Muslim No-Go Zones? Really?

Following the publication of Do You Want Political Correctness or Freedom of Speech? a reader, Randy, responded, asserting that the idea of Muslim no-go zones is a myth. (To read his entire response click on the link above and scroll to the bottom.) This post comprises our reply to Randy’s response.

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Randy, thank you, as always, for your comments. It is good to hear from you and to have opportunity to dialogue once again.

First, I agree with your comment that we should “resist creating rumors that are false in order to win the battles of belief.” I trust that I have not done that in this blog.

immigrant communities not the same as no-go zonesSecond, I also agree that simply because there is an immigrant community, we should not designate it as a “no-go zone.” What you have said about immigrant communities is one of the things that adds beauty and diversity to a city. Most of us who have lived or traveled in large cities have experienced the sights, sounds, and tastes of cultures that are different from our own. We have enjoyed the companionship of people who are part of those cultures. This is part of the celebration of the richness of life.

Most immigrant communities are not no-go zones 

Immigrant communities and “no-go zones” are not synonymous. Many, perhaps most, Muslim communities in the West are typical of other immigrant communities. But not all. No-go zones are not merely examples of ethnic diversity lived out in a neighborhood. The key difference: a no-go zone may begin as an immigrant community that refuses to accept the legitimacy of the host culture, choosing rather to insulate itself against that culture, and perhaps planning to remain separate from the larger community. If this trend goes to extreme it could lead to an intention to undermine or overthrow the host culture. It is this posture that transforms a peaceful and vibrant enclave into a no-go zone where “outsiders” are not welcomed. When a segment of a refugee group resents the culture of, say, France, or immigrants from a traditional society reject the pluralism and freedom of a modern society and want to destroy it, this is where the problems begin. This is happening in many places in Europe and beginning to happen in some places in the United States today.

You write: “The truth is that Muslim ‘no-go zones’ have been purely myth, false and have no basis in fact or reality.” I disagree with this assertion, Randy, and it’s not just a matter of a different opinion. In some places and communities the facts are contrary to the assertion.

You imply a uniformity to Muslims which is simply not the case. Like any other ethnic and religious community, Islam is very diverse.  In this case, secular and reform minded Muslim immigrants generally choose to assimilate into their host country. In fact, the political and social plurality is likely one of the motivating factors for them moving to their new home. More traditional Muslims may have a different perspective. Likely they have sought out a new home to find work or to avoid violence and persecution back home. They may not so much want to be integrated into their new environment as to have a safe place to raise their families. They want to maintain their identity.

Many urban communities have “dish cities” where Muslim immigrants stay connected through satellite TV and the internet to the simple and ancient culture they have left behind. They have no interest in assimilating into Western pluralistic society. These communities, in and of themselves certainly do not constitute no-go zone

No-go zones are often fostered by hostility toward the host culture

My guess is that you are referring to people like this. But there are also communities of Muslims who are hostile to the West, its values, freedoms and pluralistic society. These militants want to destroy the dominant culture and bring a global caliphate where the society surrenders to Allah and where sharia law replaces the host country’s legal system. There is open hostility in these communities. There are growing numbers of “religious and moral police” who seek to enforce strict Islamic virtues in these largely Muslim communities. And people from other communities and local police and fire officials are reluctant to go there. At this point a relatively benign “dish community” becomes a “no-go zone.”

In a way we have always had no-go zones. Consider, for example, the Mafia. Many things go on within the Mafia that the outside world knows nothing about: feuds, killings, trials, sentencing, probation … it’s a whole separate system.

Similarly, many Muslim communities—imams, teachers and congregations—maintain a cloak of secrecy over the abuse, tax evasion, medical and Social Security fraud, polygamy, etc., that is happening in their community. They deal with these matters by their sharia law administered by the imams (who are more like Old Testament judges than pastors).

Polygamy is a clear example. Here in the US and in Europe a Muslim man can marry 2, 3, or 4 wives. After the first marriage, none of these unions is registered with the US government but they are all considered legitimate in the community. When such a man wants to get rid of a wife, he can go to the imam and divorce her. All of this is hidden from government view.

Even the Snopes article you cited includes an admission that no-go zones do indeed exist (if not as abundant as some may suggest).

A few [Zones Urbaines Sensibles] are truly no-go zones, while most are just areas where the government is focusing more development and police require special procedures to operate. A few (NOT ALL of the 751 ZUS, as falsely reported in “anti-jihadist blogs”) of these zones, primarily around Paris, are under control of radical Islamists.

Soreren Kern, Distinguished Senior Fellow of the International Policy Council of the Gatestone Institute and a Senior Analysis at the oldest Spanish think tank Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos, writes of no-go zones.

No-go zones are Muslim-dominated neighborhoods that are largely off limits to non-Muslims due to a variety of factors, including the lawlessness and insecurity that pervades a great number of these areas. Host-country authorities have effectively lost control over many no-go zones and are often unable or unwilling to provide even basic public aid, such as police, fire fighting and ambulance services, out of fear of being attacked by Muslim youth.”

Kern argues that Western multiculturalist are working to explain no-go zones as a mythology. 

The problem of no-go zones is well documented, but multiculturalists and their politically correct supporters vehemently deny that they exist. Some are now engaged in a concerted campaign to discredit and even silence those who draw attention to the issue.

 For more see his entire piece: European ‘No-Go’ Zones: Fact or Fiction? Part 1: France.

  • Darrow Miller
  
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Creation Laws: Wisdom Sustains the Universe

Wisdom and its fruit—shalom—is found when we live in synch with God’s order.

God governs the universe through a set of laws and ordinances. You could call them creation laws. They fit broadly into three categories: Truth (physical and metaphysical laws), Beauty (aesthetic laws), and Goodness (moral laws).

Truth

Truth is another term for reality. This concept encompasses both the physical and the metaphysical realms.

creation laws are something like speed limitsGenerally, when we speak of “laws” we mean regulations. Speed limits are an everyday example. Such laws make good sense and serve a society well. They are not arbitrary, but neither are they universal.

Creation laws, on the other hand, are universal, as well as immutable (unchanging) and inviolable (unbreakable).

When we speak of “creation laws” we are not talking about regulations. God’s creation laws define and direct the physical universe. Webster’s 1828 defines them as “the determination of a body to certain motions, changes, and relations, which uniformly take place in the same circumstances.”[1] Among these are the law of motion, discovered by Johannes Kepler, the law of gravity discovered by Isaac Newton, and the laws of thermodynamics. All these laws are necessary for sustaining human life on earth.

Metaphysical laws are the “internal framework.” Our worldview, our mental infrastructure, these are the metaphysical[2] laws. These include our understanding of the nature of the transcendent universe—it is relational, the nature of man—we are made in the image of God, and the creation itself—it is more than material, it is an open system.[3]

Beauty

Beauty circumscribes the aesthetic order. Beauty is an ordinance – the nature of God reflected in his creation, an objective standard, just as truth is an objective standard. Does that sound unlikely? Many people, even those who believe in absolute truth, are relativists when it comes to beauty. It’s fashionable to believe that “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” I have said that in the past, until I was challenged by a wonderful book by Thomas Dubay, The Evidential Power of Beauty. Dubay argues that beauty comes from God. Of all that is beautiful, God is most beautiful. Thus God’s nature of beauty establishes the criterion for beauty. Beauty is not in the eyes of the beholder. Yes, we all have our favorite colors; some people prefer red over blue. But that does not admit the notion that beauty itself is a wholly subjective matter. This is a concept of modern relativism. Beauty is in the glory of God.

Goodness

That brings us to Goodness, the moral order. Again, relativism has shredded much of the notion of goodness. The loss of an objective moral code in the West has wrought unspeakable grief and harm.

The moral boundaries of the universe are summed up in the Decalogue, otherwise known as the Ten Commandments. These are creation laws. To keep them is the path to thriving; to abandon them leads to death.In these ten laws, the Creator drew a circle around human behaviors which lead to flourishing, behaviors which bless others and bring joy to one’s self. Like gravity, these are not arbitrary moral codes, on the order of “no shirt, no shoes, no service.” When we violate this moral boundary—by committing adultery, for example— the law “thou shalt not commit adultery” is not broken; after all it is immutable. But in violating the moral law we ourselves are broken, we bring grief and injury to ourselves, our spouse, children and to others. Just as we can be physically injured by ignoring the law of gravity, we will be personally (and often permanently) injured when we ignore the moral boundary.

Proverbs 29:18b (KJV)  reminds us “but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” The people are mistaken when it seeks happiness through “license” – living outside God’s moral framework. No, the pursuit of happiness is a good thing, but it is found by order our lives within the framework of God’s holy ordinances.

The uniformity of the laws of  creation is a constant revelation of the immutability of God. What they were at the beginning of time they are still today. They are the same in every part of the universe. No less stable are the laws which regulate the operation of the reason and conscience. The whole governance of God, as the God of nature and as moral governor, rests on the immutability of his counsels.

The universe was formed according to God’s purposes. Human beings are to live within this form to flourish. We are subject to real laws and ordinances – the decrees of God’s creation order that govern our lives.

Freedom is found when we recognize this truth and live within this design; when we discover the form and live within its bounds we are most alive On the other hand, to ignore or reject this truth, to refuse to live within this design, results in enslavement. In the water, a salmon is perfectly free. It has the ideal environment for finding food and thriving. A salmon that decided to abandon that environment, to live on a grassy riverbank, would not be free. Nor would it survive. A pelican freely flying over coastal waters in the company of his fellows seeking a mouthful of anchovies is the picture of a creature living in the freedom of God’s design. If such a bird could decide I want to swim under the sea he would very quickly lose all freedom. A fish is made to swim, a bird to fly.

Even in the world of technology the same is true. Boeing makes vehicles for flight, not for running on parallel steel tracks. That’s the domain of locomotives.

When we choose to live outside the framework of creation laws, we experience horrible consequences: alienation, ugliness, destruction, and death. By the same token, living within that framework generally results in a more abundant life. E. Stanley Jones, in his book, The Unshakable Kingdom and the Unchanging Person, records the observation of a Swedish surgeon, “I’ve discovered the kingdom of God at the end of my scalpel – it is in the tissues. The right thing morally, the Christian thing, is always the healthy thing physically.”[4] The surgeon sees reality, the kingdom of God, evidence of God’s creation, in the human body. He does not see simply tissue, but God-ordained life.

The universe, contrary to the belief of some religions or philosophies ,is real. And more than that, it is good, beautiful and true. The Creator so declared it. It is good, in contrast to Eastern faiths that see the world as something that is broken, something to flee. The creation is a comprehensive and integrative whole, material and spiritual. It is marked by order and not chaos.

Furthermore, the Creator considers progress in the material world to be normal. History—whether that of an individual, nation, or the world—is not to be static. Nor are humans to be destroyed. They are to flourish.

From a forthcoming book by Darrow Miller and Gary Brumbelow 

[1] He goes on to point out that “These tendencies or determinations, whether called laws or affections of matter, have been established by the Creator, and are, with a peculiar felicity of expression, denominated in Scripture, ordinances of heaven.”

[2] With reference to “metaphysical,” Webster notes the following: “The natural division of things that exist is into body and mind, things material and immaterial. The former belong to physics, and the latter to the science of metaphysics.”

[3] For more on this see Miller, Darrow L. Discipling Nations: The power of Truth to Transform Culture; YWAM Publishing, Seattle, Washington; 2001

[4] E. Stanley Jones, The Unshakable Kingdom and the Unchanging Person, (Abingdon Press: Nashville, 1972), p 54

See these related posts:

What Wisdom Has to Do with Wealth

Poverty: The Fruit of Neglected Wisdom

Gaining Wisdom in a World of Folly

  
Posted in Kingdom, Theology | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Another Rape Victim Keeps Her Baby

Recently we published the stories of Rebecca Kiessling and Valerie Gatto, two women conceived in rape whose mothers refused to abort them.

Now here’s a similar story, this time told from the mother’s perspective.

When Lianna Rebolledo was raped at 12 years of age, she was counselled to abort her baby. But she could not see the compassion or even the logic in that scheme of things: “Why should I have the abortion if I’m not going to forget the rape? … It wasn’t my baby’s fault.”

Go here to read, and watch, Lianna’s life-affirming testimony.

 

Related posts:

Abortion Doesn’t Contribute to Women’s Health

10,000 Cases of Breast Cancer Every Year Because of Abortion

Abortion’s Bitter Legacy

  
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

There’s No Christian Education without Context

Bible teachers have long emphasized the importance of context to establish the meaning of a text. The same is true for any communication. A friend pointed out to me once that an instruction to “Make the boat fast” without adding any context can be understood at least three completely different ways:

  1. “Design the boat so it can travel at high speeds.”
  2. “Tie up the boat so it will not come loose.”
  3. (with minor grammatical license) “Hurry up and build the boat!”

Context is essential to understanding. Yet that truth is often lost on Christian educators. Too much Christian education is fragmented: a little science taught here, math there, Bible around the corner.

Our friend Christian Overman is working to change that. He offers a robust view of why all education needs to be tied together. In fact, he says contextualization “is what Christian education is all about.”

Christian offers some splendid application of this truth with reference to teaching and learning. He exposes a frequent weakness in teaching and makes a strong argument for wholism instead. … And his writing is always fun, too!

– Gary Brumbelow

 

Christian education requires context says Christian Overman

Dr. Christian Overman is founder and director of Worldview Matters. His blog is often featured at Darrow Miller and Friends. Dr. Overman is a writer, a speaker, a coach, and a Colson Centurion, coaching training through Creative Results Management.

 

“In the past year, I have been using the word ‘integration’ less, and the word ‘contextualization’ more. Here’s why …

The Power and Import of Contextualization

 

 

 

 

  
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Scott Walker, Evolution, and the Media

Scott Walker

photo by Gage Skidmore

During a recent interview Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was asked,  “Are you comfortable with the idea of evolution? Do you accept it?”

Realizing the peril behind this question he chose to defer on it.

Scott Walker could have done worse. And he’s taking plenty of heat for punting. Nonetheless, the issue behind this question is a real one and it merits a response.

Any public figure who believes an intelligent force created the universe would do well to prepare for such a question. Here are some suggested responses.

Are you comfortable with the idea of evolution? Do you accept it?”

Yes, there is unmistakable evidence showing micro-evolution, i.e. changes within species. This ability to change within a species enables it to adapt and survive.

If you are asking whether I think Darwin’s theory of random mutation and natural selection is sufficient to account for the complexity of life, there are those is the science community who question this in light of growing scientific knowledge and I respect them for their commitment to let the evidence lead, not the theory.

If you are asking whether I fully support scientific investigation and discovery, the answer is a wholehearted “yes.” We need a cure for cancer. We need to understand autism. We need to find better ways to harness energy. Yes, I support scientific pursuit for the good of the earth and all human beings.

Do you believe Genesis 1:1 – that God created the earth?

If you are asking whether I believe in God as a stop-gap for what we do not know, I agree with the German theologian and martyr Dietrich Bonehoefer that “we are to find God in what we know, not in what we don’t know. ”[1] What we do know is that scientists are discovering a tremendous amount of information hidden in the structure of the universe and in all living creations. We know from all human history, and all of science, that only intelligence is capable of producing information.

We also know that the probabilities for some aspects of evolution are so astounding that they make winning the powerball look like a sure thing.

In light of all this, I can understand why some scientists increasingly take serious the theory of panspermia–that life was seeded here from another part of the universe, or the multiverse theory—that there is an infinite number of other universes and ours just got lucky.

For me, it is reason to believe, along with billions of other people of many other religious persuasions, that an intelligent force might yet be the source of all this.

Again, if you are asking whether I am anti-science, the answer is no. I believe that the study and discovery of our natural world and universe is one of the most noble and fruitful vocations a person can have.

Do you believe God created the earth in seven 24-hour days.

I think that if an intelligent force has the ability to create life from non-life or ignite the big-bang that brings the universe into existence, or create the mysteries of quantum mechanics, then this being can potentially create the earth in very long days or in very short days (that appear long geologically). I will let the theologians and scientists wrestle with this question. Either way, it does not diminish the wonder of the result or the cause behind it.

Of course Scott Walker was expected to deliver a sound bite, and these are not sound bite responses. But, this is not a sound-bite issue. It deserves a serious response, as the entire premise of a person’s Christian faith and belief in the Gospel of Jesus Christ sits on the foundation of Genesis 1:1.

  • Dwight Vogt

 

 

[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, letter to Eberhard Bethge, May 29, 1944, in Letters and Papers from Prison, ed. Eberhard Bethge, trans. Reginald H. Fuller (New York: Touchstone, 1997), pp. 310-12: Translation of Widerstand und Ergebung (Munich: Christian Kaiser Verlag, 1970).

  
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Without Structure There’s No Art

Francis Schaeffer’s book, The God Who is There, introduced me to the intersection of Christianity and the arts. He wrote about the influence of art in Western society, a theme further developed in his later book, Art and the Bible:

What is the place of art in the Christian life? Is art- especially the fine arts- simply a way to bring worldliness in through the back door? What about sculpture or drama, music or painting? Do these have any place in the Christian life? Shouldn’t a Christian focus his gaze steadily on “religious things” alone and forget about art and culture? … I am afraid that as evangelicals, we think that a work of art only has value if we reduce it to a tract.

art, like this sculpture of Samson killing the lion, is created by imago Dei humansSchaeffer insists that Christians have a legitimate stake in the world of fine art. It’s part of what it means to be human made in God’s image. Human art flows from the cultural mandate of Genesis 1 and 2. Indeed, if the creation of art is not from God, from whom does it derive?

Darrow has written many blog posts on this subject (see below). His forthcoming book on wisdom will include an intriguing excerpt from author and columnist Janie B. Cheaney.

The ancient (and possibly mythical) philosopher Pythagoras discovered that dividing a lyre string in half produces an octave, while three-quarters of the string sounds a fourth and two-thirds sounds a perfect fifth. These mathematical ratios produce a pleasing musical progression known the world over. Based on this external framework, Western music established principles of harmony and melody that endured all the way up until the early 20th century. And what happened then?

Contemporary composer John Adams put it this way: “I learned in college that tonality died somewhere around the time that Nietzsche’s God died, and I believed it.” No God, no order. Musical structure collapsed, clearing the way for Arnold Schoenberg, who composed pieces built on abstract principles of numerology. From there it was only a step or two to John Cage, who tossed dice to pick the notes for his compositions and staged “symphonies” around kitchen appliances. Not all avant garde composers abandoned tonality, but music cut off from its defining structure ceased to be anything we would recognize as music. (emphases added)

I’m guessing Cheaney’s critique would be dismissed, if not hooted down, in many music schools. We’ve been reminded all our lives that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” the musical equivalent of which is “tonality is in the ear of the listener.” Cheaney is challenging that assertion. She would no doubt affirm individual taste in our appreciation of the arts. But she also asserts that much of modern art amounts to an abandonment of the “defining structure” that had always framed the artist’s creativity.

Of course the suggestion of any transcendent structure to the creation of art would be anathema to some, but only because of a concomitant rejection of divine order (see Romans 1:20-21). That unseen structure comprises the framework necessary for art’s pleasing effect. Rob the structure and whatever remains has little resemblance to art, visual or aural.

But why does so much modern art feel the need to abandon the structure? Maybe because to the degree that the artist’s worldview is driven by atheism and evolutionism, there is no place for order. The very notion of a structured universe clashes with the randomness necessary to a materialist view of reality. To be sure, there are artists who profess atheism yet produce pleasing art, i.e. art undergirded by the “defining structure.” In doing so they are rejecting the worldview of atheism and borrowing from the Judeo-Christian worldview. In that sense, John Cage’s “music” represents a compositional approach more in synch with atheism’s creed: what rationale could a true atheist mount for creating anything other than random sounds?

Yes, artists create. They apply imagination to their world, to their work, and the result is something never before witnessed in the world of humans: a music score, a painting, a film, a story, a sculpture. If that imagination comports with the reality of an orderly universe, they can achieve beauty. On the other hand, the John Cages, more honest to the underlying doctrine of randomness, must strike out in some “new” direction (since to create is to make something new) by “breaking the rules.” The resulting chaos—desultory strokes of color, erratic sounds—leaves the audience empty and fails to do justice to the artist’s own imago Dei nature.

Author J.R.R. Tolkien, in his splendid essay, “Tree and Leaf,” effectively exposes this tendency in contemporary art by means of some of the most elegant prose in the English language. Every artist struggling to create would benefit from these words.

Spring is, of course, not really less beautiful because we have seen or heard of other like events: like events, never from world’s beginning to world’s end the same event. Each leaf, of oak, ash and thorn, is a unique embodiment of the pattern, and for some this very year may be the embodiment, the first ever seen and recognised, though oaks have put forth leaves for countless generations of men.

We do not, or need not, despair of drawing because all lines must be either curved or straight, nor of painting because there are only three ‘primary’ colours. We may indeed be older now, in so far as we are heirs in enjoyment or in practice of many generations of ancestors in the arts. In this inheritance of wealth there may be a danger of boredom or of anxiety to be original, and that may lead to a distaste for fine drawing, delicate pattern, and ‘pretty’ colours, or else to mere manipulation and over-elaboration of old material, clever and heartless. 

But the true road of escape from such weariness is not to be found in the wilfully awkward, clumsy, or misshapen, not in making all things dark or unremittingly violent; nor in the mixing of colours on through subtlety to drabness, and the fantastical complication of shapes to the point of silliness and on towards delirium. Before we reach such states we need recovery. We should look at green again, and be startled anew (but not blinded) by blue and yellow and red. We should meet the centaur and the dragon, and then perhaps suddenly behold, like the ancient shepherds, sheep, and dogs, and horses – and wolves. p 58

Christians who are artists have the opportunity to participate in, and contribute to, the beauty that lives in the orderliness of a universe created by a God of order. As Father Thomas Dubay points out, such beauty frames both our calling and our destiny.

Both science and theology agree on the objectivity of beauty. While there is a subjective readiness in us, greater or lesser, for perceiving the splendid, both disciplines assume and insist that beauty is not merely in the eye of the beholder; it is primarily something “out there.” … Revelation and theology have for centuries likewise taught the same idea cast in religious terms, namely, that the purpose of creation is man, destined to be enthralled eternally in triune glory. The Evidential Power of Beauty, pages 16-17.

– Gary Brumbelow

See these related posts:

Imitating the First Artist: The Place of Beauty and Creativity in God’s Design

Christian Artists: Imitators of the Grand Creator

Artists Speaking to the Culture

How MUSIC Shapes a Culture and the World

A Powerful Resource for Creating Godly Culture

How to Disciple a Nation with a Paintbrush

Get the complete list of posts on this subject by clicking “Arts” from the dropdown at Categories.

  
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Is Christian Freedom Disappearing in Canada?

How long will Christian freedom remain in North America?

Unless the direction of our nations change dramatically, citizens of the United States and Canada will soon have occasion to apply these unforgettable lines credited to the German anti-Nazi, theologian, and Lutheran pastor, Martin Niemöller.

Neimoller quote

 

 

 

 

 

Niemöller’s words carry insight that has meaning for Christians and other persecuted minorities throughout history.

Jordanian wearing a kiffiyeh

Jordanian wearing a kiffiyeh

Today, Christians in Nigeria, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt are being attacked by militant Islamists. Though much more advocacy is sorely needed, these brothers and sisters are getting at least some voice from groups like BreakPoint, RUN Ministries, et al.

In the meantime, Christians in Canada are also being persecuted … not by jihadists wearing keffiyehs, but by secular fundamentalists in three-piece suits. Canadian Christians are not being threatened with beheading, but they are being attacked and marginalized, simply for their religious beliefs.

On January 9, 2015, a Canadian constitutional lawyer, Albertos Polizogopoulos, wrote an article in The Cardus Daily titled “Christian Lawyers and Doctors Need Not Apply.”

It has become a scary time to be a Christian professional in Canada.

In 2014, lawyers and doctors were targeted by their own professional associations for direct attack because of their religious beliefs.

For Christian lawyers, the first salvo was fired at Trinity Western University’s law school. TWU, which exists to “develop godly Christian leaders” in a variety of marketplaces, requires its students and staff to sign a Community Covenant. This pledge, based on religious beliefs, to abstain from certain activities and behaviours during their time at TWU, includes the use of alcohol on campus, viewing pornography, and “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.”

It seems that the Judeo-Christian concept of a covenantal marriage between a man and a woman is abhorrent to secularists. Wouldn’t a level playing field have room for all reasonable views? Apparently not. Confessing Christian professionals must be crushed. They have two options: renounce their faith (exactly what the jihadists demand), or flee for their professional lives.

On January 20, 2015, the American author and editorialist Rod Dreher, inspired by Polizogopoulos, wrote a piece on the same threat with the provocative title, “Canadian Christians: Tomorrow’s Soviet Jews.” Dreher ends his piece with these sober comments:

But how long will American Christians be free to work as lawyers and doctors (or other professionals) without having to deny their faith or participate in something they consider to be gravely immoral? I suppose the US Supreme Court will at least partly answer that question in its gay marriage ruling this summer.

If you are a North American Christian and you are not preparing, and preparing your children, to suffer for the faith, you are not reading the signs of the times. Do not let yourself be blinded by the Law of Merited Impossibility, which says, “It will never happen, and when it does, you people will deserve it.”

Will Christians in the West simply say, “This cannot happen here”? The signs indicate otherwise. It already is happening here. In Gresham, Oregon, the owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa have been found guilty for discrimination for declining a request to provide a cake for a same-sex “wedding.” They await a March 10 sentencing and could be fined as much as $150,000.

Yet the next generation need not suffer as the Jews did in Germany and Russia. Free people can rise up and stand against a growing tyranny. But we will need to love freedom more than we love our toys, our technology, and our comfortable lives.

  • Darrow Miller

See these related posts:

ISIS “deChristianizes” Mosul: Is the West Next?

Needed: A Theology of Suffering

Why Are Western Christians Silent While Their Brethren Suffer?

  
Posted in Culture, Current events, Freedom | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Haiti’s Poverty: Not Enough Money?

640px-CapHaitienMarche

“CapHaitienMarche” by User:Doron

Is Haiti’s poverty about insufficient funds?

When it comes to fighting poverty, we tend to rely too much on money. We equate poverty with the lack of money, so naturally we want to give money.

This is especially the case with government anti-poverty programs. Governments have access to lots of money. “There’s the poverty, here’s the money.” With a pile of money always at hand, the “solution” to poverty is obvious. If the money we’ve spent so far has not eradicated the poverty, just spend more money.

For example, take it with Haiti, the Western-hemisphere poster child of poverty fighters. Last month was the five-year anniversary of the island nation’s infamous 2010 earthquake. Before the earthquake, Haiti’s people were dramatically poor. The earthquake exacerbated an already appalling life for most of the 10.7 million Haitians. It also shook loose lots of international generosity. Ten billion dollars, to be inexact. Yet Haiti is still poor.

That’s the testimony of Raymond A. Joseph, a former Haitian ambassador to the US. He wrote recently in the Wall Street Journal,

As the fifth anniversary of the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake approaches, Haiti is in disarray, to the shame of the international community and the country’s leadership. …

Where has more than $10 billion pledged for Haiti in 2010 gone? The U.S. Congress would like to know. 

Joseph points out that corruption and bureaucratic waste have diverted billions of dollars. Sad, but true, and another indicator that piling up dollars doesn’t stamp out shortages.

Ten billion dollars over five years is $2 billion every year … $167 million every month … $5.5 million every single day.

Would anyone suggest that’s not enough money?

Maybe. So let’s move to another example, one that appears in Darrow’s soon-to-be-published book, Rethinking Social Justice: Redeeming Biblical Compassion. In 1964, US President Lyndon B. Johnson declared war. On poverty. Johnson’s War on Poverty turned 50 years old in 2014. In that time, the poverty level in the US has changed little. In an earlier post we quoted Robert Rector, senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation and one of the nation’s leading experts on poverty.

Fifteen percent of Americans still live in poverty, according to the official census poverty report for 2012, unchanged since the mid-1960s. Liberals argue that we aren’t spending enough money on poverty-fighting programs, but that’s not the problem.

Maybe those “liberals” are right. Rector disagrees, but before we weigh in, here’s the pertinent question: Just how much money have we spent fighting the War on Poverty?

The number is virtually beyond comprehension: $15 trillion.

If a number like that makes your eyes glaze over, here’s another way to measure it. $15 trillion over 50 years works out to $821.9 million every day. (And in case someone says it’s not about how much we’ve spent over 50 years but how much we’re spending now, Robert Rector points out that, “If converted to cash, current means-tested spending is five times the amount needed to eliminate all official poverty in the U.S.”)

Is $15 trillion not enough? At what point does it become obvious that more money is not the solution?

Of course money is not nothing. We all use money. But money isn’t the solution to poverty because the lack of money isn’t the cause of poverty. The short-term exceptions—natural disasters, man-made catastrophes, war—don’t change the general principle that poverty comes from believing lies.

What lies?

  • The lie of overpopulation: Poverty comes from too many mouths to feed from a too scarce resource base.
  • The lie of evolutionism: Humans are merely highly evolved animals subject to the same environmental forces (read survival of the fittest) as all other beings.
  • The lie of atheism: No providential Creator is at work in the universe; no divine stamp on humans enables their imagination, creativity and productivity; no divine accountability calls them to virtue.

Poverty comes from believing lies: “Women are inferior to men.” “We are poor and there is nothing we can do about it.” “ Work is a curse.” The solution is found in embracing the truth that derives from Judeo-Christian theism, the biblical worldview.

To be more specific, the solution to poverty is bound up in a resource abundantly and universally available: human minds which have been shaped by the worldview of the Bible.

  • Gary Brumbelow

See these related posts:

The Root of the Disaster in Haiti

HAITI, AMERICA, and the Effects of Biblical Thinking

Haiti and Israel: A Study in Contrasts

  
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Do You Want Political Correctness or Freedom of Speech?

We often write about the erosion of freedom in the West. This post points to some hopeful exceptions. Some people of stature are speaking truth, openly countering the political, academic, and communication elites. Those who bully ordinary citizens into political correctness and culturally relativity are being confronted with growing boldness by leaders who are rediscovering the ability to speak truth.

Let’s start with the scientific community. Evolutionism is a private club of Western universities. Membership requires subscribing to a naturalistic set of assumptions, principally the theory that nature is the only reality. You must agree to follow the facts only as far as the boundaries of naturalism permits. No transcendent reality is allowed, no dissent tolerated!

This mindset reminds me of the late communist Chinese leader Mao Zedong’s “Little Red Book.” All Chinese were required to read and study Chairman Mao’s thoughts. Disagreement was forbidden. Dissenters were forced into re-education camps and executed if they remained recalcitrant.

Anyone who questions evolutionism’s assumptions or seeks to follow evidence outside the naturalistic boundaries risks expulsion from the club. To get an idea of what this looks like watch Ben Stein’s satirical film, “Expelled.” Stein’s documentary explores the limits of academic freedom in the arena of science.

But now, many credentialed scientists have begun to openly express their doubts about the Darwinian model. A growing number (currently over 950) have signed a document titled “A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism.” These scientists affirm that “We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”

freedom becoming rare in Western universitiesHowever, it is not only the science world that limits academic freedom. Many American universities which at their founding were bastions of free speech no longer tolerate the same. Today speech is confined to the politically correct and the morally and culturally relative.

The free-speech advocates of the 1960’s are now tenured faculty at major universities. These who once fought for free speech as youth are now fundamentalist atheists who stifle inquiry and expression. What irony! What hypocrisy!

Dr. Ben Carson, the neuro-pediatrician who first successfully separated twins conjoined at the head, taught and practiced at Johns Hopkins University for years. In May 2014 Carson was forced to cancel his commencement address because, in an earlier interview on TV, he had dared to speak of the link between homosexuality, pedophilia and bestiality. Similarly, Rutger’s University, long a citadel of free speech and academic freedom, invited US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to speak at the commencement ceremony. But student and faculty protests against Rice’s support of the Iraq War forced the hand of the administration which finally reversed the invitation. So much for free speech.

Thankfully, just as some scientists are pushing back against the tyranny of evolutionism, other academics are resisting the suppression of the same free speech which is critical for universities to thrive. Two such dissenters are University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer and his colleague, Provost Eric D. Isaacs. In July 2014 these administrators appointed a Committee on Freedom of Expression “in light of recent events nationwide that have tested institutional commitments to free and open discourse.” The committee’s report was published January 6, 2015.

The report excerpts the 1902 speech of then university president William Rainey Harper declaring that “the principle of complete freedom of speech on all subjects has from the beginning been regarded as fundamental in the University of Chicago … this principle can neither now nor at any future time be called in question.” While the report has its flaws, it nonetheless is commencing a long-needed discussion on the fundamental role of academic freedom and free speech on a university campus.

Two more events in January suggest a new spring of freedom.

On January 16th, following the deadly jihadist attacks in Paris, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls repudiated the Obama administration’s attempted censorship of explicit condemnation of radical Islamists. “I refuse to use this term ‘Islamophobia,’” Valls declared, “because those who use this word are trying to invalidate any criticism at all of Islamist ideology. The charge of ‘Islamophobia’ is used to silence people.”

Valls took the discussion to a further level. Because of growing hatred of Jews (anti-Semitism is the more politically correct term) in France, thousands of Jews are emigrating. Prime Minister Valls had the audacity to say that “if 100,000 Jews leave, France will no longer be France.” He regards his nation free and pluralistic; if Jews are forced to leave, France will no longer be free and pluralistic. It will no longer be France.

The second occasion that gives hope that a new wind is blowing took place on January 19th in London. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal spoke at the Henry Jackson Society at the House of Commons. Jindal courageously spoke the truth about Muslim immigrant communities. He said they are trying to “colonize Western countries, because setting up your own enclave and demanding recognition of a no-go zone are exactly that.”

Some Muslim enclaves in European and North American cities are considered “no go zones.” Often even the city police are afraid to enter these neighborhoods. Women dare not appear unveiled. Sharia holds sway; the laws of the country or municipality don’t apply. Female genital mutilation is practiced. Young girls are raped and sold as brides. Notwithstanding such hideous realities, the politically correct media often speak of “imaginary” or “so-called” no go zones. Jindal continues, “I think that the radical Left absolutely wants to pretend like this problem is not here. Pretending it’s not here won’t make it go away.”

In post-modern culture you can deny reality and the problem disappears. If you say it isn’t so, it isn’t so! There is no room for appealing to truth (because there is no absolute truth), no place for the facts.

To the scientists who have dissented from Darwin, to the University of Chicago administration, to Prime Minister Valls, and to Governor Jindal … thanks for your willingness to push back against the tyranny of the politically correct.

May a new generation of free thinkers arise, people who are willing, for the sake of truth, to think outside the box of academic and politically correct tradition, and thus help preserve human freedom.

  • Darrow Miller with Gary Brumbelow

See these related posts:

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM in America: Will it Survive?

A Personal Story About Why Words Matter

Truth, Rhetoric, and Freedom: Words Matter

 

  
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Can A Military Dictator Be A Man of Peace?

When the Messiah sent out his disciples two-by-two, he instructed them to identify the man of peace in the community and engage with that person.

When you enter a house, first say, “Peace to this house.” If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you (Luke 10:5-6 NIV).

The Aramaic expression “man of peace” refers to a person in a community or nation who seeks peace. This is a person of influence, often one who has a good reputation and provides an entry point for others to engage the larger community.

The world is waiting for a man of peace. This is especially true in that part of the world aflame with violence among Muslims, as well as the violence between Muslims and so many other groups: Jews, secularists, Hindus, Buddhists, Animists, and Christians.

Is there a man of peace in that world?

Maybe there is. We may have witnessed a man of peace in North Africa. A man of stature in Egypt, the heart of the Islamic civilization, has spoken words of peace.

man of peace Abdel_Fattah_el-Sisi

“Abdel Fattah el-Sisi” by Kremlin.ru.

I speak of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. On New Year’s Day 2015, Sisi spoke at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, considered the leading center for Islamic studies in the world. He was addressing a group of religious scholars celebrating the birthday of the prophet Mohammed. His words were a rousing call for the reformation of Islam. To his audience of Islamic scholars and religious leaders he asked a startling question:

Is it possible that 1.6 billion people (Muslims worldwide) should want to kill the rest of the world’s population—that is, 7 billion people—so that they themselves may live? Impossible.

You imams [prayer leaders] are responsible before Allah. The entire world—I say it again, the entire world—is waiting for your next move because this umma [a word that can refer either to the Egyptian nation or the entire Muslim world] is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost—and it is being lost by our own hands.

The corpus of texts and ideas that we have made sacred over the years, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible, is antagonizing the entire world. You cannot feel it if you remain trapped within this mindset. You must step outside yourselves and reflect on it from a more enlightened perspective.

We have to think hard about what we are facing. It’s inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire Islamic world to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing, and destruction for the rest of the world. Impossible.

President Sisi boldly called for peace to replace the strife at the heart of the Muslim world. Then on January 8th, the day the Coptic church celebrates Christmas, Sisi made a surprise visit to St. Mark’s Coptic Cathedral—the seat of the Coptic Orthodox Church. Before the church and its Pope Tawadros II he brought greetings during the Christmas Eve Mass. This act was unprecedented in modern Egyptian history.

Sisi, as a Muslim, is risking his life at the hands of Islamists, to extend the hand of peace. May his actions and clarion call mark a turning point in Islam’s relationship with the world! As Sisi celebrates the coming of the Prince of Peace with the Coptic Church, may the Peace of Christ come to that ancient land and her neighbors in North Africa and the Middle East.

  • Darrow Miller

Related posts:

Leaders of Muslims Condemn ISIS Tactics

Islam: Religion of Peace or Religion of War?

LOVE NEVER FAILS: The Christian Response to Jihadism

  
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