of anger directed against a venture simply because it is conducted by people who are associated with religion, strikes me as at least interesting.
What is it that makes religion of any stripe, no matter how generous, compassionate, or thoughtful that religion might be, so utterly distasteful to so many people?
I imagine most of the readers of Huffignton Post are relatively thoughtful people. And yet, when it comes to matters religious, many of them are unable to see anything even remotely positive. Religion is only fit to be attacked, mocked, and ridiculed.
I am not so deluded as to think for one minute that religious institutions over the years are without guilt. Terrible atrocities have been perpetrated in the name of religion. History is littered with the blood of religious conflict. Many peoples’ personal lives are in tatters in part as a result of the abuse they have suffered at the hands of those in religious authority who have violated their positions of trust. Religion has been dogmatic, narrow-minded, bigoted, and intolerant. We religious people have a lot about which we quite rightly feel ashamed.
But is that all there is to say about any religion? Must all religion be banished from the social fabric simply because of the frequent misuse of religion? Has religion made no positive contribution to the human community at any time throughout history?
Is religion alone guilty for all the atrocities in the history of the human race? Is there not blame to share around?
Surely harm has been caused in the human community in the name of science. Governments have been guilty of fostering often unnecessary violence. People have suffered at the hands of secular educational authorities. Even health professionals have at times been guilty of misusing their positions. But no one suggests we abolish science, outlaw governments, or scrap educational institutions or the practice of medicine.
It is curious that an institution that is, at least in theory, committed to love, gentleness, kindness, goodness, and compassion should be the object of such intense animosity.
If religious institutions in fact deserve this degree of antagonism, how can we explain the fact that multitudes of thoughtful sensitive people still find it possible to commit themselves to these institutions? How is it possible that people still find their lives nurtured and enriched by these very institutions that for so many people seem to be an embodiment of evil?
And, perhaps most perplexing of all, what might those of us who labour in religious institutions ever do to help rehabilitate the image of religious institutions? Will bringing together “Jesus, Bombs, and Ice Cream” do it?