Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Why they hate us

This has already done the rounds in the media, but I'd not seen one particular aspect pointed up. The slick propaganda magazine of the Islamic State (ISIS), Dabiq, has a chilling article entitled 'Why we hate you and why we fight you'. You can see this hideous publication here; the article starts on p30. They hate us, they say, for three reasons: for our Christianity, for our liberal secularism, and for Western foreign policy. They emphasise the point that the last issue is not the primary one.

To illustrate the West's secular liberalism they display a photograph of a pro-gay marriage demonstration. To illustrate the West's wrong-headed religious tradition they have a photo of... the Traditional Catholic Mass. The Altar Cards allow no room for doubt.

It reminds me a story I heard a few years about about the late, lamented magazine The Sower, of the Maryvale Institute. They had an article about the Mass which they wanted illustrated with appropriate photos. The non-believing designer did a search for photos and most of them turned out to be of the Traditional Mass. He just thought they looked nice. This didn't help The Sower which was gaining a reputation for being a bit too orthodox.

What does it tell us, that non-believers, whether sympathetic or ferociously unsympathetic, pick out the Traditional Mass as illustrative of Catholic liturgy, or even of Christianity as a whole? The Mass in its traditional form looks the part. It looks like worship. It corresponds to their vague and perhaps confused notions of what Christian worship is. When an atheist or a Muslim extremist thinks of Christianity, this is a prominent mental image.

It means that if we can explain what is going on in this picture, we are addressing the heart of their idea of our religion. In clearing away misunderstandings and perhaps hatred of this, we will be cultivating a plant already rooted in their minds.

That really is something worth considering.

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  1. Enlightening and touching,
    Thank you

  2. Not only ISIS: some time ago I saw a film (I cannot now remember what, but it starred Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson) in which the character portrayed by the former walked down the street in a daze, plagued by difficulty, and wandered into what appeared to be a Catholic church. There, in the middle of a work day, were a sung procession to the altar, complete with incense; veiled heads bowed in reverence; and priests hearing penitents in traditional wooden confessionals, into which the character slumped to pour out his difficulties. Even in Hollywood they know what Christianity truly looks like, and it ain't cotton chasubles and guitars.

    1. Google suggests you may be talking about 'Changing Lanes'. I've not seen it but found a clip of Affleck in the confessional.

    2. That's the one!

  3. ISIS as orthodox Islam, hate non-believers, particularly Catholics, and as you say the traditional Mass illustrates the essence of Catholicism, often hard to find in the infinite variations we now have in the post-Pauline New Mass.

    So many liberals both in and outside the Church also attack the ancient Catholic Mass, because of their dislikes.

  4. Not sure how much we want to suggest to the world at large that the Traditional Mass is ISIS's primary grievance against the West. Could prove troublesome.

  5. This is a great acid test to add weight to what readers here hopefully already have faith in - but there's an obvious danger lurking in the waters. This is the sort of observation that could easily be picked up by those barely initiated to the type of Christianity defended on this blog (self included), and weaponised as an argument when actually it isn't. It could encourage defining one's own position as the opposition to that of the opponent - which of course puts the opponent as the ultimate power source. Christendom (and ultimately Muslims), will have to be saved by their superior grasp of reason at the root level - rather than a willingness to be respond to and be lead by symbols.