Wednesday, 22 March 2017
Tuesday, 21 March 2017
The West’s liberal crusade is anathema to both Russian traditions and Russia’s legally stringent views on foreign policy. One can characterise the contemporary foreign policy of the Russian Federation as a pragmatic defence of self-interests along with the interests of its allies. It tends to conduct all of these policies within the framework of international law. In fact, Russia often finds herself having to define the precepts of international law to other nations who frequently violent it. Most frequently, Russia uses the UN as a forum to accomplish this. The long-serving and recently-deceased Russian Ambassador to the UN, V I Churkin was emblematic of Russia in holding others to account, at least in terms of rhetoric and voting record.
By contrast, Western foreign policy often shows a flagrant disregard for international law. Israel’s recent illegal attack on Syria, as well as the illegal presence of US, Turkish, Saudi, Qatari, British, Dutch, Belgian, German, and Jordanian soldiers, airmen, and terrorist proxies in Syria, is just one example of the West and her allies using extralegal means to paint the world map in their particular shade of blood. One could equally point to the illegal wars in Iraq, Libya, and Yugoslavia as other relatively recent examples. However, beyond the illegality of much of Western foreign policy, there’s another way in which it diverges sharply from that of Russia. Of course, a quest for profit underpins Western policy, but beyond this universal reality, it’s crucial to understand how the West attempts to sell its foreign policy. Even more important is the fact that many Western political figures actually believe what they say when promoting their policies (although some clearly don’t).
Western foreign policy is a latter-day version of a crusade. It’s an open endorsement of violence in order to attain what they define as a worthy goal. It’s war justified neither by law nor ethics but by ideology. In the case of the Roman Catholic Church, the Medieval Crusades were an attempt to conquer and pacify the lands of “non-believers”, forcing them to submit to their own view of worship and holiness. The Fourth Crusade (1202-4) demonstrated that the holy warriors targeted not only Muslims and Jews but also Christians. The Latin conquerors severely weakened the Greek Orthodox Roman Empire during the Fourth Crusade, paving the way for full Turkish conquest three centuries later and the beginning of Greek captivity to the Ottoman Empire.
Although they typically confine the concept of zealotry to debates on religious wars, the West implements a similar ideological strategy in selling the policy of “régime change, anytime, anywhere, with or without legal authority”. Nevertheless, in their zealous destruction of legitimate Arab régimes, the West did something even more insidious than their crusading forbearers did. They not only attacked peaceful Muslim nations, nations whose populations live side by side with Christians, but they made these countries dangerous places to live for moderate Sunni Muslims (the majority of the global Muslim population), all Shi’ite Muslims, and all Christians. Iraq and Libya are now hotbeds of Wahhabi/Salafi Islam and the terrorism that almost inevitably flows from it. This was never the case prior to Western wars upon these states. Currently, Syria is engaged in a life and death struggle against the same Wahhabi forces representing what many would justifiably call heretical Islam.
Although Russia doesn’t form its alliances and foreign policy strategy on a religious basis, Russia paradoxically acts as a defender of faith by omission. Because Russia refuses to engage in zealous quests for resources based on the creed of liberal imperial zeal, Russia is de facto acting to preserve the peaceful religious status quos of the modern Arab world in states where secularism is best defined as a freedom to pursue religious activities as one wishes irrespective of one’s faith or how committed one is to that faith. As an Orthodox Christian state, Russia’s religious tradition had no part in any crusading activities or the later imperial expansion of various Catholic states, the most prominent example being Spain whose interpretation of Catholicism led Conquistadors to view the pagan natives as underlings to be conquered. I don’t intend this historical reality to offend nor shame modern Catholics, whose contemporary religious practice is as peaceful as any other mainstream Christian denomination. However, liberals took the worst parts of Roman Catholic history and applied them to wars of conquest and exploitation, carrying on a tradition that’s part of Western culture.
Interestingly, one doesn’t need to be religious in order to internalise and adopt this particular feature of Western history. The humanistic/secular French the pretext of liberal revolutionary zeal for their wars on fellow European states in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Likewise, Leon Trotsky, a Marxist atheist, sought to apply the same creed to his view of world revolution. It’s little wonder that many of the born-again neoliberals in Tony Blair’s Warhawk government spent their school days as members of Trotskyist organisations.
Russia suffered a profound spiritual crisis in the 1990s at every level, both theoretically and practically. The internal stability and prosperity afforded by the Putin years gave Russia a sense of peace and allowed Russia to return to its heritage as the largest Orthodox Christian state in the world. As such, some would say Russia has a duty to defend fellow Christians. However, Russia articulates its foreign policy differently. Russia defends its allies against aggression, but the fact remains that in doing so, Russia is by default, living up to its tradition as a defender of the faith. Nevertheless, Russia it defends not just the Orthodox faith. Russia defends Muslims throughout the world at a time when Western wars of aggression target Islamic populations and when Western politicians like Geert Wilders lambaste Islam in the most disparaging terms. Russia must make it clear to a Muslim world bombarded by Western and Saudi propaganda, that it’s a more honest defender of Islam than any major power on earth. It’s able to say so because of its record of legality in foreign affairs and because of a Christian tradition that Europe (and largely, America) has entirely forsaken.
20 March 2017
Sunday, 19 March 2017
Religion has no place in the public school. As a member of a “minority” faith (Russian Orthodox Christianity), I wouldn’t want our kids contaminated with Evangelical goo. We have a secular state… let’s keep it that way.
The following is prime read n’ heed… it needs no commentary from me.
The Council For National Policy is a Conservative Think Tank, made up of a Who’s Who of prominent conservatives… Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Reince Priebus, Tim LaHaye, Bobby Jindal, John McCain… the list goes on… This article, published by the Washington Post, but reported elsewhere, lays out the group’s plan to “restore education in America”, by bringing God into classrooms.
I have said for years and years, the Christian Right is really seeking to establish a theocracy in the USA… at least regionally, throughout the Deep South. This latest effort by the so-called Council for National Policy lays further proof to that claim. The Constitution does NOT support this effort… in spite of what many “Christian” leaders say. The First Amendment of the Constitution strictly prohibits any Establishment of Religion. This Amendment also guarantees Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press. This “Separation of Church and State” has two intentions:
- It protects religious freedom for everyone
- It prevents the tyranny of any one religion
However, this fact won’t stop many Southern Christians, who feel it is their duty… as Christians… to make the USA “a godly nation” in their eyes. Moreover, they’ll cite the numerous biblical passages in which God exhorts all nations to be faithful to him and condemns those nations who aren’t, as the basis for this duty… that they feel is their right. I grew up in this world, so I know what I’m talking about. As a kid, during the 1970’s, I attended churches in Atlanta with my devout grandmother. I heard Jerry Falwell speak numerous times at First Baptist on Peachtree. A fiery minister in Smyrna indoctrinated me into the Evangelical way of thinking. I studied my “King James” Bible. I feverishly read Ernest Angley’s book about the “end times” that depicted Christians being boiled alive by the Antichrist. I loved The Omen movies, wholly believing they portended something real. Trust me. I’ve been there. Fortunately, I had the sense to give it up. By age 15, at the peak of my adolescent sexual curiosity, I realised that any religion that demanded giving up my basic humanity was nuts.
Of course, not all Christian Evangelicals share this extreme view. Nevertheless, the extremists always give themselves away with their trademark refrain, “I’ll pray for you”, as if you’re possessed by demons and in need of an exorcism. They seem completely unaware of how this statement makes them appear; that they alone understand “truth”, that everyone else is “ungodly” and in need of “redemption”, as they see it; by being “born again,” and baptised, and accepting their world view. This self-righteous arrogant presumption is at the root of all religious extremism. Evangelicals in churches and state houses across the country support laws and political systems that brutalize and imprison MILLIONS of African-Americans, that deny equal rights and protections to LGBT people and tacitly support violence toward them, and seek to deny women the right to govern their own bodies, often with threats or outright acts of physical violence. They seem hell-bent on ejecting science from education and replacing it with their own creationist ideas.
In doing these things, Evangelicals are advocating a religious extremism that is no different from Muslim extremism, which projects religious authority over all people in their domain, which limits the rights of women, controls and limits education, and enforces strict adherence to a moral code, which naturally rejects and punishes all forms of “decadence”, including “deviant sexuality”, science, reason, and any questioning of authority. Christian fundamentalists, if given the power, will do the same things.
Evangelical Christians in the USA condemn Muslim extremism as a threat to the country and their way of life, while clearly endorsing their own form of extreme religious authoritarianism. This form of religion establishes a tribally divisive “us” versus “them” mentality, which places “our” rights and prerogatives above the needs of any other group. Moreover, they use it repeatedly as the basis for denying other people’s rights… particularly, their freedom to choose and even their right to exist. It’s worth pointing out that in the South religion buttressed this tribal mentality to force a separation between whites and blacks, who they see/saw as inferior. White suburban Christian thinking has this tribalism as a deeply embedded dynamic. They accept it without question. I shouldn’t have to point out that, in the end, this isn’t Christian at all.
Religious extremism is religious extremism. Using words like “righteousness” or “faith” or “Christ-given mission”, and hiding behind ideas like “tradition” and “heritage” and “family values” won’t cover up this fact. It’s up to every freedom-loving person, who prefers freedom of choice, freedom of worship, who cares about protecting women’s rights and equality for all, and advancing reason and scientific knowledge, to be aware and oppose it. I don’t suggest that Evangelicals should give up their faith. However, I strongly suggest they shouldn’t trample on other people’s religious beliefs or insist that people should conform themselves with the Evangelical worldview.
If Evangelicals hate tyranny, they should be very wary of becoming tyrants. Nevertheless, Evangelicals will never see themselves as tyrants, because their faith commands them to be “missionaries for Christ”. This mandate engages them in a zero-sum game to convert the country, indeed the whole world, to their faith. Moreover, over the decades they’ve increasingly reached for more and more political power to achieve this goal. This is exactly what ISIS proposes, by trying to establish a global Muslim caliphate. The goal of religious extremists, regardless of faith, is always the same… Dominion.
And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the foul of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.
Evangelicals are the American Taliban. To many, that seems a garish and inconceivable statement. The entire purpose of this article is to point out that religious extremism also exists in America as it does in other parts of the world, and not just radical Muslims are extreme, it’s also radical Christians… and that religious extremism can start with something as simple as, “I’ll pray for you”.
24 February 2017
J C Weatherby
Church and State
I chose the illustration of the blacksmith for a reason. I find that many middle-class people (properly speaking, not working-class people with pretensions) believe that only they can achieve holiness. Interestingly enough, most saints were either aristocrats or peasants, with very few from the middle-class… the merchants and “professionals” were all-too-often fixated on money and position. Have a care with middle-class people… too many obsess on money and position. However, pray for them, as they have the most obstacles in the spiritual life. The rich and titled know that money and position aren’t what they’re cracked up to be and the working-class knows that they’re not going to get money and position. However, the middle-class is tempted the most by such… they’re almost hag-ridden by it in most cases. They’re the most hobbled in the spiritual life… so, don’t forget to pray for them, they need it most of all.