This past Christmas Day brought us the stories of two young men, both willing to martyr themselves for their beliefs, but in ways and for visions so utterly different that their tales might serve as a parable for the defining struggles of our time.
One, as you surely know, was the underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a wealthy young Muslim from a prominent Nigerian family. Following his embrace of radical Islam, he tried to sacrifice himself–allegedly–in a botched attempt to sow terror and death by blowing up an American airliner packed with 289 other people, en route to Detroit. Having entered American air space decked out as a suicide bomber, he is now availing himself of U.S. constitutional rights, granted to him by the Obama Administration, to plead not guilty to criminal charges.
The other martyr, in stark contrast, was a 28-year-old Christian missionary, Robert Park. An American of Korean descent, Park offered himself up peacefully, on Christmas Day, for the cause of life and liberty for others. He went to northeast China, and from there walked across the frozen Tumen River into North Korea. Witnesses told reporters that as he went, he called out, in Korean, messages of God’s love, as well as “I am an American citizen.” He took with him a letter to North Korean tyrant Kim Jong-il, asking Kim to open his country and shut down his prison camps.
Are all religions basically the same? Are the beliefs different? Do different beliefs result in different actions? Does it make sense to equate Islam with Christianity? What do people do when they are fully committed to their religion? These are two different versions of full commitment. Two different versions of full commitment.