August 27, 2014

Ground Zero is American Holy Ground. No Mosque Near Ground Zero

This is my essay that appeared on Catholic Online today.

Don’t Let Muslims Define 9-11

NAPLES (Catholic Online) – Muslims have it over secularists, but not Christians – at least the clear thinking ones anyway. The Muslim proposal to build a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero is not only an affront to all people who died there, but another chapter in a cultural jihad that seeks to replace the cultural traditions of Christendom with Sharia, the code of law derived from the Koran and from the teachings and example of Mohammed.

First the caveats. Yes, most Muslims are not jihadists; they may see the non-Muslim as an infidel but won’t resort to violence to defeat him. Yes, Muslim believers pose no threat to American cultural norms and legal structures as long as their numbers remain small. Yes, every Muslim citizen should be afforded the rights due to all Americans regardless of their religion.

The $100 million mosque however, represents more than religious freedom. Named the “Cordoba House,” it is meant to recall the great Cordoba Mosque built in Cordoba, Spain in 784 after the Muslim conquest (and etch it forever in the West’s historical memory). The Cordoba House in New York (which assuredly will function as a mosque) is meant to broadcast to the world that the destruction of the Twin Towers was a victory for jihad.

It’s a perverse twist to a practice that Christians hold dear: Some ground is sacred and must reference God to make sense of the events that took place on it.

Sacred ground is more easily understood by European Christians than their American counterparts (the relative youth of America may have something to do with this). Some events are so catastrophic, or prove to be so historically significant, that they transcend the categories we normally employ to explain them. These events must  reference something higher to make sense to us; they must appeal to something outside of ourselves that can explain paradox or recognize great moral courage or even reconcile inhuman suffering.

America has places of holy ground, even though most Americans, while drawn to those places and often deeply moved by their visits to them, don’t always grasp that the sacred character of those places is what moves them. Appomattox, where the American Civil War ended with Lee’s surrender to Grant, is one such place. The USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor comes to mind. Ellis Island is another. There are surely more.

The secularists don’t see it that way of course. But their blindness (which must inevitably default to perceiving these question only in legal categories) is the result of an a priori rejection of the sacred dimension of life.

You can think of secularism as merely a long layover from one city to the next, although this trip takes a few centuries instead of hours. Secularism is not strong or deep enough to sustain a culture. It can’t and won’t hold.  Secularism lives off the religious heritage of Christianity (and Judaism before it), and if Christendom ceases to be Christian the secularist will end up embracing Islam . 

The Muslims understand this. Some Christians do too. That is why building a mosque represents not, as some Americans think, an example of American tolerance towards “religious belief,” but the continuing desacralizing of American culture under the rubric of tolerance.

If the mosque is built, we will see the slow but certain drift to referencing 9-11 to the god of Mohammed rather than the God of Abraham. And if we drift far enough, religious  freedom will die and so will the political and cultural freedoms that are its progeny.

Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse is an Orthodox priest living in Naples, Fl. Fr. Jacobse edits the website Orthodoxy Today  and is President of the American Orthodox Institute .

Comments

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    Peter T. says:

    I’m still unclear as to why Ground Zero is “holy ground.” If anything, by taking this stance, aren’t we letting the terrorists set the agenda? If they attacked the WTC as a symbol of what they believed America stood for, does that mean that for us Wall Street becomes the Temple Mount? Yes, a lot of people died there–it’s horrible, and it deserves to be remembered. But isn’t a fundamental principle of American liberty (like, say, religious freedom), unhampered by fear or hatred or prejudice, a more fitting response to say who we really are, than to accept that the WTC defines us?

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    orrologion says:

    My wife and I live in NYC. We were here on 9/11. We know a firefighter that died and his family.

    My wife is sick to death of what she sees as people “using” 9/11 and Ground Zero and firefighters for their own ends. I can’t say I disagree. It’s like when people whine, “But what about the children?” The “9/11 card” shuts down intelligent conversation and forces everyone to bow their heads, nod a little, mumble agreement and move on. I have noticed this plays especially well outside of New York, actually, and in many areas of the country where New York was a byword for immoral, liberal and un-American, which is ironic.

    I’ve got no problem with a mosque being near Ground Zero. Any mosque in the Financial District will always be ‘near Ground Zero’ because everything’s nearby everything else in the Financial District. Wall St. also has a larger number of Muslims than the rest of the country because Wall St. is international with people from all over the world coming to work there – on top of the fact that NYC itself is the most diverse city in the country (and always has been). Muslims should have a mosque near there – to pray throughout the day, as required, or near their homes in Battery Park City and South Street Seaport.

    The only question regards how that mosque presents itself in the community. It should not be an architectural apologia for Islam explaining how “Islam is Peace” and 9/11 was the work of ‘bad Muslims’. It shouldn’t be turned into a public interfaith center or Islamic Information Center, but it should be a mosque, it should be open to the public, they can address these issues, but in the same way any mosque in the US post-9/11 has to deal with the same issues.

    At the same time, I agree with the local Greek-American politician who says that St. Nicholas GOC, which was destroyed on 9/11, should be rebuilt first. The mosque issue should be the impetus to force the Port Authority to finally settle with the church regarding rebuilding its parish in Lower Manhattan – so Orthodox Christians in Lower Manhattan can pray during the day and have a church near their homes, too (and it should not become an interfaith, 9/11 memorial church either).

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    The “agenda” was set when American civilian aircraft were commandeered and turned into guided missiles that slammed into American buildings. 3000 people died in the Twin Tower inferno and collapse, more in the Pentagon, and more in the plane that went down in a field in Pennsylvania.

    You are counseling passivity under the rubric of tolerance. Passivity is not a virtue — except to those who labor under the strictures of political correctness, but frankly, they are wrong. Passivity of this kind leads to capitulation, which is why the secularist — the one who thinks religious freedom and the other gifts of Christian culture are mere philosophical principles the strength of which rest in something no deeper than fear of the strong man — will end up capitulating to Islam. Islam knows this, Christianity knows this, but secularism doesn’t.

    And no, rejection of the jihadist attack on Americans and the refusal to sanctify it by the lights of a culture shaped by the regressive teachings of Sharia, is not a view shaped by “fear, hatred, or prejudice.” Rather, it repudiates the attitude that informs your charge: cowardice is preferred over resolve.

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    George Michalopulos says:

    The idea that refusal to allow a mosque to be built at/near Ground Zero constitutes some type of repudiation of American/Enlightenment principles, is perverse. Freedom of religion can never be used to undermine freedom of religion, which is what Sharia does. Let us not fool ourselves, that is the program of Islam, which is not a religion but a socio-political religious ideology, not unlike Nazism or Communism. All three are totalitarian and supremacist. That is why Nazi and Communist parties are not allowed to implement their agendas even though they’re allowed to exist in the US. (Think of the Klan, it’s legal but they aren’t allowed to enforce segregation. Even David Duke is against forced segregation.)

    I can’t stress this enough: it is not a betrayal of liberal American principles to uphold the foundation of our culture, which is Christianity.

    I sense some disdain for “use of the firemen” by politicians and ambivelence of Ground Zero’s proximity to Wall Street. So what? Using this logic, the Church could be accused of “using the martyrs” when it celebrates festal liturgies on the anniversaries of their deaths. As for Wall Street and the people who work there, are they not human beings as well? Did not Chrysostom say that Rahab (who was a harlot in the city of Jericho) “preach the Gospel in the brothel”?

    As for what should be built at Ground Zero, it is only an Orthodox church that should be rebuilt. GOA preferably but Orthodox nonetheless.

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    Eliot Ryan says:

    On Catholic online John says

    I’m very confused as a result of the comment made by Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse on the difference between the “Islamic” God and the “Christian” God: “If the mosque is built, we will see the slow but certain drift to referencing 9-11 to the god of Mohammed rather than the God of Abraham.” Is it not the teaching of the Holy Roman Catholic Church that the faith of Islam also serves the one true God? The following from the Secod Vatican Council makes it quite clear that it indeed does: “The Church regards with esteem also the Muslims. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in himself; merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even his inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God.

    I am stunned … Now you see from where all the tolerance talk comes.

    Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

    (Ephesians 6:11-12)

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      Scott Pennington says:

      You run into an odd little problem when you assert that the god of Islam is God. Muslims understand this to be the case; however, they claim that Islam superceded a corrupted Christianity, that Christ preached essentially the same message as Muhammad, that He only appeared to be crucified and another took His place, etc. Also, in the surah of the Quran called al-Ikhlas (a/k/a at-Tawhid), Christ’s divinity is explicitly and emphatically denied, ” . . . He does not beget, nor is He begotten, nor is there anyone remotely like Him.”

      If the RCC believes that Muhammad made it all up and that he intended to create a “better” vehicle through which to worship the true God without having any direct experience of Him, I can see why they made the statement. However, if you take Islam seriously, the statement is very problematic. It could be a demon or the devil himself who inspired Muhammad. The god of Islam directs Muslims to subjugate Christians and Jews and render them second or third class subjects of the Caliphate.

      I just write it off as another one of those dumb, thoughtless, uncatholic assertions that the Vatican (and the Phanar) occasionally make. Vatican II was an unmitigated disaster on many levels.

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        George Michalopulos says:

        Scott, you are 100% correct in this regard. I cannot tell you how many times I wanted to slam my fist through the nearest wall everytime I heard some multi-culti Catholic prattle on about the wonderfullness of Vatican II and how we all worship the same God. It grieves me to no end to hear our own make essentially the same noises.

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        Eliot Ryan says:

        Scott, Thanks for the clarification.

        Now I understand why some Orthodox elders made the statement that they are not sure anymore if the Catholics (leaders I would say) worship the same God us the Orthodox.
        They were certainly referring to the RC religious leaders not ordinary believers.

        I found some relevant comments on the topic on
        OrthodoxChristianity.net
        All the gods of the pagans are demons?

        From the Orthodox Study Bible notes on p. 746:

        “Ps 95 is a prophecy about the building of the house after the captivity (v. 1). The house is the Church, which includes the Gentiles (vv. 3, 5, 7, 10,). The Gentiles were the captives of the demons (v. 5). The Lord (vv. 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13) is the Lord Jesus Christ, who freed the captives. These former captives now worship Him (v. 9),…”

        So this is saying (using the above notes and the notes you quoted) that any god other than Jesus Christ is either a demon or an idol. IME, trying to figure which god was/is a demon and which is merely an idol is an exercise in futility as both are a form of captivity that leads to death.

        On the other hand, there is John, chapter 8, verses 42-47:

        Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”

        It seems that Jesus is saying here that, within Judaism, you have some people whose father is the devil (the greatest demon), and some people whose father is God.

        If Jesus viewed this as the case even within Judaism, then the Old Testament statement about the gods of the nations being demons, can be interpreted to mean that some within the nations have demons as their gods, whereas others in those nations have God as their God. (Thus, this would account for the Jewish idea of “righteous gentiles”, as well as Socrates and other Greek lovers of wisdom being accounted as honorary Christians, by some early Church Fathers.)

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    Harry Coin says:

    On a US Army base near here, there is a very large military cemetery. Because it was active during the civil war, and the war was ‘civil’ (to such an extent any war can be so-called), there is also a small but well maintained Confederate cemetery some distance from and isolated from the federal.

    In Normandy you will find cemeteries for the Allied memorialized in France, but also, set apart, cemeteries for the invading Germans.

    What set these apart from 9/11 was these were wars between militaries where the primary targeting of civilians was considered criminal.

    Because 9/11 explicitly targeted civilians for death, no structure upholding the cause they named as their motivation should be allowed beyond a token space and then only if and for so long as it’s main daily message is repudiation of causing death in the name of their cause.

    To do otherwise would encourage more of the strange sort of thinking that led to blowing up civilians.

    Harry Coin

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    Fr. John says:

    I see a blithe indifference among those invoking the rubric of tolerance to admit a masjid being built in Lower Manhattan; a willful ignorance of the explicit content and historical experience of Islam in the world. As non-practicing Hindu (Brahmin) friend of mine said, alone of all religions, Islam encloses a prima facie imperative to impose itself universally. The universality of Christianity does not share this imperative either in its terms or historical means, but Islam dictates that the kufar be proselytized, then compelled to join, then exterminated if persistent in unbelief.

    To remain ignorant of the real character of Islam to this late date should be the unpopular exception, but we see the American pollyanna everywhere because we persist in this (false) notion that religions are interchangeable choices within a secular society. It is still considered unseemly and paranoid to cite the corrosive influence of Islamic exceptionalism, the purposeful, long-range strategy of Muslim leaders to insinuate their religion into a place of prestige here. The faith of many in our secular democracy’s putative invincibility is making us vulnerable. I myself uphold the superiority of our secular democracy to most forms of society and government and don’t see a viable safe alternative for us Americans. But an unreasoned, complacent reliance on it is starting to backfire.

    I think we can blame the excesses of recent political campaigns which have created the impression of an alignment between religion and politics for a backlash which would place Islam in a favorable position as an antidote between the perceived church-state alignment(illusory, shallow, populist and exploitative as it is). In other words, the lack of distance between the rhetorical agendas of secularized religion (I mean the plethora of Protestant and “Non Denominational churches”) and that of conniving politicians has left a vacuum of perceived integrity among secular Americans, those who are somewhat outside the confluence of triumphalistic preaching/speechmaking which we have become accustomed to in this country.

    We are now living in an era of backlash against mainstream American religion and the cost will be paid by all Christians in the public eye. The failure of the Catholic hierarchs to vet their clergy of sexual predators has created the impression that they are worse than the average American man (when they are precisely as bad, statistically). It will take generations to rebuild the lost trust. Mainline protestantism is less and less compelling while more extreme and politicized American churches have already peaked; the next generation does notgo to them to encounter God so much as it runs from them to avoid hearing a messaged compromised by a too-cosey relationship with populist politicians and a consumerist vision of life inimical to the best of the religious tradition.

    The new backlash against familiar and discredited forms of religion leaves American society vulnerable to the claims of Islam because that faith still maintains its exotic appeal as a minority foreign immigrant faith, perceived as a non-white and therefore victim faith. Islam also maintains a perceptible elegant style and attitude which help to promote it. People of no particular belief generally respect sacrifices made by others for the sake of belief, because nonbeliever draws comfort from association with the forms of tradition practiced by his friends. The moral structure of minority Islam projects a rectitude and decency we find appealing, even comforting.

    Until Christianity can regain some credibility, we can expect our ground to erode among the upcoming generations. We need to be wary of a tipping point in popular culture which could precipitate mass conversion to Islam among the secular,agnostic majority which will eventually come to recognize its thirst for authentic belief in a transcendent truth. To head such an event off, we need to show Orthodoxy in public for what it is, a living and embodied faith in a living God, a God for whom we are willing to live our lives and for whom we are willing to die if need be. If we show true faith and love, we stand a chance of fending off the roaming threat of Islamization.

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      George Michalopulos says:

      Fr John, you bring up several interesting and valid points. I believe it is incumbent upon us Orthodox to provide this witness, else like you, I believe that a mass conversion to Islam is inevitable.

      If I may interject a few points as to why this is so. It’s not all spiritual thirst that will drive these conversions. As in the early Middle Ages, there were economic and/or cultural incentives which propelled mass conversion. Already in Britain for instance, where sharia courts have been established to deal with intra-Islamic cases, many non-Muslim native men going through unpleasant divorces have “converted” to Islam and had their cases adjudicated in these sharia courts. Needless to say, because of the modern pluralistic fetish for multi-culturalism, the writs of these courts is almost always honored. As is female genital mutilation, forced marriages to first cousins, beating of wives, etc. After all, colored people who act terribly can’t be bad, only white people who go to work punctually, attend Church and vote Republican are evil in the view of the secular pluralists.

      But I digress.

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      Eliot Ryan says:

      To head such an event off, we need to show Orthodoxy in public for what it is, a living and embodied faith in a living God, a God for whom we are willing to live our lives and for whom we are willing to die if need be. If we show true faith and love, we stand a chance of fending off the roaming threat of Islamization.

      We are in this terrible mess precisely because “Man has forgotten God” as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said.

      There are so many who had the strength and purity to reject a life of compromise and wickedness. The message of the contemporary martyrs and confessors for Christ suffering under communist regimes is the same as those enduring persecution under the pagan Roman law.

      The world needs to know about the one hundred million contemporary martyrs.

      You only have power over people so long as you don’t take everything away from them. But when you’ve robbed a man of everything, he’s no longer in your power – he’s free again. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

      I do not thing is worth dying for people’s freedom. They did not use it for a good purpose.

      On the 18th of February, between 14.00 and 15.00, after prayer, Valeriu Gafencu said his last words:

      God, give me the slavery that frees my soul, and take away the freedom that enslaves my soul.

      Thanks to the internet we are able to find out the horrible acts of the ‘atheist’ communist regimes, horrible events intended to remain hidden forever.

      Confessors of Christ from the Gulag: Valeriu Gafencu
      Taken from the book: “The Saint of the Prisons”

      ’Go to hell!’ shouted the inspector. ‘We’ll make sure that you die slowly, painfully, until you give up that Christ that you‘re trying to scare us with. We hate Him, and you, and all of you! We’re going to destroy you all! Here there is no more Christ, dead or resurrected. We’ll see to it that future generations don’t know His lies or yours! We ourselves are the christs of this world!’

      ’May God forgive you,’ answered Valeriu and lowered his head in prayer, expecting to hear an order that he be crushed to pieces.

      http://english.ruvr.ru/2009/09/22/1802811.html

      An incredible drama had overtaken us… Just try to imagine how the 20th century martyrs and Orthodox confessors had undergone sufferings. Everyone could see the sufferings and heroic deeds of the ancient martyrs for the sake of Christ, while the new martyrs of Russia suffered in secret. As a rule, they were arrested deep at night and taken away in secret, and no one knew where to. They were slandered and were blamed for criminal and political offenses. They were interrogated, humiliated and killed without trial and investigation. And no one knew about it for some time. Can you imagine what fortitude, what strong faith in God they must have had to remain true to Christ.

      They remained true to Christ because angels from heaven came down from time to time to strengthen them in their trails. The Saints, the Mother of God and Christ Himself gave them the strength to endure.

      Some people were asking ’Why did God allow bad things to happen?’ The answer is that He did allow them in order to wake us up to return to the faith. “Today, the sons of darkness are bolder than the sons of light.“ and “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, …“

      ’Even though it may seem to you that there is no more faith left on earth, nevertheless, know that deliverance will come … Be bold, the world belongs to Christ!’

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    Peter T. says:

    After several well-intentioned comments throughout the day, to repeat myself, “I’m still unclear as to why Ground Zero is ‘holy ground.’” Now I’m also unclear why I’m being accused of advocating “passivity under the rubric of tolerance” or that “cowardice is preferred over resolve.” I read back through what I wrote, and I still can’t find anything that remotely implies either phrase. I guess I did mention “liberty” and “religious freedom,” but getting from what I said to the interpretation seems to involve a rather giant leap.

    I don’t think we should be passive or cowardly with regard to Islam, or any other religion for that matter. Part of our freedom of religion allows for us to proclaim what we believe. And I’m all for meaningful discussion where it seems beneficial. Unless we’re hoping for another Constantine to baptize the American Empire, I don’t really see where we’re called to do much more than proclaim the Faith by words and deeds. Particularly in an American context, I don’t see any room for this kind of selectivity with regard to what we consider our basic freedoms. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to bear arms–these things are only useful mandates if they extend to those who disagree with me. And I don’t see any distinctively Christian principle that dictates on these points opposing the Bill of Rights.

    What do we really have to fear? That Christianity cannot compete in a free environment? That it is any worse off, for that matter, under wholesale persecution? And I should add that I’m talking here about the building of a mosque, not the imposition of sharia law. In the same way that the second amendment protects my right to be prepared for violent revolt if necessary but stops short of preventing the government from fighting back if I take that extra step, the first amendment protects my (or anyone else’s) right to practice their own religion, up to and excluding the point where that practice directly impairs someone else’s freedom.

    But none of this is really the point of my original question or my main concern here. I know when the agenda was set. That’s precisely my point. But why do we have to accept it on terms defined by terrorists? Ground Zero was not attacked because it was a bastion of Christian piety. If there was an ideological motivation, it was mostly about capitalism and imperialism, and the WTC was seen as a fitting emblem. Did the perpetrators also see these things as integral to the American religion? Perhaps so. But that doesn’t mean we should. Civilians killed without warning is always a tragedy, but it does not make them martyrs. Which still leaves us with the question, why is it “holy ground?”

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to bear arms–these things are only useful mandates if they extend to those who disagree with me.

      Thus freedom is best expressed by allowing those who seek to destroy it to in fact destroy it?

      Look, religion and culture have a deeper relationship than you understand (religion is the ground — or in the case of Islam, the denial — of freedom). You need to read a bit more. Start here: Civilization Without Religion by Russel Kirk. Pay close attention to the section titled “No Substitute.”

      Ground Zero was not attacked because it was a bastion of Christian piety. If there was an ideological motivation, it was mostly about capitalism and imperialism, and the WTC was seen as a fitting emblem. Did the perpetrators also see these things as integral to the American religion? Perhaps so. But that doesn’t mean we should.

      Here’s the problem. When Christianity is reduced to social utility, then the need for the transcendent and the universals that flow from it have to find another well-spring. In our day and age it draws from the materialism of the last century (the “cultural lag” that Kirk defined in the essay above) that gave rise to a Darwinian creation narrative, a Marxian historiography, and Freudian anthropology that, although discredited, still holds enormous power in the larger culture. It’s why you selected “capitalism and imperialism” as the primary motivator for the attacks.

      The jihadists of course could care less about “capitalism and imperialism.” Their motivation is religious (defined by their reading of the Koran) but this is hard for American secularists to grasp because as I stated in my article, they are blinded by an a-priori rejection of the sacred dimension of existence. One result is that they simply cannot comprehend that people operate out of motives different than their own. It’s why they think that handing the narrative of 9/11 over to those who draw from the same Koran that drove the jihadists is a virtue, when in fact it is weakness. The Moslems understand this. Some Christians do too. Secularists don’t.

      Civilians killed without warning is always a tragedy, but it does not make them martyrs. Which still leaves us with the question, why is it “holy ground?”

      They may well be martyrs. You don’t really know this and neither do I. In any case, it is Holy Ground because it is becoming clear that the place is the flash point (“Ground Zero”) of a great conflict between civilizations that won’t end unless Christendom dies, or the Muslim army (the “jihadists”) retreats. A great, almost comprehensible, evil was perpetrated that day as people in planes and buildings were pulverized, as people threw themselves out of windows hundreds of feet high to avoid being burned to death, as mothers and fathers were ripped away from their children — you get the picture, and for what? — for the greater glory of Mohamed’s allah. There simply is no way to comprehend this outside of a religious context. Any substitute structure (in your case the myth of Marxian materialism) is not sufficient to the task.

      If religion merely functions as a principle by which people self-organize and keep their members in check, then nothing can ever be holy. No reference to the transcendent can be made because in fact the transcendent does not really exist (the Marxian myth). The jihadist would laugh at you for making the claim. They see something you don’t, which is why they want to control the narrative that explains it. They know that as long as you really believe the attacks were about “capitalism and imperialism,” you will end up serving Islam in the end.

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        Fr. John says:

        I concur with Fr. Johannes: whether we, tending toward secularism believe it or not, jihadists (i.e. Muslims who take Islam serious enough to become pious on their own violently militant terms) see the WTC event as a religious act, the offering of a sacrifice to Allah, the opening of America to the field of active warfare. We don’t have to see it that way, but a blandly passive narrative approach to what the aggressors enact does nothing to keep ‘us’ in control of the narrative. Only more effective action through a more deeply sacralized view of ourselves and the world can wrest control back. SO long as we collaborate in weaving the desacralized delusion of a flat, pragmatic world, we empower the jihad, which is sworn to annex us, sacralize us on their terms. We are thrust now into a new era where the sacred is reintroduced to us on the most primal and brutal way.

        According to Muslim ethics, Allah (the Merciful) often acts in cruel ways to demonstrate His sovereignty, meted out in punishment of nonbelievers: revelation, apocalypse according to Islam, the in-breaking of the divine into human affairs, reintegrating the world through destruction of human morality. Pious Muslims as jihadists are empowered to act on His behalf to bring about this kind of righteousness.

        Pope Benedict spoke to this problem, contrasting Muslim ethics to Christian, and his understanding is correct: the Christian understanding of God respects human frailty and ennobles it, meekly seeking cooperation, teaching patiently, achieving kenosis as the ultimate revelation of His Glory.

        We postmoderns are excellent students of our secularism but fail to muster enthusiasm for the view beyond the plane of commerce which defines the commons. We forget the Christian sense of the Divine and thus are cut off from our root Tradition. We hold the belief that soon the whole world will forsake the sacred and happily enter the post-historical epoch of global capitalism, or whatever they want to call a universal consumerist secular marketplace. The Muslim, as well as the Christian, rejects the flattening of world view which removes the sacred. Because of this, we are more vulnerable to its re-imposition on the worst terms, those most inimical to human welfare, those chosen by the jihadist.

        We have to re-engage the struggle, not of civilizations as Huntington flatly lays it out but on Christ’s terms, with a bold celebration of His Life, Death and Resurrection,by which the heights and depths of human existence are lifted up to God.

        “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt lose its savor, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be cast out and trampled underfoot.”

        In this light, I appreciate much of the discourse that goes on here, even though I may disagree with some of the conclusions. But we Christians, especially Orthodox clergy have to take charge of the narrative and reintroduce the Divinely-Human dimension of Truth to the world; otherwise, if we remain virtually silent, the Muslims’ violence will be left alone tell their false story, and the West will prostrate itself to the hideous manifestation of the Lie.

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        Peter T. says:

        I’m still struggling with where these conclusions come from. I said, “these [freedoms] are only useful mandates if they extend to those who disagree with me,” and from this you conclude that I mean, “freedom is only expressed by allowing those who seek to destroy it to in fact destroy it?” First, “only useful . . . if” is not an exclusive definition but an essential qualification. It communicates a condition without which something cannot be useful. In this case, it means that freedom is an empty guarantee if it only applies to those I already agree with. Most people are not so thoroughly irrational that they would trample others’ freedom to do what they want them to do anyway. The point of guaranteeing a right or a freedom is to ensure that it is preserved even when my personal inclinations might lead me to deny that right or freedom. This is commonly expressed (I don’t know who originally said it) with the assertion, “I may not agree with what you say, but I would die for your right to say it.” All I’m saying is that the same applies whether we’re talking about freedom of speech or freedom of religion or the right to bear arms or any of these other core freedoms in the Bill of Rights.

        Second, as I said above, the limit is when belief or speech turns to direct action that tramples the freedom of others. If I have a gun, the Bill of Rights protects me. If I use that gun to shoot my neighbor in cold blood, there is nothing unconstitutional about the police hauling me off to jail. Similarly, if I believe that my religion is the only true religion and that properly exercising my faith includes taking pretty much any justifiable measure to convert others, freedom of religion is my friend. But if I think it’s justifiable to drag someone from their own house of worship, baptize them by force, and then threaten them with death if they apostasize, and I try to act on that conviction, I will soon know the limits of religious freedom.

        Now, why did I select capitalism and imperialism as motivators for the attacks? Mostly it’s just plain common sense. They did not attack American religious architecture but a bastion of Wall Street. They also attacked the Pentagon. These targets were chosen not simply because they could produce maximal loss of life (certainly not the Pentagon). They were symbols of the way America is perceived as exercising its influence in the world–through money and military. Try reading what the jihadists say about their own agenda. It is not American piety that bothers them, or even American freedom–it is our immorality and the way that immorality invades their world through our economic and military outreach. Yes, their motivation is religious, but when has Islam ever divorced religion from politics? They see it all as a whole, and in their view, America’s “religion” is not Christianity–it is the immoral secularism that we so effectively broadcast to the rest of the globe.

        I’m not sure who it serves more when we embrace these targets as holy sites–jihadists who want to define American religion in terms of the worst excesses our society has to offer, or the currently maligned Wall Street that would happily accept some free PR wrapped in both patriotism *and* religious conviction. What I do know is that we’re constantly in danger of overreaction. This is especially true when, as you say, we lack as a society the proper theological framework to formulate a position that can stand on its own, without reference to someone else’s agenda. We let the Marxist Cold War turn us into revolutionary apologists of Capitalism, and we’re already well on our way to embracing jihadist paradigms as our own. Ground Zero is a flash point because they want it to be. Has anyone even asked whether it’s in our interest to make it so?

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        George Michalopulos says:

        Peter, I don’t mean to pile on, but I feel that like many in the modern world, your reasoning is somewhat beholden to the dominant Marxist myth, that the Twin Towers represented pillars of “American imperialism and capitalism.” I guess you mean to say that that’s why they were attacked. I reject such a notion. The WTC was attacked because it was an American institution, pure and simple.

        The hatred that the Muzzies feel for us is not because of our devotion to the Enlightenment or Liberalism, but because we are Westerners first and foremost. This is an ancient hatred that is quasi-racial at based. And second because we are a failed Christian civilization. Believe me, if America was run under the way that Calvin ran Geneva, they would love us immensely. Why? Because they recognize a theocratic tyranny as normal in that it restrains our wilder passions. At the risk of being crude, Eastern civilizations have regarded Westerners as libertine savages from time immemorial, even as they envied our martial prowess and technological achievements. The ancient Israelites felt that about Greco-Roman civilization, even as they strived to imitate it. The Maccabean revolt was a puritanical reaction to the increasing hellenization that was proceeding under the High Priesthood.

        Two additional points will I think buttress my argument:

        As for “capitalism” being somehow at fault. What economic system should we use? Barter? Socialism? Communalism?

        As for “imperialism,” then why aren’t they going after China or Russia, both of which are in the process of brutally putting down Muslim minorities in their countries? Why not Turkey, which is seeking to expand its hegemony over the Arabs? The reason is because each of these countries are brutal and they’ll cheerfully ignore the Geneva Conventions when it comes to doing what is in their imperial interests.

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        Eliot Ryan says:

        There simply is no way to comprehend this outside of a religious context. Any substitute structure (in your case the myth of Marxian materialism) is not sufficient to the task.

        There could be other reasons behind the event and the discussion here could very well based on false assumptions.
        Professors Question the 9/11 Commission Report

        http://www.orthodoxengland.org.uk/popeisla.htm

        And the demons that live in the empty house of these secular civilizations will not be exorcized by the political, the military, the economic, or by institutionalized religion, whatever it may be, but by the spiritual. Any attempt to organize the world without spiritual vision is doomed to failure, because it ignores the fundamental spiritual nature and destiny of mankind. Only when people begin to speak of the spiritual, unmixed with the dross of the rest, shall we begin to see peace and harmony in this saddened and darkened world, which, heedless, is now speeding towards its end.

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    orrologion says:

    This discussion is missing two important perspectives.

    One, many Muslims are not all that religious – just like most Greeks aren’t pious Greek Orthodox and most American Catholics are not all that Catholic. They are ‘Muslim’, culturally. In fact, Huntington notes that peoples in the Islamic Civilization tend to have a U shaped group identity – they identify strongly with very local groups (family, tribe) and with the most universal group (Islam), but this does not correlate to piety.

    Just as American Protestants do not need to fear a Catholic President being beholden to the Pope on matters of State just because he is or was raised or identifies culturally with the Catholic, neither does a Muslim in America necessarily want to usher in Sharia law.

    Second, there are different kinds of Islam. The Sufi Islam more dominant in Turkey and Indonesia, among other places, is not the same as the more extreme Wahabist Islam of Saudi Arabia or even of the more on the street versions of Islam in the Arabic world and the Middle East more generally. Even if the Lower Manhattan mosque is funded by Saudi Arabia, that doesn’t mean that most of the people attending the mosque or culturally affiliated with it as their ‘local’ mosque agree with spreading Sharia law, Saudi-style.

    Finally, one can argue against the ‘secularist’ view that would allow a mosque to be built and claim it will lose out in the end against Islam, but one must at the same time argue against both secularism (and, presumably, the American legal system and Constitution that supports it) and Islam. Of course, it’s more than likely that should America become a ‘Christian nation’ standing against secularism and Islam, it will likely also stand against the Christianity we all subscribe to – regardless of our protestations that there are different kinds of Christianity, regardless of how pious we and ours really are, etc. Stand against secularist culture and its naivete regarding Islam, but let us not then also wrap ourselves in the American flag.

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      George Michalopulos says:

      Orrologian, this is naive. Of course most people recognize that there are fundamental differences between the different Muslim communities, cultures, etc. I for one have had and still have, Muslim friends. I recognize differences. I also recognize that I am a man of the West, who was born and nurtured in the West, and for better or worse, owe my allegiance to that civilizaton. The fact that it is full of problems cannot obviate this reality. All cilivizations have problems. In a fallen world, it cannot be any other way.

      Unfortunately, we live in a world in which distinctions must be made as to which “cult” shall shape our “culture.” Islam since it’s inception has relied upon indigenous Christian, Jewish, and Zoroastrian cultures that it conquered to survive. Once it used them up, it started its long, permanent stagnation to Third World status. Nowhere is this more evident than in the current administration’s change in NASA’s mission, which is to serve as a type of feel-good seminar Islamic countries.

      It bothers me immensely when I see Christian cultures that make their accommodation to the broader Islamic narrative. This is particularly true of all the ancient patriarchates, even the Greek-dominated ones. There’s no reason for this. It shows a stunning lack of faith in the power of the Gospel.

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      Samn! says:

      Orr,

      While it’s true that there are many Islams, modern Islam is rapidly going through a kind of narrowing process that’s killing off some of its more colorful (and tolerant!) varieties. This is especially notable in Pakistan and Egypt, but also quite visible in Turkey, Indonesia, and Morocco. There is no credible intellectual current in contemporary Islam that is not fixated on the implementation of Sharia through civil law, though there’s a huge variety of ideas about what that constitutes and the time frame for achieving that goal. Of course, there is no concept of Sharia that non-Muslims would be comfortable living under.

      The roots of this narrowing in modern Islam, aside from Saudi money and the collapse of the traditional class of craftsmen and petty merchants who formed the backbone of traditional Sufism, is the sudden explosion of literacy starting in the late 19th century. It’s a situation very analogous to 16th century Europe. Suddenly lots of people can read, but cannot dedicate their lives to specialist philosophical and religious training. So readings of the basic texts– here, Quran and Hadith, read through a literalist (these are quite violent texts!) and politicized lens– become absolutely central. So while the rather arcane discourses of the traditional Sunni legal schools weren’t all that great for non-Muslims living under their rulings, they had one huge advantage: all of them assumed that only a Caliph could wage jihad, which was the Caliph’s annual duty until the decline of the Ottoman Empire. Just like how Protestants read everything in the Bible as applying personally, newly literate Muslims in the absence of a Caliph apply the once-collective duty of jihad to themselves as a personal duty (the technical term in Arabic is fard 3ayn).

      A lot of contemporary, organized Sufism is very sharia-oriented, responding to widespread Salafi/Wahhabi criticisms of Sufism. The two poles of moderate (meaning more conservative than Irshad Manji and more tolerant than Osama bin Ladin) Islam in the US are the Zaytuna Institute (one of whose leaders was raised Greek Orthodox), which puts forward a strongly sharia-based sufism-lite and the al-Maghrib Institute, which puts forward Saudi Islam with a smile.

      The problem of Islam in the west is that ordinary people who identify as Muslims will generally follow the most authentically credible Muslim authorities at their disposal, if often not in their private lives than usually in their communal political and social orientation. Both in the west and in traditionally Islamic societies, there are no credible voices calling for a re-evaluation of hadith or for the reappraisal of sharia as personal rule of conduct rather than civil law. And basically, Sunni epistemology is entirely based on following whichever hadith were deemed authentic by early authorities. And most every hadith that recounts or prescribes something horrible is considered authentic, while every beautiful hadith like “I was a hidden treasure and I loved to be known” is considered inauthentic.

      So during our lifetimes I expect mainstream Muslim discourse to just get scarier and scarier. Non-Muslims have little power to change this, as the discourse is highly suspicious of outsiders and interested in establishing what is authentically, purely Islamic and what is not.

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        orrologion says:

        Thanks, Samn! That was a wonderful summary of the state of Islam. I don’t disagree with it at all.

        However, you implicitly acknowledge there are other, less ‘scary’ forms of Islam out there – even if they are on the decline. We can’t assume Islam = personal and violent jihad, terrorism and dhimmitude in the short or medium terms from any given Muslim or mosque.

        Additionally, while “There is no credible intellectual current in contemporary Islam that is not fixated on the implementation of Sharia through civil law”, it is also true that “There is no credible intellectual current in contemporary” Orthodoxy that would not call for preparation before communion – but we all know most priests don’t require any. That is, ‘credible intellectual currents’ do not normally reflect the situation on the street.

        The anti-Islamic and pro-American language being used in many of these comments, as well as the logic being used to determine what ‘will’ happen and what the mosque in lower Manhattan ‘really means’ is really overblown. I find the PR use of 9/11, Ground Zero and this situation in general to be offensive – and being waged primarily by those with only a TV-hyped, flag-waving, politically manipulated perspective of September 11 and its meaning.

        I also find comments regarding the almost inevitable triumph of Islam as lacking in faith regarding Orthodox Christianity and our calling to suffer as did our Master – there is too much fear of martyrdom and suffering; the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.

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          Scott Pennington says:

          Orrologion and Samn!,

          There is a problem with the line of reasoning developing here. There is actually something fairly objective about Islamic jurisprudence. In reality, it is not a question of whether there are scary versions of Islam out there or less scary versions. The question is really whether Islam in its essence is “scary”.

          Now, there are verses in the Quran which seem to exhort tolerance, “Let there be no compulsion in the matter of religion” for example. However, according to Islamic jurisprudence these early more tolerant verses were superceded by later more belligerent verses after Christians and Jews failed to convert. Striking terror into the hearts of infidels and killing the resistant ones wherever you find them is a mandate.

          During the classical period of Islam, its Golden Age, jihad was considered a sort of 6th pillar of the faith alongside the shahada, fasting, alms, etc.

          What I’m getting at is that Islam is, in part, shariah and shariah is utterly oppressive to “the people of the Book”; i.e., Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians, and fatal to non-monotheists who refuse to convert. There is an imperative to conquer everything non-Muslim. Only temporary treaties are allowed. Strictly speaking, there was only a Dar-ul-Islam and a Dar-ul-Harb, a house of submission and a house of war. Islam, in its essence, contemplates expansion in all directions, by persuasion (da’wa) or by the sword (jihad), until there is nothing else.

          Now, many of us may know Muslims who just want to live and let live. They are the equivalent of Jack Christians who don’t believe in evangelizing or charity. The “best” Muslims, according to traditional Islam, are the “scary” ones.

          There is a difference of opinion as to whether actual suicide bombing is acceptable or not. It may be a novel question since most all matters of shariah were settled by the 1300′s. If it is analagous to suicide alone, then it would be forbidden. If it is more analagous to killing a Muslim in order to get to an infidel, then it may be permitted.

          But this is the mindset we are dealing with. The best Muslims, from our perspective, are the ones who do not take their religion too seriously.

          I personally am not deeply concerned about a mosque at ground zero. If it were built, it would be sort of a monument to the stupidity of Western democracy. But we should have no illusions whatsoever about what Islam actually is, regardless of the harmless impression that some less pious Muslims give.

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          George Michalopulos says:

          Orr, I agree with you, suffering and martyrdom is the seed of the Church. How much martyrdom do you see in the dhimmified churches of the East however? Instead, we see almost wholesale accommodation with Islam and Arabism. This is not by any stretch of the imagination martyrdom.

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          Samn! says:

          Orr,

          There’s a fault, I think, in your analogy between Muslim discourse about sharia as civil law and Orthodox discourse about preparation for communion, and its the difference between how people behave in their personal sphere and how people behave on a communal, identitarian level. So it’s common for people to ignore applying rules about personal behavior- an Orthodox not preparing for communion or being allowed to not prepare for communion, let’s say, or a Muslim drinking, lending money at interest, or frequenting a charcuterie. But such a Muslim who is quite laid back in his own private life can easily politically support leaders or create an audience for public figures who call for implementing sharia out of a sense of loyalty to his cultural-religious identity, especially when this identity is seen as in some way at odds with or in opposition to a secular or western identity and in the absence of other public and institutional ways to assert a Muslim identity. Such behavior is practically the norm in most Arab countries and Turkey, not to mention the UK. Among Orthodox and other kinds of conservative Christians, we frequently see people who are rhetorically opposed to some aspect of modernity or ‘the west’ or whatever while themselves living unreflectively modern, western lives. One could even imagine such a person, given the opportunity, voting for leaders who played to such aposture. This is why even though the vast majority of everyday Muslims do not personally have any kind of ‘Islamic’ social or political agenda, the fact that those public figures and institutions who without opposition claim to speak for Muslims do have sharia-based agendas is a serious matter.

          The stakes are simply higher when dealing with Islam in the public sphere because the Muslim textual tradition makes the claim to have the right to own the public sphere, and nowhere today are there Muslim leaders or scholars who would disclaim that right to ownership. To do so would be interpreted as publicly identifying oneself with secularism as opposed to Islam. Historically, Muslims have very rarely lived as minorities in non-Muslim lands (much legal thinking strongly discourages doing so), and when they have done so it has been in situations where they were not a part of public discourse (Imperial Russia and the Soviet Union, for example). The types of Islam that are more inward looking or even antinomian all developed and existed in environments where Islam completely dominated social and political life. Where Islam has had to compete with other ideologies, a much more politicized Muslim discourse has almost always taken hold…

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          Scott Pennington says:

          “I’m not sure if there’s such a thing as ‘Islam in its essence’…”

          There is. Islam is not like Protestantism. It is more like Orthodox Judaism. In Sunni Islam (“sunni” is short for the Arabic for “the People of Tradition and Consensus”), there are four schools of jurisprudence, Hanafi, Shafii, Maliki and Hanbali. Some are marginally more conservative than others. Wahhabi Islam is based on the Hanbali school. Islam itself is based on the Quran and the tradition of hadith’s (stories about Muhammad). Shariah is the counterpart of Jewish Halakhah. It is largely settled. So, for Sunnis, there is an essential Islam.

          This holds true for Shiites as well, except that their shariah is based on the jurisprudence of their sixth imam, Ja’afar as-Sadiq (who is also recognized as a kind of saint in Sunni Islam, but not like in Shiite). One difference is that their religious leaders (Mullas, ayatollahs, etc.) have more discretion and so the doors of interpretation are always open in Shiite Islam where they have been closed for centuries in Sunni Islam. However, interpretation would not be a license to dispense with jihad or the advancement of Islam through any previously used means. Interpretation would be directed to new, unaddressed issues.

          “Happen-to-be” Muslims can ignore whatever part of Islamic tradition they want. But the fact is that Islam, in the essential form that it has come down through its schools of jurisprudence, is as bent on world conquest as the communism of Lenin.

          It may, however, be the case that the best way to battle Islam is to corrupt it much like Protestantism has largely been corrupted by progressive liberalism.

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Of course, it’s more than likely that should America become a ‘Christian nation’ standing against secularism and Islam, it will likely also stand against the Christianity we all subscribe to – regardless of our protestations that there are different kinds of Christianity, regardless of how pious we and ours really are, etc. Stand against secularist culture and its naivete regarding Islam, but let us not then also wrap ourselves in the American flag.

    Yes, American “Christian nation” ideology (by which you mean American civil religion, correct?) is not sufficient either. What is needed is the restoration of the well of Christendom.* This task falls to the Orthodox and Catholic Churches with help from Protestants who understand it. See: Patriarch Kirill & Pope Benedict: A Tale of Two Leaders for a new Missionary Age.

    *This well shaped America, since it informed the ideas of the Founding Fathers. Much “Christian nation” ideology is bound to the assumptions of modernity and thus cannot transform culture. In theological terms, the Nestorianism of much modern Evangelicalism renders them susceptible to the moral claims of the secularist. That’s why you see Evangelicalism moving leftward on the political scale.

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      Fr. John says:

      Living as I now do in the Bible Belt and seeing the Cross and Flag conflated everywhere, I certainly share Chris’s concern about the Civil Religion which leaves Orthodoxy outside the picture.

      The triumphalism of Evangelical churches will soon peter out as the flatness of that message falls on deaf ears of younger generations. Leftward,rightward, it matters little if it is still within the domain of secularism, and the appeal of Tradition will be grasped more enthusiastically and more broadly. We Orthodox have to make certain that we are prepared to welcome and incorporate the wave of disenchanted former Evangelicals into our congregations. Therefore we must not lose our savor.

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        Harry Coin says:

        Fr. John,

        In the efforts you mention to plan to welcome and incorporate disenchanted former evangelicals, does it hurt or help that the visibile senior leadership is nearly all ‘ordained young and never married’?

        Until we allow ‘empty nester’ clergy to be bishops whose only impediment is the lack of death of their wife we are talking right through the top of our stovepipe hats about attracting enough to survive much less retain our own.

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        Eliot Ryan says:

        We Orthodox have to make certain that we are prepared to welcome and incorporate the wave of disenchanted former Evangelicals into our congregations.

        May younger and older generations wake up and start longing for the happiness lost through sin. The longing for God suppresses all longing for rest.

  11. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Harry Coin says:

    Any sane ‘secularist’ will appreciate not allowing a palatial victory monument proclaiming the message of those who targeted and killed civilians to be built on the site of their crime. Any ‘secularist’ who encourages such a thing has moved from ‘secularist’ to ‘Islamist’.

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    Sabrina says:

    Consider this: Just like the term “hero” is abused, so is the term “holy ground.” The mountain that Moses went on and saw the Burning Bush was holy ground. The Scriptures do NOT record that it was holy ground because people died there! It was because God was there in the Burning Bush! In my view, The World Trade Center was not holy ground. It was at its core: a momument to world commerce i.e. mammon. Personally, I think that the putting up ANY sort of house of worship on that ground regardless of the religion espoused is inappropriate and disrespectful because then it’s not a matter of true reverence but of some form of hegemony. If anything is to be done with “Ground Zero” I would rather see a nonsectarian peace garden go on that spot where all people regardless of religion can go and seek solace or merely reflect on the futility of conflict and violence.

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      The “futility of conflict and violence?” Not for the jihadists. Wake up Sabrina and learn where the your notion of “seeking solace” comes from and where it should be directed. “Non-sectarian” is another term for “secular”, and secularism is simply not sufficient ground to make sense of the catastrophe. All a person is left with is “what it means to me” with no reference to anything beyond his own thoughts — pretty thin gruel if you ask me, especially if he is looking for meaning beyond, say, what Michael Jackson might have to say about it (see below).

      God wasn’t with the people throwing themselves off the building in order to avoid being burned alive? Seems to me that’s very close to martyrdom — in the Christian, not Islamic and certainly not non-sectarian — definition of the term.

      Non-sectarian-ism really does not have a definition since non-sectarian-ism does not really exist as a body of thought or belief. It merely marks the absence or denial of another positive body of belief. That’s why it cannot sufficiently answer any question or address any intuition deeper than what you will find on a greeting card or MTV.

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        Sabrina says:

        Fr. Jacobse: I am 49 years old, a grandmother, a former Marine and and I hold an internationalstudies degree. So, with all due respect, I say that your comments directed at me are very dismissive and rude. You are identifying yourself as a priest, so you of all people show know better than to do something like that. Are you so threatened by a differing opinion that you must resort to personal attacks? I don’t appreciate being belittled simply because I have a differing opinion! No, maybe as a person new to Orthodox Christianity I can’t speak with a lot of authority, but I am definitely not stupid nor am I shallow minded. Trust me, I don’t ever put anything lightly or impulsively. So for you to accuse me of sounding like the late Michael Jackson, a “greeting card” or MTV simply because you have a lust for winning an argument is just meanspirited…not to mention prideful!

        You tell me to “wake up?” Well, what I am “waking up” to is how incredibly bigoted and rude and hateful some who call themselves Orthodox Christians can be…and I find it shocking some of that hatefulness is coming from a priest!! This is the second online place for Orthodox Christians where I’ve been ridiculed or dismissed by others calling themselves Orthodox Christians. I find this very disheartening. I decided to become Orthodox because of the love I saw from people at my local parish. If it weren’t for them and the beauty of Divine Liturgy,and the wise words of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople whose book “Encountering The Mystery” I’ve recently read, I probably would re-think converting to Orthodoxy since it seems some of you here would prefer to preach hate and intolerance rather than do what Christ himself taught us to do: love thy neighbor as thyself…and there are no quid pro quos on that definition on what love is or who one’s neighbor is.

        Whatever happened to: blessed are the peacemakers, not to repay evil for evil, and that vengeance is the Lord’s alone…and that it’s 70X7 times we are to forgive others!

        At any rate, this will be my last posting here at AOI since it seems the only views accepted here are those of people who prefer to use the actions of others to justify their own intolerance…and I prefer to be someplace where people actually DISCUSS things rather than make personal attacks and think it’s ok because they were ordained at some point!

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          George Michalopulos says:

          Sabrina, I realize that this probably may be too late, but I found nothing “hateful” or “rude” in Fr Hans’ reposte to you. He was just stating facts about Islam. It is no “love” to spew heresy or give in to the jihadist doctrine all in the name of peace and love, toleration, etc. It not only leads to subjugation but quite possibly perdition as well. Our priests and bishops NEED to be clear about our doctrines, not timid. Jesus wasn’t, neither was John the Baptist, Chrysostom, Augustine, etc. As such the EP does a grave disservice to the Gospel when he accedes to the dominant secular worldview of “tolerance” and timorousness before Islam. Going to the Soros-funded Center for American Progress is one such capitulation to the world. Being “generally pro-life” is a giant step in the direction of being conformed to the world.

          In the defense of other posters here, I do admit that things can get rather boisterous at times. But to me that’s ok because vigorous debate requires vigorous locution. Since you state that you’re a former Marine, I can’t imagine that anything on this blog is more vociferous than what you encountered in your daily life. We are called to “contend earnestly for the faith.” There’s nothing wrong with that.

          Please forgive me if my words offend.

          P.S. I put my money where my mouth is. Go to my facebook page if you want and you will see a certain Kool-Aid drinking couple who spew vile things at me simply because they cannot answer my arguments. That’s ok. They’re xenophobic bigots. Their triumphalist words condemn them and their entire worldview. I can take it.

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          Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

          Hi Sabrina,

          I’m not really sure how my response was hateful or intolerant or any of the other charges you threw my way. In any case, my points still stand:

          1. Your comment about the “futility of conflict and violence” does not apply to the jihadist; war, unfortunately, can change the direction of civilizations; terrorism is a tactic of war and used because it is effective;
          2. Non-sectarian is another term for secular;
          3. Secularism is not sufficient to bond and self-identify a culture;
          4. Non-sectarianism (like secularism) merely marks the absence or denial of a positive body of belief.

          These points, which you label “intolerant” are self-evidently true, although you have to have eyes to see in order to see them. This last point is what I think has you upset, but you should know that charges of “hate speech” and the like don’t serve as a sufficient rebuttal. I call it “moral posturing” and it carries no authority here.

          Here’s my suggestion. Leave off the personal invective. The questions are too serious to get bogged down in that mud. Instead, if you disagree, state the reasons for your disagreement. Then progress is possible.

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          Scott Pennington says:

          Sabrina,

          Unfortunately you’ve taken up the tactics of the left to avoid reasoned argument. Anyone who disagrees with your assertions is necessarily hateful. It’s called attacking with your shield. It’s quite childish.

          Since you tend to use the favorite buzz words and phrases of the left (“preach hate and intolerance”, etc.), I doubt that you would be very happy here. Nonetheless, of course, I’m sure you’re welcome to stay. Just avoid trying to lay a guilt trip on people who are too savvy to fall for it. You might be less frustrated that way.

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      another 49 year old female says:

      Sabrina,

      A Greek Orthodox Church was located at ground zero. It was most certainly holy ground. Wherever the Holy Eucharist is celebrated the ground is made holy. And as one priest taught a few us a while back, we must continue to claim more places upon this earth for Christ.

      Islam is an evil religion. Don’t fall for the propaganda of the west. Many Orthodox Christians who came to the United States 100 years ago, came here because of persecution at the hands of Muslims. My grandparents left the middle east because life was unbearable under the Muslim rulers. Family and friends were killed or taken.

      Try to stay calm when you go to various Orthodox sites but if you are new to the faith I would recommend you stay away from forums if they cause you to become angry.
      At our age, fluctuating hormones can really run havoc with our moods.

  13. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Cherubim says:

    The site of the 911 tragedy needs niether a mosque, a church, a temple, a synagogue, or any other kind of religious symbol. There are alternatives to fundamentalist religions of all types. I want peace, enlightenment, LOVE, and HEALING at ground zero. At the site of 911 I want a monument with the words and music to this song.

    “Heal the World”:
    In this place you’ll feel
    There’s no hurt or sorrow.
    There are ways to get there
    If you care enough for the living
    Make a little space, make a better place.

    Chorus:
    Heal the world
    Make it a better place
    For you and for me and the entire human race
    There are people dying
    If you care enough for the living
    Make a better place for
    You and for me.

    Michael Jackson sings it better than I can write it.
    Please click on the video link below (or copy and paste in into your address bar)and read, listen, and be at Peace:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WJrtms8EoQ&f eature=related

    Thank you, Michael Jackson.

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    Cordelia says:

    I strongly disagree with the notion that a mosque should be built there. I respect religious buildings and other religions to a degree, BUT..take a look at what has happened to London, England. Last year the Archbishop of Canterbury practically DEMANDED that women going out on the streets of London be dressed with particular modesty to respect and reflect the Islamic religion. I’m a devout Catholic, but what I am NOT is a Muslim, and I refuse to live by their standards. I answer only to God and what I choose to do and not do is guided only by HIM. When I went to London a couple of years ago, and I was shocked and dismayed that 95% of London is now comprised of people from the Middle East and it took about two whole days before I even saw a natural English person. If England continues along this path, their entire country will be overrun (I’m seeing it in many other European countries, too), and all will be lost. To boot, the Muslims have as many children as they can produce, but the rest of the world is declining in population because people want to practice birth control and have their careers instead of focusing on families. This is all terribly, terribly scary.

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      George Michalopulos says:

      Amen, Cordelia! Free men and women should be allowed to comport themselves in any way they see fit. We answer only to God, not addle-brained bigots who spew hatred in their sermons.

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    cynthia curran says:

    Well, the crusaders made the Byzantine empire weak and it lasted only another 200 years but the Moslems did the final blow. And we should be really like the last emperor of Constantinople to maybe fight against the Moslems. Granted, on the other hand, I agree that not all moslems are against us but some are. And the west ignored that the Moslems once they took the old byzantine empire down, they would not moved into their terriority but they did. Also, since I’m a student of Roman history most of it self taught, I learn that the Romans particulary in the west during the last 100 years defense was weaken and I believe that we should not weaken ours.

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    cynthia curran says:

    True about the Maccabean revolt of the Jews in the 2nd century BC. Actually, this is a little off subject but that revolt lead also to the Jews forcing the Iduemans to become Jewish. One of those Iduemans was Herod the Great’s father Antipater, so the Jews got actually ended up with Herod and his descendants because they forced Jewish Religous practices on the people they conquered after the rebellion of the Macabees. I think that civic religion isn’t an invention of modern protestants but Constantine the Great also practice it to a certain degree since he still had some coin that had Sol Invitius on the coins and also help churches. He was appealing to the pagan as well as the christian people of his day to deal with the religion and civic duties of his people. Granted, people he could have been different but protestants are not the only ones that believe in a certain civic religion. And while I think that religion should not prevent someone from running for president like the Matt Rommey situation where some Evangelicals couldn’t tolerate a mormon president that doesn’t mean that some civic religion like Constantine thought of in his day should not served as some unioning force in the us.

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    Peter O'Filon says:

    Exactly how big should we tell the NY Zoning Board to make the Muslim-free Zone “near Ground Zero”? 5 blocks? 10 blocks? 20 blocks? 10 miles? 100 miles? 5,000 miles? What about existing Muslim facilities? Let’s just outlaw Islam period…and Liberal Protestantism…and Liberal Judaism…and Wicca…and atheism…and agnosticism…and skepticism…etc etc etc….

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      Michael Bauman says:

      Ah, yes, the old eqalitarian nonesense that begs the question and refuses to recognize the reality of Islam as an aggressive theocratic philosophy that seeks to impose its rule on all of us.

      Since, as a people, we have no conviction about anything any more except to protect our pocket-books, there is likely to be a mosque.

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        Peter O'Filon says:

        I wasn’t talking about egalitarianism, merely U.S. law, implying that an exclusion on the basis of religion would not stand under a traditional, non-activist U.S. Supreme Court, without a Constitutional Amendment amending the 1st Amendment. Unless they were sacrificing animals unhygienically there!

        As for aggressive, theocratic religions, as late as the 1950s Americans said that about Latinism — with some justification! — but justifying discrimination against my Irish parents, uncles, aunts, and ancestors. For that matter, traditional Byzantine or Russian Orthodoxy are often described as theocratic, exclusive, backward, anti-capitalist, etc. — again, not without some justification! (To be clear, I write as an Orthodox.)

        But seriously, how do we define “near Ground Zero”? How are developers, builders, landowners, speculators, stockholders, etc., to know? I was joking about the Zoning Board, but actually that’s what zoning is for, to facilitate these economic interests. Lest the Muslims sue us for a “taking” without compensation!!! Fox News Channel can’t be retained as a permanent advisor to the ZBA. Maybe define a “9/11 National Historical Monument” area, within which these economic interests are somewhat restricted, or channelled in certain directions. Ah, but that would be gummint int’ference….

        And seriously, what about American Muslims — there are more every week — who sincerely want to join in deploring 9/11 and opposing their foreign terrorist coreligionists (just like not all U.S. Orthodox are anti-Palestinian, or anti-Russian, or anti-Serbian; not all Jews are pro-Israeli; not all Hindus are pro-BJP; etc.)? If we don’t struggle with our passions and admit them, at least, to the commonwealth of U.S. society, we’ll just make more homegrown jihadists, as well as overseas. “Whiteness” didn’t always include non-WASPs, but the WASPs decided it was in their interest to expand it to light-skinned Catholics, then darker-skinned European extra-Iberian Catholics, then Greeks and Slavs, some Semites, then freckled Catholics(!), then Spaniards. Similarly, it may be in our interest to in a sense breed an American Islam, rather than continually be faced with un-American Islam. (But I believe laws already on the books would exclude non-citizen imams who advocate war against us; after all, you can even lose your driver’s license for advocating the violent overthrow of the government!)

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          Michael Bauman says:

          Peter, come on. Do you seriously meant to say that 1950′s Roman Catholicism was equivalent to Islam? Another egalitarian statement IMO. Under Islam there is not distinction between the state and the people of God. Under Islam deadly force can and will be applied to those who resist Allah. Even at its most aggressive, the RCC never went to the extremes of Islam PLUS such behavior is explicitly in violation of the teachings of Christ while it is largely in concord with the teachings of Muhammed.

          The only reason to have a mosque at ground zero is to proclaim the victory of Islam over the degraded and immoral infidel of the west.

          An ‘American Islam’ would be no Islam at all, just another version of religious hypocrisy.

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    cynthia curran says:

    Well, I think that the public feelings about a Moselm Mosque near ground zero should be taken into consideration. Its not like we are banning all Mosques. The Moselms in the countries they control including Turkey don’t allow other groups freedom of religion. Why is it when a country where most people are protestant christians that people here complain about not having a mosque at ground zero when the Islamic countries regulate church buildings a lot more. Also, unlike some people I visited the Twin Towers in 1990 and there are lots of people that work there. Just because they were commerical buildings doesn’t mean that people that were trying to make a living should be put down like the comment it was a tower of mammon. There was a underground mall there and I had dinner there about 20 years ago.

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