Nifty article by Spengler at the Asia Times Online about the affinities between President Bush and Pope Benedict, and a very different take on what the future may hold in Europe. On what President Bush and Papa Ratzi have in common:
"Acting on faith in politics means exactly what it does in personal life: to do what is right even when it is dangerous to do so, when received opinion howls against it, and when the ultimate consequence of such actions cannot be foreseen. After Pope Benedict XVI showed unprecedented courtesy to visiting American President George W Bush last week, much has been written about the Christian faith that binds the pope and the president."
"It is not only faith, but the temerity to act upon faith, that the pope and the president have in common. In the past I have characterized Benedict's stance as, 'I have a mustard seed, and I'm not afraid to use it.' Despite his failings, Bush is a kindred spirit."
Spengler speculates on why the U.S. invaded Iraq after September 11th, and he discusses the Bush's decision to do so:
"Bush was magnificently right to conduct a punitive expedition against Saddam, but horribly wrong to wade into the mire of nation-building. He should have found a cooperative dictator to replace Saddam and marched out, as American neo-conservative historian and political commentator Daniel Pipes suggested at the time. Nevertheless, as I wrote in 2004, 'The West should be thankful that it has in US President George W Bush a warrior who shoots first and tells the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to ask questions later. Rarely in its long history has the West suffered by going to war too soon. On the contrary: among the wars of Western history, the bloodiest were those that started too late.' "
Finally, while many in the West wring their hands about post-Christian Europe - not to mention post-Europe Europe (due to the failure of Europeans to reproduce themselves, while their Muslim populations have large families), Spengler sees a very different possibility:
"For the first time, perhaps, since the time of Mohammed, large parts of the Islamic world are vulnerable to Christian efforts to convert them, for tens of millions of Muslims now dwell as minorities in predominantly Christian countries. The Muslim migration to Europe is a double-edged sword. Eventually this migration may lead to a Muslim Europe, but it also puts large numbers of Muslims within reach of Christian missionaries for the first time in history."
"That is the hope of Magdi Allam, the highest-profile Catholic convert from Islam in living memory."
Interesting take, I like that way of thinking. Instead of despairing that Europe will lose its culture and become an Islamic society, why not turn it around? Spengler wrote about Magdi Allam a few months ago (here):
"Magdi Allam presents an existential threat to Muslim life, whereas other prominent dissidents, for example Ayaan Hirsi Ali, offer only an annoyance. Much as I admire Hirsi Ali, she will persuade few Muslims to reconsider their religion.... Why would Muslims trade the spiritual vacuum of Islam for the spiritual sewer of Dutch hedonism? The souls of Muslims are in agony. The blandishments of the decadent West offer them nothing but shame and deracination. Magdi Allam agrees with his former co-religionists in repudiating the degraded culture of the modern West, and offers them something quite different: a religion founded upon love."
"....Today's Europeans stem from the melting-pot of the barbarian invasions that replaced the vanishing population of the Roman Empire. The genius of the Catholic Church was to absorb them. If Benedict XVI can convert this new wave of invaders from North Africa and the Middle East, history will place him on a par with his great namesake, the founder of the monastic order the bears his name."
Sounds similar to the message of Coptic priest Zakaria Botros, responsible for mass conversions of Egyptians to Christianity. Botros is frequently seen on the Arabic channel Al Hayat, where he "addresses controversial topics of theological significance," quoting freely from both the Bible and the Koran.
"...the ultimate reason for Botros’s success is that — unlike his Western counterparts who criticize Islam from a political standpoint — his primary interest is the salvation of souls. He often begins and concludes his programs by stating that he loves all Muslims as fellow humans and wants to steer them away from falsehood to Truth. To that end, he doesn’t just expose troubling aspects of Islam. Before concluding every program, he quotes pertinent biblical verses and invites all his viewers to come to Christ."
"Botros’s motive is not to incite the West against Islam, promote 'Israeli interests,' or 'demonize' Muslims, but to draw Muslims away from the dead legalism of sharia to the spirituality of Christianity. Many Western critics fail to appreciate that, to disempower radical Islam, something theocentric and spiritually satisfying — not secularism, democracy, capitalism, materialism, feminism, etc. — must be offered in its place. The truths of one religion can only be challenged and supplanted by the truths of another. And so Father Zakaria Botros has been fighting fire with fire."
We have a lot to learn from Fr. Botros (also spelled Boutros).
Somewhat related to this discussion is David Warren's article from 2005, which reminds us that Europe didn't make Christianity, Christianity made Europe. If Christianity is cooked in Europe (which I don't believe is true), it's nonetheless on the rise in China and Africa.
"Then realize, that Europe did not create Christianity. Christianity created Europe. And will create new Europes, wherever its living seed may fall. Christendom is simply moving -- to Africa, to Asia, to the Americas perhaps; to wherever Christ is wanted, and away from where He is not."
How great would it be to bring Christianity back to its place of origin in the Middle East and North Africa?