Christianity: First Line of Defense for the West?
In a nation consumed with political correctness, there is one group whose sensitivities count for next to nothing -- Christians. I don’t mean nominal Christians or even Catholics. I am talking about those Christians who get up every morning and genuinely reflect on how they could become better people by becoming more like Jesus.
The kind of Christian that would never consciously be hired by a university faculty committee; the kind that receives the brunt of jokes from late-night comics; the kind that believes virulently in prayer. I am talking about the kind of Christian that Thomas Friedman and urban sophisticates mockingly refer to as “American Hezbollah.”
Strange, how I have never seen a Christian blow himself up on a bus full of innocent people, declare holy war on the unbeliever, or stone a congregant for adultery. In fact, one congregation I knew of that was rocked by a sexual scandal prayed for the sinners and sought to forgive them. There were no pits in front of the church with the sinners buried up to their heads, the pastor deciding which stones were not too big or too small for the occasion, and the families seeking to redeem their sacred honor by casting the first stone.
I am not a Christian, but the most impassioned and meaningful words I ever heard against racial discrimination came from a Christian pastor in Ohio. To him, discrimination was evil, an affront against God’s creation, an act and thought that was a violation of faith. Those who held such thoughts, he intoned, were not real Christians. There could be no justification or tolerance for such evil.
In a secular, pseudo-sophisticated society, such moral precision offends. As social-climbing intellectuals, we know which talking points to mouth and which groups to mock. Moral clarity threatens us because it runs counter to all the analytical incisions we feel compelled to make, and all the caveats we like to append to any problem. But worse, moral clarity threatens our inconsistent view of the world.
Liberals hate Christians because they are against abortion. But liberals don’t hate Muslims or Orthodox Jews who are also against abortion. Liberals hate Christians because they want to pray -- often silently -- in the public square. But liberals will uphold the rights of school systems to take students into a mosque, have the women and girls separated from the men and boys, and have the latter invited and induced to pray, all on the taxpayers’ dime. Liberals treat Christian attitudes toward gays as indistinguishable from Muslim executions of gays.
On the Jewish High Holidays in the aftermath of 9/11, some of the local rabbis in my part of the world, as if reading from the same playbook, sermonized against the evils of radical religion -- fundamentalist Christianity, that is. Did I miss something?
Was it a bunch of Jesus followers that crashed airplanes into the World Trade Center? Is it Jesus followers who attack Jews on the streets of Paris so frequently and violently that French is now the most commonly spoken language in sections of Tel Aviv? Are the armed guards standing outside the synagogues in America on the High Holidays -- as the liberal rabbis sermonize on the danger of Christian fundamentalism -- there to protect the congregation from Jesus followers?
This year, the High Holiday playbook was on behalf of the Ground Zero mosque -- Jews should exercise tolerance for the religion of peace. Jews became outraged at the building of a convent in Auschwitz, but a mosque at Ground Zero is part of the liberal Jewish commitment to tolerance. In Berkeley, a Jewish group celebrated tolerance by organizing a reading of portions of the Koran in a public park. (One wonders if they read the part about “kill the Jew wherever you find him.") Erect a Christmas tree in the same park and the tolerant Koran readers will be putting in a 911 call to the ACLU’s SWAT team.
So, my intolerant, leftist friends, here is an inescapable reality to consider: no one stopped the spread of a virulent, hateful ideology with nothing. No one is going to charge a machine gun nest in the name of multiculturalism. No one takes seriously a president who grovels in front of Muslim dictators, apologizes for Western civilization, thinks nationalism is a sin, and is married to an angry woman who is ashamed of her country.
As Hannah Arendt noted in the Origins of Totalitarianism, in the face of an anomic culture, people need an organizing principle, something that mobilizes them, something in which to believe, but also something that puts a premium on life rather than self-sacrifice. Embracing life over the delusion of the lack of self is, for Hannah Arendt, what distinguishes the anti-totalitarian motivational principle.
The Marxism that collapsed with the Berlin Wall will motivate a few diehards who refuse to acknowledge reality; most Marxists have found cynicism as a replacement for the God that failed. Cynicism organizes nothing, it furthers anomie. What will Bill Maher’s audience fight for?
The one solid, inescapable organizing principle that stands as the bulwark against radical Islam is Christianity. I don’t mean the ultra-left pablum Christianity of the mainstream, empty-church Protestant denominations that reinvented Jesus as metaphor. No, I mean a fundamentalist God-fearing Christianity that understands who and what the enemy is, and possesses the moral clarity to understand the difference between good and evil. A Christianity articulated by a pastor who says that racism is evil -- end of conversation.
The cynical, ultra-left Europeans have turned over their countries to the sensibilities of radical Islam. The Europeans, ever fearful and guilty of fascism, do not possess the wherewithal to resist an Islam that undermines the very liberalism Europeans seem to cherish but are unwilling to defend. What will Europe look like when a sharia-driven, radical Islam is the dominant presence on the continent? Europe culturally will be more like the Middle East than like Western democracy.
Think it can’t happen here? As long as we are unwilling as a people to embrace some organizing principle that will mobilize us on behalf of a greater good, then in time we will march down the same slippery slope as the Europeans. The great irony of our time is the Christianity the left scoffs at will emerge as the first-line of defense for the West.