Monday, December 31, 2007
Saturday, December 29, 2007
On Christmas Eve, the Guardian published an odd commentary piece by Ajmal Masroor, the director of Communities in Action. It was odd because Masroor was openly proselytizing for Islam, wondering why former British Prime Minister Tony Blair didn't convert to Islam rather than to Catholicism. One doesn't usually see such open proselytizing in a major newspaper. In any case, in the course of his piece Masroor said this:
According to Blair, Islam "extols science and knowledge and abhors superstition". I agree, but why has he embraced Catholicism with its history of hostility towards science and is embedded with superstition?
Why indeed? I can't and won't speak for Blair, but the idea that Islam extols science while Christianity is hostile to it is historically and conceptually false. And it's an important question, not only for science, but also for the defense of the West in general against the civilizational challenge posed by the Islamic jihadists. In my book Religion of Peace?, therefore, I discuss it in detail, beginning with an explanation of the importance of the question from none other than Friedrich Nietzche, who once noted that “there is no such thing as science ‘without any presuppositions.’…a philosophy, a ‘faith,’ must always be there first, so that science can acquire from it a direction, a meaning, a limit, a method, a right to exist.”
It may be jarring to those who are accustomed to believing that faith and reason are perpetually at odds with each other, and that religion is an eternal enemy to science, but it is nevertheless a matter of historical fact that modern science has derived a great deal of its direction, meaning, limit, method, and right to exist from Christianity. It is likewise true, and probably just as jarring to those who assume that all religions are essentially identical in character, that Islam has not provided, either historically or in the present day, the same kind of impetus to its development. Read all …
Friday, December 28, 2007
But here in a windswept desert in Iraq a different kind of battle is taking place. Al-Aqiser Church, one of the oldest in Christianity, lay waiting until a team of Iraqi archaeologists stumbled across its ruins in the 1970s. The battle is one of restoring it to its ancient glory.
"It is a place of worship, a church, and without doubt, the oldest church of the East," said Hussein Yasser, the head of the antiquities department of the province of Karbala.
"According to our research, it was build 120 years before the emergence of Islam in the region," Yasser said.
In time, Karbala overshadowed it and became a key Muslim Shiite pilgrimage destination, while across the region Christian communities began to recede.
[ ... ]
"The church was built facing Jerusalem," said Yasser, who has been struggling since 1993 to attract funds and interest to restore the church and carry out excavations in the area.
His efforts were briefly rewarded some years ago when the authorities agreed to finance a brief excavation that lasted six months.
[ ... ]
In the past Catholic Chaldeans, the largest single Christian denomination in Iraq who follow an eastern rite but recognise the Pope in Rome, used to pray in Al-Aqiser on Christmas Day but the faithful have not returned in a long time.
The church "is part of out country's memory, part of the great civilisation that the Iraqis have built and it must be saved," said Yasser. [HT: New Advent]
Thursday, December 27, 2007
From a Girardian perspective, this event indicates a furthering of the sacrificial crisis in Islam. To paraphrase Robert Hamerton-Kelly, when the sacrificial mechanism of the primitive Sacred at the heart of a culture begins to lose its "gravitational field" that it uses for social and psychological coherence, it tries to regenerate itself by increasing the number of sacrificial victims or prestige of its victims: genocide or regicide. Here is a case study of the latter (or perhaps both, since the shooter was also a suicide bomber).
Should we rejoice somehow that Islam is undergoing a weakening of its culture founding, culture maintaining impetus? Let me just say this: in my opinion the same process is underway at a more advanced stage of the disease in the West. Surprising?
Islam, while well ensconced in the constructs of the primitive Sacred, has constraints built in to itself in its myth, ritual, and prohibitions. We may not agree with them, find them palatable, or like the fact that Jews and Christians (and by extension, democracy) are their Model/Rival, but the culture is still reasonably strong. Procreation is a primary and attainable goal for Muslims.
The West, on the other hand, has been in free-fall for decades. Its descent into the vortex of sacrificial preparation as seen in its sin symptomology -- Girard's "crisis of distinctions" in sexual and psychological promiscuity to name only two -- was hard at work in the 1960s, resulting in the deaths of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy ("regicide"). The abortuaries keep churning out the smallest, most silent, and most vulnerable victims in the West ("genocide") that makes Carthage's child sacrificing worship of Baal Hammon and Tanit pale in comparison. Neo-pagans indeed wear very well appointed Saks clothing as well as sweatshirts and Levis.
So regicide has happened today in Pakistan. It happened in Dallas also. For people who follow Christ through His Catholic Church, the "wars and rumors of war" continue unabated. And in this we find hope: we realize that Islamofascism is hardly the only source of sin and suffering for the innocent. Westerners in the culture wars, whether as promulgators of sin symptoms as "virtues" to be normalized, or as players in what Kipling called "the Great Game," are just as culpable. Perhaps more culpable, since we had the precious gift of the Gospel and are throwing it away. Yet the Church is still the rock and salvation of all who cling to Her with faith, hope, and charity, infused with God's grace through the Sacraments.
”Catholic Resistance” must look with honesty, sternness, and boldness at both fronts in the present darkness: the West as it falls painfully into post-modern neo-paganism and Islamofascism.
Tony Blair's conversion to Catholicism does not come as a surprise to anyone but I would have liked him to turn to Islam instead. Blair has claimed on many occasions that he has read the Quran and has said he found its teachings "progressive". He is right that the Quran is progressive and as a revealed book of God, it is the latest testament. Why would Blair turn to the older versions of God's testament when there is the Quran? His conversion sounds rather regressive to me.
Using Masmoor's thinking, newer is better. Excellent. Let's inquire into some other new age or neo-pagan stabs at receiving divine revelation.
And remember: one demented recipient of messages from "allah" sitting in a cave with a murderous desire for power is far better than the Tradition of the Catholic Church and her Deposit of Faith that gave birth to the Scriptures of the New Testament. Far better than the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ, the embodiment of the Law and Prophets, crucified, risen, and ascended into Heaven: the Guarantor of inerrancy and continuancy of the Church until He comes again. Far better than receiving eternal life through the ordinary means of Grace in the Blessed Sacrament. Yeah, right.
Jihadists might desire to sow this terror during one of the holiest seasons of the Christian year to emphasize that their conflict with the non-Muslim West is, as they see it, a holy struggle. Also notable in this connection may be the warnings we see from Islamic clerics every year: do not participate in the infidels’ festivities, do not wish them holiday greetings, do not endorse in any way what Muslim hardliners see as celebrations of infidelity and the rejection of God. An article posted recently on the website of the Khalid Bin Al-Walid Mosque in Toronto asks pointedly: “How can we bring ourselves to congratulate or wish people well for their disobedience to Allah? Thus expressions such as: Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Birthday, Happy New Year, etc, are completely out.”
Not unimportant in Christmas threats also is the fact that Osama bin Laden and other jihad terrorists not only see the War On Terror as a war against Islam; they also see it as a war being waged on behalf of Christianity. Jihadists routinely refer to the American armies in Iraq and Afghanistan as “Crusaders.” Al-Qaeda second-in-command Ayman Al-Zawahiri, who most frequently issues the organization’s communiqués, uses this term frequently; in an October 2006 message he issued a rather typical exhortation: “I urge you, in [the name of] the duty of jihad, which is incumbent upon every Muslim, to hurry and pursue martyrdom in order to kill the Crusaders and the Zionists.” Adam Gadahn, aka “Azzam the American,” the first American indicted for treason since World War II and a prominent Al-Qaeda operative, in a September 2006 videotape introduced by Al-Zawahiri himself, spent a considerable amount of time criticizing Christian theology.
All this puts the heirs of Judeo-Christian civilization in a peculiar position. Western leaders have been anxious to avoid the appearance that this is a religious conflict, while the other side seems avid above all to portray it as such. Westerners have been in the process of discarding Christianity, only to find it identified by Islamic jihadists as the most objectionable aspect of their way of life. For non-Christians as well as Christians in the West, this highlights the fact that the war on terror is a struggle over values -- and it is Judeo-Christian values such as the freedom of conscience and the equality of dignity of all people that are most objectionable to the jihadists.
In order to win, we cannot simply fight against the jihadists. We must be contending for something, and in the Judeo-Christian tradition there is a great deal to be proud of and defend. This Christmas, as the threats continue, that’s something to ponder.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Thousands of Iraqi Christians picked their way through checkpoints and along dusty streets lined with concrete blast walls, crowding into churches in Baghdad on Tuesday for Christmas Mass.
Death is never far in Iraq -- two separate suicide attacks, including one apparently targeting workers in a northern oil hub, killed at least 34 people on Tuesday, shattering more than a week of relative calm, local and U.S. military authorities said.
[ ... ]
Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, leader of the ancient Chaldean Catholic Church and Iraq's first cardinal, celebrated Mass before about 2,000 people in the Mar Eliya Church the eastern New Baghdad neighborhood of the capital.
"Iraq is a bouquet of flowers of different colors, each color represents a religion or ethnicity but all of them have the same scent," the 80-year-old Delly told the congregation. "I'd like here to congratulate Muslims before Christians in their Eid and I wish peace and prosperity to all Iraqis in their country."
Muslim clerics - both Sunni and Shiite - also attended the service in a sign of unity.
"May Iraq be safe every year, and may our Christian brothers be safe every year," Shiite cleric Hadi al-Jazail told AP Television News outside the church. "We came to celebrate with them and to reassure them. ... This national gathering is beautiful against the sectarian fighting, and God willing from this lesson we'll all pray for peace."
William Jalal, a 39-year old father of three attending Mass at Mar Eliya, said this Christmas was clearly different.
"We didn't celebrate like this in the past two years as we were holding limited celebrations for relatives in an atmosphere filled with fear," said Jalal, a cook in one of Baghdad's social clubs. "Now we feel better as we see all these security forces in the streets to protect us." Read all …
Monday, December 24, 2007
Up and down the street where I live, half the homes are lit up with Christmas trees, the other half with menorahs. The days are good and the nights are silent. Most of the time we can’t tell the difference between Christians and Jews. We’re too busy being just plain old Americans.
You have Christmas. We have Chanukah. You have Easter. We have Passover. Does this separate us? No, this unites us, for together, this land is our land.
If this sounds corny, well it is.
However, I am offended. Across this nation, in cities, towns, villages and school districts, Christians are being told that they cannot celebrate Christmas openly. Here, there and everywhere, Christians are being sent into hiding if they want to sing carols, display nativity scenes, herald the Ten Commandments, or praise Jesus. Even Santa is not kosher.
I am Jewish, and Jesus is not my God…so why am I so offended at what I take to be an agenda of persecution against Christians?
This is not a scholarly approach, so let me simply say that American Christianity is a marvel, a near miracle of tolerance and, better yet, loving-kindness. American Christians do love their neighbors as themselves. I know this from the pavements I walk, the streets I drive, the sandlots where I root for the home team. I am free to visit your church, and you would be most welcome in my synagogue. Read all …
Sunday, December 23, 2007
I asked him to follow me out to the car and we spoke of children's excitement now, two days before Christmas Morning. I pulled the coat out from the backseat, told him I got it last year and that I never wear it. Could he use it, or maybe he knew someone who could use it? He was appreciative and I wish him a Merry Christmas and God's blessing.
Funny thing is: I felt and still feel he was doing me a favor accepting the coat. Maybe Blair feels the same way joining Mother Church. Conversion is a continuous, lifelong affair. Maybe Blair knows that it is high time to move in the right direction. The same way I knew that that Territory Ahead coat didn't belong to me. It was my homeless friend's all along.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
(I)f Christianity is merely a "myth", it's a perfectly constructed one, beginning with the decision to establish Christ's divinity in the miracle of His birth. The obligation to have children may be a lot of repressive Catholic mumbo-jumbo, but it's also highly rational. What's irrational is modern EUtopia's indifference to new life.I recently had a conversation with an EU official who, apropos a controversial proposal to tout the Continent's religious heritage in the new constitution, kept using the phrase "Europe's post-Christian future". The evidence suggests that, once you reach the post-Christian stage, you don't have much of a future. Luke, a man of faith and a man of science, could have told them that.
Meanwhile, a Russian Orthodox official says things aren’t so bleak for Europe.
Friday, December 21, 2007
One may not agree with Dr. Wedin's surmise about the nature of Iran, but the photos show the heart, the resiliency, the spirit of people of goodwill who will celebrate our Savior's birth where ever they may live in God's good creation.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Arabs are taught, and many have taken to heart, that honor is more important than wealth, fame, love, or even death. Imbued with such a sense, today's Arab finds himself in an untenable situation: Juxtaposing their recent history to the years of glory under Muhammad, Arabs can see only defeat visited upon defeat. First there was the breakdown of Arab solidarity and fighting among the Arabs themselves, then the Turkish Ottomans conquered the region. The decline and fall of the Ottomans led to conquest and occupation of almost all Arab lands by the Christians of Europe. Even their successful anti-colonial struggles turned into empty victories with Arab populations subject to power-hungry rulers, sadistic despots, or religious fanatics.
What honor can be found in defeat and oppression? And what self-respect can Arabs find without honor? In a world of defeat and failure, honor can be found only in resistance. Arab self-respect demands honor be vindicated through standing and fighting, no matter what the cost. In a 2006 interview, Pierre Heumann, a journalist with the Swiss weekly Die Weltwoche, asked Al-Jazeera editor-in-chief Ahmed Sheikh whether enmity toward Israel is motivated by self-esteem. Sheikh explained, "Exactly. It's because we always lose to Israel. It gnaws at the people in the Middle East that such a small country as Israel, with only about 7 million inhabitants, can defeat the Arab nation with its 350 million. That hurts our collective ego" ... Lebanese poet Khalil Hawi echoes a similar theme in his 1979 volume Wounded Thunder in which he laments the failure of the Arabs to defeat Israel. "How heavy is the shame," Hawi asks. "Do I bear it alone?"
[ ... ]
Indeed, everywhere along the perimeter of the Muslim-ruled bloc, Muslims have problems living peaceably with their neighbors. Muslims may only comprise one-fifth of the world's population, but in this decade and the last, they have been far more involved in inter-group violence than the people of any other civilization.
If the Arab Council in Damascus from Lawrence of Arabia comes to mind (pictured above) -- or a Flannery O'Connor character or two -- comes to mind as you read, don't be surprised. [HT: Liberty and Culture]
But from a mimetic point of view, it is significant. When the Model in the Model-Rival template welcomes the Rival to his tent (okay, St. Peter's Basilica), smiles and gifts are exchanged, it is an acknowledgment of a forthrightness to dialog, discuss differences, cooperate. Equally important is the display of this gesture to the world since what is happening is mimetic rivalry on a planetary scale. This scandalizes al-Zawahri tremendously for two reasons.
First, it takes the power to define and dictate the terms of discourse away from Al-Qaida: the Pope and King Abdullah are the prime actors on this stage, not the -- pardon the expression or not -- flea-bitten terrorists whose false ontological substantiation comes from a alchemical brew of media attention and the primitive Sacred. To share the lime light is galling to the petulant boys of bombs and roses. In a word, "offensive".
Secondly, it is an extremely powerful piece of theo-drama and, if you will, "anthro-drama". Maybe there is an indication in such a historical meeting that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob truly is the God of Esau as well. Perhaps progressive revelation will bring us to a place not of rivalry but of mutual humility and respect one day, by God's grace.
But al-Zawahri cannot fathom this, blind and deaf to what Saint Stephen saw as he was stoned by the Al-Qaida of his day. And this is the point: the Holy Father can understand al-Zawahri, but al-Zawahri cannot understand the Holy Father.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Ibn Warraq, a scholar of Islam and the author of the recently released "Defending the West: A Critique of Edward Said's Orientalism," pointed out this macabre fact to me over the phone as a sign of what went wrong with postcolonial studies — the academic field more or less founded by Said, which, in an effort to examine the relationship of conqueror to conquered, placed a dime-store psychology of empire at the center of every discussion of "East meets West."
[ ... ]
"'Orientalism,'" Mr. Warraq writes, "taught an entire generation of Arabs the art of self-pity … encouraged the Islamic fundamentalist generation of the 1980s, and bludgeoned into silence any criticism of Islam." Though it's Mr. Warraq's plaint that the book "stopped dead the research of eminent Islamologists who felt their findings might offend Muslims' sensibilities," it is not merely an abstract charge, but personally felt. "Ibn Warraq" is an Arabic pseudonym, meaning "son of a stationer, book-seller, paper-seller," which this Indian-born writer assumed after witnessing the critical reception Islamists gave Salman Rushdie, all the while claiming themselves as victims. Read all …
Monday, December 17, 2007
See, Baby Jesus ticks off witchcraft people. They're all about tolerance for themselves, but are pretty darned intolerant of others. That's how this whole diversity thing goes. Acceptance is demanded for everything — except the values, opinions, faith and culture of the majority. Multiculturalism is about the sanitizing of culture, about the eradication of the mainstream culture.
So, like I said, the witchcraft people got ticked off. Though there might just have been one of them. At any rate, figuring that actually walking up and urinating on the Baby Jesus would stir up the locals, it looks like folks decided to go for the next best thing. That's how the 10-foot by 10-foot Wicca symbol got built in the shadow of the stable. It was a big square, with a dark blue background and a white circle. Inside the white circle was a white five-pointed star against a light-blue background. That's a pentacle.
And the Wicca lady — who looks nothing like Elvira or Elizabeth Montgomery — said it had to go up now because the winter solstice is some sort of witchcraft holiday or something. Read all … [HT: Spirit Daily]
Sunday, December 16, 2007
When will soccer teams, voters, all men of goodwill, and the chivalrous who believe in legitimate defense stop being ashamed of the Cross of Christ?
As distinguished physical chemist and philosopher Michael Polanyi has demonstrated, scientific "objectivity" and "detachment" are myths. Scientists put faith in a multitude of factors: an empirical reality that is perceptible and measurable; laws of cause and effect that apply universally; a research community whose findings are dependable and free from fraud. "We must now recognize belief once more as the source of all knowledge ..." Polanyi said. "No intelligence, however critical or original, can operate outside such a fiduciary (faith-based) framework" [From Scott Hahn's book, Reasons to Believe, p. 18]. To think otherwise is to doom all human thought to mere nihilism and meaninglessness. John Polkinghome, former Professor of Mathematical Physics at Cambridge, levels this criticism at R. Dawkins’ and John Humphrys’ shallow scientific triumphalism here.
And what of Islam? As scientific reductionism views reality from the paradigm of a certain set of presuppositions that exclude God, Islam regards reality with its deity, "Allah", from the viewfinder of a certain set of presuppositions that seem to the Christian who breaths the air of the freedom of faith and reason to be pretty drab and hopeless by comparison. "Allah" and indeed all of reality are in no way conscripted to rules and laws, even those imposed by the deity. The only -- the only -- bit of truth and wisdom in the worldview of Islam tossed to a faithful race of slaves are the scraps of paper called the Koran. Everything else is flux, chaos, warfare, and death. No wonder even moderate Muslims consider the pharisaically legalistic hard-liners with a respect due to "holy" men! Hell -- if the "lifeline" is all there is, those who cling to it most stubbornly, consistently, and ferociously ARE the "good guys"!
Both scientific reductionism and hard-line Islam despise the Biblical faith of Jews and Christians because it has been around a lot longer, has thought about such matters as their presuppositions alot longer, and, without wanting to sound triumphalistic, KNOWS a lot more about faith and reason than either of them too. It falls, once again, into the Model/Rival template of René Girard's mimetic theory, with the Biblical faiths' truth claims being the object of fascination and scorn and desire. As Jean DePuy has said, desire (anthropologically speaking) is "a secret fascination for the apparent autonomy of the other which cannot rest until it has demystified it.” And Hamerton-Kelly: "The failed mind is a mind enslaved. It desires not only to possess the other, but to consume or destroy. It wishes not only to imitate the other, nor merely to possess itself in the other, but to destroy the other as the place where the self is alien to the self.”
And here we see the meeting-place of atheism and Islam: a mutual desire "not only to possess," but "to consume ... to destroy" the place occupied by the Church, her deposit of faith and reason, and all that has been influenced by this Other. They look like formidable foes, these two. Which side would you say you find yourself? One has hope, as the Holy Father, Benedict XVI has proclaimed. The others offer slavery and drudgery on the one hand, and nihilistic hopelessness on the other. You choose.
Gil Bailie in his series on Dante's Divine Comedy points out that heresy clogs, stops up, narrows, and crimps human life as it is supposed to be lived in God's economy of grace. (For God's sake, do women really belong in shapeless burqa sacks and afraid for their lives? Talk about proof of the Fall). Heresy also always attacks the two foundations of Christian belief: the Incarnation and the Trinity. Is it any wonder that Dante placed the Prophet in Circle 8 of h-e-double-hockey-sticks?
UPDATE: This just in -- for “un-Islamic behaviour”. Gee, um, what a surprise.
In an essay entitled Message in a Bottle the Louisiana novelist and philosopher Walker Percy explained the difference between “information” and “news” with the shipwreck example. In Spe Salvi, Saved in Hope Benedict XVI's recent encyclical on Christian hope, he offers a deeper distinction by contrasting that which is merely “informative” with that which is “performative”. Like Percy's “news”, Benedict's use of the term “performative” emphasizes the efficacy of Christian hope.
Drawing from British philosopher of language J. L. Austin and his theory of “performative utterances”, Benedict proposes that Christians tend to under-appreciate the vitality of their own hope because of habituation, almost as though it were a drug whose effects wear off with time. Due to such habituation, Christians can fail to appreciate the greatness of that in which they hope and therefore sometimes set their sights on a less lofty goal. In doing so, they miss the whole point of Jesus's message. They set their sights on salvation in this world rather than the next. To use the phrase made famous by political philosopher Eric Voegelin, they “immanentize the eschaton”. Hope in this world is no Christian hope.
Although primarily for bishops, Benedict addresses an audience much broader than the Catholic Church. In fact, Spe Salvi challenges nearly everyone on the planet, from agnostic secularists who set their sights on economic development and scientific progress to Marxist revolutionaries, and everyone in between, including Lutherans and neo-pagan environmentalists. Continue reading …
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Once terribly divided, Jews and Christians are finding a new unity as the walls between them are coming down. Why is this happening? Primarily for two reasons.
Number one because Christians seem to be the only ones standing with Israel these days. As Avi Lipkin says, “Jews are finding that Christians are our only friends.”
Number two because of the mutually held concern over the violation of religious freedom that is increasing in America, Jews are standing with Christians over the assault against Christmas, and the rise of discrimination against Christianity — something they understand well.
Rabbi Aryeh Spero of Caucus for America has talked on our show about what’s at stake in the battle over Christmas, and why Jews need to speak up for Christmas. His articles on the subject are worthy reads, such as This Christmas Don’t Let Them Turn Off the Lights,
Once Upon a Time When Americans Had Christmas and Our Battle for the Soul of America.
It's the episode of Little Mosque on the Prairie that I missed. The one where the father is so angry with his teenage daughter for not wearing the hijab that he strangles her to death. Perhaps it will be in the special features section of the DVD version, released just in time for the holiday that used to be known as Christmas, but not any longer because the word might hurt someone's feelings.
Not that we know why, or even if Muhammad Parvez killed his 16-year-old daughter Aqsa last week in Mississauga, Ont. But we do know that he has been charged with the crime and that friends told reporters there had been terrible arguments about Aqsa's refusal to wear Islamic head covering and that she wanted a different path from that of her family ...
Only a bigot would argue that every Muslim was violent or opposed to Western freedom. But only a coward or a liar would argue that there was not a profound and deeply worrying link between conservative Islam and myriad acts of terror, intolerance and hysterical anger.
It is not I who say this but the countless Muslims who take to the streets at the drop of a cartoon to scream for blood and war; or the Muslims who preach jihad in North America and Europe, where they enjoy open societies founded on Christian enlightenment.
They may represent a minority, but the harm they do is incalculable. This dysfunctional venom does not come from Christian, Jew, Hindu or Buddhist and fatuous relativism will only blind the foolish. It is time for free discussion in this free country, whether it offends or not. Read all. [HT: Real Clear Religion]
If you think the kerfuffle over the jerseys of the Istanbul team Fenerbahce has shown the thin-skin of Muslims over apparel, just remember this:
Iraqis shot 'for wearing shorts'
The men were stopped in their vehicle in southern Baghdad
Coach Hussein Ahmed Rashid and players Nasser Ali Hatem and Wissam Adel Auda were killed in the al-Saidiya district of the capital.
Witnesses said the three were dressed in shorts and were killed days after militants issued a warning forbidding the wearing of shorts. Read all of “Shot for Wearing Shorts.”
Friday, December 14, 2007
Such ad hoc priests, or imams as the case may be, are filled with self-righteousness, certainty, and gravitas availed these days only by the Sacred devoid of influence by the Gospel. It happens either in arenas of human experience where the Gospel never has had influence, like that of Islam, or where formerly influenced areas -- like the secular West -- have given up, gone to seed, "gone native" to pre-Christian influence.
Islam is a highly structured system that allows for the primitive Sacred to work surreptitiously using its jargon and devotional practices to laud such ad hoc priests of the primitive Sacred. Neo-pagan resurgence in the formerly Gospel-influenced West has no such structure and devotional practices. Therefore, such ad hoc priests find it easy to direct these loose-cannon Sacred impulses into their pre-existent Islamic forms and formalities. It is, nonetheless, the primitive Sacred's hallmark need to victimize that is the tell-tale feature to note.
Does this mean Islam is, ipso facto, part and parcel with the primitive Sacred? I have argued in the past that it is. Period. End of story. I am no longer so certain that it is. But until the spirit that drives the biblical faiths of Judaism and Christianity convinces and convicts Muslims to confront this predilection for violent exercise of the primitive Sacred within its ranks, it does not matter one way or the other. It remains a deadly foe to all that is true, good, and beautiful in the world just like the primitive Sacred. And men of goodwill must stand up against its violent and satanic ways.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
1. Not here in an animal's dish
2. Smack the Passageways
3. Move and speak towards the elevated plains
4. Yahweh sleep you happy dudes
5. Hey! The #1 angelic beings belt it out.
6. It showed up on a cloudless 12 at night
7. Shaking Chimes
8. Happiness to the planet
9. 12-25 shrubbery song
10. Get here if you're reliable
11. Like a strainer + time when the sun is down
12. Small city of Christ's birth song
13. Quiet non-day
14. The premier not 12th letter of the alphabet
15. XII 24hrs. of 12-25
16. Not down on the roof of the home
17. Us Trio that�s royalty from China (exist)
18. Us dream not us a happy December 25th
19. Spill the 411 on the baby
20. Small percussionist lad
21. Tim Allen's movie character will appear in a hood
22. Song about a hoofed animal with a crimson schnozola
23. Chilled the crystallized H20 male
24. Don't stop the winter precipitation
25. Traversing in a 4th season amazing country
St. Francis of Assisi answered: "It seems to me that you have not read the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in its entirety. In fact it says elsewhere: "if your eye causes you sin, tear it out and throw it away" (Mt 5 , 29). With this, Jesus wanted to teach us that if any person, even a friend or a relative of ours, and even if he is dear to us as the apple of our eye, we should be willing to repulse him, to weed him out if he sought to take us away from the faith and love of our God. This is precisely is why Christians are acting according to justice when they invade the lands you inhabit and fight against you, for you blaspheme the name of Christ and strive to turn away from his worship as many people as you can. But if you were to recognize, confess, and worship the Creator and Redeemer, Christians would love you as themselves instead"."
["Verba fratris Illuminati socii b. Francisci ad partes Orientis et in cospectu Soldani Aegypti", Codex Vaticanus Ott.lat.n.552]
The new atheists are quite right to see the threat of theocracy in Islamism. But in attacking all religion, they are like the French government which banned not only the wearing of the headscarf in schools, but the wearing of all religious insignia whatsoever, despite the fact that wearing a Star of David or a crucifix has and had a completely different social signification from wearing a headscarf. In the name of non-discrimination, the French government failed to discriminate properly: and proper discrimination is, or ought to be, practically the whole business of life. If there were large numbers of Christians or Jews who were in favour of establishing a theocracy in
, who had a recent record of terrorism, and who terrorised each other into the wearing of crucifixes and Stars of David, then the banning of those insignia would have been justified too. The wearing of the headscarf should be permitted again when Islam has become merely one personal confession among others, without the political significance that it has now. France
In attacking all religion so indiscriminately, the atheist authors are, I am sure inadvertently and unintentionally, strengthening the hand of the Islamists. In arguing, for example, that for parents to bring up a child in any religious tradition, even the mildest of Anglicanism, is to abuse a child, with the natural corollary that the law should forbid it (for how can the law permit child abuse?), some of the authors are giving ammunition to the Islamists, who will be able with justice to say to their fellow-religionists, See, it is all or nothing. If you give the secularists an inch, they will take a mile. No compromise with secularism is possible, therefore; cleave unto us.
Islamism is a worthy target, of course, but by now one that has been pretty well aimed at (though I recommend very strongly the forthcoming book from Encounter Books, Brother Tariq: The Doublespeak of Tariq Ramadan, by Caroline Fourest). To suggest, however, that all forms of religion are equal, that they are all murderous and dangerous, is not to serve the cause of freedom and tolerance. It is to play into the hands of the very people we should most detest; it is to hand them the rhetorical tools with which they can tell the gullible that our freedoms are not genuine and that our tolerance is a masquerade. It is to do what I should previously have thought was impossible, namely in this respect to put them in the right. Read all.
If the above seems somehow related to the neo-pagan recrudescence going apace in the West, your antennae don't need adjusting. You are simply picking up the signals of the two most prominent expressions of the primitive Sacred in today's world. Dark days. Dark days indeed.
By the way, Mark Steyn who is gifted with a Chestertonian wit and sangfroid under persecution, lays out the muddle that is the “case” against him by Islamofascista and crack-pot human rights commission types. It is one thing to seek peace and justice from a Thomist perspective. It is quite another and more sinister to do so from a vacuous secularist one caught in the downward spiral of the sacrificial vortex.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
"Am I not here, I who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection?" The Blessed Virgin Mary spoke these words to an Indian merchant on December 12, 1531, during the last of her several appearances to him. It is quite probable that one of the consequences of these apparitions was the prevention of an armed revolt of the Mexican Indian population against their Spanish conquerors. Another was the greatest mass conversion to Christianity in the history of the Church.
Today, we are being told that there is a "clash of civilizations" between the Western and Islamic worlds. Few people, however, are asking if the Mother of God can help prevent this clash from becoming cataclysmic. Continue reading …
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
See also Bomb & A Burqa – Two Bits as well as 600 Pound Gorilla.
Monday, December 10, 2007
I may grow tired of saying it, but Islam is structurally part and parcel with the primitive Sacred limned with great alacrity by René Girard, Gil Bailie, and others. Ostensibly it claims revelation that supersedes both Judaism and Christianity; surreptitiously, Islam is a petulant, chip-on-its-shoulder "negative imitation" of both, always cocking an eye to see its model-rival in near-hilarious attraction/revulsion ... if it weren't so murderous.
But like all conventional expressions of the primitive Sacred, Islam cannot let go of its primary motivating force: the religious dread and awe of needing victims -- yes, human victims. Girard calls this essential element of conventional religion, anthropologically speaking, the "single victim mechanism" (Robert Hamerton-Kelly calls it the "Generative Mimetic Scapegoating Mechanism," and with good reason, but I won't get into all that now).
Needless to say, if the duck walks and talks and looks like a practitioner of human sacrifice, it is a form of quacking paganism. Period. Judaism long ago had to be pulled out of it -- ask the Major and Minor Prophets. Christianity has always ruefully dabbled in it, enjoying a good Sunday afternoon hangin' on the town square. But both listen to a biblical Spirit that says an unequivocal "NO!" to it as a raison d'etre.
There is too much gathering evidence that Islam is far, far away from such an unequivocal message. Especially when Mum and Dad want to take the daughter out back and slit her throat unless stopped by the authorities. UPDATE: And again, only a “successful” murder of a daughter.
Lee Smith, on the other hand, in The Weekly Standard (6/26/06) reminds us that the "Arab habit of blaming everything on the United States, or Israel, or the West in general, strikes many observers as evidence of faulty logical processes, or an abdication of basic political responsibility. But it is also part of an unspoken ceasefire pact--a reminder among Arabs that they have agreed not to attack each other and will focus their energies on external enemies in order to keep the peace at home." [HT: Daniel Pipes] This is the truest indicator of the nature of Islam in realpolitik -- recourse to the "lowest common denominator" of scapegoating as social cohesion.
May the day never come when America relinquishes and extinguishes the "moral power of American ideals" that rest squarely on the faith and morals of the Christian faith. For if it does, then our greatest foe will truly have conquered, and all that is best about the Shire will be lost.
Sunday, December 9, 2007
The collusion, the enabling, the dysfunctional behavior that passes for normalcy in postmodernity's oil-sated idolatry will not pass easily for any of us. Fortunately, Honda has the wherewithal to withstand the kind of big-time pressure that the oil industry and Detroit will bring to bear. I hope.
Will we live to see the end of the exportation of Middle Eastern oil and petro-financed dhimmitude and terrorism? Maybe. If Ford and General Motors get their a**es in gear and follow suit instead of negotiating with extensions with petrol-financed terrorists and American oil panderers and pimps.
Mumin Salih: "History will acknowledge the contributions made by the Americans, Europeans, Russians and other nations to [aviation]. History will also record the only contribution made by Muslims to aviation, which is to crash the planes and kill their passengers. Muslims happen to be the only group to perfect this art of crashing commercial planes to kill innocent, helpless civilians. Their list of achievements includes:
- "In 1967 they introduced to the world professional hijacking; a Palestinian group hijacked an Israeli Boeing 707 to Algeria.
- "In 1970 they introduced multiple plane hijacking when they hijacked, then exploded four commercial planes in a Jordanian desert.
- "In the 1980s they perfected the art of planting explosives in electronic devices such as cassette players. They successfully exploded a jumbo jet over Scotland killing hundreds of civilians.
- "In September 2001 humanity witnessed with disbelief how a group of dedicated Muslims hijacked four commercial planes and crashed them into buildings killing thousands of innocent civilians.
- "[In December 2001, they introduced the shoe bomb.]
- "In 2006 they introduced the use of liquid explosives.
"As the world continues improving in aeroplane designs to give us even better, more reliable and safer aeroplanes, Muslims work in the other direction and continue their own destructive innovation." ("Muslims and Air Travel," islam-watch.org, August 11, 2006)
What one sees in this tempest from a Girardian point of view is the way Henley's accusation, while ostensibly lending one of the Left's usual holier-than-thou social justice pronouncements, actually obfuscates and confuses in service to the need to find a certifiable bad-guy; namely, Mark Steyn. Henley thinks he's got a live one and is so busy pointing at what he thinks is Steyn's "frank bigotry" that he missed the fact that Steyn was quoting Mullah Krekar, who said in Oslo's newspaper Dagbladet in 2006:
"Just look at the development within Europe, where the number of Muslims is expanding like mosquitoes. Every Western woman in the EU is producing an average of 1.4 children. Every Muslim woman in the same countries is producing 3.5 children ... Our way of thinking will prove more powerful than yours."
The farther one descends into the sacrificial vortex, the more facts become malleable, murky, difficult to muster with accuracy even while one feels an abundance of righteousness and certitude. Indeed, accuracy doesn't even matter, so long as we all agree and shout loud enough. In the realm of the primitive Sacred -- even in its postmodern neopagan expression -- reason sans faith and morals is seen for what it is: a construct of the primitive Sacred and just another way to feed fallen humanity's sacrificial appetite. "It goes without saying" that Steyn was being a bigot, right? Wrong.
Instead of liberation from sin, all efforts today are focused on liberation from regret over sin; instead of fighting against sin we fight against the idea of sin, replacing it with something very different, namely, "guilt feelings." We do precisely that which in every other sphere is considered the worst thing of all, that is, we deny the problem rather than resolve it, we push back and bury evil in the unconscious instead of removing it.
It is similar to believing that we can eliminate death by eliminating the thought of death, or worrying about bringing down the fever rather than curing the sickness when the fever is only a providential revelatory symptom of the sickness. St. John says that if we claim to be without sin, then we deceive ourselves and we make God a liar (cf. 1 John 1:8-10); God, in fact, says the contrary, he says that we have sinned.
Scripture says that Christ "died for our sins" (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:3). If you take away sin, then Christ's redemption itself is made futile, you have destroyed the meaning of his death. Christ would then have been tilting at windmills, he would have spilled his blood for nothing. Read all …
Friday, December 7, 2007
I must begin by telling you that I do not like to preach on Reformation Sunday. Actually I have to put it more strongly than that. I do not like Reformation Sunday, period. I do no understand why it is part of the church year. Reformation Sunday does not name a happy event for the Church Catholic; on the contrary, it names failure. Of course, the church rightly names failure, or at least horror, as part of our church year. We do, after all, go through crucifixion as part of Holy Week. Certainly if the Reformation is to be narrated rightly, it is to be narrated as part of those dark days.
Reformation names the disunity in which we currently stand. We who remain in the Protestant tradition want to say that Reformation was a success. But when we make Reformation a success, it only ends up killing us. After all, the very name ‘Protestantism’ is meant to denote a reform movement of protest within the Church Catholic. When Protestantism becomes an end in itself, which it certainly has through the mainstream denominations in America, it becomes anathema. If we no longer have broken hearts at the church’s division, then we cannot help but unfaithfully celebrate Reformation Sunday. Continue reading ...
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Jesus prayed in the Upper Room for those who are "in the world" that "they may be one, even as we (the Father and the Son) are one" [Jn 17, 11b].
So it is a continuing sign of hope this Advent that the Catholic News Agency reported the following:
Vatican City, Dec 6, 2007 / 10:55 am (CNA).- Baptists leaders from around the world met with Pope Benedict XVI this morning at the Vatican as the second round of Baptist-Catholic talks continued. Saying that the lack of unity among Christians contradicts Christ’s will, Benedict XVI told the Baptist delegation that the world needs “our common witness to Christ and to the hope brought by the Gospel.”
This meeting in Rome is the second round of ongoing discussions that Members of the Baptist World Alliance are holding with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. The theme for this meeting is: "The Word of God in the Life of the Church: Scripture, Tradition and Koinonia." Continue reading …
May this serve as one of many signs of the power of Our Lord to bring unity, peace, and brotherhood among all who, as Benedict XVI stated, lean upon the "liberating truth and saving power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ." Amen and amen.
Meanwhile, the Canadian Islamic Congress has a 50/50 chance of getting a pair of "Human Rights Commissions" to shut down Mark Steyn.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Father Bautista: Apostle in the Desert
Joe Burns, War Stringer
A few weeks ago, I returned to the U.S. after spending a week with Army troops in Iraq. More specifically, I spent six and a half days with my son’s outfit, the 63rd Ordnance Company stationed at Al Taqaddum. Al Taqaddum is a former Iraqi airbase, nicknamed TQ, and lies about 50 miles west of Baghdad in the Anbar Province near Ramadi. My son Mike and I spent the first three days in Baghdad while I was processed for my press pass and then waited for a helicopter to become available to take us to TQ.
[ ... ]
On the second day at Al Taqaddum, I was privileged to attend Mass said by Fr. Jose A. Bautista-Rojas, a Navy chaplain who ministers to the Marines and soldiers at TQ and in the Ramadi area. It was a hot, dry, windy and desolate day.[ ... ]
The events of that morning for Fr. Bautista included a Mass he had just conducted in Ramadi at a Marine detachment. What made the Mass unique, was that his “congregation” consisted of one lonely Catholic Marine. When Father Bautista arrived in Ramadi along with his personal bodyguard, a strong young, well-armed Marine, he visited a detachment of eight men, only one of whom was Catholic. Undeterred, he told the Marine he would be happy to say Mass for him.
The young Marine confided to him, “You know Father, back in the States, I didn’t go to Mass that often, but out here I find myself longing to go to Mass again. But I’ve been here for seven months and you’re the first Catholic chaplain I’ve seen.” Fr. Bautista spent some time listening to his story and asking questions about his family. Then he said Mass for this single Marine, in the presence of countless angels and saints who rejoiced with them.
As Fr. Bautista continued speaking with us, he described the fascinating story of a young Muslim woman who was entering the Church under his guidance through the RCIA process. Her story was moving. While working with Americans, this woman, who must remain anonymous, was touched deeply when she realized that the U.S. medical personnel not only treated wounded Americans and Iraqi civilians, but also treated wounded enemy combatants, including one who was known for having killed U.S. Marines. As she put it, “This cannot happen with us.”
This dramatic extension of mercy even to enemy soldiers caused her to take the next cautious step. She asked Father Bautista to “tell me more about Jesus.” As Father described Jesus and his life in the Gospels, one thing stood out among the rest for the Muslim woman he called “Fatima” (not her real name) and that was how kindly Jesus had related to, as she put it, “the two Mary’s.” Fatima was moved to see how Jesus deeply loved Mary, his mother, who was sinless, but also how Jesus deeply loved Mary Magdalene, who was “a great sinner.” As these discussions continued, Fatima reached a point where she said to Father Bautista, “I want to become a Christian.” (My emphases) Keep reading Father Bautista, Two Mary’s, and “Do you give up so easily on Jesus?”
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Growing up in the small Polish town of Wadowice, where Jews and Catholics mingled with relative ease, Karol Wojtyla, according to biographer Tad Szulc, “had Jewish playmates and classmates with whom he enjoyed easy camaraderie.” John Paul’s closest friend was Jerzy Kluger, whose father was a prominent local attorney and president of the local Jewish community and its synagogue. About fifteen hundred Jews lived in Wadowice, more than 20 percent of the town’s population, during Karol Wojtyla’s childhood. When Karol was a teenager, the town’s synagogue, which had had a full-time rabbi for many years, hired its first cantor, who was renowned for his splendid voice. On the festival of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement and the holiest day in the Jewish year, Karol was taken to the synagogue by his father to hear the Kol Nidre, the central prayer of the Yom Kippur worship service, chanted by the new cantor. In later years, Karol Wojtyla, as bishop and pope, would often remark on how moved and inspired he was by that memorable Yom Kippur service.As Carl Bernstein and Marco Politi have pointed out, “since the time of the Apostle Peter, no Roman pontiff has ever spent his childhood in such close contact with Jewish life.”