by Eddie Randolph, Tampa, Florida

I learned a new word not long ago. Well, new to me, at least. It actually has a history of about four hundred years. The word? Defenestration.

Great word, isn't it? It is from the Latin, de fenestra, which means "out the window." Defenestration is the act of throwing something or someone out of a window.

The word was coined in 1620 to describe a particular problem solving technique that had occurred twice in the span of two centuries known as the "Defenestrations of Prague."

The First Defenestration of Prague occurred on July 30, 1419, when followers of the martyred reform-minded priest Jon Hus tossed seven Catholic town counselors out of Prague's New Town Hall window to their deaths on the points of Hussite-wielded pikes below. This event help set off fourteen years of religious wars in Europe.

Not the best way to handle religious differences, wouldn't you agree?

The Second Defenestration happened on May 23, 1618, when two unlucky Imperial governors of the Holy Roman Emperor were flung out the window from the Bohemian Chancellery of Prague Castle because the Emperor violated religious freedoms granted to the Protestant majority. The officials were not killed, however, as they fell onto a pile of garbage (mostly straw) which had accumulated in the castle moat. This helped trigger The Thirty Years' War that devastated much of Europe and literally killed millions.

Again, not the best way to handle religious differences, wouldn't you agree?

My point? History is fraught with death, destruction, and inhumanity in the name of God. Even today, there are many parts of our world caught up in wars that are a conglomeration of religious, social, nationalist, and ethnic concerns with one group trying to "defenestrate" another.

It happens closer to home, too. Through the years, there have been plenty of attempted and successful defenestrations in churches over any number of religious controversies. True, people weren't physically tossed out of windows over the issues (though the desire might have been there!), but figuratively the result is the same. Lines drawn.. Preparations for battle against fellow Christians.. Nothing short of total "victory"..

Not the best way to handle religious differences, wouldn't you agree?

Perhaps opponents would be better prepared to deal with true differences by first taking a dose of a biblical prescription:

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me" (John 17:20-23).

And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity (Colossians 3:14).

Finally, brothers, good-by. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you (2 Corinthians 13:11).

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility (Ephesians 2:14-16).

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