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Africa’s age of faith; the world’s age of war?

Some days ago I went via Instapundit to an article about how the surge of Pentecostalism in Africa may help America in the War on Terror, and from there to this Pew Forum article on the global rise of Christianity, especially in Africa. Very much especially in Africa.

It may even be beating Islam.

I would guess I am a lot happier about Africa’s emerging Age of Faith (in its Christian variety at least; I fear Islam) than most of you reading this post. Yet I cannot repress a sense of disquiet when I remember that there are more people in Africa who think the freeing of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga a bad thing than think it a good thing. If there is a similar case next year the margin will probably be larger; and eventually that will change what happens. Western pressure will no longer work. Indeed, the boot may be on the other foot: the Pew article also says that there are already something like 2,000 Christian missionaries from Asia and Africa at work in Great Britain. Hard work at the moment, but that could change. Most people in the West assume that religion must inevitably decline as the world becomes richer and better educated. I tend to assume, gloomily, that its decline proceeds as the world embraces state welfare. But even the tide on Dover beach turns some day.

I do rejoice for my African brothers and sisters and my political fears may not come to pass. A fervent Christianity can be and has been a force for political freedom. Vile, cruel and hypocritical as the history of the United States is, it is slightly less vile, cruel and hypocritical than that of most nations – they never quite forgot that the Pilgrim Fathers on the Mayflower were Puritans fleeing persecution rather than instituting it.

Even the teetering balance between Christianity and Islam might do for Africa what the teetering balance between Protestantism and Catholicism did for Europe: let secularism sneak in as the second best option for all sides.

Or we might do a great deal worse. The other rising tide in the world is that of the global progressive elite, the Tranzis. For the first time in human history there is no technological obstacle to a world government. That I have long feared but now a new fear joins it. Barefoot religion meets the bureaucratic, unitary state, how does that work?

Perhaps, led by Africa, we are moving towards something like the Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace.

35 comments to Africa’s age of faith; the world’s age of war?

  • John B

    You guys really do not trust God at all, do you? Just assuming He might be there, perhaps he may sort some of this out.
    Why has He not already?
    Free will.
    And the willful determination to discredit.
    Honest science and research is great. No problem. But it has mostly become more than that.
    There is no love of truth.
    (Most of the “prosperity” stuff that is in Africa is also veering into self-fulfilment rather than love.)

  • Alice

    It is amazing the hold that Political Correctness has on the modern western mind — even the minds of those who resist the platitudes of Big Government and Junk Science.

    An English writer might be expected to be more intrigued about all the English girls converting to Islam than about Africans converting to Christianity. But it is not Politically Correct even to notice all those new religious buildings rising in the Green & Pleasant Land — mosques, they are called.

    Is there any surprise in a religious revival, given the failures of secular socialism? Look at the best that socialism has to offer — abject failure (USSR), hypocritical conversion to fascism (China), and the inability either to balance their government budgets or even to recognize that as a problem (EU and USA).

    For those (non-westerners) who are not invested in western Political Correctness, there clearly has to be something better than failed secular socialism. Since (unfortunately) there is no credible western movement offering an alternative to secular socialism (see David Cameron), is it any surprise that Africans and Asians are turning to religion?

    Will religion turn out any better for those people than secular socialism? If history is a guide, there have been periods of significant technological & political progress when societies have been strongly influenced by religion — which is a much better record than secular socialism can claim. But although the correlation between religion and progress is infinitely better than the correlation between CO2 and Alleged Anthropogenic Global Warming, the correlation is still not great. While not as bloody as the history of secular socialism, the history of religion is also filled with conflict.

    Bottom line — a religious revival in Africa and Asia does at least hold the potential of offering something better than the secular status quo, but with no guarantees. We can’t hold back the tides of history, and with the imminent arrival of “Peak Government”, the western secular socialist model in all its unsustainable variations is being left behind. Which may explain the increasing number of pallid English complexions under the abayas.

  • Nuke Gray

    Actually, our Asian neighbours are becoming Christian because they equate that with success in this world- Chinese christians hope to strengthen China by being good Christians, just like the majority of Americans, the current superpowers, are both Christians and americans. South Korea is especially keen to choose a different path from atheist China or Shinto buddhist Japan. In Asia, Christianity is seen as one of the secrets of the rise of the West. It is probably the same in Africa.
    And as a Christian, I never assumed that it would dwindle. Europe is the exception, and one not to be envied, in that regard!

  • Chip

    Not religious myself but have come increasingly to think that Christianity may be necesary for free markets to survive. Christians seem to have the support networks, both spiritual and social, to deal with the insecurity inherent in a free economy.

    Secular socialists support the welfare state for the same reason many people went to church.

  • Jamess

    Following on from Chip’s comments, I think Christianity also has the potential to create free markets. For free markets to exist we need some sort of authority that stops freedoms descending into anarchy (i.e. someone who will stop theft, violence etc) but for that authority to be self-restricted. A secular democracy is a good limit on government power, but it has still allowed a 51%+ majority to impose inefficient health care, desctructive employment laws etc.

    In a Biblical theory of government, government (whether chosen by democracy, inherited, or passed on to an appointed successor) has been given authority for a very limited function (justice and defence) and any extension of that power ought to be regarded as an unauthorised use of power.

    Having said that, historically Christians have been as guilty as others at wanting to seize more power than they ought to have. Hopefully the Christianity in Africa will make governments relinquish some of their power and give the people there more freedoms.

  • Owinok

    It is true that there competition between religions in African Countries is going to get stiffer. As always, I am reluctant to accept generalizations across Africa as if it were homogenous. Islam is far more widespread in West Africa and Northern Africa than the rest of Africa and so theresults of Christian penetration will not lead to a single story.

    As for the place of religion in politics, I know that religious leaders are fighting a losing battle to have Kenyans reject the constitution placed for referendum in August. They have framed their campaign in anti-gay and anti-abortion tactics (even calling themselves conservatives) but this message has not resonated with most Kenyans. I do not think that the rest of Africa is necessarily the same but Christian conservatives will probably be less successful in politics in some African counties. I think many have been exposed to be phonies already.

  • Millie Woods

    I’ve posted this before on Samizdata and I’ll post again. The Tranzis and their sycophants have a great hole in their knowledge. They are totally lacking of any understanding of pure and applied science. That’s why junk science is so much a part of the tranzi agenda as well as the science is settled mantra.

  • Kevin B

    So what some of us appear to be saying is that for liberty to thrive there needs to be morality, but that morality may need to be imposed externaly, therefore limiting liberty. And, after a short time, those imposing the morality become corrupt, or at least their version of morality becomes too draconian for liberty to survive.

    And the evidence of history would certainly support that view. As the secular forces of liberalism have striven to drive out the proscriptive forces of religion, they have in turn succumbed to the temptation to impose their vision of ‘liberty’ on the rest of us.

    It would also appear that a new conflict between Christianity and Islam is due, and that the West will be largely incidental to the conduct and the outcome of that conflict.

    As the fundementalists of Islam and Christianity fight it out, perhaps the way is open for a new prophet to arise, maybe out of Africa, but more likely out of India or China. It is after all around fourteen hundred years since the last one.

    Let us hope, (or perhaps pray), that the next great religion is more tolerant towards individual liberty, and that the tolerance lasts for a bit longer before the prohibitive amongst us take command.

  • Ian

    It’s no wonder the world over that Western Liberal Democracies emerged out of enlightened Christian societies, if you look at the true essence of liberalism it is just Christianity without God.

    The UDHR is a blueprint for a global Christian supranational entity, and it is often dismissed as such by other religions. To the liberal minded, what the UDHR states is considered a no-brainer concept, but there is little regard to the fact it is far from the “natural” human thought.

    It takes a lot of self control not to beat a perceived enemy into the ground so he doesn’t bother you any more, that is the rule of the jungle in many societies, homicide is a frequent cause of death, often for the most trivial reasons (such as “honour”). Most religions pander to such humanisms and make it “right”, but Christianity doesn’t and therein lies it’s strength, because it is universal.

    As some Marxists view capitalism as a unwelcome but necessary first step towards a socialist utopia, the same could be said of Christianity and liberalism.

  • Laird

    “[I]f you look at the true essence of liberalism it is just Christianity without God.”

    Well, I’m sure you’ll get a lot of argument over that, but even accepting it as correct today it certainly isn’t an accurate representation of historical Christianity. No Middle Ages prelate would recognize today’s Christian churches. What you are celebrating as “universal” is the emasculation of Christianity. (As a non-Christian, I guess I have to share in that celebration.)

    Now, if the Muslims would only have their own version of the Protestant Reformation, and emerge from their Dark Ages with their religion reduced to the political impotence of Christianity, the world would be a much happier place.

  • Laird,

    “What you are celebrating as “universal” is the emasculation of Christianity.”

    Actually, I am opposed to the collectivist bits of the UNDHR. But taking the wider point I see your prelates of the middle ages – and the whole tradition of forced and state Christianity that was in place for centuries before and after them – as a corruption.

    So I see getting rid of that assumption that force is the way to go as the very opposite of an emasculation. Almost a re-emasculation.

  • Drat! Meant re-masculation above.

  • Paul Marks

    Most Christiains in Africa (and certainly the Churches that are growing – rather than shrinking) are economically conservative.

    They reject the socialism of the 19th century Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace in China.

    And they also reject being ruled by the (mostly white) transnational elite – with their desire to tell everyone what to do.

    As for “secularism” – some athiests have a clear philosophy which has a clear connection to reality (such as the Randian Objectivists), but most are useless. Especially the “Christian” “social gospel” athiests with their replacement of God with the ever growing state.

    Secuarlism can not stand up to Islam – or to any other strong movement. It is mush – not a compromise alternative, just an invitation to moral and (eventual) financial bankruptcy.

    Mush can not stand up to the rise of Islam in Africa or anywhere else – as even Winston Churchill (then a Progressive himself) admitted in his “River War” (read an unedited version) more than a century ago. The forces of Islam can defeat secularism without great difficulty (and NO they will never honestly accept it as a compromise), but Bible based Christians at least have a chance of successful resistance, and even converting Muslims (as has been done in some cases in the United States as well as various African nations).

    “But Paul – most of the evangelical Christians in Africa are opposed to homosexual acts”.

    It this means they wish to put people who commit homosexual acts into prison (and it often does) then I OPPOSE this – and will always say so.

    After all if Edmund Burke was prepared to be falsely smeared as a homosexual for saying that they were treated harshly – then I should not be afraid to denounce such harshness also. Sins are a matter for God (not man) to deal with – only crimes may be punished by man, and a crime must,by defintion, violate the nonaggression principle, which homosexual acts (other than in the case of rape) do NOT.

    However, on the whole the growth of real Christianity in Africa is a good thing – indeed one of the few hopeful developments in the world.

  • ‘Mush’, Paul? Really?

  • Ian

    it certainly isn’t an accurate representation of historical Christianity

    But it is what Christianity eventually became, I’m also proposing that the enlightenment was inevitable, just as the liberalism that followed, because the true essence of Christianity allows it and doesn’t suppress it.

    if the Muslims would only have their own version of the Protestant Reformation

    They have, this is it, Qutb was their Luther, that’s my point.

  • Nuke Gray

    Islam can’t have a liberalism, because fundamentalist Islam insists on taking over whatever state they are in. The Christian role model (Jesus) was a tolerant person who wanted his followers to practice their faith individually. The Muslim role model was a raider, slave-owner, and critic-killer, and talked about the community never being wrong- little individualism there!

  • I don’t know about Africa, but Christianity here in Latin America will never be a force for positive change, on any level, despite its having mutated into three uneasily coexisting strains. There’s traditional Catholicism, embroiled in international scandals and with an ugly local track record of turning blind eyes, currently staking everything on trying to Opussify the next generation of conservative hopefuls.

    There’s the Catholic left, whose star priests discovered long ago that the lefter you venture, the more you get laid (witness current Paraguayan Pres Fernando “they didn’t call me Father for nothing” Lugo, who will soon be able to count on landslide election victories delivered purely by filial loyalty). (For Spanish speakers, here’s a free glimpse
    of how evilly that Catholic left can end up smelling, given half a chance.)

    Then there’s the evangelicals, who in L. Am. are a highly organised network of fraudsters, offering floor space to roll around, froth at the mouth and speak in tongues in exchange for “diezmos” (tithes), which mostly end up spent on supplying the Evangelical capos with high quality drugs.

    I don’t know if it’s possible to live in this continent and retain any regard for organised Christianity. I’ve always thought of the Jesus guy himself as quite simpatico, as a kind of Middle Eastern Jerry Garcia, but the people who claim to be his followers in these latitudes are best given a pretty wide berth.

  • All of which goes to show that, all things being equal, it’s the local culture that matters.

  • Now, if the Muslims would only have their own version of the Protestant Reformation, and emerge from their Dark Ages with their religion reduced to the political impotence of Christianity, the world would be a much happier place.

    They are. They’re having it right now. Protestantism is fraudulently sold by historians as a release from Catholic oppression; in fact it was just fundamentalism. The Protestant objection to Catholicism was that it wasn’t Pure enough! There is nothing more wrong-headed than to believe that the Protestants intended to weaken religious hegemony and oligarchy. For heaven’s sake, how can anyone believe that the likes of John Calvin were secularists?!

    they never quite forgot that the Pilgrim Fathers on the Mayflower were Puritans fleeing persecution rather than instituting it.

    Oh dear. The Puritans were failed revolutionaries- the remnant of the Cromwell dictatorship- “fleeing” their loss of power, to find a new land where they could have another go at instituting God’s Kingdom on Earth. The kind of freedom the Puritans wanted was identical to Qutb’s definition of freedom; that is that the only freedom is the freedom to live in a theocracy.

    ***

    In general. I feel sorry for the Africans. We’ve had two thousand years of the divers followers of the Canaanite storm god fighting for dominance. It’s time we had an end of it. The followers of Yoohoo love to claim credit for everything, but I think it’s fair to say that if one reviews history they contributed nothing of value, though they did waste a lot of productive capacity building ridiculously fucking huge churches.

    Capitalism is simply the desire to trade, a natural human instinct (“I’ve got this, what will you trade me for it?”). The more individualist structure of western society predates the Christian takeover and was a lucky hangover from our pagan tribal ancestors (e.g. the primitive “democratic” type structures like the Saxon thing). Perhaps most crucially, those tribes tended to have a tradition of monarch’s ruling as humans by some form of consent, rather than the Orientalist model of divine right and the God-king, which was carried into Europe by, yes, the Yoohooites.

    The idea of freedom managed to survive in Europe simply because after the fall of Rome, the Yoohooites couldn’t impose their worship of the Faraway God by force and thus had to do it by persuasion (and trickery, and so on) and thus found themselves compromising with the culture on the ground, hence a degree of separation of Church and State.

    ‘Slam is merely a purer form of the Yoohooite theocratic ideal, because its homeland is the Orient. Even so, it is struggling with the ordinary muslim’s desire for that evil western freedom, and that is what the Slamic fundies are trying to combat with a religious revival, accompanied, as in our fundamentalist revival- The Reformation- by a great deal of violence.

    I am sorry to be so aggressive, but I believe (yea, it is my faith!) that this religious imperative to claim credit for everything good that has ever happened has to stop. The Yoohooite programme has been, for the past 2000 years, to turn the West into the East, and it has been the pre-Christian nature of the West that has, to a degree, held the line against that and created societies with some degree of respect for people rather than governments, for individuals rather than collectives, and for pragmatic empiricism (and thus eventually science) rather than sitting in a corner rocking back and forth over a book of bullshit.

    It may be that the greatest disaster in history was the Persians’ little experiment of setting up a copy of their Zoroastrian state in the arid backwater of Eber-Nari. Why did they do it? We can never know; but presumably as a social engineering scheme to build a buffer state bound together by a coherent ideology, with centralised tax gathering for the satrapy at the Temple. Then of course their empire was destroyed soon after by Alexander; but in the hills of Palestine they’d inadvertently created a monster.

    We’re never going to get anywhere until we can escape this absurdity. Yoohoo doesn’t exist and never did, the Bible and the Quran are rubbish, neither of them has anything whatsoever to do with freedom, justice or individualism, their philosophy has produced nothing but justifications for rule by divine right. The fact that many Europeans who did develop freedomist ideas were Christians does not mean Christianity gets the credit, any more than the fact that a Christian discovered the law of gravity means that the religion gets the credit for that either. If those poor “persecuted” Puritans in the USA had got their way, it wouldn’t have been the Land Of The Free. It would have been the Land Of The Lord and the Constitution would have banned Christmas as insufficiently Godly.

    Let’s hope the Africans can eventually rid themselves of both of these ghastly, stupid religions. They’ve suffered enough already.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes “mush” Alisa – look at the ideas of the leading athiests in Britain, Philip Pullman and Dawkins (both mush leftists).

    Of those of the “social gospel” type Protestants and Catholics – who preach for the need for an ever bigger government (rather than preach the word of God) to their increasingly EMPTY churches.

    And NO Latin America is not an exception – “Liberation Theology” (the local version of de facto athiest social gospel stuff) has not led to a stronger Roman Catholic church.

    On the contrary – Liberation Theology is often preached to semi empty churches (churches that were full before the liberation theology people turned up) with people being driven to various evangelical Protestant churches.

    Although there is also a slight drift to Islam – small in numbers as yet, but this sort of thing can grow like a wild fire.

    The Catholic church must turn its back on Liberation Theology and return to the worship of God – if it is survive in the long term.

    As for Ian B’s comments:

    I would advise you to read the work (or watch the television series made by) Thomas Woods (he of the Ludwig Von Mises Institute) before you jump to such conculsions about Christianity.

    Judaism:

    Perhaps I should leave this to Alisa – but I will jump in anyway.

    There are two dangers to be avoided.

    First the danger of becomming obsessed with ritual and lifestyle (the danger that some of the Orthodox fall into).

    The other danger is that of secularism – the danger of “being a Jew without believing in God”.

    This is not really sustainble (it is slow motion genocide) and it certainly offers no defence against the forces of Islam or anything else.

    It is no accident that so many people from Jewish families who go down this road become antisemites – from Karl Marx to Noam Chomsky, as do so many “Jewish” members of the media and entertainment industry.

    It is perfectly true that not every athiest person from a Jewish family becomes a leftist (after all Ayn Rand was hardly a leftist), but the great majority do.

    And in politics it is what the great majority do that matters.

    And even Ayn Rand fitted the sterotype of the athiest Jew in one important respect – no children.

    It is dead end road.

    “But what are your own theological beliefs Paul?”

    I hold it to be impossible for human beings to fully grasp the nature of the divine.

    In ancient Athens I would have gone to the temple of Athena with a clear conscience.

    Just as in this society I am Christian.

    But I do not pretend to really fully grasp the nature of the divine – on the contrary, as I say above, I hold that to be impossible.

    One operates in the tradition of the society one is in – unless that tradition is based upon texts that are radically wicked (and, contrary to Ian B., I do not hold the Bible to be so – as Fransisco Suarez said “natural law is God’s law, but if God did not exist natural law would be exactly the same” if a religion teaches things that are clearly contrary to natural law that indicates that such a religion is not the work of God).

    If this sounds like the position of Descartes – then I have no problem with that.

    But all the time one must accept that one is but looking through darkened glass.

  • Paul Marks

    For some reason the smite bot has been activated – hopefully that will be dealt with (as I wrote nothing offensive).

    One thing I left out was “fundementalism” – which is indeed often a bad thing.

    However, it is often forgotten that the man who first used this term used it positively – and was not opposed to the theory of evolution or anything like that.

    So what did he mean by “fundementalism”?

    He meant support for the fundementals – which he defined as follows.

    Belief in God as a being seperate to yourself or “the people” or anything like that – i.e. belief in an intelligence (a being) even if one could not hope to fully understand this divine person.

    Belief (in the Christian context) that the importance of Jesus was NOT as a “teacher” or a “philosopher” that his kingdom was NOT of this world.

    Belief that religion was NOT a metaphor for the state or “society” defined as some system of control.

    All of this was in deliberate opposition to the social gospel movement – in defence of the “fundementals” of Christianity and indeed any religion.

  • Ian, you are overlooking the element of cultural evolution, of which religion in some form or shape is a crucial part. Sure, it wasn’t religion (whichever one) that created the ideas of freedom and individuality: there need not be invented, as they are part of nature itself. It’s just that societies seem to have to go through this stage in order to understand that very nature of the world. It’s a trial and error thing, no way around it. Kind of like puberty, not pretty, but part of the deal. BTW, and in case it is not clear enough: when I say ‘religion’ I refer to religious society and state as it existed virtually all over the world until quite recently, not to individual religiosity as it is being practiced today in the West (when it even is).

  • Paul, this smite thing is a total pain in the fundament. I understand the idea of it, but other websites seem to manage without such an aggressive script. The problem is its heuristics seem to be triggered by phrases that are part of normal conversation on a political site like this. It’s like a blog about confectionary that flags every mention of the word “cake” as spam, or a blog about military history that won’t let you mention the nazis.

  • Alisa, I’ve come more and more to the conclusion that there’s nothing natural about the Yahwist religions, and they aren’t a sort of inevitable cultural stage (this is their own propaganda, which seems natural because we live in Yahwist societies) but a kind of foreign invader. Everyone did fine, or at least as well as can be expected, prior to Constatine without a cosmic battle religion.

    The problem with them is this whole light vs. dark thing that surely came from Zoroastrianism initially. Once you’ve cast mankind as being in the middle of this eternal struggle between good and evil, anyone who takes it seriously enough is inevitably going to fight the Good Fight and that means they’re never going to leave anybody else in peace.

    I don’t think this belief system is any kind of inevitable social stage. It’s the result of a particular set of historical circumstances and I don’t think we’re ever going to get a hope of real freedom until we can rid ourselves of it. It particularly gets my goat that there are significant numbers of people who genuinely believe that being a fighter in the lightdark wars is a prerequisite of freedom; what they actually mean is, you can only be free if you promise to follow Our Rules, which is ridiculous.

    We don’t live in an enlightened society, not yet. We nearly did but the forces of unenlightenment fought back very successfully. We’re still in the Dark Ages. We’re going to need a very big push to get out of them.

    I mean, most of the world’s population still believes in a magic sky being who sits on top of mountains trumping. This is ridiculous. I’ve spent many months now trying to think up a formulation that explains our history and what we need to do to escape it that remains religion friendly so as not to alienate our God’n'guns fairweather friends and, having typed the rant above I think I’ve admitted defeat. We need to dropkick Yoohoo into the dustbin of history along with Zeus and Cerunnos The Horned God, and if we can’t do that we’re embuggered.

  • For some reason the smite bot has been activated – hopefully that will be dealt with (as I wrote nothing offensive).

    Sorry to sound a bit grumpy but for fuck sake read the message you get when smite bot attacks.

    IT IS A PIECE OF CODE and it is ALWAYS active.

    Smite bot does not care who you are and it does not look for ‘offensive’ remarks, it looks for spam…

    … and if you use a combination of words that look spam-like, you get moderated. Without smite bot, for reasons I will not discuss ‘in the clear’, for every legitimate comment, you would have three advertising Russian kiddie porn/World of Warcraft gold/fake rolex watches. etc etc.

    You have no idea what a struggle it is to keep this blog spam-free. Smite bot is an unavoidable nuisance. Moreover any speculation on how it works will get deleted. That is discussion for e-mail only.

  • Ian, sure, it was not inevitable that this particular set of religious dogmas took hold of most human societies: if it weren’t for this particular one, some other set would have dominated the world, and it doesn’t really matter which one. Our enemy is not any particular religion, or not even any particular ideology. Our enemy is the idea that some people should forcibly control other people, no matter what set of other ideas people who seek such control use to justify it. That said, and on a purely tactical level, some sets of ideas are friendlier than others (at least in their current reincarnation), and it would be silly to ignore this in the context of our own purposes.

  • Paul:
    You’re half right about liberation theology: it’s had its day, since it was at bottom a response to dictatorships of the peach uniforms, shades and electrodes attached to gonads sort, which are thankfully in full retreat in the continent. However, its current Social Gospel offspring is extremely relevant. It may not fill churches but it gives a powerful shot of spurious “spiritual” legitimacy to authoritarian leftist governments. I’ll talk about Ecuador since I live here. When the new socialist Constitution was up for referendum, the govt were shrewd enough to plant a trail of red herrings in the press about it “allowing abortion”. The trad Catholics fell for it and before long Guayaquil was full of car stickers saying NO TO ABORTION. Two weeks before the referendum the govt pointed out that the Constitutional text nowhere explicitly permitted abortion. The church was left looking stupid and since the paleoCons had gone along for the ride, the opposition to the Constitution imploded and it was voted through massively. Meanwhile, Correa has since his first campaign made a point of saying he is a Catholic who supports “the social doctrine of the Church”. Hell, he even went to the Oxford Union to say that. So since the Church hierarchy (cosy with various corrupt govts of the past) has been discredited, this leaves Correa with the title of Pope of Ecuador to add to his not inconsiderable list of honorifics (he also considers himself “head” of the Judiciary and the Legislature as well as the Executive, and likes to call himself “majesty”). If only the Church realised that there were other issues than abortion they could use to challenge authoritarian governments of the left… but unfortunately, they are the victims of their own rhetoric, since both Church and State coincide in identifying “selfish individualism” as the great evil of our times. That’s why I say nothing good can come out of Christianity in this Continent. It’s made its choice, and that choice has been for collectivism.

  • Alisa, I’m not so sure about this world dominating ideology thing. Pagan Roman religions didn’t have the same quality as the Yawhist ones. I think there’s a key thing that Yahwism is inherently authoritarian; because of this thing of mankind being in the middle of a constant war between light and dark. The Romans (as an example) just didn’t have that thing. They didn’t go to war for their gods- though they hoped to buy the favour of those fickle gods; they didn’t fight ideological wars and, at home, they didn’t fight the constant *internal* ideological wars that characterise Yahwism.

    What I’m saying here is that the idea that some people should control other people for a higher ideological purpose is a consequence of Yahwism, and contrary to the claims of many religious folks, western values of liberty and individuality and so on do not derive from the religion, but continued to exist to various degrees despite it. The only time these religions are “safe” for liberty, to some degree, is when they are weakened- as happened accidentally as a result of the Reformation.

    There seems to be a very strong current mythology by Christian apologists on the “right” that Christianity has some inherently different value structure to Islam that makes it peaceful and individualist rather than violent and authoritarian. This is unmitigated rubbish IMV. Any of them, given too much power, are simply a template for an authoritarian hell-hole. Calvin’s Geneva or Cromwell’s England look astonishingly similar to sharia because they are astonishingly similar. It’s all one virulent ideology that boiled out of the Middle East two thousand years ago. As such, I suggest that the apparent explanation for why Western Europe became the source of ideas of liberty, individualism, capitalism, etc, was that it happened to be farthest from the source of authoritarian orientalism and the pagan tribes happened to have some traditions which translate into such social structures (chiefs ruling by consent, for instance).

    Probably the only thing we can credit European Christianity with is providing enough unity to repel Islam; but of course had there been no Christianity there would have been no Islam to repel, so that’s a bit of a null result really. “Progressives” love to claim credit for saving us from disasters of their own making. Guess where they got that tendency from!

  • This:

    There seems to be a very strong current mythology by Christian apologists on the “right” that Christianity has some inherently different value structure to Islam that makes it peaceful and individualist rather than violent and authoritarian.

    stands in no contradiction to this:

    Any of them, given too much power, are simply a template for an authoritarian hell-hole.

    Any ideology can become such a template. In any case, and although I tend to agree with Paul’s take on this, all this is irrelevant. I know that you like hating…sorry, reexamining the Judeo-Christian tradition, and it is an interesting subject in and of itself, but it really is a big yawn in the context of liberty vs control. In that context what really matters is that humans are, always will and always have been seeking control over other humans, and they always are, will be and have been using whatever pretext to justify this very natural desire.

    BTW, whatever happened to the class-struggle theme?

  • Alisa, do you also think that if one were trying to understand arabian societies, it would be “a big yawn” to discuss the influence of Islam upon their development? You are strangely dismissive of such a major historical influence.

    The class struggle theme is very much alive and part and parcel of our understanding of how we became what we are, but would take us off in a whole new direction.

  • Surely you meant ‘a whole old direction ?:-)

    Same goes for Islam. Islam has grown out of the Arabian culture, not the other way around, just as Christianity in its current form in the West has grown out of Western-European culture. See my comment above following on Endivio Roquefort I comment about Christianity in Latin America.

  • Laird

    IanB, what a great rant! (11:54 AM) I won’t dispute your point about the Protestant Reformation being essentially fundamentalist; you certainly know more about this than I do, and in any event your later comment (“The only time these religions are “safe” for liberty, to some degree, is when they are weakened – as happened accidentally as a result of the Reformation”) was basically the point I was trying to make. Hence my remark about the “emasculation” of Christianity, to which Natalie took exception.

    If I may throw a small twig into this inferno, I think your observation that Christianity (and its offshoot, Islam) is inherently authoritarian is completely consistent with Nietzsche’s characterization of it as embodying a “slave morality”. It idealizes submission to a master (ultimately God, but derivatively his emissaries here on earth), but moreover measures good and evil not so much on consequences as on intentions. So from this perspective it rather supports the (other Ian’s) proposition that it is the precursor to modern socialism.

  • Nuke Gray

    What would a fundamentalist Christian be like? If it leads to Protestantism, that can lead to individual choice.
    What would a fundamentalist Muslim be like? Join the Taliban to find out.

  • Ian F4

    @IanB, I cannot see how you have come to the conclusion that Christianity and Islam are equally authoritarian, a simple study of the theology and the actions of their founders (as viewed by their followers) will give you the short answer.

    I agree evidence can go either way, there have been many prime examples of authoritarian Christianity, but there are also plenty of examples of non-authoritarian and secular. Luther (“Two Kingdoms”), Locke, Clayton and the Pilgrims, the signatories of the US Declaration of Independence (“endowed by their Creator”), were all devout Christians yet supported civil and religious separation, explicitly to defend against authoritarian rule.

    What similar examples exist in other religions ?

    Back on topic, the major issue with African Christians, indeed with all Christians outside Europe and America in non-Christian countries, is that they are routinely persecuted, often to death, a lot of this goes unreported by the PoMo Western media for fear of being accused of supporting Christianity or damning extremist non-Christian political or religious doctrine, the Christians are left to fight for themselves and consequently act a little less tolerant.

  • Paul Marks

    Endivio Roquefort.

    You are quite correct.

    The socialists (the Liberation Theology people) did not come out of outer space to totally stand Roman Catholic teaching on its head.

    The Reds were looking for weakness (they always do) and they found weakness in the EXISTING social teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.

    Thomas Woods (and so on) may argue that they misinterpreted the words of Pope Leo XIII and so on wrongly – but even if this is so the weakness was there for them to be able to twist it.

    The idea that voluntary action (including action by the Church) will somehow not be enough and there is a “positive” (not just a defence of nonaggression) role fo the state can be found in Leo – as it can be found in Cardinal Manning.

    The worm is there – all that is needed is for it to be given food and encouraged to grow.

    That is why the Church is so weak in relation to people like the President of Ecuador.

    “You have said their is a positive role for the collective and implied that things need not be voluntary – I am just developing your position” (this is his implied position).

    However, it should be noted that the doctrine of infallibity was never invoked for any of the “social teaching” (not for 1891 – not for ANY of it at any time).

    But I very much doubt the present Pope will formally break with it – he will try and interpret it in a moderate direction (as he always has – arguing, quite correctly, that this was the actual intention of Leo XIII and so on).

    However, that is a philosophically weak position – and the Reds know that, and exploit that.

    Protestant reformation:

    Augustine has many problems.

    From a political point of view he supported the “postitive role” for the state (that this clealy had not worked in the Roman Empire, indeed had caused terrible problems, passed him by) and also supported the use of force in religious matters (this was NOT the majority position among Church Fathers before Augustine).

    Theologically Augustine supported (indeed basically invented) the docrtrine of predestination (one can reconcile that with free will/moral responsibilty – but only in the way an elephant can be trained to ride a unicycle, it is not convincing).

    The Roman Catholic Church sort to moderate Augustine’s doctrines (it still does), but held him as a great teacher (the present Pope still does – which in some ways is almost as bad as Leo XIII praising the evil “Saint” Cyril of Alexandria).

    However, most of the founders of Protestanism held that the Catholic Church was bad because it did not follow the teachings of Augustine enough – they were MORE supportive of Auguesine (particularly John Calvin).

    In this Ian B. is correct – the Reformation (at least at first) made doctrine (on many things) worse – not better.

    However, it should be noted that many Protestant churches broke with the teachings of Augustine centuries ago.

    And the mainstream Roman Catholic Church has “interpreted” those doctrines to bits (for the Orthodox Church of course a 5th century man, i.e. someone alive before the collapse of education in the Classical World, who claimed to be a great theologian yet COULD NOT READ GREEK – THE LANGUAGE THE NEW TESTIMENT WAS WRITTEN IN was not someone to be respected).

    By the way the difference between rejecting and interpreting away is important (at least to me).

    I dislike “interpreting” something to bits – it reminds me of how the Constitution of the United States has been destroyed.

    If you are going to reject something then reject it – do not try and “interpret” your way out of trouble.

    Better someone who “interprets” Augustine than someone who (for example) uses force against people with whom he has theological disagreements or declares that who is to be saved by God is predetermined.

    But unless someone has the straighforwardness to say “I do not agree with Augustine” (rather than play the “Augustine really meant…..” game) I lose interest.