I end up watching bits and pieces of Fox News, which I find detrimental for my mental capacity. I try and ignore it, most of it is rather idiotic and circus-esque. How is a bus crash, a random car explosion, or a man swimming from a crocodile actually news? It’s not, but it’s “fun” to watch. My mind feels a certain tingling of flatness, so I try and ignore it. However, today, I saw a story on the Vatican’s call for US, and international, air strikes on ISIS in Iraq.
Now, let me lay out the background and some immediate thoughts. ISIS is an organizational movement to exert an explicitly Islamic dominance. Dreams of the days of old, where there was a universal caliphate, certainly fire up not a few militant Islamic factions. Ironically, where the same idea in Syria is posited ‘freedom fighters’ against Assad, they’re ‘terrorists’ in the corrupt and collapsing Iraqi Maliki government.
ISIS,and sister militias, imbibes the same drive for an empire-Babylon as the US or China. They want to make the world in their image. They’re much more overt in attaching religious significance to their actions, they see themselves as holy warriors fighting for their god’s struggle to bring the ‘telos’ of Man. Or we could say they seek a unity in submission to Heaven’s will. Well, perhaps it’s not any more or less religious than the US or China, but more self-pronounced. Don’t be fooled. American lingo of spreading ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ carries about the same language of eschaton and human flourishing. China, despite the cracking husk of Communism, is really reasserting its ancient role as being the world power. The idea of China as the embodiment of Heaven’s will, in the reign of a dynasty, is very ancient and certainly pervades the present.
Perhaps ISIS is just more zealous and mystical than Chinese economic advance through Africa or the American surveillance superstructure and apparati across the globe. Anyway, I find them utterly repugnant and wicked, though their cause makes a certain amount of sense. I’m no fan of a propped-up, Western-lite, government of Maliki. He can’t even maintain tranquility like the reigns of Feisel and the British-backed monarchy and the formerly US backed Saddam and Baathist party. They’re also wicked (though in differing amounts).
However, the major thing is the advance of persecution upon Iraqi Christians who refuse to submit to ISIS’ attempt at unity through Islam. I am in solidarity with these Christians who have to suffer heavily beneath the hand of would-be conquerors, and I applaud their perseverance and not merely bending, and converting, to Islam. Now whether this is out of Gospel conviction and the movement of the Holy Spirit, or cultural attachment and westernisms, I don’t know. I won’t, and can’t judge, collectively. It’s probably a mixed bag of both.
However, what I find sad and pathetic is the refrain for, and the initiation of, US violence and bomb strikes across Iraq. Geo-politically, this looks somewhat akin to Vietnam, where the US is trying to retain whatever successes and at the same time keep a distance from a publicly disparaged war. Despite the hawks who call for a reinvasion, this would be too politically deleterious. Especially for Obama, who would decimate any morally high-handed rhetoric the Democrats purchased from the Bush administration’s warmongering. Of course, Obama is equally engaged in bloodshed, but he’s maintained a better image and facade over and against the war-party neo-cons who reigned for sometime unopposed.
Now I don’t know how much Iraqis, themselves, are calling for these attacks, or if there are particular vocal spokesmen among them, and whether it’s just the culturalists among them. But any public call for public witness, to despise the weapons of war, and proclaim the Prince of Peace despite the violence of men and demons, is null or quieted.
Now martyrdom is not death for death’s sake, or sacrifice for sacrifice’s sake, but a willing to proclaim the Truth, that this is Life, over and above any who seek to exert contrary, especially when sinning in murder, abuse, and torture.
Where are the shepherds and leaders of God’s people who seek to suffer with the Iraqi believers? Who trust that loving one’s enemy is the way to overcome them? That cry out for a cross-shaped vocation and discipleship? Instead I see the Vatican now deciding that US bombs, and whoever else wants to jump in, will be the means for saving the Iraqi Christians.
Perhaps it’s not just that they’re Christians, that ISIS hates them? These measures and calls for military intervention play into militant’s arguments that these believers are just 5th column for America and the Maliki government. This is just feeding into the death cycle that won’t end and only reinforces this idea that Western presence in the Arab world is a re-invigoration of the Crusades.
At one level it’s not, but at another it is. While some Crusaders came to the Levant in some misguided quest of holiness, absolution, or fidelity, many came for the promise of riches and new land. The stories of wealth and extravagance in the East have existed in the West since the days of the Roman Republic. Many Frankish nights marveled at the towers of Constantinople, Jerusalem, Antioch, Edessa etc. as these cities dwarfed their little castle villages. The Middle East was the cross roads of many a kingdom. Spices, silk, gold, gems, fertile fields, all of these were available for those who could take them.
Today, the new prize is oil, and the geo-strategic worth of the Middle East is desired by many players. The US, British, French, and Russians have cut up and divided these lands in the past hundred years, creating states with about as much legitimacy and historical rootage as the Latin principalities a thousand years ago. Many in the Arab world see this as a replay, and wish to drive out the Christians (read European) and their sympathizers and hirelings.
For as much as Francis was touted as some sort of “radical” pope, he’s nothing different than past popes. He is utilizing violence and the means of this world in order to secure the borders of christendom. No wonder people designate Christianity as a mere sociological category. It really is for some. Strauss and Feurbach are God’s scourge upon those who distort God’s Kingdom into another Babylon.
In fact, John’s Revelation sees this phenomenon take place. It’s the Woman who whores herself to the kings of men, riding the Beast, decorated with jewels and fine clothing. This is nothing else but the Church that cozies itself to being just another function of the World. Francis should renounce his name, he’s just another Hildebrandt. Not that Rome really would ever do that; that’s her glory. She is just as haunted as during the Pagan days with demons of lusty ambition for the flesh, and the pride of life.
I know that I comfortably write this from a soft chair in a living room with lighting and no fear of being killed. Perhaps this invalidates some of my urgency and robs potency. But what if a bishop of God’s people called to be living sacrifices, literally and truly. What if there was a harkening to actually stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Iraqi Christians and refuse the demands of a neo-Caliphate without turning to the sword or to the quasi-pagan, materialistic West.
Or perhaps families and individuals ought to flee, and settle elsewhere. There’s nothing wrong in shaking off your feet, and moving elsewhere. Whether one ought to do this or not, that’s up to the particular conscience. But to call for the powers of the world to boast in Lamech’s infinite violence, while wearing the cross of Christ? This cannot be. But for a false Church, speaking with a Dragon’s voice, I suppose it makes sense.
Though it all saddens me deeply.