Saturday, August 6, 2016

Those French, they know how to think

With a H/T to Bryden Black I draw your attention to an interview posted on First Things. The byline re the interviewee and interviewer is,

"Pierre Manent, former director of studies at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, [interviewed] by the newspaper Il Foglio in the wake of the ISIS murder of Fr. Jacques Hamel"

It starts with:

"Imagine this scene: a mid-week mass, an almost empty church, two parishioners, three nuns, a very old priest with a mild, fine face who is immolated at the foot of the altar on which he has just celebrated the memorial of Christ’s sacrifice. This heart-wrenching scene sheds light on the state of Christianity in Europe. The Catholic Church lives from the faith and zeal of a few, old and young. It is the object of hatred with two faces: the cold and hissing hatred, the contempt of the class that speaks and writes; and the murderous hatred of Muslim fanatics."
Pierre Manent has that sharp insight which I have found numerous times when reading French intellectuals. Insight which somehow, je ne sais pas, is different to those of us who think in the British tradition.

Read on ...

This is the killer sentence (IMHO):

"We invite catastrophe by sincerely believing that the religious affiliation of a citizen has no political bearing or effect. "


Andrei said...

Here is another story from France last week Peter

French Riot Police Smash Down Church Doors, Throw Priest To Ground During Mass

And I can recall reading of other Catholic Churches in France being converted to Mosques - but the reason why this happens is there are not enough French Catholics to maintain their congregations

But I do not think it is Islam that is at fault here - the Priest who gained the crown of Martyrdom before the Altar was not a victim of Islam per se - the youths behind it were anti social and I'd be surprised if they were regulars at their local mosque - nominally Muslim for sure but not avid students of the Koran

I have actually found that Muslims have a closer affinity with Faithful Christians than with the Secualar

An example of this was during the Virgin in the Condom controversy in the 1990s when Helen Clark ruled the land - And the local Muslims joined with their Christian brethren in opposing this blasphemous to Catholics but not to Muslims travesty

There are dark forces at work who seek to divide us and create a religious war and use religion to create bloodshed and mayhem to advance their agendas

Here is an example from Christian Today, written by an American Baptist, seeking to exacerbate the divide between Christians in Ukraine

Anonymous said...

Islam has always been the enemy of the West and of Christian Europe. It has been in an almost constant state of warfare with Christendom for over a thousand years. It has never been in a state of peace with Christendom. And because of it's nature, it never will be.

The project of modernity is founded upon two lies. That human nature is Tabula Rasa, and that all religions and cultures can share the same national space by creating a neutral, secular, multicultural space.

Human nature however is not a blank slate. Human beings are not just individuals. We all have family, ancestors, history and a religious and cultural heritage. And for Muslims, that religious heritage is also political, because Islam is by nature a political ideology as much as a religious one. In Islam, politics and faith cannot be separated. The degree to which a Muslim in the West moves closer to their religious heritage, to that degree they also become political. And in Islam that means anti-Christian and anti-Western.

The space created by secularism did not create a neutral ground. Nature abhors a vacuum. Instead it was filled by the quasi-religion of multiculturalism, a religion which, far from being neutral where culture is concerned, is also profoundly anti-Christian and anti-Western. Thus the ongoing attempts by politicians (Angela Merkal being just the latest) and activist "human rights" groups to "diversify" Western peoples, which means in practice, displacing Western peoples, and Christianity.

The result of this historical process is the low level ethnic and religious civil war that is now raging between Islam and Western peoples, within the West itself. Regardless of the issues of the West's relationship with the Islamic world, this civil war was inevitable and unavoidable. As soon as large scale Muslim immigration into the West began, conflict and violence was always going to be the result, sooner or later. Our political leaders, operating under the delusions of secular modernity and multiculturalism, created the conflict and violence we are now seeing every other day in Europe by ignoring the reality of human nature, and failing to understand the reality of the nature of Islam.

We are now past the point of no return. This civil war will get much worse before it gets better. And it will not get better until we have leaders in the West who understand that the only answer, the only solution, is for the West to regain it's own religious and cultural identity, and to close the borders of the West to further Islamic and non-Christian immigration.

The West is not a neutral space within which any and all religions and cultures can coexist. The West is Christianity and Christianity is the West. They cannot be separated without losing both.

Jonathan said...

What do you think, Shawn, about Christians emigrating into Europe who are ethnically African, Asian, Middle Eastern or Latin American? Or atheist Australians, Americans or New Zealanders?

Bryden Black said...

One gathers though that IS had in mind just such an attack as that in Rouen. It was only a case of finding the 'youths' who would carry out the deed for them.

That said, this interview homes in once more on how many a Western culture has severed itself from it roots - and then wonders what's happening and why, and realises so little what to do about it ...

Andrei said...

"One gathers though that IS had in mind just such an attack as that in Rouen"

And can you explain to me Bryden what the Warlords who hold Mosul and Raqqa have to gain by the slaughter of an elderly Catholic Priest before the altar in a Rouen?

And do you know what the answer to that is Bryden?


Anonymous said...

Hello Jonathan,

The West needs breathing space for a time, and time to assimilate or otherwise deal with the challenges of the massive levels of non-Western immigration we have already had. I think we need a good twenty years or so of radically reduced immigration levels, regardless of religious affiliation, to do that.

I don't take atheists seriously enough to worry about them. ;)

Anonymous said...

Hi Andrei,

"And can you explain to me Bryden what the Warlords who hold Mosul and Raqqa have to gain by the slaughter of an elderly Catholic Priest before the altar in a Rouen? "

A huge amount in terms of symbolism. It would be a mistake to assume that ISIS is following a military strategy with regards to terrorism in the West. It is instead waging a meta-political war of signs and symbols, a propaganda war. A Muslim able to walk into a Catholic Cathredral in France, the country where Charles Martel halted the Muslim advance in Europe hundreds of years ago, and kill the priest during mass, is a massive symbolic victory for them, and a sign to their followers and potential followers that the West is weak and Islam/ISIS is strong.

Most if not all of the Islamic terrorist attacks we have seen from ISIS, and from Al-Qaeda before them, are forms of propaganda rather than being based on any conventional military strategy.

Bryden Black said...

Good questions Andrei. But as Shawn begins to show, it depends entirely upon one's calculus.

Andrei said...

Shawn I beg to differ - ISIS you never heard of until they were poised to take Mosul which they did and now hold

al-Raqqah and Mosul are very valuable pieces of real estate and the warlords that hold them are ex Iraqi Military and their foot soldiers are mercenaries, some perhaps with allegiance to Wahhabist ideology others perhaps paying lip service to it - they are Iraqis, some Syrians, Chechens, Uyghurs and others including a small number of Westerners

The foreigners were permitted to enter Syria in the days before ISIS to help destabilize Syria and also as a cadre who would cause problems in their homelands on return

But those warlords who control that real estate have no interest in destabilizing the West, nor for that matter the North Caucasus or Xinjiang - those that permitted their entry to Syria in the first place do like the idea of troubles in the North Caucasus or Xinjiang - though not the West of course

And atrocities committed in the West in the name of these Warlords is actually counter productive to their aims which is to hold onto the territory they now control which makes them very wealthy men.

The powers that be in the West covet the real estate now held by these warlords and have given them the name ISIS, ISIL etc a label also used for others they want to drop bombs on elsewhere e.g. in Libya

But this makes the label attractive to disaffected young and not so young men in the West who align themselves with what they perceive ISIS to be

On this level it is all about real estate

On the another level it is all about disaffected, anti social young men and that is a different conversation

Conflating the two will not solve either problem

Jean said...

"The West is Christianity and Christianity is the West"

Perhaps, once the West embraced Christianity, and we originating from such countries can be thankful for the influence it has had on our socio-political and ethical upbringings.

Yet I cannot but bring to mind of late how the missionary journeys of the first Apostles were in places such as modern day Turkey, Syria, Israel - and did St Thomas end up in India? Christianity is not a Western faith it is faith for all nations.

For near on 200 years France has been primarily a secular country due to post French Revolution attacks against Christianity. They recently even banned the broadcasting of Christms services along with the burqa of course. The reason half of their immigrants are basically from Morocco and Algeria is because of the colonisation of these countries by France, as you state Shawn after Charles Martel's attack against the Pirates in these countries who liked to take slaves from European coastal settlements (athough half the pirates were rogue Europeans). The colonisation inevitably created a relationship between the countries especially when the citizen's of Morocco and Algeria fought and supported France during WWII. Around 4% of the French population are practising Muslims. Now the number of Catholics attending Mass in France is low, half are not of French nationality and around 40% are older than 65.

It is difficult to know if some of the attacks such as that against the Priest are organised by ISIS or merely the acts of random individuals who themselves have bought into the propoganda of ISIS. I do agree though Shawn, I think what these acts aim to do is create an impression of ISIS having power and influence - however, one wonders how killing an elderly priest and taking captive a small group of parishoners can symbolise anything but weakness and cowardice. Then there is the heartwrenching wretchedness of brainwashing a 19 year old youth into giving up his life for such a pointless act.

I do agree with Andrei in that I have found it easier to talk about my faith with other people who hold a different faith than with those of no faith. And it has been with astonishment I have witnessed a south east Asian friend become a Christian in NZ and join a home-group with those from the same ethnic origin - they held an outreach preaching the gospel to non-christians they knew and 60 people turned up (they are a group of 5 people). It is this reason, Shawn, that I find the focus on countering terrorism or preserving Christianity through less immigration or nationalism a challenge; sharing the gospel to those who do not know Christ to me remains the only answer I see. Acknowledging of course one must be wise in the administration of a country, balancing the needs of different groups, resources, and preserving cultural heritage is important.


Andrei said...

Jean is right - you choose to be a Christian, nobody can make you be one

It has always been an issue for the Church when it is fashionable or required by Authority to be a "Christian" and people go along with Christianity to get along in the world

St John Chrysostom preached against this and got deposed twice for doing so and the Desert Fathers took themselves to the desert to get away from worldly Christianity

But if our leaders are Christians and lead Godly lives setting good examples we will prosper and if they don't we will fail

Anonymous said...

Hi Jean,

Yes Christianity is a faith for all nations. It is also an incarnational faith, and part of this means that it binds with and transforms the cultures within which it takes root. Just as the growth of Christianity in China means that we will have a uniquely Chinese form of Christianity and a Christianised form of Chinese culture, so we have a uniquely Western form arising from the long historical process of interaction between the Faith and Western culture. And this Western Christianity is, to me, worth preserving, affirming, and defending.

Hi Andrei,

I am aware of your conspiracy theory that ISIS is a Western/American creation in which Islam is only a cover rather than their primary motivation. I can only say that I do not share that view, and I think it comes more from your own anti-Western beliefs than from a serious analysis of ISIS itself.

Jean said...

Hey Shawn

Yes worth preserving and affirming as a part of the global body of the one church; but defending against who? The greatest threat to the decline of Western Christianity (although I do think Christianity can be quite culturally different between Western countries) seems to me to be attributed to the lack of the faith in the faith of our own countrymen or women (better be gender neutral). How to preserve it or share it except to pray, follow Jesus, and share the gospel?

Andrei said...

I am aware of your conspiracy theory that ISIS is a Western/American creation in which Islam is only a cover rather than their primary motivation. I can only say that I do not share that view, and I think it comes more from your own anti-Western beliefs than from a serious analysis of ISIS itself.

There are two directions to take from this comment Shawn so there will be two responses

(1) " anti-Western beliefs" - not so There is much to admire about the West but is is far from perfect and it does not have a monopoly on the truth

There are other societies whose ways are different that have their own virtues which may make for a better outcome than our western ones and you need to be open to that

You and I both know humanity was expelled from the Garden of Eden and in our fallen State we can never restore ourselves to it - There is no perfect society and there never will be and that every attempt to bring humanity to nirvana through some political philosophy has been catastrophic - from the Age of Enlightenment to Pol Pot much blood has been shed

"Put not your trust in Princes..."

Andrei said...

I am aware of your conspiracy theory that ISIS is a Western/American creation in which Islam is only a cover rather than their primary motivation.

Shawn there is something clearly wrong with the narrative on the "War on Terror" that has justified military interventions in more countries than I can enumerate easily

But if we look at Syria where ISIS as we call it gained its strength when it captured al-Raqqah thus becoming a major player we might ask some impertinent questions

Now if ISIS is to be defeated who is going to take al-Raqqah and hold it?

Really there is only one army on the ground that can and that is the Syrian Arab army

And yet the USA is providing arms to moderate rebels to be used to defeat the Syrian Arab army - this isn't conspiracy theory this is public record and a vote in Congress for $500 million dollars for this purpose - a lot of money don't you think?

What do you suppose becomes of these weapons when they arrive in Syria? Into whose hands do they fall? And how do they contribute to the defeat of ISIS if they are used by whatever group who has them to fight the Syrian Arab army who are the ones who have the best chance of defeating ISIS?

At the very least this policy is muddled and confused - don't you think?

And you might also ask who profits financially from this policy if not the American arms manufacturers?

That's enough for now - but the chaos in Libya might point to the intended future for Syria because like Iraq and Yemen, Afghanistan and Sudan there is no end in sight to the bloodshed

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrei
"Muddled and confused" are the twin siblings of "cock up" theory.

Brendan McNeill said...

I have appreciated reading the commentary on this post, largely because we are engaging with the question of our time, Islam and its compatibility or otherwise with western ‘Christianised’ culture.

I agree with Andrei when he says “I have actually found that Muslims have a closer affinity with Faithful Christians than with the Secular”. I have employed Muslims and I know they appreciated the fact that I was a Christian and treated them with the same dignity and respect as I did other staff. The reality is that Muslims are somewhat like Catholics. (or Anglicans) They respond to the teaching and example of their faith and its founder on a continuum; nominally at one end of the spectrum and fanatically at the other.

Well, I’m not sure I have met a fanatical Anglican. Unless you count the former Wizard of Christchurch, although how much the Church is willing to own him is another thing. (chuckle).

However, I completely agree with Shawn when he says “Islam has always been the enemy of the West and of Christian Europe. It has been in an almost constant state of warfare with Christendom for over a thousand years. It has never been in a state of peace with Christendom. And because of its nature, it never will be.”

That is the sad reality. It matters little how many ‘well integrated’ Muslims we know; they are not making the running in Islam today. It is those at the other end of the spectrum who are defining their faith, and sadly we are only at the beginning of our troubles. Whether ISIS exists is immaterial to the challenges we face. Before them it was al-Qaeda, after them it will be another entity, and after them yet another.

Our political leadership has not yet fully grasped this, or perhaps more realistically they understand the problem but lack the courage or the will to address it. Seventy years of relative peace has produced a crop of politicians in the west who are entirely ill-equipped to deal with the challenges of a militant Islam that is running low level asymmetric warfare against us. Sadly, I’m talking here about those Muslims living amongst us in the west, not those living in Syria or Iraq.

It is a numbers game. The more Muslims we have in the west, the greater the threat of Islamic terrorism. The only realistic defense is at the border by halting Muslim immigration. To that end, the public is ahead of our politicians, perhaps with the exception of Trump, but that’s another story.

I appreciated the testimony about those of with other faith stories coming to Christ here in NZ. However, these are the exceptions when it comes to Islam. The very nature of Islam and how it works for those who take it seriously mitigates against integration, and friendship with the infidel.

If we had a strong and robust Christianity here in NZ, then it might be a different story, but we don’t. In many respects our culture is exhausted and in need of spiritual renewal. We offer Muslims nothing to integrate into. We have recently banned the mention of Christmas at our resettlement centres, with the full support of our HRC commissioner.

Islam may be brittle and also in need of life support, but it senses our weakness and is prepared to exploit it. Wishing it were otherwise doesn’t help. To that extent culturally we are little different to the French. All that separates us from their problems is our geographical remoteness from North Africa and the Middle East, and our 1% Muslim population as opposed to their 7% to 10%. If we had the same numbers, we would have the same problems.

Andrei said...

However, I completely agree with Shawn when he says “Islam has always been the enemy of the West and of Christian Europe. It has been in an almost constant state of warfare with Christendom for over a thousand years. It has never been in a state of peace with Christendom.

Christendom has never been in a state of peace with itself Brendon

And if you have a shred of intellectual honesty you will realize more people have died in England since WW2 from IRA terrorism than Islamic terrorism and more in Spain from Basque separatist terrorism than Islamic and so forth

History is the rise and fall of Empires - The British empire rose to dominance from the result of the seven years war (nothing to do with Islam) and created an empire upon which the sun never set and to hold onto it did atrocious things - like tying Muslims over the muzzles of cannons and firing them to blow them into little pieces

How do you think the opium wars look to the Chinese?

It is a matter of historical record that the Catholic Crusaders sacked the Christian city Constantinople in 1203 and the Ottoman Turks sacked it in 1453 - which was the greater crime?

And the the Ottoman Empire expanded through the Balkans to the gates of Vienna and then was pushed back

And as the Ottoman Empire declined WW1 broke out because the Catholic Austrians wanted to grab what the Ottomans had once held in the Balkans - And then the victors of that conflict grabbed what they could of the Ottoman empire and divided it up among themselves

Did you know that the agreement was that Russia would have the Dardanelles and Constantinople, France would get Syria which includes Lebanon while Britain get Palestine, Jordan and Iraq - this was all worked out early 1915 before the Gallipoli campaign so all those brave ANZACS were fighting and dying for territory set aside for the Tsar

Funny old world - the Tsar never got his cut but the Brits and the Frogs did get what they wanted come 1918

The British were fighting in Iraq in the 1920s, it is even alleged they used chemical warfare there in those days. Some things never change

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Andrei

I wasn’t making a defense of Christendom, but it is no coincidence that those nations that are democratically governed by the rule of law, respect the dignity of the individual, and are relatively free from political and judicial corruption are all primarily countries shaped by the Judeo Christian world view.

I’m very aware of how history has played out over the last 1,500 years, and I’m hard pressed to think of anything good the Ottomans left behind in Europe, unless you count the blood of martyrs. At times you appear to be quite insightful about Islam on this blog, so I’m mystified as to why you feel the need to defend the indefensible.

Andrei said...

Brendon - I am trying to communicate the idea that people need to look at things from the perspective of other people who have a different culture, history and heritage from their own

"... it is no coincidence that those nations that are democratically governed by the rule of law, respect the dignity of the individual, and are relatively free from political and judicial corruption are all primarily countries shaped by the Judeo Christian world view"

Now Syria gained independence from France after WW2 and the newly independent Syria established itself as a secular democracy and elected Shukri al-Quwatli a leading figure in the Syrian independence movement as its first President

But he stood in the way of American and Saudi ambitions to build a pipeline and so the CIA engineered a military coup to replace him in 1949 with someone who would go along with their plans - this is very well documented

And thus did democracy die in Syria and everyone in Syria knows this history even if you don't - Democracy was nipped in the bud for geopolitical reasons in Syria back in 1949 - how can democracy flourish if powerful outside actors subvert it for their own purposes?

In 1984 I was in Sarajevo, my cousin who I had never met was a figure skater and we, that is my parents and some siblings went to Sarajevo and met her - a happy memory

In the main street of Sarajevo in those days and maybe still there was within a couple of hundred meters of each other a Catholic Cathedral, a Mosque and an Orthodox Cathedral - this is the Balkans and you can take joy from this or you can use this to tear the Balkans apart - I choose the former, the Clintons and their cronies chose the later

Where do you want to be?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrei, Brendan, Shawn
I appreciate, Andrei, your resolute attempt to enable readers here to see things from another perspective.
I myself, having lived in Cairo, Egypt for nearly a year in the 1980s cannot agree with statements such as "Islam is the enemy of the West". At best some elements in Islam are fanatically anti-Western. Many Muslims aspire to live in the West because they see it as a better place to grow their families and the last thought in their minds is either undermining or overtaking the West. In the complexity of Islam we are seeing those who are fanatically anti-Western being equal opportunity killers of Muslims-who-do-not-share-their-fanaticism.
As Andrei rightly points out, there have been significant periods of history in which Christians and Muslims have lived together well (Balkans, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, medieval Spain, etc) and it is well worth asking what has contributed to good relationships breaking down if not leading to civil war etc. Can we Western petrolheads claim innocence in these matters?

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Andrei

I’m not an apologist for American foreign policy, neither do I conflate it with Christianity. I am opposed to western intervention in Iraq and Syria, in fact anywhere in the Middle East and pretty much elsewhere on the planet as well for that matter.

That said, I have no use for a ‘coexist’ bumper sticker on my car either.

Ross Dothat has a ‘must read’ article in the NY Times today on the subject of Father Hamel’s murder, an extract I include below:

“In this narrative, which is also the narrative that many secular Europeans reached for, Father Hamel’s murder belongs not to the old iconography of a church militant under siege by unbelievers, but to the modern vision of a multicultural, multireligious society threatened primarily by ignorance and fear. So the appropriate response is to reassert the importance of religious tolerance, to highlight commonalities between French Muslims and their Catholic neighbors, to create a broad category of “peaceful religion” and cast jihadists outside it.

These dueling interpretations need not be mutually exclusive. In theory, it should be possible (for a pope, especially!) to plainly call Father Hamel’s death a martyrdom while also rejecting sweeping narratives about Islamic violence or religious war.

But there is clearly a point of tension here, a problem synthesizing old and new. An old-fashioned Catholic martyrdom may be possible in a multicultural, late-modern society. But there is still a sense in which it is not supposed to happen here.”

I suspect we may be on opposite sides of Douthat’s ‘dueling interpretations of history’ when it comes to understanding what is going on within Islam at present. I accept that violent jihad is only one valid interpretation of the faith, albeit one exampled by their prophet and being played out in the west today. Whereas you see Mosques and Churches co-existing side by side in peace and harmony.

We may both be right to some extent, but I’m inclined not to risk your being wrong.

Brendan McNeill said...


I’m not sure you would have enjoyed living as a Christian under Ottoman dhimmitude, even if you were still allowed to practice your faith to some extent.

I’m also not sure if Lebanon or even Egypt (think of recent Coptic persecution) or especially Spain would qualify as examples of Muslim benevolence towards their fellow man.

Of course not all Muslims are jihadists…

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
I didn't get down to much specificity re timelines. Not all of Lebanon's history has been under the Ottomans, etc.
But, absolutely, there have also been appalling periods of intolerance, and we might note, speaking of the Ottomans, of their holocaust against the Armenians in 1915.

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Peter

Yes, history is what it is, and in brief posts it’s easy to leave gaps for someone else to highlight. I appreciate that you had a good experience with Muslims in Egypt. I have a young friend who has recently returned from completing his PhD in Oxford who met some wonderful Muslims there. My personal experience with Muslims as employees, and as refuges, and recently as tenants has also been positive.

It is Islam, their scriptures and their prophet’s example that’s the problem, and it is becoming a problem again for us in the West. Just how to solve it in (say) France, which has been the subject of this post is extremely problematic. I don’t think Hollande can send tanks into the Muslim suburbs of Paris, and absent violent unrest, neither should he.

But what to do? Closing down Salafist mosques and deporting their Imam’s would be a start. I note they are beginning to do that, but for the French PM to say: "France must become a European centre of excellence in the teaching of Islamic theology." Is a bizarre proposition for a supposed defender of western civilization. Of course he means teaching a State sponsored sanitized version of Islamic theology that fits comfortably within a secular western construct. I doubt any self-respecting Imam will be putting their hand up for that.

Andrei said...

Brendon one of the bloodiest conflicts in European history was the Thirty years war - very cruel Protestant versus Catholic - human history is not pretty.

If the French people want to maintain their French Catholic identity then they will have to raise large families, baptize them into the Catholic faith and take them to Mass on Sunday

And if significant numbers of French people choose this path then France will be a Catholic country in one hundred years and beyond

But if they prefer to spend their allotted time on Earth in the pursuit of ephemeral hedonistic pleasures then the future will belong to someone else.

But I personally think World War III is on its way and after that if there is an after that will be a whole new ball game

Bryden Black said...

As at August 8, 2016 at 10:13 AM - but work events overtook me ...! But nonetheless I don’t specially re-engage with later comments as this still addresses - mostly.

I sense some of these comments here are perhaps missing the point of the original post.

There is about the Christian Faith, the events surrounding its inception and original documentation, at least two key features. Firstly, a built-in, inherent check that would ensure both a missionary impetus but also a respect for ‘the other’. Consequently, and secondly, when this Faith inevitably ‘won over’ the ancient Mediterranean world, this was no accident. Nor was the eventual Frankish empire’s morph into Christendom an accident. True; the fruits of this massive social experiment have proven ambivalent long term: we await the parousia still! And yet those very built-in, inherent checks to Christianity’s essential nature remain. [I venture, Andrei, many of your comments are predicated upon these very things ... as are those of others.]

In view of the inevitable dialectical comments re Islam (a form of which has triggered a number of incidents recently on French soil after all), I’d only ask: what sorts of founding events and documents basically ‘drive’ Muslims? And how do they stack up over against those of Christianity?

Given the essentially ambivalent nature of any and all human beings, which religion - including sundry consequential happenings each has generated, in the form of both clashes and coexistence - might offer the best hope for us all? Bearing in mind too that that vital reality, the secular, is but a fruit of one of them - and only one of them - albeit a bastard step-child one, reflecting yet again that very ambivalence and the ‘delay’ of Messiah’s final Coming such is history’s nature. It’s not irrelevant that Manent is a former director of studies at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales. Such a “Sociological Imagination” (C. Wright Mills) is needed to better appraise all these things. Just so too, such a theological perspective, with notably its premises, as that offered by John Milbank’s “Beyond Secular Reason” (main title Theology and Social Theory) could only arise from the Christian Faith, and engage similarly with our 21st C dilemmas far more adequately.

PS "WW III" might very well be around the corner - but probably for reasons not mentioned here so far.

Father Ron Smith said...

I guess one's own attitude towards people of 'other Faiths' must colour one's understanding of how one ought engage in dialogue with them, or not. It appears that some modern Christian Leaders, like recent Popes and Archbishops of Canterbury have initiated respectful dialogue at the highest level, whereas many 'mere' Christians seem still to prefer oppositionalism, allowing fear to dominate their lives.

Blessed Francis of Assisi is said to have taken thre trouble to dialogue with the local Caliph - at the time of the Crusades, a much more dangerous era for both Muslims and Christians than at present - at great risk to his own personal safety. I suppose we are all so self-protective of our own Faith perspective nowadays as to have become increasingly fearful of another Faith perspective.

Our Blessed Lord, himself. was much more open to people of different faiths than many of his followers in today's world. But then. He could see into the heart of a person, intuiting the capacity for goodness - something we moderns seem are not able to do. We also seem to fear anyone differtent from ourselves. Where, I wonder, is the old Christian capacity to live without fear, living in trust and Faith in the One, True God Who has redeemed us all?

Peter Carrell said...

There is much in what you say, Ron, but I am not sure that I would be sending either St Francis or Pope Francis into the middle of ISIS controlled territory today? This modern caliphate does not strike me as to be trusted as much as the caliphate of St Francis' day!

Anonymous said...

Hi Andrei

No earthly kingdom is ever perfect this side of the Eschaton. Not the West, or Russia and the East. That there has been geopolitical bumbling which has not helped the situation between the Islamic world and the West is true, just as Russia's intervention if Afghanistan in 1979, or it's more recent actions in Chechnya have also not likely endeared the Islamic world to Russia. And I'm sure Russian arms manufactures did well out of both, and from Russia's catastrophic failure to spark a civil war in the Eastern Ukraine.

So there have been failures on all sides. But I do not accept, as I have no good reason to do so, your view that the US and the West are uniquely responsible and driven by some dark conspiracy to start WW3.

Moreover, the issues of the West's decline as a Christian based civilisation and Islam's resurgence in militant form have been issues for far longer than the current migrant crisis and ISIS.

It is that decline that the article is addressing and which I am interested in discussing.

Anonymous said...

On the subject at hand this article by Chad Crowley gets to the heart of the current decline and sickness in the West.

"By losing control of its understanding of its own history and ceding it to those who impose subjective, egalitarian, and universalist notions, Western civilization has put itself at the mercy of those who are seeking to undermine it. It is only be returning to a specifically Western and unapologetic concept of European history that our identity will be able to survive."

Jean said...

On a purely non-political yet good read basis I recommend the book, "A wind in the House of Islam".

Father Ron said...

I think it rather naive for conservative people to think that only Western countries are suffering from a state of disillusionment. Those of us up to date with the political situation of Central Africa, for instance, have been recently preoccupied with the warring factions in those African countries - as mentioned at the recent meeting of CAPA, the Anglican Church leaders in Central African. This has nothing to do with Western imperialism or spiritual depravity. Humanity is much more complex than its religious constituency.