When the Skinny Lady Sings "Silent Night" You Live In A Christian Nation

Even before I watched Senator Ben Sasse’s video about the murders in San Bernadino, I had a sense that what binds Americans together is not freedom (as Sasse argues) but Christianity. How’s that? Well, take a gander at the Netflix Christmas special and watch Miley Cyrus, with her tatted-up arms and long legs, atop a white piano, sing the worst of Christmas carols — Silent Night (lame lyrics, awful, repetitive and simple melody). When you have Hollywood stars singing and listening to the line, “Christ, the savior is bor-ooorn,” you have to wonder what Muslims see when they look at the United States.

To make the case for Christian America, you don’t need to argue as some do that even secularists adhere to Christian morals:

The other half of the population dismisses conventional expressions of Christianity but actually believes more fervently than any Falwell, albeit in attenuated form. They are Christian radicals that have taken the Christian idea of loving one’s neighbor, stripped it of every attendant belief, and elevated it to an absolute principle. Theirs is a faith of nonjudgmentalism, accepting every refugee, and always blaming oneself whenever one is attacked. Call this outlook “multiculturalism” if you like, but the only culture capable of producing it is a Christian one.

Nor do you have to mock those believers who oppose commercializing Christmas as if the secular observation of a church holiday has no religious significance:

In their militant efforts, evangelicals have not only politicized the debate, but they have appropriated a “tradition” and even a word. To say “Christmas” is to state one’s faith. Now, any use of the phrase, “Happy Holidays,” calls into question the state of one’s soul. I’m reminded of Tracy Fessenden’s work here, as I think what we are seeing is “the ability of a Protestantized conception of religion to control the meanings of both the religious and the secular.” What we are seeing is a Protestantized conception of religion to control the meanings of both “Christmas” and “Holiday.”

As if scholars who study the history of religion can’t pay some heed to the millennium old conflict between Islam and the West and not notice that to outsiders the festivities that crowd the December datebook of most Americans might seem like a lot of Christian remembrance of the birth of Christ. When Muslims observe Ramadan, do scholars chalk it up to secular celebrations of a Middle-Eastern holiday? It is hard to imagine cultural Muslims producing the kind of songs that Americans have for Christmas. What might be the Islamic equivalent for Hajj that Sleigh-Ride captures for American Christians as they prepare home decorations and bake cookies?

Just hear those sleigh bells jingle-ing
Ring ting tingle-ing too
Come on, it’s lovely weather
For a sleigh ride together with you

Outside the snow is falling
And friends are calling “Yoo Hoo”
Come on, it’s lovely weather
For a sleigh ride together with you

Giddy-yap giddy-yap giddy-yap
let’s go
Let’s look at the snow
We’re riding in a wonderland of snow

Giddy-yap giddy-yap giddy-yap it’s grand
Just holding your hand
We’re gliding along with the song
Of a wintry fairy land

Our cheeks are nice and rosy
And comfy cozy are we
We’re snuggled up together like two
Birds of a feather would be

Let’s take the road before us
And sing a chorus or two
Come on, it’s lovely weather
For a sleigh ride together with you

There’s a birthday party at the home of Farmer Gray
It’ll be the perfect ending of a perfect day
We’ll be singing the songs we love to sing without a single stop
At the fireplace while we watch the chestnuts pop
Pop! Pop! Pop!

There’s a happy feeling nothing in the world can buy
When they pass around the coffee and the pumpkin pie
It’ll nearly be like a picture print by Currier and Ives
These wonderful things are the things
We remember all through our lives

Of course, it doesn’t take an infallible bishop to know that the Christmas holidays in the United States are much less about religious devotion than they are an excuse for mirth, relaxation, and consumption. (And in an all about me moment, I am an enthusiastic supporter of mirth, relaxation, and consumption once final grades are in). But right in the middle of it all are celebrities like Miley Cyrus, or Frank Sinatra, or Elvis Presley (think all those Christmas albums) whose personal lives are far removed from communicant membership in a Christian communion, singing about the savior who saves the world from sin.

In which case, when Muslims look at the United States, they may see Christianity much more than they see freedom, or godlessness, or secularism. After all, the American soldiers who keep watch in Muslim dominated societies in the Middle East do not attend services that recite the American creed of freedom of religion, speech, and assembly, but the Christian creed of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

None of this amounts to anything like a basis for policy for either domestic security or foreign relations. But it does point to a longer history of which Americans are both ignorant and part. For over a millennium Europeans have been either explicitly fighting Islam or implicitly forcing Muslims to conform to a global order dominated by the West. After World War II, the United States was the last pro-Western nation standing to defend the West’s hegemony in an order that Europeans had been building ever since the Portuguese and Spanish began to chase Muslims in the Mediterranean Sea and on the continent of Africa. If Americans noticed their ties to this larger history, Miley Cyrus might be less comfortable singing “Silent Night” and U.s. legislators might frame the nation’s relationship to Islam and Islamism differently than they do.


92 thoughts on “When the Skinny Lady Sings "Silent Night" You Live In A Christian Nation

  1. I’m not gonna argue for taking away Miley’s American right to do a secularistic rendition of one of western civilization’s tradional songs.

    Are you saying we had it coming to us ? Terrorist atacks, I mean?


  2. Sen Sasses is speaking now on the floor of the Senate, making more sense than certain presidential candidates and the president, about American first principles applied to the current Muslim question.


  3. Two corrections:

    1. Sen Sasse (I blame autocorrect. I self-identify as a good speller).

    2. The speech is now finished. The senior senator from MA is now speaking and sanity has been followed by its opposite.


  4. Susan
    Posted December 8, 2015 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Are you saying we had it coming to us ? Terrorist attacks, I mean?

    We may never know, but we can safely say the number of Christians begging to come live in Muslim countries is about the same number who can explain this post is about.


  5. Ah, DGH – you seem forget that it’s all about the advertising and retail bucks no matter how much they have to meld traditional hymnology with secular “Christmas” songs to do it. And THAT’S what those muslims see when they look at the West.

    What’s even worse is the infamous “Super Bowl Sunday,” now a day-long rolling of the hog in the mire with a crescendo of Madison Avenue types trying to out do each other for the most popular ad spot. I recall my brother and I crowding in front of our old B&W TV set back in the 60’s when the AFL champion faced off against its NFL counterpart. It was just another football game played in front of the usual crowd often in Siberian weather conditions. Today it has grown into a big excuse for people who often don’t even understand or like the sport to have a big party. They might as well just change the name to something like “mid-Winder festival” day.


  6. I must admit it sure read like the victims in San Bernardino got what they deserved because the USA is full of cultural Christians.


  7. Susan, I’m saying it’s not wise to think that we are not implicated in 1000 years of western history. If we thought that, would we look at Muslims differently? At our military footprint differently? I’m asking. You know, provisionality all the way down.

    Flee oh scaredy cat of doubt.


  8. Susan, did you see this? “These words are not congenial to the offspring of our “therapeutic culture” trained to “feel good” about themselves even if it means denying that barbarians are at the gates.”

    So how therapeutic is a reading of history that ignores the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre which killed alot more French than the Muslims did?


  9. It’s a real stretch to say Radical Muslims hate America just for their freedom. Was 9/11 because they hated our freedom and Christianity, or did it have to do with reasons Bin Laden gave in 1996? 1996! Of course some Muslims have not-so-hot sentiments toward freedom and Christianity, but there are plenty of “free” and “infidel” countries. When you add “has a successful imperialist foreign policy in the Middle East,” the list becomes a lot shorter.


  10. I knew a question was forthcoming because they always show up, particularly in greater numbers when you are caught out. To answer, no.


  11. Or instead maybe we should remember that it was the Muslim horde that poured out of the Arabian desert and imposed Islam at the point of the sword across North Africa and then crossed into Spain. Or did the Christians in North Africa and Spain have that coming too? Was Mohammed just reacting to Constantine?


  12. cw – I’ll grant you the Miley Cyrus thing. But asking, “Why do they hate us?” has always seemed pointless to me – just so much self-indulgent, navel gazing by prosperous, insulated narcissists. Why would anyone hate meeeeee? First of all the answer is self-evident – Islamists hate everyone who isn’t them. And second, the only important question is how to stop them from doing anything about it.


  13. Walton, ding. Switzerland is free. Where are the attacks on Switzerland? The “they hate us because of who we are” comes across as an appeal to American superiority. We’re the best people in the world, so it only makes sense that the worst people in the world would attack us (cue the cheering peanut galleries). Gooooooonnnnggggg.


  14. We know why they hate us. Bin Laden et al have been saying it for years.

    A big part of it is the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia. The infidels are in the “holy land.”

    Another part of it is that they look at America and see us exporting pornography and other such things around the world.

    Then the imperialist foreign policy.

    Yeah, the original aggressiveness of Islam plays a part, but the hatred toward us in the present, I think, has little to do with it. Without saying that we “deserved” 9/11, we need our leaders to be cognizant of the fact that not everyone thinks America is grand and that maybe having our troops where they don’t want them is something we should think twice about.


  15. Sorry Walton, some of that last post was for Robert too. And p.s., Bin Laden is dead and never had authority to decide who could and couldn’t be in Saudi Arabia.


  16. If Americans had a grasp of history then maybe they would push for disengagement from the Middle East. On the other hand, they probably wouldn’t be so naive about importing them by the thousands to come live next door. There is zero probability that the U.S. military vacates that region. There is even less chance that immigration is restricted for anyone other than Middle East Christians, and whites from South Africa.

    Nevertheless, even if a California holiday party is implicated in 1000 years of western history, that doesn’t quite explain why Muslims seem to have the habit of also lopping off the heads of Hindus, Buddhists, and non-western Christians in Africa and the Philippines.


  17. Publius, I think ISIS is different than the previous “terror” groups in the Middle East. Their attacks seem more like true terror attacks as opposed to “go home” messages or retaliations (9/11).

    And, if Muslim demagogues are anything like Christian demagogues, in order to get people to go die or send their sons (now daughters) to die, you have to convince them of some moral/religious imperative (slavery, women’s rights, mean dictators, no vaccinations). So maybe Muslims do something similar. Get people to fight under the guise of religion (or anti-pornography), but it’s really to incite terror so their nation will finally be taken seriously and the U.S. and Russians will finally go home.


  18. I am all in favor of the U.S. leaving Muslim lands alone, and I can well understand Islamic anger at recent U.S. policy and military action in Iraq and Afghanistan. But even if tomorrow morning there was no longer any American presence in the Middle East, I doubt Islamic violence would cease.


  19. I’m not sure I’m ready for muslim,western induced post traumatic stress disorder. I’m reading. Maybe it’ll happen for me, but I just can’t seem to drum it up. But, yes, we all should be embarrassed about Miley Cyrus. Again, though, I refuse to own up to any responsibility for her. My father wins on this score, “everyone wants you to carry their monkey, don’t let them.” Actually it was more “f them”. Sometimes cursing helps with the lesson.


  20. JetStar, what about English grammar don’t you understand (sorry another question)?

    I must admit it sure read like the victims in San Bernardino got what they deserved because the USA is full of cultural Christians.

    I don’t see a question mark. Why don’t you explain how the post alleges that the dead and injured got what they deserved?


  21. Josh C., human beings actually have a habit of engaging in violent criminal activity in pursuit of a cause. Dutch Protestants? Irish Republicans? Irish Protestants? English suffragettes? North American freedom fighters?


  22. Publius,

    Sure Bin Laden had no authority to determine who was on Saudi soil or not. That’s not the point. Al Qaeda has said one reason they hate America is the presence of infidel troops. They don’t have to be the Saudi government or have any authority to go all crazy that we’re there and start blowing stuff up.

    I’m not saying we “deserve” it for being there. I’m just saying maybe actually listening to them would be wise for our leaders instead of the vague “they hate us because of our freedoms.”


  23. Sean: we all should be embarrassed about Miley Cyrus.

    Don’t know about embarrassed but certainly seriously sobered- she’s an interesting example to consider -watching her degeneration to the world’s thinking has been sorrowful.

    Was it be because she was not instructed in the word 24/7 (see what I did there r2kers) by her parents as God commands (Deut; 6:6-7);

    Was it because her dad took her to Hollywood, which though he said he regretted, was really that there my have been was a greater joy for him than hearing of his children walking in the truth. (3 John 1:4);.

    Or is it that we shouldn’t be so ‘astounded’ (DG here http://reformedforum.org/ctc412 @ ~ 26 minutes+) about how “covenant children who have grown up in the home with family worship, grown up being catechized, grown up going to two services on Sunday” indeed, need conversion.

    And maybe we shouldn’t pooh-pooh revivalism (link discussion), which begins with repentance, (and who shouldn’t call for that in our land, am I right, DG) but instead should be praying fervently for it and for deliverance here in our land, at just such a time as now –
    “ LORD, I have heard the report about You and I fear. O LORD, revive Your work in the midst of the years, In the midst of the years make it known; In wrath remember mercy.”


  24. and ‘course even r2kers could pray today’s type prayer (w/ more this week) here : http://www.operationworld.org/Dec09#prayer

    United States of America

    Answer to Prayer
    A rich legacy of Christian history has profoundly shaped the USA. From the nation’s early days through today, no other country has been so strongly influenced by biblical Christianity. The national percentage of evangelicals lies at 28.9%, and is spread throughout all major ethnic groups and strata of society.

    Challenge for Prayer
    The 21st Century sees a different role for a different America. The end of the Cold War, the aftermath of 9/11 and subsequent invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the emergence (or re-emergence) of other nations spell the end of the USA as the world’s only superpower. The moral authority of the USA was undermined by its response to 9/11, its economic primacy is increasingly questionable and its diplomatic authority, while still immense, is now one of several global leaders.

    There is much to pray for:
    a) Domestic politics saw a definitive change as President Obama replaced President Bush. Both claim to be Christian believers; each has been highly divisive in his own way; these illustrate the intractable nature and interminable polarity of US politics more than anything else. Pray that politicians and the populace might overcome some fundamental differences and work together to see justice, fairness and righteousness exalted in the nation.
    b) The world’s perception of America plummeted as it exerted its military and economic powers unilaterally in questionable ways. Yet the USA still has a vital, even God-ordained, part to play in the theatre of nations – provider of stability and aid, peacekeeper, proponent of democracy, military/economic superpower and still a world leader in almost every area that matters. Pray that this solemn role might be fulfilled from a platform of selflessness and service to humanity.


  25. Hart, two more questions for me? I tell you I’m actually hurt as you’ve asked 14 (if you count the marks) in the comments section and I’m only at ~20% of the total. Certainly I thought I rated higher than an ad hominem and just two more questions. But I guess I didn’t, eh? So in your response can you have more question marks? Lots of questions? I mean do you love questions? Look! A squirrel question! Did you see the squirrel question? Why are you dodging with questions? What are you evading? What are you afraid of?



  26. Ali,
    Nice to hear that a someone has finally found out what America’s God-ordained role is in the world. But what to say to those hateful Christians who think America should not be a world power? And what about those who think the declining moral, economic, and diplomatic authority is a good thing? What about those who don’t think democracy is worth promoting?


  27. cw l’unificateur: Ali, a spoof — right?

    Morning cw. Spoof? Not sure what you are saying, but that’s ok.

    think my instruction re you (hearing provisionally) is” Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults; whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse. Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you” Prov 9:7-8a

    Have a good day


  28. Jetstar, you’re not my wife. ask nicely.

    I’m still having trouble understanding this as a question:

    I must admit it sure read like the victims in San Bernardino got what they deserved because the USA is full of cultural Christians.

    Or do you speak a Christian language I don’t know?


  29. Walton, Darryl, Robert, etc. – The “America got it’s just desserts” because Bin Laden didn’t want infidels despoiling the desert / American soldiers attend Christian worship services while deployed school of thought is a willfully ignorant form of Stockholm Syndrome.

    I’ll ask again, was Mohammed just reacting against Constantine?

    Why don’t we have these logically tortured conversations about Buddhists? The Brits had actual colonies in China until 20 years ago, but so far no sign of Buddhist terrorists lighting up London.

    Why no Hindus bombing French or British interests? Pondicherry? The Raj? And why no discussion of limiting Buddhist or Hindu immigration or whether Buddhism or Hinduism are compatible with free government?

    And if it’s American foreign policy that drives the Islamists then what do you make of their obsession with Israel and Jews in general? And why did they attack Paris, London, Moscow, Copenhagen and many, many others? And this doesn’t even touch on the incredible intramural violence throughout the Middle East and Africa. Boko Haram anyone?

    The only option is to become less self-regarding and look at the history and listen to the the people on the other side. They have been quite clear – you are either a friend and ally in the fight to establish a Caliphate or an enemy. There are no neutrals.


  30. Publius,

    I’m not saying you’re entirely wrong. But the inciting thing here is Western foreign policy. Nobody in the Middle East was calling us the Great Satan that I know of until we were propping up the Shah. A big part of these Islamist fundamentalist movements is also due to the West cutting up the Ottoman Empire into secular nation states. And it goes on.

    Would the other side be carrying out attacks if history went differently. Maybe the Ottomans would be trying to invade us, but I don’t think we would have the suicide bombers and other such things.

    I’ll be the first one to admit that the most consistent form of Islam, after Muhammad’s example, would seem to be aggressive, conquering Islam. But people are inconsistent. These Jihadi movements have gained traction because Bin Laden et al can point to specific American actions. I’m not even saying all these actions are necessarily wrong. I just want the people in power to stop acting as if they know what is going on over there because all the evidence is that our leaders badly misunderstand it.

    As for the other Western countries suffering, well, they haven’t exactly sat out of invading Muslim lands. Colonialism has a long legacy.

    Israel, that’s just straight on antiSemitism for the most part. But one does have to sympathize a bit with the Palestinians since the U.N. carved up that land in which they had lived for generations to make a Jewish state. I’m not saying that was wrong, but we have to at least try to understand some of the psychology of the people over there. It’s also true that most Palestinians see no way forward except for the state of Israel to fail and be wiped off the map.

    The whole thing is complicated. The jingoistic “The Jihadis hate us because of our freedoms” is simplistic and it is leading to all sorts of bad things, like the assumption that all people want Western-style freedom and so we can just impose it from above if we try hard enough.


  31. Hilaire Belloc is always useful for keeping it real:

    Not every admirer of Hilaire Belloc’s work thinks it was wise for him to write, “Europe is the faith, and the faith is Europe.” But whatever one’s position on Belloc’s words, what is happening in Europe these days calls them to mind.

    Am I the only one who suspects that the people of Europe, whether or not they have ever heard of Belloc, are pondering one version or another of his statement about the centrality of Catholicism to Europe’s identity as they witness the flood of Muslim refugees pouring across their borders?

    My guess is that Europeans are longing for a leader to come to the forward and state openly and unapologetically, “This flow of refugees across our borders has to stop. We are a Christian people, and we want to stay a Christian people, and we have that right. There is nothing shameful or unjust about wanting that.”

    What holds them back from saying this, of course, is the notion of a secular society based on Enlightenment principles that has been taught to the people of the once-Christian West since they were children. They have been instructed that it is reactionary to promote a Christian society, close-minded, non-inclusive, even hateful to do so. They find themselves tongue-tied when they see Muslims pouring into their countries holding signs that proclaim the right of “Freedom of Movement Access Across Borders.”

    How does an enlightened modern European oppose that demand? Muslims have as much right as the local parish deacon to shape society, according to the Enlightenment understanding of liberty, equality, and fraternity. People are people. If migrants cross national borders, invited or not, and become the majority in the country where they decide to take up permanent residence, they have the right to enact their principles into law.

    No, it is not right. Everyplace else on Earth would deem the proposition laughable. No one questions the right of countries with Muslim majorities to remain Muslim. Hindus are praised for how they united to halt the British transformation of their culture. The Vietnamese are admired for the vigor they displayed in driving out French and American interlopers. No one expects the Japanese to open their borders to a flow of immigrants that would redefine what it means to be Japanese. White Europeans are scolded constantly in the media in Hollywood for their assault on Native American culture. We could go on.

    It is only the nations of the world that are populated by Christians, or people who were once Christian, that are told it is high-minded for them to accept a radical transformation of their national culture, a redefinition of who they are.

    One might object that modern Europeans cannot demand the right to retain their Christian identity, since they have long deserted it. Most of them don’t practice their faith any longer. Christian religious leaders do not define morality and personal behavior for them.

    Well, not exactly. The free societies of Europe are still Christian, whether they know it or not. Their national identity depends upon the collective memory of when Christianity shaped their values.


  32. It is interesting how whenever somebody comes to America (not even necessarily becoming a citizen, but even a resident alien), they are automatically an “American” whereas no one in their right mind thinks moving to Iraq would make them an Iraqi, or to Israel an Israeli! Or even worse, moving to Britain makes you British?!?!


  33. Belloc may have been a Romanist but since we’re all 2K we have admit that doesn’t disqualify his pretty prescient writing on Islam in his books The Crusades and in The Great Heresies.

    Of course, I would disagree with his view of the Reformation…


  34. Robert –

    I just want the people in power to stop acting as if they know what is going on over there because all the evidence is that our leaders badly misunderstand it.

    I generally agree with this. There are some thoughtful, knowledgeable people in government, but not many and generally they are not in elective office. The idea that “they hate us for our freedom” is at best a self-satisfied over-simplification. As I pointed out earlier, I think it is enough to know that the Islamists hate us and have declared war on us. The job of government is to protect its citizens, not conduct an airing of grievances for the perpetrators of violence.

    As for the other Western countries suffering, well, they haven’t exactly sat out of invading Muslim lands. Colonialism has a long legacy.

    The United States has no history of colonialism in the Middle East (and not much of one globally – we were late to the game) nor does Denmark or Switzerland or Israel or Russia or Spain (remember the Madrid train bombings that killed 198?) or most of the other countries afflicted with Islamist supremacism and violence.

    And what about all of the violence in Africa against other Africans? Libya? Boko Haram?

    What is the common thread?

    The old self-loathing “it was the imperialism that did it” just doesn’t cut it.


  35. Walton, it’s like when Tim Whatley converted to Judaism just for the jokes.

    “Jerry, it’s our sense of humor that sustained us as a people for three thousand years.”

    “Five thousand.”

    “Five thousand, even better! Chrissy, gimme a schtikel of fluoride.”


  36. Publius, “Why don’t we have these logically tortured conversations about Buddhists?”

    Because Christendom and the West have been at it for 1000 years at least. Buddhists not so much.


  37. Publius, “The United States has no history of colonialism in the Middle East”

    So narrow the terms so no one notices U.S. support for Israel.

    And how do you think Americans would feel if Mexico established military bases in Colorado and New York?


  38. DGH – Or maybe it’s because there are no Buddhists murdering people in San Bernardino, Paris, London, Moscow, Copenhagen, Madrid, New York, Jerusalem, Nigeria, Mali, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. Just a thought.


  39. JetStar
    Posted December 9, 2015 at 9:20 am | Permalink
    Hart, two more questions for me? I tell you I’m actually hurt as you’ve asked 14 (if you count the marks) in the comments section and I’m only at ~20% of the total. Certainly I thought I rated higher than an ad hominem and just two more questions. But I guess I didn’t, eh? So in your response can you have more question marks? Lots of questions? I mean do you love questions? Look! A squirrel question! Did you see the squirrel question? Why are you dodging with questions? What are you evading? What are you afraid of?


    heh heh


  40. Susan
    Posted December 8, 2015 at 7:51 pm | Permalink
    “we can safely say the number of Christians begging to come live in Muslim countries is about the same number who can explain this post is about.”

    Good point.

    Did you see this article from few days back?


    Very interesting. Of course Islam has been attacking the West on and off for over 1000 years and somehow it’s our fault.

    The chorus of shock after the recent attacks became a cliché: the scenes were “unreal and inexplicable.” Yet they were not without precedent. When the Nazis tramped along the leafy boulevards in 1940, there was shock, but there was also an air of inevitability about it. After all, there had been warnings and threats, and the defenses had not been what they should have been. True, Hitler was a madman, but—and I can attest after many years as a chaplain in a mental institution—one can be both insane and intelligent. Thus the Chestertonian line about madness being the loss of everything except reason.

    Verrrrry old joke:

    Why does Paris have wide, tree-lined boulevards?

    —So the Germans can march in the shade.


  41. DGH – So narrow the terms so no one notices U.S. support for Israel.

    And how do you think Americans would feel if Mexico established military bases in Colorado and New York?

    The U.S. supports Israel. What of it? If you want to make the case that it is bad policy, go ahead, but Israel is not a colony of the United States.

    With regards to your Mexico analogy, I don’t have an opinion on the hypothetical. But I can say that if such an arrangement were made at the behest of our government (as is the case with U.S. bases in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, etc.) that whether I supported the policy or not I would be obligated to defer to the authority of the magistrate in the matter. And I can assure you that I would not think that murdering people half a world away was an acceptable protest. There are plenty of Koreans and Japanese who oppose the U.S. bases in those countries, but so far no signs of Korean or Japanese shooters or bombers.

    You seem to want to make the case US aid to Israel causes Islamist violence. Or maybe that US relations with the Saudis cause Islamist violence. Or both. I reject both propositions. And even were they true they would be illegitimate grounds for the murder and violence that are the hallmark of the Islamists.

    Again, the states that were actual colonies of Western powers outside of the Muslim world don’t seem to have this problem. The people of India, China, Zimbabwe, and South Africa, to name just a few examples are not murdering Westerners. And Americans aren’t trying to kill Brits despite the depredations of King George and the burning of the White House in 1814. Why not? What’s different?


  42. Publius, Where did I say murder was a proper response? What I am saying is that the way some frame U.S. domestic and foreign policy is not the only way to do it and may actually miss objections (non-violent) that Muslims have.

    I didn’t say Israel was a colony. It is an indication of the West’ (Christianity) force and ability to impose its will on the Middle East. I thought U.S. believed in self-determination.

    I’m not sure what causes Islamist violence. But it’s not as if Muslims are the only ones to protest violently. Did you hear about the 1960s in the U.S.?


  43. Publius,

    I hope you give this lecture a watch. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4HnIyClHEM

    I think Pape is right to look specifically at the motivation of suicide terrorism because of its disproportionate “success” in achieving carnage.

    I honestly would love to hear someone articulate where Pape goes wrong in this, but I haven’t heard it yet.


  44. Susan, “Senator Sasse speaks sense, and I like him.”

    Now we have the real RC apologetic. Forget epistemology. The Roman Catholic church makes sense and I like it.


  45. A southern reformed pastor—“it is a service to society for godly pastors to act on the state’s behalf …. Instead of pulling out of society, Christians should seek to be involved for the good of all,”

    From Jonathan Malesic’s Secret Faith in the Public Square (Brazos Press, 2009)

    “Can Christians be witnesses to the hard truths of the gospel in a land where being Christian is a form of political or social capital? What is the theological cost of the church becoming a constituency, a network, a market? What about when Christian identity has become a brand? How can Christian identity be saved from American public life, which so easily distorts and converts it into something meant to benefit individuals in that public life? Secrecy about the most distinctive aspects of Christian identity—including prayer and liturgy and explicitly Christian justifications for public actions—is a real though underemphasized theme in Christian theological, liturgical, and spiritual tradition. My proposal is an answer to the question of what individual Christians should do when non-Christian publics, especially the overarching and competitive public spheres of government, work, and the market pose danger to the integrity of the Christian public. I maintain that when Christian identity is thought to be useful largely to confer status on someone in one of these spheres, then the true purpose of being a member of the public known as the church has been lost. (p. 23)


  46. It’s going to be interesting how this plays out. There’s a class and even educational(though not among the millenials) division going on with the muslim question. If you’re going to ask americans to be sympathetic to muslim grievances, imagined or otherwise, against the west, including the U.S, then the muslim community has to be ready to have a reciprocal attitude about the west’s reaction and reactionary attitude about/against jihadists. Particularly jihadist’s carrying out violent attacks in western countries. If you’re a muslim offended by the western political rhetoric, then you have to accept your fringe’s responsibility for it. Moreover, you have to take responsibility for your muslim/arab government’s role in fostering, pandering and playing to this group for the VERY same political purposes(Turkey) the western politicians use to threaten you, as a group, in return. And I hate to be cliche, but intellectual, liberal, U.S. citizens aren’t ‘on the wall’. You need those guys and gals on the wall, and sometimes they have a point about ‘fixing the problem’ while y’all debate about how to fix the problem. Particularly when there is no good choice. There’s a short game and a long game, and they both have to be engaged at the same time. If you want the west/U.S. to be more sophisticated about their approach then the other side has to own those same realities.


  47. CW, more gospel as foreign policy. The sentiment is nice, but it confuses kingdoms. You can make an argument for taking in muslim refugees, taking the hit(maybe literally at times) in the first generation, in order to get to the second generation who will have assimilated western, U.S. sensiblilities that will pacify a jihadist impulse at least in your own country and will likely have some pacifying influence as it rolls back into their country of origin. But you must combine it with a pretty severe bite both diplomatically, ongoing enforcement in the here and now and foreign military policy. Generally, charity gets read as acquiescence and weakness and the ‘bad guys’ read it as opportunity. Right, wrong or indifferent that’s how it goes.


  48. Darryl –

    You certainly seemed to imply that U.S. support for Israel was tantamount to colonization. Maybe I misread you. That said, there is no doubt that the establishment of the modern state of Israel was made possible by Western might. But why conflate the West with Christianity? The Balfour Declaration was not the work of dispensationalists from Dallas Seminary, it was the result of work done by mostly Jewish Zionists.

    I’m not sure what causes Islamist violence. But it’s not as if Muslims are the only ones to protest violently. Did you hear about the 1960s in the U.S.?

    I think you’re on to something here: In a certain sense it doesn’t matter what causes Islamist violence. It only matters that the United States government recognize what you have recognized – namely that Islamists are violent – and that they take all necessary steps to protects U.S. citizens from that violence.


  49. Darryl –

    But it’s not as if Muslims are the only ones to protest violently. Did you hear about the 1960s in the U.S.?

    One last thought, it is inaccurate to think of ISIS/Daesh as a protest movement. It’s an imperial force that seeks to take and hold territory permanently. And it has been remarkably successful in a short period of time. It’s not SDS or even the Weather Underground. They are more like the Bolsheviks who see themselves as engaged in a global struggle for supremacy.


  50. Zrim – Whatley to White to Heisenberg. Maybe Vince Gilligan can collaborate with Jerry Seinfeld on a prequel. It’s got to be better than The Phantom Menace.


  51. Like one of your Texas neighbors saying “All those poor, unfortunate souls in Juarez — let’s bring ’em to Austin where they can eat from food trucks and enjoy the art. It will be great.” Like that.


  52. cw – Where does the PCA find these guys? I won’t comment on the wisdom of his proposal, but why do they all sound like Mr. Rogers on helium?


  53. Ugh, nothing like getting caught between the bolsheviks and the fascists. Somebody remind the social democrats that they’re both your enemy. The bolsheviks don’t mean it and the fascists do. Either way, don’t run off to Spain(Syria) under anything but your own flag.


  54. Matthew 6 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of people, to be seen by them. Otherwise, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 So whenever you give to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be applauded by people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward! 3 But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
    5 “Whenever you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward! 6 But when you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 7 When you pray, don’t babble like the idolaters, since they imagine they’ll be heard for their many words.


  55. Bloody bolshies were always killjoys. Can’t a guy run off to a foreign land in search of idealistic adventure without getting shot in the head by a Red?


  56. Zrim, is White to Heisenberg really that good? The first season didn’t do it for me. I’m willing to give it another shot though.


  57. Walton, you and Darryl both. Granted, there are better instances of character development out there, but I found the transition interesting enough. The plot line out paced the character development.


  58. zrim – I’m with you on this one. I thought it was great. But the transition really is everything. Vince Gilligan said he wanted to tell the story of how Mr. Chips turns into Scarface and I think he did that. Better Call Saul, not so much. It’s the same concept – the transition from ne’er-do-well lawyer to “criminal attorney” (to quote Jesse) just way less interesting.


  59. Alrighty. I’m in the middle of The Killing right now. I’m not sure how many more plot twists can possibly be left. Maybe the message of the show is that the only way to solve a crime is to arrest each main character one by one and find out that they lied to cover for some other crime, but not the one under investigation. Even so, couldn’t they have figured out a faster way to say that?


  60. I really liked Broadchurch. I plan to watch season 2 with my brother over Christmas. I started the Killing cause I thought it would be similar. I’m still gonna eventually try Happy Valley, Darryl, if the recommendation still stands.


  61. Walton, Broadchurch second season is a disappoint. Visually still stunning and I love the sound track (Olafur Arnaulds). But too many tricks designed to give the season pizzaz. They had enough material.


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