Monday, August 28, 2006

The Middle East, As Always

Rod Dreher takes on President Bush's recent speech before the American Legion. He observes:

Lord have mercy, will he not observe that to more than a few people in the Muslim world, freedom does not mean the same thing it does to Americans. Freedom means freedom to live as they believe God has commanded them to live. Democracy means electing people who will implement God's law, as they understand it. This crazy hubris, believing that everybody in the world wants the same thing as Americans, is wrecking us.

For the full article, read.

In last weekend's Dallas Morning News Dreher writes about Suyyid Qutb, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood and the "philosopher of Islamic terror." His conclusions are worth reading. Go here.

William J. Abraham is a Professor at Southern Methodist University's Perkins School of Theololgy. In spite of that, he hits the nail on the head, here.

And finally, common sense and reality from, of all places, The Boston Globe, here.

6 comments:

Luke said...

John,
I have read the articles that you are referring to and it only furthers my belief that Islam is not merely a religion, but also a way of government and society. I also believe it is the goal of Islam to take over the world to preserve their beliefs. My question is "Now What?"
It is easy to throw stones at Western secular society. I have no doubt that if our pop culture was allowed to infultrate the Muslim culture it would be the death toll to their prescribed way of life. Without changing subjects to much, our (USA) culture has weakend Christian fundamentals and what is considered a faithful life. So as christians, what should be our response? Is this a holy war between Islam and Christianity? Is it just a war between Islam and the West?
I think it is both. I am confirmed in my faith by the teachings of Christ, that we are shown a life to live that does not focus on the sword as a way to resolve our differences. I don't think the message has changed, "Love one another as I have love you." This includes muslims. We should through our faith and prayor be able to move muslims from their current stance. The problem lies that christianity is so closely linked with out morally corupt culture, that out faith is discredited.
So my question remains, Now What? As a christian that acknowledges the negative effects of our culture on our lives and the lives of muslims, I do not wish to attach my religious beliefs to the actions of my secular government. However, I do want to support my secular government because they protect me and support my beliefs. If Church and State are to be separate, then there should be a Church led response to the terrorism comming from Islam. I hope we become more active in this way.
I don't like feeling helpless and at the mercy of others. If anyone has a link or a contact to a group that is hoping to confront this problem I would appreciate the information.

Hilarius said...

John:

I have posted some preliminary thoughts about my own recent stay in a different Muslim country over at Forty Days. I do not have your eloquence, so I apologize for my rambling there, but I extend the invitation so that we might share notes and engage in a discussion about these timely topics.

in service,

H

John said...

Hilarius,

"Eloquence?" I think you have me confused with Ian. Ha!

At present, I have only had time to skim over your account of Bahrain. I am anxious to read it at leasure, and look forward to discussing it with you in coming days. Thanks for sharing.

John said...

Luke,

My thoughts on your thoughts, below, and in order...

You are right, Islam is not a religion in the sense that we in the West have come to think of it. It is a way of life that defines the very being of its adherents--even the most secular and Westernized of them. There was a time when the same could be said of much of Christendom.

"the goal of Islam is to take over the world" Well, yes and no. Islam is certainly a triumphalist religion. It is assumed, unquestioningly--and this is the most glaring deficiency in Islam to me; the total uncuriousness to anything outside of their accepted beliefs--that Islam is the final revelation of God. And the Quran certainly has language that can easily be construed as promoting "world conquest" by Islam. There are some that take this very seriously. There are some Muslims who give it little thought at all. And then the vast majority probably do not think about it at all. But here is the certainty--in any country where Muslims assume a majority (or even a substantial minority), you can say goodbye to Western notions of religious toleration. Just ask the Copts, the Greek and Suriani Orthodox of Turkey, the Palestinian Christians, the Iranian Christians, the Pakistani Christians, the Indonesian Christians, and on and on it goes. Dhimmitude is not pretty.

Our pop culture is already there--the clothes, the movies, the music. On the one hand, many want "all of that." Others are repelled by it. But all see it as a weakness in our civilization.

Our response? I am frankly pessimistic of any proactive action we can take in the Muslim world that will not be misconstrued, or screwed-up or does not blow up in our faces. As a nation, or "the West," if you will, perhaps we'd better be about salvaging what's left of our civilization. Right now, we have nothing of value to offer the Muslim world.

Is this a holy war? No. The battles of Christianity are always spiritual ones, fought in spiritual realms.

Is this just a war between Islam and the West? Yes, but with qualifications. It is also very much a battle within Islam.

And you are right--these battles are fought with prayer and the example of a life in Christ--and this includes a love of Muslims, seeing in them the image of the Creator.

I agree, the public face of Christianity is too often associated with our morally bankrupt culture, often discrediting the good that is done.

You ask what we can do? Nothing much. The situation is hopeless. It always has been--as far as it depends on US.

"Make haste, O God, to deliver me!
Make haste to help me, O LORD!
Let them be ashamed and confounded
Who seek my life;
Let them be turned back and confused Who desire my hurt.
Let them be turned back because of their shame, Who say, “Aha, aha!”
Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You;
And let those who love Your salvation say continually,
“Let God be magnified!”
But I am poor and needy;
Make haste to me, O God!
You are my help and my deliverer;
O LORD, do not delay."
Psalm 70

The Scrivener said...

Thanks for sharing these, John. I was especially fascinated by Dreher's article about Sayyid Qutb. I wrote Dreher an email to ask who, in the West, he felt was in a position to offer a response to Qutb, and what would such a response look like? I didn't really expect him to reply to my email, but he did, within less than thirty minutes. Anyway, I'll blog about it next week, I think. I need to do some reading up on Qutb first.

By the way, I can't recall if I said it before, but I dig that new photo of you on your profile. You look like a real badass, if you don't mind me saying so. Any Ukranian Mafia family connections?

John said...

Ian,

I look forward to your post about Qutb. If he was horrified by 1948 Greeley, Colorado, can you imagine his reaction today? But as Dreher seems to think, the rot was already in, even then, noting that "materialism was the real American god."

And thanks for the badass compliment--I'm vain as hell. The picture is one of my favorites; made while squatting on a campstool, drinking a cup of hot tea in a han in the Grand Bazaar in Sanliurfa, Turkey.

No known Ukrainian Mafia family connections, just deep East Texas bootlegging connections, which are somewhat worse, actually.