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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Karen Armstrong Naked. And Kim Kardashian on World Peace!

Painting is from Aleah Chapin's "Auntie" Project
Karen Armstrong's head found here
Credit to Terese Pencak Schwartz for the photoshop

"Why is Kim Kardashian famous?" I hear this complaint a lot. Me? Kim Kardashian doesn't bother me any so I don't complain about her. I know why she's famous. She's good looking and she gets naked in front of cameras.

Here's my rant: Why is Karen Armstrong famous? Armstrong and her fans are doing way more damage to the world than Kim Kardashian will ever do.

If you don't listen to National Public Radio or watch TED, you might not know who Karen Armstrong is.

Left-leaning media regularly trot out Armstrong to reassure the masses that Islam is a religion of peace and that Christianity and the West are responsible for the world's woes. Armstrong's opinion is meant to be authoritative because Armstrong is, we are repeatedly told, a "scholar." Armstrong is 70 years old, she is plain, and she speaks with a plummy English accent. She may even wear blazers with leather patches at the elbows and smoke a pipe. In short, she looks and sounds like the scholar from central casting.

On November 23, 2014, Salon published an article with this lengthy title, "Karen Armstrong on Sam Harris and Bill Maher: 'It Fills Me With Despair, Because This Is The Sort Of Talk That Led To The Concentration Camps'"

You really don't have to read the rest of the article after that rather clunky and alarmist headline, now, do you?

Everybody knows what the allusion to "Sam Harris and Bill Maher" is all about.

On September 26, 2014, on his HBO show "Real Time with Bill Maher," Maher tweaked his fellow liberals. Liberals rant and rave about sexism, he said, as long as the accused are Republican Christians. Liberals hear no evil and speak no evil when it comes to misogyny in Islam. "It's not cool Rush Limbaugh called somebody a slut," Maher said, but "98% of Somalian women have" suffered clitoredectomy. "That all seems like a bigger issue than evangelical Christian bakeries refusing to make gay wedding cakes." Maher plunged his sword into cultural relativism. "It's okay to judge that rule of law isn't just different than theocracy, it's better. If you don't see that, you're either a religious fanatic or a masochist, but one thing you certainly are not is a liberal."

Then, of course, on October 3, 2014, Sam Harris, Ben Affleck, Nick Kristof, and Michael Steele appeared on Maher's show. Maher mentioned that on the previous week's show, he had said, "To count yourself as a liberal, you have to stand up for liberal principles like freedom of speech, freedom to practice any religion you want without fear of violence, freedom to leave a religion, equality for women, equality for minorities including homosexuals. These are liberal principles. But then when you say that in the Muslim world this is lacking, they get upset."

Salon's November 23, 2014 Karen Armstrong article was part of the tsunami of backlash that Maher has had to endure. Salon and Armstrong banged familiar drums, like cultural relativism. Islam is no more violent than any other ideology, Armstrong insisted, and singling Islam out merely allows Westerners to escape criticism. Salon paraphrased Armstrong's position. "When people in the West dismiss violence as a backward byproduct of religion, they're being lazy and self-serving. Blaming religion, Armstrong argues, allows Westerners to ignore the essential role that violence has played in the formation of our own societies – and the essential role that our societies have played in seeding violence abroad."

Armstrong classified Jewish prophets, Jesus and Mohammed in the same category. "The prophets of Israel, for example, were deeply political people. They castigated their rulers for not looking after the poor; they cried out against the system of agrarian injustice. Jesus did the same, Mohammed and the Quran do the same."

Salon asked, "How direct is the link between colonial policies in the Middle East and a terrorist attack in New York or London?" And Armstrong answered, "When I saw the towers fall on September 11, one of the many, many thoughts that went through my head was, 'We helped to do this.'"

Salon asked Armstrong about the October 3 episode of "Real Time with Bill Maher." Armstrong responded "It fills me with despair, because this is the sort of talk that led to the concentration camps in Europe."

Salon asked "Is Islamophobia today comparable to anti-Semitism?" and Armstrong answered that Islamophobia is "deeply enshrined in Western culture. It goes right back to the Crusades … We've recoiled, quite rightly, from our anti-Semitism, but we still have not recoiled from our Islamophobia."

I fear that casual readers – if there are any left – might stumble across Armstrong's words and think, "Wow. This lady is a scholar. There must be something to what she just said. Bill Maher and Sam Harris are comparable to Nazis, and if we don't suppress criticism of Islam, we'll have another Holocaust on our hands, with Muslims as victims."

That fear bugs me a lot. It bugs me because I respect scholarship. In fact Karen Armstrong is not a scholar, and Bill Maher and Sam Harris are not only not the Nazis here, they are the resistance fighters. It's the Nazis who would, if they could, eliminate Maher and Harris. Of course antisemites consider both Maher and Harris to be Jews, though both are atheists. But that is the least of the reasons why present day Nazis would want to eliminate men who speak publicly and courageously.

The word "scholar" is best applied to people who devote themselves to study of focused material, and achieve certification from others who have studied and gained expertise in that same material. Scholars perform original research. Scholars produce original, peer-reviewed publications. Scholars are circumspect about the public statements they make on which they claim authority. A scholar might say, "My research has been on medieval knighthood; therefore, I am not qualified to speak about soldiers in the Roman Empire." Armstrong does not meet any of these criteria of scholarship. Armstrong was, first, a nun. She left the convent and attempted to embark on an academic career. She tried to write a dissertation about the English poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Her dissertation was rejected. She did not receive her desired degree. She left the university.

Armstrong does not perform original research in original languages. She does not publish with university presses. Armstrong is a popularizer, that is, she reads original research by real scholars, digests it, and presents her digested version to the public. There's nothing inherently wrong with being a popularizer. Beloved figures like David Attenborough, Carl Sagan and Ken Burns are popularizers. The problem with Armstrong is her obvious bias. Armstrong has been widely criticized for cherry picking facts about Mohammed in order to depict him as a peaceful, benevolent man. Mohammed massacred an entire Jewish tribe, the Banu Qurayza. Armstrong exculpates Mohammed for this massacre, calls the massacred Jews "traitors" who had to be killed, and insists that antisemitism is purely a Western, Christian vice. Armstrong says that Muslims were not anti-Semitic at all until the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. Armstrong insists that "jihad" "is a cherished spiritual value that, for most Muslims, has no connection with violence." None of these statements stand up to serious scrutiny. See, for example, Andrew Bostom on Islamic antisemitism well before the creation of Israel, and Bernard Lewis on the meaning of the word "jihad."

In a September, 2006 review in the New York Sun, Efraim Karsh, head of Mediterranean Studies at King's College London, and author of "Islamic Imperialism: A History," published by Yale University Press, called Armstrong's biography of Muhammad "an attempt to validate the 'Islam equals peace' thesis" "to whitewash Muhammad's extermination of the Jewish presence in Medina" and "a travesty of the truth." This is just one of many scholarly condemnations of Armstrong's work.

I am not a scholar of Islam or of the Middle East. Unlike Karen Armstrong, I will make no claim to scholarship that I have not earned. I have made my own small contribution to scholarship on the Holocaust. I prepared myself to make this contribution by watching hours of Nazi propaganda films and combing through Nazi propaganda posters. I have listened to Nazis speeches and read the transcripts. I have read other scholars' analyses of these documents. In the Nazi propaganda I have viewed, there is nothing remotely similar to Bill Maher's or Sam Harris' commenting on liberals' selective outrage in relation to Islamic gender apartheid. This is a matter of such importance that I would like to invite Karen Armstrong to support her statement. Ms. Armstrong, can you produce even one Nazi document that is in any way similar to the transcripts of Bill Maher's two episodes of "Real Time with Bill Maher" that you describe as being the precursor to concentration camps? And, since you cannot do this, is it not time for you to retract your statement and apologize to Bill Maher and to Sam Harris, not to mention to victims of Nazism?

I am a devout Catholic. I am allergic to people like Bill Maher and Sam Harris. Men like them insult people like me regularly. I do not defend them because I like them. I do not like them. I defend them because I believe in scholarship, truth and common decency and lies about the Holocaust cause me to feel revulsion.

I'm feeling a temptation right now. I want to say, "Rather, it is people like you, Karen Armstrong, people who whitewash historical massacres of Jews, people who demonize honest debate, who do bring on Holocausts." But I bite my tongue. I resist the temptation to say that, because it is a cheap statement.

We know what created the Nazis. It's not a mystery. It was a perfect storm of several factors that were neutral or merely sub-lethal poisons on their own but when combined brought the world to its knees. A sense of humiliation in the wake of the Versailles treaty set fire to nationalism, atheism, scientism, social Darwinism, and neo-Paganism. No, Karen Armstrong, on no level did public intellectuals like Sam Harris and gadflies like Bill Maher bring on Nazism. It is obscene of you, Karen Armstrong, to say that they did. I've been to Auschwitz, several times. I've met survivors and their rescuers and their children. On their behalf, I want to say how disgusting your lies are, and how badly you owe Nazism's victims, and how badly you owe the truth, an apology. 

This essay appears at American Thinker here

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Ho, Ho, Ho. Not. Alone on the Holidays.

Lonely Snowman at the Flatiron Building. Oliver Fluck Photography
It begins in October, on my birthday, which is also the anniversary of my brother Phil's death. Then there is Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's.

I exhale only on the first business day after New Year's Day.

These holidays were hard when I was an abused kid in a less than perfect family. These holidays are hard now that I'm a single adult with a less than perfect life.

There was some respite years back when I was a young adult, away from my natal family and before I was hit by the twin meteors of a catastrophic illness and being politically incorrect in academia. These two events made me really poor, and really poor is never really popular.

I remember my 24th birthday when my tall, adorable, married boss, who, according to the grapevine, had a crush on me, threw a surprise, candlelit birthday party for me above a sheep stall in Nepal. Everyone was there. There were heartfelt toasts with raksi, Nepali moonshine, and yearning glances and furious gossip. One of the great nights of my life. The next day he sent me a poem by runner. Handwritten on that translucent, lumpy, handmade Nepali lokta paper. I still have the poem. If the skinny bastard wants to deny this, I can produce it.

I remember a Thanksgiving party I threw in a closet-sized dorm room in Dom Studencki Piast in 1988 in Poland. Communism was falling. Nobody partied like young Poles on the verge of yet another liberation in their long history of captivity and release. You would not believe how many gorgeous, pale, crazed young Poles, and how much Sodom, Gomorrah, and Gatsby, we packed into that tiny dorm room.

I remember an intimate, Berkeley, Christmas Eve gourmet repast prepared by Simon Stern, now a successful professor, then my fellow grad student, and an atheist of Jewish descent, who celebrated Christmas for me.

Those rare, long-gone days are jewels covered in dust in the bottom of a quilted box way back in storage. They've begun to smell of mold.

Now it takes everything I have to remain upright, functional, and dry-eyed.

My birthday. Thanksgiving. Christmas. New Years. Twenty-four hour doses of hell.

I am so alone on these days, and in such overwhelming pain, of a full buffet of flavors – rage, grief, nihilism – that inevitably I have to ask, "Why am I here?"

I used to be Facebook friends with poet Mary Krane Derr. My cherished Facebook friendship with Mary came to an abrupt end on November 30, 2012, when Mary met the fate she long expected. Her body finally quit.

Mary had been born with a chronic health condition and she was always spilling out and spelling out her body's various malfunctions in graphic, hapless, Facebook posts.

Mary rebelled against the concept that the afflicted exist in order to provide spiritual growth to more fortunate people. Mary didn't want to be constantly ill and on the verge of death – and she didn't want to go through this as a learning experience for others. She wanted to be healthy, goddamnit.

Me? I think it's possible. If God is in control, and if the world makes some kind of someday remote sense – very big ifs – if the chaos that we see, if you pull your focus far enough back, resolves itself into an intricate and magnificent design– maybe those of us whose lives pointlessly suck are here to say, however mutely, to those whose lives don't suck – Be generous. Be grateful. Be aware.

The other day I had a strange encounter. A former student approached me. The student described in detail my having helped her years ago. She said that she had been totally alone and that no one else had realized she needed help. No one knew what to do. I alone, she said, had recognized her need, known how to help, and helped.

Here's the thing. To this day, I have no memory of this event. I've struggled to add up her face and her story and my help and I don't remember. And this isn't the first time this has happened to me – it's happened about three times. Someone I can't place and don't remember says that I was there at some key moment and did some key thing that made a positive difference.

So. Maybe that is why I am here. For those key moments when I help a stranger I'll quickly forget. And maybe I have to endure the torture of these autumn holidays, for however long I have left, so that I'm there at those important moments.

I am not always as alone as I am on my birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's. I test as pure extrovert with no introvert tendencies. I am compulsively verbal and I like people. I like one-on-one contact and I actually like crowds.

My human contacts, though, are seasonal. I'm not important enough to anyone to be remembered or treated with any tenderness or intimacy on my birthday. I have no family so Thanksgiving is an impossibility. On Christmas I can always pretend to be Jewish and go to the movies and a Chinese restaurant. I've never been either cool or sexy so New Year's is really not that big of a deal; it's just that it is the final punctuation at the end of the Fall suicidal despair marathon.

One of the social gymnastics I must perform is being nice to people on the days after holidays when my acquaintances come trickling back into contact with me. "Hi, Danusha! I just spent 36 hours ensconced in the bosom of my family, cavorting and frolicking, surrounded by my grandma's apple cheeks, my spouse's passionate and affirming embrace, my siblings' caring and sharing, and my children's, niece's, and nephew's adorable, youtube-worthy antics! How about you?"

What I want to say is, "You will be pocked by plagues and wracked by famine, a scorching wind shall smite you, vengeful midgets will trip you up, and an abominable beast with ten heads and a burning eye in the center of each head will rise dripping, from the depth of churning seas turned to blood to obliterate you with his rod of iron."

But usually I just say, "Hey, great!"

On a more serious note.

I have moments of celebration. Last summer I tossed together an essay, "Top Ten Reasons I Am No Longer a Leftist." It took me two days to write. I submitted it to an online publication and it "went viral," or as close to viral as anything I write will ever get. I was satisfied by that, and I shared my sense of satisfaction. Some of my Facebook friends slapped me on the back and said "Way to go" and shared my happy moment.

And my Facebook friends have shared my sadness, too.

I recognize that I'm being a small, miserable putz when I am unable to be happy for them during their moments of celebration. Yes, they have family and I don't. I should not begrudge affirmation. I don't know their secret pains, and none of us knows what the score is going to be at the end.

So, yes. Happy Birthday. Happy Thanksgiving. Merry Christmas. Happy New Year. May I be as happy for you as you have been for me. And may the happiness I feel for you expand my soul as the sorrow you have felt for me has expanded yours.

I don't normally close blogs with a list of instructions for any potential readers, but I will close this one with just that. Please don't feel sorry for me, or try to comfort me, or feel obligated to send me an invitation. Being the charity stranger at someone else's family feast is worse than being alone.

I feel compelled to write and to share what I write. I am always eager to write. I always feel high when I write. I always feel better, and better able to face any task, any chore – including surviving the holidays – after I write. And that's why I posted this. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

"Save Send Delete" is Amazing, Uplifting, Absolutely Dazzling

Very, very grateful to "anonymous" for this Amazon review. 

Please consider purchasing "Save Send Delete" as a Christmas gift ... I can send you a signed copy. 

"Danusha Goska is an amazingly talented writer, an exceptionally brave women who has been through incredible trials, absorbing a wealth of knowledge and wisdom that she shares in a thought-provoking, accessible format. Some of the writing is absolutely dazzling.

It is, btw, a thinly-veiled true love story by email correspondence, but she won't share the name of her correspondent (YET – I sure am guessing) I was warned that it would be heavy, and yes – after all, it is about struggles and searching, i.e., life. I think it still would be an inspirational gift for anyone sad or feeling alone ... or, well, for anyone. There is wisdom from the Bible, Talmud, Vedas, Twelve Step, a wide range of readings – but it is not preachy.

There are amazing stories of travel in it, so if you enjoyed Gilbert's "Eat, Pray, Love" you can get that armchair journey without the calories. Some parts reminded me of Anne Lamott in uplifting ways, but without the political rants. Incidentally, this author has been leftwing, rightwing, and everything in between, surviving exotic diseases (and less exotic) and saving lives.

Whether or not one agrees with everything in it (I didn't always), I think it is an important book. There is only a tiny bit of language your great-aunt won't like in 1-2 places towards the end and also some adult themes. (This writer is honest to the core.) This is a book that could foster all kinds of intelligent discussion and debate and should be on book club lists ... Oprah???"

Sunday, November 23, 2014

"The Afterlife of Billy Fingers" by Annie Kagan. Book Review.

In "The Afterlife of Billy Fingers" Annie Kagan, a Manhattan chiropractor and songwriter, claims that her dead brother, William Cohen, a 62 year old recovering heroin addict and ex-con who was killed in a drunken car accident, explains the mysteries of the universe.

Kagan claims that Billy, as she calls her late brother, provided proof to her that his presence was real. For example, Billy communicates cryptic information to Kagan like "Give Tex a coin" and "There is no sunshine without the sun" and "Take Bach flower remedies." Later, Kagan claims, these cryptic sentences came to have great meaning. This meaning convinced Kagan that she wasn't merely imagining that her dead brother was speaking to her; he really was.

If these incidences are genuine, and if indeed the entire point of "The Afterlife of Billy Fingers" is, as Kagan claims, to aid humanity, then Kagan should be able to do for the general public what she did for those close to her. Kagan and Billy should be able to produce messages that later pan out as true. So far, though, Kagan and Billy have not done this. That being the case, Kagan's claim remains completely implausible.

The reader is left asking whether Kagan simply imagined Billy's monologues, or if Kagan is a manipulator exploiting human grief and fear to make money and achieve guru status.

Kagan describes her own life in bare bones detail. There is little description or depth. She mentions that she is separated from her husband but that they are still in contact. No details are provided about either the separation or the continued contact. She lives in a beach house, which sounds lovely and I would have liked vivid details to help me see her home and the nearby water. There are none.

I don't believe that ghosts can dictate multiple paragraphs of prose, including semi-colons, brackets, and no misunderstood vocabulary words. I have transcribed interviews with living informants, and transcription is a demanding, time-consuming chore. I often have to rewind recorded interviews several times before I can be sure that I am getting words down correctly. Kagan doesn't seem to have this concern. Billy apparently speaks with supernatural precision. Kagan never needs to ask, "Did you mean 'blue' as in the color or 'blew' as in the past tense of 'blow'"? This is the kind of question that transcribers must often ask.

I also did not find Billy believable as a character. The most genuine and raw truth Kagan reveals in her book is the agony of a younger sister who was a loved and good child who lost her beloved older brother to addiction and dysfunction. Annie and Billy's parents were open in their preference for her, not him. Billy behaved badly toward Annie. "I was your own personal James Dean…I ignored you." Kagan tried to save Billy, and failed. Kagan does not write a memoir spelling out the day-to-day hurts of family dysfunction. Rather, she sketches out her history with Billy quickly, and devotes the bulk of the book to his alleged cosmic revelations.

Billy doesn't read to me as a believable sexagenarian heroin addict and alcoholic who has achieved moksha – transcendence. He reads like the creation of a broken-hearted sister finding slim comfort in the kind of shallow, muddled New Age ideals one could pick up by browsing the items near the cashier while waiting in line to check out of a store selling crystals and patchouli incense.

The bulk of Billy's verbiage is directed to Kagan and their bruised and bruising relationship. She worshipped and tried to save him; he resented her, ignored her, and let her down. Suddenly he's in heaven and she's all he's got time for. There are passages that read almost as incestuous. Billy refers to Kagan as "my darling." "Who but you could I tell my secrets to, my darling?" I believe all this as Kagan working out her issues.

Finally I don't believe that Billy is the disembodied voice of William Cohen returning to educate humanity because the cosmic secrets Billy "reveals" are secondhand and shallow, example, "Pain is just part of the human experience…our lives are temporary" Also: there is no such thing as good or bad and you have everything you need.

When Billy wants to communicate how important something is, he describes it as physically large. For example one afterlife entity is important because it is bigger than the sun. Size is a child's way of understanding importance. Billy's visions are earthbound. He describes his own afterlife as floating around in space past stars and planets, "I'm drifting weightlessly through space with these gorgeous stars and moons and galaxies twinkling all around me." In heaven, people wear robes, and they are better looking "than the best looking actor."

Billy encounters his deceased wife, a gorgeous, Swedish, blonde Vegas showgirl, and she is still gorgeous, Swedish, and blonde, and she puts on a cootchie dance for him, but she does it in the form of sexy planets.

Eventually Billy dissolves into oneness, a Hindu idea. In fact Kagan uses a Sanskrit term, "Ishvara," to talk about one of the divine entities Billy encounters. Kagan decides that she and Billy descend from the Lohani, a Pashtun tribe. Kagan has studied Eastern religions and it's easy to see where she picked up these theological trinkets.

I'm guessing that Kagan and her brother are of Jewish descent. One of the saddest aspects of "Billy Fingers" is that in imagining her afterlife and answers to the cosmic questions, Kagan has no use for Judaism whatsoever. Her text is reflective of Jewbu, those modern Jews who have traded their ancestral riches for a vitiated and commodified version of Buddhism and Hinduism.

Billy introduces Kagan to Lena Olin, the movie star. He never inspires her to perform a kindness for another person for which there is no payoff. He does warn Kagan's friend Tex about her drinking, but the point of that episode was to prove that Billy knew things he could not know if he were not a supernatural entity. Kagan does not record playing any role in Tex's recovery. The lack of earthbound service in Billy's heaven is not very deep. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

"A Point in Time" by David Horowitz. Book Review.

Reading David Horowitz's "A Point in Time: The Search for Redemption in this Life and the Next" is like taking an autumn stroll with a gray-haired elder encountered at a family reunion. You were expecting his usual social, political, and economic rants that sometimes alienated you, and sometimes frightened you. Sometimes you saw some shaft of insight in his words, an insight you defiantly resisted because his worldview was so different from your own. You see the world through rose-colored glasses of universal brotherhood and a brighter tomorrow. This guy insistently reminded you of failed utopias.

Before you set out on your stroll, though, he made sure to bring his three pooches along. The tenderness he showed the dogs gives you pause. You realized that as different as you are in age and worldview, you both love dogs.

As you step out into the gray light, suddenly crepuscular so early in the afternoon, the elder speaks. You're accustomed to clipped who-what-when-where-why-style headlines. Today the rhythm and care of poetry shimmers just under the surface of his prose.

He's talking about death. Well, yes, that would make sense; he is a septuagenarian. He has had a cancer scare and one of his children has pre-deceased him.  

You slow your steps and listen. His words seem, like the moldering leaves, fading light, and the migrating geese overhead, to be arising organically out of the autumnal scene. You'll be pondering what you hear today for a long time.

"A Point in Time" is a meditation on death and mortality, morality, religious faith, and the Utopian urge. Horowitz uses Marcus Aurelius' and Fyodor Dostoyevsky's works as touchstones.

Horowitz's parents had been members of the American Communist Party. Horowitz himself was close to the Black Panthers. In 1974 their bookkeeper, Betty Van Patter, was murdered. Horowitz was convinced that the Panthers were responsible. In 1985, Horowitz publicly broke with the left. My former comrades spoke of Horowitz as if he were the devil incarnate.

I went to heckle Horowitz ten years ago. He said something that silenced me, and that I pondered repeatedly: Camden, Newark, and Paterson have had Democratic leadership for decades. I grew up among people who vividly remember Newark and Paterson as thriving, even enviable cities. That they are now slums breaks many New Jerseyians hearts. Horowitz's comment was a significant paving stone in my own turn away from the left.

Even so I did not expect a book like "A Point in Time" from Horowitz. It is meditative, serene, and stoic. It is not a Christian book, but it treats Christianity and its impact with respect.

Horowitz talks about death using dogs, pet ownership, homes, and writing. Dogs live for about a decade, much shorter than the average human lifespan. We must watch our beloved four-footed friends age and die at a more rapid rate than our own. Homes are our carapace. We experience them almost as extensions of ourselves, renovating them with a sense that our lives might go on forever. Moving into, and then out of a home, also reminds us of mortality.

Horowitz's daughter Sarah was a writer who never married. She died relatively young, and having published relatively little. Horowitz contemplates her one bedroom apartment, and her writings, her most significant material legacy. Medical diagnoses, too, remind us of mortality. If we go on living long enough, eventually we will get cancer, or diabetes, or something. We will fight the illness as long as we can. We lose the fight in increments, as Horowitz has in the amount of walking he can do before fatigue reels him back home.

We turn to bookcases. Marcus Aurelius provides a stoic model; Dostoyevsky a Christian one. Horowitz's selection of quotes from Dostoyevsky convinces me that I need to read more of him, or at least about him. The quotes Horowitz selects are stunningly apropos to American college campuses today. Horowitz positions Dostoyevsky as the antidote to atheist nihilists and Utopians.

Horowitz considers faith, but acknowledges that he is an agnostic. He briefly describes a few unspeakable crimes from current headlines. With a few spare sentences, he describes the kind of sadism that occurs every day. How do we believe in God in a world in which not just children, but even dogs, are subject to cruel and meaningless tortures? If God is omnipotent, how do we avoid assigning responsibility to God for horrible events?

Rejection of God has been for many a sort of religion of its own. Horowitz's father did not believe in God, but he did have a myth and a telos. "When he read his morning paper it was not to gather tidings of events that actually affected him – prices rising, weather brewing, wars approaching – but to parse the script of a global drama that would one day bring history and its miseries to an end."

Similarly, Dostoyevsky's fellow conspirator Nikolay Speshnev said that his political hope "is also a religion only a different one. It makes a divinity out of a new and different object, but there is nothing new about the deification itself." The difference between Dostoyevsky and men like Speshnev is acted out on college campuses in America every day, and on the international stage. Dostoyevsky describes how radicals justify "wading through blood." One need only look to the former cradle of civilization to find examples.

The book's intimacy is typified by a lovely passage on page 22. Horowitz lays awake at night, "haunted by reflections of death." Kissing his wife, or petting "the small bodies curled like furry slippers at my feet" provides him with a reprieve from "this emptiness."

The book's cover by Bosch Fawstin depicts the scene at Dostoyevsky's mock execution by czarist police: three erect stakes. I cannot help but think of the anachronistic reference to Christ – "three pale figures led forth and bound to three posts driven upright in the ground" – in W.H. Auden's poem "Shield of Achilles." Horowitz's book, like Auden's poem, like Marcus Aurelius, recognizes that each generation must confront, struggle with, and then lose, "The mass and majesty of this world, all that carries weight and always weighs the same," whether we live under the House of Atreus, or the Pax Romana, or the reign of Obama.

Death gave us this David Horowitz. If mortality were not knocking on his door, I don't think he would have written this book; if it were not knocking on ours, however faint the sound, we could not resonate to it. Death "focuses the mind" and awakens the heart. The myth of, or perhaps the evidence for, immortality gives us the determination to apply death's lessons. 

Washington National Cathedral Hosts Muslim Jummah Prayer: It's About Tolerance, People!

The looks of hostility and contempt directed at a Christian woman in a Christian house of worship.
I wrote the essay, below, in response to the holding of Muslim Friday jummah prayer at the Washington National Cathedral on November 14, 2014.

Beliefnet posted it, but I don't think they read it first. I say that because the photos they use to accompany the essay don't mesh with the essay's content.

You can see it at Beliefnet here.

National Cathedral Hosts Muslim Prayer on Friday, November 14, 2014: It's About Tolerance, People!

On November 14, 2014, Washington DC's National Cathedral hosted Muslim Friday prayer for the first time. The National Cathedral is an Episcopalian church, site of the funerals of US presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, and Gerald Ford, and memorial services for Harry Truman and Richard Nixon. President George Bush spoke there after the 9-11 terror attacks. Moon rock is displayed in a stained glass window in the cathedral. The Cathedral has received federal funds.

The midday, "jummah" prayer, followed by a sermon, was attended by approximately one hundred invited guests only. Non-invitees were barred. Muslim leaders supplied prayer carpets, which were strategically located on the floor to avoid any view of a cross. Muslims may not pray within sight of crosses. Organizer Ebrahim Rasool said that the event would discourage "Islamophobia" and allow "a world in which all are free to believe."

Sponsors of the event include CAIR, ISNA, and the ADAMS Center.

Christine Weick, a fifty-year-old woman from Michigan, interrupted the Muslim service by entering the designated area and saying loudly, "Jesus Christ died on that cross. It is the reason we are to worship only him. Jesus Christ is our lord and savior. We have built enough of your mosques in this country. Why don't you worship in your mosques and leave our churches alone?" Weick was immediately and forcibly ejected from the cathedral by two men.

DCist, a news site devoted to Washington, DC, condemned Weick's intolerance. "Because love, respect and understanding is too much of a concept for some people to understand, a person interrupted the service. Of course," DCist reported, with disgust.

Other commentators echoed DCist. The National Cathedral hosting jummah prayer is a sign of "tolerance." Anyone objecting is "intolerant." After all, as many pointed out, the National Cathedral is meant to be just that – national. In its own words it is to be "a house of prayer for all people."

In fact, Muslim prayer at the National Cathedral is part of a growing trend in tolerance. Truly, those who first espoused the theory of universal human progress were correct. We are all evolving into a more peaceful, civilized breed of humanity. Other news items suggesting that we as a species are advancing towards perfection include the following.

Recently Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education voiced support for the discussion and teaching of Intelligent Design alongside Darwinian Evolution. This is a surprising turnaround. Back in 2005, Dr. Richard Sternberg, an editor of a scientific journal affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution, accepted for publication a peer-reviewed article written by a proponent of Intelligent Design. Given that Sternberg himself is not a supporter of Intelligent Design, National Public Radio asked him why he allowed the article to be published in a journal he edited. He replied, "Because evolutionary biologists are thinking about this. So I thought that by putting this on the table, there could be some reasoned discourse. That's what I thought, and I was dead wrong."

Alas, Sternberg was subjected to harassment. His colleagues circulated career-destroying rumors about him. They took away his master key and denied him access to research materials. According to the Office of Special Counsel, which protects federal employees from reprisals, Eugenie Scott's National Center for Science Education helped the Smithsonian to "outline a strategy to have [Sternberg] investigated and discredited." When questioned about her participation in this witch hunt, Eugenie Scott told NPR that "Life is not fair."

That Scott is now in favor of the discussion of Intelligent Design in high school and college classrooms, in faculty lounges and in the pages of scientific journals is a sign of increasing tolerance.

Yet another sign that we are entering a New Age of human perfection. Planned Parenthood has recently announced that it will allow pro-life campaigners into its offices. Those supporting Muslim prayer at the National Cathedral often argue, "Both Christians and Muslims pray to the same God." Well, both abortion opponents and supporters address the same demographic – pregnant women. Perhaps Planned Parenthood has decided that women really should have access to full information before they make one of the most important decisions of their lives. Perhaps women really should be able to see ultrasound images of the fetuses that they carry, and perhaps they should be fully informed about adoption and other options.

No, the progress doesn't stop there. In the past, organized Atheists made headlines by opposing the placement of the Ground Zero Cross at the World Trade Center Memorial. The cross was indisputably a central artifact of the 9-11 terror attacks. Firefighters, police officers, and other rescue workers congregated around the cross, attended mass under it, and carved significant messages into its surface. You can't tell the story of 9-11 without including the Ground Zero Cross. But that's exactly what organized Atheists demanded that America do. Atheists went to court again and again to demand that the Memorial simply erase the Ground Zero Cross, in the same way that Stalin erased Trotsky from photographs after Trotsky fell out of favor. But now, in a new move for tolerance, Atheists have announced that representatives Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Bill Maher will travel to the 9-11 Memorial and lay flowers at the foot of the cross.

Tolerance is breaking out all over, it seems. In summer, 2014, Kathleen Hermsmeyer, Superintendent of Springs Charter School in California, became embroiled in controversy. A school employee told a parent to remove from school shelves "all books with a Christian message, authored by Christians, or published by a Christian publishing company." Expunged books included "The Hiding Place," the memoir of Corrie ten Boom, a woman who rescued Jews and was imprisoned in a concentration camp for doing so. Her father died after arrest and her sister died in the Ravensbruck concentration camp. Ten Boom is typical of rescuers who acted on Christian beliefs. Others include Maximilian Kolbe, Jozef and Wiktoria Ulma, and hundreds of Polish nuns. Theirs is an essential part of Holocaust history. Even so, the books telling their story needed to be removed from school shelves – until now. Suddenly it's okay to read "The Hiding Place" at Springs Charter School.

The most stunning evidence of the new tolerance sweeping the globe comes from a belt of nations stretching from Morocco in the west to Indonesia in the east. Suddenly nations that had previously tortured people for mere possession of a Bible are inviting open discussion of Christianity. Lands where Christians have not been allowed to hold Sunday services for over a millennium now host Catholic mass. Where marriage between a Christian man and a Muslim woman had been outlawed, suddenly, there are joyful open displays of affection.

The alert reader recognizes that, of the above listed accounts of tolerance, only one is a report of a true event. The only true event is that the National Cathedral did hold Muslim services on Friday, November 14. The other listed events are unthinkable. That they are unthinkable reveals that the word "tolerance" used in reference to jummah prayers at the National Cathedral is Orwellian doublespeak. Those calling for Christian tolerance desire neither Christians nor tolerance. Rather, they want Christianity to commit a physician's assisted suicide administered by Political Correctness. Islam, to them, is a useful tool to achieve this end. Archimedes famously said, "Give me where to stand and I will move the earth." He could move it, he insisted, with the right lever. Islam is the lever that Christophobes would use to eliminate Christianity. One might scoff, until one remembers that Syria, Turkey, and Egypt were once central to the Christian world.

Of the world's dominant religious systems: Judaism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Buddhism and Islam, Islam is unique in its relationship to Christianity. Mohammed died six hundred years after Jesus. Mohammed appropriated garbled, popular elements of Paganism, Judaism, and Christianity into his new book – the Koran – and his new system – Islam. Mohammed altered these elements to suit his own needs. These alteration might change; once Muslims worshipped facing Jerusalem, a city sacred to Jews and Christians. Later they faced Mecca, a Pagan holy site. Moses and Mary are both characters in the Koran, but highly distorted ones. Moses, who lived over a thousand years before Mary, becomes Mary's brother. Islam's distorted picture of Jesus is of great consequence. Christianity insists that Jesus is the son of God, and that he died on a cross. Islam insists that "Isa ibn Maryam" – that is, son of Mary, a mere woman – is not the son of God, and that he did not die on a cross. In fact, Isa ibn Maryam will someday return to destroy all crosses, kill all pigs, and wipe out Christianity. The Christian Bible contains material that contradicts Mohammed's teachings. For this reason, Islam must denigrate the Christian Bible as "corrupt." In their daily prayers, Muslims repeatedly petition God not to be like "those who have gone astray," i.e., Christians.

Those arguing for Muslim prayer in the National Cathedral argue for nothing less than the eclipse of Christianity and its replacement in the minds, hearts and souls of its adherents with something entirely other. Given that Christianity is one of the foundations of Western Civilization, this matter is of concern to all.

Danusha Goska is the author of Save Send Delete

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The National Cathedral: A Poor Pilgrim Encounters Episcopalian Snobs

The Darth Vader Gargoyle at the National Cathedral. Source: Wikipedia 
The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Above: Exterior. Below: Interior. Source 
Ten years ago I made a retreat to Holy Cross Monastery in Berryville, Virginia.

I took a bus to Washington, DC, and hitchhiked to Berryville.

After my retreat ended, I visited two sights in Washington, DC: the National Cathedral, an Episcopalian church, and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, a Catholic church.

The National Cathedral is much in the news lately for having hosted Muslim Friday jummah prayer on November 14, 2014.

Below is my diary account of my experience at the National Cathedral, and my subsequent visit to the Basilica.

The Simon I mention is my friend Simon Stern.

Fair warning: This is raw text from my diary and there is lots of swearing. I didn't edit this account.


I walked from Simon's to the National Cathedral. Though Simon's neighborhood is ritzy, the neighborhoods I walked through showed even more wealth. It was a neighborhood of embassies and expansive, wealthy looking homes. I thought, Shit, this isn't the neighborhood that deserves a gothic cathedral; these rich bastards' homes and lawns are paradise enough. Shouldn't a gothic cathedral be placed in a slum, where people need beauty?

Yeah, but, I realized, people need beauty cause they destroy the beauty God gives them. Paterson, NJ, is a little piece of minor hell exactly because of the behaviors of the Patersonians. It's not like we are placed on a geologic geyser that spews garbage and meanness; Paterson's citizens spew that up themselves.

Yeah, but, Sacred Heart cathedral is in Newark. I remember Daddy taking me there; God bless him. I loved it.

There is an expensive housing development across from the National Cathedral, and it advertises itself as offering views of the cathedral. And that does irk. They should have low cost housing there for the deserving poor. But don't get me started on how we need to resurrect the concept of the deserving poor. But we should.

The National Cathedral is all that. It is a replica of a gothic cathedral. That it is primarily Episcopal is beyond ironic; I wonder if it is ever mentioned in any of its official literature that Henry VIII, in founding that church, encouraged desecration and destruction of gothic cathedrals? Or at least that's what I've heard; heard it in English class, where I was told that there may have been other Beowulfs; Henry's reformation ransacked Catholic monastery libraries. I don't know the facts here. In any case! Ironic, ironic.

Yeah, the National Cathedral is just perfect. Like a fucking gingerbread house is perfect.


I mean, Chartres cathedral. I couldn't bring myself to leave Chartres cathedral. Part of me is still there. What is Chartres doing that the National Cathedral is not? Geomancers claim that Chartres is on a key ley line. I don't buy that, but I thought about it at the National Cathedral. Chartres sucked me in; the National Cathedral left me cold.

Encounters: a well-dressed, WASPy looking woman with a snide voice, in the ladies room, told me that my backpack strap was hitching my dress up. (Again, the damn backpack.) That was true, but I was still washing my hands; I'd be fixing my hem in a moment. She was too quick to correct.

Again, a well-dressed, WASPy looking woman chased me into the sanctuary, and ordered me not to "wander around." I was behaving entirely quietly and reverently; I was still moving as if on retreat. She had zero reason to behave so meanly. "Are you a guide? Do you work here?" I asked, quietly.

"No, but you should not be wandering around this church."

I was wearing a denim dress I bought in a secondhand store, and carrying a backpack. This woman was wearing white pantyhose. She turned and began to stalk, huffily, away.

"Shame on you," I whispered, but loudly, I hope, enough for her to hear.

As the time passed, began to panic. Knew I had to find a computer to buy my Greyhound ticket home. Simon didn't have computer access at his apartment. I began to ask people in official garb if they knew of a nearby public library with internet access.

At one point, I asked a priest. He looked like he had stepped out of a Masterpiece Theater production: he was tall, very white, slim; his priestly garb was spiffy and fresh; he was handsome; though on in years – he was maybe in his fifties or sixties? – he looked entirely unscarred by life. I asked if he knew about nearby libraries. He said no, he was not local; he was about to drive home to New York. I thought, golly, has God just sent me a ride home? "Do you need a passenger?" I asked, eagerly.

He looked me up and down and laughed at me, out loud, and moved away.

Esprit d'escalier; wish I had said, "Excuse me for mistaking you for a Christian."

That was just my feel of the place. Chilly, ice box people in pantyhose and designer dresses and unscarred skins. The majority of stained glass windows or stone carvings I paid any attention to bragged of the accomplishments, and, often, the generosity, of this or that benefactor. I found nothing spiritual or inspiring in these artifacts, no matter their technical qualities as art.

The space window, containing a piece of moon rock, was lovely. Blue and black images are outlined in red; with the sun coming through, the red outline was vivid and beautiful.

Outside, I scanned the gargoyles to find the Darth Vader gargoyle. A docent walked by; I asked her for help. She had a French accent, and said you needed binoculars to really see him. I said, "J'ai mes jumelles avec moi," and she said, "You speak better French than I do." I get those compliments from the French, and I like it.

There were shadberries growing on the property; I ate some; they were good. Haven't had shadberries since Bloomington. I saw a black squirrel. I didn't even know that there were such things. An internet site claims that they are variants of gray squirrels.

Walked toward the Georgetown Library, keeping my fingers crossed. Did find a public computer; did buy a Greyhound ticket. A beautiful young African American reference librarian gave me great directions to a metro stop from which I could get a train to the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. Her directions were really good, in that they were accurate, and when I said I'd as soon walk a bit to get to a good public transportation stop, she directed me to that exactly. Most people are incapable of doing that. They can't conceive of walking to get to a better public transport stop, one that will take you directly where you want to go without changing buses or trains.

I emerged from the subway and came across a scruffy, skinny young man in cut off jeans and oversize shoes. He was headed into the subway. Asked him where the basilica was. He spat something dark (chaw?) He then turned around and escorted me to the basilica. Then he turned around and went back to the subway.

The basilica is very kitschy. It was done in the early 1960's and it screams that era. In fact, I was flashing back to visiting the 1964 World's Fair in Flushing with Daddy and some of my siblings; forget which. (I remember we phoned someone at home through a special phone.)

The gigantic mosaic Jesus on the ceiling at the end of the main aisle has blond hair.

Kitsch. A blond haired Jesus. Bad, no?

And yet I felt a profound spirituality here that I did not feel at the National Cathedral. I spent as long in this church as at the other, and not once did anyone make a crack about my poor clothes, or my backpack. I wasn't the poorest looking person there. The neighborhood is godawful. You ride through slums to get there, not through expansive ambassadorial mansions.

The center aisle is lined by chapels devoted to Mary as she is revered in various countries. These aren't rich countries and the people who revere her are pathetic. There is Our Lady of Częstochowa, Our Lady of Sorrows from Slovakia, Our Lady of Siluva from Lithuania, Guadalupe from Mexico, Our Lady of Antipolo from the Philippines, Our Lady of China. Yes, Jesus is blond in this church, but there are at least two black Marys – Częstochowa and Antipolo, and one Indian Mary – Guadalupe, and Our Lady of China has Chinese features and wears a Chinese costume.

And there were Filipinos praying there, and Black people…nothing like the hoards of undifferentiated WASPs at the National Cathedral. I like that about Catholicism. And I like it that you can always hear babies crying in Catholic churches. We don't have special soundproof rooms we put them in.

I wanted to stay longer, much longer, but I had bought a Greyhound ticket for six, so I did something atypical for me – bought the souvenir booklet – and left. Ran into the skinny kid with the chaw; he was coming out of the subway as I was going in. I smiled and waved; so did he.

Last minute panic – I had miscalculated space and time (nothing new) and had to run to get to the bus station. Walked beside a Jamaican man in a red fur cap (in DC? In summer? One must suffer to be beautiful.) He was skinny and young so he kept me at a quick pace. Got to the station just in time. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

National Cathedral Hosts Muslim Prayer Friday, November 14, 2014

The National Cathedral will host Muslim Friday prayers for the first time on Friday, November 14, 2014. The event is being called "unprecedented."

The National Cathedral is an Episcopalian Church that often hosts events like presidential funerals. The National Cathedral does receive federal funds.

The National Cathedral and organizer Ebrahim Rasool are selling the prayer service as a gesture against "Islamophobia."

In fact Muslim prayer in the National Cathedral has nothing to do with any fight against Islamophobia or for freedom of religion.

Muslim prayer in the National Cathedral is a flagrant provocation that has already increased hostility against Muslims, including the majority of innocent Muslims who had nothing to do with this abomination.

Muslim prayer in the National Cathedral obscures the raison d'etre of a Christian Church, and replaces that very reason for its existence with the Politically Correct dogma that Christianity must obscure its message and debase its mission to display fealty to Islam.

Christian houses of worship exist in order to spread the most vital message humanity has ever received: you – no matter who you are, no matter how much money you have, no matter how beautiful, ugly, intelligent, powerful or weak, loved or alone – you are so beloved of the greatest single force in the universe that that force, that God, that Word, took on human form, suffered and died for you. For YOU. If you were the only person who had ever existed, God – the same God who created the stars and planets, the hummingbirds and the crickets, the waterfalls, gravity and time itself – would have lived and died for you. Your life – no matter how painful, how dark, how muddled, how blessed, how fleeting– your life has ultimate meaning and purpose.

Humanity needs that message. That message is what Christian churches exist to share.

Inviting clergy of any other faith to perform services in a Christian house of worship erases that message and puts another in its place. The teaching honored by the Muslim Friday prayer at the National Cathedral is not Christianity at all, nor is it Islam. Rather, it is Political Correctness.

Of all the world's faiths, Islam is exceptional in its relationship to Christianity.

Judaism is believed to be between three and four thousand years old. Christianity is two thousand years old. Mohammed died in the seventh century, six hundred years after Christ died, and over a thousand years after King David reigned. There were Jews, Christians, and Pagans in Arabia when Mohammed lived, and garbled variations of all three traditions were incorporated into the Koran.

Mohammed co-opted elements of Paganism. Mecca and its Kaaba were Pagan holy places; they are now the center of Muslim worship. Arab Pagans worshipped the moon and Islam adopted the crescent moon as its symbol. Pagans prayed, facing Mecca, five times a day, as do Muslims today. Pagan Arabs fasted, performed ritual circumambulation of mythological sites and ritual ablutions adopted by Muslims.

Mohammed and his followers who composed and compiled the Koran were not Jews themselves. They did not speak any Jewish language like Hebrew or Aramaic. They did not study or understand Jewish or Christian scripture. They merely appropriated word-of-mouth retellings of Jewish and Christian folktales, the kind of popular summaries one might hear in a market or in a long caravan, and included them in the Koran.

In the Koran, Moses, the man who liberated Jewish slaves in Egypt, is the brother of Jesus' mother Mary, who lived over a thousand years after Moses. In the Koran, Jesus brings clay birds to life. This was a non-Biblical folktale circulating in the Middle East. In the Koran, Jews worship Ezra, which they have never done. In the Koran, the trinity is God the Father, Jesus, and Mary, which of course is a bungle of the real trinity.

The Koran's error-ridden co-option and distortion of Jewish and Christian scripture is not always so innocent.

The Koran states that Allah turned Jews into apes and pigs; Muslim religious leaders regularly preach today that Jews are sons of apes and pigs. The Koran quotes its version of Jesus, "Isa ibn Maryam," as saying that he is not God's son. The Koranic Isa is given the title "ibn Maryam," son of Mary, as a way of emphasizing that he was the son of a lowly woman, not God.

Isa never died on a cross. God supplied a substitute who died in Isa's place. In the hadith, Isa returns to destroy all crosses, kill all pigs, and abolish Christianity.

"Allahu Akbar" does not mean "God is great." Rather, it means "Allah (the God Muslims worship) is greatest" – that is, superior to the Gods worshipped by non-Muslims. Mohammed was the first to use "Allahu Akbar" as a battle cry. These words are intimately connected with murder, looting, and dominance of non-Muslims.

Muslims pray five times a day. When doing so, they repeat phrases asking Allah not to make them like those who anger God and those who go astray, that is, Christians and Jews.

Muslims are ordered in the Koran not to take Christians or Jews as friends.

Islam, alone among world faiths, fashioned itself in direct competition with Christianity, and demands that it be treated as Christianity's superior. In fact, Muslims cannot pray within sight of Christian symbols like crosses, and the Muslims who pray in the National Cathedral today have been given a carefully chosen spot from which no cross is visible.

Many Muslims today claim that Christians and Jews consciously corrupted the text of the Bible. Ibn Hazm, a medieval Muslim theologian who lived in what is today Spain, made the "Bible is corrupt" argument. The Koran tells Muslims to respect the Bible. The Bible contradicts the Koran. Ibn Hazm reconciled these contradictory facts by arguing that Jews and Christians altered the texts of the original Bible. Ibn Hazm's reasoning runs as follows, "Since the Qur'an must be true, it must be the conflicting Gospel texts that are false. But Muhammad tells us to respect the Gospel. Therefore, the present text must have been falsified by the Christians."

Differences between Islam and Christianity aren't just about words on a page. These differences aren't just about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. The differences between Islam and Christianity can be counted in dead bodies, looted churches, trails of refugees, centuries of warfare, and shattered lives. That was true in the seventh century, and that is true today.

Jesus ordered his followers to walk through the world humbly, healing the sick, and telling the good news to all men. Thus Christianity spread for three hundred years, even as it was outlawed by the Roman Empire. Thus Christianity spreads today, even in prison nations like North Korea. Jesus said,

"Heal the sick, raise the dead…Get you no gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses; no wallet for your journey, neither two coats, nor shoes, nor staff … And into whatsoever city or village ye shall enter, search out who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go forth. And as ye enter into the house, salute it…And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, as ye go forth out of that house or that city, shake off the dust of your feet…Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves."

Mohammed had a totally different program.  "I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah's Apostle, and offer the prayers perfectly and give the obligatory charity, so if they perform that, then they save their lives and property from me except for Islamic laws and then their reckoning (accounts) will be done by Allah."

Mohammed fought and his followers fought. Mohammed expelled all Christians and Jews from the Arabian Peninsula; to this day, Christians and Jews cannot live or worship in Arabia. Islam spread by the sword, not the word. That spread continues today, under ISIS in Iraq, where Christians and other non-Muslims like Yazidis have no right to life or property.

No other world religion contains, in its foundational scriptures, direct, specific attacks on and condemnation of Christianity. No other world religion was founded by a man who made war on Christians. No other world religion is currently making war on Christians.

Christians face theft, imprisonment, sex slavery, persecution, restriction, and death in Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, and Malaysia. Those persecuting Christians follow and cite Muslim scripture and history.

Given the reality of Islam's treatment of Christians, The National Cathedral's choice to host Muslim prayer has aroused agony and outrage among Americans. This agony and outrage is obvious in internet posts. There is even, sadly, hatred of Muslims expressed in these posts. This hatred directly contradicts Christian teachings.

Christians must continue to obey the command of the man who died on a cross for us: love one another, as I have loved you. We must love our Muslim brothers and sisters.

Christian love is nothing like the simulacrum of the Politically Correct. Christian love must be based in truth. It is Political Correctness, but not love, to close our eyes to the horrors that Islam imposes on its adherents: clitoredectomy, dancing boys, imprisoned and illiterate women, stoning, flogging, amputation, dictatorial governments, the bombing of schools and the murder of students, imposed backwardness, suicide bombings that are little more than child sacrifice, and constant warfare in the name of Allah.

It is Political Correctness, but not love, to claim that we in the West, inheritors of the Judeo-Christian tradition, must denigrate our heritage of science, democracy, self-criticism, and human rights in order not to cause Muslims to feel bad. It is love, real Christian love, to love our Muslim brothers and sisters, while at the same time speaking the truth to them. And the truth is that Muslim prayer has no place in a Christian church.

To our Muslim brothers and sisters, we must extend welcome: welcome into our lives and into our homes and into our hearts. Welcome into our workplaces and welcome into our nation. This welcome is warm and it is inclusive. Our warm welcome includes this: welcome into the truth we speak.