December 7, 2006
We need to deal with Syria and Iran?
Then again, it pays to know exactly who your dealing with.
Here are a few remarks made by Syrian Deputy Minister of Religious Endowment:
“All the diseases that have to do with sexual organs, mainly AIDS, syphilis, gonorrhea, and so on… When these diseases appeared, they killed millions. More people were killed by these diseases than by wars. The only reason for this is the straying from the divine way regarding fornication, and when I say fornication – ‘Do not even approach abomination’ – this means fornication, homosexuality, and all the sexual deviation it entails.”
Host: “Everything that has to do with abominations.”
‘Abd Al-Sattar: “‘Do not even approach abomination, surely it is a foul thing and an evil way.’ When Islam set the punishment [for fornication]… Let’s see now… What do they do now with people with AIDS? They put the AIDS patient in isolation. This patient… If you go to the dentist, you are afraid of the toothbrush.
“This is why there’s a hidden desire in one’s heart… If only we had stoned everyone who had committed this abomination – wouldn’t it have been better than letting these diseases infect others, spreading to millions around the world?”
Host: “Most certainly.”
‘Abd Al-Sattar: “Most certainly. The entire world, from the U.S. to the most distant country, acknowledges that if they had stoned the fornicators, and prevented abomination, things would have been much better.”
You can’t expect much in the way of civilized behavior and attitudes from the Iranians, either.
Iranians have been exposed recently to a fictionalized television series titled, “Zahra’s Blue Eyes,” or “For You, Palestine.” The program, carried on Sahar-1 T-V, follows the career of a fictional Israeli political candidate who supports the harvesting of the organs of Palestinian children by Israeli doctors. The fictional candidate is especially interested in obtaining seven-year old Zahra’s eyes for his own son because her eyes remind him of his wife’s.
…written and directed by Ali Derakhshni, a former official with Iran’s education ministry. In an interview, Mr. Derakhshni said, “The major film companies are under the Zionists’ influence. Fortunately, the Iranian Islamic Republic and our Islamic regime have made many films and series like ‘Zahra’s Blue Eyes,’ which is a film about children.”
As an incitement to hatred of Israelis and Jews, “Zahra’s Blue Eyes” is hard to top. It is equally vicious in its falsification of the kind of people Israelis are and in its attribution to them of inhuman motives.
Yup, just what the civilized world needs to do- sit down with these jokers and pretend they are ‘just like us.’
December 7, 2006
We wanted to talk about the nature of sin. On reflection, we realized that before any discussion about sin can take place, we need to understand faith and God. Before we can discuss God, we need to understand the environment in which we are asked to choose faith.
One of the great assumptions (rarely questioned) of the ages, is that progress is the great impetus for secularism. In fact, many argue that secularism and progress are the result of the abandonment of religion and/or long held moral values. These are ideas are taught everyday, if not directly, then by implication, in schools across the country. By the time students hit college, to even question that assumption is to mark oneself as ‘uninformed’ and irrelevant. The well known sociologist, Bryan Wilson stated that modernity and religion are incompatible. Anyone who flushes a toilet or watches television cannot believe in the divine.
How did that come to pass? Why is the assumption that progress, by necessity, means secularism, and that this belief is never challenged? We believe there are two primary reasons.
First religion has been moved from the public square- completely. Of course, in our value system, religion, specifically any one religion, should not dominate that public square, for a myriad of reasons. We can all agree on that. That said, it is also clear that we have reached a point where there are no public debates where religion can have an equal voice in helping to shape our communities.
The great Town Hall debates, used to be held in churches, because it understood that in matters from morality to the settling of disputes, the churches had standing (that is not be meant to imply that churches were perfect). The secularists could not abide that. In their world, there was no place for God. They could not tolerate or risk a confrontation on issues of morality with the Churches. They wanted to stack the deck against religion and churches, by obviating and neutralizing them. Liberalism, evolutionary theory, Marxist ideology, and so on were all designed to exclude religion. Man himself was to be elevated to a god-like status. One didn’t need God to be merciful and high minded. As we wrote earlier, in Battle for The American Soul, the forces that needed to dismiss faith in God as a source of morality and values, accomplished that by focusing on the ‘rights‘ society was obligated to provide rather than the obligations of individual in society.
While it is true free societies naturally evolve, they must retain some of the original ‘DNA’ that was there at their creation. That original ‘DNA’ that served as the basis of free societies had less to do with the self and a lot to do with the society and community. What causes societies and communities to be be founded and succeed, is the abiding focus on the welfare of that society and community, as a whole. It is true that great emphasis in free societies is placed on the individual, but in the end, that focus is really about the place the individual has within society. In exchange for his contributions, the individual is accorded certain rights and privileges- in exchange for those contributions and obligations.
In addition to ‘neutralizing’ God and faith as sources of credible moral values, there was another movement against religious participation in society- and that ideology further aided the subsequent marginalization of believers. That movement was spearheaded with the false notion that religion and science were incompatible. One could not be a scientist and be religious. That of course, flies in the face of reality. Science was once the purview of the religious communities, from Catholicism, to Islam to Judaism, but it didn’t matter. Illiterate and ill educated masses, weaned on the false gods of agendized ideologies, were nothing more than pawns in a game played by those who sought what all ideologues seek- control.
History textbooks are replete with the idea that as social structure evolved, so did ‘consciousness’ (read- progress). What is left unclear is why technological progress, by itself, should undermine religion. It is also fair to ask why great migratory shifts, a dominant feature of industrialization, for example, should serve to undermine religion. These assertions are taken as truth- but in reality, they remain theories at best.
It is true that culture, philosophy and value systems are all subjects that merit study on their own. That said, they cannot however, be separated from the belief systems that gave them life- the religious, historical and social systems from which they arose. In fact, it is those origins that help those fields of study to keep on evolving.
It is the secularists that wish to make the distinction from religious influence to secularism a clear and cataclysmic event. The way we learn history reflects that. In less than a century, we were to have gone from the ‘Age of Faith’ to the ‘Age of Reason.’ Supposedly, the legend goes, we went from a universally religious society to an almost universally secular one. That too, is a lie. The idea that primitive man is religious while educated man is not, is a mythology, used as a marketing tool of secularism. The truth is clear- every single version of materialism, skepticism and spiritual devotion can be found across the spectrum of the human condition of recorded human history. Where there was man, there was the drama of human achievement and human failures, of greatness and pettiness, of good and evil. Those real truths correspond to the same spectrum of beliefs found today, all over the world.
In fact, the first real secularists were the Jews and Christians. They were to question everything. They were to debate the meaning of man and life. Within each religion were debates, wars, intellectual truces and eventual compromises. Not quite the description of religion taught, is it?
A strong and real argument can be made that religious thought is far more flexible than secularist thought. Moral beliefs are by fluid and solid at the same time. Trees have trunks that are solid and resolute- and yet, that same organism has branches and leaves that flutter in the wind. Religion has never been anything but forgiving and yet is always resolute. It is the secularist that demands ‘boxes.’
Religion and our struggle with faith, has come a long way, especially in this great nation. In fact, we have contributed mightily to the evolution of religion and the undestanding of what is real faith. We wrote:
In truth, for a long time, religion was used as method of oppression. However, that expression of faith has no foothold here. We were founded by those who wished to escape that and other forms of tyranny. It is religion that allowed for and was the original guarantor of freedom in this country.
Is secularism the answer to our future? Secularism, and all it’s derivatives, were understandable reactions to being held underfoot by a Church and faith that cared not a whit for it’s believers. That Church, thankfully, no longer exists, in no small measure due to the reality that human dignity, especially under God’s Dominion, demanded freedom. When a slave broke the chains of his bondage, he didn’t stay long enough to have tea and say good bye to his master. He ran, as far and fast as he could.
Those former slaves to that less than whole and open Church, found a new replacement for God. That new religion, for many, was Science- and Ethics. Nietzsche defiantly and confidently declared that “God is Dead.” He was right. The God that Nietzche and the other starring cast of the Enlightenment understood and knew, was indeed dead. In it’s place a new belief structure arouse. As the Church once oppressed, in extremis, so too did the resulting backlash of secularism, in a hedonistic orgy of self centered obsession.
Those are not assumptions. They are a realistic assessment of where we came from, where we are and where we are going. Try as they might, secularists have been able to kill God. The great and universal truth that the more freedom man is allowed, the more ready and wiling he is to accept God and faith as part of his reality.
Edward Shils wrote that Western intellectuals espoused four intellectual traditions: scientism, romanticism, apolalypticism and populism. The American intellectual community has embraced the first two traditions. Scientism is self explanatory. Romanticism, as an intellectual pursuit, can be understood as the appreciation of the genious of the individual. That is, anything that highlights and spotlights individual achievements. Traditions, family, community faith all are enemies of individual self expression. The market, and sense of communal obligation are anathema to the individual- they impose restrictions and preclude ’self expression’- as if self expression were the highest of human achievements. The notion that communities have expectations from their citizens is repugnant to these ‘thinkers.’ Communities are an enemy of genuineness and creativity. In The Battle for the American Soul, we posit that is an absurd notion. Neither religion or secularism is the enemy of progress. Each has been and will continue to be contributory to mans advancement.
The religious community must remember that Free Will is just that- free will. We have a choice in how we live our lives- and that is between man and God. Non believers can be as moral or even moral than a flawed believer- and we would do well to remember we are all flawed.
The secular community must remember that they do not replace the religious community. Scientific education and the secular study of ethics and morality do not make for an intellectual aristocracy, to be held in higher esteem than all others. One cannot negate the impact for good the religious community has had upon this nation and world. The value of that good is not demeaned by a relationship with God.
The Anchoress offered up a remarkable quote from GK Chesterton:
All conservatism, is based upon the idea that if you leave things alone, you leave them as they are. But you do not. If you leave a thing alone, you leave it to a torrent of change.
That is an inescapable truth that applies to the orthodoxy of secularism or the orthodoxy of religious belief.