Monday, December 28, 2015

The challenge of our time

This year, it has been difficult to separate the cost of discipleship in my personal life from my concern over worldly events. My world is one of peace and safety, where life is not a struggle for survival, unless that struggle is spiritual—fighting the enemy within. And I cannot tell if I am abandoning my inner post, slackening my interior vigilance, when I think, speak, write, or act on the events that, whether near or far, are threats to the outside world.

This year I have expressed my mind on the issue of the Israel Palestine conflict. I have done the same on the issue of marriage equality, though that unavoidably splintered into discussion, observation, and testimony about what marriage is, what stability and normalization of same-sex partnered families can do for those living that way, and for society in general, and what the Church might do, has the power to do, to deal with it, not hide from it.

The slaughter of the innocents weighed heavily with me all year as well, and I occasionally cried out, mixing my sobs with the general din rising from the combatants. Our Christianity cannot prevent those not-yet-Christians around us from aborting their unwanted babies. It never could. Even under the Christian Emperors all they could do was call it a sin and punish those caught after the fact. Laws don’t save babies, but they can abet killing them.

The worst for me this year was to witness the wanton destruction going on the Near East, with the new ‘caliphate’ plunging the area into deep darkness, destruction, and death, and being happy about it, pretending that Allah is their commander who will give them victory. Like the Israeli Palestinian conflict, the current reign of terror in Iraq and Syria, and its spill-over into other countries, is directly the fault of my country and its Western allies.

I have had to quiet down now, because the political atmosphere in America has become so critical and crucial to our national survival, and the presidential hopefuls’ discussions have sorted out the really important issues from the frills and promises, as well as winnowing the candidates, that it is beyond me to opine anything. I still believe that education(al reform) will protect America and save our Republic, but now there is the other menace.

Militant Islam. I can’t call it anything else. Since the whole thing started, I have experienced the whole range of emotions and passed through almost every opinion I could have of Islam and of Muslims. I want to respect my Muslim neighbors, and I do, because I believe they are just as harmless as I am. But those others, the ones who say they believe in Allah and commit such horrible acts, they also are Muslims. The world needs to be saved from these.

I am just as opposed to militant Christianity. I am even more opposed to militant Orthodoxy, because that is the faith I hold to, the faith I try to practice, and the community I love, and so I know and I feel it more deeply and personally when Orthodox Christians commit aggression of any kind. Like the soldiers of the ‘caliphate’ they too begin by oppressing and terrorizing their own, and then when confident carry their ‘holy war’ to those outside.

The spiritual poverty of this ‘Christian country’ and its mostly admittedly post-Christian European allies is what has produced the weak, wishful thinking and soft-soap response to the menace of militant Islam. The spiritual poverty is signaled by lack of faith in God and the Holy Bible because that is our hereditary religion. Other cultures and religions can be spiritually poor by neglecting and marginalizing their heritage, or spiritually endowed by faith.

‘How long has this been happening?’ Jesus asked the boy’s father. He replied, ‘Since he was a little boy. The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.’ ‘What do you mean, If I can?’ Jesus asked. ‘Anything is possible if a person believes.’ Jesus is here not qualifying that ‘belief.’ He’s not saying, ‘believe in Me’ or ‘believe in God’ or even ‘believe in yourself.’ Ultimately, however, it is belief in the power of Good.

And we as Christians know who, not what, that Good is, and so it is we who should be first to refute the lies, trample underfoot the fantasies that have been told us since day one of this undeclared world war three, ‘Islam is a religion of peace.’ Here, the word of the holy prophet rings true, ‘O my people, oppressed by a lad, ruled by women. O my people, your rulers mislead you and destroy the road you walk on’ (Isaiah 3:12 Jerusalem Bible).

Now, people of unknown or no religious faith step up to the plate in several countries. Among the presidential hopefuls, the Trump is bullying his way to the American presidency, proving perhaps the pundits wrong who say that only the uneducated and naturally stupid support him. I wonder, how many of these sophisticated, worldly-wise are themselves ‘in the closet’ idiots like the rest of us untutored rabble who used to be duped by their duplicity.

What actually inspired me to these thoughts was reading about the Chinese response to the menace of militant Islam. Though very few Chinese are Christians, their traditional culture, surging forward across the centuries and vaulting over the wall of their theoretical communism, certainly has tutored them well in what faith is, and what is worth preserving. The following passage impressed me, and so with it let me conclude my thoughts. The source is linked below.

‘To the average Chinese, serious Muslims still live in the Stone Age, possess no desirable culture, live unenviable lifestyles, lack innovation or personal meaning, and represent a desire to enforce this completely “useless” approach on everyone else through militaristic and terroristic domination. In comparison with the diversity, depth and beauty of the Chinese Tradition, Islam pales as a shadow of human intellectual and civilizational potential. And so, to the Chinese, it is not a question of “religious extremism” but a conflict of different forms of cultural expansionism and imperialism. It is a war of “haves and have nots,” and in this manner, it is perceived as “us vs. them.” No even-handed, compassionate middle ground is possible when one side [militant Islam] has declared war.

‘Thus, the Chinese overwhelmingly see any foreign journalistic position lobbying for the legitimacy of an aggressive Islamic culture as support for the enemies of China, as evidenced by the incredibly negative response that this reporting has received on the Chinese Internet. Ridiculous? No, but rather, historically informed and relatively unbiased—they are not trying to force history to read differently than it actually does by ignoring the fact that the worst perpetrators of genocide, discrimination against women, suppression of disagreeing religions, and wars of imperialistic expansion in Asia have primarily been Islamic. The Chinese haven’t forgotten the wars with Arab Muslims in the 8th Century, or all the wars afterwards, which ate away at its boarders, saw friendly neighbor nations crumble, swaths of territory depopulated, men over 12 killed or castrated, women forced into “marriage” after the murder of their families, and children forcibly circumcised and declared Muslim against their wills.

‘The Chinese, plugged into five thousand years of culture and able to see past Western liberal assumptions, understand that the challenge of our time is the ideological war against Islam, both in its “extremist” and “cultural” forms. And thus, they expel all of its politically correct allies….’

by Will Boyd,
at his weblog Guanxi Master

No comments: