Book Shelf - "Christianity, Islam and Atheism - The struggle for the soul of the West"
by William Kilpatrick, Ignatius Press, 316 pp. Available from John XX111 Fellowship Co-op Ltd., P.O. Box 22, Ormond, Vic. 3204. Ph: (03) 9578 2706. Reviewed by Bill Muehlenberg of Culture Watch.
This is a very important book indeed. It is not just about the threat of expansionistic Islam, but about Western naivety and gullibility. These two factors together make for a very dangerous mix indeed. Stealth jihad along with Western indifference and ignorance are slowly but surely bringing about the end of the West. We see this especially happening throughout Europe, the UK, and elsewhere, and it is getting worse by the day.
In this volume the noted Catholic thinker makes several major arguments: -Like Marxism, Islam is a totalitarian ideology which is a serious threat to Western culture. -Multiculturalism in the West has aided and abetted the spread of Islam and sapped the West of its will to resist. -The rise of Islam in Europe dovetails with the decline of Christianity there. -Leftist secularism is no match for the spread of Islam, and its current dalliance with it will not end well at all. -Only a revival of Christianity in the West can turn things around.
Kilpatrick argues that the West is killing itself because of its woeful ignorance of the real nature of Islam. Just as "useful idiots" in the West were used by the communists to subvert the West, so too, our alarming ignorance of what this ideology is all about is leading to our own suicide. Plenty of Christians fall into this camp, and have no idea what the history, beliefs and practices of Islam are. Thus all the interfaith dialogue they engage in serves only one party: the Muslims. It is all one-way traffic with such events used to soften up and confuse Western Christians.
He critiques his own faith in this regard. The Second Vatican Council's declaration Nostra Aetate devotes only two brief paragraphs to the issue, and basically focuses on common ground between Islam and Christianity, but not the many crucial differences. And the Catholic Catechism devotes only one sentence to Muslims, but not Islam per se.
Kilpatrick argues that the various interfaith movements and common-ground theses need to be re-examined. "Tolerance needs to be balanced with justice, and justice seems to require that Christians be provided with a fuller account of Islam - if for no other reason than that their survival may depend on that knowledge." He says that Christians should be not so much concerned about offending Muslim sensibilities as showing a concern for justice for all those oppressed by Islamic laws - the main victims being Muslims themselves, especially women, children and those who seek to leave the religion.
Indeed, what do all the interfaith gatherings have to say about jihad, the equality of women, slavery, amputation for theft, the fate of apostates, the status of non-Muslims, and so on? We tend to hear nothing about this - just as the Islamists want.
And the multicultural mantra has also led to big problems here. The idea that all cultures are equal - except Western culture of course - has resulted in all sorts of harm. "Contrary to multiculturalist doctrine, there are things worth defending in our culture, and Christianity is chief among them. Why? Because cultus, or religion, is at the heart of culture. And, also contrary to multiculturalist doctrine, religions are not all the same. They differ enormously, and these differences lead to significant cultural differences." Quite so. There is a big difference between loving your neighbour and slaying him. There is a big difference between honouring one another and honour killings. There is a big difference between enjoying a plane flight, and flying them into buildings.
Indeed, he outlines some of the major differences between Islam and Christianity, between Muhammad and Christ. Take but one example: "To understand Islam, you have to realize that Muhammad belongs to a completely different line of 'prophets'. Instead of thinking Abraham, Moses, and Jesus, think Lenin, Stalin, and Mao Zedong. That, essentially, is the historical grouping to which the prophet belongs, and the failure to understand this is the reason much of the political and religious dialogue with Islam is doomed to failure. Like the Communists, Islamic leaders have their own peculiar understanding of words such as peace, justice, freedom, and equality."
Yet most Christians who are so happy to embrace and enable Islam know so little about it: "A real respect for Muslims would require Christians to be more truthful about their own beliefs and more faithful to them. So it's time for Christians to stop pretending they have great respect for a book that most of them have never read and that denies many of the main tenets of their own faith. It's time to stop worrying about hurting Muslims' feelings concerning the Koran and start worrying about all the people - many of them Muslims - who are being blown up in the name of that book."
And there is a world of difference between the Judeo- Christian worldview and the Islamic worldview. That is the best weapon we have in this battle of ideas. We need to reaffirm our own heritage while highlighting the many shortcomings of our ideological rival. But this is difficult, since so much of the media and our leaders are either wilfully or otherwise ignorant of the real nature of Islam. Stealth jihad is alive and well in the West, and it of course is further facilitated by Saudi Arabia pumping millions of dollars into Western universities to establish Muslim Studies Centres, as but one example.
It is all moving ahead apace. Europe is most telling in this regard. Amsterdam used to be the most tolerant city in Europe. Not any more: "Homosexuals are leaving former gay meccas like Amsterdam in droves. That's because Amsterdam is becoming more like the real Mecca - which means that it won't long remain a mecca for gays. The greater risk lies in offending against Islam because the European courts are, in effect, upholding Islam's blasphemy laws."
And the secular left is no match. Societies abhor a spiritual vacuum, and when Christianity dissipates, the pseudoreligion of secularism will not satisfy. Islam will instead come rushing in to fill the void. And all that the left claims it cherishes will disappear. Says Kilpatrick, "Freedom of speech and religion, equality for women, and even freedom from slavery - all these achievements can turn out to be temporary phenomena without the Christian soil that nourishes them."
We must also rid ourselves of faulty notions of "moderate Islam". Says Kilpatrick, moderation does not just entail being non-violent. Most people are moderate in that sense - Muslims included. But moderates "of this sort cannot be relied upon to keep well-organized and violently inclined minorities in check. During Hitler's rise to power, the majority of Germans were moderate in the sense that they did not participate in the Nazi thuggery. Hoping that the majority of Muslims will embrace a Western ideal of moderation is already expecting a lot, but it's an even bigger stretch to imagine that they are going to risk their necks for it." Quite right; it is exactly because Muslims face death for speaking out that so very few do.
The real issue is not whether there are moderate Muslims - there are - but whether Islam is moderate - it is not. As Mark Steyn put it, "Those the West calls 'moderate Muslims,' Islam regards as apostates."
While we are in a life and death struggle against totalitarian Islam, just as we were against totalitarian communism, it is possible to win this battle - just as we did with the communists. Kilpatrick offers a number of recommendations here as to how this can be achieved. But clearly the first step is to know the enemy, snap out of our slumber, and stand up for our freedoms. This book helps us to do just that. Everyone needs to get this vital book - and get another copy for a friend.