US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Racing to goodness in Pakistan

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My interview with CTU Professor of Islam Scott Alexander about Park51 took place after a speech he made in which he suggested a "race for goodness" could replace triumphalism in Christian-Muslim relations. Pakistan is the perfect course for such a race right now.

Alexander defines triumphalism as "the will to dominate others in the name of fidelity to your particular religious truth." Instead of getting rid of the commitment to religious truth, Alexander suggests getting rid of the will to dominate, replacing it with the will to work for the common good. He uses the analogy of racers pushing each other to improve their performance--it's still a competition, but both racers benefit.

Enter Pakistan. Fides Agency, which provides news about the church's missions, has interesting coverage that I haven't seen elsewhere. Fides reported earlier this week that three aid workers were killed by the Taliban, which is trying to win over local people by providing relief. It is also reporting that poor villages are being sacrificed to protect the wealthy (at first coverage suggested it was targeting Christians, but now they say poor Christian, Hindu, and Muslim communities are being flooded).

Indiana University's Center for Philanthropy says that religion is one factor affecting donations to Pakistan, and that American Muslims have responded generously. Christians and Muslims can compete to care for those who are suffering. American Muslims may be winning the race right now, but in pushing each other to be more generous, we can leave the Taliban in the dust. Who's up for a race?