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While officials of the Roman Catholic Church were beatifying the late Pope John Paul II, putting him on the fast track to sainthood, a special unit of the U.S. Army was taking out Osama Bin Laden, making him an instant martyr.

Perspective is an amazing thing. Most Protestants I know could care less whether their Catholic kindred want to add a former pope to their ever-growing roster of saints, but a million or more who revered the prior pontiff packed into St. Peter’s Square and surrounding streets to attend the elaborate ceremonies and catch a glimpse of his wooden casket, which had been hauled up for the occasion. 

And as exuberant Americans celebrated Bin Laden’s death at Ground Zero, in Times Square, and outside the White House, there’s no doubt that very angry men within a radical sliver of Islam are mourning their champion and plotting his revenge.

Having recently watched a video of Jesus Christ Superstar again (one of my Lenten traditions), I’m reminded afresh that while Christ’s followers were devastated by his execution, the broader powers of the day saw it as the end of a dangerous annoyance.

So much of how we see the world depends entirely on the family, the culture, the faith into which we happened to be born. How would I feel today if I had been raised in Rome, or in Islamabad?

Asking such questions might help us to become less provincial and more thoughtful citizens of the world. I think Jesus, who called us to be a light to the nations, would like that.

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