On Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI baptized a Christian convert named Magdi Allam. This placed Mr. Allam and the Pope at risk of retribution from Islamic extremists. You may recall a year ago the Pope merely suggested that REASON should be the operant basis for interfaith dialog, whereupon adherents to "the religion of peace" started rioting, burning things, and killing people.
With this in mind I wondered what in the world had gotten into the Pope's head. Though some Moslems think that leaving Islam is a sin to be punished by Allah, a significant number start sharpening their knives.
I now think that this is exactly what the Pope is thinking. The reality of Christianity is never so obvious as when the martyr stands in the coliseum indifferent to the lions. Ours is a faith predicated upon the Resurrection and to people looking forward to Resurrection martyrdom is no loss. Thus, I won't be terribly surprised, though horribly grieved, to note that Mr. Allam, or even the Pope has been murdered by some swine.
Contrast this with phony martyrs: Feckless losers who have no significance to their lives except killing as many people as flagrantly as possible then saving the last bullet for themselves. I'm thinking of the fellows who shot up Columbine High School some years ago. These men did the devil's work and traded their souls for a few weeks' worth of posthumous headlines.
John Lennon failed to consider these swine pigs when he sang, in "Imagine" no hell below us and above us only sky. Society cannot work without justice and how can there be justice for the murder-suicide without hell? Or call it what you will a just repayment after this life for crimes personally committed during this life.
Nowadays, when you hear of "martyrs" on the news, they are more often than not murder-suicides essentially the same as the swine of Columbine. They strap on a bomb vest and kill Israeli or Iraqi civilians. If there's a deity that rewards such behavior with Paradise, he's the devil. I want to go to where that deity isn't.
The man who bravely stands for his God and for his faith when dogs would murder him for no other reason than that he stands for it--he is a man. He is no phony martyr.