Thursday, June 30, 2005
I think that the similarities between the current Islamic Jihad and the Crusades are remarkable. The most striking thing they have in common is the coercion of militants by religious leaders that do not themselves take part in the fight, and generally benefit politically and/or economically from the 'holy war.' The incentive offered to the fighters by their religious leaders is the same: free passage into heaven. This article has a pretty good summary of what the crusades are all about and you can use it to check the facts I quote -- it's really hard to find succinct and lucid internet sources about the crusades. Anyway, at the time of the crusades (mostly 1000-1250 AD) the system in the Catholic church was much like that in Islam: when you die your good deeds are weighed against your bad and how you measure up determines what happens to you from there. And in both faiths this idea has been exploited to incite warriors to fight. Before the first crusade Pope Urban II declared that all who fought in the crusade would be given a 'crusade indulgence' that forgave all their sins, assuring them direct entry to heaven when they died. Currently in the Muslim world some Ayatollahs and shieks have decided that Jihad, pretty much the same thing as a crusade, is another pillar of Islam. And if you die for a jihad then you not only get to go straight to heaven, but you get the best deal in heaven (42 virgins and some other 'nice' things, I think). So, given that option who wouldn't fight and die? If you believed that fighting, and in the Mulims' case dying (which includes killing yourself), for a holy war would compensate for all your sins, something that you would probably fail at otherwise, would you not join in? I would.
Again like the crusades is the non-religious aspect of both wars. At the time of the first 3 or 4 crusades the Christian Eastern empire was nearly or completely overrun by the Muslim empire (later solidifying under the Ottoman Turks into the Ottoman empire which lasted until World War I). The rulers of the Eastern lands sent desperate pleas for help from the West. Not only did the West want to protect (and possibly regain control of) their Eastern brethren, they knew (as is the idea behind much US involvement in Iraq today) if they did not go to fight the invaders in the East they would keep coming and eventually they would be fighting the invaders from their homes. So, at first it was probably necessary to send an army to fight back the Muslims (which they didn't do a good job of, but they did halt the advance). But in the later crusades especially, there was a very large amount of wealth sent back to the West plundered from the rich Muslim (or Christian, in the case of the 8/9th crusade) cities that were sacked. Today the Muslim leaders similarly have much to gain politically and economically by creating this war. It was the goal of Bin Laden and others to gain control of the entire Middle East (you think gas prices are high now) and probably the entire world, eventually. It is the express desire of Islamic dissidents in Morocco and Spain to retake the Andalusia, seen as the height of Muslim culture, for the Muslim world. And, like the crusades, the clergy who are inciting the war rarely engage in it.
The final similarity I'd like to highlight between the crusades and the current jihad is the severity of the tactics. In the crusades there were horrible atrocities committed by both sides. When you believe you are fighting infidel scum that do not deserve to live, its easy not to show mercy. Especially in the later crusades the crusaders were known for killing innocent civilians, even women and children, when they captured cities. Additionally, they were known for their brutal treatment of the people they fought -- and they rarely took prisoners. Beheading men captured in battle, and sometimes civilians as well, was fairly common. This parallels directly to the jihadists' targeting of civilian targets today, and their use of brutal 'terror tactics.'
It is my assertion that the jihadists today see their war in much the same way that eleventh century Europeans saw the crusades. And that is what so many people in America today do not understand. Many believe that if we leave the Middle East that the jihadists will leave us alone. They do not believe that it is a war on both sides. That is, they think we are fighting a war because we want to, because we started it. Not because our enemies declared war on us first. To them it is a war, and they won't stop until either someone stops them or they achieve their objective, which is to destroy the heathen westerners (especially America and Christians) and their control of world affairs. Also, our Western view of nationality does not translate to them. We see Iraq, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Sudan, etc as separate, sovereign nations. They do not. To the jihadist the war is partially about restoring the Muslim empire. And in their eyes all 'Islamic countries' are bound together against the West. So you can't really look at one country and say that they are for or against us, because the stance of their government does not determine their standing in the eyes of the jihadists. And that is why this war is unlike any other we've been involved in: we are not fighting against another political country, we are fighting against people scattered throughout many countries who believe they are all part of one empire that currently does not exist as a political entity. And that is why it is so hard, from a Western perspective, to understand where and how to fight this war. Right now its being fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. And personally, I'd rather keep fighting it over there than let it come to us again.
Monday, June 27, 2005
Behold, from faith thus flow forth love and joy in the Lord, and from love a joyful, willing, and free mind that serves one's neighbor willingly and takes no account of gratitude or ingratitude, of praise or blame, of gain or loss. For a man does not serve that he may put men under obligations. He does not distinguish between friends and enemies or anticipate their thankfulness or unthankfulness, but he most feely and most willingly spends himself and all that he has, whether he wastes all on the thankless or whether he gains a reward. As his Father does, distributing all things to all men richly and freely, making "his sun rise on the evil and on the good" [Matt. 5:45], so also the son does all things and suffers all things with that freely bestowing joy which is his delight when through Christ he sees it in God, the dispenser of such great benefits.
I think it speaks for itself.
Sunday, June 26, 2005
Friday, June 24, 2005
The run-off experienced complications and closing time for the polls was extended 3.5 hours from 7:30PM to 11:00PM local time. Iranian officials are already saying the results are skewed as a result of intimidation and fear. No matter who is elected a good portion of the country is going to be unhappy and declare the election invalid -- which it probably is. Many of the people still waiting to vote at closing time were supporters of the hard-line candidate. The country's theocratic ruler and his followers have the last say in everything that happens, so its no surprise that it looks more and more like their man is going to win despite the fact that his opponnent seemed to have victory in hand until the last minute of the initial vote.
The Senate Democrats' #2 compares the American military to Nazis, Stalinists, and Pol Pot's killer, and the story never gets near to the cover of the Washington Post. Karl Rove makes a valid assertion about the behavior of liberals, backed by evidence, and the fake outrage of those Senate Democrats makes page 1, but in a story without the pointed reply of George Pataki which happens to pivot on Durbin's slander. At least the New York Times included a portion of the Pataki quote, which has now vanished from the original Newsday article.
But there is no MSM bias, right? My World column looks at the Minneapolis Star Tribune's repulsive editorial on Durbin's speech, but that's just the obvious bias against truth at work. Placement and pitch matter just as much. The contrast between the MSM's smothering of Durbin's slander and his non-apology versus its treatment of the false outrage directed at Rove joins the massive set of examples of MSM bias which, while it will never be corrected, will always be there to explain the collapse of credibility among the elite media.
So... there's his analysis and what he claims is evidence of bias. Seems true to me. But, as always, I'll let you be the judge.
In case you're wondering, here's what Pataki said:
I think it is a little hypocritical of Senator Clinton to call on me to repudiate a political figure's comments when she never asked Senator Durbin to repudiate his comments. Senator Clinton might think about her propensity to allow outrageous statements from the other side that are far beyond political dialogue --insulting every Republican, comparing our soldiers to Nazis or Soviet gulag guards-- and never protesting when she serves with them.
For more on this issue, check out Hugh's blog. He has evidence to support Rove's accusation and more discussion about the whole issue.
Thursday, June 23, 2005
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
One of the biggest faults of the modern 'evangelical' Christian church (in America), in my opinion, is its formation of a sub-culture mimicking mainstream America. They've taken the idea of being "in but not of the world" (paraphrased from John 17:15-16) and reversed it. Instead they are now very much of the world, but not in it.
To discuss how the church is of the world is a fairly easy discussion. All the statistics show that there really is very little difference between Christians and non-Christians when morals are in question. In fact, Christians are about as likely as anyone to: get divorced, have sex outside of marriage, have an abortion, use illegal drugs, become addicted to porn or gambling, even cheat on their taxes. Okay, I don't have links to back up all those claims, but if you doubt they're true would any scientific proof really convince you? I think its evident if you know many Christians that most of them are about the same as the rest of the world in most respects.
Now, I don't think that not being of the world should mean that you act socially awkward or shun any activities that non-Christians like. In fact, I don't think that in regular day-to-day actions you might notice much difference between a Christian who is not 'of the world' and someone who is. But its the motivation thats different, and the moral judgements. I, of course, have no power to judge the motivations of anyone else, so we'll have to go with the moral judgements. And, as I said, I think its evident that moral judgements, despite all their cries for of morality in culture, are not much different in Christians than in non-Christians.
However, Christians have managed not to be 'in the world' in a very realy sense. They've created two categories to put everything in: sacred, and secular. Something is either one or the other. If its secular, they say, Christians should have nothing to do with it. And so for every 'secular' thing out there, modern Christian society has tried to make a 'Jesus-centric' copy to fit in their sterile 'sacred' world. The fact that most of these mock-ups are of poor quality and obviously inferior to the original should be a source of shame in itself. But the greatest misfortune is that this practice has led to cultural isolation of Christians.
Christians who follow this practice of secluding themselves in a world untainted by The World have essentially cut themselves off from mainstream society. They have nothing in common with their neighbors. They have no friends outside this world, unless they're "trying to reach them for God." They have essentially marginalized themselves in the view of the rest of humanity. Making the Church appear to be nothing more than a cage of sub-par products that some crazy people lock themselves up in. As stated before, they don't even get the morality thing going for them anymore. They do talk about being moral a lot though, so people might mistakenly think that it is a cage of sub-par products along with a restrictive moral code that condemns people. Wonderful.
Now, I'm not suggesting that Christians should immerse themselves in a non-Christian lifestyle. I'm suggesting that Christians come out of their holes and start living a Christian life. The Church isn't doing any better than the world when it comes to morality, so what harm can there be in relaxing the walls? Its not like the immoral world is going to corrupt the Christians because they are already corrupt on their own. Instead they might find a world of beauty, people with whom they can form life-giving relationships, and new ways to see God's glory that didn't fit into their 'sacred' box (like art or literature that is not focused on being churchy). And in doing so they might be able to more fully achieve the Christian ideal of loving everyone and condemning no one. And the Church might once again become something attractive to people by filling needs and soothing pain. And then we'd all be a lot happier, I bet.
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Monday, June 20, 2005
Another development in the Durbin torture issue: FoggyRuminations alleges that Durbin may have embellished some of the report read into the record on the floor of the senate (thanks, Hugh Hewitt). Foggy may be going a bit extreme partisan, but if the allegations are true then Dick Durbin is that much more of a slime bag, especially for not apologizing. However, after reading the original documents it doesn't appear to me that he made anything up, although he did play up one sentence quite a bit. It doesn't seem to me that he actually claimed anything happened that didn't, although he may have implied such.
In other news, the EU may have finally gotten too big for its own politics. The history of the Western world has been defined by conflict between European countries. To think they could be so tightly united so easily was a foolish conception to begin with. More trouble ahead.
Friday, June 17, 2005
In other news, everyone should have their eye on the election in Iran. Its essential that anyone in favor of real democracy in Iran scrutinize, or support the scrutiny of, their elections. Without such investigation it will not be possible for Iran to be indicted for its lack of true democracy. Making the world aware of the injustice in Iran is the first step in making its internal collapse possible. Why is it so important that Iran, of all the countries with fake elections, be held responsible? Because it is one of the most prominent and vocal countries of its kind. And its collapse will prompt the collapse of many such regiemes. Furthermore, there is enough of a movement for freedom in Iran that it is possible for it to be changed from within. China should hold real elections too, but right now trying to push them is not going to do any good -- except maybe spark World War III. Iran is ready for a change, but the people need to know they have international support. And calling Iran's leaders on their fake elections is a great way to show support.
Thursday, June 16, 2005
Okay, so I don't have a pubilc. And there haven't been any loud cries associated with my blogging life... I can't even think of a funny thing that people might be crying about my blog. So anyway, here's my first post, with catchy Star Wars title and all...