Saturday, December 1, 2007

Stay Awake - 1 Advent

The Vigil - John Pettie

The uncertainty of the hour should not cause us to be careless but to be vigilant. If the liturgical year is at its start, the civil year is at its end. This is an optimal occasion for a sapiential reflection on the meaning of our existence. In autumn, nature itself invites us to reflect on time that passes. That which the poet Giuseppe Ungaretti said of the soldiers in the trenches on the Carso front in the First World War holds for all men: "They are on the trees as leaves in autumn." They are ready to fall at any moment. "Time passes," said our Dante Alighieri, "and man pays no attention."

[ ... ]

Let us see what faith has to tell us about this fact that everything passes. "Yet the world and its enticement are passing away. But whoever does the will of God remains forever" (1 John 2:17). There is someone who does not pass, God, and there is also a way for us not to completely disappear: Do God's will, that is, believe and follow God. In this life we are like a raft carried along by the current of a roaring river headed for the open sea, from which there is no return.

At a certain point the raft comes near to the bank. It is now or never and you leap onto the shore. What a relief when you feel the rock under your feet! This is the sensation often felt by those who come to the faith. We might recall at the end of this reflection the words left by St. Teresa of Avila as a kind of spiritual testament: "Let nothing disturb you, nothing frighten you. All things are passing. God alone remains."

Eyes That Do Not See

Investor's Business Daily turns a phrase neatly: A Religion's Reputation At Stake -- Islamofascism: Just when you thought Islam's skin couldn't get any thinner, angry Muslims from Khartoum to London want to execute a British teacher over a blasphemous teddy bear. The article asks:
Is violence integral to Islam? It's a valid question. When the pope raised it, Muslims proved him wrong by threatening to cut off his head. Message: Don't call us intolerant or we'll kill you.

If this sounds "Islamophobic," a favorite retort of the Muslim-rights group CAIR, straighten us out. We looked for a condemnation of the Sudanese troglodytes on its Web site and came up short.

[ ... ]

CAIR encourages Muslims in America to improve the coverage of Islam in the media. It says they should break the stereotype of Muslims as terrorists, and that of Islam as "archaic, barbaric, irrational" and a "religion of violence."
Well, what are you waiting for? Condemn the Islamic court's punishment of an innocent teacher. Certainly CAIR doesn't agree that naming a toy animal after the Muslim prophet is a crime just because it could be considered by the most extremist hard-liner to be an insult. Or does it?

The vast majority of Americans would change their negative view of Islam if Muslims would strongly condemn such extremism. But for some reason, they won't do it.

Until they do, they can't complain about Islamophobia.
My perspective as a reader of René Girard is this: Until the expression of the primitive Sacred called Islam ceases to erase the mental capacity to grow up past crowd contagion, bloodthirstiness, and desire for scapegoats, all precautions must be taken to protect what is left of truth, goodness, and beauty in the West. For the primitive Sacred worships structurally the dark gods of the blood, vengeance, and havoc, regardless of its ostensible self-justifications. Such behavior is essential to its template of conventional religion, anthropologically speaking.

If the governmental and corporate monetary institution leaders in the Christ-haunted West keeps pretending not to see this about Islam, or try to "ignore" it out of false charity, soon we too won't be able to talk about it. Worse, we will legislate the ability to see or thematize it out of existence. Finally, the recrudescence of the primitive Sacred will blot out the ability to see it at all. We see this in CAIR and proponents of Islam who can see "hate crimes" (harsh language) and "Islamophobia"of others, but not the violence, bloodshed, and paganism among their own.

At the present rate of Islamification of the West, how long, do you suppose, will it take for this to occur?

Peace Talks and Teddy Bears

Mixing metaphors seems appropriate since news from Annapolis is being trumpeted in all quarters, each with his own spin according to the ax each has to grind. Meanwhile, a well-meaning but naive schoolteacher sits somewhere in hiding, fearing for her life, after having the temerity to ask her Muslim students to "name the bear." If the name 'Muhammad' is well into and climbing in the top-20 favorite names in Britain, you can imagine where it is in a Sudanese school, can't you?

But the schoolteacher's naïveté can only be matched by the smiling fellow you see at the podium in the photo above. If the Saudis wouldn’t shake hands with an Israeli, what kind of accord is worth the paper it is written upon? I would suggest that those who believe anything other than the ultimate destruction of the state of Israel is the long range goal of all "faithful" Islamic religionists would do well to pinch themselves, stop sniffing the fumes of postmodern Enlightenment secular humanism -- that is, leave the Age-of-Aquarius "I Want to Teach the World to Sing in Perfect Harmony" pipe dreams in the 60's -- and realize the goal of Islam is extermination of Judaism in general and Israel in particular.

For a fine essay on the naïveté of a British schoolteacher and, I might add, an American President and his Secretary of State, read Fitzgerald: The Teddy Bear Incident at Dhimmi Watch.

UPDATE: "Imprisoning this lady does not satisfy the thirst of Muslims in Sudan. But we welcome imprisonment and expulsion," the cleric, Abdul-Jalil Nazeer al-Karouri, a well-known hard-liner, told worshippers. "This an arrogant woman who came to our country, cashing her salary in dollars, teaching our children hatred of our Prophet Muhammad," he said. The "thirst of Muslims in Sudan" or elsewhere, I surmise. If the teacher actually DID go to teach "children hatred of (the) Prophet Muhammad," I completely retract what I said about her naïveté. As it stands, the accusatory gesture of the primitive Sacred still wins the day in Sudan, and the school teacher isn't the one pointing.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Paul Weston - Nota Bene

Paul Weston's article/essay at Gates of Vienna: Cool War – Warm War – Hot War: Part 2 Essential reading for Cassandras. Click here for part one.

Alchemical Gnosticism - 2

An area explored early at this blog, Thomas Storck writes at the New Oxford Review, "Hating the Body - Body Piercing, Blood Rites, and Transsexualism." He outlines the nexus of what Girard calls the "crisis of distinctions" at the individual and interdividual levels of gender differentiation.
Those who hate the fact that mankind is divided into two sexes, with a corresponding range of behaviors rooted in this natural fact, try to destroy the idea that any sex-related behavior is natural. They say instead that the behavior that seems to flow from maleness or femaleness is in fact a societal "construct." Some would admit the reality of the two biological sexes, but after that all is in flux. Thus, one physically female person can describe herself as a "masculine, lesbian, female-to-male cross-dresser and transgenderist" (in Feinberg, Trans Liberation). Basing their theories on the margins of human behavior, they then make such margins normative. It is as if they were to assert that since some humans think they are dogs, the canine personality is as natural to us as the human. Having first rejected the notion of any natural norms, they logically go the next step and throw out statistical norms. All that remains is flux.

It might seem that the mutilation of the body, and indeed of the human personality, engaged in by transsexuals is the summit of the hatred of the human that I speak of here. But it is not. For the ultimate project of many transsexuals, and others as well, is to proclaim the utter irrelevance of the body, or at least of its sexual aspects. For they assert that there are not just two sexes; and there are not just the six or seven sexes (or genders) that some revisionists have advocated (hermaphrodite, male homosexual, lesbian, transsexual, etc.). Instead there is just human sexuality, a continuum on which "male" and "female" are only two points on a line that extends indefinitely. The book of Genesis declares, "Male and female He created them." But the new teaching seeks to replace that by declaring, in effect, "Sexuality is." For instead of a defined process and activity, created for definite natural ends which are inherent in the process, this view simply asserts that any kind of genital activity engaged in by anyone with anything and in any way fulfills the meaning of sexuality. We have progressed to the point, so these would say, where we must overthrow not just God but also nature. Reality itself is now our oppressor.

One can see the dynamic of this in homosexuality. Homosexuals argue that since they are attracted to persons of the same sex, therefore for them this is proper sexuality, even natural sexuality. Of course this is absurd, as the logic and structure of their bodies proclaim. But still homosexuals at least seem to keep the notion of two sexes, just that some members of each sex are inclined toward same-sex relationships. But this is illusory. For in fact, as soon as we escape from the rule of the body's own logic, from the conduct indicated by the very shape and function of the body and its parts, then we are in a fantasy land where anything can be, anything that the mind can imagine and the will can desire. We end up with a world in which we have "those who blur or bridge the boundary of gender expression they were assigned at birth: cross-dressers, transsexuals, intersex people," and so on. Sexuality simply is, and sex simply happens.

This deconstruction of sexuality is manifested, for example, in the career of one who is known as Kate Bornstein:

Kate Bornstein is neither a man nor a woman but "hir" own special transgressive creation - and, inevitably, something of a traveling circus. "Ze" was born male, raised as a boy, opted for a sex-change in adulthood, and became a woman. A few years later, she got tired of being a woman so she stopped - but didn't want to become a man again (The Independent [London], March 8, 1998).

Supporters of this way of life believe that once we recognize that transsexuality is not a "gender illness" which can be cured by surgery, then we will realize that "transsexuality may be more destabilizing than homosexuality." For then even "biological sex is revealed to have no inevitable natural meaning, but only the social meaning attached to it on the basis of gender identity" (Harvard Law Review, June 1995). There is no nature; again, sexuality simply is.

Today we are confronted culturally by a badly confused attempt to destroy Cartesian culture which itself engages in the extremes of Cartesian behavior, and by those who deny the obvious fact that human sexual activity and sexual organs have a natural purpose or finality.

Only if we return to God, in fact to Jesus Christ, who is God incarnate, the Redeemer of both bodies and souls, do we have any hope of returning either to nature or to cultural sanity. Though the modern world shows little interest in such a return, we Christians must continually point out that the world has strayed from God and from nature. We must point to Jesus Christ as the only remedy. For without such a return we cannot expect much future for the human race. Read all …
Storck clearly presupposes Natural Law as per the understanding of the Catholic Church in this essay. Refer to David P. Lang's absolutely essential Why Matter Matters [OSV 2002] for deeper explorations into the Church's anti-gnostic truth.

Broken Clock - Right Again

Newt Gingrich does it again at Family Security Matters. The former House Speaker gave a speech entitled, "Sleepwalking Into a Nightmare," to a meeting for the Jewish National Fund on November 15:

When asked whether or not al Qaeda is a threat, 89% of the country says yes. And they think you have to defeat it, you can't negotiate with it.

So now let's look at al Qaeda and the rise of Islamist terrorism.

And let's be honest: What's the primary source of money for al Qaeda? It's you, re-circulated through Saudi Arabia. Because we have no national energy strategy, when clearly if you really cared about liberating the United States from the Middle East and if you really cared about the survival of Israel, one of your highest goals would be to move to a hydrogen economy and to eliminate petroleum as a primary source of energy.

Now that's what a serious national strategy would look like, but that would require real change.

So then you look at Saudi Arabia. The fact that we tolerate a country saying no Christian and no Jew can go to Mecca, and we start with the presumption that that's true while they attack Israel for being a religious state is a sign of our timidity, our confusion, our cowardice that is stunning.

It's not complicated. We're inviting Saudi Arabia to come to Annapolis to talk about rights for Palestinians when nobody is saying, "Let's talk about rights for Christians and Jews in Saudi Arabia. Let's talk about rights for women in Saudi Arabia."

So we accept this totally one-sided definition of the world in which our enemies can cheerfully lie on television every day, and we don't even have the nerve to insist on the truth. We pretend their lies are reasonable. This is a very fundamental problem. And if you look at who some of the largest owners of some of our largest banks are today, they're Saudis.

You keep pumping billions of dollars a year into countries like Venezuela, Iran and Saudi Arabia, and Russia, and you are presently going to have created people who oppose you who have lots of money. And they're then going to come back to your own country and finance, for example, Arab study institutes whose only requirement is that they never tell the truth. So you have all sorts of Ph.D.s who now show up quite cheerfully prepared to say whatever it is that makes their funders happy – in the name, of course, of academic freedom. So why wouldn't Columbia host a genocidal madman? It's just part of political correctness.
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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

An Attack on ... Christmas?

A Dutch fellow, H. Numan, has an interesting spin on the 3rd annual Paris Intifada via Gates of Vienna. He sees it as An Attack on Christmas.

I would hasten to revise this slightly -- an attack on the Season of Advent (I'm sure rioting Paris "youth" would value the distinction). Be sure to make a good Confession during this time of preparing for the birth of the Christ Child. Decorate and make your home glad with tidings of Great Joy which will be to all people ... whether they know it or not.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Orc Fest - Paris '07

Thomas Landen at Brussels Journal reports on Paris’s Third Annual Intifada Festival. Michelle Malkin offers an encouraging quotation from a "youth" at Flambée de violence: “Youths” now shooting at police; “This is war. There is no mercy. We want at least two policemen dead.” The lad -- speaking for the other high intentioned "youth" like himself -- will settle for only two dead policemen. If others happen to get killed in the frenzy of the bacchanalia of violence, even Muslims, the Koran allows this in dar ul-harb.

Where are the knights? Where the chivalry? Where the legitimate defense? The orcs are loose and intent on showing how easy it is to storm old Christendom for their own. Just imagine their governance and their "peace".

Monday, November 26, 2007

Comic Relief - Silence!! I Keell You!!!

Thanks to pal D'artagnan for this. THOSE are my 72 virgins ? ! ?

Turning Grief Into Grievance

Everyone knows that Paris is burning again. The tale is familiar: two "youths" are dead and retaliation -- turning grief into grievance -- is swift, out of control, and out of proportion. O, and did I mention, the accusations on which the violence is based are erroneous?

But did you know or hear of Anne-Lorraine (23), a young journalist, who a few hours after the "youths" died, was stabbed to death on a suburban train near Creil, while resisting a man who was trying to rape her? The man had already been convicted for violent sexual assault in 1996. There was no rioting, no tumult for her lonely, sad death. Fancy that.

Do you suppose it has something to do with cultural, ethnic, and religious background differences? Astute of you if you think so.

The Christian faith has learned to abjure turning grief into grievance -- in fits and starts, to be sure. But Islam knows only one template: the primitive Sacred's predilection to find and use any excuse -- and accusation, however false or contrived -- as a provocation to violence and its falsely cathartic transcendence. This is a sad but true piece of vital information.

Compare, for example, the funerals of John Paul II the Great and Yasar Arafat: the stately beauty of grief in the former; the tinder-box mayhem of the latter.

God rest the soul of Anne-Lorraine and bring peace to the hearts of her family and loved ones. I don't expect to see reports of their rioting and violence.

What do you suppose will happen when the number of "youths" grows to a tipping-point beyond the control of the emergency services? How long will that be?

Benedict XVI & the 138 Muslims

Pope Benedict XVI is apparently moving with appropriate caution in responding to the letter of the 138 Muslims. A flurry of Protestant leaders have issued statements, but the Holy Father's intentions are, so far, cordial yet muted.

What is the kind of dialogue with Islam that Benedict XVI wants? Sandor Magister at www.chiesa says this:
The pope explained this most clearly in a passage of his pre-Christmas address to the Roman curia, on December 22, 2006:

"In a dialogue to be intensified with Islam, we must bear in mind the fact that the Muslim world today is finding itself faced with an urgent task. This task is very similar to the one that has been imposed upon Christians since the Enlightenment, and to which the Second Vatican Council, as the fruit of long and difficult research, found real solutions for the Catholic Church.

"It is a question of the attitude that the community of the faithful must adopt in the face of the convictions and demands that were strengthened in the Enlightenment.

"On the one hand, one must counter a dictatorship of positivist reason that excludes God from the life of the community and from public organizations, thereby depriving man of his specific criteria of judgment.

"On the other, one must welcome the true conquests of the Enlightenment, human rights and especially the freedom of faith and its practice, and recognize these also as being essential elements for the authenticity of religion.

"As in the Christian community, where there has been a long search to find the correct position of faith in relation to such beliefs - a search that will certainly never be concluded once and for all -, so also the Islamic world with its own tradition faces the immense task of finding the appropriate solutions in this regard.

"The content of the dialogue between Christians and Muslims will be at this time especially one of meeting each other in this commitment to find the right solutions. We Christians feel in solidarity with all those who, precisely on the basis of their religious conviction as Muslims, work to oppose violence and for the synergy between faith and reason, between religion and freedom."
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Aaronovitch - Part 4

The final installment of David Aaronovitch's "No Excuses for Terrorism" concludes his examination of (a) the irrationality of the Left's one-sided denouncement of Israeli violence (read: self-defense) and (b) the degeneracy of Islamofascist terrorism.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Love in the Ruins - Dionysus Mandate

Love Among the Ruins, by Edward Burne-Jones

Love in the Ruins is the title of my favorite Walker Percy novel. Those of you who have read it know that Percy, a Catholic convert, is a master of depicting good characterizations of bad Catholics. The subtitle indeed is: The Adventures of a Bad Catholic at a Time Near the End of the World.

Did Percy know of Burne-Jones' painting and Browning’s poem? A silly question, of course. But Percy is also a master of fictionalizing the philosophical underpinnings of a culture. Would that he had read René Girard!

For my feeble attempt to write in the spirit of Walker Percy of the neo-pagan recrudescence in the West, you may purchase The Dionysus Mandate through Amazon or Barnes and Noble on-line.

My nom de plume is 'Walker Hunt Golding.' Any takers on who the authors are I am trying to honor?

Naïveté & Multiculturalism

Frank Salvato at Family Security Matters lifts up a great concern: Multiculturalism Exposes the U.S. to Terrorism. The point from that of Catholic truth is twofold, (1) a woeful naïveté regarding human nature, "progress", and the doctrine of Original Sin; and (2) the blindness and susceptibility of the Left in particular to identify with certain claimants to victimhood and redress; namely, wolves in sheeps' clothing. Salvato:

The people of the United States, for all practical purposes, like to believe we are fair-minded. We believe that everyone should get a fair shot. Most of us believe that if you work hard you should get ahead. Many of us have even embraced the ever-advancing multiculturalism counter-culture, which is completely antithetical to the concept of E Pluribus Unum: “Out of many, one.” With regard to the latter, vindication has come to those of us who believe we are fair-minded while being opposed to the “Balkanization” the United States.

It would seem that in our nation’s quest to prove to the world that we are inclusive and tolerant we have, literally, allowed those who want to kill us into some of the most sensitive areas of our government, areas where they put our national security at risk.
Continue reading …

Aaronovitch - Part 3

David Aaronovitch's series, "No Excuses for Terrorism," (this is 3 of 4) explores the left's inexplicable justification of the Islamist cult of death (read: paganism of the primitive Sacred for Girardian readers) and, ultimately, its unacceptability. Watch the entire series.

By the way, case in point: today's Washington Post rants its lead story: A Time to Kill, A Time to Heal - In his job as an Israeli pediatrician, Yuval saves the lives of Palestinian children. But the father of three also takes Palestinian lives as an attack helicopter pilot patrolling Gaza. One-sided, isn't it? Kind of reminds me of Bob Dylan's Neighborhood Bully.

Fr McCloskey on Sexual Baggage

Without doubt, the finest resource for survivors of the sexual branch of the culture wars is the witness of Dawn Eden. After viewing this clip (and others by Fr McCloskey), please visit Ms. Eden's fine blog which follows her "exploits", The Dawn Patrol.