25. September 2006 · Comments Off on Ye Choose and Ye Do Not Choose · Categories: Ain't That America?, General, Good God, GWOT, Pajama Game

Well, watching the all-Islamic spazz-out as regards Pope Benedict’s recent suggestion that violent coercion had no place in leading the individual towards a particular religious belief has afforded me a number of opportunities for cynical amusement: the indignant demand that the Pope be fired for his disregard for Moslem sensibilities was one, and the demand from a group of Pakistani clerics (very obviously not the sharpest scimitars in the drawer) that the Pope Benedict formally debate a collection of Moslem scholars, and snappily upon being defeated by logic and reason, himself convert to Islam was just another item in a rich banquet of shadenfreude.

It’s almost as comic as President Ahmedinajad demanding that President Bush convert to Islam himself… in hopes probably, that the entire US would follow after. Ah, the frustration of those who are just bloody-mindedly sure that they are right, and it is only perversity and ignorance that prevents everyone else from seeing it… but enough about the far-left of the Democratic Party, I was talking about those representatives of the “Religion of Peace” who seem to be all over the headlines of late. (Enable extreme sarcasm mode) That 98% of whom it is said, give all the others a bad name. (End extreme sarcasm mode)

The sheer gall and towering ignorance combined and on display is such a dense confection that it probably pulls light into itself and wanders through the universe as a nascent black hole. One can easily understand how a barely literate imam from the wilds of Pakistan or Saudi Arabia can achieve such a such a monumental mass of misunderstanding about the West’s religious beliefs, or supposed lack thereof. But when Sayd Qtub, supposedly one of Islam’s great modern political thinkers managed to see every sort of licentiousness and depravity in a church sock-hop in teetotal Greeley, Colorado in the late 1940ies, one is not inclined to expect too much out of Qtub’s intellectual heirs or their powers of observation. Alas, large chunks of Western media and intellectuals, to include our own very dear bi-coastal types, also manage to comprehensively miss or misinterpret the religious mores of heartland America, so I don’t suppose I can expect much from the Seething Islamic Street ™.

So, here we go, one more time, for the benefit of those who have, perhaps supped too deeply of the BBC and it’s ilk: Yes, America is religious, to a greater extent than the cultured and secular types consider seemly. But please, please stop with the old game of picking out some congregation of freaks like Fred Phelps, or any other assortment of fundamentalist nutjobs, Elmer Gantry-ish televangelists begging for dollars from their mega-church’s cable TV station, or some credulous hick who sees the Virgin Mary’s face in an oil slick, or a pancake or some other bit of ephemera… and implying that they are just typical of all devout Americans. They are not… they are, in fact, atypical, and we have been pointing our fingers and snickering at them for decades.

By the way, just to demolish another sweaty intellectual fantasy, there is no way on earth that a single bread-and-butter fundamentalist sect could ever take over the US, a la “Handmaids’ Tale”, other than in Margaret Atwood’s feverish dreams. There are just too many other sects, synods, denominations, congregations, or whatever, most of whom rather cherish their own particular idiosyncrasies, and many of which have, in the past, fought like cats in a sack. Look, you can describe both the Amish and the Mormons as being rather conservative and old-fashioned, but aside from the fact that they both have large numbers of adherents living in the US, that’s about all they have in common. Even the Lutherans have two opposing synods, both of whom view each other with deep suspicion. Frankly, the only way that Americans would ever conform to a single, over-arching religious belief would be at gunpoint, and very possibly not even then. Most of us, though, are unostentatious in our beliefs, or lack of them, and are somewhat suspicious of those who are not. Our houses of worship will probably never attract the attention of a BBC producer… nothing to titillate or tut-tut.

A church community of some kind or other has been the mainstay of American life since before the beginning of the Republic. Most of them came to these shores as refugees from religious orthodoxy in the places they originated; and while some of them were not averse to imposing their own orthodoxy, most did not care for having orthodoxy imposed upon them by others. This may yet be the hard rock upon which the wave of Islam breaks, that Qutb and Bin Laden and their ilk do not see, because they were too busy looking at the flashy vulgarity of popular American or Western culture, and never saw the bedrock underneath.

So let them bluster, demand away, stamp their feet in Peshawar, or Mecca, or Qom, and expect the arrival of the 12th Imam, and demand submission; in the meantime, we are watching.

“Look well, O Wolves! What have the Free People to do with the orders of any save the Free People? Look well!”

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