Monday, April 23, 2007

Matt 6:22 undeceptions, 1: Cho and the difference between endarkenment and enlightenment

W. F. Walker Johanson has made a series of telling points in a current WND article, "Condemn Cho but tolerate Islamists?":
We've all heard the cries of anguish and sorrow from the classmates and parents of those brutally murdered on the Virginia Tech campus Monday. In one brief moment, it was the single-largest mass shooting in America's 230-year history . . . .

The U.S. has had one such event in 230 years, while Iraq has had 230 such events in the past year alone! Doesn't the world mourn for the loss of these thousands of equally innocent victims?

Apparently not. Are Iraqis less important than Americans? Of course not! Does God love them less than he does Americans? Of course not! We are all a part of His family, and we are all equal in the sight of God. So why doesn't the world condemn the murdering Islamo-fascists in Iraq (and elsewhere) like they do this deeply troubled young man from South Korea?

Like him, they are violently angry young men who have planned ahead of time to commit mass murder and suicide. Is this acceptable behavior in a civilized world? If not, then why does the world condemn it in America but seem to tolerate it in Iraq? . . . .

Do [those who call for a precipitate pullout from Iraq] and the mainstream media really think that such daily mass murders will stop occurring once the U.S. pulls out of Iraq and Afghanistan? Thousands of years of world history would indicate otherwise.

The truth is we're the ones trying to stop such massacres, not the ones causing them. At Virginia Tech, the "bad guy" was the murderer, not the police! In Iraq, the "bad guys" are the murderers, not the Coalition forces! . . . .

Why can't the left see these similarities? And why does there only appear to be outrage at the Virginia Tech murderer (and those in Darfur) and not at the thousands of similar murderers in Iraq?

Immediately, this raises serious questions about our tendency to view the world through the media's distorting lenses, voices and texts. This is nothing new -- Plato's famous Cave Parable tells of how an artfully constructred shadow-world can distort our understanding of reality and can lead us to turn on those who find a way to see through the cracks in the apparatus of manipulation, or even get out of the cave enough to get a broader and more accurate view of reality.

Jesus powerfully extends the point Plato made:

MT 6:22 "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
In short, there is the possibility of false enlightenment -- reality only deceitful en-darkenment. That in turn raises the issue: how can we tell the difference?

Johanson's comment on the inconsistency between how the Cho case and that of the Islamists helps us here: truth is coherent, and morality is coherent too. So, if something does not fit up to the full range of material facts, or if it has in it inconsistencies, that should warn us. Further, we have good reason to believe that truth -- though in places wondrous and full of mystery, is also elegantly simple [as opposed to simplistic]. That is why when Johanson asks "Are Iraqis less important than Americans? Of course not! Does God love them less than he does Americans?" it becomes so tellingly revealing.

For, by and large, there is a telling absence of outrage over Islamist terrorism in Iraq and elsewhere, among the secular elites of the West, and for that matter among many across the world: our silence by now implies intimidation and even in some cases consent. Similarly, observe that the same Muslim world that was up in arms over Danish cartoons -- as was predicted last week -- is now all too revealingly loudly silent on the murder of peaceful Christians in Turkey. (Of course, we must thank God for the comparatively few voices that did speak up from the Muslim world on the matter! But, where are the mass global, headline-grabbing protests and marches over the "hijacking" of Islam to turn it into a motivation for murder? Where, the fatwas that declare "unislamic" such murders of innocents as we saw in Turkey, and for that matter all over Iraq and elsewhere?)

And of course, the same West that is ever so appalled and outraged over thirty-odd deaths of innocents in a campus, is by and large not at all even concerned about the many thousands slaughtered in abortions every day. And so forth, and so on . . .

Broadening the point, Eric Posner of the University of Chicago Law School raises a deeper, linked issue - in a way that inadvertently reveals his own biases, in coherences and conundrums:
Human rights were supposed to be special. Unlike most international law, which governs the relations of states with each other, international human rights law regulates the internal workings of states--the relationship between a government and its citizens. This gives human rights law a rigidity that is absent from most international law . . . .

The theory is that human rights are universal, and so states have no excuse for committing human rights abuses. The practice, however, has been different. States must worry about their security even when an existential threat is not imminent. If they do not, they lose the support of their citizens or subjects, and thus they risk their own political stability. And states must cater to local religious and cultural values at odds with Western human rights. Accordingly, most states have paid no more than lip service to their human rights commitments. During the Cold War, the U.S. used human rights as a cudgel against the Soviet Union and its satellites, but gave a free pass to friendly dictators.

The end of the Cold War was supposed to change all this. Under American leadership, countries would finally live up to their human rights commitments and international human rights would continue to advance. Several forces have conspired to ruin this pretty picture.

First, genuine disagreement exists about the proper moral ordering of society. Where once it could be thought that totalitarian regimes suppressed people's natural instinct in favor of human rights, it has become clear as electoral democracies have replaced authoritarian regimes, that this is simply not true. People also care about tribal, ethnic, and religious ties; they care about order and security. An Islamic democracy will not necessarily endorse religious pluralism or women's rights; a country with a long history of tribal dispute resolution practices will reject Western-style law enforcement.

The tension between promoting democracy and promoting human rights, when newly enfranchised peoples turn out not to subscribe to the ideals of the Enlightenment, is the dirty secret of the human rights movement . . . As the expanding franchise continues to expose the fissure between the two ideals, human rights advocates are finally going to have to choose between them . . . the idea that the U.S., with or without European support, could impose its conception of human rights on other countries has taken a beating in recent years

Observe carefully the use of terms like "rigidity" and "its conception of human rights," even while Mr Posner highlights inconsistencies, gaps and hypocrises of the past and the present. Somehow, the underlying issue is missed: that a right is a fundamentally moral claim we make on others, not because we are strong enough to back it up with force but because we have a basic dignity as human beings.

In turn, as James points out, such rights are rooted in the duties of fairness, neighbour-love and mercy that God has placed on us, duties that are rooted in the fact that we are all made in God's image:
JAS 2:1 My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism . . . . JAS 2:8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers . . . . JAS 2:12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!
Paul, rebukes the way of the world and calls us to rise above it:
EPH 4:17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.

EPH 4:20 You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. 21 Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Paul also points out just why concepts of core morality are indeed universal:
Rom 2:14 . . . when Gentiles . . . do by nature things required by the law, they . . . show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them . . .
In short, we should now listen to our awakened consciences and moral sensibilities, for they are a voice from God planted deep in us to turn us from wrong to right, and from darkness to light.

So, let us reason together: if we are properly concerned over the murders last Monday at Virginia Tech, we should be just as concerned about many another slaughter of innocents around the world. The same, for many other ways in which people are oppressed and abused, by the state, by the powerful, by one another. Thus, we should then look at the inconsistencies in our thinking, speaking and living, in order to correct them. That in turn will call for critiquing of popular post-modern secularist-relativist- "progressivist" worldviews and the institutions that promoted such blind inconsistencies, much of which has infiltrated our own thinking as Christians, perhaps even unconsciously..

Finally, that will lead to the plain need to seek repentance and reformation, across the Caribbean, across the North, in the Middle East and across the whole world, as Paul calls for in Eph 4:17 - 24.

For, we all have got a lot of planks in our eyes on this one!

So, it is high time for serious correction of what has led us to such poor moral vision. (In following posts in this new series, DV, I will develop how the Gospel and the Scriptures can greatly help us in fixing our bad eyes . . .) END

PS: DV, I will also be further following up on the cyber college proposal . . . after all, that is part of the way we can help correct the problem.

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