- Politics and Social Issues
Thoughts on Cosmic War
On Earth as it is In Heaven
This is the idea or basis. It is scripted. We either assume our parts, take up the cudgels, in a fashion already prescribed, or not. The angels and demons battle "up there". So, we do likewise "down here". It is called a Cosmic War because God is involved. That is what I take away from a highly speculative literary work, How to Win a Cosmic War, published in 2009. There are parts I find enlightening, coming, as they do, from "the other side". The author, born Iranian, is, nonetheless, a legitimate citizen of the United States. Other parts, I think, are incompatible with fundamental western values, if relevant esoterica. I do not, for instance, agree that the scriptural foundation of the Crusades is derived from the Old Testament, with its warlike manifestations of a Deity-General. Yahweh is pitted against Marduk, Amun-Re, Ashur, and Baal -- all conquerors. No, it was Christians, Jesus notwithstanding, versus Muslims, much the same as today. Mohammad is, hands down, the most militant prophet. When it came to plunder or slaughter, however, Crusaders rarely distinguished between Jews or Muslims. Further, delving into the Old Testament, most enemies of Old Israel were either themselves conquered or eventually assimilated. Some, however, have reinvented themselves. Babylon has become Iraq, Persia Iran. Egypt still exists, if greatly modified. Historically, unfortunately, Christianity, in the Middle East, has more often than not proved weaker than Islam, which diminishes the theological role of Jesus, and challenges Christian eschatology, or how the End of Time will one day unfold itself. Having said all this, it needs to be also pointed out how much more educated the Islamic are regarding what they themselves are up to. Thus, I consider the book with which I take issue extremely useful.
We have heard much from childhood of a primeval rebellion in the heavens. It might have been literal; it might have been metaphorical. But now we have actually witnessed a deliberate Islamic shift from regionalism to globalism. Almost overnight, we find ourselves under siege from might turn out to be a perpetual, unstoppable war. The heavens can be an abstraction, but the spread of Islam is totally for real. The author is well-versed in the inscrutable politics of Islamic nations, never wholly detached from religion. He opines how today's Jihadists have historical roots in the Jewish Zealots, who, after the Crucifixion, launched an unwinnable war against Rome. He calls them members of the 4th Philosophy, following the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes. It is interesting that an Iranian-American should compare Jihadists to Zealots, since the latter were so soundly defeated. But Masada, where the last Judean rebels committed suicide, is still sacred. Yes, they killed themselves. But like their brethren, they never surrendered. Josephus reports upon how vigorously the doomed Temple was defended. Despite similarities, the analogy does not hold. Muslims are not being systematically oppressed, nor occupied and taxed, by a superior, external force. The zealots of Masada mean much more to contemporary Israelis, who, like their predecessors, under no circumstances will be taken alive.
Mosque in Medina, Saudi Arabia
Which Side Are You On?
Embedded within the lengthy short-history of Modern Islamic Warfare are equal measures of criticism and defense. For instance, Osama bin Laden, who never immersed himself in the earnest study of the Koran, issued fatwas, which are the sole responsibility of the very learned. But the hysteria of Muslims taking over Europe, when they constitute no more than 2-4% of the general population -- that is, at present, an unfair accusation. Some countries find them intimidating enough, apart from number. Granted, it is hard to remain neutral when missiles fly, guns discharged, and civilians die, but how trustworthy is objectivity, too, during the same melee? To quote: "In a cosmic war one is either with God or against God." In such a statement, very little rationality is discernible. In comparison, blood for oil seems much more sane. In Cosmic War, people stand or fall, based on how they are perceived, either as authentic Muslims, or non-Muslims, not to mention, in between, Muslims who are only pretending. Crazy is hardly the word for it, yet one can appreciate the breakdown into various components that the study reveals, so that the radical Islamic threat can actually be confronted. One cannot adequately oppose forces and ideologies with which one lacks a thorough acquaintance. Thus, there should be no prejudicial resentment against current policies that have stemmed the tide of hatred by virtue of inaction. There are things going on over there different from things happening here. Neither side -- if only there were a paltry two sides -- is prepared for an all-out war, Jihad, or however one wishes to call an escalation beyond random acts of violence or retaliation.
It is not as if it is their turn now. About all the intentional damage done to Muslims by the Western Powers is over and done with. Colonialism is a thing of the past. Almost a thousand years have elapsed since Urban II fired up knights guided by Peter the Hermit into the Holy Land. The Pope's main concern had to do with Muslim attacks on the Eastern Churches. He wanted to exhibit a unity that has never truly been restored. The main upshot of the Crusades was that, historically, Christians did not acquit themselves nobly against the Muslim foe. They were constantly driven back and rooted out. But for a time, all were holy warriors, on both sides. Despite their banners, caparisoned horses, inscriptions, and symbols galore, it would be hard to show the presence of God in any of these well-intentioned expeditions. What bothers the modern mind is the recrudescense of intolerable acts of pointless aggression. No one wants to pit one religion against another, as seems to have been the ongoing case in the India-Pakistan struggle, or countenance wars of extermination, which cannot be won without the total annihilation of an entire people. It pays to remember that separations between professional soldiers and innocent civilians are passé. It is also worth mentioning that no wars, apart from the limited use of force, are actually needed.
Does God take part in War?
God and War
Personally, I do not feel that the two are related. Man alone makes war. But the world, such as it is, cannot abide in a permanent state of bellicosity. But let us, for the sake of argument, assume a partnership among soldiers and God. Early on, in scripture, we read how weather and nature are manipulated to bring about the downfall of the Pharoah and Egypt. It is done to free enslaved Hebrews. Today, we bellyache about climate change. In all candor, it is plausible that a severe alteration in climate could trigger the ruin of earthly human existence. It is within the realm of scientific possibility. But should it occur, climate change would not have favored a particular people over another. In point-of-fact, if heaven-sent, the message is crystal clear. Closing time! So, what we are really dealing with are two chronologically divergent notions -- one ancient, the other modern.
Ancient thought links a chosen few with the direct complicity of God. The author is right in seeing precedents set in the Old Testament, such as the homicidal action of Phinehas, killing an Israelite-Midianite couple, thus dispelling a plague (Numbers 25:7). Ancient Greek plays reflect the exact same psychology. Fast forward and the modern mind does not so easily accept such unprovable, improbable logic. Instead, it sees only chaos, coincidence, and happenstance, not divine intervention. But Islam stands alone in its steadfast belief that when all else fails, violence will enable Allah to prevail. Islam, to the Islamic, is the only true religion. Caliphates, needless to say, are neither Democratic nor American. Raw egotism, raising one's own kind up above everyone else is hardly exceptional. It is what fanatic worshippers are willing to do for the sake of a popular but violent form of Islam. By the same token, what Christianity does in the exact opposite direction, eschewing all violence, is an equal concern. For years, barenaked necks have been offered to no avail.
2016 is an election year. The outcome will make a significant difference. Democrats will continue to intellectualize, as though ISIS and its confederates have not actively targeted the USA, their primary focus. Incidentally, Democratic Aristotelianism is not without merit. Republicans, on the other hand, will likely be more blunt. They are done talking. It is expected they will militarily engage terrorists, not just offer token assistance in the way of drones, airstrikes, training, and financial help. If elected, as to how successful the GOP will be at the destruction of sleeper cells, lone wolves, infiltrators, and guerilla units remains to be seen. They first have to win a tough election. Voters are hard to figure. It is as if many live in either a time warp or bubble. They do not want to think about an invasion. Understood. In fact, its prevention might already be too late. With the wrong choice, the next four years could consist of a series of futile deals and negotiations with hostile foreigners and their anti-American sympathizers/donors.
Holy wars, of which there are many, have not always returned the victories we today would regard as in line with God's Plan. Spain, once considered more devout than Rome, could not rid itself of Muslims until the Reconquista of the 1000s. It was not until 1492 that Islamic Granada fell. Charlemagne, crowned Emperor in Rome, in 800, was at best indecisive against Muslims, much better at converting lingering pagans. At the same time, the Muslim soldier was being elevated beyond the usual humble station of Man living in the shadow of God. The "shabid", or martyr, goes directly to Heaven, no matter what. Suicide bombers are likewise treated with ritual ablutions and perfume prior to their fatal actions. To be fair, Crusaders were also given extraordinary dispensation. But now, irregardless, the spotlight is on America, more than Europe, to discover what sort of country it has become, and how it will form new policies within an over-heated, competitive, global, and fanatical world. Whatever November's decision, there will be no looking away from problems that have long festered. Among them is the threat, real or imagined, of the imposition of a foreign religion and culture on a (divided) Christian nation.
A Spanish Chapter in the Early History of Islam
Making History or Ending It?
My favorite televangelist is aging, visibly not himself, yet still at it. As usual, I take issue with his fears of Russia, China, and Iran. Time and again, I have observed Russia step back from the brink of disaster, China refuse involvement altogether, and Iran dissolve into a state of wordiness without end. To me, the United States first has to re-define itself in view of so many changes it has not yet taken into account. President Obama has surely thrown us for a loop. We no longer overreact and shoot from the hip. All right. To some extent, in order to correct something, not act in haste, it is meaningful to set back. But passive observation cannot be without limits. I would hate to think what would happen should the next President be a carbon copy, turning a nation of doers into video enthusiasts. No, the world is real; it is not a movie. This is where the notion of a scripted, Cosmic War breaks down. It is not as if God favors the Muslim so much the rest are helpless. I suppose self-congratulatory thinking fully obtains in the mountains of Afghanistan and sands of the Middle East. But we have known of Muslim hypocrisy for decades. By the same token, we do not force our "decadent" western culture upon them.
Well, there is going to be a reckoning. The more one familiarizes oneself with the Crusades, the more apparent it becomes that all serious confrontations between Christians and Muslims can be considered holy. But they are thusly judged by virtue of the mind of man, not God. For instance, Peter the Hermit leads the first batch of Crusaders into an ambush by Turks waiting upon them. So much for good intentions, fasting, and prayer. In 1291, the Muslims take back Acre, causing a poet to jubilantly exult how there is no hope left for Christianity. Whatever the case, the greatest authority figures on both sides lend support to these dubious endeavors. The Templars and Hospitallers are church-sanctioned. El Cid, in Spain, fights mostly on behalf of Christians, but also lends his services to Muslims. By then, Christian armies had been de-secularized. Christian soldiers are requested to be contrite about spilling blood. Muslims use holy war to not just fight Christians, but fellow Muslims as well. It would be highly preferable to leave the Holy Lands to their rightful inhabitants, except that they now claim the whole world. Where is it all leading? I am only asking.