Part 2 - How Civilizations Die
Watchwoman: Yesterday I began a series about not only how civilizations die, but a comparison between Jewishness, Christianity and Islam and how those religions and their worldviews affect the growth of the death of civilization. The text is relevant to us today, to all of us in America, to the Jews here and in Israel, to the Muslims in all of the Arab lands, to Europe and foreign lands, to the Christian Church of all the believers in the One Holy and True God of the Holy Bible. Most of all, I believe each one reading this will find it intensely relevant to their situation, their family and their faith today, right where each of you sit! May the One, True Triune God of Love, Creator of the Universe and all things in it, open your eyes and hearts to receive His Love for you, through the wooing of the Holy Spirit, in the Name of Jesus Christ. May you be blessed and may this lead you into truth to encounter in a personal and real way all the Love God has for you. Amen and Amen. ▬ Donna Calvin
[King James Version - 1 John 4:16] And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
HOW CIVILIZATIONS DIE
(And Why Islam is Dying Too)
By David P. Goldman
Online Columnist “Spengler”
Chapter 10, Pages 137-155
(Posted at Watchwoman on the Wall in a Series)
You’ve heart about the Death of the West. But the Muslim world is on the brink of an even greater collapse.
Will we go down in the implosion?
ISLAM: THE ARABS AS CHOSEN PEOPLE
the faithful actually believe, we must understand its theology both objectively — as a statement about God and the world-and also existentially, that is, as the members of the religion live it in ordinary life.
In chapter 6 we reviewed Islam’s deep roots in tribal society. Unlike Judaism and Christianity, in which every individual participates directly in the covenant with God, Islam retains the hierarchy of pre-biblical traditional society, in which the head of a family is a miniature head of state. If the Muslim womb is closing because of a failure of faith, we must look more deeply at the faith that has failed in its encounter with modernity.
Judaism and its daughter-religion Christianity sought to distinguish themselves from paganism. But what does “paganism” actually mean? In Franz Rosenzweig’s sociology of religion, the animal ties of common ancestry define the pagan order. Individuality in the Judeo-Christian sense is inconceivable, for every member of society must bear the same identity of blood and soil as every other member, and the single member of society can be nothing other than an expression of collective blood and collective will. For this reason every institution of pagan society, emphatically including family and clan, must collapse into the totality. Here is how Rosenzweig’s described the absence of individuality in pre-modern society:
In the thoroughly organized State, the State and the individual do not stand in the relation of a whole to a part. Instead, the state is the All, from which the power flows through the limbs of the individual. Everyone has his determined place, and, to the extent that he fulfills it, belongs to the All of the State…. The individual of antiquity does not lose himself in society in order to find himself, but rather in order to construct it; he himself disappears. The well-known difference between the ancient and all modern concepts of democracy rightly arise from this. It is clear from this why antiquity never developed the concept of representative democracy. Only a body can have organs; a building has only parts. 5
As we have seen, the family is a miniature clan, the clan is a miniature tribe, and the tribe is a miniature nation. All the layers of society stand in relation to each other like nested Russian dolls, identical except for their size.
Ancient Israel, and later Christianity, constituted an alternative to pagan social order. The covenant between Abraham and the biblical God applies not only to the Hebrew nation but to every individual member of that nation. Through his covenant, God establishes the rights of every individual — emphatically including the weakest members of society — beyond the claims of tribe and clan, and provides laws, judgments, and ordinances which stand above the whim of any human magistrate or chieftain. No longer can the Roman paterfamilias command the death of his own children in the little empire of his home; the covenant protects every member of society directly. And no longer can a husband be justified in beating his wife because he acts with the legal authority of a head of state in miniature, as in Sura 4:34.
It is common to speak loosely of “three Abrahamic religions” and assume an underlying commonality among Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. But the defining experience of Judaism and Christianity is alien to Islam. That is the love of a personal God. The founding premise of Judaism is that God’s love for Abraham, “God’s lover;’ extends by covenant to each and everyone of his descendants, as well as those who are adopted into Israel by conversion. Christianity proposes to extend this grace to all who believe in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Each morning, the observant Jew enacts a wedding ceremony with God, forming a wedding band with the leather strap of his phylacteries and reciting the words of Hosea: ‘‘And I shall espouse you to Me eternally; I shall espouse you in mercy and lovingkindness, in righteousness and justice, and you shall know The Lord:’ The personal God of Judaism who loves the faithful soul with the ardor of the Divine Lover in the Song of Songs is unimaginable in Islam, for Allah does not condescend to enter into a relationship of love with mere mortals. Allah cannot bind himself to covenants that he himself cannot alter out of love for his Chosen people, as the biblical God did with Abraham and his
descendants; much less can Allah become incarnate as a human being, as Christians believe God did, to offer salvation to all humankind.
Jews and Christians worship a God who cannot be like them, for their God is perfect and incapable of doing evil. For Christians, the incarnate God Jesus Christ is without sin. God is thus wholly Other, for we are imperfect: frail, mortal, and prone to sin. God does nothing without a reason, and his reasons always are good, even if they surpass our understanding.
Allah, by contrast, is beyond good and evil. His cosmic caprice determines everything, and if he so wishes he can make us commit acts of evil, even the ultimate evil of idolatry. Covenant is a concept alien to Islam. For by definition a God of covenants places a limit on his own power and enters into a partnership with a human society. Unlike YHWH of the Hebrews, the all-transcendent Allah does not stoop to make agreements with mere human beings.
Allah usually is described as “absolutely transcendent” but in comparison to the God of the Bible, he is rather more like us. That is what Rosenzweig meant when he called Islam a pagan parody of Judaism and Christianity, and Allah the “colorful panoply of the pagan Olympus rolled up into one,” that is, “a monistic paganism.” Rosenzweig’s use of the term “paganism” is not a reproach but a diagnosis. There is a pagan purpose to the reconfiguration of Christian and Jewish concepts in the Koran: the election of the Arabs in place of the Jews, as Professor Kalisch explains.
A God of Love Is a God of Laws
What is it that unites Catholic Thomists and evangelical Biblicists — as well as observant Jews — but separates all of them from Muslims? It is the biblical belief that God loves his creatures. A loving God, the Bible asserts, places man in a world that he can comprehend, which is to say that God establishes order in the universe out of love for humankind. We live in a world sufficiently comprehensible for us to adapt nature to our needs.
Heavenly bodies do not act capriciously (either as pagan deities, or at Allah’s
144 – Continued tomorrow: February 15, 2012
Part 1 – How Civilizations Die – Posted February 13, 2012 – pps 137-140
Part 2 – How Civilizations Die -Posted February 14, 2012 – pps 141-143
Part 4 – How Civilizations Die – Posted February 16, 2012 – pps 147-150
Part 5 – How Civilizations Die – Posted February 17, 2012 – pps 151-154
Part 6 – How Civilizations Die – Posted February 18, 2012 – pps 154-155