17 March 2010

America Alone {Post 4}


America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It
by Mark Steyn

I appreciated Steyn's piercing analysis in America Alone. He is one of those great thinkers who not only sees the individual issues, but also sees how they connect. Even though the premise of the book seems to be dealing with the Islamic "issue" he really manages to explain the demographic crisis facing every single Western nation {America is the only nation having close to enough babies to maintain itself}, the philosophical and practical consequences of social programs {its negative impact on the culture}, and our current crisis of failing to take a self-avowed enemy seriously.

However, comma.

At the very end, Si and I both were dissatisfied  It is as if the book is building to this great, revolutionary solution, and what we get is...well, not much of anything, in my opinion. Steyn doesn't, for instance, tell us to have more babies, even though the results of his research point to that being a very important step. He does imply that nations should eliminate their social programs {and as a result build some real men in their societies}, but he doesn't explain how that could actually happen in reality. And his response to Islam falls flat:
There are three possible resolutions to the present struggle:
  1. Submit to Islam.
  2. Destroy Islam.
  3. Reform Islam.
Because most of us don't take number one as a serious possibility, we're equally unserious about being forced to choose between two and three. But submission to Islam is very possible, and to many it will still seem ridiculous even as it happens...[snip]

As for option two, it doesn't bear thinking about. Even if you regard Islam as essentially incompatible with free societies, the slaughter required to end it as a force in the world would change America beyond recognition...[T]hey're unlikely to accomplish much by it, any more than the Russians have by their scorched-earth strategy in Chechnya.

That leaves option three: Reform Islam--which is not ours to do. Ultimately, only Muslims can reform Islam. All the free world can do is create conditions that increase the likelihood of Muslim reform, or at any rate do not actively impede it.
Really? These are our only options?

Early in the book, Steyn himself said that one reason why the developed world "has a difficult job grappling with the Islamist threat is that it doesn't take religion seriously." I would say that the solutions listed here are evidence of that exact same error. Steyn seems to believe the purported "Christianity" of the West to be valuable because of its attendant benefits {i.e., freedom, liberty, etc.}. What he fails to take into account is that Christianity is itself serious business--it is true, for starters. And since it is true, it is also powerful in the world.

Enter Dr. Grant's book, The Blood of the Moon. He offers us a fourth, more practical solution: Convert Islam.

Now, obviously, this is problematical, since conversion carries with it the death penalty, unless one considers the power of death to be the seed which brings liberty for those who come later {reminds me of Telemachus single-handedly ending the gladiatorial games}.

Grant writes against a sentiment which any Christian who has read only Steyn may be tempted to hold dear:
For far too long Christians have treated Muslims as our ideological adversaries. We have seen them as our enemies. To be sure, theirs is a worldview that by its very nature is an affront to Western civilization, a threat to our liberties, and an attack on our values--but then so is every other form of unbelief. The biblical mandate for Christians is not to argue with, shun, or stigmatize unbelief, but to win it.
Grant explains what he believes is the actual state of the majority of Muslims, especially the Muslims in Western countries:
Are the so-called Muslim moderates just being disingenuous and dishonest? Are they kidding us--or even kidding themselves--when they publicly distance themselves from Osama and his terrorist cabal? No, not at all. The fact is, the vast majority of all Muslims--like so many Christians and Jews--do not know what their faith actually teaches beyond the bare essentials.
Why is this? Dr. Grant says that, for Muslims, this is due to a language barrier:
[T]he Koran was written in classic Arabic and was, by the prophet's decree, not to be translated, lest the accretions of error slip back into this one, true, original religion. That decree has meant that most Muslims have never been able to read the sacred writings of their religion for themselves. Islam has developed more as a series of spiritual disciplines--essentially the Five Pillars and their handful of ancillary duties--than as a coherent set of spiritual doctrines...What a Muslim does is a far more important measure of his faith than what he knows. A good Muslim might be quite ignorant of some of the most basic teachings of the Koran...

Most moderate Muslims would be horrified to discover that Osama bin Laden may represent their faith more honestly, more literally, and more faithfully than they do.
Grant believes that this presents a unique spiritual opportunity:
The conflict between what many Muslims actually believe and what they are supposed to believe creates a worldview crisis that may well give us a chance to reach a whole new generation with the good news of the gospel.
This assertion, in and of itself, is good news. Nothing is a lost cause, and the Great Commission wasn't an instance of the King sending His knights out on a failed mission. Grant writes:
This is the thrust of the Great Commission. It is the spiritual, emotional, and cultural mandate to win the fallen world for Jesus. And though we know that only Christ Himself can fulfill that mandate in its entirety at the close of human history, our duty is to trust and obey, work and pray, love and serve, minister and administer. We are to "occupy till [He comes]" {Luke 19:13 KJV}.

1 comment:

  1. Most moderate Muslims would be horrified to discover that Osama bin Laden may represent their faith more honestly, more literally, and more faithfully than they do.

    Part of the problem is that most modern Muslims wouldn't believe you even if you told them this b/c they say it's due to those "errors in translation" that the Koran has been corrupted to say these things. So, maybe we should start offering Classical Arabic classes to Muslims so that they can better read and understand the Koran? I don't think it'd work though b/c many, many Muslims do learn Classical Arabic (it's the language they say their prayers in) and are still "ok with" the inconsistency of saying that theirs is a peaceful faith.

    I though Steyn's solution fell flat too, but most "answers" seem trite and incomplete.

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