DIVISIONS

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Bum-cracks and breast-cleavages somehow attract more attention than a part in one’s hair. There is, after all, nothing part-icularly sexy about a hirsutic divide, in either of the sexes of our species.  All three create divisions, but apart from contributing indirectly to the survival of the species, at least as far as the first two are concerned, they have little significance in the overall scheme of things.

Some divisions do.  Frontiers, country-borders, for instance : not to be taken lightly by would-be immigrants, except for citizens within the European Union – at least for the nonce. . .  But divisions about religious beliefs can be just as hermetic, and even result sometimes in bloodshed.

“Religion”, etymologically, suggests the creation of bonds, links uniting people.  But when such bonds are created among believers of the same doctrine, barriers are often built between them and others who believe in other doctrines or no doctrines at all.  All of the three world monotheisms have experienced divisions in both inter-religion conflict and internal schisms and sects, often opposed not only doctrinally but militarily.  The 100-Year War between Catholics and Protestants belongs to the past, but the conflict within Islam between Sunnis and Shiites, since its very beginning in the 7th century, belongs to the past, present and the foreseeable future.  This internal conflict between Muslims has impacted the rest of the world in a new age of terror.

Reconciliation, atonement, “at – one – ment” have been in the past largely pipe-dreams for a world divided politically, ideologically and religiously.  Today rare instances of the destruction of walls and the building of bridges deserve recognition and emulation.  Blessed are the peace-makers.  Our very survival depends on them.

DELENDA    RELIGIO

 

JONAH : A WHALE OF A TALE, NOT TOO PROFOUND TO FATHOM

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It is, above all, a good yarn.  A pusillanimous preacher thinks he can get away with not risking his life preaching, as God had told him to, to the wicked people of Niniveh.  No way !  Casting lots convinces the crew that the storm God sends to scare the heebie-jeebies out of them on the boat in which he tries to escape his prophetic duty, was caused by Jonah.  So they chuck him overboard.  God has second thoughts and saves his soul and his skin by getting a whale to swallow him whole.  Three days and three nights in the belly of the marine monster are enough to give Jonah second thoughts too, so when he is ejected safe and sound he finally fulfils his divine mission and converts the Ninevites.  The story-teller adds a few more details in a sequel about God deciding to pity the formerly naughty, now nice, Ninevites, but the message is clear : you don’t mess with the Almighty and His divine decrees.

The myth is one of the world all-time best-selling book’s most memorable stories.  Did anyone ever take it literally ?  Probably.  Jesus, like the people listening to Him, Himself seemed to (Matt.12:38-41 and 16:4, Luke 11:29-32), in using it as an analogy of His own promised survival after three days in the tomb.  As this is the central belief of Christianity, it would not make much sense comparing the Resurrection with a mere story about something that everyone knew never happened.

Credulity in 8th century B.C. Judaism, credulity in Christianity’s first century, credulity in Christianity ever since, and even, as of the 7th century A.D., in Islam.  Believers will swallow just about anything.

RIDENDA   RELIGIO

” AS TIME GOES BY “

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For the last thirty years I have been conscious of, but not concerned about, the fact that the future ahead of me will be shorter than the past behind me.  Four score and ten is an attainable age, but the next decade will probably be for me a succession of slings and arrows, sicknesses and accidents, any one of which could be my coup de grâce.

At eighty you start to wonder about things you’ll never know.  How long will it take us to be able to reach, not the unreachable star but Mars, our nearest, perhaps habitable planet ?  What will be the outcome of our conflict with religious terrorism ?  What is in store for my grandchildren in the 21st century, the end of which I will never see ?  I don’t know what’s going to happen to post-Brexit Europe.  I don’t even know what is going to happen in the U.S. elections in November.  I may not even live that long.  (Michael Moore has just said that the Donald never wanted or expected to be elected, and is now doing all he can to make sure he isn’t !).

The White House.  Casa Blanca.  I think of the movie and can hear Sam playing the song again.  Time is indeed going by, and there’s not much I can do about it ?  Of course there is !  I can make the most of each day, not only for myself but for others.  I can waste the time I have left, or make it, as far as I can, enjoyable for myself and my entourage.  I won’t worry about the future, I will as far as possible avoid worrying about the past, and I will do my best to put up with the present.

The past is, of course, ever-present.  Nostalgia’s the name of the game when you hit eighty : things you’re proud of, but also things and even people you’d prefer to forget.  Time goes by and we try to let bygones be bygones.  A curious expression, but sometimes a serious challenge.  It usually means accepting (if not forgiving) injustices we have suffered, opportunities we have missed, mistakes we have made, regrets we can’t escape.  Fiction is full of stories like the movie “The Straight Story”, where an old man drives a lawnmower across the State to seek out, and to seek reconciliation with, his equally aged, estranged brother.  We all have our load of unpleasant memories, unfinished business, open sores.  Too late, very often, to do more than write them off, though we’ll never forget them.  But there are some we could face and even fix if we tried.  Many die before they get around to doing what they know they should.

But there are also the good times and the great people, family and friends, it has been our privilege and luck to have known.  It’s too late to thank some of them who made the good times possible.  Surviving family and friends deserve our gratitude and whatever generosity we can afford, as well as our efforts not to be for them, too soon, the burden many of us will become.

Some find serenity, in spite of senescence, in the religious faith they have always had, refound or discovered for the first time.  Others like me will continue to be glad they escaped their illusions and found, if not illumination, a peace that is real and not that which others pray for their loved ones in an imagined after-life.  As time goes by, we do well to accept life as it is, knowing it’s the only one we’ll ever have.  I can live with death and the nothingness that is its aftermath.  Most people can’t.  I am one of the lucky ones.

RIDENDA   RELIGIO

“WE WILL, WE WILL SHOCK YOU !”

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Pearl Harbor, 1941.  Hiroshima 1945.  Twin Towers 2001.  The first shock “will live in infamy”.  The second established that the unthinkable was possible.  The third was an act not of war but of religious fanaticism which has added a new, permanent threat to our security and survival.

We know that since World War 1, aerial bombing is an integral part of modern warfare.  Right now Syrian hospitals are being bombed; to the unthinkable has been added the unspeakable.  Wars end, but terrorism knows no limits or distinctions in the choice of targets, physical or human, or the time it will take to win the final Battle of Dabiq and to impose a theocratic caliphate and its charia on the world.  9/11 came as an unprecedented shock.  Countless terrorist attacks since then continue to exploit the advantage of surprise.  Jihadists have excelled themselves in choosing new and surprising methods of … execution.  No one ever dreamt that a 19-tonne truck would massacre 84 victims and injure 400 more, strolling on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice.  We have come now to expect the unexpected.  (Personally I am relieved when at the top of the news there is no announcement of another terrorist attack.)  It will be no surprise if, during the six days left,  the current Olympic Games in Rio are targeted.  But after the murder of an old priest celebrating Mass recently in a sleepy Normandy village, we will not be surprised to hear of lone-wolf attacks either on suburban supermarkets, cinemas and swimming pools – or on our next-door neighbors.  I would not be surprised if Daech, right now, is offering its suicide-bombers a financial bonus for their families, if they add a new type of target to the arsenal of its shock-tactics, and come up with innovations in their crimes against humanity.

The well-known Australian empty, omnipresent cliché, “No Worries !”, is now a pipe-dream.  Many people around the world, including Australia, are worried to death.  We will be less and less shocked by reports of terrorism, to the point that some may feel already that there is “No Hope” and “No Future”.  Believers will continue to ask God for protection, while many of the rest of us will refuse to pass the buck or resign ourselves to trusting in our own luck.  Politicians must continue their efforts to end military aggression, which fans the flames of terrorism.  Measures of security and worldwide efforts to broaden solidarity will be increased but must be accompanied downstream by deradicalization and, above all, upstream by prevention of fanatical religious indoctrination, notably by the “media blitz” I have proposed.  There is no other permanent solution.

DELENDA   RELIGIO

 

 

THE “PAINTING” OF OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE

As kids, we thought we were being funny, and even clever, in repeating the question “When is a door NOT a door ?”, and answering “When it is ajar.”  Now we can ask “When is a painting NOT a painting ?” and answer “When it is . . . PREGNANT !”  No one will get the “joke”, unless they have read the long article on the Net about Our Lady of Guadalupe, from a publication modestly entitled “Infallible Catholic”, dated April 2, 2012.

The article is careful not to call the painting a painting but an “image”, with extraordinary properties, including the fact that “there is no explanation offered by NASA scientists on how the image was imprinted on the Tilma” (capitalized !).  (Sounds a bit like the Shroud of Turin . . .). The article goes on to inform us that “the colors artificially float above the surface of the Tilma at a distance of 3/10ths of a millimeter (1/100th of an inch), without touching it”.  (Hold on : it gets better !).  Curiously, in another paragraph, three experts are said to have discovered “that portions of the face, hands, robe and mantle had been PAINTED in one step”.  (Now wait a minute : is it a painting or isn’t it ?)

Not only did the experts discover that “the Tilma maintains a constant temperature of 36.6° to 37° (98.6° Fahrenheit), the same as the body of a living person, but that “the gynecological measurements of Our Lady’s physical dimensions indicated a woman who is pregnant …  A stethescope was placed below the black band of Our Lady (a sign that she is pregnant) and heard rhythmic repeating heart-beats at 115 beats per minute, the same as that in the natural womb.”  (Note :  I am not making this up.  Google, and check it out yourself !).

Later the article states : “Scientists for the NASA Research Center have concluded extensive tests on the fabric and IMAGE and have discovered no scientific explanation, since the PICTURE is neither PAINTED, dyed or woven” ( Oh !  So it’s not a painting !), but far more important is the fact that “Our Lady’s eyes have been opthalmologically determined to be ALIVE on the Tilma !”  (I’ll give you a moment to catch your breath, if not pour yourself a stiff one.)  “Digital enlargements of the Image (sic) were made and it was discovered that the reflection of Bishop Juan de Zumarraga looking in astonishment could already be seen in the pupil of Mary’s eyes.”  Besides the Bishop, whose own eye “contains the image of Juan Diego opening his Tilma”, the researchers found in Mary’s eyes “the minuscule human image of a bearded man”, as well as the images of all of the thirteen witnesses of the unfolding of the tilma filled with roses and imprinted (!) with the IMAGE of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Like Jesus, as the guests said at Cana, I have kept the best wine till last :  “When the eye of Our Lady is exposed to light, the retina contracts, and when the light is withdrawn, it returns to a dilated state, just as happens with a living eye.” (!!)

The above delirium speaks for itself.  People like Jim, who choose to believe such nonsense, amply justify the purpose of this Blog : to expose just how ridiculous religion can be.  But it also confirms the old wisecrack : “Beauty, like contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder.”  We can now add to beauty and contact lenses, credulity.  “Researchers” of the tilma see what they want to see.  Credulous believers believe what they want to believe.

R I D E N D A     R E L I G I O    (LoL) 

“Bona  Festa  !”   Today is the Feast of Mary’s Lift-Off.  There will be fireworks tonight on the beach of Biarritz.  At least they really do go up into the sky.

 

SITES AND SIGHTINGS OF MARY , THE MOTHER OF GOD

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Next Monday the night-sky over the beach in Biarritz will be lit up with fireworks.  The scintillating pyrotechnic display happens twice a year – to celebrate the French Revolution on July 14, and, a month later, August 15, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven.  The first is an undisputed historical fact, regretted however by some, including an illustrious reader and commentator of this Blog, “Lumen de lumine”, for whom the birth of Liberté, Egalité et Fraternité was an infamous attack on Holy Mother Church in the country formerly known as its Eldest Daughter.  The second, according to the same reader/commentator, and hundreds of millions of his fellow-Catholics, is also an historical fact.  Of this he never has had any doubt, especially after its solemn declaration by the Pope in 1950.

So, as we have often said in this Blog, Mary had Lift-Off.  If you google the Net, you’ll find that Rome was careful not to define as dogma whether Mary actually died before her Assumption.  Theologians speak of her “Dormition” rather than death.  (Ask anyone you meet in the street what “Dormition”, “Assumption”, not to say “Transubstantiation” mean, and you’ll find they haven’t got a clue.  The Church has a special talent for obfuscation which it is pleased not to eschew.)  Dead or alive, Mary, without a space-suit or rockets in her sandals, took off for Somewhere Over the Rainbow to reign forever as the Queen of Heaven.  You better believe it !

But every now and again she comes back.  There have been thousands of claims for her “apparitions” around the world.  Only seventeen of them have been, to date, officially recognized by the Church – which means that they, like the Assumption, are considered historical facts.  Lumen keeps reminding us of some of the most famous of them – Lourdes, Fatima, Guadalupe – but sometimes even of Medjugorje.  He has never mentioned Gietrzwald in Poland, site of the 1877 sighting of Mary, who called herself “the Most Holy Virgin Mary Immaculate”.  She said this to two young girls, aged 13 and 12, to whom she gave an important message :”I want you to recite the Rosary every day”.  Lumen-Jim would find this perfectly credible, especially as the “apparition” is listed as No.7 in the official list of seventeen.

I personally find it a bit hard to swallow that the Mother of God would call herself “Most Holy”.  Can you imagine the heir to the British throne introducing himself as “My Royal Highness the Prince of Wales” ?  But it is just as – literally – incredible that Mary would risk reentering the Earth’s atmosphere (hopefully followed by a soft landing) just to tell two kids to recite prayers praising her and asking her, in turn, to pray for them, saying 53 or 153 times every day :  “Hail Mary, full of grace.  The Lord is with thee.  Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.”

Lumen-Jim’s favorite apparition, though, is Guadalupe, in the 16th century.  When the Bishop asked Juan Diego to produce a sign guaranteeing the reality of the Marian apparition which he claimed to have experienced, he went back up the mountain and filled his cloak (his “tilma”) with (miraculous) flowers, which apparently Mary herself arranged daintily if not with professional prowess.  When Juan Diego tumbled them out of his tilma in front of the Bishop, a painted image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was revealed on the inside of the tilma !  What I find most interesting is what the newspaper “Crux.  Taking the Catholic Pulse”, says about this new “miracle” :  “Experts in infrared photography studying the tilma in the late 1970s, determined that there were no brush strokes, as if the image were slapped onto the surface all at once.”

And Jim-Lumen wonders why I wonder about the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin !

That about wraps it up, folks.

RIDENDA   RELIGIO

 

 

” WE DON’T GET INTO SUCH POLEMICS “

This classic refusal to discuss a contrary opinion, challenging statistics and even proven facts I heard recently on French radio.  Nutritionists and people in the food business were discussing Fast Food (what I call, in an attempt at a French pun, “Néfaste Food” (“Bad Food”) and the fat, sugar and salt content in hamburgers.  The Marketing Director of a well-known chain of hamburger “restaurants” dismissed the inevitable question with the phrase quoted in the title of this post.  Though clearly an admission of the validity of the objection being raised about dangers to health, he simply refused to discuss the matter, and launched into statistics establishing the growing popularity of such abominations in France, the home of gallic gastronomy.

The gambit made me think of our Blog and the comments often provoked by my posts (or the too rare posts contributed by readers like Thom).  As interesting as they are, I am often frustrated to see how quickly and nonchalantly some commentators avoid the point of the post, preferring not to  . . . “get into such polemics”, and raise questions – in fact red herrings – on subjects not mentioned in the post.

A recent example was my post “I Went to Mass”, the main point of which , obviously, was the pointlessness of prayer and the “hocus-pocus” of the Eucharist  (a nasty doggerel send-up of “Hoc est corpus meum”).  To date there are twelve comments on the post in question (including two from me).  Our most prolific commentator, Thom, deliberately took up Lumen’s “vital point” which others had missed, namely the “intangibly profound” atmosphere of a Catholic church, and broadened the subject to take in “the majesty of nature”, before switching the discussion to “cosmic evolution”.  Jim-Lumen took the bait, allowing Thom – who should have been a Jesuit – to slip in an implicit reference to Jim’s hobby-horse, the Shroud of Turin !  Predictably, Jim-Lumen gave us more than a page of comment on one of his favorite topics, winding up with “I am glad to have the evidence of emerging scientific investigation to back my beliefs, rather than the embarrassing lack of such evidence for atheism”.  His last line is a generous generalization : “Scientific evidence is increasingly supporting the Catholic faith”.

Jim must be credited with responding directly to Thom’s cynicism about “a few bright sparks … who claim to have established the wave-length of ultra-violet radiation emitted by self-resurrecting dead bodies”.  Jim brings out the big guns about the “over five years of reviewed research, by a National Environmental Institution” which “concluded that no earthly source of UV energy was powerful enough, nor of such short duration, to produce this effect” on the Shroud of Turin.  The rest of his long comment begins with the “nonsense” (!) of Stephen Hawking about the law of gravity, and ends up, beyond “the experimental evidence (?) for the Resurrection”, with even “more evidence” for Christian faith : “the amazing Tilma of Our Lady of Guadelupe”.  We have come a long way from the subject of the post, prayer and perseverance in prayer.  However, given the volume and vehemence of the commentators’ digressional dispute about the Shroud, I feel we should wrap it up here.

In my post written after my visit to Turin, “Wowed by the Shroud ?” (October 26, 2015), I make no mention of the alleged “explanation” of the apparent effect of an extraodinary flash of light which imprinted the outline of Jesus’ (resurrected) body on the Shroud.  Here I must say that if the so-called scientific evidence is valid, I do have to wonder why the Church still does not declare the Shroud to be a miraculous proof of the Resurrection.

Philip Ball, former editor of the science journal “Nature” has said that “the nature of the image and how it was fixed on the cloth remain deeply puzzling”.  “Puzzling” means that the question is still open.  The Church continues to refuse to give the Shroud its “Nihil Obstat” – its definitive approval. In 2013 Pope Francis contradicted his predecessor John Paul 2 who called the Shroud “a distinguished RELIC linked to the mystery of our redemption”, by referring to it – as had Benedict XVI – as only an ” ‘ICON’ of a man scourged and crucified”.  The Church, wisely, has never officially pronounced on the Shroud’s authenticity.  Mind you, the Church defined the Assumption of Mary as fact because it had been part of the “sensus fidelium” for centuries, which means that a lot of people over a long period of time believed in Mary’s Lift-Off, so it must be true . . .  Credulity and wishful thinking know no limits.  Can they influence even scientific research ?

A final comment on the Shroud by Jim-Lumen, should he choose to submit one, will be published, as the Last Word on what has always been between us a Dialogue of the Deaf, which it is pointless to continue.  In the meantime, it is to be hoped that commentators will comment on the subject of the post, rather than ignore it in favor of a totally different subject.

RIDENDA   RELIGIO

 

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” ARE YOU AFRAID TO DIE ? “

The question was that of one of the two young terrorists who assassinated an elderly French priest by slitting his throat as he celebrated Mass in a small town in Normandy four days ago.  Three nuns were present at the Mass.  One fled to alert the police.  The two others, both, like the priest, in their eighties, stayed in the church.  One of the jihadists asked Sister Hélène whether she was afraid to die.  She said no.  Then he said “Why ?”

” ‘I believe in God, and I know I will be happy’, Sister Hélène said, as she quietly prayed to herself ”  (we know what the journalist meant by “praying to herself”, but we also know that, as in all prayer, she was in fact talking to herself).

“Then they started talking about God.  ‘Jesus cannot be God and a man.  It is you who are wrong’, one of the men said.

” ‘Maybe, but too bad’, Sister Huguette replied.”

The dialogue, reported in today’s “The Guardian” (July 30, 2016) is worth recording here.  Extraordinary courage on the part of the admirable nuns, calm conviction on that of the fanatic jihadist, recognition by both that while their separate, contradictory faiths allowed them both to face death without fear, on neither side were they ready to abandon their faith, or even to argue the point pointlessly about it.  None of them was a Believer on the Brink.

DELENDA   RELIGIO

 

I WENT TO MASS !

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The Church was full.  I was sitting in the back seat, waiting for the Mass to begin.  You may well ask what on Earth I was doing there – after all those years since I abandoned the priesthood and later the faith, and naturally stopped going to Mass.  It was one of those occasions when for reasons that have nothing to do with faith, you had to be there.  As a matter of fact, in this regard, I was far from alone.  You see, it was a Memorial Mass for the victims of the Battle of Pozières, in the Somme, where in July-August 1916, the Australian army suffered, in the six-week battle, 23,000 casualities, including 7000 dead.  The Mass, and the civil ceremonies that followed, marked the centenary of our most costly victory in the most ferocious and absurd war in human history.

Parishioners were in the minority, but the choir was in full voice.  The priest was a senior citizen, still able to sing on key.  People paid polite attention to what he was saying and singing, but it seemed to leave even the believers cold.  This was especially true of the sermon he preached.  Even politicians and government officials would find it difficult to say anything terribly original on such an occasion.  But this was a sermon, so the priest could not be content with a call to remember the sacrifice of fallen heroes; he had to say something about God and use the occasion to foster faith.  So he spoke about prayer.  As he clearly was not a reader of this Blog, he trotted out all the predictable nonsense about praying for the Faithful Departed.  Then, in an attempt to break new ground, he started insisting on “persevering in prayer”.  I may not have been, and hope I was not, the only one who wondered why one would have to repeat requests for God’s mercy.  “Ask and you shall receive.”  Period !  Surely once would be enough for a loving Father, who could not possibly have a reason to refuse such a prayer.  When I said “no” to my kids for something they wanted, I sometimes (too often !) gave in when they insisted.  But surely God does not need to have us pester Him to be merciful to the young men who lost their lives in the Somme mud.  (“Somme Mud” is the title of a remarkable book by Australian historian Will Davies, which I highly recommend.  Will is the patriot behind the “Pozières Project” : a state-of-the-art  French-Australian school which will replace the antiquated, inadequate public school on the ground floor of the Town Hall, built in 1925, as a living monument of the saddest chapter in the history of Australia and of the unbreakable bonds between Australia and France.)

After the sermon the Mass continued with the celebration of the Eucharist, a rite incomprehensible for most of the motley congregation.  I am not sure that even the non-atheists present really believed that the white wafer held up by the priest really had become the Body of Christ.  But the point of the Mass was to have us end up feeling we had all done our duty by commemorating the sacrifice of young Aussie soldiers, and nobody really thought of the supposed sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross, reenacted  by the symbolic separation of His body and blood, the bread and the wine.  I was perhaps the only one who made the connection, and marvelled at the credulity I once had when I believed it was true.

RIDENDA   RELIGIO

 

DEPROGRAMING TERRORISTS : Good News , Bad News

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I have just read an article in this week’s “L’Express” (July 20) about the first centers of “deradicalization” which the French government will open in Autumn.  It is an interview, in French of course, with a psychologist-psychoanalyst, Amélie Boukhobsa, who explains the methods that will be employed in these programs.  The post you are reading is therefore at once an invitation to French readers to consult the article, and a scoop for non-French readers who otherwise would probably never hear of the approach to be used to convert present and potential terrorists.  That’s the Good News.  I’ll summarize Ms Boukhobsa’s explanations before sharing with you the Bad News.

  1.  Radicalized individuals, aged between 15 and 40 years of age, number 12,000 in France.  They belong to all social classes and economic levels.  Contrary to the public’s illusory self-reassurance, they are not mentally ill.  (Even in this Blog we sometimes call them “maniacs”, as we say hyperbolically that someone is “out of his mind”.)
  2. The specialist distinguishes three levels of radicalization :   a)  Political idealists not yet radicalized, tempted to join Daech in Syria for “humanitarian” reasons, or to combat globalization and “American imperialism”.  Some young women in this category are hoping to find their “Prince Charming” at the front ! ;  b) “Prejihadists”, people who feel that life has dealt them a bad hand, people with a chip on their shoulder because of some real or imagined injustice they have suffered.  They display little religious motivation but are willing candidates for Daech which offers them an opportunity for vengeance ;   c)  True jihadists, characterized by a quadruple motivation :  (i)  To become a martyr and enjoy eternal pleasure in Paradise, with the additional right to choose 70 people to share their heavenly reward;  (ii)  To honor the Prophet;  (iii)  To express their rejection of reason and rationality by an unquestioning acceptance of dogma;  (iv)  To sacralize violence and death.
  3. The challenge for deprogramers is their targets’ absolute faith, in the salafist tradition, in their literal understanding of their sacred texts.  For them the symbolic dimension of religion does not exist.  But some have moments of doubt (they seem to be equivalent to those we call in this Blog BOTBs, Believers on the Brink).  Getting them to speak of their families and of their personal experiences can trigger an emotional response and lead them to question their faith in dogma.  This demands the establishment of an interpersonal bond with them, and, as in classic psychoanalysis, the proposal of a framework which offers an alternative to their dogmatic position (which sounds very much to me like the “good cop” approach).
  4. The centers will handle two different categories of their 30 to 60 inmates.  The first will be people, condemned by the courts, who have returned from Syria, or have committed crimes or are in danger of doing so.  The second will be for volunteers who will spend ten months in a different center, in a program dedicated to getting them to understand themselves, as well as the concepts of secularism and citizenship, and to equip them for social reintegration.  The aim is to reestablish links with their life “before”.  They can continue to practise their religion, but … alone, not in groups (a reminder of the recognized influence of a group praying together).

Now for the Bad News.  The specialist feels confident about converting those tempted to radicalize, but is “not sure” that it is possible to dejihadize a convinced individual (longtime readers of this Blog can think of Jim, our “Lumen de lumine” gung-ho traditionalist Catholic !).  If she is right, the State’s efforts to deradicalize are destined to have no effect on the already radicalized !  Our own suggestion, often repeated in this Blog,  for a media blitzkrieg to expose the absurdity of Radical Terrorism, is likewise not guaranteed of success (see my post “The Final Solution to Fanaticism ?”,February 8, 2015).  But we cannot resign ourselves, in advance, to defeat.  We shall overcome – or we shall be overcome.

DELENDA   RELIGIO

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