Warning: Long article ahead.
A friend e mailed me the attached article this morning. I was struck by the comment from the Chinese convert about the emptiness left in the hearts of the Chinese in the wake of communism's demise.
I am not sure that I buy the author's analysis of Weigel and the Church's doctrine. However, the article is thought-provoking on several levels.
It left me thinking about the following questions:
1. What spiritual vacuum exists in North America which might correspond to the Chinese hunger for things spiritual?
2. How can we re-cast our understanding of the de-Christianization of Europe and the brittle and crumbling individualistic "state religion" of America in order better to reflect the actual need of souls?
It is obvious to me that people all over are hurting and in need. Less obvious is how we are prepared to offer our lives for theirs in service, or to winsomely offer them an nourishing, winsome spiritual alternative to radical Islam, secularism.
Any thoughts out there?
Published on The Brussels Journal (http://www.brusselsjournal.com)
The Outcome of Two Cultural Revolutions: While China Turns Christian, Europe Turns Muslim
Created 2006-11-14 15:39
At the beginning of the 21st century, Europe is being Islamized, while China is being Christianized. This proves that if God exists He must have a sense of humor. Buddhism and Taoism still claim most worshippers in China but the state-sanctioned churches count up to 35 million followers. The underground churches are estimated to have 80 million members or more, about 12 million of them Catholics, the rest Protestants.
In a Beijing beauty salon, convert Xun Jinzhen explains why Christianity has become so popular: “We have very few people who believe in communism as a faith, so there’s an emptiness in their hearts.” Among the Chinese converts are some figures from the 1989 democracy protests.
According to Han Dong-fang, “I think human beings need something at a spiritual level. We don’t want to believe we are coming from nowhere; going nowhere. In China we have traditionally followed Buddhism. We had quite a deep religion. But communism destroyed everything. When communism became this corrupted thing which failed everybody, people still needed a belief. I think that’s the reason for Christianity in China .”
It is noteworthy that the capitalist economy of China and South Korea is booming at the same time as Christianity is spreading among Chinese and Koreans. Christianity is retreating in Europe , which is in serious economic decline. Korean and Chinese students of European classical music play Beethoven, Bach and Mozart while Western youth listen to Gangsta rap and enjoy Arabic music at Islamic cultural festivals. Will the dynamic of individualism bloom in China while it is suffocating in Europe where it was once championed?
During the Cultural Revolution, the Red Guards youth militia, created by Chairman Mao to use against his rivals, destroyed great numbers of priceless Chinese historic buildings and artifacts. The education system ceased to function, as young people were encouraged to criticize and disparage all traditional institutions as well as their parents and teachers. There was an anti-Confucian campaign and widespread persecution of religion, both seen as parts of the established culture that needed to be crushed to pave way for the new Marxist society.
The Chinese Cultural Revolution took place in the late 1960s and early 70s. At roughly the same time, there was a “Cultural Revolution” in the West in the form of the “hippie” youth rebellion. The Western Cultural Revolution, too, was influenced by Marxist thinking, including radical Feminism, and attacked, albeit less violently than their Chinese counterparts, all established institutions, including the traditional culture and religion as well as the authority of parents and teachers. Quite a few Western observers sympathized with the Chinese Revolution. Some even praised Mao’s teachings and spread his Little Red Book.
The Cultural Revolution in China was so violent and destructive that it greatly contributed to discrediting Marxism in the country. Only a few years later, after Mao Zedong’s death in 1976, Deng Xiaoping initiated capitalist reforms. Marxism unhinged the traditional religion in China , leaving the door open for Christianity. Marxism unhinged the traditional religion in Europe , leaving the door open for Islam. Nature abhors a vacuum. I believe the Chinese got the better part of that deal.
The major difference is that while the Cultural Revolution in China is now universally considered a crime, the people behind the Cultural Revolution in the West in many ways won, and are in a near-hegemonic position in our media and academia to shape public discourse. The Chinese Cultural Revolution was, by comparison, a violent, but briefer episode, while in the West it became an institutionalized, ongoing project stretching over decades, continuing its mission of discrediting Western culture and disconnecting Westerners from their religious roots from within Western universities and media.
Some argue that at least the Western Cultural Revolution didn’t physically destroy the cultural treasures of the West, just the Christian culture that produced them. This is only partially true. Indirectly, since it paved the way for Muslims, who some consider allies in their quest to destroy Christian Western culture, it opened the doors to people who may well physically destroy the un-Islamic European cultural treasures, the Louvre, Rembrandt’s paintings at the Rijksmuseum, just like they previously did to pre-Islamic culture all over what is now the Islamic world. The Western Cultural Revolution may in the long run prove to have been even more destructive than its Chinese counterpart, whose excesses later triggered a revival in China , while the very survival of Western civilization is now in question.
The situation in Western Europe was made worse by Eurabians and Euro-federalists, not all of them Leftists, groups with a different agenda but with a shared interest in breaking down the traditional European national cultures through mass immigration and Multiculturalism.
I have heard arguments claiming that Catholic countries are more resistant to Multiculturalism and Muslim immigration than Protestant countries such as the Netherlands or Sweden . These persons would thus disagree with my calls for the United States to return to its Anglo-Protestant roots, since they view Protestantism as a part of the problem.
According to Alexander Boot, “ Spain, Italy and France today appear more, shall we say, Western than the countries of northern Europe . The latter had their defenses stripped away by Protestantism.”
Maybe I’m biased in this regard since I come from a Protestant country myself, but I am open to all arguments that can be proven. I will not dismiss the possibility that Italy , for instance, may have put up stronger cultural resistance to Political Correctness than Norway . However, even in nominally Calvinist the Netherlands and Lutheran Scandinavia, the native population has higher birth rates than in Catholic Italy, and I’m not convinced that Catholic Spain under its current Socialist government is stronger than Lutheran Denmark.
A comment at The Brussels Journal said: “The other problem with Christianity is that most public intellectuals still balk at actually believing in it – our Fjordman above; Theodore Dalrymple; Oriana Fallaci – all of them declare themselves atheists while touting Christianity. There is no way that this kind of thinking is going to build a realistic resistance – functioning ideologies absolutely require that the elites believe the same as the masses, albeit with more sophistication and detail.”
I take it as a compliment to be compared to the likes of Dalrymple and Fallaci. There are several reasons why I hesitate to give my unconditional support to the Church. The first is that Christianity can be a tad too soft in dealing with Islam. I’m more in the “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition” camp myself. But above all, because the Church itself has been infected by the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 70s. I know Oriana Fallaci grew closer to the Catholic Church towards the end of her life, but I sometimes wonder whether she was fully aware of how much Islamic apologists have infiltrated the Vatican .
George Weigel is an American conservative, Roman Catholic theologian and the author of the book The Cube and the Cathedral. Weigel writes that Western Europe “is depopulating itself in numbers greater than at any time since the Black Death of the 14th century. When an entire continent, healthier, wealthier and more secure than ever before, fails to create the human future in the most elemental sense — by creating the next generation — something serious is afoot.”
He believes this is caused by spiritual boredom: “Europe, bored, asks only to be left alone with its pleasures. […] Europe's effort to create a tolerant, civil, democratic civilization by cutting itself off from one of that civilization's sources — Jewish and Christian convictions about the dignity of the person — is likely to fail.”
However, in another essay, Weigel states that: “We know that, in the past, Christians used violence to advance Christian purposes. The Catholic Church has publicly repented of such distortions of the Gospel […] Can the church, therefore, be of some help to those brave Islamic reformers who, at the risk of their own lives, are trying to develop a parallel Islamic critique of the distorted and lethal ideas of some of their co-religionists?”
This is a deeply misplaced comparison. The Crusades were a brief and isolated event in Western history, triggered by more than four centuries of unprovoked Islamic aggression. It may have helped stem the expansion of Islam, thus saving Western civilization. We may owe an apology Jews and Eastern Christians who unwittingly got caught up in it, but we owe none whatsoever to Muslims.
Three Christian high school girls were beheaded as a Ramadan “trophy” by Indonesians who conceived the idea after a visit to Philippines Jihadists. Javanese trader Hasanuddin appeared in Jakarta Central Court charged with directing the murders. After discussions with friends, he decided that beheading Christians could qualify as an act of Muslim charity, and found an “excellent” target – a group of schoolgirls who traveled by foot.
The Islamic practice of beheading dates back to Muhammad and his companions, who massacred hundreds of Jews of the Banu Qurayza tribe in Medina , dumped their bodies in a ditch and sold their women and children as slaves. This is not a “distortion” of Islamic teachings; it was done by the founder of the religion, who later had sex with one of the women who had just watched her husband being murdered that very same night. Exactly how does this compare with the example of Jesus?
In a quote brought to my attention by Lawrence Auster’s blog, the official doctrine of the Catholic Church (in the Nostra Aetate document of the Second Vatican Council from the 1960s) says about Islam: “The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. 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.”
How can I defend Christianity from secularists who say that it is pretty similar to Islam if the Church and even some “conservative” theologians insist on the same absurd equivalence?
My main problem with wholeheartedly supporting the Church is that it is, at best, lukewarm in defending the West by confronting Islam. If there is such a thing as evil then Islam is evil. If the Church cannot recognize that, then what good is it? Give me some determined and armed atheists who fight for their children’s freedom rather then some lukewarm Christians who engage in dialogue with Muslims.
Although I am not a believer I respect the Christian influence on Western culture, but at the same time I am pragmatic enough to support forces that are capable of defending Europe and the West against Islam. If the Church can demonstrate that it is up to the task, I will give it stronger support. Until then, I will give it conditional support only because it gives only conditional support to the West.
How the West Was Lost Author: Alexander BootASIN: 1850439850