It’s hard for me to believe there is anyone who calls himself a God-fearing, red-blooded American patriot who hasn’t read my novel Empire of Lies, but just in case: there’s a scene toward the end where the protagonist is interviewed on TV about Islamic terrorism — and makes the mistake of speaking plainly. He wonders aloud if maybe we are not engaged in a holy war to determine which image of God will win out. Of course, all politically correct hell breaks loose and he becomes a social pariah.
I remembered this scene this past week when it very much seemed to me that two of the sides in this holy war each opened fire in its own particular way. On the one hand, the Islamists slaughtered Christians and others in Pakistan and Kenya. On the other, the new pope gave an interview in which he expressed a fresh and beautiful vision of God’s merciful love for his human creation. Hey, from each according to his philosophy, as Karl Marx might have said if he had been right about anything.
Almost equally interesting was the reaction of the western media to these events: they did everything they could to mis-represent them both in context and in themselves. According to the Media Research Center, major media tied themselves in knots to keep from conveying the news that the attacks in a Nairobi mall and a Peshawar church were the work of Islamists. Journalists know that religion may be criticized as a retrograde and violent force in the world, but when a religion is criticized it can only be Christianity. That’s a central tenet of the journalistic religion! Which is Stupidity.
As for the Pope Francis interview, in a headline that looked as if the MSM were doing a satire of themselves, the New York Times, a satire of itself, announced dishonestly, “Pope Says Church Is Obsessed With Gays, Abortion and Birth Control.” Like, yeah, that’s what the pope really said. We believe you, New York Times. Cause you so smart. Idiots.
Anyway, the pope’s remarks did cause a bit of a furore, with leftists lamenting that Francis had almost burned the Bible but, damn it, not quite, and conservatives worried that the man was showing liberalizing tendencies and some Catholics trying to pretend that it was all business as usual… none of which actually got at the freshness, depth and compassion of the papal remarks themselves. The pope held up the individual human and his relationship with his loving heavenly father above rules and regulations… which is something that doesn’t happen often enough in any church and was, in fact, reminiscent of someone else… oh yeah! Jesus.
So I know you’re wondering to yourself: What’s my completely unpopular and almost universally rejected view of this exchange of holy war gunfire? Actually, I don’t care whether you’re wondering that or not, since I’m going to tell you either way.
To paraphrase the Emperor Glenn Reynolds or maybe Insta-Palatine, one or the other: All is proceeding as I have foreseen. The fall of the Soviet Union, which may be seen to have begun with Polish mobs chanting “We want God!” to Pope John Paul II, marked the failure of atheism as a governing philosophy. The fall of the World Trade Center, similarly, marked the end of post-modernity and its hapless relativism. There are large factions that do not want to admit these falls and failures, but they happened just the same and the ramifications are working their ways through the collective consciousness.
And we are slowly realizing: the reports of God’s death have been greatly exaggerated. He’s back — by virtue of the fact that philosophies that exclude Him do not describe reality. They fail because of that in the same way that science that does not describe reality ultimately fails. God is real. So we’re going to have to find a way to work him back into serious intellectual thought. And this is the moment when we are battling over how we will do that.
The Islamists are using murder to win that battle. The Christians are using reason. The Islamists will kill their enemies wherever they find them. The Christians are constrained to love their enemies and forgive them. It is obvious that, under those conditions, the Christians can’t possibly win.
But they will, you know.