Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Refuge from Terror

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Refuge from Terror

Article excerpt

After I read The Christian Science Monitor's coverage of the hotel bombings in Jakarta, Indonesia ("Twin hotel bombings break Indonesia's four-year calm," July 17), the first thought that occurred to me was the question, Do we really have to accept that terrorism is a fact of life in this 21st century? Is it inevitable that such attacks occur and cause damage to life and property?

Cynicism says yes. Some observers might say that political frustration, religious intolerance, and ethnic hatreds cannot be cleansed from our societies, and that we should realize that terrorism will occur, sporadically and violently, at any point. And there's a rueful saying that cynicism is just idealism that has been mugged - implying that the rosy glow of a Pollyanna worldview is doomed to be disappointed and calloused by the realities of life in this world.

Yet the heart yearns for another answer, for something built on a foundation more substantial than idealism. The Middle East, although the birthplace of monotheism, is and has been for thousands of years anything but peaceful, as empires and their armies and factions and guerrillas have stubbornly fought. A poem from that area, written in the distant past, looks to an all-powerful God for a present help in tumult: "He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge" (Ps. 46:9-11).

We certainly want wars and terrorist attacks to cease. While there is a continuing need for detecting and eliminating terrorist cells, as well as destroying their techniques for money laundering and arms smuggling, we who are not directly involved in such activities can take up an activist prayer watch. …

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