The great irony of Islam's continued clashes with the Western way of life — whether its widespread riots over a YouTube video or the murderous actions of a crazed minority— is that it has revealed, to the surprise of everyone but Pope Emeritus Benedict, that modern secularism is a kind of epiphenomenon of Christendom.To borrow from G.K. Chesterton, secularism is the second fermentation, where the wine of Christianity becomes the vinegar of laïcité. Force either of them into the mouth of a Muslim guest, and he will spit it out.http://m.theweek.com/article/index/274629/the-charlie-hebdo-massacre-and-secularisms-problem-with-islam
I agree with most of it, and find little surprising, but I have no idea what he is saying at the end, starting with, "...modern secularism is a kind of epiphenomenon of Christendom."Russel Gold
The article is behind the WSJ paywall, but she makes a point that bears repeating. Over and over, we hear Western politicians bleet that this attack or that attack has nothing to do with Islam, despite the overwhelming evidence that it was perpetrated by Muslims shouting "Allahu Akbar" or otherwise making it clear that *they* believe that they are acting in the name of their faith.Hirsi Ali notes, "If there is a lesson to be drawn from such a grisly episode, it is that what we believe about Islam truly doesn’t matter. This type of violence, jihad, is what they, the Islamists, believe."If you are not a Muslim scholar, you have no business asserting what is or is not true Islam, and it isn't relevant. What matters is that there are a lot of people committing and urging violence in the name of Islam, whether or not they are correct.
Hirsi Ali continues, "Those responsible for the slaughter in Paris, just like the man who killed the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh in 2004, are seeking to impose terror. And every time we give in to their vision of justified religious violence, we are giving them exactly what they want."
We are in a war; a war not of our choosing, but a war nonetheless. You win wars by persuading the others side to accept your terms rather than fight. By that standard, those who commit violence in the name of Islam (often referred to as "Islamists") are winning. Every concession we make, every time we urge one another not to do anything to "provoke" the Islamists,, makes us less and less capable of defending our way of life.
Many have pointed out the flaws in Western culture. Granted, we are imperfect. But compared to what the Islamists are offering, our way is spectacular. If we fail to recognize that and fail to defend ourselves, the micro-aggressions about which so many are complaining will be nothing compared to what women and minorities endure under in many Muslim nations.
My friend, Russel Gold, and Orthodox Jew (and modern liberal) at times seems to me to be two different people. When speaking of conservative economic and some moral issues, he seems to be one person; when speaking of other issues a completely different person.
He can read and analyze the most bizarre NYT article with profound intelligence, but seems to go all to pieces (to quote AA Milne) when faced with GK Chesterton, CS Lewis, and the like.
In his mini-article review above he spends the majority of the time on a brilliant critique of the essential shallowness and ineffectiveness of Western culture, only to conclude that is 'flawed' but 'spectacular'.
And then he reacts to the 'the week' article by understanding everything but the conclusion.
What is meant by an 'epiphenomenon'?
A radioactive decay product is something that is produced by the decay of a given element. Uranium, or so I understand, spends most of its time becoming not-Uranium. You can Google it but there are a lot of other elements that Uranium 'decays into'. It loses very consituent bits: protons, neutrons, electrons, gluons, and the like and Uranium, left to itslef long enough, become Lead, or Carbon, or Boron or something.
Similarly in biology the body gathers together various interesting chemicals: sugar, oxygen, water, carbon, and the like, and waves its magic wand at them and produces energy for movement, or material for growth, or an interest in girls. But when that is over (not the interest in girls, which is permanent) there is some 'stuff' left over hanging around the cell, like empty soda cans and pizza boxes after the Super Bowl party. These are 'waste products'. (We will keep this article clean and not discuss what happens to them.)
Our author here is proposting that modern secularism, or 'laicite', is just such a waste product... of Christianity. (Note: Judaism has a similar waste product.)
A Complete PhilosophyFor the purposes of this article I am going to oversimplify and say that the world contains several philosophies that are 'complete'. I will include Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and, say, Buddhism just to name a few.
Dealing with these as philosophies we see that, for the most part, they are what can be called 'complete'. They deal with, and answer, all of the major philosophical questions: what is man, who is God, what is man's purpose in life, how did the world come into existence, what is it's purpose, and the like.
What the author above is proposing is that modern secularism is NOT a complete philosophy. That it consists of a combination of refusing to answer certain questions, and moral inertia left over from Christianity. That it consists of Christianity perverted and stripped of its vital elements.
SecularismThe very name of the philosophy reveals this essential weakness. The term 'secular' is one half of a division. The other half is 'sacred'. The major religions are filled with elaborate rules or explanations for what things are sacred, and which merely secular.
Secularism does two things. It reveals itself as half a philosophy by denying one half of a two part division. It deals only with the 'secular' and has no 'sacred'.
At the same time it emmasculates itself as a philosophy by this same denying of the sacred. It is the sacred which drives the force of all full philosophies. It is the sacred which cannot be blasphemed, it is the sacred which promises life, and hope, and peace, and joy. It is the sacred for which men will die.
Thus secularism is, in the end, no philosophy at all, just a waste product of one. And as such, it cannot survive. Modern movies like to do 'zombies' but biologists know the issue with them. Only life can produce movement, thought, goals, actions. The phrase 'dead man walking' is, outside of its metaphoric value, a contradiction in terms. It is the very vital spark that religions posses that allow them to 'live'; a spark that secularism is missing and that will, in the end, produce its death.
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