- The American Conservative - https://www.theamericanconservative.com -

Is Christianity A Suicide Cult?

In last night’s bedtime reading of The Camp of the Saints, I had to wade through the muck of Chapter 20, which was pretty much a matter of racialist pornography, describing life aboard the migrant flotilla as nothing more than eating, defecating, and screwing, like an undifferentiated mass of animals. It was repugnant. But then, with the remains of that steaming cowpile fresh on my shoes, I ran across this diamond:

Two opposing camps. One still believes. One doesn’t. The one that still has faith will move mountains. That’s the side that will win. Deadly doubt has destroyed all incentive in the other. That’s the side that will lose.

The next few chapters describe nations that took firm action to protect themselves from being colonized by the migrants. Australia made it clear that they would not be allowed to make landfall. Egypt fired warning shots off the bow of the lead ship, which caused the flotilla to turn from Suez and take the long way around Africa. The South African government — remember, this is set in the era of apartheid — announced that it would be prepared to sink the flotilla before letting it land. This gave the world the opportunity to pile on the condemnation of the Afrikaners, which it took.

The fleet steams on toward Europe.

Last night’s reading is a perfect example of why this novel is both appalling and riveting. (I keep making that point because I’ve never read anything like it, with the possible exception of Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer, and it’s an unusual experience). Raspail, it seems to me, is deadly accurate in his diagnosis of the sentimental humanitarianism of the Europeans, and how their loss of faith in their own civilization compels them to behave in ways that guarantee its destruction by an invading force. The novel also implicitly raises a disturbing question: What cruelties, if any, are justified for the sake of a nation’s defense?

These are extremely complex, morally harrowing questions, and we are seeing them on display now as Europe faces its refugee crisis. The very best thing I’ve read yet about the potential Christian response to this crisis comes from Alastair Roberts, a British Christian. [1]His piece is somewhat long, but it’s well worth your time and consideration. Excerpts:

The response to the refugee crisis has been troubling, exposing the depth of the rot of Europe’s psyche. Both in European societies and governments and within the Church it has also revealed just how impoverished our moral and political discourse actually is. For the difficult tasks of patient deliberation and discriminating political wisdom, a cult of sentimental humanitarianism–Neoliberalism’s good cop to its bad cop of foreign military interventionism–substitutes the self-congratulatory ease of kneejerk emotional judgments, assuming that the ‘right’–what ought to be done–is immediately apparent from some instinctive apprehension of the ‘good’.

In the febrile environment of social media, this cult of sentimental humanitarianism frequently manifests in virtue-signalling and policing and in immense waves of collective emotion. Declaring definitively, yet thoughtlessly, upon issues of labyrinthine complexity, it regularly appears to involve a narcissistic preoccupation with our own caring, not least relative to the supposedly inadequate caring of others. The simplistic vision that would cast fiendishly knotty social and political problems as if they were parable scenes for us to re-enact for our moral self-validation is bankrupt. As Daniel Hannan and Matthew Parris both observe, our fetishization of sentiment has an obfuscating effect, and neglects the actual task of prudence that lies before us. It leaves us ill-equipped to recognize how involved matters are, runs the risk of encouraging counterproductive responses, and can produce cynical and opportunistic political leadership. Melanie McDonagh also draws attention to the capriciousness and irresponsibility of sentimentalist politics, driven as it is by unpredictable surges of common public feeling in reaction to emotionally affecting images. The images that enflame our sentimentalism are shorn of the sort of historical and political context that might prevent them from functioning as screens upon which Europe projects the theatre of its own tortured psyche.

More:

Pascal Bruckner and others have commented upon Europe’s self-reproaching tendencies, our perverse urge to blame the West for all of the wrongs of the world, to project upon the poor and disenfranchised the character of innocent victims, and to view alignment with them as our one chance at psychic redemption. Many of these groups are all too happy opportunistically to play the part of the wronged party to whom we are morally indebted.

Bruckner writes of Europe: ‘Ruminating on its past abominations–wars, religious persecutions, slavery, imperialism, fascism, communism–it views its history as nothing more than a long series of massacres and sackings that led to two world wars, that is, to an enthusiastic suicide.’ The exhaustion of Europe’s cultural spirit is seen in such phenomena as the bland narcissistic hedonism of our liberal utopias and in our inability to reproduce ourselves. The looming demographic crisis that faces Europe’s greying populations produces a need for cheap foreign labour that needs to be seen as part of the story behind differing responses to the refugee crisis (why are we so welcoming of mass asylum when we cannot even welcome our own offspring into the world?). One of the reasons why Islamophobia is a real phenomenon in Europe is because it is so unsettlingly apparent that, as Michael Houellebecq intimates, the young Muslim immigrants entering Europe have a vitality and virility of cultural spirit that is alien to native Europeans.

Raspail: Two opposing camps. One still believes. One doesn’t. The one that still has faith will move mountains. That’s the side that will win. Deadly doubt has destroyed all incentive in the other. That’s the side that will lose.

One more clip from Roberts, who says that as Christians, we certainly have an obligation to show charity to refugees, but that does not mean that we are morally obligated to allow them to settle among us:

Liberalism’s undervaluation of particularity encourages it to think in terms of abstract right-bearers and of mere space. The paradigmatic person of liberalism is a displaced one: the universal human subject. As one might expect, the result of the liberal vision has often been the breaking down of particular communities and places into interchangeable territories, rendering all increasingly ‘placeless’, both in the social, historical, and material order.

The indiscriminate welcoming of migrant populations can attenuate place for everyone. Although this may serve the interests of capitalists and governments who stand to benefit from a mobile, dependent, and biddable workforce and a population with little internal solidarity, this is at heavy cost to the wellbeing of the people within such groups. The persons who bear the heaviest burden of this loss of place are typically the poorest within society.

As Paul Kahn has argued, the liberal vision of political community as founded upon the formality of social contract and around universal human values and rights, neglects the reality that every such community must be bound together by the forces of sacrifice, of faith, love, and identity, forces that are inescapably particular. Peoples and places are forged around shared customs, values, religions, languages, histories, cultural canons, symbols, and sacrifices and it is only thus that universal human goods are realized.

The biblical vision of charity ‘begins at home’, with those who are our immediate neighbours, and with the principled extension of our places to others–or the creation of new shared places–in a manner that preserves and develops their character as specific refractions of universal human goods. Although this extension is and should be transformative, the particular is never abandoned for the universal, however.

To welcome masses of migrants is to run the risk of sinning against the neighbor one already has. It is also to run the extreme risk of sacrificing the community itself by dissipating the non-rational forces — sacrifice, faith, love, identity — that bind a community together.

Read the whole thing. [1] Roberts offers his own suggestions for how European Christians should respond faithfully to the refugee crisis. Raspail would probably think him too soft, but I think he’s on to something. Nevertheless, Roberts grasps Raspail’s essential point: that Europe’s self-loathing, faithlessness (in God, in itself), and its sentimental humanitarianism, which substitutes emoting for the difficult task of thinking, are going to destroy it.

So, again: Raspail can be repulsive, but he wrote about something real, something that’s happening right now. People like the prominent left-wing Anglican priest Giles Fraser could have come straight out of The Camp of the Saints. Fraser writes, in (where else?) The Guardian [2]:

For years our politicians have piggy-backed upon Christian morality for electoral advantage. We should “feel proud that this is a Christian country”, said Cameron earlier this year (pre-election, of course), in what some might uncharitably see as a call to maintain a Muslim-free view from his Cotswold village. But there is no respectable Christian argument for fortress Europe, surrounded by a new iron curtain of razor wire to keep poor, dark-skinned people out. Indeed, the moral framework that our prime minister so frequently references – and to which he claims some sort of vague allegiance – is crystal clear about the absolute priority of our obligation to refugees.

It’s easy to say that Fraser is full of it. It’s much more difficult to say what seemingly hard-hearted actions Europeans should be prepared to take, or have taken in their name, to prevent the colonization of their countries and the long-term destruction of their way of life. One of the most unsettling thoughts provoked by Raspail’s novel is that the kind of people who will do whatever is necessary to preserve their civilization are the kind of people who regard people from the Third World as Raspail does in Chapter 20: as an undifferentiated mass of people who are barely human. In which case one wonders whether one has preserved civilization at all.

Hard, hard questions…

Advertisement
95 Comments (Open | Close)

95 Comments To "Is Christianity A Suicide Cult?"

#1 Comment By Thursday On September 10, 2015 @ 3:03 pm

Cosimanian orthodoxy or suicide cult. Those are your only two possible options, folks.

#2 Comment By Michael Heraklios On September 10, 2015 @ 3:19 pm

When I look at the West today (both Europe and the United States), I see a lot of parallels with the state of Pagan Rome in the fourth century.

The Christian identity politics played by Republicans and some European politicians on the right, to me, come off as hallow and banal, if not outright bogus.

A lot of Westerners today are Christian in a sentimental sense, similar to the way the pagans appealed to their traditional religious rites in order to maintain their Roman way of life against an encroaching Christianity. The cultural Christians want to use their religion to safeguard their civilization, and yet, they do not embody the very worldview that Christian belief necessarily entails. It’s like a biblical outer shell disguising a pagan mindset.

Should the Christian’s main concern be safeguarding his worldly “way of life” or attaining eternal salvation in the Hereafter?

When I look at Christians today, I don’t see any of that zeal that animated the Christians living in Roman lands in the 1st-4th centuries, but it is that very zeal that gave Christianity its great success amongst the people of that time in the first place.

The question I pose is, if Western Christianity today has fallen into the same position that pagan Roman religion fell into in the fourth century, who or what will play the role today that Christianity played in Rome in the fourth century?

Now, a lot of people can argue that it’s Islam. However, I personally do not see mass conversions taking place in the near future, especially conversions stemming from genuine conviction. But then again, stranger things have happened.

What I would find frightening is if the European turned to Islam not out of genuine or sincere belief, but as the last possible antidote to his societal ills.

In other words, the European chooses Islam to save his civilization and reestablish his dominance, not because he really believes in its tenets.

Feminism, homosexuality, tolerance for minorities at the expense of the majority, the breakdown of the family, secularism run amuck – everything that has morally destroyed the West, Islam essentially hates. In the wrong hands, it would be a deadly combination indeed.

#3 Comment By Daxon On September 10, 2015 @ 3:21 pm

Roberts’ piece really is good. The arrival of so many Muslims would make us Europeans blanch even if ‘Christian Europe’ still existed, with a clear sense of purpose and identity. It is far more daunting now that Europe has become the most irreligious continent in the world, bar Antarctica. By and large, the new arrivals have a sense of spiritual identity that makes complete sense of their world and they are not about to surrender it. By and large, the native Europeans have no such moorings, and can only look with bemusement and fear on those who do. On another of your Raspail-themed pieces, Rod, some of the commentators spoke of this influx as an excellent chance for Christian evangelism. I don’t want to be rude, but this is astoundingly naive. There is simply no energy left in European Christianity to accomplish such a feat; Europe’s churches feel embarrassed at the very idea of mission if it means something beyond ‘social work’. Saving souls? The way, the truth and the life? No sir – that is all so much illiberal bigotry. All faiths are equal, etc, etc. The idea that hundreds of thousands of young Muslims will be won over by this milquetoast-grin of a worldview is nothing less than delusional.

#4 Comment By Eamus Catuli On September 10, 2015 @ 3:32 pm

The migrants in Camp of the Saints aren’t the real villains; the European elites and the masses that follow them blindly are. — RD]

I think this is a standard trope of racist and white supremacist literature, and probably of a piece with the treatment of alien hordes as “an undifferentiated mass of people who are barely human,” which is also typical of that literature. For unrelated reasons related to my academic work, I’ve been reading The Turner Diaries lately, and it’s the same there — except rather than European, the villains are American “elites and the masses that follow them blindly.”

The fact that we’re dealing with a familiar convention of a certain kind of generally reprehensible literature doesn’t mean, of course, that Raspail is wrong on other points or isn’t raising genuinely difficult questions. But it’s well to remember that the whole thing is an artistic construction: what happens in The Camp of the Saints happens not necessarily because that’s how the world is, but because that’s what Raspail decided will happen — just as the epidemic of black-on-white rapes in The Turner Diaries (and the connivance of a hegemonic, Jewish-run “System” in allowing them) happens not because of reality, but because William Luther Pierce was an appalling racist and neo-Nazi. I could write a novel where everyone gets a magic unicorn, but that would prove nothing about the actual availability of magic unicorns.

#5 Comment By ginger On September 10, 2015 @ 3:35 pm

Hector:

“I’m not sure we can fully answer that questions, but if we don’t, then we have to resign ourselves either to the Malthusian/Raspail deathtrap, to callously watching people starve (which is morally monstrous), or to using extremely coercive methods of getting people to contracept (which no one likes, but is at least better than Option 2)”

Option 3 necessitates abortion (in addition to the instrinsic evil of contraception itself, a vicious act and an abomination to the believing Catholic), given that there is no form of contraception that is 100% (I’ve even known of a few cases of pregnancy post-tubal and post-vasectomy). Plus you’ll have people who want more than the allotted 1 or 2 children trying to game that system if you don’t police unplanned/extra pregnancies with forced abortion.

That’s pretty monstrous, too, and you’d probably have not a few faithful Catholics finding #2 far preferable. At least with #2, you can sit around hoping and praying God will come to the rescue with a miracle, and these folks won’t actually starve after all.

#6 Comment By Anne On September 10, 2015 @ 3:46 pm

So, Rod, does this mean you’re judging Christianity by Raspail’s standards, or at least by those he implies necessary in Camp of the Saints (!)? I would hope not, but what then? The novel certainly implies Christian values undermine everything we and everybody else in the West hold sacred by making the Haves feel guilty about fighting off the mindless masses of Have Nots in all their perverse neediness. The novel’s bishops, like today’s pope, preach biblical concern for the downtrodden even as that putrid flotilla of destructive Have Nots sails closer.

I guess I’m not surprised that the anti-immigrant movement in Europe has resurrected Raspail’s sf horror story as philosophical fodder; it fits their paranoia to a T. But Christians? There’s so much to say about this reactionary obsession with the danger posed by the world’s poor (Them) against the world’s privileged and rich (Us) it’s hard to know where to focus….on the real refugee crisis of the moment or the mindset itself, which both predates and dwarfs it?

The mindset’s incompatibility with Christianity or Christian values seems obvious. Putting Christian institutions in service to the status quo has worked in practice in times past, but only when lip service could still be paid to our traditional, biblically based obligations to the poor and downtrodden. To expect Christians, including a modern pope, to consciously jettison all that and side with the forces of privilege in defense of the West’s “Christian culture” against the world’s poor, which includes an even larger number of Christians, is expecting real suicide, body, soul and spirit.

#7 Comment By Sam M On September 10, 2015 @ 4:02 pm

“I don’t think Raspail uses “belief” to mean religion alone. So far, he has not mentioned the religion of the poor Indian masses on the flotilla. I think he’s talking more about believing in your own civilization.”

I know. I didn’t take him to be meaning such. That’s why I mentioned the trans activists and the locker room. They KNOW it’s not popular. They don’t care. They don’t care if people will get mad at them. To hell with people who get mad.

Compare this to the school board. It’s not like they don’t believe it’s better not to have a penis in the girls locker room. They know it. And they believe it. What they lack is the vigor and/or the courage to tell that kid to pound sand or they will sink his flotilla.

#8 Comment By Colonel Blimp On September 10, 2015 @ 4:03 pm

It makes me irritated that some commentators here (and I can only assume they live in the New World, not the Old) can blithely dismiss in a few sentences the anxiety we Europeans have. I would invite them to spend some time in the Lancashire mill towns, or Clichy-sous-Bois, and then be so blase about what it means to have mass migration from adherents of a faith that is diametrically opposed to both Europe’s Christian past and secular liberal present. We are not talking about something as inconsequential and easily done as shuffling a deck of cards. We are talking about the lives of nations. The events in S.E. Europe this summer are part of an wider chain that will effect a permanent and indelible change in our way of life. Every generation that comes after us will have to deal with it, so please bear with us while we give it at least a little thought.

I hear some say ‘it’s only a few hundred thousand, and what difference will that make?’ Unemployment is over 20% in great swathes of Europe, so it will make a difference right now. Also, we already have millions of Muslims in Europe already, and it ain’t plain sailing. Or has it passed everyone’s notice that the ISIS beheader-in-chief, Mohammed Emwazi, grew up in Maida Vale, not Mosul? There will also be millions more on their way – that is the point. It is magical thinking to expect this influx to be an isolated summer craze; it will go on and on on, not least because the rest of the world is not ignorant of what has happened. The maternal sentiments of Mama Merkel have not gone unnoticed outside the EU.

#9 Comment By M_Young On September 10, 2015 @ 4:13 pm

“Emma said it best”

Apparently even [3]

“Jesus was a migrant”.

A better term would be refugee. One who returned to his homeland after the danger had passed.

#10 Comment By mwing On September 10, 2015 @ 4:35 pm

Is there an overly long German word for “vicarious xenophobia on behalf of a country you are not actually a citizen of?”

Well, I knew I was reading the publication that Pat Buchanan writes for, so I shouldn’t be that surprised by the tone of many of your commenters.
I remember reading about the anti-immigrant (and specifically anti-Catholic) hysteria of parts of the US in the mid 1800s. Guess some things never change!
My ancestors said those sorts of things, about the Irish. And Italians and Poles and Southern Europeans, but really, mostly the Irish. Last I checked (hello Boston) the Irish were doing just fine, except some of them have started saying the same sorts of things about Mexicans.

#11 Comment By JonF On September 10, 2015 @ 4:47 pm

Re: When I look at the West today (both Europe and the United States), I see a lot of parallels with the state of Pagan Rome in the fourth century.

The 4th century? No, not at all. The latter part of the 2nd century BC– maybe. (That was the era when Rome’s republican institutions began to not work very well, but before the violence started, that led eventually to the autocracy of the principiate).

#12 Comment By German_reader On September 10, 2015 @ 4:51 pm

@Colonel Blimp

“It makes me irritated that some commentators here (and I can only assume they live in the New World, not the Old) can blithely dismiss in a few sentences the anxiety we Europeans have. ”

I agree…the self-righteousness by some commenters here is nauseating. One could get almost get the impression that some of them, beneath their veil of charity and compassion, are actually looking forward to Europe’s coming troubles and derive some perverse joy from the thought of seeing the continent humbled.

#13 Comment By panda On September 10, 2015 @ 4:57 pm

“The mindset’s incompatibility with Christianity or Christian values seems obvious. Putting Christian institutions in service to the status quo has worked in practice in times past, but only when lip service could still be paid to our traditional, biblically based obligations to the poor and downtrodden. To expect Christians, including a modern pope, to consciously jettison all that and side with the forces of privilege in defense of the West’s “Christian culture” against the world’s poor, which includes an even larger number of Christians, is expecting real suicide, body, soul and spirit.

As a non-Christian, non-theist, I am very reluctant to go down the “you are not a real Christian route because charity” route- it is my deep belief that there is no such thing as real Christian (or Jew for that matter)- only various communities calling themselves that. However, Annie’s post with does bring up an interesting post: during the SSM debates, you, Rod, repeatedly declared that a good Christian is a Christian first, and an American (Frenchman, German, European) second. How does this statement work in practice, in a situation like this?

#14 Comment By William Dalton On September 10, 2015 @ 5:09 pm

Daxon:

“There is simply no energy left in European Christianity to accomplish such a feat; Europe’s churches feel embarrassed at the very idea of mission if it means something beyond ‘social work’. Saving souls? The way, the truth and the life? No sir – that is all so much illiberal bigotry. All faiths are equal, etc, etc. The idea that hundreds of thousands of young Muslims will be won over by this milquetoast-grin of a worldview is nothing less than delusional.”

I would say the expert to consult about reaching with the Gospel young Muslims who are disillusioned with Western society and culture, is Charles Featherstone, who’s story of conversion has been featured in these pages. Don’t underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit to reform anyone’s life.

#15 Comment By William Dalton On September 10, 2015 @ 5:35 pm

One problem with declaring your country a Christian nation is the opportunity this gives to confuse your state with your church. This is not the danger feared by God-hating liberals, who believe the State should acknowledge no obligation to serve God. It is the danger of Caesaropapism, which fails to acknowledge that State and Church are called to serve God in different ways. The Church is called to welcome the stranger, to feed the hungry, heal the sick, clothe the naked, to raise the dead. The Church does this with whatever gifts the Holy Spirit gives them, by means natural and supernatural.

But the officers of the State are also God’s minister, one charged with a different mission – “God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer”. Romans 13:4 Their job is to protect the polis from harm, pending the return of Christ and the establishment of his Kingdom. They do this by arresting and punishing lawbreakers, removing the threat to the peace of the community from domestic miscreants. They also do this by protecting the land they govern from outside molestation. Such molesters may be foreign armies threatening invasion and conquest. They may be a flood of immigrants, seeking to escape the problems of their homeland but who will inevitably bring with them into any land which accepts them those same problems, to some degree. So the State, even one serving God, has a responsibility to guard against the entry of those who, whether they mean to or not, threaten the country with harm. They do this by carefully screening applicants for admission to the civil community – not the Church – and admitting such as meet the nation’s capacity and needs.

If you need a clearer example, consider a mass migration of people infected with a terrible disease – Ebola, for instance. Is there any question, posed even by the most softhearted Christian, that the State is responsible to withstand and keep out such an invasion, even if lethal force is required?

Not all human diseases are carried by bacteria and viruses.

#16 Comment By William Dalton On September 10, 2015 @ 5:59 pm

Great Southern Land:

I see that Australia has now decided to open its borders to thousands of Syrian refugees. Expect more to follow.

[4]

#17 Comment By Fran Macadam On September 10, 2015 @ 5:59 pm

“In other words, Cosimano, who is only coming out and saying what no one else has the guts to do more than hint at.”

Up-chuckie’s a joking dilettante, but his armchair stance that can be explained away as irony requires no guts. It’s like eating your cake and having it still.

#18 Comment By American in Istanbul On September 10, 2015 @ 6:00 pm

I’m sorry, but I don’t see these as hard questions regarding the current crisis. Let’s stipulate there are legitimate problems with too much immigration. I can think of three:

(1) Problems with assimilation, possibly leading to increased crime among the migrants. (These are usually at least half the fault of the host culture, who basically treat migrants the same way northern cities treated blacks coming from the south.)

(2) Problems with loss of culture.

(3) Increased competition among low-skilled workers driving down wages & driving up unemployment at the bottom.

If the E.U. member states took in *every refugee in the world* and distributed them equally, it would increase their populations by 2%. No one is talking about sheltering so many people, but something like a million Syrian refugees, a mere 0.2% increase in population.

I agree that the primary responsibility of each government is the welfare of its citizens. Commonwealths are not mutual societies for altruism. Nonetheless, one major way we can help others, or fail to help, is through government. Christians might be mislead on this point because the major authorities in our tradition were writing before the development of modern nation-states & before the industrial revolution. A theologian in 13th-century Paris had almost no relationship to people living in China, and could not help them even if he wanted to. Our relationship to the global poor has changed since then, because the material facts have changed. We in wealthy countries bear roughly the same relationship to the very poor elsewhere, as a medieval nobleman had to the beggars outside the city walls. Take a look at “Peter Singer and Christian Ethics: Beyond Polarization”, by Charles C. Camosy, written from an orthodox Christian point-of-view, to see the surprising extent to which the mainstream Christian tradition & universalist utilitarians like Singer agree on some matters. (Where I think Singer goes wrong is, he ignores the need we all have to help those closest to us in order to grow in love — in addition to the usual problems with utilitarianism.)

To sum up, yes governments are responsible to their own citizens first; yes we should mainly try to help those closest to us; and yes there is some limit where allowing immigration hurts us more than it helps them. But (a) if any corporate entities have moral responsibilities to non-members than certainly governments do; (b) a major way we help others today is through government; (c) you could not ask for a clearer case than the duty of rich nations to shelter refugees fleeing I.S. & the Syrian civil war; (d) whatever the limit of too much immigration is, surely it’s well above a 0.2% increase.

To put it another way, why do you, Rod, think the burden of the Syrian refugee crisis should fall on Turkey (2.85% increase), Jordan (21.7% increase) & tiny little Lebanon (more than 27% increase)?

Also, why aren’t we Americans taking in more of these refugees? So far we have only managed to help a paltry 1,500 people. Let’s prioritize Christian refugees & other minorities at risk from I.S.I.S., but let’s do our fair share. After all, we bear some of the responsibility. We destabilized Iraq, where we set up conditions that allowed I.S. to flourish after we withdrew. We armed the Syrian rebels, which prolonged the Syrian civil war — although so far as I know we have not armed the rebels as much as regional countries, or to the extent Iran has done. I disagree with those who say we caused the civil war, which was due more to Syria’s own internal history of 48 years of Ba’ath Party dictatorship + the Arab Spring + the 2004–2011 drought. Nevertheless, the war would have been less intense, or possibly over by now, and I.S. would not exist, if we had not invaded Iraq.

#19 Comment By Fran Macadam On September 10, 2015 @ 6:11 pm

“.. yet you are denouncing Christians as non-Christian for not surrendering their countries. — RD”

Both your points would be valid, if Christians were those who in any way make policy, for they are not. Nor are the the countries Christian. There might be one arguably Christian country left – the Vatican. How miniscule is that?

Nor ought Europeans to be seriously taking advice from Americans, while they certainly won’t be taking it from any Christians, American or otherwise. The United States isn’t in any practical way a Christian nation any more, though that fiction was certainly slightly more believable in the past that it is now. And Americans can’t even run their own country in a Christian manner or take Christian advice themselves. Or act rationally.

#20 Comment By Giuseppe Scalas On September 10, 2015 @ 6:58 pm

For a Catholic like me, the guidance is the Catechism, and it’s very clear. I have already posted the relevant canon, but repetita iuvant. Please note the marked sentences.

2241 The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him.

Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants’ duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens.

’nuff said. No crazy liberal sentimentalism, as far as I can see. That’s the Magisterium, to which I’m bound. If the Pope says something different extra cathedram, I’m hearing him with respect, but I also respectfully disagree.

#21 Comment By Johan On September 10, 2015 @ 6:59 pm

Few appreciate that some of the ethics of Christianity (especially the self-sacrificing) emerged from the apocalyptic outlook of those who invented the religion. Their movement was not designed for strong, stable, long-term societies, simply because they thought that the end was imminent, so why worry about the future. There was not going to BE a long run. So applying this outlook to the real world, where “long term” is a relevant concept, is indeed suicidal. Too bad Europe didn’t drop the suicidal ethic when it became secular.

#22 Comment By BadReligion On September 10, 2015 @ 7:12 pm

Hey, Blimp, I share some of your concerns, from an atheist and radical-Left stance. I must interject that unemployment has nothing to do with it, as migrants create more jobs than they take. Even very conservative economists agree on this.

But, to your larger point, there are some things to keep in mind. If you’re worried about Islamization, remember that there sure are millions and millions of non-Muslims out there who would love a chance to live and work in Europe. Remember that migrants send home lots of money, which is a huge engine for growth. That’s why there aren’t nearly as many Mexicans coming to the US as there were not long ago, as over twenty years of remittances have improved the lives of many families. Remittances pay for things that not only prevent people from feeling the need to migrate, but, like education for girls and women, lower the fertility rate as well. These changes are already having effects on migration patterns in the New World.

Take a look at the “nations of immigrants” around the world, especially Canada. To be Canadian is to be multicultural. They don’t suffer nearly the same assimilation difficulties that Europe does, though there are some problems, to be sure.

I don’t think things are impossible for the current wave of migrants. The first wave of North Africans to come to France were quite secular, and in fact that’s true of quite a few migrants these days. It’s why they’re leaving the Middle East. Aren’t some of the current wave fleeing from the violence wrought by Jihadis?

How did Europe secularize? Good-quality education leads to people questioning the veracity of the supernatural (it correlates *very* well, which ought to be discomforting to people like Dreher), and cataclysmic social and political events (among other factors) motivated the postwar generation to rebel against religion. Why can’t that apply to today’s migrants? Secularism used to be the norm in politics in the Middle East and beyond; it wasn’t that long ago that even Afghanistan had a government that was strongly feminist and even toying with state atheism!

It will be difficult, but this is *not* suicide. Far from it.

#23 Comment By TB On September 10, 2015 @ 7:30 pm

Is Christianity A Suicide Cult?
_____________

There were certainly elements of the early Church keen on martyrdom and, aside from most of the Gnostic Christians, were enamored with the possibility of suicide-by-cop but didn’t try to instigate it. Both Gnostic and orthodox Christians assumed the Day of Judgement was on the verge of happening so that tended to color their judgments.

Jesus’ martyrdom was a classic suicide-by-cop situation. These days nearly all of his followers believe he’ll return some time in the misty future. They ignore the repeated claims of the Synoptic writers who quoted Jesus as having promised the end of days would happen in the lifetime of his listeners.

[NFR: The Roman destruction of Jerusalem, including the Temple, and the diaspora of the Jews was what Jesus was talking about. But it’s also seen as a double prophecy, about the Apocalypse yet to come. — RD]

#24 Comment By TB On September 10, 2015 @ 7:38 pm

M_Young: “Jesus was a migrant”. A better term would be refugee. One who returned to his homeland after the danger had passed.
_________________________

There was no danger. That was a nice story ginned up by the most educated of the synotpic writers (Matthew) who was drawing a tidy parallel to Moses and his “escape from Egypt”.
You can be sure that, had there been a slaughter of little boys in Judea because the local king thought one of them would grow up to be the messiah, there would be very good Roman records of it. There would also be a record of the king being removed from his puppet thrown and given psychotropic drugs and EST.

#25 Comment By Paul Emmons On September 10, 2015 @ 9:07 pm

“As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” –Galations 6:10.

Dare I suggest a compromise along the lines of the above? How about considering an applicant’s religion in deciding whom to accommodate on anything like a permanent basis?

Nowadays, Islam is obviously a large part of the problem. I prefer to let The Islamic State be known by the name its leaders have adopted. For non-Muslims to decide what is or is not Islamic is merely arrogant. But ISIS is only the most ruthless example to date. There is the warfare between Sunnis and Shi’ites which has gone on ever since the second generation of Islam. Then we have the experience of life with entire districts of Muslims in Europe, who stubbornly resist assimilation in a way that I doubt that any wave of immigrants to America ever did.

For anyone to persist adhering to Islam who has an opportunity to renounce it is incomprehensible to me. Its practical benefits to those living where it predominates seem as slight as its truth claims. It makes converts by means of force and keeps them by means of death threats.

But I suppose that my suggestion is the most quixotic in this whole thread, with zero likelihood of consideration by any European government. Everyone in power there knows that religion is obsolete and irrelevant in modern times, right?

#26 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On September 10, 2015 @ 11:02 pm

Dare I suggest a compromise along the lines of the above? How about considering an applicant’s religion in deciding whom to accommodate on anything like a permanent basis?

Poland and Slovakia are doing just that (and I think, at least in that context, they’re making the right decision).

#27 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On September 10, 2015 @ 11:10 pm

Bad Religion,

1) Fertility rates have dropped precipitously, and HDI has risen, in every Latin American country, including those which don’t send a lot of migrants to the United States. I’m glad Mexicans are a lot better off these days, but it’s not clear to me that remittances are the reason.

2) That’s all very well for Canada, and for the United States, but not every country wants to be Canada, or more generally a ‘nation of immigrants’. Poland and Slovakia, for two, definitely don’t. You certainly gain something by being a nation of immigrants, but you lose a lot too, most importantly a kind of ethnic and cultural cohesion.

3) As you yourself seem to concede, the trend among Muslims in recent decades has been towards less secularism, not more.

#28 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On September 10, 2015 @ 11:16 pm

There was no danger. That was a nice story ginned up by the most educated of the synotpic writers (Matthew) who was drawing a tidy parallel to Moses and his “escape from Egypt”.
You can be sure that, had there been a slaughter of little boys in Judea because the local king thought one of them would grow up to be the messiah, there would be very good Roman records of it. There would also be a record of the king being removed from his puppet thrown and given psychotropic drugs and EST.

Uh, no.

1) We have very minimal first century Roman records from occupied Palestine.

2) Plenty of writers ancient and modern fail to mention things that we with our modern eyes would expect they should mention. Marco Polo didn’t mention the Great Wall of China. Herodotus didn’t mention the founding of Rome. Arguments from silence are generally terrible ones.

3) We actually do know that both Herod the Great and Archelaus engaged in the occasional bloody massacre- including the killing of an estimated 3000 people inside the temple shortly after Archelaus took power- and they didn’t lose their thrnes for it, at least not for a long time afterwards.

#29 Comment By Aaron Gross On September 11, 2015 @ 12:30 am

Hey, wait a minute. You write,

It is also to run the extreme risk of sacrificing the community itself by dissipating the non-rational forces — sacrifice, faith, love, identity — that bind a community together.

What’s this community you’re talking about? The nation? The state? Europe? The church?

If this community you’re talking about is anything other than the church itself, then the title of your article has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual article. The church is not Christendom; the church is not European culture or European civilization or even Europe itself.

Simply put, if you’re not talking about the death of the church, then you’re not talking about suicide. You’re maybe talking about a negligent-homicide cult. And if you are talking about the church, then it’s questionable whether it’s committing suicide, especially given God’s promise that such a thing is impossible.

I think that throughout your commentary you’re really confusing the church with Christendom, with Christian civilization, and with Europe. You can argue that they’re mutually dependent (and of course Hauerwas would vigorously argue against you), but it’s an error to treat them as identical.

#30 Comment By Fran Macadam On September 11, 2015 @ 12:37 am

“Jesus’ martyrdom was a classic suicide-by-cop situation.”

What an offensive, blasphemous statement.

On the other hand, given the kind treatment of Raspail’s updated and transplanted version of prophetic philosophy similar to that of Thomas W. Dixon’s “The Leopard’s Spots,” “The Clansman” and “The Traitor,” I fail to see that there is any point in censoring Deep South Populist. Dixon’s works were also written with a command of story and words that are also convincing, almost convincing in their inspiration and nobility. Just enough truth to further all sorts of deviltry.

#31 Comment By BillWAF On September 11, 2015 @ 1:40 am

A few points:

1) Your dismissal of Giles Fraser, at best, speaks rather ill of you. Fraser is a very smart and well educated man who could have done very well in the UK establishment. Instead, he became a priest in the Anglican Church. He has never been a careerist. Currently, he is a priest at a poor parish. He wrote relatively recently about the robbery of property from his church and his reaction to it.
At times, Fraser has written things with which I disagree. However, I have always accepted that he takes his positions because he feels that they are demanded by the Gospel. One might have thought that someone who is frequently hysterical because of non-existent threats to religious liberty in the US might have respected that. (I suppose that my tone could have been nicer, but I never claimed to be a Christian first.)

2) [NFR: The Roman destruction of Jerusalem, including the Temple, and the diaspora of the Jews was what Jesus was talking about. But it’s also seen as a double prophecy, about the Apocalypse yet to come. — RD]

Biblical scholarship is not my area, but my understanding is that the author of Mark wrote after the destruction of the Temple and he wrote what he did because he believed that the destruction of the Temple was a sign of the coming Apocalypse. However, the failure of the Apocalypse to arrive later caused a rethink within the Jesus movement.

#32 Comment By Noah172 On September 11, 2015 @ 9:10 am

panda wrote:

one should point out that the vast majority of refugees streaming to Europe at the moment is coming from a) Syria and b) Eritrea, should mean something no?

What do you mean by “at the moment”? The last few weeks, months, or four years since the Syrian civil war started? Europe has been dealing with a two-front migration crisis: one front is Syrians (and Afghans* and Iraqis and the odd African and heaven knows who else) coming to Europe via Turkey then Greece (mostly); and the other, which you appear to be overlooking in the recent comment threads on this migration topic, is black Africans (especially Senegalese) and Libyans and Gaza Palestinians and some Syrians and heaven knows who else headed due north from Libya to Italy in particular and other Mediterranean shores.

A majority of the irregular migration to Europe via the Med or Aegean or Turkish border with Greece/Bulgaria over, say, the last 12 months has not been people fleeing imminent danger (e.g. the Kurdi family, sheltered reasonably well three years in Turkey before making a reckless and ultimately deadly dash for more comfort, not safety). They’re not even necessarily fleeing ongoing crisis (what’s so bad about Senegal, other than it’s not as rich as Sweden and doesn’t have as attractive women?).

Sure a lot of the migrants are men, but they are from war zones

Unless they’re not; see above. Even if they are from Syria, if they already had refuge in Turkey, etc., then they are not fleeing imminent danger (although the conditions in many refugee camps are terrible). We could pay the hosting countries to ease the strain, put whatever screws we have on the Gulf Arabs to shoulder the burden as they ought, and maybe convince the region that inflaming proxy wars brings blowback on the inflamers and not on the gullible white infidels.

* Just who the heck are these Afghans mixed in with the Syrians? My gut tells me they are deserters from the Shiite mercenary units that Iran has been bringing into Syria to reinforce Assad. Welfare in Sweden sure beats getting your corpse displayed in the next ISIS propaganda video. I don’t buy that a family fleeing imminent slaughter can just walk from Kandahar to Istanbul.

#33 Comment By TB On September 11, 2015 @ 9:14 am

RD: “The Roman destruction of Jerusalem, including the Temple, and the diaspora of the Jews was what Jesus was talking about. But it’s also seen as a double prophecy, about the Apocalypse yet to come.”
________________

1. He certainly seemed to have predicted the first two though, to be honest, the levels of tension in Judea before and during his life had been steadily on the rise and predicting that Rome would finally take decisive action wasn’t all that outlandish. We are talking Rome here.
2. No prediction of a Jewish Diaspora was needed. More Jews lived in Rome, Antioch and Carthage than in Jerusalem in those days, and far more Jews lived in the lands outside Palestine than in it. The writer of Matthew for instance, was a Syrian Jew.
3. The synoptics passed on what they had heard were Jesus’ prediction that the End Times would occur in the lifetime of some of his listeners.

No Jew of the time thought of the Apocalypse as an internal, spiritual revolution. That was a gloss Jesus followers applied to the prophesy well after his death when it had becoming apparent no heavenly army would be swooping down from the clouds.
I don’t believe Christianity needs to cling to its foundation myth any longer. Its value to humanity is its ethical messages of Do Unto Others and the Sermon on the Mount.

#34 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On September 11, 2015 @ 10:29 am

Option 3 necessitates abortion (in addition to the instrinsic evil of contraception itself, a vicious act and an abomination to the believing Catholic), given that there is no form of contraception that is 100% (I’ve even known of a few cases of pregnancy post-tubal and post-vasectomy). Plus you’ll have people who want more than the allotted 1 or 2 children trying to game that system if you don’t police unplanned/extra pregnancies with forced abortion.

Not really. There are five countries in the world with total and unconditional bans on abortion, including to save the mother’s life. In Nicaragua and El Salvador, the ban is actually enforced with up to 30-year prison sentences for the mother. None of those countries have especially high birth rates (the Dominican Republic is at 2.4, Nicaragua at 2.16; El Salvador, Chile and Malta are all below replacement fertility). For the most part, when an urbanized and developed or semideveloped country bans abortion, what happens is that women switch to more effective contraception or use it more assiduously. (In El Salvador, women have been choosing sterilization en masse in recent years).

The key point here is that lowering fertility rates (or for that matter raising them) is a social phenomenon involving averages and population trends- it’s not necessary to be ‘100% effective’ or to stop every person from having a large family, all that’s needed is to shift the average. If 50% of women in a country have 1 child apiece, 36% have two, and 14% have 6 children apiece, then that’s a sub-replacement fertility right there, the families with six children notwithstanding.

The problem in much of Africa (and in a few Muslim countries like Iraq and Yemen) is only partly technological, it’s partly cultural (people in those societies haven’t yet shifted to a cultural norm of small families). Changing the cultural norm is at least as important as making more effective contraception available.

#35 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On September 11, 2015 @ 10:37 am

TB,

Most Jews of the time didn’t perform miracles or rise from the dead (nor did they hold to trinitarianism). Treating Jesus as if he was a ‘typical Jew of his time’ is kind of dead in the water.

what’s so bad about Senegal, other than that it’s not as rich as Sweden and doesn’t have as attractive women?

They have (by all accounts) really good-looking men though. Senegal and the Gambia (which is the Anglophone equivalenet) are currently very popular tourist destinations for older European women with some disposable income who want to be a sugar mama for an athletic 19-year old Senegalese guy for a few weeks. In the longer run, there’s an open niche for a mail-order husband business matching up older European women with West African men (apparently marrying a foreigner is a major life goal for a lot of men in the region). If nothing else, it would help lower their fertility rates as well.

Also, Christianity isn’t fundamentally about ethical rules, it’s about what you could call ‘meta-ethics’, and more fundamentally about our salvation from our own failures to follow those rules.

#36 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On September 11, 2015 @ 10:41 am

Now, I understand the point about this being just a precursor to the REAL colonization etc. However, one should point out that the vast majority of refugees streaming to Europe at the moment is coming from a) Syria and b) Eritrea, should mean something no? Among other things, reducing the problem to “OMG the bastards are coming to kill and rape us all” makes it rather likely to think about ways in which future waves of immigration: like the one coming from Africa once the demographic/ecological bombs caused by combination of high fertility and ecological crisis blow off can be dealt with. After all if Third Worlders are a bunch of beasts able to think only f*k, defecate, and colonize, and all one needs are border fences and torpedo boats, why think about water desalinization plants, family planning, and education for women?

+1000.

#37 Comment By Jonathan On September 11, 2015 @ 11:29 am

All things pass away. European civilisation will pass away, with the rest of this world.

So what? Did Christ ever say it wouldn’t happen?

The hard choice for the “Christian conservative” is which adjective really matters. Is the religion merely a garland of “spirituality” on top of an idolatry for tradition and stability, which any Roman governor could have appreciated? Or is it serious about the thought that, in the end, nothing worldly is “conserved”?

#38 Comment By John Mark On September 11, 2015 @ 11:30 am

Rod, Phil Jenkins has said that immigration may save Europe, as some coming in are Christians. (No, I don’t recall where I read that). On the other hand, and yes this is purely anecdotal and I can’t prove anything by it…..I had a young college age friend in the early 1990’s whose parents were serving my church in England. I distinctly remember him saying that Muslims there believed that they could make Great Britain an Islamic nation. It has been reported that there are a number of places in GB now where you fear to go if you are not Muslim.
The Old Testament does tell believers to welcome the stranger among you. And when I saw the picture of that drowned little boy, I thought of the words “Send me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…..Yet many of the strangers do not want to assimilate. I have no idea what the percentage is. After all, didn’t we welcome Mexicans here for decades so they could work on our farms? So if people refuse to abide by the law, or assimilate (which you might assume would happen over time, except that there seems to be stubborn refusal among some Muslims to do so) then you have not only a problem of how to provide all the proper services to residents, but you have a criminal element to deal with, just as we do here in the USA. The issue, I think, is Islam. Asians who come to the United States quickly become Americanized, even the few Africans I have personally known have become (or their children have become) adapted to life here pretty readily. I know nothing about the average Muslim. But there is evidence, well documented, that a significant number of Muslims do not want to assimilate, but to ‘take over’ the nations they find themselves in. The percentage may be small, but it is disturbing nonetheless.
Bigotry is something that many of us may be infected by, even if we don’t realize it. And ‘we’ are to blame for at least some of the turmoil of the Middle East. But I can well understand the apprehension of the average person in France or Spain or Great Britain, and think it is certainly justified.

#39 Comment By Fran Macadam On September 11, 2015 @ 12:49 pm

People are fleeing from wars that they now have no expectation will ever end, with weaponry supplied endlessly by outsiders with their financial ambitions irons in the fire, who announce in their own western nations that they will wage the wars for perhaps a hundred years.

As for their acceptance being contingent upon their own willingness to adopt craziness gender reassignment, LGBTQ participation and celebration, as well as a host of other decadent dysphoria, why should they take complete leave of their senses? I wouldn’t either.

#40 Comment By Paul Emmons On September 11, 2015 @ 4:02 pm

John Mark writes:

>there is evidence, well documented, that a significant number of Muslims do not want to assimilate, but to ‘take over’ the nations they find themselves in.

Indeed. Some even wear T-shirts proclaiming that intention.

In this respecct, the play “Biedermann and the Firebugs” by Max Frisch is very instructive. Perhaps Rod can read it sometime and give us his analysis. During an epidemic of arson, an affluent suburbanite first boasts that he would never be bamboozled as the victims were, then allows a beggar to live with him. The guest soon invites a second in to join him. That Biedermann acts more out of feelings of guilt than genuine kindness is perceived by his guests immediately, and they proceed to exploit it. They tell him that they are planning to burn his house down and provide abundant evidence of their preparations. The host continues either to assume that they are joking or that he can appease them, until the fatal end. An epilogue suggests that his fate in the afterlife will be no better.

Fran writes:

>As for their acceptance being contingent upon their own willingness to adopt craziness gender reassignment, LGBTQ participation and celebration, as well as a host of other decadent dysphoria, why should they take complete leave of their senses? I wouldn’t either.

Of course they don’t need to adopt it, only tolerate it to the point of not threatening others with violence. There’s a difference. I for one do not mind seeing Muslim women soberly dressed in black with no intention of being public sex objects. They are reminders of the frivolity and bizarreness that we have become so accumstomed to take for granted that they are virtually de rigeur. Covering their faces still strikes me as morbid; but given the sudden ubiquity of surveillance cameras, more of us might yearn to do likewise. It has suddenly become quite prudent. One of these days, I might start at least wearing a hoodie myself simply out of protest.

#41 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On September 11, 2015 @ 9:12 pm

“Jesus was a migrant”.

A better term would be refugee. One who returned to his homeland after the danger had passed.

According to Matthew… but not according to Luke. Mark and John are silent on the matter.

“Jesus’ martyrdom was a classic suicide-by-cop situation.”

What an offensive, blasphemous statement.

Is it, or is it not, true that God had planned from the foundation of the world (or at least since Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge — as if God didn’t know from the Foundation of the World that that was going to happen), is it or is it not true that God KNEW Jesus would be sent to die, and would have to die?

If it is true, then the blasphemous statement has a certain logic to it.

Its sort of like, I’m certain that the White Witch who ruled Narnia is NOT an analog of Satan, or The Devil, of what have you, because Satan would not have wanted Jesus to succeed at dying on the cross. Remember the blasphemous logic of “The Last Temptation of Christ”? (The movie starring Billy Dafoe, not the one directed by Mel Gibson). The “angel” who took Jesus off the cross and allowed him to live was a devil who wanted to prevent the world being saved?

Is Christianity a Suicide Cult?

“Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for a friend.”

#42 Comment By Matt2 On September 11, 2015 @ 10:19 pm

You don’t at all know what Raspail would have said about European Jewish refugees in 1938, based on this book.

No, you’re right. But we can imagine what some one with Raspail’s attitudes, prejudices and hatreds, targeted towards Jews instead of (in addition to?) Muslims, would have thought about Jewish refugees in 1938.

#43 Comment By TB On September 12, 2015 @ 8:53 am

Fran Macadam wrote regarding a comment I made: “Jesus’ martyrdom was a classic suicide-by-cop situation.”
What an offensive, blasphemous statement.
________________

It is not offensive to historians and only blasphemous to people who believe in the Jesus god.

#44 Comment By Daxon On September 12, 2015 @ 8:17 pm

William – I am certainly not one to question the ability of the Holy Spirit to change people. Yet He works through the Church to do this, and what if the Church chooses to stifle Him? My point is that European Christianity has a compulsion to do just that. This can be seen in any number of ways: rampant skepticism about basic doctrine; embarrassment at the very thought of Christ as humanity’s sole salvation, let alone the proclamation of this; the inability or refusal to challenge secular society consistently and with feeling, etc.

I would never belittle the experiences of Mr Featherstone, but one cannot extrapolate one person’s story onto an entire continent, and remember that the subject is Europe not North America – the acedia of the Old World is not yet the norm over there.

#45 Comment By Xnihilo On September 14, 2015 @ 10:46 am

Yes, clearly, insofar as it claims to value the “life of the world to come” over the life we have right here in front of us. The ancients already knew this and despised christianity for it.