I started reading “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini about a week back. It’s quite an interesting book, if not somewhat disturbing. The author has a knack for creating and describing situations that both lift you up and at the same time sicken you, a disturbing combination of happy nostalgia and despicable, stomach-turning frustration.
For example, the main character, as he speaks first person of his experiences, shares about a relationship with a friend. The book is set in Afghanistan, before the fall of the kingdom and the rise of the republic, way before the rise of communism there. Right off the bat you are confronted with a dichotomy of belief: the conflict between Islam, the now-familiar Shi’a and Shi’ite conflict, and a rejection of God altogether. But underneath all the religious backdrop is an even deeper hazard.
The Shi’a and Shi’ite conflict was never a religious conflict to begin with, and the author demonstrates the way that different cultures and nationalities can put one another down. The two main characters, the friends, are a majority member and a minority member, a respected son and the son of the house servant. And though the main character shares his understanding that this other child is his best friend, you know deep down that he fails to understand and grasp what friendship and loyalty are about.
While the boy’s father leads his child down a path of irreverence, in the guise of a “modern” outlook, the child slips further into a shameful cowardice that only further devastates the reader. It makes you want to read more, to seek out the resolution to the broken culture, the broken relationships. It makes you want to run away from the book, to find something encouraging to remind you that God did not intend us to tear each other down in this way.
From my own perspective, I read as a Christian who understands that God has created us all with the potential to love; both God and men. But we don’t live up to this measure. We lift some people up, we push others aside. We stick to the comfortable and cast disparagements on those we don’t understand. Unlike us, there is no people-group that God despises. But I believe there is an absolute truth to who God is, what he expects of us.
I think there is one way to God. Allah and God are not one and the same, nor are they just “shades” of one another. God, through the person of his son Jesus, provides a way to a relationship with Him not based on performance. No such understanding exists in Islam. That does not mean I look at those who practice the Islamic faith as lower than myself. They are men just like I. They are looking for God. They need forgiveness. They need to find purpose and meaning in life.
We do not share a core understanding of how God interacts with man, and that creates conflict. But the conflict the West experiences now with the Middle East is not really religious. It is really about history and stuff. It is those who have and want more, and those who don’t have and want more. We all want more! How sad.
We’ll have real peace when we are satisfied; when we can be content in any situation. When we can live open-handed whether we have little or much. When that openness and graciousness is extending to all of the men and women God created with loving attention. The truly satisfied person is free to share the love of God with everyone.
Well, I still have more to read…