Friday, July 07, 2006

Faith and Understanding


Many of my professional colleagues (a liberal profession in an overwhelmingly liberal city) think I’m crazy when I tell them I believe that Islamic Militants are a VERY serious threat – one that is more serious than most of us are aware. So who is right? Am I crazy to believe that Islamic Militants have the power to wreak havoc on, and eventually destroy, the Western World?

I can’t claim to be the most faithful person on the planet; my personal journey of is something that is between God and me. But I should be able to claim at least *some* familiarity with the inner soul-searching and an understanding of how a mind can be influenced by Faith.

To put it simply, I think that a big reason why the danger of Militant Islam is underestimated by so many people is because those great many people don’t fully understand the concept of Faith.

The American Judeo-Christian tradition is one of both deep faith and of tolerance. The few anomalies of this not withstanding, our notion that Faith is not necessarily universal is what roots this tradition. Deep religious faith is arrived upon only through personal soul searching. What then necessarily follows is that no one person can determine the type or depth of faith in any other person. Evangelizing and “testifying” are the only methods that come close to being able to determine the faith of another person. One can speak with as loud a voice as they want, but this does not guarantee that anybody around them will listen and understand.

If a person has never experienced the inner soul-searching of faith, I seriously doubt that they could begin to grasp the depth of motivation on the part of a faithful person. This motivation can result in tremendously uplifting and loving acts of kindness and selflessness towards others. But it can also result in brutally destructive acts of violence and hatred. And often the difference between how one views these acts depends upon one’s personal faith. The act of beheading another human being is repulsive to most of us. But to a Militant Islamist, that act is a profound pronouncement of faith and love towards God. To understand how the meaning of such an act can be so different to two different people, and how that meaning is manifested in faith, is the beginning of being able to see Militant Islam as a serious existential threat.

Today, it is a scimitar beheading a single person. Tomorrow, it could just as easily be a 1-megaton warhead detonated in a major metropolitan area. Motivation and Faith remain. The degree of opportunity to express them is what changes.

Most of us can’t even imagine a situation where we would be compelled to kill one, let alone thousands, of our fellow human beings, with or without remorse. Even a secular humanist, though, can recognize that they would likely kill another person if the safety of their children is at stake. Perhaps a clear understanding of that secular humanist’s internal motivations to protect their children at any cost is the beginning of understanding the threat of Militant Islam.

I would like to caution the reader, however, that a war against Militant Islam could easily morph in to a war against Faith. But we must remember that foremost in our cultural philosophy is the irrevocable right to self-determination. That is, the right to determine our place in the world. Our meaning. Our Faith.


Mr.Atos said...

Live and let live. Its what it all comes down to. Don't slice my throat... or the tires on my SUV because you dont like one or the other. Religion as a concept, takes many forms and has varying degrees of devotion. Spiking trees, torching condos, falsifying scientific evidence, sabotaging transmission towers, arson, vandalism, are one form of worship. The mass marketing of abortion is another. It seems that regardless of affiliation, the extremists never recognize their own fanaticism... nor its logical corollaries, even as the threats are both similar and emminent.

Boghie said...


Faith of all types plays a major role in major events.

If pushed hard enough, the West (referenced in your post as the Judeo-Christian tradition) pushes back hard. As Mr. Atos stated in the previous comment: 'Live and Let Live.'

The corollary, however, is 'Kill or be Killed.' That came in WWII, the Civil War, the Revolutionary War, the War of Roses, ..., the 30 Years War, the Roman/Germanic Wars, the Persian Wars, ...

Faith (religious and/or secular) played a role in all. These eras were defined by sharply delineated belief structures. We are in an era of sharply delineated belief structures - internal and external.

Our great luck (and I really don't believe in luck) has provided us eight years of tremendous leadership which in the end may stem the destruction that seemed imminent on 9/11. But, will the internal conflict subside to the point that we can resolve the external conflict without huge amounts of bloodshed? Will the other parties in the external conflict stand down - defeated and demoralized, or at least accepting of ‘Live and Let Live' social mores?

We shall see internally. Will our culture destroy the NYT, the current incarnation of the Democratic Party, and the weak kneed concepts of the Liberal 60's - and then rebuild and restructure them. Or will the NYT, the Democratic Party, and the 60's Liberals defeat and change the culture? My guess here is the former. I think we are past the tipping point.

We shall see externally. President Bush is attempting to resolve the external threat (or at least the ones we can see today) through 'soft power' - I know the Libs will look askance at that, but think again... Can a shining city on a hill be built, culturally defined, and draw an entire civilization out of the gap? Or will that civilization march right past and into the abyss.

Right to were faith forces action.

dueler88 said...


you bring up a great point that faith need not necessarily be the belief in a higher power - it can be the belief in NO higher power, in as much as that belief is forced upon others.


you are correct in the strauss/howe information. however, i suppose the people that i'm talking about are the middle-of-the-road lefties around these parts - the ones without a declared faith. the far-lefties that own the rhetoric of their side of the spectrum have declared atheism or Gore-flavored gaia worship as their religion. so we're left with this:

- the middle-right and right want to make sure we don't all get killed or tyrannized by islamic militants
- the left and far-left want to make sure that the middle-right and right don't destroy the planet and their "freedom"
- the middle-left generally agrees with the left and far-left, but isn't ready to take on the middle-right directly, nor do they want to recognize that islamic militants are a threat to them.

is this a recepie for the survival of western liberal democracy? it sure don't look like it.