Tuesday, June 19, 2007

On the Impact of Christianity

The Fjordman Report

The noted blogger Fjordman is filing this report via Gates of Vienna.
For a complete Fjordman blogography, see The Fjordman Files. There is also a multi-index listing here.



[The Jihad] has turned the civility of the United States and Europe, into a weapon and turned it against us. It has weaponized niceness, it has weaponized compassion, it has weaponized the fundamental decency of Western Civilization. It has weaponized our desire for peace. It has recognized that our goodness is no match for its savagery, and will continue to exploit that fact until we lose and they win. (…) We have become too civilized to defeat our enemies, perhaps too civilized to survive. The dagger of our decency stabs us in the back.”

                                                                   — American writer Raymond Kraft

Hypercubic Body by Salvador Dalí, 1954Quite a few individuals among the anti-Western crowd hate Christianity passionately. You have to be an imbecile to believe that Christianity and Islam are “almost identical,” meaning “just as bad.” There’s a world of difference between the religious founders and their followers. Yes, it’s true that the Church has at times suppressed dissenters, including scientists. This is common knowledge. But to present Christianity as exclusively anti-science is factually wrong. Christianity’s concept of a rational Creator whose logic could be uncovered and predicted provided a crucial basis for the Scientific Revolution in Europe, although some would claim to also see the hand of Roman engineering skills combined with Greek logic in the Industrial Revolution. Still, even though most of the criticism dished out against Christianity is wrong, that doesn’t mean that no just criticism can be given. Christianity has many great qualities, some of them under-appreciated today, but it does contain some ideas that can be potentially problematic when confronted with Islam.

As one poster on American anti-Jihad blog Little Green Footballs said:

Jesus was persecuted
Jesus was poor
Jesus was a prisoner
Jesus was executed by the state

Therefore:

Those who are persecuted are more Christ-like than those who are not
Those who are poor are more Christ-like than the rich
Those who are incarcerated are Christ-like
Those who are executed are Christ-like

The FlagellantOne can easily pick verses out of the Gospels and some of Paul’s letters (namely Galatians) to provide scriptural justification for the second set of assertions.

Here is where the nefarious logic really gets going in these writings: To be persecuted is proof of one’s inherent goodness and sanctity regardless of why or by whom you are being persecuted. Every prisoner is the face of the persecuted Christ; every homeless person is the persecuted Christ.

This love for suffering can potentially make — and has in the past made — Christians into perfect dhimmi material. Muslims inflict suffering upon others, thus following the example of their religious founder, and Christians suffer, thus following the example of their religious founder. Cynically speaking, Islam and Christianity can thus make a perfect yin-yang couple.

Jihad in the WestPaul Fregosi says in his book Jihad in the West: “Western colonization of nearby Muslim lands lasted 130 years, from the 1830s to the 1960s. Muslim colonization of nearby European lands lasted 1300 years, from the 600s to the mid-1960s. Yet, strangely, it is the Muslims, the Arabs and the Moors to be precise, who are the most bitter about colonialism and the humiliations to which they have been subjected; and it is the Europeans who harbor the shame and the guilt. It should be the other way around.”

But why do we harbor such guilt, whether it is warranted or not? I believe this is somehow related to the Judeo-Christian strand of the West, not the Greco-Roman or Germanic ones. Bad things could be said about Julius Caesar, but suicidal guilt definitely wasn’t his major problem. Slavery has been a fact of life on all continents throughout human history. It was widespread in the Greco-Roman world and was continued for some time by the modern West but was eventually abolished, partly on specifically Christian grounds. Slavery is a dark chapter in our history and shouldn’t be denied, but we’re not the only culture which has done this. In fact, we’re the only civilization which has banned the practice worldwide. So how come we are the only ones who are supposed to feel guilty about it?

As Euripides said: “Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.” Well, the West is currently stark, raving mad, and sometimes actively hates itself. We feel guilty about past colonial history or slavery, but Muslims have done the same and worse, and never produced any of the great advances for mankind that we have, yet they don’t feel even the slightest guilt over this. One component of Western self-loathing is the idea that we should we be punished for crimes, perceived or real, committed by our ancestors before we were even born. It could be argued that this idea has its roots in the Christian concept of original sin. Christian ethics have proved more durable than Christian beliefs. Even when we have supposedly left the religion behind, we still believe we have to make atonement for the sins of our forefathers, but since we no longer believe that Christ has made that sacrifice for us and washed away our sins, we end up sacrificing ourselves instead. However, I’ve noticed that Jews have elements of this, too, so maybe it’s a Judeo-Christian thing.

Whatever its cause, our guilt complex is skillfully cultivated and exploited by both external and internal enemies. Modern Westerners are told to feel vaguely guilty all the time, frequently without knowing specifically why. Needless to say, this weakens us considerably. According to the blogger Conservative Swede, Christian ethics is more unfettered in modern liberalism than it is in Christianity itself. The West, and Europe in particular, is sometimes labeled as “post-Christian,” but this is only partly true. We have scrapped the Christian religion, but we have still retained some of the moral restraints associated with it, which have been so mired in our cultural DNA that we probably don’t even think about them as Christian anymore. Yet our humanitarian ideas are secular versions of Christian compassion, and it is Christian or post-Christian compassion that compels us to keep feeding and funding the unsustainable birth rates in other cultures, even actively hostile ones.
- - - - - - - - - -
Niccolo MachiavelliThe Italian Renaissance philosopher Machiavelli was more attached to Roman than to Christian culture, and held the view that Christianity was totally unsuited as the basis for any empire. His ideas were echoed by the 18th century English historian Edward Gibbon, who stated in his work The History of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire that the preceding advances of Christianity were responsible for the downfall because it made the Romans too soft. But the eastern half of the Empire, centered around Constantinople, was just as much Christian, and yet survived for another thousand years after the fall of Rome in the West. The collapse of civil society in Western Europe in the 21st century has been preceded by the retreat of Christianity. There is a strange kind of irony in this that might have surprised Mr. Gibbon.

C. S. LewisThe 20th century Irish author C.S. Lewis, who converted to Christianity following long conversations with good friends such as writer J. R. R. Tolkien, insisted that the “turn the other cheek” idea in no way means that Christians have to be pacifists, and he was probably right. After all, if Christianity had to be a pacifist religion, Islam would have overrun the West a long time ago. There are those who believe that Marxism could only have been produced within the matrix or wider cosmology of Judeo-Christian culture.

The Canadian writer Stephen R. C. Hicks believes that the German philosopher “Hegel’s philosophy is a partly secularized version of Christian cosmology. The Christian history of the world begins with a creation or projection from God, and the world goes through a grand drama of struggle and conflict before ultimately being reunited with God. (…) For God he substitutes the Absolute, which is an impersonal mind or spirit, and it is the Absolute’s development that is the history of the world.”

Keith WindschuttleAccording to the scholar Keith Windschuttle, “Forty years later, Karl Marx modified Hegel to argue that the underlying force of history was the class struggle which was driving human society to ever higher stages of development, of which the final plane would be Communist society. (…) The Christian theologians like St Augustine who developed the original version knew that it depended on a powerful force to act as the engine of history, in their case God. Hegel and Marx recognised something similar. Though their concepts of reason and class struggle were secular, and generated from within mankind itself, they still functioned as theoretical engines, driving everything along and bringing new stages of history into being.”

I’m not sure this view is correct, but I don’t laugh at the proposition. Marxism does require a linear view of time, where the world moves towards a specific end goal. This is implicit to Judeo-Christian thinking, but alien to, say, Hindu civilization. It is thus plausible to say that Marxism could have been produced in the West, but not in India. I have debated the thesis put forward by Max Weber that Christianity, or at least Protestant Christianity, formed the basis of capitalism, which could explain the hostility many Marxist display towards the religion. However, Socialists are hostile to the traditional culture in non-Western countries as well, because they need to break down the past in order to successfully mold the future. And Christian Socialists do exist. They tend to focus on the radical egalitarianism and the suspicion of wealth that can be found within the Gospels, and view Jesus as a revolutionary hero standing up for the oppressed.

Thomas More’s UtopiaSome Marxists have seen an early Communist society described in the work Utopia from 1516, by the English writer Thomas More. More’s work is open to several interpretations and some has viewed it as satirical, but he does describe a radically egalitarian society where private property doesn’t exist. More was a devout Catholic, and may have been inspired by the communal life of the monastic movement. Of course, if you really want to, you can trace a blueprint for an early Communist Utopia all the way back to Plato and ancient Greece.

It would be more than a little ironic if ideas that may ultimate have been partly derived from a Judeo-Christian or wider, Western cosmology have later been used to harass Christians, but it would hardly be the first time such a thing has happened. Human rights, initially an outgrowth of the Judeo-Christian West, are now used to prevent Western nations from upholding their borders and from retaining their Judeo-Christian heritage. It is possible to argue that our one-world Utopians are secularized versions of Christian universalism.

This thesis gets strengthened by the statements of Michael Gerson, a speech writer and advisor for U.S. President George W. Bush, in the Washington Post :

The Christian faith teaches that our common humanity is more important than our nationality. That all of us, ultimately, are strangers in this world and brothers to the bone; and all in need of amnesty. This belief does not dictate certain policies in a piece of legislation, but it does forbid rage and national chauvinism. And this is worth a reminder as well.

From two blog posts by Conservative Swede on the subject:

Catholicism — anecdotal conservatism

Today the European Union no longer represents Europe, it represents the European Union and its commission and its many politicians who profit from it. It’s a hungry beast that need to be fed, that needs to grow, so that’s why it consider Turkey being such a juicy steak. Likewise with the Catholic Church. It is already predominantly a Third World organization, and therefore in all aspects already represent those interests. As an open border lobby group for more mass immigration from the Third World. Urging its adherents to do good Christian deeds with regards to the ‘poor’ and ‘vulnerable’ illegal immigrants. All in all, as bad as any other universalist NGOs we know about.

The ‘save the world’ mentality leads to false paths such as global warming activism, open border policies, and providing Third World people with Western money and medicine to facilitate their exponential population explosion. All against the common good for this planet. The ‘saving the world’ mentality leads in the opposite direction from the issues about saving ourselves, such as national sovereignty, law enforcement and civilizational defense. There is no ourselves for the Catholic Church, so it is an impossibility for this organization to do the shift from ‘saving the world’ to ‘saving ourselves.’ Protestantism and Orthodox Christianity are differently politically organized, so they stand a chance.

Catholicism—birth control and birth rates (part II)

I use the concept of European civilization as an umbrella concept for what is generally referred to as the Roman/Greek civilization and the Western civilization. And in spite of how things are today, under the surface we have the many layers of history with us. When I look around I see Roman cultural DNA in so many places. Another reason for using the concept of European civilization is to explicitly include the Orthodox countries.

Conservative Swede’s solution to this is for Europeans to reconnect to our Roman heritage. CS is close to Niccolo Machiavelli with his emphasis on the Roman rather than the Christian aspects of Western culture. I still believe there are good aspects of Christianity that are worth keeping, and I believe people need religion. The Catholic historian Christopher Dawson wrote in his book Progress and Religion in 1929:

It is the religious impulse which supplies the cohesive force which unifies a society and a culture. The great civilizations of the world do not produce the great religions as a kind of cultural by-product; in a very real sense the great religions are the foundations on which the great civilizations rest. A society which has lost its religion becomes sooner or later a society which has lost its culture.

The loss of our traditional religion in Europe has left us prey for all kinds of stupid quasi-religions, threatening heretics with Hell and promising Paradise if we follow them. It can sometimes be useful to think in terms of traditional religions and political religions. Political religions are belief systems based mainly upon faith, a total framework for understanding the world, and have their own set of angels and demons, yet they refuse to recognize themselves as religions and thus claim to be above the scrutiny befitting religions. At least the traditional religions had the benefit of being put to the test over centuries.

Socrates drinking the hemlockEven though Christianity has been highly important in shaping our culture, and should be respected for this, it is not synonymous with Western civilization. Judaism has contributed significantly, too. Moreover, there are many countries that are Christian, but not Western, and the first recognizably Western men, such as Socrates and Aristotle, came from ancient, pre-Christian Greece. We should not discount the impact of the Greco-Roman heritage on European identity nor should we forget the pagan Germanic influences, which frequently tend to be left out. These impulses were important in shaping who we are, and we may well need a touch of Roman ruthlessness and Germanic fighting skills in addition to Christian compassion if we are to survive the challenges that now confront us.

39 comments:

Good Lieutenant said...

Fabulous post.

Gringo_Malo said...

Though Fjordman does not use the word, what he's discussing is the survival of Western man. Michael Masters wrote a long article in two parts entitled "The Morality of Survival" that some might find interesting. Part one may be found here, and part two here. Personally, I think it immoral to allow a foolish altruism to interfere with survival.

Athos said...

Superb post. Thank you. I would only put a slight variation on the role of the Catholic Church which, preserves not only the best and finest aspects of western civilization, IMHO, but also the right to legitimate defense on the part of individuals and nations. By extension, it would be arguable to assume legitimate defense pertains to western civilization as well.

As Hilaire Belloc was wont to say, "Europe is the Faith, and the Faith is Europe." It is yet to be seen if Europe will survive the EU and the same greed that swept in behind the Reformation ...

James said...

Nice post -- but once upon a time, Christians knew how to fight for their liberties. Oliver Cromwell, anyone? There's a model for our dark times.

Mike said...

Interesting article, but it's only half-true and therefore all wrong. G. K. Chesterton was much closer to the truth when he remarked that in his day, which was the first third of the twentieth century, the virtues were disconnecting from one another and some were becoming grossly exaggerated. We now see the full fruits of that change.

For instance, around the time of WWI simplistic, moralistic pacifism was replacing the Christian belief that, given the sinful nature of humanity, just wars were necessary and even good (hence the Crusades). Chesterton noted the change, commenting that the old pacifism had opposed war because it felt some people might enjoy it (what he called Puritanism). The new pacifism, he said, went far further and had a flawed and non-Christian view of human nature, human society and thus how problems could be solved. You hear that almost everyday from what passes for "statesmen" in Europe, the "soft" solutions that never work.

That's why medieval, Christian Europe knew it had to fight Islamic invasions, while modern, secular Europe doesn't. (The bloodiest naval battle in human history was Lepanto, fought to keep the once powerful Ottoman Empire from invading Italy and turning St. Peter's into a mosque.) And that same pattern holds in the U.S., with the secularized left most willing to downplay the threat of Islamists in a way that almost seems bizarre from those who, a few short years ago, were warning us that harmless Baptists were mutating into theocrats.

It short, it's not Christian virtues that weaken Europe, it's the warped continuation of some of those virtues in the total absence of others, particularly a deep and pervading sense of the nature of evil that means that it often can't be fought by words, international institutions, or diplomacy. One of Jesus' last remarks to his disciples was to sell their cloaks to buy swords for self-defense.

Historically, Western Christianity benefited from the way it spread. Contact with Greek thought awakened it to ideas that Jews rarely wrestled with. Contact with Rome taught it how to deal with large, complex, cosmopolitan societies using structured government and the rule of law. (Israel had been small and agricultural.) And finally, contact with the heroic in Northern Europe helped to teach it individualism and the necessity to fight for freedom. You see that in Tolkien, who was devoutly Catholic. Chesterton expressed that well in his "The Ballad of the White Horse," a tale of King Alfred's battle against a Danish invasion, which I republished as G. K. Chesterton's Early Poetry.

And I might add that the "Germanic" part of northern Europe, typified by Prussia, isn't a healthy pattern to follow. It's paganism taken to the same unhealthy extreme that the post-Christian world has taken passivity. Its fierce tribalism and authoritarianism has never formed the core of a healthy, complex society and it is as unhealthy as the gutlessness of modern Europe. We can learn much from Greece, Rome and what Tolkien called "Northernness." We can learn little from Prussia or, for that matter, the fierce rivalries of Machiavelli's Italy. Surviving by being evil is far different from fighting and defeating evil. Become like you foe and your foe has, in one sense, won. That's what Tolkien meant about not using the Ring to fight Sauron.

And I might add that exaggeration in one direction often produces an equally bizarre exaggeration in the other. You see that in the weird "Conan the Barbarian' sorts of pseudo-masculinity around today. Given humanity's bent toward evil, glorifying the use of force is as dangerous and ultimately destructive as denying its necessity. The same Jesus who told his disciples to buy swords also told them that those who live by the sword also die by it. Chesterton described the same idea when he wrote of those long ago who were wise enough to inscribe on their swords two messages, "Take me up" and "Cast me away."

You'll find this debate and others in a book I'm trying to finish, one to be called Chesterton on War. Chesterton had so much to say on war, that just the good stuff is over 400 pages long.

--Michael W. Perry, author of Untangling Tolkien

James said...

Also, as a pointn of Christian theology (at least the Puritan version I know), you're not punished for the sins of your forefathers. That's the whole point of Jesus' death and resurrection. Punishing sons for their father's crimes is more a leftist creation -- from Ropespierre down through Stalin and the idiots at daily kos. And to echo what Michael Perry said, be careful about mistaking the feminized, neutered version of Christianity that appeared in the late Victorian period -- as well as the nasty pacifisto-lefty version represented by such vile creates as the Berrigans -- for the doctrine of the Reformation, much less the English Puritans like Cromwell who are the true fathers of America.

David said...

Guilt is very much part of the Catholic experience, but not nearly as much the Protestant one. As James states above, Christians have been forgiven for their sins-- unlike Liberals who don't believe in Christ's forgiveness-- so we christians don't go walking around feeling all guilty like they do. The dhimmitude isn't coming from christianity, it's coming from Liberalism, which comes from Marxism-- not christianity.

Don't forget christianity gave us the Knights Templar. Hardly pacifist dhimmi types, and according to Robert Kaplan in "Imperial Grunts", who has spent a great deal of time with the U.S. military, today conservative christians are overrepresented in the U.S. armed forces, including the special forces. They are the true believers. So don't mistake christianity for a religion of dhimmis.

James said...

Amen to what David said. Fjordman, I hate to pile on like this, because I'm a huge fan of your thinking and writing, but you need to go back and crack the books on your basic church history, made maybe read (Per Mr Perry's suggestion) Chesterson's Lepanto or Ballad of the White Horse. Strikes me that your version of Christianity, such as it is, is what one might expect to learn in the -- as you'e described it -- PIC, multi-culti, contemptuous of the past Scando-EUvian educational system.

Charles Martel said...

Michael's idea of the balance inherent in Christian thought and the teachings of Christ is particularly apt. Christianity stripped of Christ and the balance thus conferred has morphed into the grotesque caricatures of Christianity we are witnessing today such as multiculturalism, political correctness, leftism, pacifism, socialism, relativism etc.

I was raised a Catholic and still consider myself a Catholic but am alarmed by the direction taken by many in my Church. I do know this: Christianity has not always been such a pale, pasty, milquetoast and mealy mouthed concoction as it has become today. One need only conjure up the names of such Christian warriors as Martel, Sobieski, Hunyadi, Charlemagne and the Knights of Malta to name but a very few to be convinced that we have not always been so emasculated as we are today.

In order for us to survive our current crisis we need MORE religion - not less. But we need a vigorous, vibrant and passionate Christian warrior ethic to emerge such as that which existed in the past.

Discussions such as these are essential to the genesis of such a warrior ethic. It cannot emerge too soon.

R. Hartman said...

Just a reminder to all non-Anglo-Saxon readers with respect to David's post:
Please be aware that Divid refers to Anglo-Saxon liberalism, which has nothing to do with the real thing, classical liberalism. The left hijacked the term because it refers to liberty and sounds good, in the process negating its meaning. To the non-Anglo-Saxon world, leftism and liberalism are each other's opposites.

Wayne said...

re: James' post: "...as a point of Christian theology...you're not punished for the sins of your forefathers. That's the whole point of Jesus' death and resurrection."

Well, it's the point if church leaders make it the point. Only if. When they preach guilt as a never-ending self-flagellation, that becomes the point. That becomes what Christianity is, no matter what was said and done a thousand years ago, or even one year ago.

So I think in this thread we should focus on the present words and deeds, and call that Christianity, in fairness to Fjordman (whether present practice seems the best and truest Christianity or not). Otherwise we can get sidetracked into historical apologetics; i.e.:

"Priests teach [x] every Sunday, but their charter teaches [y]. Therefore [x] isn't really what they believe."

Which I don't think does justice to the facts on the ground.

--

Last year I attended a Lutheran service in which the preacher upset my meditations, preaching as I recall:

"And who are we to say that 9/11 wasn't a punishment for our own sins...?"

The congregation of one hundred sat silently through his limp-wristed flagellation. None of the good congregants spoke up, during the service or after, in defense of themselves and their blameless children. No face mirrored my own flash of emotion.

He was giving them what they wanted, apparently: true Christianity, by their lights.

That particular experience conforms with Fjordman's view. I wonder if other commenters have seen similar displays recently. Or have you instead seen new Cromwells in the pulpit? What's the trend, in your own communities?

James said...

Wayne, I think the mainstream high-church Protestant demoninations are finished -- dominated by the sort of "tenured radicals" that have made American universities such sinkholes of left0-collectivist PC-ism.

But the "low-church" Baptists -- as much as I may disagree with some of their social positions -- can distinguish between good and evil. And what's more interesting, what doesn't get remarked on a lot is the growth of "home churches" or non-traditional churches.

My case in point -- I live in Park Slope, a pretty bolshie nabe in Brooklyn, I attend a Presbyterian church that meets in a school (it belongs to the Presbyterian Church in America, not the larger and more liberal Pres. Church USA) . Theologically it's very conservative. There's not all this ratning about social justice and there's no self-flagellation. And there is a willingness to identify the presence of evil in the world/

Funny what your Lutheran minister said tho -- that's what landed oiir Jerry Falwell in such hot water, wasn't it?

ln said...

The preamble to this article by Fjordman caused me to look for "the American writer" Raymond Kraft. I meant I had seen the name before, but knew nothing about him. It turned out that his fame was/is linked to a magnum essay of his from 2004 titled: The death of liberalism, that can be found here.
Even if I am no big thinker I found that Mr Kraft repeatedly did get hold of the wrong end of the stick. Not without satisfaction i also found a very interesting rebuttel to the Kraft essay by a Mr R.G. Price here.
The best reading benefit is obtained by following Mr Price's advise: "Please read Mr. Kraft's article before proceeding with mine."

Athos said...

In support of Mike Perry's contention that the virtues divorced from the "sacramental containment system" provided by the Church tend to go haywire, The German lyric poet and essayist, Heinrich Heine (1797-1856) prophetically wrote of a time when Germany would go berserk:

"Some day there will awake that fighting folly found among the ancient Germans, the folly that fights neither to kill nor to conquer, but simply to fight. Christianity has (and that is its fairest merit (somewhat mitigated that brutal German lust for battle. But it could not destroy it: and once the taming talisman, the Cross, is broken, the savagery of the old battlers will flare up again, the insane Berserk rage of which Nordic bards have so much to say and sing. The talisman is brittle. The day will come when it will pitiably collapse. Then the old stone gods will rise from forgotten rubble and rub the dust of a thousand years from their eyes; and Thor will leap up and with his giant hammer start smashing Gothic cathedrals..."

Chesterton's notion about the inscriptions ("Take Me Up" "Cast Me Away") sounds very much like the role of the judges in the OT.

Wayne said...

James writes: mainstream high-church Protestant denominations are finished -- dominated by... "tenured radicals"...

[thinking out loud] Given that "high-church" is actually defined by Catholic authority, the episcopacy and sacraments, isn't the idea of "tenured radicals" holding positions of high-church authority essentially oxymoronic? How can a radical -- who of necessity bucks authority -- hold employment as a sworn instrument of authority?

It doesn't make sense, but then confusion never does. (And I think the confusion lies there, not here.)

"Funny what your Lutheran minister said tho -- that's what landed oiir Jerry Falwell in such hot water, wasn't it?

I think this is the statement you're referring to:

Falwell: "I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians... all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'"

I see one difference. Falwell was accusing secularists. The Lutheran pastor was accusing his own flock.

Secularists retorted and demanded a retraction of the offending accusation. My Lutherans did not. I don't know if that demonstrates a greater strength on the part of the secularists, or only a greater sensitivity to insult.

Of course, neither accusation fingers the true sinner, that vain herald of the rough beast, who for base motives personally engineered the crime of 9/11.

I'm glossing Yeats of course: a poem often popular, but which I sense to be more pregnant with living menace today, than before.

TURNING and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

-William Butler Yeats
'The Second Coming'

Rumpole said...

Mike nails it. Fjordman continues to not understand the history and ethos of the US. We were a much more "Christian" nation during WWII and waged total war against our enemies nuking Japan and fire bombing Germany. Something has happenned since then, but it is not due to Christian thought or practice. There is credible thought that if 9/11 was quickly followed with another attack we would have mobilized and taken out the entire middle east. This still may come.

David said...

Christianity gets blamed for all the wars it started and it gets blamed for being pacifist dhimmis. LOL. Can't win this argument.

David M said...

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 06/20/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

Jason_Pappas said...

Actually, Christianity has been very flexible. It can readily underwrite a pacifist ethos as a muscular Constantinian warrior ethos. It can lend itself to withdrawal and submission under the weight of centuries of Islamic oppression yet it can also galvanize the faithful to fight the Crusades and expel the Moors from Spain and Sicily. It was used to justify monarchy, individual rights, and socialism. It's very flexible.

Islam isn't flexible. That's the problem.

Reading the above comments, what I worry about is the focus on Christianity. The founding of America wasn't predicated on ironing out religious differences. If you read the Federalist Papers the focus is on the lessons of history not the word of the Lord. No doubt each individual had to square the principles of our Republic's founding with their understanding of religion; and this they generally did in private or within their local church. But since Christianity is so flexible it pays to focus on the external influences.

Now is when we need to relearn our Roman heritage (read Cicero for example). I'd suggest revisiting the British Enlightenment and the founding of the USA. As the founding fathers (of the USA) were fond of doing, a review of history -- what went right and what went wrong -- is the best guide. The left is fond of discarding our tradition and undermining our virtues. It's best to understand the tradition if it is to be revived.

Gringo_Malo said...

Christianity's fundamental flaw may be found in its own Scriptures, in the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Love your neighbor as yourself, and by the way, anything that walks on two legs anywhere on the planet is your neighbor. If Europeans of the early Christian era had taken this aspect of the faith seriously, their history would have been very dull, and very short. Regrettably, Christian churches have begun to take this impracticable universalist doctrine seriously of late.

For example, the 2005 annual report of the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops office of Migration and Refugee Services may be found here in PDF format. In 2005, MRS spent nearly 44 million bucks to help settle refugees and immigrants (mostly illegal, no doubt) in the U.S. More than 39 million of that came from the federal government. Of course, other denominations maintain similar organizations, which presumably extort the bulk of their funding from American taxpayers with the aid of the federal government.

All American taxpayers, Christian or not, seem to have acquiesced in their own submergence into the thrid world. One can't help but wonder whether a people who would tolerate such a situation is capable of survival.

james said...

WRT the Lutheran minister's "what if:"
Two points come immediately to mind.
1) If he is _claiming_ that 911 was God's punishment on us, he is taking upon himself the role of a prophet, telling what God is saying through events; and presumably what we should do to repent. He might want to double-check the criteria for prophethood and the penalties for being a false prophet.
2) Even if 911 was God's punishment, what has that to do with the prosecution of the war? I presume he's using Old Testament examples--he should look more closely. Though the Philistines may have been used for punishing Israel from time to time, it was nevertheless the duty of Israelites to fight them when called on. Repent, but fight.

Wayne said...

James: "...he is taking upon himself the role of a prophet, telling what God is saying through events; and presumably what we should do to repent..."

There was no thunder - no prophetic confidence - in his accusation. As far as repentance goes... he just begged us to vote Democrat. ;-)

James: "...it was nevertheless the duty of Israelites to fight [Philistines] when called on. Repent, but fight."

And that very distinction - between repentance and surrender - seems nearly unthinkable today in my region, the Pacific Northwest. Surrender is the imperative. Any argument or rhetoric which weakens resolve and persuades towards surrender - this is praised in public forum, no matter how mad the words might be. I mean:

- "We have sinned. We must surrender."

- "War is not free. We must surrender."

- "The news is tiresome. We must surrender."

It's madness, yes? Objectively, literally, madness.

David thinks our compatriots' pre-emptive acceptance of dhimmitude derives not from Christianity itself, but from liberalism/Marxism. I can't discount Fjordman's argument, but I can agree with David to the extent that liberalism/Marxism is a contributing factor. Only, David's statement is too vague. (David, want to expand on it?) I'll be a bit provocative here and assert that Socialist-Totalitarian regimes now collude with Muslim-Totalitarian regimes to break us. "Surrender" is their common, incessant message, for our surrender is I think their very meat.

There are empires to be had.

Now, I can't prove the assertion. I can't point out specific proved examples of totalitarian mind-manipulation, because good propaganda is not traceable, in the act. We can't know now who is the honest reporter / priest / diplomat / ex-President until the histories are written and the Swiss deposits are counted. But think back a few years, and remember the KGB defector Yuri Bezmenov. He laid out in interview the active propaganda measures which the KGB undertook to demoralize the US during the Cold War. His testimony is a powerful and chilling memoir, and to my knowledge it's highly credible.

Here's one segment of a taped interview, with other segments available to the right. Check it out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pE8MCSu_K-A

When you think about how valuable, even critical, US surrender was to the Soviet regime, it's not hard to see why the KGB would devote so much money and effort to achieving our surrender. The kicker, as Bezmenov says, was that the job was so easy. The propaganda worked, even better than the KGB had hoped it might. "Detente" quickly greased the skids for surrender. And surrender was coming, even though it would toss many millions of lives into the Soviet maw, in Eastern Europe and elsewhere. Only the improbable rise of Ronald Reagan reversed this tide.

Why was it so easy for the KGB? And why is it so easy for CAIR and Carter and other apologists for Islamic tyrants today? In seeking answers, I go back to Fjordman's thesis, regrettably.

Dan said...

Marxism is an attempt to create heaven on earth because of the belief that there is God and thus no heaven. Marxism light or socialism is essentially a more palatable version of the same thing so it is rotten at the core; it may be dressed up with Christian garb but that doesn’t change what it is. While the outward actions may appear similar the motivation is not and that makes all the difference.

Guilt is not a Christian burden; our sins were nailed to the cross. While their goal may be peace, a laudable goal, their sense of guilt ensures that their methods will be no more successful than a cargo cult. It’s not Christianity that is the problem- the problem is its antithesis

GM Roper said...

What an absolutely fabulous essay. I'm floored by the wisdom I've found here. Thank you!

Dan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jason_Pappas said...

Dan, you imply that the difference between communism and Christianity is that the communists are utopian and want "heaven on earth". Does that imply that communism holds the same ethical ideals as Christianity but believes they can be achieved in practice and in this life, while Christianity holds that we are irredeemably sinners who can't be expect to achieve ethical excellence?

DirtCrashr said...

Those who are executed are Christ-like
Except the two thieves who were crucified with Christ were not Christ-like whatsoever, they were just thieves.

Conservative Swede said...

Nice post, Fjordman. We seem to agree about a lot of things ;-)

This is an important message, and thank you for forwarding it. I'm working on reformulating the conceptualization of Western self-identity. It might take a while...

Fjordman is the best writer, because he's the one who gets everything right. For those of you who want a less moderate version, come visit my blog.

Profitsbeard said...

Love defends its children against all brutalities.

Or it is less than love.

It is dilute "empathy", or wan "decency", or gutless "compassion", or kumbaya "we're all the same".

And, by that time, your children are dead from your indecisive dithering.

True love does not flinch from opposing those who would destroy it, or its loved ones.

Surrendering to the hateful out of a misguided understanding of what love is is silliness, and suicidal.

Watch a sparrow chase a hawk to understand Love.

kahaneloyalist said...

Fjordman, Judaism does not view time as linear but as a spiral with a specific begining and ending, but a spiral nonetheless. The same events happen over and over again, but in each generation the players are different, in each generation we are given the chance to fix past mistakes to make a tikkun.

And the Jews choked with guilt are almost entirely Jews who are assimilated and lost to Torah, who have embraced Western culture in place of Judaism.

Dan said...

@ Jason_Pappas

I oversimplified it, what I meant is for the deluded it is a means to a more ethical society; but that society will never come because at its core it is evil. By their fruits ye shall know them. In actuality it is a vehicle for men given to evil to break down the christian moral sentiments on which free enterprise rests, and ultimately to ride to power.

In order to succeed evil must appear appealing; no one will follow a message of come and be my serfs.


Also I would say redeemed sinners. By striving for ethical excellence we may create a better society, but not perfect; we don’t have it in us.

Tito said...

Excellent post.

You need to fix your blog, the actual post is several scroll attempts below your left column.

God bless,

Tito

David said...

Great posts by Mike and Charles Martel.

I would like to add the following.

Christianity is not the cause of the guilt, self-loathing and defeatism in the west. Rather the abandonment of Christianity has caused this.

A society that has abandoned God will, in short time, abandon truth, beauty and unity. This leads to guilt, self-loathing and (strangely enough) a desire to be enslaved by others. I assure you, many of the 'Christians' that preach dhimmitude have compromised their faith to a significant degree and have begun this spiral of self-loathing.

To see this in action, just observe the behavior among the amoral youth of today. Drug use, sexual depravity, self mutilation, and suicide are manifestations of this self-loathing.

On a national level we are seeing the same thing. Drug use (through legalization), sexual depravity (legalizing and celebrating nearly any sexual acts), self mutilation (the PC culture, dhimmitude, etc), and finally suicide (rampant unregulated immigration, ceding of national sovereignty, abandonment of culture)

As individuals and families go, so do nations.

H.B. Palmaer said...

Conservative Swede is obviously ignorant of Catholicism. Patriotism is a virtue which the Church commands. Universalism (in the natural sphere) and utopia are not.

I know only too well that many Catholic churchmen of the last 45 years, especially in the West, tend to be PC and therefore have been/are highly unreliable in these matters, but Church teaching of this kind cannot be changed. And has not.

Chesterton and Belloc would have been horrified by what Conservative Swede depicts as being Catholicism. And so would Pius XII.

Conservative Swede said...

H.B. Palmaer,

Your focus is on an ideal of Catholicism that does not exist (except with SSPX and a few such marginal groups). I speak of the real existing Catholicism. So we speak of two completely different things. I speak about reality, you about an ideal that is very far from reality indeed. I have described the current state of Catholicism in a series of articles at my blog:

Catholicism—Vatican II embracing Islam.
Catholicism—the open borders lobby.
Catholicism—birth control and birth rates (part I)....
Catholicism—birth control and birth rates (part II....
Catholicism—anecdotal conservatism.

Conservative Swede said...

Once you have payed attention to the fact that we speak about different things, you will also be able to take in that I'm not "obviously ignorant" about what is the ideal of Catholicism and what it once used to be. Something which I regularly defend against so called "conservatives". E.g. here, in my answer to Mr. Politisktinkorrekt:

Mr. Politisktinkorrekt had written:

Meekness and goodness? What about the Crusades, the burning of heretics at the stake, the Inquisition, the expulsion of all Jews from Spain, the Thirty Year war, the homophobia, the suppression of women, the Evangelics (The Christian Right's) support for Israel and their longing for Harmageddon?

To which I answered:

This is a highly ironic harangue coming from someone using the moniker Politically Incorrect (politisktinkorrekt). Here we have a wonderfully leftist mindset (the last stage of Christian ethics) to be fisking. You describe the history of Christianity in terms of "homophobia" and "suppression of women". Wow! You are really a child of the French Revolution, aren't you? Homophobia is such wonderful PC newspeak, which you have made into yours. In the leftist mind there is no room for comparing reality with reality, only for comparing reality with a Utopian blueprint. And of course, compared to the Utopian blueprint, Christianity is not good, weak and meek enough. Reality, human nature and the essence of Christianity does not enter the picture. Leftism is the highest developed level of Christian ethics, and you have adopted it perfectly.

Conservative Swede said...

However, the Catholic Church itself has caved in and apologized for the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition and the colonization of Latin America, etc., etc.

Thus, I'm a much better defender of the legacy of the Catholic Church than the Catholic Church itself. Or to be more accurate: I'm a defender of it, while the Catholic Church itself has turned against it (the only thing that both you and I agree is/was good about Catholicism) and completely fallen into utopian destructive Cathocommunism. This is another thing which makes your comment to me highly ironic.

Reading from your blog I can say that you already know to the full extent what I'm talking about. It's just that due to your identity that it's hard to emotionally take it in all the way. Btw, I agree about what you say in your blog about the Orthodox Christians. And there are fundamental reasons for why it is so, while Western Christianity went down the toilet. But that's for another discussion.

Conservative Swede said...

Concluding with something I wrote about Catholicism two years ago, in answer to an enthusiastic Catholic:

You talk a lot about how brave the Catholic Church is. About it's "COURAGE in risking impopularity". But that is not at all true. The Catholic Church has caved in and excused themselves for the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition and the colonization of Latin America. All three things that I defend, but where the cowardly Vatican itself has caved in and made pitiful excuses. To having continued to defend these things would have been something, but the Vatican lost its substance when it caved in, and now it only charades as brave upon miniature issues, such as birth control, which will only impress their most zealous fan club members.

This led to bad Karma, and next the Vatican embraced Islam, and from then on the karma became even worse. If I'm going to paint a picture of how disgusting Vatican II and its Lumen Gentium and Nostra Atate is to me, I will say that embracing Islam in this way is like go finding a rotten goat and hugging it in your bed every night. It's so sick that it makes me want to vomit. I can understand that these passages are completely shameful to Catholics and that this is why they never want to discuss them. But it means that since Vatican II, Catholics can no longer talk intelligently about their own religion. This put Catholics in the same category as liberals. Caught in their net, deprived of the intellectual means to get out of it. This is a horrible betrayal of the Catholics and Catholicism by the Vatican.

Unfortunately political hierarchy beats theological substance in Catholicism. Therefore a Vatican committee can sit in the '60s and throw away 1600 years of tradition, and nobody will protest. As a Catholic you submit to the hierarchy, period. Theological substance is secondary and apparently can easily be thrown away. While I defend the Catholic Church of the crusades, the Spanish Inquisition and the colonization of Latin America
.

H.B. Palmaer said...

Conservative Swede,

I have been away and therefore unable to answer any earlier. Sorry.

When I wrote "obviously", I was referring only to your comment to Fjordman's article (which said something rather different), and not to everything you ever wrote (which can hardly be known to me). I might add: obviously.

Still, I am happy to see that you know what the Catholic Church used to look like only a few decades ago. Furthermore, we agree entirely (ENTIRELY) on the spinelessness of all too many Catholic hierarchs since the 1950s. If only, when you mention Catholicism now on, you would take into account the difference between the Church's teaching and the hierarchy's many human shortcomings to-day, then, there would be nothing left for us to quarrel about.

One example: When you say that "Unfortunately political hierarchy beats theological substance in Catholicism", you are wrong. And this is why the Church still has not changed its teaching, although different churchmen act as if this were the case. This is also the reason for which the Church has not submitted to the world in moral matters. But this is also why there exists a traditional Catholic movement, and why Rome is talking to it.

You see, according to Catholic teaching, the hierarchy is not be unconditionnally obeyed,as for instance the Opus Dei would have its followers believe. Only 1) when a teaching is clearly infallible, or 2) when the Hierarchy is teaching according to Tradition, or 4) when it is commanding within due limits, are the Pope and Bishops to be obeyed. Look it up, and you'll see.

Traditional Catholicism is growing. And this Pope is trying to restore continuity. He is also actually talking to the FSSPX. But most importantly: the Church's teaching cannot change.

Help traditional Catholics. And plain, decent truth. Simply by making these simple distinctions from now on. We must save the West. And the West is unthinkable without (true) Catholicism.