Thursday, November 1, 2007

Maelstrom of Violent Imitation

A well-expressed opinion piece by a Tufts University junior majoring in international relations, Matthew Ladner, contains the following:
The fact is that Islamist terror is neither political nor a strategy for weakening the West. Rather, the theatrics of Sept. 11 and similar atrocities are merely cogs in the machine of "inevitable" Islamic revolution. They are intended to "awaken" the Muslim world to the vulnerable underbelly of the Great Satan and set in motion the holy war that the Salafists fundamentally crave.

In the words of al-Qaeda's second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri, "The jihad movement must make room for the Muslim nation to participate with it for the sake of empowerment ... The Muslim nation will not participate with the jihad movement unless the slogans of the mujahidin are understood by the masses." In the simplest of terms, the savagery of terrorism is a slap in the face to the West and the Muslim community alike. For one, it is a precursor to God's vengeance; for the other, it is a call to arms. [HT: Foehammer]
Occasionally, friend Porthos at Four Mass’keteers doubts the need to call into question all of Islam in these dark days with portents of doom coming from such heralds as al-Zawahiri. But the stark reality is this: RenĂ© Girard has laid out in high relief the taxonomy of human culture and cultures. As humans, our "operating system," if you will allow, is based in Our Lord's parlance on two radically different "fathers": we are either the offspring of the "father the devil and ... willingly carry out (that) father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning ... he is a liar and the father of lies" [Jn 8, 44b], or we are offspring of the Father who redeemed the world in total self-giving self-sacrifice.

Truth is, all of us are susceptible to the former father, because it is our cultural "O/S" as human beings; our template for functioning in the human cosmos. If we succeed in hearing and being wooed into the sphere of the Father that Jesus came to reveal perfectly in his life, death, and resurrection, it is sheer grace and, probably, due to generations of influence by the Bible, the Church, and caring parents. And that's if we are fortunate.

But if we have such an O/S or template and come from a cultural force-field outside the influence of Jesus, his Church, and the biblical presuppositions, we humans are very much more susceptible to become caught in the rip currents of "the father of lies and murderer from the beginning."

This is the dilemma of Islam. And this is what al-Zawahiri is banking on. That the mimetic power of the primitive Sacred will suck more and more and more normal, peace-loving Muslims into its voracious, inexorable undertow. And this is what the Gospel is fighting -- through Christ's holy Catholic Church, her priest and religious, her faithful families, her sustainers, benefactors, and knights -- today.

Update: Two recent polls of Pakistanis show that between 60 and 76 percent of those polled seek the growth of Sharia throughout Pakistan, which is a key principle in political Islamism. The enforcement of Sharia throughout Pakistan is the stated goal of the Taliban in Pakistan.

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