Ibn Ali Miller, the Desert Temptations of Christ and Mother’s Day!

A video has gone viral of a young man breaking up a fight between teenagers. And this video has gone viral at such a key time.

The timing is key because the man is a black man – this speaks into the current climate of police injustice against black people in America. The man is also a muslim man – timely amidst the atmosphere of islamophobia the covers the USA and the UK.

The are some key moments that have given me something to reflect on in this season of Lent. When Miller arrives calmly on the scene to stop the fight, he gets the boys to look around them and see ‘the trick of the devil’. He’s not speaking into the aggression and the violence, in a way he shows an understanding of the pressures and emotions of the young men. The ’trick of the devil’ is the way the crowd around, many filming and laughing are creating this fight. He tells one of the boys ‘whatever you attacked him for you were ill-advised’. He gets the fighters to look around and see the laughing faces, enjoying the violence and division. ‘they want you to be enemies’.

The male, testosterone-driven ego of a teenage boy appears so aggressive and intimidating, but it is probably one of the most vulnerable elements of humanity. The enemy who seeks to ‘steal, kill and destroy’, loves such a division. His title ‘devil’, comes from the word to divide. The male ego gets clouded with self-doubt and impulsively takes action to retrieve some sense of status – fighting, banter, sports – a number of ways that a man seeks to restore is sense of pride. At worst this leads to young men in our cities warring over post-codes or even conflict on an international, more commonly though, it leads to a war within man himself and everything is now part of the battle.

Jesus experiences similar temptations in the wilderness – the time of Christ’s life that we base our Lenten observances on. Here the Devil attacks Jesus’ identity three times first, by sowing the seeds of doubt ‘if you are the son of God…’. The Devil used this same tactic on Eve too ‘if you eat this fruit you will be like God’ – she already was like God (imago dei), but the serpent’s words were enough for her to doubt this truth and act in a way that she knew was wrong.

I don’t know why the teens in the video started fighting, but after years of working with teenagers in schools (and once being a teenage boy myself), I’m pretty sure that self-doubt and pride were close to the heart of the matter.

In Ibn Ali Miller we have an example of a masculine, brave and caring young man.

In Ibn Ali Miller we also have an example of the true heart of Islam, making the world a better place. He fought holy-war (jihad) on the streets of Atlantic City, in the hearts of those young men, and he won a victory for God. I would be a lousy Catholic if I didn’t believe the Catholic faith was true-religion and the closest way to follow God – however Catholics recognise that God in his goodness does share his grace with ‘people of good will’ who are willing to cooperate with his divine plan from any religion or none – and whether they realise or not.

Below is the link to the fight – please be aware that there is some bad language. Below that is another link to a video of Miller receiving an award for his intervention. In this video we get another glimpse of his humility – free from the need to advance his own ego. He first gives glory to God and then to the young men who chose not to fight that day. His main praise however goes to his mother (who I presume raised him by herself) and to the mothers of the young men who reconciled their differences that day.

Congratulations Mrs Miller, you did good.

Happy Mother’s Day to you and all the Mothers!

All Glory to God!


The fight: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_BQONyz8hc&safe=active

The response: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbge3x6qhtg&safe=active