Friday, September 01, 2006

Men Without Chests

We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful. —C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
See the article: 2 Abducted Journalists Are Freed in Gaza Strip
JERUSALEM, Aug. 27 -- After being forced at gunpoint to say they embraced Islam, two Fox News journalists kidnapped 13 days ago were delivered unharmed to a Gaza hotel Sunday....
The captors made a videotape of the conversions.
"We were forced to convert to Islam at gunpoint," Centanni said on Fox News. "Don't get me wrong here, I have the highest respect for Islam and learned a lot of very good things about it. It was something we felt we had to do because they had the guns and we didn't know what the hell was going on."
David Warren, commenting on the reason why the captors wanted a video of these conversions:
They didn’t make it for face value. They made it to show the whole Muslim world, via satellite television, what wimps these Westerners are. That they’ll do anything at all to save their lives, that they don’t think twice about it. That is the substance of most Islamo-fascist propaganda: that the West consists of straw men, of men without chests, of men easily pushed over.
But it isn't always so:
Two years ago, an heroic Italian captive, Fabrizio Quattrocchi, asked to make whimpering statements as part of the video of his execution in Iraq, ripped at his hood and instead declared, “This is how an Italian dies!” to his contemptible captors. He must have upset them: for they shot him instead of sawing off his head. In making his stand for human dignity, he also turned one of their propaganda videos, into one of ours.
At one time, all of north Africa, and everything from Syria to the borders of India were Catholic, but this region was lost to Christendom at the point of the sword. This forced conversion and military expansion of the Islamic religion has continued continuously for 14 centuries, with the exception of the two centuries when Christendom fought back, which we call the Crusades. [Our current wars in the Middle East cannot, under any circumstances, be called 'Crusades', since the explicit desire of this conflict is the secularization of these countries: the United States is not a Christian country but is legally secular.]

It is far too easy for both faithful Christians and for secular agnostics to dismiss the Islamic religion completely, but this is a mistake. The Catholic philosopher Peter Kreeft, in his talk Islam and Christianity, makes the case that there is very much that is good and true in Islam, even from the point of view of a committed Christian. While Islam sees Jesus as just a mortal prophet, they hold Him in far more esteem than most lukewarm Christians, and they also have high esteem for the Blessed Virgin Mary. And from a purely utilitarian viewpoint, Islam is far more successful these days with morality, with low divorce rates, rates of sexually transmitted diseases, and vices, while having strong family life.

Atheists and agnostics, when they join religions, tend to join the very weakest and effeminate of denominations, and attempt to subvert them even more, by stripping out the last vestiges of the supernatural. However, when these individuals have a religious conversion experience, they join religions that make actual demands and have a strict moral code. No one has a religious conversion experience and then joins European-style secularized Catholicism, nor do they join mainstream liberal Protestant denominations, but instead join religions that require a total conversion of life, like Islam.

Europe, and much of the rest of the West, if they practice at all, practices an effeminate form of Christianity. These Men Without Chests are ripe for conversion, but the Church is nowadays often failing to preach the Gospel and the Moral Law. This makes a mass conversion of Europe to Islam quite possible, especially if done under the circumstances of fear and appeasement. Traditional Catholics know that Christianity is every bit as strict and moral as Islam, and even more so, but it is hard to find these principles put into practice, and we ourselves are at fault.

The two journalists who converted to Islam need to remember that apostasy is a capital crime under Sharia law, and that they had better attend Friday services at a mosque; they can't just be lukewarm Muslims in the same manner as are most Christians. Or they can disavow their conversions and accept the consequences.

Jimmy Akin has an article, The Martyr's Dilemma, discribing what is, and is not required of Christians under these circumstances:
The principle is that denying Christ in the face of persecution is a grave sin and thus if done with adequate knowledge and consent it will be a mortal sin. Whether or not a particular person mortally sins in such a situation thus depends on the amount of knowledge the had of the sinful character of this act and the question of how deliberately they chose it.

In cases of persecution, the extreme fear or pain (as in the case of torture) that a person may be under may deprive him of adequate consent and thus we cannot be sure, in any particular case, whether a person who denied the faith committed a mortal sin. We may thus always hope for the salvation of those who denied the faith under duress.

The Christians in the early centuries often faced persecutions and devoted quite a bit of though to the subject of what one's responsibilities are if a persecution begins. Their writings devote significant attention to this question.

It was decided, for example, that if a ruler begins a persecution that Christians are not required to turn themselves in. (It was also found that those Christians who did turn themselves in to the authorities were often the first to crack under pressure because they had done so in a momentary fit of zeal that did not reflect a stable attitude of mind.)
If, therefore, a Muslim terrorist has kidnapped you and is threatening to kill you if you are a Christian and insist on remaining one, you would be morally able to use silence, misdirection, and mental reservations to protect one's life. One can never deny the truth--that Jesus Christ is the Son of God--but one can use morally legitimate means to preserve one's life as long as the truth is not denied.

This does not mean, however, that the use of these means is obligatory. A person will win for himself a very large martyr's crown if he tells the terrorist, "I am a Christian and I will not deny my Savior no matter what you do."

A person who resorts to legitimate silence or discreet speech to avoid death will not win that crown, but he will not commit mortal sin either.
I can't say what I would do under this kind of circumstance. Jimmy continues:
The thing to do, then, is not to worry about what would do. It is to resolve now that we will trust in God to give us the grace then to get through the situation.

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