The Easter of Crisis

The Pew Research Center  thinks the jury is in on John Lennon's "Imagine" prediction.  The dream of a secular, liberal world isn't going to happen. Pew  projects that by 2050 "Muslims will nearly equal the number of Christians around the world".  However, "atheists, agnostics and other people who do not affiliate with any religion ... will make up a declining share of the world’s total population".  The Muslims will outnumber them.  In fact the Hindus will outnumber them.

Not only will liberal secularism not inherit the earth, the trope that Christianity is a Eurocentric religion foisted on the poor benighted colored masses will finally be laid to rest.  Islam will become a major European religion and make up 10% of the population.  Over the same time frame, Muslims will outnumber Jews in America.  Statistically Christianity will become the black man's religion and "four out of every 10 Christians in the world will live in sub-Saharan Africa."  It is not fanciful to think that by then, all the best white people will be Muslims.

Christianity is literally under the gun, even though it is growing rapidly, though not as rapidly as Islam.  During the Lenten Way of the Cross, Pope Francis warned that the days of persecution have returned.  "We see, even today, our brothers persecuted, beheaded and crucified for their faith in you, in front of our eyes or often with our complicit silence ... Christians are, of course, not only the victims of homicidal violence in the world, but we cannot ignore that in many countries they are the most frequently targeted victims."

The BBC reports that the Archbishop of Canterbury will deliver a similar message.

That "complicit silence" goes by another name: political correctness, the unwritten Code of the West. It was on display in Barack Obama's message to Kenya regarding the massacre of nearly 150 mostly Christian persons at Kenya's Garissa university by the El Shabab Islamic group.   Not once did Obama mention who killed who Garissa.    It was as if it just happened. A man from Mars might imagine the murders were committed by persons unknown instead of by an organization which proclaimed its name from the housetops.

Michelle and I join the American people in expressing our horror and sadness at the reports coming out of Garissa, Kenya. Words cannot adequately condemn the terrorist atrocities that took place at Garissa University College, where innocent men and women were brazenly and brutally massacred.  We join the world in mourning them, many of whom were students pursuing an education in the pursuit of a better life for themselves and their loved ones. They represented a brighter future for a region that has seen too much violence for far too long. We also commend the heroism of the responders who lost their lives in the selfless protection of the students and faculty.

Concerned, but not concerned enough to name the attackers. The president of Kenya by contrast, was far less inhibited by political correctness -- the 'complicit silence' -- that  has muted voices. He actually named the perpetrators, who operated in the "full glare of day".

(Reuters) - Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Saturday that those behind an attack in which al Shabaab Islamist militants killed 148 people at a university were "deeply embedded" in Kenya, and called on Kenyan Muslims to help prevent radicalization....

"Our task of countering terrorism has been made all the more difficult by the fact that the planners and financiers of this brutality are deeply embedded in our communities," Kenyatta said.

"Radicalization that breeds terrorism is not conducted in the bush at night. It occurs in the full glare of day, in madrasas, in homes, and in mosques with rogue imams.

Why can't the Left see attackers who act in the "full glare of day"?  Because they don't want to. Obama's inability to be as forthright is the consequence of a bet gone catastrophically wrong. The bet (as famously expressed in Lennon's "Imagine") was that if Judaeo-Christianity were abolished the way would be clear for a new world in which the Left would usher in an age of tolerance, love and understanding.  Thus when Islam takes the axe to Christianity it is in a manner of speaking only clearing the brush.  The San Diego Gay and Lesbian News has one of the clearest statements of this point of view. They write:

the Christian Bible endorses slavery, racism, tribal warfare, torture, the concept of women and children as chattel, and the death penalty for over 30 offenses. (You likely qualify.) It offers an exclusive alternative to eternal damnation, driving believers to seek converts when and where they can. It teaches that infidels have no moral core and advocates separation from religious outsiders. It elevates sexual purity to the level of moral purity.

When one sees things this way it follows that until Christianity is dead, the world will never be free, for in their view it is "an iron age ideology" guilty of sexism, theocracy and dominionism ("a God-given mandate to seize the reins of power, ruling according to biblical principles") which must be swept away, much as Nazism was. And for that reason while they might be personally sorry for the students killed in Garissa they may still believe that it's a blow in a good cause.  Hence the silence.  Hence the empty condolences.

Garissa Garissa

Unfortunately the bet's not coming off. The April Fool's joke -- the irony which the Pew study reveals -- is that the San Diego Gay and Lesbians are more likely to get an iron age theocratic outcome from Islam in the end,  which will lord it over a dwindling number of terrified atheists and secularists in the West, reduced to meeting in seedy secret cafes where the whispered sign and countersign to open the door are "Charlie" and "Hebdo".  As for the Christians they will mostly be in China, Latin America, Asia and Africa -- if Pew is right.

Francis Cardinal George, in what is now widely regarded as a prescient, almost prophetic 2012 essay, observed that there are no issues but  the eternal issues in human history, which we detect occasionally by the shadows they throw upon the floor of human events.  Once again, as ever, the same old drama is playing out.

Eternity enters into human history in often incomprehensible ways. God makes promises but gives no timelines. Visiting the shrine at Fatima, pilgrims enter a huge plaza, with the spot of the apparitions marked by a small chapel to one side, a large church at one end, an equally large adoration chapel at the other end, and a center for visitors and for the hearing of confessions. Just outside the main grounds, a section of the Berlin Wall has been re-built, a stark witness to what Mary had talked about almost a century ago. Communism in Russia and its satellite nations has collapsed, although many of its sinful effects are still with us.

Communism imposed a total way of life based upon the belief that God does not exist. Secularism is communism’s better-scrubbed bedfellow. A small irony of history cropped up at the United Nations a few weeks ago when Russia joined the majority of other nations to defeat the United States and the western European nations that wanted to declare that killing the unborn should be a universal human right. Who is on the wrong side of history now?

The present political campaign has brought to the surface of our public life the anti-religious sentiment, much of it explicitly anti-Catholic, that has been growing in this country for several decades. The secularizing of our culture is a much larger issue than political causes or the outcome of the current electoral campaign, important though that is.

Speaking a few years ago to a group of priests, entirely outside of the current political debate, I was trying to express in overly dramatic fashion what the complete secularization of our society could bring. I was responding to a question and I never wrote down what I said, but the words were captured on somebody’s smart phone and have now gone viral on Wikipedia and elsewhere in the electronic communications world. I am (correctly) quoted as saying that I expected to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. What is omitted from the reports is a final phrase I added about the bishop who follows a possibly martyred bishop: “His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.”

George may yet prove more correct than Pew about Islam rising to dominance. If present trends continue it will tear itself to pieces long before 2050, and inflict untold misery on the world's Muslims. Riven by a widening war, its productive resources have collapsed; its oil revenue is entering terminal decline at precisely the time it is squandering it,  the Islamic world will not rise to dominance, but on the contrary turn upon itself.  It is already producing a generation of killers who will rampage through its fabric for generations.

The UN reports that "Iraq and Syria have become 'international finishing schools' for extremists" warning that they are mass producing psychopaths and criminals on an unparalleled scale. The magnitude of human suffering in Syria and Iraq is staggering.  And the plague is spreading all the time. At least part of this disaster is the result of the Western Left's catastrophically wrong-headed wager that it could use Islam to pave the way for secularism.  Now they are faced with an epidemic gone wrong.  It will be decades before they can even slow it down, but that slowdown cannot begin until they see where it has started -- and that they will not do.  A reliance on dishonesty and death conjure up their own nemesis, though it takes a while to realize it.

In the end life triumphs over death, even in the Middle East.  Perhaps especially there. After all the oil is gone, flowers will find their way through cracks in the desert soil.  And we'll find that the oldest miracle is true: that human love survives age, mischance and even the hatred of killers. Today all across the world, families are gathering for Easter, finding joy in food, laughter, sacrifice and hope.  In small tables, in humble homes, the trail of some eternal light traces its path over the human world. Somewhere a doting grandmother is counting out her saved pennies as gift to her grandchildren. And bread is handed out, as it has been for thousands of years to the children who stand in for those who killed in Garissa or haunt those childless, silent urban palaces where no one was ever born. That is more powerful, could we but judge it aright, than all the Kalashnikovs ISIS is counting out of its armories. Every day and for always, the stone is rolled back, revealing not decay, but the empty tomb.  Bring it on then, and be not afraid of the hard times to come. Happy Easter.

Martyrs in the public square.


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