Monday, October 1, 2007

Bomb & a Burqa, Two Bits

The Velvet Hammer lady reports and editorializes on today's Religions of Peace death-tally, now in Peshwar, Pakistan. (Wait, wait ... I thought Pakistan was a Muslim nation, ipso facto. Oh, well. Tell me more.) The report states as follows:
A burqa-clad woman blew herself up and killed at least 15 people Monday at a crowded police checkpoint in northwestern Pakistan, police said. It was believed to be the first time a female suicide bomber has struck inside the country.
The bombing, which injured 22 others, apparently was in a rickshaw that was being examined at a police checkpoint around 8:25 a.m. local time in the town of Bannu, said police officer Habib Khan.

Bannu police chief Ameer Hamza Mahsud said that investigation of the bomb site confirmed that the attacker was a woman who was riding in the rickshaw. He added that police had prior intelligence about the possibility female suicide bombers would strike in the town.

I posted last week on driving in northern Virginia and seeing a full-body burqa-beclothed driver behind me in a vehicle in 600-pound Gorilla. Mark Gordon, at Suicide of the West commented on my tale of seeing the burqa in my rear-view mirror thusly: "A burkha-clad woman driving in Virginia should see the Western man in her windshield as the 600-pound gorilla, but she doesn’t. Why? Because on some level she is intimately involved in the building of a civilization, while the Westerners around her are either actively dismantling theirs or allowing it to crumble into dust." Oddly (and happily, I might add), acquaintances and colleagues of mine are beginning to sense a nagging and growing need for unity among Christians, regardless of what the ontologically-challenged nihilists of the West are busy being about. And I sense an opportunity for the work of René Girard's mimetic theory in the air.

Case in point: burqas! What? Are males so sexually obsessed that we can't keep our mitts off gals otherwise clad? The burqa is relatively recent development in ladies' apparel in Scimitar Land. So, why the bone of contention?

Girard can help. The template of Islam is purely and simply that of what he calls "the primitive Sacred," anthropologically speaking. The burqa obscures, stiff-arms any truly human interchange, and hides. The acceptability of being devious by Jihad standards is becoming commonplace and even honorable by their practitioners -- anything that fools the enemy can be easily justified in hindsight. "I did it for Allah" is a good enough rationale so long as the blood of the enemy is shed.

And this is a key component of the primitive Sacred: it is born in doubling rivalry with the other, either individually or culturally, and thrives on retributive violence, even to the point of self-annihilation ... so long as THEY perish as well. Christianity is not innocent of such slap-dash behavior, but (as usual and God bless us!) we feel remorse and contrition after such goings-on, repent, and seek to love our enemy better the next time. Saint Peter is our main-man here, setting the template at the crowing of the Rooster [Mk 14, 72].

Does Islam have any such precedence regarding remorse and repentance? Please, name it for me. It simply isn't there, never was, never has been ... but hope prays it shall one day by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Meanwhile. trust a burqa-bedecked person at your own risk.


Mark Gordon said...


Congrats again on this excellent new blog. As you know, I agree enthusiastically that the work of Rene Girard can be the key to a renewal of Christianity and a decisive impetus toward Christian unity. But "mimetic theory" isn't going to cut it as a touchstone for what Girard's work is all about. Years ago, I took over as business manager at a place called the Edmundite Apostolate Center. Sounded like a moon rock of some kind. We renamed the place St. Edmund's Retreat and it was a marketing bonanza. It is for this reason that I prefer "Anthropology of the Cross" when referring to the work of Girard, Bailie, et al. It may be less technically precise, but it packs a greater punch and its focus on the Cross - which, after all, is the whole point - is attractive to our separated brethren. I tested this a few months ago with my mom, a very knowledgeable, biblically hyperliterate Pentecostal minister. Without reference to Girard or the use of technical jargon I sketched the Anthropology of the Cross for her, focusing especially on those Scriptures that support the theory. Within 15 minutes, she had apprehended the deep truth of the entire theory, although she confessed that it was like "turning the whole Christian faith inside out." Recently, she remarked that the truth of AC had only deepened over time as she mulled it, and that she felt haunted by this dimension of the faith that she had never encountered. This thing is accessible to the layman, but it has to be packaged and presented in such a way that it is both relevant and impactful. Anyway, just thoughts.

Athos said...

Thanks for sharing the helpful anecdote re: your "hyperliterate" Bible scholar mother, Mark. Your marketing ear for what can penetrate the modern heart and mind is a vital gift. The brick wall we seem to be butting up against, though, is the post-modern heart and mind, on both the western- and eastern-fronts of the war; that is, in other words, the more radically pagan heart and mind.

I'll gladly switch from MT to AC, particularly in light of the way the "progressives" have hot-wired Girard's thought to take it for a joy ride into left field. Something I'm sure Girard himself finds annoyingly problematic.

Mark Gordon said...


Of course, I'm not suggesting that you change your term. I just think that when we reach out across the divide - both to other Christians, as well as to the pagans - theories and technical language won't work. A story will, and the Anthropology of the Cross is a convincing story. And, because of its grounding in common human experience, I think it can appeal to pagans. At least it's a point of entry. (Of course, the method is another discussion. As you know, I harbor a long-term ambition to produce a documentary film about AC). ((Sigh))

Athos said...

...And, if our long-time California resident and now East Coast pal is reading this, I offer my suggestion up once more that he narrate and explicate AC on-site in Israel: what an experience that would be to make and to watch!