In these two stories Christians reveal their faith to be a fraud.
by Langston Hughes
I was saved from sin when I was going on thirteen. But not really saved. It happened like this. There was a big revival at my Auntie Reed’s church. Every night for weeks there had been much preaching, singing, praying, and shouting, and some very hardened sinners had been brought to Christ, and the membership of the church had grown by leaps and bounds. Then just before the revival ended, they held a special meeting for children, “to bring the young lambs to the fold.” My aunt spoke of it for days ahead. That night I was escorted to the front row and placed on the mourners’ bench with all the other young sinners, who had not yet been brought to Jesus.
My aunt told me that when you were saved you saw a light, and something happened to you inside! And Jesus came into your life! And God was with you from then on! She said you could see and hear and feel Jesus in your soul. I believed her. I had heard a great many old people say the same thing and it seemed to me they ought to know. So I sat there calmly in the hot, crowded church, waiting for Jesus to come to me.
The preacher preached a wonderful rhythmical sermon, all moans and shouts and lonely cries and dire pictures of hell, and then he sang a song about the ninety and nine safe in the fold, but one little lamb was left out in the cold. Then he said: “Won’t you come? Won’t you come to Jesus? Young lambs, won’t you come?” And he held out his arms to all us young sinners there on the mourners’ bench. And the little girls cried. And some of them jumped up and went to Jesus right away. But most of us just sat there.
A great many old people came and knelt around us and prayed, old women with jet-black faces and braided hair, old men with work-gnarled hands. And the church sang a song about the lower lights are burning, some poor sinners to be saved. And the whole building rocked with prayer and song.
Still I kept waiting to see Jesus.
Finally all the young people had gone to the altar and were saved, but one boy and me. He was a rounder’s son named Westley. Westley and I were surrounded by sisters and deacons praying. It was very hot in the church, and getting late now. Finally Westley said to me in a whisper: “God damn! I’m tired o’ sitting here. Let’s get up and be saved.” So he got up and was saved.
Then I was left all alone on the mourners’ bench. My aunt came and knelt at my knees and cried, while prayers and song swirled all around me in the little church. The whole congregation prayed for me alone, in a mighty wail of moans and voices. And I kept waiting serenely for Jesus, waiting, waiting – but he didn’t come. I wanted to see him, but nothing happened to me. Nothing! I wanted something to happen to me, but nothing happened.
I heard the songs and the minister saying: “Why don’t you come? My dear child, why don’t you come to Jesus? Jesus is waiting for you. He wants you. Why don’t you come? Sister Reed, what is this child’s name?”
“Langston,” my aunt sobbed.
“Langston, why don’t you come? Why don’t you come and be saved? Oh, Lamb of God! Why don’t you come?”
Now it was really getting late. I began to be ashamed of myself, holding everything up so long. I began to wonder what God thought about Westley, who certainly hadn’t seen Jesus either, but who was now sitting proudly on the platform, swinging his knickerbockered legs and grinning down at me, surrounded by deacons and old women on their knees praying. God had not struck Westley dead for taking his name in vain or for lying in the temple. So I decided that maybe to save further trouble, I’d better lie, too, and say that Jesus had come, and get up and be saved.
So I got up.
Suddenly the whole room broke into a sea of shouting, as they saw me rise. Waves of rejoicing swept the place. Women leaped in the air. My aunt threw her arms around me. The minister took me by the hand and led me to the platform.
When things quieted down, in a hushed silence, punctuated by a few ecstatic “Amens,” all the new young lambs were blessed in the name of God. Then joyous singing filled the room.
That night, for the first time in my life but one for I was a big boy twelve years old – I cried. I cried, in bed alone, and couldn’t stop. I buried my head under the quilts, but my aunt heard me. She woke up and told my uncle I was crying because the Holy Ghost had come into my life, and because I had seen Jesus. But I was really crying because I couldn’t bear to tell her that I had lied, that I had deceived everybody in the church, that I hadn’t seen Jesus, and that now I didn’t believe there was a Jesus anymore, since he didn’t come to help me.
In Memoriam Antony Flew
by Jillian Becker
(In part adapted from an earlier TAC post, In Memoriam: Antony Flew Philosopher of Atheism, April 18, 2010)
Antony Flew, the philosopher, atheist, and defender of freedom, died on April 8, 2010.
Obituaries on both sides of the Atlantic said that Antony Flew was the world’s most famous atheist, and that he suddenly changed his mind and declared that God exists after all.
It is true that he did say this. But he never said it when he was in his right mind. And the reasoning by which he arrived at his certainty that God does not exist was never cancelled or reversed by the sloppy arguments of his senility.
Of his many books, the one that matters most for his reputation as an atheist is God & Philosophy. It was first published in 1966. Later editions appeared at intervals, the last in 2005. To judge by the new introduction he wrote, he was as sure of his atheism then as he had been in 1966.
In 2007 a new book appeared under his name titled There is a God. The subtitle crows: How the world’s most notorious [sic] atheist changed his mind. The authorship is ascribed to Antony Flew “with Roy Abraham Varghese”. But no one who has read God & Philosophy with attention could possible believe that There is a God was a product of the same intelligence. Either the powers of Antony Flew had faded away, or some other mind engendered this work. In fact, both those things happened. It has emerged that he did not write it. He had spoken, and other hands had written. He could not even remember what was in it. And of that failure of memory and general weakening of his mental faculties, the actual writers had taken advantage.
The actual authors of There is a God are Roy Abraham Varghese who is known for his work on “the interface between science and religion”, and Pastor Bob Hostetler – two people with a big blunt axe to grind. They were desperate to find a way to prove that “God” exists. So these these two mountebanks of religion, Varghese and Hostetler, pplotted a devilish scheme. They would exploit an old philosopher afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr Richard Carrier tried to ascertain from Professor Flew himself whether he had really “found God”. Carrier’s detailed account (no longer to be found on the internet – we wonder why) of how Flew claimed he was, but then again was not, converted to belief in a creator-God when certain scientific facts were brought to his attention, makes the whole sorry story plain. Carrier records that the philosopher admitted to finding the subject “too hard” to deal with; that he failed to remember anything about There is a God; that he repeatedly contradicted himself. He tells us about the bewildered old man being awarded a prize by an Evangelical Christian University. (The Phillip E. Johnson Award for Liberty and Truth, bestowed on him by the university of Biola at la Mirada, California – a nest of evangelicals, dedicated to proselytizing their faith.)
The prodigal son returned! Much rejoicing in Christian circles. As if the willingness of a senile man to concede – on and off – the existence of a creator-God, were all the proof they needed to shout in the face of atheists and skeptics: “There, you see? If even he can see it now, you should not have the hubris to think you know better and continue to deny it!”
Carrier writes: “It is certainly possible that Flew looked at ten drafts [of There is a God]. I see no reason to believe Flew was able to understand or even recall what he read.” Flew admitted to having “a nominal aphasia”. But it was more than “nominal”. “Flew could not even recall the arguments of the book , not just who made them or what his sources were.”
Carrier found that whenever Professor Flew himself stated his position, it was always to reaffirm his atheism. Statements to the contrary were never made by him directly, though one at least, firmly insistent that he really had changed his mind, was put out by the publisheron his behalf.
I know that at times he did think he had changed his mind. I saw him soon after the book appeared and asked him was it true he now believed in God.
“Yes,” he replied, “but not the Monster”.
I understood of course what he meant by “the Monster”. He had rejected the Christian God while still in his teens because he could not reconcile the evil in the world and hell after it with a beneficent deity. Such a deity could only be a Monster. His father, a Methodist minister, was distressed by young Antony’s rejection of his faith, but Antony said, as he was to repeat throughout his life, that he had to go “where the evidence leads”. Now he told me, only the existence of “an intelligence” can explain the nature of the universe. This intelligence, this non-monstrous god, made the laws of nature and then had nothing more to do with his creation – the theological position known as deism.
In God & Philosophy, there is a section on “Order and Design”, in which the author asks the question: “Does order in nature itself presuppose an Orderer?” Elegantly and fully he reasons over a few pages that it does not. (This is not the place to quote his reasons, but I hope to whet some appetites for seeking them in the book.) “So we conclude that order in the universe by itself provides no warrant whatsoever for trying to identify an Orderer.”
The meticulous arguments are abandoned as though they had never been made, in the later book falsely published as written by him, There is a God. The reason given there for belief in a creator God, is that the author has learnt about DNA, about its “enormous complexity”, and sees that there must have been an Orderer who made the universe! He also sets out the “fine-tuning” argument.
Both the arguments, from “irreducible complexity” and “fine-tuning” have been thoroughly refuted.
Then there is the “Stratonician presumption”, as Flew himself named it after the Greek philosopher Strato of Lampsacus, the third head of Aristotle’s Lyceum, who formulated it. The presumption is that in explaining the world you can do without entities that are not necessary for the completeness of the explanation. In God & Philosophy, Antony Flew does not find it necessary to call in God or gods.
But suddenly, in There is a God, such a supernatural being becomes essential to explain the world’s existence.
From Antony’s point of view these pressing believers had not done him a disservice. He told me that there was to be a TV documentary about him and his conversion. He was innocently surprised at the attention he was getting, and the unexpected windfall it brought with it. He was paid what seemed to him a very large sum of money. He had never been a rich man, and he was happy for his wife and daughters that they would have this fund at their disposal.
So there’s the picture. A pair (or more?) of American Christian Evangelicals (aided and abetted by a Jewish theologian and physicist, Gerald Schroeder) had worked on him rather than with him, when he had become mentally frail, to produce this cancellation of a lifetime’s thought. In his dotage, these Evangelicals battened on to him, dazzled him with science that was utterly new to him – the big bang, DNA – and rewarded him like a Pavlov’s dog when he gave the response their spin elicited. He was subjected to intellectual seduction, much as Bertrand Russell was by Communists in his senile years.
What seems to me intolerably sad and wrong is that the reputation Antony Flew ought to have, as an atheist philosopher who brilliantly defended atheism throughout his long and distinguished professional life, is now to be replaced by a phony story that he who had been a convinced atheist changed his mind. Is the man who defended atheism better than anyone since David Hume, to be remembered as a deist?
Is this to be allowed to happen – that he be remembered as a man who saw the error of his atheist ways and became persuaded that there was a God – simply because he suffered a softening of the brain in his last years? The truth is that the Antony Flew who conceded the existence of a “creator-intelligence” was not “the Flew” – as he liked to allude to himself – that he had been at the peak of his powers. His faculties were deteriorating, his memory came and went unreliably, he was confused, bewildered and – because he was in a state of decline – taken advantage of.
His handwriting became shakier. He put letters to other people in envelopes that he addressed to me. (They probably got the letters I was supposed to receive.) When I sent him the print-out of an article I had written deploring the Islamization of Britain, he sent it back to me a few weeks later as an article of his own that he would like me to comment on. When he was to meet me and a few colleagues at a certain old London club which he must have visited dozens or even hundreds of times, he couldn’t find it. A search party rescued him and brought him to the meeting. He had become unsure of himself. He did not always remember, or possibly even grasp, points put to him in a discussion.
But what an enthusiast he forever was for ideas! His face would light up, his voice grow urgent with excitement. A passionate intellectual who was always gentle, always courteous even in the heat of argument, Antony Flew was the epitome of a reasonable man. Or I should say that is what he had been, and that is the way he should be remembered, this great philosopher and atheist. Even those who disagree with his atheism must surely acknowledge in the name of justice and decency that his achievements, not his late and lamentable capitulations which seemed to cancel them, should be what he is remembered for.
One thing stands out from the sorry story of his exploitation. If those God-believers had to go to those unscrupulous lengths to prove there is a God, it couldn’t be more plain that they have no proof.
What those desperate con-men did to Antony Flew, the great philosopher of atheism, proves the opposite. They just don’t have the intellectual honesty, or perhaps even the intellectual capacity, to face the meaning of their fraud. With their cruel ruse they may have bluffed others, but only at the cost of bluffing themselves.
Deep in their consciousness, they know there is no God.
They have proved it.
The classicist Donald Kagan has given his last lecture at Yale, leaving it now in the hands of the pirates of education – the Left.
These are extracts from an article titled “Democracy May Have Had Its Day” by Matthew Kaminski in the Wall Street Journal:
Universities, he proposed, are failing students and hurting American democracy. …
On campus, he said, “I find a kind of cultural void, an ignorance of the past, a sense of rootlessness and aimlessness.”
Rare are “faculty with atypical views,” he charged. “Still rarer is an informed understanding of the traditions and institutions of our Western civilization and of our country and an appreciation of their special qualities and values.” He counseled schools to adopt “a common core of studies” in the history, literature and philosophy “of our culture.” By “our” he means Western.
This might once have been called incitement. In 1990, as dean of Yale College, Mr. Kagan argued for the centrality of the study of Western civilization in an “infamous” (his phrase) address to incoming freshmen. A storm followed. He was called a racist — or as the campus daily more politely editorialized, a peddler of “European cultural arrogance.”
Oh for some European cultural arrogance!
Not so now. Mr. Kagan received a long standing ovation from students and alumni in the packed auditorium. Heading into retirement, he has been feted as a beloved and popular teacher and Yale icon. The PC wars of the 1990s feel dated. Maybe, as one undergrad told me after the lecture, “the pendulum has started to swing back” toward traditional values in education.
Has it? Is political correctness outdated? Or becoming outdated? Isn’t that too good to be true?
Mr. Kagan offers another explanation [to the author of the article, in an interview]….
Actually, he’s Dr. Kagan. Or Professor Kagan (since we don’t do as the Germans do and string the titles together to make “Professor Dr.”). But for all we know Donald Kagan prefers the Mr.
“You can’t have a fight,” he says … “because you don’t have two sides. The other side won.”
He means across academia, but that is also true in his case. Mr. Kagan resigned the deanship in April 1992, lobbing a parting bomb at the faculty that bucked his administration. His plans to create a special Western Civilization course at Yale — funded with a $20 million gift from philanthropist and Yale alum Lee Bass, who was inspired by the 1990 lecture — blew up three years later amid a political backlash. “I still cry when I think about it,” says Mr. Kagan.
As he looks at his Yale colleagues today, he says, “you can’t find members of the faculty who have different opinions.” I point at him. “Not anymore!” he says and laughs. …
Democracy, wrote Mr. Kagan in “Pericles of Athens” (1991), is “one of the rarest, most delicate and fragile flowers in the jungle of human experience.” It relies on “free, autonomous and self-reliant” citizens and “extraordinary leadership” to flourish, even survive. These kinds of citizens aren’t born—they need to be educated. …
“Meaningful freedom means that you have choices to make,” Mr. Kagan says. “At the university, there must be intellectual variety. If you don’t have that, it’s not only that you are deprived of knowing some of the things you might know. It’s that you are deprived of testing the things that you do know or do think you know or believe in, so that your knowledge is superficial.”
As dean, Mr. Kagan championed hard sciences, rigorous hiring standards for faculty, and the protection of free speech. Those who see liberal education in crisis return to those ideas. “Crisis suggests it might recover,” Mr. Kagan shoots back. “Maybe it’s had its day. Democracy may have had its day. Concerns about the decline of liberty in our whole polity is what threatens all of the aspects of it, including democracy.”
Taking a grim view of the Periclean era in Athens, Plato and Aristotle believed that democracy inevitably led to tyranny. The Founding Fathers took on their criticism and strove to balance liberty with equality under the law. Mr. Kagan, who grew up a Truman Democrat, says that when he was young the U.S. needed to redress an imbalance by emphasizing equality. The elite universities after the war opened to minorities and women, not to mention Brooklyn College grads like himself—then “it was all about merit,” he says.
The 1960s brought a shift and marked his own political awakening. Teaching at Cornell, Mr. Kagan watched armed black students occupy a university building in 1969. The administration caved to their demands without asking them to give up their rifles and bandoliers. He joined Allan Bloom and other colleagues in protest. In the fall of that year, he moved to Yale. Bloom ended up at the University of Chicago and in 1987 published “The Closing of the American Mind,” his best-selling attack on the shortcomings of higher education.
In the decades since, faculties have gained “extraordinary authority” over universities, Mr. Kagan says. The changes in the universities were mirrored in the society at large. “The tendency in this century and in the previous century at least has been toward equality of result and every other kind of equality that could be claimed without much regard for liberty,” he says. “Right now the menace is certainly to liberty.”
Yes, and it is impossible to have equality of result and liberty at the same time. In other words, it is impossible to have socialism and liberty. One or the other is the choice.
His lifelong passion is Thucydides and the Peloponnesian War — the epic clash between those former allies, militaristic Sparta and democratic Athens … As Thucydides wrote, people go to war out of “honor, fear and interest.” War, he also said, “is a violent teacher.” Another enduring lesson from him, says Mr. Kagan, is “that you can expect people, whatever they may be, to seek to maximize their power” — then a slight pause — “unless they’re Europeans and have checked their brains at the door, so mortified are they, understandably, by what happened to them in the 20th century. They can’t be taken seriously.”
We would say “morbid” rather than “mortified” because of what they did to themselves in the 20th century. It’s a long slow suicide, but few Europeans heard in the public arena seem to realize it.
These days the burden of seriousness among free states falls on America, a fickle and unusual power. The Romans had no qualms about quashing their enemies, big or small. While the U.S. won two global conflicts and imposed and protected the current global order, the recent record shows failed or inconclusive engagements in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
Some would argue that free societies are too soft to fight brutal wars too long. Mr. Kagan offers culture and political leadership as an explanation. “We’re a certain kind of culture which makes it hard for us to behave rationally when the rational thing is to be tough,” he says. “We can do it when we’re scared to death and there seem to be no alternatives. When it’s time to nail down something, we very often sneak away.”
Some would argue that free societies are too soft to fight brutal wars too long. Mr. Kagan offers culture and political leadership as an explanation. “We’re a certain kind of culture which makes it hard for us to behave rationally when the rational thing is to be tough,” he says. “We can do it when we’re scared to death and there seem to be no alternatives. When it’s time to nail down something, we very often sneak away.”
The protection and distance offered by two oceans gives America the idea — or delusion — of being able to stay out of the world’s problems.
Libertarians, please note.
Mr. Kagan also wonders about possible “geocultural” shifts at play. A hundred years ago, most people worked the land for themselves. Today they work for a paycheck, usually in an office. “Fundamentally we are dependent on people who pay our salaries,” says Mr. Kagan. “In the liberal era, in our lifetime, we have come more to expect it is the job of the government to provide for the needs that we can’t provide. Everything is negotiable. Everything is subject to talk.” Maybe that has weakened the American will.
Also don’t forget, says Mr. Kagan, “unsubtle Christianity” and its strong strain of pacifism. “Who else has a religion filled with the notion ‘turn the other cheek’?” he asks. … “If you’re gonna turn the other cheek, go home. Give up the ball.”
In 2000, Mr. Kagan and his younger son, Frederick, a military historian and analyst, published “While America Sleeps.” The book argued for the reversal of the Clinton Cold War peace dividend to meet unforeseen but inevitable threats to come. The timing was uncanny. A year later, 9/11 forced the Pentagon to rearm.
With the end of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the U.S. is slashing defense again. “We do it every time,” Mr. Kagan says. “Failing to understand the most elementary childish fact, which is: If you don’t want trouble with somebody else, be sure he has something to be afraid of.” …
His 1995 book, “On the Origins of War,” made a moral and strategic case to exert as much effort and money to safeguard peace as to win a war.
Thucydides identified man’s potential for folly and greatness. Mr. Kagan these days tends toward the darker view. He sees threats coming from Iran and in Asia, yet no leadership serious about taking them up. The public is too ignorant or irresponsible to care. “When you allow yourself to think of it, you don’t know whether you are going to laugh or cry,” he says.
The Kagan thesis is bleak but not fatalistic. The fight to shape free citizens in schools, through the media and in the public square goes on. “There is no hope for anything if you don’t have a population that buys into a strong and free society,” he says. “That can only be taught. It doesn’t come in nature.”
So does Donald Kagan have hope that “the pendulum is swinging back”? Towards variety of ideas and traditional standards in higher education? Towards liberty and an understanding of the value of liberty? Towards strong democracy?
If so, we wish we could share that hope, but see nothing to encourage it. He has switched off his light at Yale. Is there another?
We need to engage the argument raised by Mark Tapson in a review article titled Christianity, Islam, Atheism. It is also the title of a book he is reviewing. We have not read the book, and we trust him to be giving a fair representation of what the author says in it. We examine the ideas as Mark Tapson presents them to us:
Now that the Boston bombers have turned out, contrary to the fervent hope of the left, to be not Tea Partiers but Muslims, the media are spinning the terrorists’ motive away from jihad and shrugging, helplessly mystified, about the “senseless” attacks. And so our willful blindness about Islam continues. Nearly a dozen years after the 9/11 attacks, too many Americans still cling to militant denial about the clear and present danger of an Islamic fundamentalism surging against an anemic Western culture. What will it take to educate them? And once awakened, what steps can we take to reverse the tide?
The vicious Boston attack makes these questions and William “Kirk” Kilpatrick’s new book Christianity, Islam, and Atheism: The Struggle for the Soul of the West all the more timely. [The book is] intended not only as a wake-up call to the West about Islam, but also as a practical guide, especially for Christians, to push back against its spread and to countering Islam’s Western apologists.
Christianity, Islam, and Atheism opens with a section titled “The Islamic Threat,” in which Kilpatrick describes the rise of supremacist Islam and our correspondingly tepid defense of Western values.
It is true that supremacist Islam is rising, and that the West is defending its values only tepidly.
Our collapse in the face of Islam, he says, is due in large part to our abandonment of Christianity, which has led to “a population vacuum and a spiritual vacuum” that Islam has rushed to fill.
None of that is true. The West has not yet “collapsed in the face of Islam”, it has just ceded too much ground. By “population vacuum” we suppose he means the shrinking populations of the European countries, which are importing population (the wrong – Muslim – population) to compensate for a shortage of workers, but whose socialist economies cannot provide enough jobs for the immigrants once they’re there.
As for “a spiritual vacuum”, it exists only in the eyes of these Christians who notice that once-Christian Europe has become largely non-religious. Europeans who still want to believe in a skylord have not shown a new fascination with Allah; most of them have stuck to Jesus or the Trinity.
It seems that a lot of prisoners convert to Islam. Some say that’s because they get better food and other privileges that the European authorities have been intimidated into conceding to Muslims. It may be, of course, that the cruel and blood-thirsty god Allah* exerts an irresistible pull on villainous men, but it’s a bit of a stretch to call that “filling a spiritual vacuum”.
“A secular society… can’t fight a spiritual war,” Kilpatrick writes. Contrary to the multiculturalist fantasy dominant in the West today, “cultures aren’t the same because religions aren’t the same. Some religions are more rational, more compassionate, more forgiving, and more peaceful than others.” …
That depends on what historical era you are looking at. Today most Christian sects are usually peaceful. But that hasn’t always been the case, and may not be the case in the future.
As for Christianity being more compassionate, sure it is in theory but again has not always been in practice. And whether compassion is as desirable a value as Christianity insists it is, remains philosophically open to question.
The same can be said of forgiveness. In our view forgiveness is not a very good idea. First, it makes no difference to what has been done. Second, and more important, it is contrary to justice.
As for some religions being more rational than others, all religions depend on faith, not reason. It is impossible to argue that one irrationality is superior to another.
Kilpatrick notes that Christians today have lost all cultural confidence and are suffering a “crisis of masculinity,” thanks to the feminizing influences of multiculturalism and feminism. He devotes significant space to encouraging Christians to, well, grow a pair, to put it indelicately, in order to confront Islam, the “most hypermasculine religion in history”:
“On the one hand, you have a growing population of Muslim believers brimming with masculine self-confidence and assertiveness about their faith, and on the other hand, you have a dwindling population of Christians who are long on nurturance and sensitivity but short on manpower. Who seems more likely to prevail?”
We take his point. We would be happy to see well armed muscular Christian men marching to war – literally, not figuratively – against Islam.
Kilpatrick devotes a chapter to “The Comparison” between Islam and Christianity, in which he points out that Christians who buy into the concept of interfaith unity with Muslims would do well to look more closely at our irreconcilable differences instead of our limited common ground; he demonstrates, for example, that the imitation of Christ and the imitation of Muhammad lead a believer in radically different directions.
Again, not always. Leaving aside the question of whether Christians killing other Christians and non-Christians believed they were acting as their Christ would have acted in the same circumstances, there were centuries during which multitudes of Christians “imitated Christ” by rejecting this world and deliberately seeking hideous martyrdoms. Some still do. As Muslims do.
In “The Culture War and the Terror War” section, Kilpatrick notes that Christianity is on the losing side of the many fronts of our own culture war, and this doesn’t bode well for the West’s clash with a resurgent Islam. An obsession with the shallow, ephemeral distractions of pop culture isn’t helping to shore up our cultural foundations. “Our survival,” he writes, “hinges not on generating a succession of momentary sensations, but on finding narratives that tell us who we are, where we have come from, and where we are going”:
“Our ability to resist aggression – whether cultural or military – depends on the conviction that we have something worth defending: something that ought to be preserved not only for our own sake but also for the sake of those who attack us.”
Yes. But that something doesn’t have to be the irrational beliefs and moral sentimentalities of Christianity. It could, for instance, be one’s country. And for Americans that could mean the high values that America was founded to embody, above all individual freedom under the law.
In the section “Islam’s Enablers,” Kilpatrick addresses the multiculturalists, secularists, atheists, and Christian apologists for Islam whose intellectual influences have contributed to the moral decline and Islamization of the West. In a chapter with the great title “Multiculturalists: Why Johnny Can’t Read the Writing on the Wall,” Kilpatrick comments on the indoctrinating impact of multicultural educators and their whitewashing of Islam and denigration of our own culture:
“[O]ur students would have been better served if they had spent less time studying the Battle of Wounded Knee and more time studying the Battle of Lepanto, less time understanding the beauty of diversity and more time understanding the misery of dhimmitude.”
We wholly agree with this statement. We too see multiculturalism as as an evil. We see Christian apologists for Islam as fools. But how are secularists and atheists – as such – contributing to the moral decline of the West? Mark Tapson does not tell us, and we wonder if the book does.
Finally, in “The Cold War with Islam,” Kilpatrick is pessimistic of our desire to win the hearts and minds of “moderate Muslims.” He examines at length just what that label actually means, and then notes that such a strategy isn’t an especially helpful one:
The promotion of the moderate myth is counterproductive because it misleads the West into thinking that its problem is only with a small slice of Islam and because it strengthens the hand of traditional Islam, which is the source of radicalism, not the solution to it.
Again,we secularists-and-atheists agree.
Then comes this:
What are his recommendations for mounting a defense of our values against the aggressive spread of Islamic ones?
Reviving the commitment to our own Judeo-Christian values for starters, and then, “instead of a constant yielding to Islamic sensitivities, it may be time for some containment. Sharia… should not be allowed to spread through Western societies.” He touches on immigration, noting that it’s a problematic issue but suggesting that it’s reasonable to question the motives and agendas of immigrant groups. The message we must send? “Islam will not prevail. The West will not yield. You must accommodate to our values and way of life if you choose to live among us.”
As for going on the offensive, “instead of making excuses for Islam… we should be devoting our energies to exposing its hollowness,” relentlessly sowing the seeds of doubt among Muslims and encouraging them to abandon the faith.
In all of which we heartily concur except “reviving the commitment to our own Judeo-Christian values”. To which we will return.
Finally, there is this:
Taking that to the next level, Kilpatrick urges Christians to undertake the daunting task of mounting a widespread evangelizing of Muslims, luring them to Christianity with the liberating message of the Gospel. He concedes that this is a long-term strategy and we have no time to lose, but “both Islam and the left stand on very shaky ideological ground… Christians should take courage from knowing that in this war of ideas, all the best ideas are on their side.”
Yes, Islam and the left do stand on very shaky ideological ground. But so does Christianity. Its theology to start with is so super-absurd that it’s a wonder the early Christians managed to sell such a bill of goods even to ignorant slaves and women in the declining years of the Roman Empire.
But what are the moral-philosophical ideas of Christianity? Let’s look at a few of them, the ones that contemporary Christians commonly say they hold.
To love all mankind? Impossible. An encouragement to hypocrisy.
Forgiving wrongdoing? Unjust. Kindness to the guilty is cruelty to the righteous.
Loving the sinner while hating the sin? A refusal to hold individuals responsible for their actions.
Acting humble? Self-abasement is an act of pride, not humility. Pride is not bad, but dissimulation is.
Teaching Christian theology and mythology as “the Truth”? Not only wrong but self-defeating, as doctrines were never even settled, disputes over them being the cause of wars and persecution throughout Christian history.
Omitted from the discussion in the review article is the fact that multitudes of Christians are also devout leftists. While it is true that the left is coddling and kow-towing to Islam, it is also true that Christian churches are teaching Marxism, often under the name of “liberation theology”.
To speak of a “Judeo-Christian” tradition is to ignore the hideous fact that Christendom has been actively persecuting the Jews from the time its gospels were written. What is meant is that Christianity, after some initial hesitation, accepted part of the Jewish moral code. But citing a “Judeo-Christian tradition” ignores the fact that Christianity was a revolt against Judaism, and owes more to Greek mysticism and cosmogony, Greek other-worldliness, and Greek religious rites – the unrespectable side of classical culture – than it does to Judaism. It also ignores the thousand years of darkness that Christianity brought down on Europe. Europe owed its greatness not to a “Judeo-Christian” tradition, but to the classical enlightenment Christianity eclipsed, and its eventual rebirth.
We too would like the West to be true to the values and practices of its highly evolved civilization, which we would name not as compassion, forgiveness, charity, love, but as freedom, democratically elected government, law and order, tolerance, reason, the pursuit of science, and an endless striving to make human existence happy, long, informed, exploratory, and innovative.
Its passed time that those old bug-a-boo superstitions, shrouded in the cobwebs of the ages, were swept away.
Enough of Jehovah, the sometimes over-vengeful, sometimes just, tribal-chief type of tyrant.
He was dropped by the Christians, though they might pretend that he somehow weakened and mutated into their God the Father or dissolved into the whole of their mystical Greek-style Triune Godhead. As God the Father he’s been so inconspicuous as to be best pictured dozing if not comatose these last two thousand years. Enough of him.
Jesus the Christ, whether as plump European baby, or as golden-curled Caucasian male model in a full-length white nightgown, or as a tortured body executed for sedition by the Romans on a wooden cross, or as well-nourished judge seated on a stump with a cloud for a footstool condemning multitudes to Hell, has nothing of interest to offer enquiring minds. Enough of him.
As for Allah with his side-kick Muhammad – the savage bully and his mouthpiece – he could be dispelled with more certainty and speed if the West would give up religion, and all respect for religion as such.
The downfall of the gods began quite some time ago and is overdue. (No nod to Nazism-inspiring Wagner should be inferred.) They – the gods – should all have disappeared in the Enlightenment. But they’ve been allowed to hang about far too long. Away with them.
Let the West defend itself with confidence in its intellectual, secular-moral, economic, and military superiority; with guns, drones, Specter bombers, and nuclear war capability; with science, technology, intelligence, and the Constitution of the United States; and always above all with unrelenting critical analysis of all ideas.
* Quotation from the linked source: “There are 493 passages that either endorse violence or talk about the hatred of Allah for the infidels, meaning all non-Muslims. The Quran is a book mainly concerned with how Muslims are to think and act towards those outside of Islam; that is, either kill them or force them to live as second-class citizens and pay [special punitive] taxes (Jizya).” It explicitly commands Muslims to “kill the infidel” (eg. Koran 9:5). It prescribes atrocious punishments for such “crimes” as adultery, homosexuality and apostasy. It is a manual of instruction in barbaric aggression.
The Democrats in Congress, who finagled the passing of Obama’s socialist health care legislation - the Affordable Care Act, laughably so called - don’t want the horrid thing to affect themselves adversely. So they are moving to exempt themselves from certain of its provisions.
And the Republicans – who at least opposed its ever becoming law – also fear it applying to them, so they’re helping the Democrats achieve the exemption for all Representatives and Senators and their aides.
They all fear being hit by the exorbitant costs of Obamacare.
This is from Politico:
Congressional leaders in both parties are engaged in high-level, confidential talks about exempting lawmakers and Capitol Hill aides from the insurance exchanges they are mandated to join as part of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, sources in both parties said.
The talks — which involve Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), the Obama administration and other top lawmakers — are extraordinarily sensitive, with both sides acutely aware of the potential for political fallout from giving carve-outs from the hugely controversial law to 535 lawmakers and thousands of their aides. Discussions have stretched out for months, sources said.
A source close to the talks says: “Everyone has to hold hands on this and jump, or nothing is going to get done.”
Yet if Capitol Hill leaders move forward with the plan, they risk being dubbed hypocrites by their political rivals and the American public. By removing themselves from a key Obamacare component, lawmakers and aides would be held to a different standard than the people who put them in office.
The poor dears shouldn’t fear being called hypocritical. Everyone’s always known they’re that and worse.
There is concern in some quarters that the provision requiring lawmakers and staffers to join the exchanges, if it isn’t revised, could lead to a “brain drain” on Capitol Hill, as several sources close to the talks put it.
The problem stems from whether members and aides set to enter the exchanges would have their health insurance premiums subsidized by their employer — in this case, the federal government. If not, aides and lawmakers in both parties fear that staffers — especially low-paid junior aides — could be hit with thousands of dollars in new health care costs, prompting them to seek jobs elsewhere. Older, more senior staffers could also retire or jump to the private sector rather than face a big financial penalty. …
As Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) pointed out, if the federal government doesn’t pick up “the 75 percent that they have been, then put yourself in the position of a lot of entry-level staff people who make $25,000 a year, and all of a sudden, they have a $7,000 a year health care tab? That would be devastating.”
Congressmen’s concern for their aides is sincere. They need those people.
And even more sincere is their concern for how the Act is about to hit themselves:
Plus, lawmakers — especially those with long careers in public service and smaller bank accounts — are also concerned about the hit to their own wallets.
But how can they answer those accusations of hypocrisy?
Well, how’s this for some smart-ass double-talk by spokesmen for the lawmakers? –
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) is worried about the provision. … “Mr. Hoyer is looking at this policy, like all other policies in the Affordable Care Act, to ensure they’re being implemented in a way that’s workable for everyone, including members and staff,” said Katie Grant, Hoyer’s communications director.
And here’s a beautiful ‘s explanation of why the Republican Speaker of the House will support the shocked Democrats in trying to protect themselves from the result of their own folly:
When asked about the high-level bipartisan talks, Michael Steel, a Boehner spokesman, said: “The speaker’s objective is to spare the entire country from the ravages of the president’s health care law. He is approached daily by American citizens, including members of Congress and staff, who want to be freed from its mandates. If the speaker has the opportunity to save anyone from Obamacare, he will.”
Talk about smart! Such brains must not be drained!
Surely a little Schadenfreude on the public’s part is permissible now that the Democrats are rueing what they gloated over achieving by sly and shady means:
The developing narrative is potentially brutal for congressional Democrats and the White House. … The health care law, controversial since it was passed in 2010, has been a target of the right and, increasingly, the left.
Hoist with their own petard. Harry Reid, who pushed and screwed the legislation through, now worried for himself. Nancy Pelosi concerned for her aides, now that she’s found out what’s in the Act as she so looked forward to doing when she enthusiastically voted for it without having read it …
Okay, some of us at TAC tried covering our mouths to muffle our laughter, but finally had to leave the dignified chamber where we work in considerate silence to guffaw freely outside …
“Each girl had been nailed alive upon her cross, spikes through her feet and hands, only their hair blown by the wind, covered their bodies.” *
The information and quotations that follow come from an article by Raymond Ibrahim:
The Armenian genocide took place under Turkey’s Islamic Ottoman Empire, during and after WWI.
Out of an approximate population of two million, some 1.5 million Armenians died.
One of the primary causes for it — perhaps the fundamental cause — is completely unacknowledged: religion.
It is an excellent and important article, but we would argue that religion was not “one of the primary causes” of the massacre of the Christian Armenians by the Muslim Turks, that it was not “perhaps the fundamental cause” – it was the cause. The only cause.
* The quoted words in the caption are those of Aurora Mardiganian. The documentary film Auction of Souls (1919), from which this still is taken, was partly based on her memoir.
In her memoir, Ravished Armenia, Aurora Mardiganian described being raped and thrown into a harem (which agrees with Islam’s rules of war). Unlike thousands of other Armenian girls who were discarded after being defiled, she managed to escape. In the city of Malatia, she saw 16 Christian girls crucified: “Each girl had been nailed alive upon her cross, spikes through her feet and hands, only their hair blown by the wind, covered their bodies.”
This is from Gateway Pundit:
Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, the mother of Boston Marathon bombers Tamerlan and Djokhar Tsarnaev …
“If they are going to kill him. I don’t care. My oldest son is killed, so I don’t care. I don’t care if my youngest son is going to be killed today. I want the world to hear this. And, I don’t care if I am going to get killed too. And I will say Allahu Akbar!“
Are we all clear on that motive now?
Note 1: Zubeidat Tsarnaev was arrested in 2012 on charges of shoplifting some $1,600 worth of goods from a Boston store.
Note 2: Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s widow Katherine, the “all-American girl” who converted to Islam when she married him, was arrested in 2007 – before she met him – for stealing $67 worth of clothing from an Old Navy store in Warwick, Rhode Island.
“For all their assumption of independence, girls of that class are used to the feeling of being specially protected, as, in fact, they are. This feeling accounts for nine tenths of their audacious gestures. …
“She had acquired all the appropriate gestures of revolutionary convictions – the gestures of pity, of anger, of indignation against the anti-humanitarian vices of the social class to which she belonged herself . …
“She was displaying very strikingly the usual signs of severe enthusiasm, and had already written many sentimental articles with ferocious conclusions.”
– Joseph Conrad (The Informer)
Quotations from the MailOnline:
Katherine Russell, the widow of Boston bomb suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was “an all-American girl who was brainwashed” by her extremist husband according to one schoolfriend. … At high school her personal motto was ‘Do something about it or stop complaining’. She dreamed of going to college and joining the Peace Corps. …
Instead she met Tsarneav, 26, a disenfranchised man who came to America from his troubled homeland of Chechnya who rapidly had her in his thrall. By the time she was 21 she had married him and borne his child, Zahara, now three. She had converted to Islam …
It would be hard to imagine a childhood more rooted in America’s pilgrim heritage than Katherine’s. It is in there in the names of the towns – Plymouth, Dorset, Greenwich – where many of her friends still live and writ large in the wholesome values of the one-time Honors student’s home life. …
The eldest of three daughters, to emergency physician Dr Warren Russell and nurse Judith, hers is a background steeped in the values of family and education.
She attended Daisyville Middle School, North Kingstown. As a sixth grader she is pictured smiling from the pages of the 2001-2002 yearbook dedicated to The North Kingstown Police and Fire Departments in the wake of 9/11 – a date, the opening dedication reads, “forever in our minds”.
An historical event of mass murder by Muslims, noted with all the right sentiments by this nice all-American girl, but without the least understanding.
Quotations from the Washington Post:
Three American civilians and three U.S. troops were killed in two attacks in Afghanistan on Saturday, officials said, including a powerful blast that struck officials traveling to a school to donate books. Among the dead was the first State Department diplomat to be killed in the country since the war began. The bloodshed Saturday, the deadliest day this year for Americans in Afghanistan, underscored how dangerous the country remains as the United States proceeds with the withdrawal of its remaining troops over the next 20 months, leaving security in the hands of Afghanistan’s fledgling army. …
The American diplomat killed Saturday was identified as Anne Smedinghoff by her parents. Smedinghoff was recently tasked with assisting Secretary of State John F. Kerry on his trip to Kabul.
Four other State Department officials who were with her, traveling to a school in the southern province of Zabul, were injured in the same bombing, one critically, Kerry said in a statement. “She was everything a Foreign Service Officer should be: smart, capable, eager to serve, and deeply committed to our country and the difference she was making for the Afghan people,” Kerry said. “She tragically gave her young life working to give young Afghans the opportunity to have a better future.” …
In a somber address to State Department employees in Istanbul, Kerry paid tribute to Smedinghoff.
There is no greater contradiction, Kerry said, between Smedinghoff’s zeal to “change the world” and help others and a bomber who he said drove a car into their vehicle. …
A contradiction? No. A symbiosis.
[Ann Smedinghoff's] parents, Tom and Mary Beth Smedinghoff … live in the Chicago area … “She particularly enjoyed the opportunity to work directly with the Afghan people and was always looking for opportunities to reach out and help to make a difference in the lives of those living in a country ravaged by war,” they said. “We are consoled knowing that she was doing what she loved, and that she was serving her country by helping to make a positive difference in the world.” …
Tom Smedinghoff said his daughter died in the pursuit of a career she loved. “The world lost a truly beautiful soul today,” he said. “She was such a wonderful woman – strong, intelligent, independent, and loving.”
In fact, she did not die in a car. She was walking to the school bearing a gift of books, when an Afghan came close to her and exploded himself.
Quotations from the Weekly Standard:
State Department employee Anne Smedinghoff was killed in Afghanistan last weekend. At first reports suggested the young diplomat was part of an armed convoy that was bombed, but new reports say that she was actually on foot. And that the group she was with got lost on its way to deliver books. …
The security officials said there was an initial car bomb detonated by a remote device. Then a suicide bomber wearing a suicide vest appeared and caused more casualties.
What difference did Anne Smedinghoff really make to Afghanistan?
What difference can be made by any American, or any number of Americans, to Afghanistan?
What has America bought with the thousands of lives lost in this longest war in its history?
[Stanley Ann] Dunham gravitated toward an intellectual clique. According to former classmate Chip Wall, she caught foreign films at Seattle’s only art-house theater, the Ridgemont, and trekked to University District coffee shops like the Encore to talk about jazz, the value of learning from other cultures and the “very dull Eisenhower-ness of our parents.”
“We were critiquing America in those days in the same way we are today: The press is dumbed down, education is dumbed down, people don’t know anything about geography or the rest of the world,” said Wall … “She was not a standard-issue girl. … ”
Obama describes his mother [Stanley Ann Dunham] arguing with her second husband, Lolo Soetoro. Soetoro had become an Indonesian oil company manager and wanted Ann to accompany him to various social functions with American oil company personnel. Ann refused arguing, “Those are not my people.” …
As with Obama, his mother’s generation of these pseudo-intellectual leftist high schoolers found a way to think of themselves as superior. … Dunham thrived in the environment … As much as a high-school student can, she’d question anything: “What’s so good about democracy? What’s so good about capitalism? What’s wrong with communism? What’s good about communism?” …
Starting in the 1930s the Communist Party promoted opportunities for “inter-racial” relationships among its members. The Seattle Times describes Ann Dunham’s attitude towards dating at all-white Mercer Island High School: “Dunham hadn’t had a boyfriend in high school, according to Maxine Box, her best friend at the time. So Box and others were stunned when Dunham wrote them to say she’d married the University of Hawaii’s first African student, a Kenyan named Barack Obama.”
A bookish outsider and only child, she was plunked down in Hawaii the year after it became a state by her restless father and her resolute mother. In her first months as a college freshman, at 17 years old, she got pregnant by her first boyfriend, an older student from Kenya named Barack Hussein Obama, who married her but left her when the baby was 11 months old. Twice, she married men from different cultures and races, then divorced them. With the help of her parents, she raised two biracial children as a single mother on the Pacific islands of two nations, got degrees in math and anthropology, spent years in peasant villages studying Javanese cottage industries, and pieced together grants and development work to make money and provide for her children’s education. …
Quotations from Godlike Productions (condensed from other sources):
In Hawaii, she married an African student at age 18. Then she married an Indonesian, moved to Jakarta, became an anthropologist, wrote a dissertation on peasant blacksmithing in Java …
“She felt that somehow, wandering through uncharted territory, we might stumble upon something that will, in an instant, seem to represent who we are at the core,” said Maya Soetoro-Ng, Obama’s half sister. “That was very much her philosophy of life – to not be limited by fear or narrow definitions, to not build walls around ourselves and to do our best to find kinship and beauty in unexpected places.”…
“She was a very, very big thinker,” said Nancy Barry, a former president of Women’s World Banking, an international network of microfinance providers, where Soetoro worked in New York City in the 1990s. …
In a Russian class at the University of Hawaii, she met the college’s first African student, Barack Obama. They married and had a son in August 1961, in an era when interracial marriage was rare in the United States. Her parents were upset, Obama learned years later from his mother, but they adapted.
The marriage was brief. In 1963, Obama left for Harvard University, leaving his wife and child. She then married Lolo Soetoro, an Indonesian student. …
Those choices were not entirely surprising, said several high school friends of Soetoro, whom they remembered as unusually intelligent, curious and open. She never dated “the crew-cut white boys,” said one friend, Susan Blake: “She had a worldview, even as a young girl. It was embracing the different, rather than that ethnocentric thing of shunning the different. That was where her mind took her.”
Her second marriage faded, too, in the 1970s. …
“She gave us a very broad understanding of the world,” her daughter said. “She hated bigotry. She was very determined to be remembered for a life of service and thought that service was really the true measure of a life.”
All three good, broad-minded, liberal girls. Two of them married men of another culture to prove it. One walked among enemies to show how friendly she was. All of them wanted to be noble.
At least two of them were academically smart.
Joseph Conrad saw such Western, educated, gently-reared, idealistic girls as belonging to a certain class of which he wrote:
“Its own life being all a matter of pose and gesture, it is unable to realize the power and the danger of a real movement and of words that have no sham meaning. It is all fun and sentiment.”
The U.S. armed the Afghans and helped them drive out the Soviets, rescued Kuwait and Saudi Arabia from the psychopathic sadist Saddam Hussein, bombed Christian Serbs to rescue Muslim Kosovars and Bosnians, liberated Shiite Iraqis from Hussein, liberated Afghans from the brutal Taliban, poured billions of dollars of aid to terrorist Palestinian regimes, used our jets to help the Muslims in Libya free themselves from the psychotic Gaddafi, and supported in word and coin the jihadist, America-hating, anti-Semitic Muslim Brothers in Egypt so that Muslims can enjoy “freedom and democracy.” And that’s not all. We have incessantly protested our respect for the wonderful Islamic faith, censored our official communications and training programs to remove any references to jihadism or the Islamic theology that justifies holy war, euphemized jihadist attacks like the Fort Hood murders as “workplace violence,” invited imams to pray in the White House, filled our schools with curricula praising Islam and its contributions to civilization, scolded and prosecuted writers or cartoonists who exercise their First Amendment right to criticize Islam, abandoned “profiling” as a technique for identifying possible terrorists trying to board a plane or enter the country, hired as advisors to the FBI, the Pentagon, and the CIA Muslim apologists who recycle blatant lies and distortions – we have done all this liberating of Muslims and flattering of them and their faith, and they still don’t like us, and they still want to kill us.
We’ve taken this list of What America Has Done For Muslims from an article by Bruce Thornton. He compiled it to refute the oft-repeated fallacy that Muslim violence is an understandable (even condonable) reaction to “Western bad behavior”, such as – in Muslim eyes – “colonialism, imperialism, greed for oil, support for Israel, disrespect of Islam and Mohammed, the War on Terror that has demonized Muslims”. He doesn’t indicate approval of any of the actions he lists, but refers to them only to show that accusations of American ill-treatment of Muslims are untrue; that in fact America has treated Muslims tremendously well.
Far too well. That is the point we want to stress. More than that, we say America should not have done any of those things. (With the exception of destroying Saddam Hussein; a worthwhile achievement not because Kuwait and Saudi Arabia were “rescued” from him, but because the destruction of a monstrous tyrant is not a thing to be regretted.)
By going to the aid of the Kosovar terrorists against the Serbs, and the Afghans against the Soviets and the Taliban; by supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and the terrorist Palestinian regimes; by inviting Muslims to give policy advice in government departments; by defending them against criticism and praising them in the schools, America has not only flattered Muslims, but boosted their arrogance, endorsed their claim that they are owed much by the West in general and America in particular. Worse, America’s willingness to expend blood and treasure in their causes has positively encouraged them to carry on with their own “bad behavior” since that is what has brought them such rewards. If they are intensifying their jihad against the non-Muslim world – and they are – it is very largely because the are finding it profitable to do so. Some jihadists might be jailed; a few might even be executed; but for the most part Islam is being treated like the maiden needing to be rescued by the brave knight who will slay any dragon threatening her.
Islam is the self-declared enemy of the West, of America and what America stands for: liberty, tolerance, equality before the law.
Until Islam is treated as the enemy and not as a victim needing rescue and largesse, it will continue to kill and maim Americans, disrupt their lives, deprive them of their nearest and dearest, and constitute an ever intensifying menace.
But will America stop playing Lady Bountiful and St. George to its mortal enemy, and act like the great power it is? Will the present Islam-loving administration be got rid of and sane pro-American leadership take over? Will America win this war?