Saturday, August 30, 2008
Was Sept. 11 about religion? This is still controversial. Both President Bush and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who are religious, were very quick to say that Sept. 11 was "not about religion" ("religion," hereabouts, being a euphemism for Islam). It then subsequently emerged that Sept. 11 was about religion -- or, at least, was not not about religion. But in the last year or two, it seems, we have gone back to saying that Sept. 11, and March 11 Madrid (2004), and July 7 London (2005), and all the rest, are not about religion.One sees how Mr. Amis begins to "get it" and yet doesn't get it after all, from a Girardian point of view. Even the title of his essay, "Terrorism's New Structure" leans in the direction of grasping the events of the mimetic swirl of destruction and violence structurally. But he veers away from it finally, apparently for the ideological reason of remaining loyal to academic social science's nostalgic reductionism. It reminds one of the same way Freud veered away from the truth of his observations of mimesis in favor of his pet sexual theory.
The two most stimulating international terrorism-watchers known to me are John Gray and Philip Bobbitt. Professor Gray ("Straw Dogs," "Al Qaeda and What It Means to Be Modern" and "Black Mass") and Professor Bobbitt ("The Shield of Achilles" and the masterly "Terror and Consent") are utterly unalike, except in brainpower and literary panache. Mr. Bobbitt is a proactive and muscular Atlanticist, whereas Mr. Gray is almost Taoist in his skepticism and his luminous passivity. Mr. Bobbitt is religious, and Mr. Gray is philo-religious (or, rather, wholly reconciled to the inexorability of religious belief); but neither man is an exponent of relativist politesse. And they assert, respectively, that international terrorism is "not about Islam" and has "no close connection to religion."
Al Qaedaism, for them, is an epiphenomenon -- a secondary effect. It is the dark child of globalization. It is the mimic of modernity: devolved, decentralized, privatized, outsourced and networked. According to Mr. Bobbitt, rather more doubtfully, Al Qaeda not only reflects the market state: it is a market state ("a virtual market state"). Globalization created great wealth and also great vulnerability; it created a space, or a dimension. Thus the epiphenomenon is not about religion; it is about human opportunism and the will to power. (My emphases) Real all …
What Mr. Amis misses is that the apocalyptic predilections of present "puny" apocalyptic efforts of terrorists is indeed part and parcel with the anthropological phenomenon of religion; the "primitive sacred" so well delineated structurally by René Girard's mimetic theory. Amis wishes once again to define "religion" in the Procrustean bed of conventional academic social sciences instead of seeing the attempts of "terrorists" as the actions of ad hoc "priests" of humanity's oldest culture-creating, culture-sustaining mechanisms: those of religion itself.
Friday, August 29, 2008
It will be a difficult future for people of Catholic faith should this regime acquire the Executive Branch. It has already shown its willingness to seek legal coersion to silence its enemies.
Pray constantly for the culture of life. And for the fortitude for possible dark days ahead of "change".
That is, not to defend our priests is to deprive God of his divine right to gift us with the means of grace through them, and to deprive our neighbor of those same means of grace.
We need more chivalric men - and women and children - to protect, defend, and protect our priests.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Cat at Brits at Their Best calls the Barack Hussein Obama campaign on the issue of free speech in her important post, Obama campaign ignores Petition of Right achieved in 1628.
R. R. Reno looks at the way tattoos are a mark of mass non-conformity, as well as the "draw" of their permanence here.
Self-mutilation as an effort as "ontological substantiation," perhaps. What, pray tell, is that? Forgive me if I sidestep the question and instead defer to the words of René Girard on "originality" which may be helpful:
There are two ways to be original. You know, I criticized earlier the modern conception of originality. We’re going to think something entirely different. I think only a hyper-mimetic world, obsessed with not imitating, can come to such a point. Therefore, indirectly, in my view, this modern concept of originality, which was born with Romanticism, in a way testifies to the mimetic nature of our world. “Imitation” is the bad word par excellence in culture. If you bring it in, it is something disgraceful; not being polite.
There is another notion of originality which I think is really more profound, which is going back to the origin and changing it. What Christ is doing is going back to the bad origin, which is violence, and making it nonviolent by suffering the violence willingly instead of inflicting it. So this origin will not be immediately change everything, but will slowly act like that...and change our world in a gradual fashion, which is, I think, happening today faster and faster.
(W)henever Christians actually dare to make political choices on the basis of those beliefs, then the enlightened gatekeepers of American secularism in the academy and in the media rise up in righteous wrath and rush to the barricades to defend us against the barbarian hordes of true believers who if unchecked will transform our republic into a "theocracy" and impose their intolerant bigotry on everybody else ...
If Judeo-Christian belief is so central to the ideals that created our government in the first place—if, as de Tocqueville wrote, "Freedom sees religion as the companion of its struggles and triumphs, the cradle of its infancy, and the divine source of its rights"—then the current anti-Christian fundamentalism strikes at the root of our political order. For if we are, as the secularists tell us, mere material creatures bound to one another only by contractual relations to be dissolved or altered at will, then what will provide the basis for all those selfless actions and emotions that any community depends on for its cohesion, and that keep freedom from degenerating into mere license, the power to do and consume whatever gratifies our selfish will and appetites? Where will fundamental values come from, all those beliefs that bind us into a community, and that we are willing to die and kill for, not because they have been scientifically proven but because we believe passionately that they are right and true and will benefit the greatest number of people?
The secularists have failed to provide an alternative for the religion that they have discarded ...
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
The Pelosi/Biden position is not only arrogant, cynical, and proud in the extreme, it is also one that knows what is up for grabs in the coming election: the most (worldly) powerful executive office in the world.
If the Catholic laity of America listen to their Church leaders, it may mean rejection of their candidate - a devout and pragmatic humanist, over-educated in the halls of secular higher academia, as well as ushered into realms of prestige and privilege by very dubious personages.
My hope and prayer is that American Catholics will realize the hubris of the grab by the Pelosi/Biden effort.
If you find this encouraging, gentle reader, I suggest a strong dose of the cultural anthropology of René Girard.
DENVER - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's big speech on Thursday night will be delivered from an elaborate columned stage resembling a miniature Greek temple.
The stage, similar to structures used for rock concerts, has been set up at the 50-yard-line, the midpoint of Invesco Field, the stadium where the Denver Broncos' National Football League team plays.
Some 80,000 supporters will see Obama appear from between plywood columns painted off-white, reminiscent of Washington's Capitol building or even the White House, to accept the party's nomination for president.
He will stride out to a raised platform to a podium that can be raised from beneath the floor...
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
STATEMENT OF HIS EMINENCE, EDWARD CARDINAL EGAN CONCERNING REMARKS MADE BY THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Like many other citizens of this nation, I was shocked to learn that the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States of America would make the kind of statements that were made to Mr. Tom Brokaw of NBC-TV on Sunday, August 24, 2008. What the Speaker had to say about theologians and their positions regarding abortion was not only misinformed; it was also, and especially, utterly incredible in this day and age.
We are blessed in the 21st century with crystal-clear photographs and action films of the living realities within their pregnant mothers. No one with the slightest measure of integrity or honor could fail to know what these marvelous beings manifestly, clearly, and obviously are, as they smile and wave into the world outside the womb. In simplest terms, they are human beings with an inalienable right to live, a right that the Speaker of the House of Representatives is bound to defend at all costs for the most basic of ethical reasons. They are not parts of their mothers, and what they are depends not at all upon the opinions of theologians of any faith. Anyone who dares to defend that they may be legitimately killed because another human being “chooses” to do so or for any other equally ridiculous reason should not be providing leadership in a civilized democracy worthy of the name.
Edward Cardinal Egan
Archbishop of New York
August 26, 2008
UPDATE: Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl gets in his two bits.
One can’t help thinking of Damian Williams again: “’I was just caught up in the rapture.” The hope and joy and rapture that flooded the romantic soul of the English observer is the stuff of the primitive sacred. The time was ripe for a sacred charade. Robespierre, at this point little more than a tool of the mob violence, obliged as well as he could. Wells writes:
[Robespierre] induced the Convention to decree that France believed in a Supreme Being … In June he celebrated a great festival, the festival of his Supreme Being. There was a procession to the Champ de Mars, which he headed, brilliantly arrayed, bearing a great bunch of flowers and wheat-ears. Figures of inflammatory material, which represented Atheism and Vice, were solemnly burnt; then, by an ingenious mechanism, and with some slight creakings, an incombustible statue of Wisdom rose in their place.
Perhaps we can let the reference to “some slight creakings” serve to remind us how contrived and inevitably futile was Robespierre’s blatant attempt to bring into the cultural life of Christian France one of the gods whose long absence Nietzsche was later to lament.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Why is it a real race now, with John McCain rising in the polls and Barack Obama falling? There are many answers, but here I think is an essential one: The American people have begun paying attention.
It's hard for our political class to remember that Mr. Obama has been famous in America only since the winter of '08. America met him barely six months ago! The political class first interviewed him, or read the interview, in 2003 or '04, when he was a rising star. They know him. Everyone else is still absorbing.
This is what they see:
An attractive, intelligent man, interesting, but—he's hard to categorize. Is he Gen. Obama? No, no military background. Brilliant Businessman Obama? No, he never worked in business. Famous Name Obama? No, it's a new name, an unusual one. Longtime Southern Governor Obama? No. He's a community organizer (what's that?), then a lawyer (boo), then a state legislator (so what, so's my cousin), then U.S. senator (less than four years!).
There is no pre-existing category for him.
Add to that the wear and tear of Jeremiah Wright, secret Muslim rumors, media darling and, this week, abortion.
It took a toll, which led to a readjustment. His uniqueness, once his great power, is now his great problem...
Widely syndicated columnist Linda Chavez argued two weeks ago that Obama's Illinois voting record would come back to haunt him and pointed out that, with his black liberation church affiliations, he had even less grounds than Kerry for taking Catholic support for granted. "Barack Obama has a Catholic problem. If he doesn't do better than John Kerry did in 2004 with this quintessential swing voting bloc, he won't be elected ... Catholics are by no means a single-issue voting group. But for observant Catholics, those who attend mass regularly and follow the church's teachings, a candidate's position on abortion matters."
But if worse comes to worse, and an unrepentant Obama/Biden ticket should gain the White House, then, as Karen Hall rightly warns us, We deserve whatever happens to us.