Saturday, September 18, 2004

Faith is very much an individual pursuit.

Faith is very much an individual pursuit.

Over at The Commons, Paulie makes a convincing argument that significant and compelling religious influences are at play in our war on terror. Those influences define and affect the war on terror, in ways we have yet to acknowledge.

He is asking that we consider the possibility, that maybe, just maybe, we need to see and define those certain influences for what they are-- evil.

Now, many no doubt, will recoil at that very idea.

Sure, it is alright to believe what we will, but to publicly acknowledge those forces at play is quite another. The instinctive reaction is to avoid doing so, because in doing so, we may somehow reduce the morality or political correctness of the war.

In our times, religious and personal behaviors have been deemed acceptable when kept private. Public displays of religiosity by our elected officials have been reduced to benign, happy Holiday acknowledgments and forced displays of the 'universalism' of ideas foreign to our system of beliefs.

It is believed that religion can only serve to divide people and detract from the idea that only universalism can truly bring us together. We are asked to shed our religious identities and differences in the name of universalism and moral relativism. Somehow, no matter what the differences are in expressions of faith, we will accept you as an equal-- simply because you tell us that is what we must do so that you may 'feel' accepted.

The idea of course, isn't new. We are told that crime is a result of environment and when the novelty of that no longer washed in the courtroom, it became the result of the individuals perception of environment.

The movement to alleviate the individual of responsibility has so completely gone astray that just recently, a new film depicting the 'human' side of Adolph Hitler was released to glowing reviews and sympathetic audience reviews. Had Hitler been more understood, perhaps the horrors might not have been unleashed. He really was a nice man. Really.

Societies too, are being absolved from the responsibility of collective behaviors. The Palestinians, Saudis and Chinese are not really responsible for their repugnant behavior. What are referred to as 'cultural differences' are to be understood and even embraced-- and were deemed to be morally equivalent to Western ideas, even if we knew them to be morally repugnant.

9/11 changed much of that.

More recently, the butchery and savagery at the school in Beslan, drove home, again, the point that moral relativism isn't the panacea to the world's ills. The moral relativist's will argue that our foreign policy brought the 9/11 tragedy upon ourselves. They argue that the Russian security forces were to blame and not the terrorists, for the slaughter of children in Beslan.

They are hollow arguments and are seen as such. The pompous statements issued by the apologists for these horrors are no more than the rantings of self absorbed and self centered individuals who believe they, and they alone are the final arbiters of morality. They refuse to acknowledge that all they have stood for and all they believe is a sham. These are the people who still see Che Guevara, Castro, Stalin, Mao and Arafat as the Great Ones. They argue that these Great Ones, were forced to kill a total of many millions and commit atrocities innocents millions because those people were stubborn enough to have ideas and beliefs of their own. They forced the Great Ones to kill them, because they wouldn't march in lockstep, blindly following.

The Commons piece makes an interesting observation:

"The biblical tale of the Tower of Babel is a good example of what I mean. When there was one language (perhaps a metaphor for the collective human hubris), man set out to meet God, as an equal. God responds by instilling different languages, to foil communication amongst the builders of the Tower, making its construction impossible.

God did not destroy the Tower. Instead, He actually encouraged differences. This is an important distinction. There are those that talk about 'universalism,' as if there is a single point of view only. This is patently false. Mankind's greatest achievements have been in the free marketplace of ideas and thoughts. It is accumulation, acceptance, and productive application of various and disparate ideas, thoughts, and cultural accomplishment that have resulted in true achievement."

Let us assume for a moment that you, the reader, do not believe in God.

That does not mean that the above mentioned ideas aren't true or that evil doesn't exist.

Whether you see evil as Satan inspired or whether you see evil as the manifestation of man's darkest impulses, the results are the same.

Even among believers, there are wide variances of beliefs. Some people take religion literally, others do not. Some accept one creed, others another.

Some believers claim no religion, only the idea of intelligent design and a 'Supreme Architect.'

The Commons piece is equally relevant, irrespective of beliefs or lack of belief in a Higher Power. Substitute the word or idea of your choice and Paulie's words still hold true.

If arguments presented in religious terms doesn't resonate, consider these:

In an article called “Europe will be Islamic by the end of the Century,” Robert Spencer quotes eminent historian and scholar of Islam and the Middle East, Bernard Lewis. His own observations are startling.

"Sweden's third-largest city, Malmo, according to the Swedish Aftonbladet, has become an outpost of the Middle East in Scandinavia: "The police now publicly admit what many Scandinavians have known for a long time: They no longer control the situation in the nation's third largest city. It is effectively ruled by violent gangs of Muslim immigrants. Some of the Muslims have lived in the area of Rosengard, Malmo, for twenty years, and still don't know how to read or write Swedish. Ambulance personnel are attacked by stones or weapons, and refuse to help anybody in the area without police escort. The immigrants also spit at them when they come to help. Recently, an Albanian youth was stabbed by an Arab, and was left bleeding to death on the ground while the ambulance waited for the police to arrive. The police themselves hesitate to enter parts of their own city unless they have several patrols, and need to have guards to watch their cars, otherwise they will be vandalized."

Also in Denmark, the Quran is now required reading for all upper secondary school students. There is nothing wrong with that in itself, but it is unlikely, given the current ascendancy of political correctness on the Continent, that critical perspectives will be included...

Elsewhere in Europe the jihad is taking a more violent form. Dutch officials have uncovered at least fifteen separate terrorist plots, all aimed at punishing the Netherlands for its 1,300 peacekeeping troops in Iraq. And in Spain, Moroccan Muslims, including several suspected participants in the March 11 bombings in Madrid, have taken control of a wing of a Spanish prison. From there they broadcast Muslim prayers at high volume, physically intimidated non-Muslim prisoners, hung portraits of Osama bin Laden, and boasted, "We are going to win the holy war." The guards' response? They asked the ringleaders please to lower the volume on the prayers.

The entire article is here. Read it, please.

Lastly, Asia News presents a picture of what happened in Beslan we haven't seen here.

Slaughter of Beslan children done as murderers shouted : "God is Great", says theologian.

Beslan was a "religious" crime, a "ritual murder" carried out by people shouting Allah Akbar (God is great), this according to Orthodox theologian Andrei Kuraev, professor at the Moscow Orthodox Theological Academy.

In "How to perceive Islam after Beslan?," an article published on September 15 in the Moscow daily Izvestia, deacon Kuraev writes: "What happened in Beslan is not just a crime. It was a religious crime. It was ritual murder, the murder of children with prayers in the background. The terrorists killed in the name of their faith. They killed people shouting Allah Akbar and sacrificed innocent children on the altar of their religious

Kuraev goes further: "They were not just gangsters who killed. They were people of one faith who killed Christians in the name of their creed." One episode, he believes, makes this point clear. Sacha, a 13-year-old boy, was among the children taken hostage in the school. He wore a cross around his neck. When one of the terrorist saw it, the man turned his gun towards the boy and shouted: 'Pray!...'

In his message of condolences to President Putin, Patriarch Aleksij II said that "terrorism showed its satanic face" in Beslan. For Kuraev terrorism is "satanic", not Islam as a whole. For this reason, he considers the Beslan terrorists satanic. "When I speak of Satanism in relation to the terrorists," the theologian writes, "I am not defining Islam as a satanic religion. The Beslan terrorists killed many Muslims as well because they saw them as evil Muslims."

"Even if the Islamic world refuses to admit it, it is responsible for Muslim terrorism," Kuraev claims. "Its major fault lies in the fact that it allows itself to be used." However, the Russian theologian believes the West, too, has to bear some of the responsibility. Deacon Kuraev is in fact convinced that there is anti-Muslim and anti-Christian terrorist plan concocted in the West that seeks to set up a "new global order". For this reason, he berates those who are "are trying to confuse us and pit us one against the other." For him, Russia has already become the bulwark "that protects Europe against an aggressive Islamic world."

Read the article here.

Whether you agree with deacon Kuraev in all or in part, his essential message in seeing the evil that is evident, is clear.

Regardless of of one's beliefs, there is evil out there.

Wandering Mind

may not be suitable for political vegans