November 15, 2007


The inside story of the Western mind: a review of
Twentieth-Century Catholic Theologians by Fergus Kerr (Spengler, 11/06/07, Asia Times)

It may seem eccentric to hail a theological text by a Scots Dominican, ranked 133,692nd in recent Amazon sales, as the year's most important work on global strategy. Now that I have your attention, humor me for a paragraph or two.

To win a gunfight, first you have to bring a gun, and to win a religious war, you had better know something about religion. America's "war on terror" proceeds from a political philosophy that treats radical Islam as if it were a political movement - "Islamo-fascism" - rather than a truly religious response to the West. If we are in a fourth world war, as Norman Podhoretz proclaims, it is a religious war. The West is not fighting individual criminals, as the left insists; it is not fighting a Soviet-style state, as the Iraqi disaster makes clear; nor is it fighting a political movement. It is fighting a religion, specifically a religion that arose in enraged reaction to the West.

None of the political leaders of the West, and few of the West's opinion leaders, comprehend this. We are left with the anomaly that the only effective leader of the West is a man wholly averse to war, a pope who took his name from the Benedict who interceded for peace during World War I. Benedict XVI, alone among the leaders of the Christian world, challenges Islam as a religion, as he did in his September 2006 Regensburg address. Who is Joseph Ratzinger, this decisive figure of our times, and what led the Catholic Church to elect him? Fr Kerr has opened the coulisses of Catholic debate such that outsiders can understand the changes in Church thinking that made possible Benedict's papacy. Because Benedict is the leader not only of the Catholics but - by default - of the West, all concerned with the West's future should read his book.

I do not view religion as an instrument for strategic ends. On the contrary: we are in a strategic crisis precisely because religion is not an instrument, but rather the expression of the existential requirements of humankind. Nonetheless, we are in a war, and war concentrates the mind wonderfully. Radical Islam threatens the West only because secular Europe, including the sad remnants of the former Soviet Union, is so desiccated by secular anomie that it no longer cares enough about its future to produce children.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 15, 2007 7:02 AM

It is both a religious movement and a political movement. It is actually a totalitarian movement because it aims to have the answers for all of the areas of life: politics, crime, religion, social interaction, economics, family life, etc.

In its totality it is similar to other totalitarian systems. It is different in that it is based on a revealed text from a diety, and not some bewhiskered scribbler who wasn't as smart as he thought he was.

However, it will end up working as well as every other totalitarian system because it still has to be run by humans, the same frail fallen humans that have always been with us, the same corruptable, temptable, wrathful, stupid humans. After thirty years of the experiment Iran is showing the strains, and the House of Saud is a laughing stock.

This experiment will fail, too.

Posted by: Mikey [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 15, 2007 8:19 AM