Breivik is insane.
As soon as I read he’d lifted entire passages from Ted Kazinski, I thought: No sane person would swallow that! (Also, it was clear from the start that while he had the brilliance to meticulously plan and execute – sorry to use that word – two terrorizing attacks, he lacked the social acuity to realize that they would be almost universally condemned and would fail to ignite the reaction he presumed. In short, he’s brilliant but socially inept. A recipe for insanity, which means a lack of ability to realize that one’s own thoughts, plans, and expectations are totally off base from consensual/socially-accepted reality.) Plus, his comment about his body being in the “best shape it’s ever been” was a tip-off for me – this, in the context of his grandiosity and photos of himself in fantasy clothing.
Paranoid or paranoid- schizophrenic individuals are extremely bright. They are detail-oriented. (They are, in effect, deluded obsessive-compulsive type individuals.) They lack empathy and an ability to correctly read social cues. They believe their own minds and not reality. Thus they may be grandiose. They are secretive. They can be very, very dangerous.
As his lawyer has now said, he’s insane.
So we can stop talking about terrorism. And start talking about rabble-rousing politicians and/or unhinged pundits and their minions, whose own provocative language is such that paranoid individuals begin to imagine their thoughts and (potentially) planned deeds will be welcomed by society.
In my view our greatest danger is not these paranoid individuals. It is people like the US Tea Party, whose own group delusions feed the phantasies of crazy individuals. Not only that, the belief on the part of Tea Party folks that we can simply cut government services – such as diagnosis and treatment of the severely mentally ill – is itself contributing to the inability to identify and protect society from individuals whose lack of reality-testing poses a danger to everyone.
Christianity has nothing to do with this case. Because Breveik is insane! He is unable to reason clearly or to see that his views do not accord with those of Jesus.
As Christians, our first duty is compassion and care for this very, very troubled man.
As the Rabbis put it (Berakot 29b):
Prayer which has become so set that it no longer permits of creative newness, has ceased to be devotional.
Isaiah 43.19 records these words of Yahweh:
I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
I am reminded of these words of Rilke (a German poet):
Work of sight is done
Now do heart-work on the pictures within.
A beautiful discussion at the website, LIBYA 17th February 2011, starts with the question above and an answer by CanadianLibyan who wrote:
The words “Allahu akbar” have, unfortunately, acquired a sinister connotation. All they mean is “God is great” or “God is the greatest”.
When Muslims say this, they are acknowledging that while we humans (whichever side we’re on) may think we are powerful or in control of things, it is really God Who controls everything. So when we see, for example, what looks like a tragedy such as many protesters being killed, it would be easy to lose hope and think, “Oh, we’re overpowered and outnumbered and maybe we should give up”. But when we realize it is not us but God who is in charge, then we remember that He works in mysterious ways and can and does control everything. So, there is always the possibility that He will change the outcome of a battle in our favour, or give a small army victory over a larger or better armed one.
It reminds us not to despair, that God is just and merciful, and if we fight on the side of good trying to defeat evil, He will help us. We realize that Qaddafi’s men-or any evil people-are only men, not super-human, and can be defeated no matter how powerful they appear to be.
It also eases our hurting hearts when someone we love dies or something bad happens; we remember that there are some things that are simply beyond our control and are entirely in God’s hands.
Sometimes in life we don’t like things that happen but for us as Muslims we have to believe He knows better than we do.
I hope this explanation helps…
I am moved by the explanation as well as by the discussion which follows it, including a “gift” from another commenter, a song of someone jailed unjustly for protesting a dictator: Strength in the face of oppression. At a time filled with a mixture of such hope and anguish. I am reminded of the phrase of Alexander Solzhenitzen who spoke of the solidarity which makes it possible to find happiness no matter what: “the kinship of heart to heart and the way we look at the world.”
“Allahu Akbar” ~ God is Greatest. Another example of Veneration of the Name.
Could it be as well that these powerful words literally carry Divine energies? For the Muslim Call to Prayer begins with these exact words – Allahu Akbar ~ sung in a haunting, mesmerizing, age-old melody one never tires of hearing.
Think of the importance of “naming”. Of what a name means. How we rely on that as way of referring to someone or something. As a means of “calling” or “being called”. Veneration of “Ha-Shem” (The Name) is already a constant theme in the Old Testament:
2 Sing to the Lord, bless his name; …
8 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; (Psalm 96)
The followers of Jesus were described by Paul as:
“those who … call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ”
and in Antioch we know they were first called Christians after Christ (Christ, not a proper name, but meaning anointed). So the first Christians were deemed those who both followed and called on the one they experienced as Messiah (the foretold Savior, promised by the prophets).
Now where does this practice of venerating or calling on a name originate? For it’s widespread and not confined just to the Abrahamic traditions.
I have these verses from Psalm 137 ringing in my head:
By the rivers of Babylon—
there we sat down and there we wept
when we remembered Zion.
2 On the willows* there
we hung up our harps.
3 For there our captors
asked us for songs,
and our tormentors asked for mirth, saying,
‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion!’
4 How could we sing the Lord’s song
in a foreign land?
5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
let my right hand wither!
6 Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth,
if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem
above my highest joy.
“On the willows there we hung up our harps.” That’s the dry land. In metaphor. Context of today’s world. The desert ~ if you truly care. Where somehow the “heart” often seems to be missing. If you are an exile as I feel I am. (I’m speaking metaphorically.)
If you pay attention to what’s going on the world, and keep your ethical principles tuned up, it is a painful lot you have chosen.
You could join those singing the tune of whoever pays the piper. Or you can join the mourners. Keeping your spirits up by remembering you’re not alone, that even the psalmist knew your sorrow.