Tuesday, 2/24/15

  1. Conditional support
  2. Holy Coptic New Martyrs
  3. Can we distinguish “true Islam” from false?
  4. Wooly heads, wooly policy
  5. Denying religious legitimacy, part 2
  6. More on “true Islam”


Ted Cruz basically told a group of Middle-Eastern Christians late last summer that if they wouldn’t cheer his Christian Zionism, he didn’t care if Islamists killed them. It was shocking and I protested.

Flip the party and ideology now. What conditions do you suppose the Obama Administration would impose on Nigeria before the U.S. would provide aid against Boko Haram?

[Rep. Chris] Smith made his comment before asking a witness whether the Obama administration’s support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community has hindered U.S. aid to Nigeria for combating the terrorist group Boko Haram, or to faith organizations for combating malaria and other problems. A State Department official responded that, to his knowledge, such aid has not been affected.

I wish I could believe the denial, but I’ve got at least some hope that the accusation isn’t true. We don’t have it on tape as we do Ted Cruz.


The Coptic Church took just a week to canonize the 21 martyrs, beheaded by ISIS on a Libyan beach February 15.


This is consistent with how the Eastern Church generally treats martyrs for the faith. Even if they led less-than-exemplary lives, and were lax in religious observance and visible piety, dying for the faith (and these martyrs died with Christ’s name on their lips; a family member thanked ISIS for not editing that out of its snuff film) seals sanctity. If that offends you, go read the parable about the landowner hiring day laborers for his vineyard.

Each Sunday, at Matins, we commemorate certain Saints from the Synaxarion. It has been a powerful experience for me to hear of the martyr Saints in particular, many of them “slain by the atheists in the year 1918,” for example.

Now we’ll be adding (maybe – at least the Copts will, and I will privately) something like “Today we commemorate the 21 Egyptian new martyrs, slain by the Muslims on the beach in Libya in the year 2015.”


I absolutely don’t know enough about Islam to heed the President’s clarion call. I’m leery about any putative Christian trying to distinguish “true Islam” from “false Islam.” What in the heck would “true Islam” be? Isn’t it all false – maybe not “every word … including ‘and’ and ‘the’,” but false anyway?

In a perverse way, Obama probably is feeding the fever swamp même that he’s a Muslim by making such distinctions (I haven’t Googled “Obama a Muslim” to check). Yeah, Dubya did the same sort of thing, but the sincerity of his Christian profession wasn’t in much doubt, where Obama’s is.

More on “true Islam” below.


Graeme Wood, who seems to have done his homework, knows enough to say that the President’s way of thinking about Islam leads to foolish decisions:

The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.

Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology,” which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail. Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it. We’ll need to get acquainted with the Islamic State’s intellectual genealogy if we are to react in a way that will not strengthen it, but instead help it self-immolate in its own excessive zeal.

(Emphasis added)


But if Barack Obama (and George Bush before him) can insist that associating Islam with terrorists gives them a religious legitimacy they don’t deserve, then does it follow that I can insist that associating Christianity with Barack Obama gives him a religious legitimacy he doesn’t deserve? After all, I do actually know something about Christianity.

“Walker should vehemently affirm Obama’s religious affiliation but Obama should vociferously dispute ISIS’ religious affiliation.” —Media

— Mollie (@MZHemingway) February 22, 2015

Obama lied about same-sex marriage in the 2008 campaign, invoking his religion to claim support of traditional marriage. How contemptible – how hypocritical (widely deemed the worst of sins today) – to cloak yourself in the mantle of religion for shelter on precisely the point – marriage – on which you disagree with the religion you’re invoking!

Is Obama’s whole Christian profession a cover for political purposes – not to cover his secret Islamic identity, but to cover a thoroughgoing and conscious progressive secularism?


More on Graeme Wood’s article in the Atlantic. It was so long and detailed that I only got a chance to read it Sunday. If you think it’s important to be informed on foreign affairs, I’d say this article is mandatory reading. But (spoiler alert) ISIS is some year away of turning its real attention to us, and there may be some smart proxy war ways to defeat it entirely.

By the way. That “the religion preached by [ISIS’s] most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam” does not mean it is “true Islam” as if other interpretations were false. Here, for instance, is a vehement rebuttal from another school, with lots of Quranic proof-texts. I assume its wishful-thinking author means well and assumes that his school is True Islam in much the same way as a Baptist thinks his sect is True Christianity, as over against Presbyterians or Roman Catholics, and has proof-texts to prove it.

It behooves us to look out for our vital national interests and let Muslims fight or argue over what is “true Islam.” I will disregard and contemn any pronouncement of my government on that topic, and can only hope that behind the presumptuous pronouncements is some real intelligence (which may flatly contradict Presidential rhetoric) that will be useful in keeping terrorism from our shores.

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“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.