Erasing the Past

Satellite photos have begun to reveal the extent of archaeological devastation, in areas controlled by the Daesh (“ISIL”) – across eastern Syria and north-western Iraq. We can now see how thorough they are.

The destruction of the (pre-Islamic) Monastery of Elijah, near Mosul, went beyond bulldozers. The stone was reduced to gravel, and spread to give the appearance of ash to reconnaissance from above.

Yet there, and at dozens of other world-historical cultural sites, we know that not everything was obliterated. Detachable and movable art objects are first stripped and sold on international black markets. We know that the Daesh, who act as a Caliphate, or traditional Muslim government, have a formal department called the Kata’ib Taswiyya that specializes in this kind of work. More than self-financing, it is a major source of revenue to the movement at large.

Oddly enough, these demolition experts benefit from the long work of such essentially Western agencies as UNESCO, which have compiled the information needed to identify targets, and achieve maximum propaganda effect. Obscure sites, including monasteries at remote locations, would otherwise have been ignored, as they were ignored by many previous Muslim armies, intending to enslave or wipe out settled Christians.

Each Western technological advance serves the enemies of civilization as well as its friends. GPS, for instance, is a devil-send to the proponents of “asymmetrical warfare,” who use it while thinking “outside the box” of old Christian notions of human decency. Even after watching our own planes fly into our own skyscrapers, we failed to grasp this.

Nor have we retained the historical memory of late Romans, or late dynastic Chinese, being defeated by wilderness savages who had mastered their technologies and methods, but cared little for their laws or mores.

Starch and discipline alone had favored the civilized – inspired by faith and purpose. With decadence, the advantage was lost. Liberalism, the malignant cancer that destroys civilization from within, works by undermining the very principles by which it flourished, turning one cell after another against the whole body.

The simplistic, Western, liberal mind assumes that Muslim “terrorists” are crazy. We reveal the degree of our ignorance to them, each time a politician makes a fatuous statement about Islam’s peaceful intentions. The “terrorists” are not really Muslim, our politicians argue, perhaps on the subconscious analogy of so many census Christians in the West, who are not really Christian.

But of course, they don’t believe this themselves. They know they are lying – but imagine they do it for sparkling liberal causes that transcend mere truth.

Before (left) and after
Before (left) and after

When it comes to the annihilation of Assyrian Christianity, they are at a loss. It is “a quarrel in a far away country between people of whom we know nothing.” When a million Muslim “migrants” land on our shores, they take it as a separate crisis. For the “analytical” liberal mind, which produces conclusions consistently false, breaks each “problem” down to its components, rather than patiently seeking a coherent whole.

That roving restless liberal mind also likes to “prioritize,” thus entirely ignoring every aspect of the problem until it presents as a crisis or emergency at its current location.

Although by no means the only Christian community in Syria and Iraq, the Assyrians are or were the largest, and their history as Christians there goes back to the first century AD. Too, their ancient habitations corresponded to areas the Daesh conquered.

Western statesmen assume that this was all bad luck, and shrug when told it was their own poor judgment – by invading, misruling, then abandoning Iraq – that delivered the Assyrians into Satan’s hands. They, or more democratically, we, wash our hands, and shed crocodile tears, for how can we be expected to take responsibility for our own actions?

And now we think the “problem” is the Daesh, when they are only an aspect of the problem. The clue here should have been discerned from the fact that the Daesh replaced al-Qaeda. It is among the agents operating in Libya and elsewhere (also targeting Christians for extermination), and has its feelers to other Salafist groups – thanks curiously enough to having inherited Saddam Hussein’s international “terror” connections.

But ultimately, it is itself as replaceable as al-Qaeda. This is because it is at the vanguard of a militant Sunni Islam, which in turn replaced Arab nationalism as the most potent political force in the Middle East. And while the parallel Shia militants, directed from Iran, clash with the Salafist Sunnis, we can take no comfort. Both are finally dedicated to annihilating us.

This means we face a “problem” much larger than could ever be resolved by the desultory bombing of Daesh camps and oilfields.

Moreover, the destruction of ancient Christian (and other non-Muslim, and more tranquil minority Muslim) communities is among the Daesh’s most popular activities, in the Sunni world. Note that they advertise their savage acts, in recruitment videos; and that these have been successful, not only regionally, but among Muslim young and converts, raised in the West.

The Daesh take pride in killing Christians, and in scouring the Christian heritage; and they derive much of their popularity from doing so. Take this in: their tactics are purposeful and not “crazy,” except in the sense of being radically evil.

We face them, today, almost entirely without the moral, intellectual, and spiritual equipment with which our ancestors faced the Islamic threat, through fourteen centuries. For they perfectly understood that “Church and State” alike stood guard for a Christian civilization, whose very survival required keeping Islam at bay.

So, for that matter, did the monks of Saint Elijah’s, and Assyrians of Nineveh, who had so often endured pogroms. Those monks were often through the centuries confronted with the choice of martyrdom or conversion, in circumstances where they could not possibly fight back. But they and their people had stolidly refused conversion, and still do.

They never asked to be invaded. They never begged for erasure, like us.

David Warren

David Warren

David Warren is a former editor of the Idler magazine and columnist with the Ottawa Citizen. He has extensive experience in the Near and Far East. His blog, Essays in Idleness, is now to be found at:

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    As long as we fix our gaze on the ideology of fundamentalist Islam, instead of concentrating on the base that supports it, we shall inevitably find it baffling.

    It was Engels, who called attention to “the simple fact, hitherto concealed by an overgrowth of ideology, that humankind must first of all eat, drink, have shelter and clothing, before it can pursue politics, science, art, religion.” Aristotle would have understood this: Λόγοσ ούδέν κινεί – Reason moves nothing.

    The roots of radical Islam, going back to the middle of the 19th century, will then be seen as a reaction to the technical and scientific advances of the West, colonial exploitation and the consequent exportation of “Western values” and traditional ways of life collapsed under the impact of modernity.

    New forces of production (notably oil) and new relations of production, that is of exploiting the people who do the work, are what produced ideological and political clashes in the Islamic world.
    Politics is always concentrated economics.

    • PCB

      in a word, Rubbish!

    • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

      Michael you’ll probably receive much adverse response but I for one have always held the position you so well lay out. The coin [Middle East] has two sides to its present violent turbulence.

      • John II

        Actually, what you call the “violent turbulence” of the Middle East–as if you’re addressing a passing, rationally comprehensible weather front–has many more than two sides, and Michael’s astonishingly smug repetition of the secular Western talking points were just previously skewered by Mr. Warren, without any direct response by Michael.

        Among those many sides are the history of Islam, the character and content of the Qur’an and the hadiths, and the helplessness of the degenerate secular West’s soft nihilism in the face of the hard Satanic nihilism of Islamic jihad.

        To mention just a few more big sides.

    • AAD1

      Islam by definition is radical. Radical by definition is fundamental. A radical Christian is motivated by love and truth. A radical muslim is motivated by conquest. Neither love nor truth is fundamental to Islam, only submission. All we are witnessing is an awakening of their fundamental mission.

    • RainingAgain

      So, the conquest of North Africa and Spain, the centuries of Corsair raids, the Ottoman invasions, the Mogul invasions, all featuring wholesale slaughter and enslavement of those who would not convert, must be historical inventions?

      No, Islam is by its nature radical, a political movement in the guise of a religion that seeks to conquer and parasitise other cultures, either through slavery or taxation. This ensures those of this particular religion gain ready access to the necessities of life. It also seeks to convert all others to its ideology although its final aim will necessarily deprive it of slaves and tax.

      • Michael Paterson-Seymour

        “a political movement in the guise of a religion that seeks to conquer and parasitise other cultures, either through slavery or taxation…”


        • Richard A

          Wrong. It’s a false religion, currently wearing the guise of a political movement.

    • Fr. Kloster

      I very strongly disagree with your assertion, Mr. Petterson-Seymour. Islam has always been adverse to anyone and anything it sees as a threat to its own mitigated view of political and social world conquest at all costs. It matters not one iota what the West is or isn’t doing at any given point in history. The Koran is very specific that the kafir must be enslaved or killed.

      There is a reason Islam was expelled from the Iberian peninsula in the 15th century and eastern Europe in the 17th century. My own beloved monastery of many generations of Muckli family relatives in the heart of the Swiss Alps (founded in 604) was sacked twice by the Saracen Arabs. All these are well before anything that happened post 19th century. The plague of Islam has been with us since the 7th century and it has not ceased to destroy, maim, and sow heresy.

    • Chris in Maryland

      Islam has been radically homicidal since its birth in the 7th century.

      Yes, more recent explosions of Islam have received new fuel from western empire-building. The western “democratic” powers, rooted in the so-called “enlightenment,” dismissing obedience to Christ as a rule of behavior, are utterly corrupt, themselves being locked in a Hegelian wrestling match against their evil “twin” – Marxist totalitarianism – in many ways like unto Islam, except for the belief in God.

      But we cannot understand what is happening by trying to see this problem from a limited “modern” perspective.

      There is no separating things in true Islam. I am glad that there are people in Islam, even “Islamic” countries, who are not overtly violent in observing Islam, but in doing so they are deciding to ignore parts of the Koran, not fulfill them.

      When a man from a “Christian” country commits atrocities, everyone who knows the Gospel knows that he is disobeying the Gospel. When a man from a Muslim country commits atrocities, everyone who knows the Koran knows that he is obeying the Koran.

      The Koran is an engine of violence, perpetuating Islamic violence in every generation. Therefore, in every generation, from the 21st, and back down through its violent history, it will find “a rationale” for its violence.

      But it will be violent, until the day when you and I say “I submit,” or refusing that, they cut our heads off, enslave our wives and children, and divide our property.

      • John II

        There are so many signs of the real character of Islam, I don’t have enough fingers on both hands to count them, but at least three have stood out for me since my first encounter with the Qur’an and its historical setting several years ago:

        1. The Church’s early response to Islam, regarding it principally as a Christian heresy on the order of Arianism. In the main, there is nothing creative about Islam.

        2. The lack of any sustained narrative in the extended rant that constitutes the Qur’an. What comes through, as suggested too by the mandated abstraction of Islamic art (in which the human figure is forbidden to be represented), is a toxic mixture of indifference to and contempt for the human condition in all its pathos and complexity.

        3. The paucity of sustained reflection in Islamic thought, especially after the thirteenth century. The most chilling thing, to me, is that, unlike all other known religious and ethical traditions, Islam has never developed a notion of Natural Law.

        These three stand-out characteristics of Islam itself, apart from its adherents and victims, are signs that should be familiar to faithful Christians. They are stunning signs that Islam has entered the world from Hell.

  • Christophe

    Funny, when I saw the headline, I thought the article was going to be about the Church’s destruction of Her past – the Mass, the calendar, church architecture, devotions, chant, catechesis, theology, the papacy, sacramental rites, music, fish on Fridays, Ember Days, religious orders, education – whew, I’m not finished, but I’m out of breath. A destruction, I would say, infinitely more consequential than the pulverization of an old monastic edifice.

    • Martha Rice Martini

      Amen. So when do we start rebuilding? “Francis, Go and rebuild my church which you can see has fallen into ruin.”

  • Therese

    Your clear reason and presentation of fact will, yet again, be lost on liberals because of the profound self-centeredness that is the core of liberalism. That extreme selfishness is buried under layers of Ivory Tower arrogance that finds its best expression in disdain and condecension for those who disagree with them and see truths that don’t work fot their ideology.

  • Manfred

    During WW II, it was discussed among the Allies the possible necessity of having to bomb Rome, which might include the Vatican. Catholicism was at an apogee, and it was deterfrmined to not be politically expedient. Seventy years later, would anyone really care?
    There is a saying in real estate: before you remove a fence, detefmine why it was put there in the first place.
    Christophe hits it: if the reason for the building(s) to have originally been built no longer exists, why continue the cost of maintaining it/them?
    Cdl Dolan of N.Y. just spent many millions to repair/maintain St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Last year he permitted an LGBT group to march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Better the hoax be ended and the Cathedral be sold to the Saudis to become a mosque.

  • phranthie

    Yes, here in the West we always like to think that it’s a manageable group we’re dealing with, while tending to forget how we have to keep changing its name. Wikipedia shows quite a lengthy list of Sunni militant groups throughout the world. Some horror stories are now also coming out of Indonesia, a country always presented as the model in peaceful co-existence.

    We should also keep in mind that nearly all of the migrants presently streaming into Europe will bring with them, at the very least, a desire for Shariah Law in their new host countries.

  • Alicia

    Read the Kouran. The “fundamentalists ” or ” extrimist ” Muslims are just doing what Allah tells them to do in their sacred book.
    How can young men born and raised in Europe and the US be “radicalized ” people ask. Simple, they are just faithful, devout Muslims following Allah’s teachings.
    People need to wake up and forget all the ” Religion of Peace ” and the “peace-loving people ” slogans.
    Study the history of the spread of Islam from day one: Their successes and failures. The West needs to stop apologizyng for them and wake up befor it’s too late.
    I pray everyday for the conversion of Muslims.

    • Chris in Maryland

      Islam is not a religion of peace from which some “go wrong” and “become radicalized.” Islam is a religion of violence from which some reform and suppress the violent parts of Islam.

  • Rosemary58

    When we left our churches empty, it left room for the enemy who is only too happy to fill the void. ISIS sees the decadence of the West and while I am against their tactics and reasoning, they believe that they are honoring God.

    I agree with Mr. Warren that the best way to fight virulent Islam is to be a person of faith, a person who builds up God’s love in our homes and communities.

  • augury

    Great article! Almost totally agree.

    In fact I would argue that US Superpower bunglings in the Mid East have wrought havoc even farther back than just the Iraq War and its aftermath. Specifically, the US foreign policy establishment stoked the growth of militant Sunni Islam in its current, Wahabist, form, through its close alliance with the Saudi monarchy. Consciously or not, this abettment goes back to the early ’70s, when Egypt was turned, through Saudi auspices, from Soviet to American client. Sadat’s turning was arguably the turning point of the Cold War, (Russia’s Afghanistan adventure mere denouement.) Small price it must have seemed back in 1974, letting the Salafist genie out of the bottle to steal from the USSR her most strategic client…

    I also disagree, slightly, about ISIS. It’s existence as a geographic entity lends to it an aura of divine support which increases its allure. Eliminating it may not be very hard militarily. I can concieve of a multinational alliance, with bi-partisan support in the US, to eradicate ISIS, which would fulfill a scrupulous interpretation of just war doctrine.

    • maineman

      We could just as easily argue that the big mistake was to end the colonial era. Times and agendas change, and the west decided that the occasional massacre, necessary to subdue other cultures, was not our cup of tea.

      I think that notion made a good deal of sense and was the moral thing to do, but it did leave us with no choice but to farm out the control to those who could handle it. You seem to imagine some more desirable alternative.

      The Iraq war, on the other hand, did not wreak havoc, although I know that is the party line. It sent a valuable message about what happens to outlaw regimes and also left us with an aircraft carrier right in the middle of the region, ready to go out and subdue further ugliness at will.

      What ruined things was, once again, the self-imposed ignorance of the intellectual elite, who pandered to the cowardice of the liberal base and, as always, convinced themselves that lawlessness is an avenue to freedom and tranquility and that getting one’s hands dirty is icky poopoo.

      • augury

        1. Colonialism , yes you get my gist exactly, was and is evil. Hypocritically franchising the policing aspects of Colonialism to regimes that stoke fundamentalist hate, while giving lip service to “democracy and freedom and self determination” is contemptible. The post WWII American Empire is evil, notwithstanding the exceptionalist intentions it so convincely proclaims, and which so many of its adherents, including presumably yourself, endorse.

        2. Yes, the worst chaos wrought by the Iraq War stems directly from America’s precipitous withdrawl. But the likelihood of such a precipitous withdrawl was elevated by the absence of two-party support for the war in the first place. To launch a war based narrowly on the support of one party was hubristic beyond precedent in American history. As hubristic as Obamacare, but more depraved because of its wanton disregard for ( foreign, mostly non-Christian) human life.

        • maineman

          Not really. Colonialism was a mixed bag, especially given that that’s how the Gospel got disseminated all over the globe. Western civilization was exporting as well as importing. Missionary zeal was a very real and valuable thing, and the Europeans were civilizing as well as making a buck. The western imperialist thing is Leninist tripe.

          For a terrific read, check out Warren Carroll’s “Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Conquest of Evil.” Satan had set up shop on this side of the Atlantic before a muscular Christendom (with the help of Our Lady and smallpox) replaced human sacrifice with a much more advanced and compassionate religion.

      • MJ Anderson

        The Iraq war and the party line– agreed. There is also the matter– much buried — that Saddam had agreed to an oil deal with China. How wise would it be to permit China to control Iraq’s oil? Oil necessary to fuel a navy and air force?

  • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

    As I warned Michael I knew there would be mostly negative thrashing. The West usurped oil belonging to the Arab and Persian people and set up kingdoms, governments [in Iran an emperor] for a few to receive most of the revenue and whom they could control [read T E Lawrence for a better perspective]. That is not the only explanation since now fundamental Islam is the major issue. Nevertheless we are dealing with persons made in God’s image. There Must be hope. Example. The Muslim nations Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey once areas hostile to the West are more in unison with the West. In those nations there was not the exploitation of resources especially oil that historically was the case in Iraq, Kuwait, the Emirates and Iran. Iraq had became a secular nationalist country under Saddam, who protected Christians and had Christians in prominent positions including Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Chaldean Roman Catholic Tariq Aziz. We the West destroyed that. We the West set up a despotic Govt and American companies like Haliburton took over Iraq’s oil industry . The Sunnis were left with Zero. They were finally won over under Gens Petraeus’ and Odierno and we again abandoned them to al Maliki. They the Sunnis many formerly Saddam’s Military are now ISIS. Michael is simply trying to open the door somewhat to a myopic vision of history and human nature. Again what we’re facing with ISIS is a monster we had a hand in making. We should realize not all Muslims are evil and many have adapted our Christian values. They can change.

    • Veritas

      Turkey is well on its way in the direction of hostility to the west and Egypt has been there and back again in just a few years. It takes but a change in government leadership to reverse your example, the philosophical ground work is already laid.

      You remind us that it is only a brutal tyrant that can keep the philosophy of violent jihad from burning across the world

    • Fr. Kloster

      Petroleum is the culprit, but for different reasons than expounded above. Petroleum allowed Islam to rise again. Petroleum is merely the current culprit. Then too, you make it sound like the West was the only profiteer. There are many, many, many very wealthy arabs as a result of their oil reserves!

      I would argue that our western money has been turned against us. Remember that a long standing (non-Christian understanding) grudge never dies, it normally is allowed to fester engender rage. It will always re-appear no matter the apparent new and singular reason. Petroleum was the vehicle by which Islam could get back in the game after being so far behind militarily for so long. Greed over petroleum is a very small piece of the puzzle.

      GK Chesterton said in the early 20th century that Islam would rise again and at that time his quote was seen as somewhat of a head scratcher. Islam will always look for an avenue to achieve world domination. If they could use widgets to achieve their ends, they would most certainly do so with alacrity.

      • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

        I actually lean toward your viewpoint but believe I should keep the hope that prayer maybe divine intervention will change them. They are roughly 1/4 of the world’s population. Many have adapted well to our social mores. The war may be best fought largely by sticking to our values but by actual deadly combat where required like ISIS. Regarding oil if we developed a practical inexpensive alternative like natural gas and exported it we would not only end our dependence but end their cash flow.
        By the way Fr Kloster I was surprised that Saracens invaded Switzerland. Looked it up and they attacked the German Cantons of Raetia Switz in 936 and again in 955.
        I had a friend Mohammed Shah when in the Army and he was one of the finest persons I’ve known and that memory influences my thought today.

    • fredgill

      I certainly don’t want to white wash the mistakes and wrongdoings of the West in its dealings with Islam over the last two centuries. But Islam is by its nature an expansionist faith, equally at ease with either violent or non-violent prosletysing methods. To assume that its current aggressiveness is solely a reaction to Western provocation is typical of contemporary liberalism’s penchant for self-flagellation. It is also presumptuous. The mission of Islam, which it has never for one second abandoned, is a proactive one: to convert the whole world to the One Faith by any means necessary. The Sword has not always been the optimal tool for this but it has always been a permissable one.

    • PCB

      “It is the old, old civilisation, which has refined itself clear of household gods, and half the trappings which ours hastens to assume. The gospel of bareness in materials is a good one, and it involves apparently a sort of moral bareness too. They think for the moment, and endeavour to slip through life without turning corners or climbing hills. In part it is a mental and moral fatigue, a race trained out, and to avoid difficulties they have to jettison so much that we think honourable and grave: and yet without in any way sharing their point of view, I think I can understand it enough to look at myself and other foreigners from their direction, and without condemning it. I know I’m a stranger to them, and always will be: but I cannot believe them worse, any more than I could change to their ways.” – 1918 letter written by T.E. Lawrence to V.W. Richards; Castle Hill Press.

    • Oh come on Father, that is irrelevant. I have not heard ISIS claim that they are fighting because someone in the west “usurped” their oil. And we did not usurp their oil. We pay for it and it has been the only way their countries have been enriched. They would be dirt poor without it. Your comment is a search in reasoning for a way to blame the victim.

  • 4subsidiarity

    Ok….but the god of Islam is the same as the God of the Christians right? Am I missing something here?

    • phranthie

      God is God only when given the right attributes, i.e., in as much as we can know these. The Muslim ‘God’ often rather resembles the Christian idea of the Devil.

    • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

      Even though the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church lists Islam as the monotheistic faith of Abraham [Abramaic] the principles for positing that are philosophical [for example one, divine, omnipotent] and not revelatory. Jesus of Nazareth is the perfect image of God the Father and it is through Jesus alone that we know God. “No one knows the Father but the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.” Thus anyone who says we [that is including Muslims] worship the same God is speaking to intellectual conceptualization not reality.

    • Guadalupe Knight


    • Yeah, I questioned that too. Some “enlightened thinkers” have lost their minds.

  • Mary C-J

    After reading some(couldn’t take all of it without feeling like I was drenched in human blood)of the Quran I came to the conclusion MANY years ago that this is a Satanic Cult. Throughout history it’s followers have behaved as such – why do we keep expecting the zebra to loose it’s stripes? Because we view their followers through the eyes of Christianity and the forgiveness of Christ. They view us infidels also through the prism of THEIR belief. The impass is that THEY, by virtue of the Quran, NEED to destroy us and any memory of us for their perfect world. We can curl up and allow the slaughter or enslavement. Or we can respond. We stopped fighting evil many decades ago. Some brilliant enlightened philosopher decided mankind can coexist with evil. We should just all get along. Really worked out well for us.
    We have also many enlightened thinkers that view our past architectural edifices as something not all that important in our modern vitual age. As an Architect, as a Catholic, I can only say this – beauty that was created by man, was first a gift from God. To treat it as yesterday’s garbage is an abomination. Not just for the heartfelt labor and belief, that went into the making of said edifices, but for the inexplicable feel and connection of the history of our beliefs that are present in each.
    I guess until the Vatican itself is under attack, there will be no response from the masses as they have virtual pictures.

    • Not only that we have “enlightened thinkers” who claim that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. This contemporary ecumenicism has gone overboard and is actually counter productive to Catholicism.

    • MJ Anderson

      If there isn’t a massive surge in faithful Catholics active In the world, even St. Peter’s could be reduced to rubble with little more than a yawn from lukewarm.

  • Gsimjohnston

    In today’s Wall Street Journal, there is a review of a well-researched book about the harrowing reality of “honor killings” in the Muslim world. Young women who have been raped are murdered–usually by their brothers–to remove the stain from the family. Sometimes, there is a party afterward to celebrate. This sort of thing does not happen anywhere outside the Muslim world.

  • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

    I’m starting to wonder why I decided to take this beating defending Michael Paterson-Seymour’s comment. At any rate maybe the good will be gain in humility.

    • John II

      Not sure, Father, how your short comment here got slipped in at this particular spot; I almost missed it while reviewing the whole thread.

      Since the terms “negative thrashing” and now “beating” might best be attached at least to the tone of my two relatively heated responses (neither term seems to me to apply to the many other remonstrations), let me respond with a personal aside.

      I’m a retired teacher in the late winter of my life. I’ve taught and discussed many hundreds of great books with many thousands of students over many decades. I can hold my own pretty well in arguments over many dozens of topics.

      Whatever wisdom I’ve incidentally gleaned from that mode of livelihood, however, pales in comparison with what I’ve learned and continue learning as a family man. I have four grown children and, so far, 14 grandchildren. Regarding this particular topic (a fatuously comfortable declining West up against a mortal enemy it is no longer morally equipped to take seriously), you might say my interest is a tad more than abstract and academic.

      You might say I have more skin in the game.

      Nice aside about your Muslim friend in the Army.

      • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

        Somehow I didn’t think it would. You have an excellent background obviously intelligent and a wonderful family. I admire that. When I say beating its tongue in cheek. I’ve taken much worse from students and far worse from parishioners and infinitely worse from others growing up in Brooklyn. So I’m not going to wilt. You pointed out anger in me once before. You are conflicted because anger overflows from you with little cause. I prayed for you this morning at Mass. What we have in common is faith, concern, academic background and age and there should be a better connection. I don’t care what you say and you are mature and intelligent enough to own your insulting demeaning remarks. There has to be something going on that has nothing to do with anything I said. Open your heart and say what it is. Perhaps as a priest with a lot of tough experience in the missions and not spoon fed or coddled during my life I can help you.

        • John II

          Well, I’m sure we could trade some great horror stories about students. And I’m positively certain, with only indirect experience, that your own stories about some parishioners would leave me wide-eyed and open-mouthed.

          But I have no recollection of insulting you. The only really snarky comment I can recall was something about the peculiar display of your formal academic credentials. I did part of my graduate training in the South (Duke in North Carolina), where the cultural practice among the professors in the classics department was to address one another (and identify oneself) as “Mister.” None of that “Doctor” stuff (that’s for physicians) and certainly none of that “Professor” stuff (that’s for patent-medicine hawkers).

          I suppose you could interpret the practice as a kind of reverse snobbery, but I was nonetheless charmed by a droll remark made by one of them when the topic came up at a party. “We should all be born with Ph.D.’s, and be allowed exactly 25 years to be unchained from the ludicrous appellation so we can rightly assume the honor of being addressed as ‘Mister’!” Whatever the real motive for such irony, my thought at the time was that the wearisome task of juggling Latin and Greek and a half dozen other languages can impose a rueful modesty on a scholar.

          Anyhow, you may have let the cat out with “I don’t care what you say.”
          Yes, that seems apparent, and I don’t really mind. It’s enough that you force me to think through what it is you’ve written that annoys me. And you may be mistaking passion for unjustified anger.

          Thanks anyhow for the interesting scolding and thanks especially for the prayers. I’ll toss a few of my own in your direction. In fact, I’ll instruct my grandkids to pray for you. Almost everything they pray for happens! It’s uncanny, and it’s everything I can do to resist the temptation to have them pray for a big win in the lottery.

          • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

            Good to talk to you. About the Ph D I didn’t want it on my post title for the reasons you gave and I don’t know how to remove it. Passion is fine. I wish there were more of it among us all for Christ. It is I’m sure wonderful to have grandkids. This morning at the two Masses the kids laughing, sometimes yelling, one little 6 mo old tyke named Johnie on her Mom’s lap during Mass pointing her finger at me smiling and saying something incomprehensible but whatever it was sounded beautiful. One of the consolations of being a priest is feeling part of the community family. Thanks for asking the grandkids for their prayers.

  • “Each Western technological advance serves the enemies of civilization as well as its friends.”

    That is so right on. But what can we do, not share our developments? We have to stand up against this evil and stamp them out.

  • Marie Eleanor

    Excellent piece! Thank you.

  • Faithful Catholic

    Excellent article, Mr. Warren. You are spot on. Your insights and conclusions about the Islamic State, and the blindness of the West to the danger they pose to our civilization are very similar to mine. Let’s pray that liberals and also the leadership of our church figure this out before it’s too late.

  • veritasetgratia

    David, when you say “For the “analytical” liberal mind, which
    produces conclusions consistently false, breaks each “problem” down to
    its components, rather than patiently seeking a coherent whole” I think you are right; this separating is one of the effects of postmodernism, where relationships between damaging effects lie unexamined, therefore the “cure” to the most damaging features of our society (violence, lives lost to abortion, marital breakdown, increased number of people with mental illness, drugs and porn) is never found. The rich depth, height and width of Christianity is the way back but so few are walking down that rich road.

  • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

    Is your faith in John II or in Jesus Christ?

    • John II

      What an odd disjunction. Anyhow, I’ve already offered a personal aside which you apparently have no interest in. Ah well, as Augustine says, Aliud est de silvestri cacumine videre patriam pacis . . . sed aliud tenere viam illuc ducentem.

      Have a good day, Father.