A Spirited Visitor

My old friend Hilaire Belloc spoke to me from heaven, where the Catholic sun doth shine and there is no need of plenty of wine. I was delighted to see him, even though he interrupted a fine sleep to communicate some suggestions to me and my confreres on how to handle the current threat to the civilized world posed by resurgent and aggressive Islam.

As many readers of The Catholic Thing already know, Belloc predicted that Islam would return as a major world threat, this time even more dangerous and armed with weapons of mass destruction, posing a serious challenge to the decadent West, which no longer even procreates at levels that replace its population. Over time Islam may well win the battle against the West via procreation, without firing a shot.

We cannot let that happen, and so Belloc told me to pass this warning on to you, in addition to making some additional suggestions.

His fellow heaven-dweller GKC frequently argued that, of course, what is most important is prayer! Nevertheless, we must also defend ourselves – as well as the innocents now being slaughtered in the name of false gods and the prophet Mohammed.

Regarding the West and the whole question of militant Islam (including the Islamic State, the crisis in the Middle East, and ongoing persecution of Christians by “ISIS” and other terrorist groups), what can we heirs to Christian civilization do? What is the Christian response to be if we are to save what is left of the West, so that it might rise again?

Naturally, I turned to my otherworldly expert for advice on how the West should counter present-day Islamic aggression. He provided several suggestions whose efficacy and political viability I will leave it up to the readers to determine.

First, as a good Catholic Belloc, urged that the NATO nations and other countries willing to pitch in should come up with and immediately implement a rescue plan to offer humanitarian asylum to all endangered Christians (and peaceful members of other religions facing Islamic persecution).

Second, Belloc envisioned all European countries of Christian origins, including Russia (though this is a long shot in the current geopolitical situation), and their erstwhile colonies that are Christian, including Latin America, forming a coalition of armed forces to attack and destroy the forces of the Islamic State and its allies and lookalikes.

Hilaire Belloc by E.O. Hoppé (1915)
Hilaire Belloc by E.O. Hoppé (1915)

He cautioned that, of course, such a coalition should strictly abide by just-war principles – among other things, by stopping short of the use of nuclear weapons and other WMDs, giving warning of attacks, and doing everything possible to save innocent lives and civilians.

Next, Belloc the historian referred to an era of European history now widely vilified, but (despite lapses) worthy of present-day emulation. He argued (also a long shot) that if the Islamic nations were signing on for jihadism, bent on killing and maiming, we of the West should once again don the Crusader’s cross, seeking from Pope Francis the customary plenary indulgence and the blessings of our separated Christian brethren, the Orthodox churches of the East.

Assuming that such a modern Crusade would meet with the success (unfortunately, temporary) of the one that wrested away control of the Holy Land from Muslim invaders in 1099, Belloc advised that we confiscate our defeated foes’ weapons, reopen all formerly closed Christian places of worship, and rebuild the demolished churches, financing the reconstruction with money from the oil-rich Muslim countries (such as Saudi Arabia and others) that have armed the jihadists.

Of course, Muslims in these territories should be allowed freedom of worship, but their (rebuilt) mosques should be open for all to see and hear the proceedings to prevent any secret incitement to violence against Christians or other peaceful religions or sects in the Middle East.

Before taking leave, Belloc emphasized that, given the sad state of Christianity in the West, only the measures mentioned above would have any chance of holding back the forces of Islam from conquering all of Europe and the Americas.

St. George, pray for us! As my good friend Hilaire reminded me in my sleep, to keep the peace, prepare for war.

Why was my friend Hilaire so prescient in seeing the revival of militant Islam? Perhaps in part because he witnessed two unnecessary World Wars, in the course of which he lost two sons and a multitude of friends. In addition, he foresaw both in England and in the United States the decline of Christianity and its morality, with the resulting journey along the Road to Serfdom.

So when others did not, he foresaw the ominous resurrection of militant Islam, now armed with deadly weapons of destruction; he also perceived, perhaps correctly, the West’s weakness and corruption. Now that we are no longer worshipping the triune God of Christianity, our civilization is ripe to worship the false god of Mohammed.

Newly Blessed Pope Paul VI once famously said, “No more war! Never again war! If you wish to be brothers, drop your weapons.” But as Hilaire admonished me in the dream, make sure they drop theirs first.

Fr. C. John McCloskey (1953-2023) was a Church historian and Non-Resident Research Fellow at the Faith and Reason Institute.