If I had a column in the Delft op Zondag

(Not the real)
Delft op Zondag


8 JANUARY 2017

Winter Views

DELFT - I happened on side news about a club that starts out each New Year's day and cleans up the streets. The club is world-wide, has some chapters in towns and cities in Holland, and is composed of Muslims.

There is among Muslims a call to be good citizens of whatever country they live in. It is a jihad; a word not usually linked to kind giving. Its call to jihad is to the Great one: the personal 'striving against one's low desires'. (The one most Christians think of is the Small, an armed struggle.) This group is called Ahmadiyya and wiki offers information. These Muslims clean up, visit care homes, give to charities and support youth groups. Why is it I haven't heard of this at all? Maybe because it simply does good works - no blood, no hate.


"My partner likes winter; she says the air is cleaner and healthier. She thinks cold is good for you. However, she is caught out by wanting to plan our summer vacations already."

Religious distance was the law of the land for a long time. My partner relates the story of when her grandfather applied for his first job. He was Catholic, and they were excluded from jobs if a Protestant could be found. He was lucky when a man doing the hiring gave him a job over misgivings. Times changed, and he was able to keep his job. My own America has a history of excluding Catholics, along with Chinese and many other 'types'. 'No dogs, no Irish' was on many shop doors.

These short days, there is yet again a call to close, to exclude, to deny. Polls (ask Mrs. Clinton about polls) indicate many Dutch agree with Mr. Wilders' strange version of God and Country. He demands a ban of the Koran as if banning solves anything.

The Dutch are not fanciful people and that shows in how things are named. When the Schie river was turned into a canal that connected Rotterdam, Delft and Den Haag, it was called the Schie canal. Delft after all means a dig.

The old church is the Old Church; the new church is the New Church. Both are Dutch Reform. Catholics stay with custom and call theirs Josef and Maria. The highest building in the town is the steeple of the New Church, but it is the floor that is interesting.

The churches were built by people whom God has blessed with wealth. They are buried in the floors and walls and have their names carved. The Old and New were originally Roman Catholic until the Reformation when a kind of Calvinism took over.

The change was easy: the newly enlightened took everything out and smashed it. Books burned, people died. It is a mercy that the pulpit in the New Church was not destroyed, maybe out of its sheer beauty. The windows were broken.

The world we live in, not the one we wished we lived in, has to answer how people with different views will live together. At over 7 billion, there are a lot of us, and most have strong views. Are we to ban things we don't like - and they go away?

G. Wiley / NLStrabo - © Copyright - All rights reserved - gwileynl@gmail.com
In memory of Herb Caen