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Archive for November, 2007

A Lesson in Self-Control

Maybe we could learn something from these Trappist monks.

Sounds like an outstanding idea for a tent-making ministry. If you are ever in Belgium, check out this brew for me. Meanwhile, I’ll be at work on a Covenanter version. Wouldn’t the blue banner look great on a beer bottle? All I need is to discover a secret recipe from Richard Cameron, and I’ll be good to go.

HT: Rod Dreher

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This is an interesting article from Gary Scott Smith from Grove City College.

Should Christians Participate in Politics?

by Dr. Gary Scott Smith

(EP News)–The next presidential election is one year away. In 2004 evangelicals voted for George W. Bush by a ratio of nearly 4-to-1 and seemed poised to have a major impact on Bush’s second administration. However, except for Bush’s Supreme Court nominees and opposition to stem-cell research, evangelicals have gotten little of what they desired. Disillusioned by recent political developments, especially the war in Iraq and Bush’s meager domestic accomplishments, as well as the seeming lack of an electable conservative Christian presidential candidate, many evangelicals are now tempted to retreat from political engagement.

The standard excuses for Christians ignoring politics are that Christ’s kingdom is not of this earth, politics is dirty, morality cannot be legislated, the separation of church and state prevents Christians from bringing their religious commitments in politics, Christians take opposite positions on many political issues and thereby cancel each other out, and Christians should invest their time, energy and money in more important tasks such as evangelism, spiritual growth and safeguarding orthodoxy.

When Jesus said that His kingdom was not an earthly one, He meant that, in contrast to the expectations of many Jews of His day, He had not come to earth to establish and rule over a political kingdom. Jesus repeatedly declared, however, that He was building a spiritual kingdom on earth. He also instructed His followers to be light, salt and leaven—to have an enlightening, preserving, uplifting effect on their societies. Moreover, His teachings, coupled with those of various Old and New Testament writers, supply guidelines and norms for political and social life. They command His disciples to work to produce nations that insure fairness, justice and civility and promote compassion and peace.

While some have been corrupted or at least tarnished through their participation in politics, many others have maintained their character and political integrity. Politics is no more inherently dirty or corrupting than business or social relationships.

In reality, all laws are based on moral principles. Prior to Roe v. Wade abortion laws were grounded upon a set of moral assumptions; Roe v. Wade and other subsequent decisions rest upon very different moral presuppositions. The failed Prohibition experiment of the 1920s and early 1930s is often cited to prove that we cannot force people to act in certain ways by passing laws. In the 1960s, however, our nation adopted civil rights laws that clashed with the racist attitudes many Americans held. Being compelled by law to treat African Americans justly appears to have helped diminish racial prejudice in the United States.

Almost all of our founders, whether they were Christians, deists or theistic rationalists, believed that religious values and traditional Christian morality were essential to the success of the republic they created. In the First Amendment they prohibited the establishment of a national church and insured freedom of worship. The much quoted phrase “the separation of church and state” is not in the Constitution but instead stems from Thomas Jefferson’s 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists, and the third president did not mean by its use that individuals must leave their religious values at the door when they enter political life. Indeed, he did not do so himself. In a democracy, all citizens have the privilege of arguing for policies based on their personal philosophical and religious commitments.

Although promoting evangelism, spiritual formation and sound doctrine are essential parts of the Christian mission, weighty issues are at stake in the political arena. The character, leadership and policies of our presidents and members of Congress have a significant effect on our domestic life and our relations with other nations. While we can tackle many important issues—global and domestic poverty, hunger, homelessness, AIDS, environmental destruction, the sanctity of human life, the oppression of women including sexual slavery, genocide, racial and ethnic conflict—in part through private organizations and individual actions, our government has a large role to play in helping alleviate these problems. Refusing to participate in determining our nation’s priorities, shaping its policies, and directing its expenditures robs Christians of a great opportunity (and obligation) to advance Christ’s true kingdom on earth.

Political leaders will always disappoint us in some ways. Their character will not be as exemplary as we desire. They will not deliver on some (or many) of their promises. They will compromise on issues when we think they should stand strong. It’s been that way from George Washington to George W. Bush.

We need, therefore, to have modest expectations about what can be accomplished through government. We will never achieve heaven on earth. Nevertheless, let’s continue to participate in politics, by campaigning and voting for candidates whose positions we support and whose character we admire, by studying issues, and by supporting organizations whose political stances and lobbying activities we value. Through doing so we can help, as Christians have done for centuries, make our nation and our world more righteous, just and peaceable.

Gary Scott Smith chairs the History Department at Grove City College and is the author of “Faith and the Presidency: From George Washington to George W. Bush.”

Copyright to the preceding content is held by World Newspaper Publishing, except where noted. Copyrighted stories for which the copyright is held by others must be printed with copyright information. These stories may not be reprinted, broadcast, made available through electronic retrieval systems, or put to any commercial use except by paying subscribers of the EP News Service. EP News is delivered every Thursday – except Christmas week — via e-mail to subscribers. EP Extra, containing commentaries and features, is delivered every Tuesday. For information on becoming a licensed subscriber, write to: EP News Service, 201 South College Street, Suite 100, Charlotte, NC 28244. You can reach us by phone at (704) 661-9137 (USA), or by e-mail: warren.smith@thecharlotteworld.com.

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I am heading out this morning for Pittsburgh. If you can make the NRA event… I will see you there.

My topic: Restoring the Roots: A Localist Approach to Christendom.

Time and location in previous post.

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I will be speaking this Friday evening at the annual conference of the National Reform Association.

NATIONAL REFORM ASSOCIATION (NRA)
Publisher of the Christian Statesman

Annual Conference­ – Friday Nov. 16th 7pm
Providence Reformed Presbyterian Church

“Restoring the Roots”
Christ’s Kingship and the Centrality of the Local Community
Rev. William H. Chellis, M.Div., J.D., Pastor, Rochester, NY RPC
Founder – De Regno Christi blog – to advance discussion and awareness of Christ’s Reign over the Nations

“The Trinitarian Theocratic Imperative vs. Polytheistic Pluralism”

A Christ-centered contemplation of the Great Commission and a Journey thru History
Pastor Tony Cowley – Pastor Fairmount Presbyterian Church
Former NRA President and former editor of Christian Statesman
Contributor – Explicitly Christian Politics

WHEN: Friday, Nov 16th, 7:00 pm

WHERE: Providence Reformed Presbyterian Church (South Hills, near Dormont/Brookline)
2001 Pioneer Ave. (South Hills), Pittsburgh, PA 15226 (412 388-1099)

RSVP (Wed Nov. 14th): Patrick Marx [patrick.marx@verizon.net, (412) 260-9900 c]
DIRECTIONS (bottom) and SPEAKERS BIOS (below)

SPEAKER BIOS

Rev. William H. Chellis, M.Div., J.D., Pastor, Rochester, NY RPC
Pastor Chellis grew up in the small town of Jeffersonville in the lower Catskill Mountains of New York. There he developed a love for the simplicity of agrarian virtues and the beauty of God’s creation. Having received his B.S. in Political Science from SUNY Oneonta, Pastor Chellis earned his Juris Doctorate from Villanova University School of Law.

Pastor of the Rochester Reformed Presbyterian Church, Bill writes a monthly column for the Reformed Presbyterian Witness entitled De Regno Christi and hosts a blog discussion bearing the same name. He serves as co-editor of Semper Reformanda: A Covenanter Theological Review. Bill’s writings have also appeared in the Christian Statesman.

Bill is also an active Attorney and a serves as Walworth Town Chairman of the New York Conservative Party. He is married to his high school sweetheart Katrina.

Pastor Tony Cowley – Pastor Fairmount Presbyterian Church

Anthony Alan Cowley was born in New York City, the youngest of eight children in a Swedenborgian family. Tony lived in Bryn Athyn, PA (attending the Academy of the New Church) where his great grandfather had been a founding member of a New Church (Swedenborgian) Society. He was converted to orthodox Christianity at age 15, but struggled for five years in coming to clarity on the nature of God and the gospel of grace. He was baptized in Monterey, Calif. In 1978, and started attending a Reformed Church in 1981, while serving in the U.S. Army at Ft. Riley, Kansas as a Russian Voice Interecept Operator. He started attending the RP Seminary in Pittsburgh in 1984 while finishing his BA in Russian Literature and History at the University of Pittsburgh. He worked as a clerk and paralegal for one year, then worked for the Education and Publication office of the RPCNA from 1986-1990 while completing his M.Div. at RPTS. He was ordained into the gospel ministry by the Atlantic Presbytery of the RPCNA on June 9, 1990 at Elkins Park Reformed Presbyterian Church (near Philadelpha, PA). He became involved with the National Reform Association while in Seminary, and later served as President of the Board. He became pastor of the Minneola R.P. Church in 1998, serving on various boards and committees, including the E&P Board and the Synod Worship Committee. In 2004 he was called to pastor the Fairmount Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Sewickley, PA, where he now serves. He is married to Natalie Rose Cowley (5/25/81) and is father of five children – Sarah Marie Luper (Married to Josh Luper on November 3rd, age 24), Shawn Alastair Christian (21), Christina Elisabeth (16), Samuel David (14) and Elineke Rose (8). He has preached in Russia (1994) and Cyprus (1996) and edited The Christian Statesman and written for Semper Reformanda and the Reformed Presbyterian Witness, and is a contributor to the NRA’s Explicitly Christian Politics.

MISSION of the NATIONAL REFORM ASSOCIATION
Maintain & promote in our national life Christian principles of civil government, which include, but are not limited to, the following:
1. Jesus Christ is Lord in all aspects of life, including civil government. Jesus Christ is,
therefore, the Ruler of Nations, and should be explicitly confessed as such in any constitutional documents.

2. The civil ruler is to be a servant of God, he derives his authority from God and he is duty-bound to govern according to the expressed will of God.

3. The civil government of our nation, its laws, institutions, and practices must therefore be conformed to the principles of Biblical law as revealed in the Old and New Testaments.

DIRECTIONS: 2001 Pioneer Ave. (South Hills), Pittsburgh, PA 15226 (412 388-1099)

From North or Pittsburgh (or coming from 376 East or 376 West):
· Go through the Liberty Tunnels heading Southbound (Becomes Rt. 19, then Washington Rd.)
· Left on Pioneer Ave. Go 1.0 mile Church is on left.

From East or West of Pittsburgh (on 51 East or West):
· Go Southbound on Rt. 19. Go .1 miles
· Left on Pioneer Ave. Go 1.0 mile Church is on left.

From South of Pittsburgh (get on Washington Rd.):
· Washington Rd. Northbound. Becomes W. Liberty Ave. then Rt. 19)
· Left on Pioneer Ave (before you reach Rt. 51 and Liberty Tunnels). Go 1.0m Church is on left

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While we are on the topic of who’s/ why’s of endorsing Presidential candidates, I would raise a different question. Should Pastor’s engage in endorsing of candidates? Does this violate the spirituality of the church?

Thoughts?

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Or subsidarity? If Janet Folger is any indication- not so much.

I am as committed to the pro-life and as traditonal marriage causes as much as the next red blood conservative Calvinist but what ever happened to federalism, states rights, and localism?

This is exactly the kind of thinking that causes evangelicals to be rabid supporters of leftish causes for the last two decades. It is also why evangelicals are lurching left even as we speak.

Thoughts?

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With the state primaries fast approaching, and with the recent endorsements made by several prominent Christian leaders, is it time for DRC to chime in with its own presidential endorsement? Is there a candidate whom the contributors here could recommend to our readers? Sure, our endorsement wouldn’t garner as much attention as Pat Robertson’s, but it might still mean something to somebody out there.

I would suggest that we consider Ron Paul as someone who might fit the bill. He might be the only candidate who has actually ever read the US Constitution. Plus, he’s a Protestant, and he was born near Pittsburgh. Sounds like the guy for me.

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This story from the September issue of the American Conservative may be old news but I think it is worth our attention. An excellent, thought provoking piece. James Pinkerton at his best….

September 10, 2007 Issue
Copyright © 2007 The American Conservative

The Once & Future Christendom

From death of the West—to knights of the West

by James P. Pinkerton

The Call of Duty—and Destiny

In one of the great epics of Western literature, the hero, confronted by numerous and powerful enemies, temporarily gives in to weakness and self-pity. “I wish,” he sighs, “none of this had happened.” The hero’s wise adviser responds, “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide.” The old man continues, “There are other forces at work in this world … besides the will of evil.” Some events, he adds, are “meant” to be, “And that is an encouraging thought.”

Indeed it is. Perhaps, today, we are meant to live in these times. Perhaps right here, right now, we are meant to be tested. Maybe we are meant to have faith that other forces are at work in this world, that we are meant to rediscover our strength and our survival skills.

And so the question: can we, the people of the West, be brought to failure despite our enormous cultural and spiritual legacy? Three thousand years of history look down upon us: does this generation wish to be remembered for not having had the strength to look danger squarely in the eye? For having failed to harness our latent strength in our own defense?

With apologies to the frankenfood-fearers and polar bear-sentimentalizers, the biggest danger we face is the Clash of Civilizations, especially as we rub against the “bloody borders” of Islam.

What if, in the coming century, we lose that clash—and the source of our civilization? What if Muslims take over Europe? What if “Eurabia” indeed comes to pass? Would Islamic invaders demolish the Vatican, as the Taliban dynamited Afghanistan’s Buddhas of Bamyan in 2001? Or would they settle merely for stripping the great cathedrals of Europe of all their Christian adornment, rendering them into mosques? And what if the surviving non-Muslim population of Europe is reduced to subservient “dhimmitude”?

It could happen. Many think it will. In July 2004, Princeton historian Bernard Lewis told Germany’s Die Welt that Europe would be Islamic by the end of this century, “at the very latest.” Other observers, too, have spoken out: Melanie Phillips in Londonistan, Bruce Bawer in While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within, and Mark Steyn in America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It. Admittedly, these writers share a mostly neoconservative perspective, but such can’t be said for Patrick Buchanan, author of the book that out-Spenglers Spengler, The Death of the West: How Dying Populations and Immigrant Invasions Imperil Our Country and Civilization.

On the other side of the great divide, militant Muslims are feeling the wind at their backs. Last November, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, leader of al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, released an audiotape in which he vowed, “We will not rest from our jihad until we are under the olive trees of the Roman Empire”—which is to say, much of Europe. This August, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, traveling to Afghanistan, declared, “There is no way for salvation of mankind but rule of Islam over mankind.” To be sure, there’s no shortage of Christians who speak this way, but none of them are currently heads of state.

If demography is the author of destiny, then the danger of Europe falling within dar al-Islam is real. And in addition to the teeming Muslim lumpen already within the gates, plenty more are coming. According to United Nations data, the population of the Arab world will increase from 321 million in 2004 to 598 million in 2050. Are those swarming masses really going to hang back in Egypt and Yemen when Europe beckons? And of course, over the horizon, just past Araby, abide the Muslim multitudes of Central Asia and Africa, where tens of millions more would love to make the secular hajj to, say, Rome or Berlin.

In other words, if present trends continue, the green flag of Islam—bearing the shahada, the declaration of faith, “There is no god but God; Muhammad is the Messenger of God”—could be fluttering above Athens and Rotterdam in the lifespan of a youngster today. If so, then the glory of Europe as the hub of Greco-Roman and Christian civilization would be extinguished forever.

If this Muslimization befalls Europe, the consequences would be catastrophic for Americans as well. Although some neoconservatives, bitter at Old European “surrender monkeys,” might be quietly pleased at the prospect, the fact is that a Salafist Surge into the heart of Europe—destroying the civilization that bequeathed to us Aesop and Aristotle, Voltaire and the Victorians—would be a psychic wound that would never heal, not across the great sward of America, not even in the carpeted think-warrens of the American Enterprise Institute. A dolorous bell would toll for all of us, scattered as we might be in the European Diaspora.

So for better ideas, we might turn to J.R.R. Tolkien. The medievalist-turned-novelist, best-known for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, has been admired by readers and moviegoers alike for his fantastic flights. Yet we might make special note of his underlying political, even strategic, perspective. Amid all his swords and sorcery, we perhaps have neglected Tolkien’s ultimate point: some things are worth fighting for—and other things are not worth fighting for; indeed, it is a tragic mistake even to try.

In his subtle way, Tolkien argues for a vision of individual and collective self-preservation that embraces a realistic view of human nature, including its limitations, even as it accepts difference and diversity. Moreover, Tolkien counsels robust self-defense in one’s own area—the homeland, which he calls the Shire—even as he advocates an overall modesty of heroic ambition. All in all, that’s not a bad approach for true conservatives, who appreciate the value of lumpy hodgepodge as opposed to artificially imposed universalisms.

So with Tolkien in mind, we might speak of the “Shire Strategy.” It’s simple: the Shire is ours, we want to keep it, and so we must defend it. Yet by the same principle, since others have their homelands and their rights, we should leave them alone, as long as they leave us alone. Live and let live. That’s not world-historical, merely practical. For us, after our recent spasm of universalism—the dogmatically narcissistic view that everyone, everywhere wants to be like us—it’s time for a healthy respite, moving toward an each-to-his-own particularism.

Tolkien comes to the particular through the peculiar, creating his Bosch-like wonderland of exotic beings: Elves, Orcs, Trolls, Wargs, Werewolves, Ents, Eastlings, Southrons. To audiences relentlessly tutored in the PC pieties of skin-deep multiculturalism, Tolkien offers a different sort of diversity—of genuine difference, with no pretense of similarity, let alone universal equality. In his world, it is perfectly natural that all creatures great and small—the Hobbits are indeed small, around three feet high—have their own place in the great chain of being.

So the Hobbits, low down on that chain, mind their own business. One of their aphorisms is the need to avoid “trouble too big for you.” Indeed, even Hobbits are subdivided into different breeds, each with its own traits. Frodo, for instance, is a Fallohide, not to be confused with a Harfoot or a Stoor. Tolkien wasn’t describing a clash of civilizations—he was setting forth an abundance of civilizations, each blooming and buzzing and doing its own thing.

In addition to the innate differences, Tolkien added a layer of tragic complexity: the enticement of power. Some races in Middle Earth were given Rings of Power—19 in all, symbolizing technological might but also a metaphor for hubristic overreach: “Three Rings for Elven-kings under the sky / Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone / Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die.” One notes immediately that the Hobbits, along with other categories of being, have received no rings. Again, Tolkien’s world doesn’t pretend to be fair; we get what we are given, by the design (or maybe for the amusement) of greater powers. Only one threat endangers this yeasty diversity—the flowing tide of overweening universalism, emblemized by Sauron, who seeks to conquer the whole wide world, and everyone and everything in it

Of all the men and mice in Tolkien’s bestiary, the Hobbits are his favorite. Jolly good peasants that they are, Hobbits never hunger for martial fabulation or Riefenstahlian dramatization; their nature is to accomplish their mission first and brag about it only afterward. And the Hobbits’ biggest mission, of course, is the destruction of the One Ring. In Tolkien’s tale, there aren’t 19 Rings, as thought, but actually 20, and that 20th Ring, the One Ring, or Ruling Ring, is most to be feared. Loaded as it is with Wagnerian overtones, the One Ring is Tolkien’s symbol of evil, or, more precisely, it symbolizes temptation, which leads to evil. Even the dreaded Sauron is but a slave to his ambition to acquire the One Ring—and if Sauron can get it, then all hope for freedom and difference will be lost under his world-flattening tyranny.

Happily, unique among sentient beings, the Hobbits seem relatively immune to Ringed seduction. Hobbits like to smoke and drink, but all grander forms of world-girdling intoxication are lost on these simple folk. Hobbits just want their Shire to return to normalcy.

Enter Frodo, hero Hobbit. Tolkien, who served as a second lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers during the Great War, modeled Frodo, admiringly, after the Tommies—the grunt infantrymen—who fought alongside him. Neither a defeatist nor a militarist, Tolkien admired those men who were simultaneously stoic and heroic. In the words of medieval historian Norman Cantor, “Frodo is not physically powerful, and his judgment is sometimes erratic. He wants not to bring about the golden era but to get rid of the Ring, to place it beyond the powers of evil; not to transform the world but to bring peace and quiet to the Shire.” Because of their innate modestly, only Hobbits have the hope of resisting the sorcery of the Ring. Frodo volunteers to carry the Ring to the lip of a volcano, Mt. Doom, there to cast it down and destroy it once and for all.

And even for Frodo, the task is not easy; he’s that lonely epic hero who wishes that none of this had happened. But as the wise Gandalf tells him, it was meant to happen And so it goes: events unfold to a successful but still bittersweet conclusion.

Indeed, the greatest desire for power, Ring-lust, is felt by men, not the lesser beings. And so when our heroes are confronted by two dangers—the danger from Sauron’s encroaching army, hunting for the Ring, and the infinitely direr prospect that Sauron might gain the Ring—it is a mostly virtuous man, Boromir, who is most sorely tempted. Don’t destroy the Ring, Boromir insists; use the Ring to repel Sauron: “Take it and go forth to victory!” In other words, use the Ring to guarantee triumph. But that’s Tolkien’s point: absolute power is always tempting—and always corrupting.

The good are good only as long as they resist temptation. A wise Elf, Elrond, answers Boromir: “We cannot use the Ruling Ring … the very desire of it corrupts the heart.” That is, a good man who uses the Ring automatically becomes a bad man, who would “set himself on Sauron’s throne, and yet another Dark Lord would appear.” And so the varied group convened by Elrond—Elves, Dwarves, Men, and Hobbits—agrees to an arduous plan. The Council of Elrond will fight Sauron’s army through “conventional” means, while a smaller team, the Fellowship of the Ring, chiefly Frodo, crosses into enemy territory in hopes of destroying the sinister golden band. But as Tolkien makes clear, the Ring threatens to overwhelm everyone, and everything, with temptation.

Tolkien died in 1973. During his lifetime, and ever since, critics and pundits have put their own spin on his work. He was writing, it was said, about the totalitarian temptation. About the lure of fascism. Or maybe about the Circean song of communism. Or perhaps it was all a jeremiad aimed at industrialization. Each of these was, of course, a universalism, and so each was, in its way, antithetical to the natural variegation that Tolkien so treasured.

The author himself abjured simplistic allegorical explanation, perhaps in part to keep his multiple audiences happy. In the ’60s, for instance, the Hobbits were celebrated as proto-hippies, inspiring jokes about what might be tamped into their smoking pipes; the whole oeuvre was seen as a druggy trip. But Tolkien once confided, “The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision.” That is, Catholic in the sense that reality and history are complicated, that the world is rich in majesty and mystery, that human nature is but a poor vessel. In his world, the Shire is Christendom, and Christendom is the Shire.

Yet more than three decades after Tolkien’s death, new universalisms—new all-encompassing ideologies—have gained prominence, vexing, once again, tradition and difference throughout the world. One such universalism is capitalist globalism. In the late ’80s, Francis Fukuyama published his legendarily misguided piece “The End of History?” suggesting that the West had found The Answer. Madeleine Albright expressed similar hubris when she declared that America was “the indispensable nation.” And Thomas Friedman has since argued that everyone has to submit to “golden handcuffs,” managed by planetary financiers, even as the wondrous force of capitalism “flattens” the world. But of course, it took Paul Wolfowitz to bring Rousseau to life in another century: Uncle Sam would force people to be free. And how are these bright bold visions working out, in the wake of 9/11, in a world that includes IEDs, Hamas, Hezbollah, and Al-Jazeera?

Defending—and Redefining—the Shire

Underneath his neo-medievalism, Tolkien preached realism. He wrote, “It will not do to leave a live dragon out of your plans if you live near one.” That is, the dragon, red in tooth and crescent, is lurking. It cannot be ignored.

Nor can we ignore the painful reality of a genuine fifth column in the West. This summer, Gordon Brown’s government concluded that 1 in 11 British Muslims—almost 150,000 people living in the United Kingdom—“proactively” supports terrorism, with still more rated as passive supporters. And this spring, a Pew Center survey found that 13 percent of American Muslims, as well as 26 percent aged 18-29, were bold enough to tell a pollster that suicide bombing was “sometimes” justified. These Muslim infiltrators, of course, have potential access to weapons of mass destruction.

So what to do? Call the ACLU? The United Nations?

That won’t work. Just as the Roman Empire’s dream of universal dominion once collapsed, leaving the peoples of Europe to create new institutions for their own survival, so, today, any thought that the United Nations could save us from ruin has evaporated. The Blue Helmets have fallen, and they can’t get up.

At the same time, at a level just below the UN, the vision of an ever-expanding European Union, to include all the states touching the Mediterranean, has happily collapsed. Now it seems certain that even Turkey will never be admitted. Increasingly, people see that in a world of transnational terrorism, the key issue is not figuring out a common agricultural policy that unites Denmark and Cyprus, but rather a common survival policy for Europa, from the Pillars of Hercules to the Ural Mountains.

So we must look to older models for hope and survival—models more faithful, more fighting, more fertile. A case in point is France. To be sure, on the Mars-Venus continuum, most Americans regard the French as hopelessly Venus, but they were Mars in the past. Perhaps their most virtuous Martian was Charles Martel, King of the Franks, who defeated the Muslim invaders at the Battle of Tours in AD 732. In the words of the contemporaneous chronicler, Isidore of Beja, “In the shock of the battle the men of the North seemed like a sea that cannot be moved. Firmly they stood, one close to another, forming as it were a bulwark of ice; and with great blows of their swords, they hewed down the Arabs.” The defeat of the Muslims was one of the “Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World,” according to 19th-century historian Sir Edward Shepherd Creasy, because it saved the West from destruction.

The French have remembered “Charles the Hammer” ever since, even naming warships after him. Indeed, across 2,000 years, from Vercingetorix to Charlemagne (Martel’s grandson) to Napoleon, the French have showed plenty of fight, and usually much skill. That’s why there’s still a France. And now, despite their recent failures and cupidities, the French are showing renewed determination, as in the election of Nicolas Sarkozy, a man who based his campaign on restoring border security, as well as law and order, to his beleaguered nation.

Meanwhile, as European birthrates plummet, the continent faces the prospect of demographic desiccation. Yet surely a civilization-saving alternative to imported Muslimization must be found. One option, bringing in Eastern Europeans to Western Europe, is probably less than desirable because those Eastern Europeans are needed where they are, to defend Russia and Ukraine against the New Tatars further east. A better solution would be to bring the poorer children of Europe—from countries such as Argentina—home to Europe, allowing the New World to help rescue the Old World.

But we need bigger and broader ideas as well, to replace the doddering vision of international law as the antidote to terrorism.

The Revival of Christendom

Two years ago, the Eurocrats in Brussels drafted a 300-page EU constitution that consciously omitted reference to Europe’s specifically Christian heritage. The voters of France, as well as Holland, rejected that secular document.

Maybe there’s a lesson here. The people of Europe might not be so eager, after all, to declare that they are “united in diversity.” What does that phrase mean, anyway? How about trying to find something that unites Europeans in unity? How about a revival of Christendom as a concept—as a political concept? A revival, or at least a remembrance, of Europe’s cultural heritage could be the healing force that Europe needs.

After all, it worked in the past. In the words of the 19th-century French historian Numa Denis Fustel de Coulanges, the victory of Christianity marked “the end of ancient society”—and all the petty divisions that went with it. Fustel de Coulanges continues, “Man felt that he had other obligations besides that of living and dying for the city. Christianity distinguished the private from the public virtues. By giving less honor to the latter, it elevated the former; it placed God, the family, the human individual above country, the neighbor above the city.”

As history proves, a larger communion can be built on such sentiments. In the 9th century, Alcuin of York declared that the crowning of Charlemagne as the first Holy Roman Emperor would bring forth a new Imperium Christianum. Ten centuries later, Hilaire Belloc asserted, “The Faith is Europe. And Europe is the Faith.” Indeed, during those many centuries, Europe enjoyed a pretty good run. Only in the last century—the century of atheists, psychiatrists, and National Socialists—has Europe’s survivability come into question. Today, the Christian author Os Guiness puts the issue plainly: “A Europe cut off from its spiritual roots cannot survive.”

Some will smile at the thought that Christianity might be part of the solution to the problems of the Third Millennium. Admittedly, there’s an element of faith in the idea of trying to revive the idea of Christian unity. But Christendom is the Shire Strategy, applied.

To keep the peace, we must separate our civilizations. We must start with a political principle, that the West shall stay the West, while the East can do as it wishes on its side of the frontier, and only on its side. The classical political maxim cuius regio, eius religio (“whose region, his religion”) makes sense. To be sure, it has been unfashionable to talk this way in the West, but Muslims are avidly applying it as they set about martyring the remaining Christian populations of Iraq, Lebanon, and Egypt. So we of the West can build walls, as needed, and as physically imposing as need be. Going further, we can finally recognize the need for an energy-independence embargo, so that we no longer finance those who wish to conquer or kill us.

For obvious reasons, strategic as well as moral, the Western political alliance must be bigger than just a few relatively friendly countries along the other side of the Atlantic. It should include, most pressingly, Russia. Vladimir Putin might think of himself as a rival, even a foe, of the United States, but he knows he faces a mortal enemy in Islam; it’s the Chechens who are killing his soldiers. So as Russia enjoys its own Christian revival, a reconciliation with mostly Christian America is possible. Immediately, America should renew the spirit of Ronald Reagan’s 1983 Strategic Defense Initiative speech, in which the Gipper called for including Moscow inside the protective shield. So instead of building missile-defense sites in Eastern Europe, dividing Europe from Russia, the United States should put those sites in Russia’s southern reaches, to face the real enemy, which is Iran and the rest of nuclear Islam. Even Putin has suggested this defensive placement, perhaps because down deep, he, too, understands that the Christian West should be unified, not divided.

But what of Christians elsewhere in the world? What, for example, of Latin America—which includes the likes of Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez? And even more urgently, what of Africa, where Christians are suffering from many afflictions, including the inexorable Muslim advance, pushing south past the 10th parallel into the Christian populations of countries including Nigeria, Sudan, and Ethiopia? How to withstand these many challenges?

The answer: through political co-operation. In Tolkien’s world, it was the Council of Elrond. Perhaps in our world, it could be Council of the West.

It’s been done before. In AD 325, Constantine the Great convened the Council of Nicaea, drawing together quarrelsome bishops from across Europe to hammer out the basic doctrines of the church. Constantine was the first Christian Roman Emperor, although he concerned himself more with geopolitics than theological minutiae. “It is my desire,” he told this first ecumenical convocation, “that you should meet together in a general council … and to know you are resolved to be in common harmony together.” The council was a success, producing the Nicene Creed, which united European faith for centuries to come.

But today, how to find a new unity that reaches across oceans and continents, to include the likes of Putin and Chavez? Answer: with great difficulty, not all at once, and with no certainty of success.

And what of other hard cases? What of Africa? The Christian countries of Africa are part of the Shire Strategy and need to be embraced with tough love. The immediate mission is to delineate a Christian Zone and a Muslim Zone, dividing countries if need be. All Christians, and all Muslims, have a stake in minimizing conflict; the obvious way is by separating the combatants. So a wall should go up between the warring faiths, and then a bigger wall, until the flashpoint risk of civilization clash goes away. Then, and only then, might we hope to find workable solutions within the Christian Zone.

Some will insist that this neo-Constantinian vision of muscular political Christendom is implausible—or inimical to world peace. But in fact, whether we like it or not, the world is forming into blocs. Samuel Huntington was right about “the clash of civilizations”—but with political skill, we can keep clashes from becoming larger wars.

No matter what we say or do, the blocs of Hindus, Chinese, and Japanese are all going their separate cultural ways, rediscovering their own unique heritages. And Islam, of course, is at odds with all of its neighbors. In his book a decade ago, Huntington, mindful of the indirect danger posed by American universalism, was even more mindful of the direct danger posed by Muslims: “Islam’s borders are bloody and so are its innards,” he writes. “Muslim bellicosity and violence are late-twentieth century facts which neither Muslims nor non-Muslims can deny.” That’s bad news, but there’s a silver lining: if Westerners, Russians, Africans, Hindus, and Chinese all feel threatened by Islam—and they all do—there’s plenty of opportunity for a larger encircling alliance, with an eye toward feasible strategies of containment, even quarantine. But not conquest, not occupation, not “liberation.” So the big question is whether or not Christians will continue to be divided into four blocs, as they are at present: Western, Russian, African, Latin. Can four smaller Christian blocs really become one big bloc? One Christendom? Perhaps—borrowing once again from Tolkien—such unification was meant to happen.

That is an encouraging thought: a Council of the West, bringing all the historically Christians countries of the world into one communion.

The Rescue of Israel

But what of Israel? If East is East and West is West, what of the Jewish state, which sits in the East? After all, the entire Middle Eastern region is looking more and more Mordor-like. Tolkien described that terrible wasteland: “High mounds of crushed and powdered rock, great cones of earth fire-blasted and poison-stained, stood like an obscene graveyard in endless rows, slowly revealed in the reluctant light.” Not much hope there, at least for Westerners. Whatever possessed us to think we could make Muslims into our own image? Was it a Ring that lured us?

We can make two points: first, Israel must survive, and second, on its current course, Israel will likely not survive.

In recent years, Israel finds its strategic situation worsening. It is increasingly confronted, not by incompetent tinhorn dictators but by determined Muslim jihadists, many of whom live in the Palestinian territories, some of whom live within Israel itself. Meanwhile, Iran proceeds with its nuclear program, while Pakistan, just a heartbeat away from Taliban-ification, already has its nukes in place, ready for export should the right fatwa be uttered. And the Russians and the Chinese, empowered and lured by high energy prices, have their own designs on the region, which include no good tidings for Jews.

Unfortunately, if we look forthrightly into the future, we can see blood and fire ahead for Israel. Aside from the civilization-jolting moral tragedy of a Second Holocaust—a phrase used freely, albeit not lightly, by such Jewish observers as Philip Roth and Ron Rosenbaum—there would be the physical devastation of the Holy Land. How would Christians recover from the demolition of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem? How would Diasporic Jews absorb the Temple Mount’s obliteration? And how, for that matter, would Muslims react to the detonation of the Noble Sanctuary, which sits atop that mount?

Any destruction of Israel would be accompanied, one way or another, by the destruction of much of the Middle East. If Masada came again to Zion, it would likely also be a Strangelovian doomsday for tens or hundreds of millions in the Middle East. And it might mean the annihilation as well of other Muslim religious sites, from Qum and Karbala to, yes, Mecca and Medina.

Some say that the solution to Middle Eastern problems is some sort of pre-emptive strike: get Them before they get Us. That, of course, is exactly the sort of bewitching that Tolkien warned most strongly against—the frenzy to solve a problem through one hubristic stroke, to grab the One Ring of power for oneself, even if that grabbing guarantees one’s own fall into darkness.

A better vision is needed. The Council of the West must do its duty, to Christians, to Jews, and to the need of the world for peace. Having agreed that Israel must survive, within the protective ambit of Christendom, the council could engage Muslims—who are, themselves, in the process of restoring the Caliphate—in a grand summit. Only then, when West meets East, in diplomatic twain, might a chance exist for an enduring settlement. When all Christians, and all Muslims, are brought to the bargaining table, they all become stakeholders in a pacific outcome.

This summit of civilizations would be difficult and expensive, even heartbreaking. It might take a hundred years. But let us begin because the reward could be great: blessed are the peacemakers.

The Knights of the West

With great effort, the West could unite around the Shire Strategy, seeking to secure and protect all our Christendom, spanning oceans and continents. But it won’t be easy. It will take more than diplomacy—it will take strength.

This Shire is ours now, but the way things are going, it won’t be ours permanently. So we must vow to defend the Shire, always. In the last of the “Rings” films, Aragorn the Strider proclaims, in full St. Crispin’s Day mode, “A day may come when the courage of Men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields when the Age of Men comes crashing down, but it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good earth, I bid you stand, Men of the West!”

We in the West will always need warriors. We must have chevaliers sans peur et sans reproche—“Knights without fear and without reproach”—to safeguard our marches and protect our homes. Men such as Leonidas, whose Immortal 300 held off the Persians at Thermopylae in 480 BC, long enough for other Greeks to rally and save the nascent West. Or Aetius, the last noble Roman, who defeated Attila the Hun, Scourge of God, at Chalons in AD 451. Or Don Juan of Austria, who led the Holy League to naval victory over the Turks at Lepanto in 1571. Or Jon Sobieski, whose Polish cavalry rescued Vienna from the Turks in 1683.

These are not just legends, not just fictional characters—they were real. And if we dutifully honor those heroes, as heroic Men of the West and of Christendom, we will be rewarded with more such heroic men.

Future epics await us. Future Knights of the West, ready to defend Christendom, are waiting to be born, waiting for the call of duty. If we bring them forth with faith and wisdom and confidence, then also will come new heroes and new legends.

Maybe it was meant to be. And that is an encouraging thought.

________________________________________

James P. Pinkerton is a columnist for Newsday and a fellow at the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C. He served in the White House under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

September 10, 2007 Issue

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Breath Some Fresh Air

With the war effort continuing to flounder…

A dollar that is crashing…

And oil prices causing inflation…

It is no wonder Ron Paul is starting to catch fire.

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The Strange World of Politics

Pat Robertson and Rudy Giuliani… perfect together? Story here

Politics does make strange bedfellows… who would have thought you would find these two under the sheets?

You have to feel bad for poor Mike Huckabee… where is he supposed to find a base?

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