It’s Sunday morning and I am dressed for Church. I’ll write my check; make it payable to the Saint Leo Abbey where a dozen good men live a peaceful, prayerful life, and a few hundred of the locals will gather to join them in worship at 10:00 o’clock.
I’m thinking of what it means to be a Christian; a follower of Jesus Christ. What does it mean in 2015, a time when Christians are beheaded and crucified in the part of the planet where Christ was born and preached.
He was a good man, a man of peace. “Peace be to you” was his mantra.
He died on a cross, put there at the behest of a theologically misguided mob on the orders of a spineless public official whose only law book was a wet finger held to the wind in search of the “emerging public consensus.”
We’ll pray for peace this morning. We’ll also pray for wisdom, for guidance to make sense of the world we live in. We’ll ask for guidance about how we should feel about Muslims.
Winston Churchill was a member of the House of Commons and a leader of the liberal party during and after the first World War. With counsel from his close friend T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) Churchill was a major participant in the decisions dividing up the Ottoman Empire in the 1920’s.
Like Lawrence, Churchill admired much about the tribal Bedouin culture. The modern map of the Middle East, with its plethora of Arab nations, reflects a decidedly Churchillian influence.
Warren Dockter, a history research fellow at Cambridge University, recently came upon a hand written letter to Winston Churchill from his future sister in law, Lady Gwendoline Bertie in 1907. In it, she exhorts Churchill not to convert to Islam.
In 1940, as Prime Minister, Churchill allocated 100,000 pounds to build a Mosque in central London. It was celebrated in the Arab world, which was precisely what Churchill intended. He wanted Arab support against the Nazis. He didn’t get it.
Dockter doubts that Churchill ever seriously considered converting to Islam. While he admired the fierce, death defying, bravado of Arab warriors, he was keenly aware of the backwardness of Islamic social teachings.
Churchill’s counsel is valuable, especially since he, like Lawrence, was regarded as somewhat of an Arabophile. Here is what he said:
How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries!
Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries, improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live.
A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement, the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.
Individual Muslims may show splendid qualities; thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen; all know how to die; but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world.
Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome."
The “strong arms of science” are no longer the exclusive property of Christendom. ISIS has all the field weapons available in the West. Even nuclear weapons are already available to the 200 million Pakistanis, 95% of whom are Muslim.
I came home from church praying for peace, but wondering how prepared we Americans are to defend ourselves against a militant and proselytizing faith.