Wednesday, February 8, 2006


I've had cause to become familiar with some number of dysfunctional behaviours of mind - we may call it abnormal psychology. I've been reminded quite forcefully recently of the borderline personality, characterized by a pervasive instability of self-image, of affect, of relationships - in other words, the self doesn't interact well with either the inner or the outer world. Reasoning tends to be emotional; judgments tend to the black or white; self-injury is common and self-destruction not infrequent. Somewhere between two and fifteen percent of a typical population may display such behaviour. Perhaps twenty percent of all psychiatric hospitalizations are due to this diagnosis. Not a small or a rare problem, then.

Is it possible that cultures, or religions, might suffer such an affliction?

I cannot say what Islam is. I do not know its existential reality. I do not concern myself with the arcana of its doctrine. I don't care about its times of quiescence - the hibernating bear is of only academic interest. I know only what it shows itself to be. Alas, we are, none of us, judged by our finest moments - praised perhaps, but not judged. We are judged, and rightly, for our failures. How then shall we judge Islam? What is its effect in the world currently? The question is mere rhetoric. Of the seventeen or so wars currently going on in the world at this moment, in every case one of the opposing sides is Moslem. There is a fifty-fifty chance that for any given terrorist event, the perpetrator's name will somewhere include a version of "Mohammed."

Here's the problem. There needs to be a difference between what is offensive and what is incendiary. These two ideas need to be sufficiently distinct that they evoke different responses. Such is not the case, with Islam. There is no offence that is not incendiary. And that is a very troublesome problem indeed. Because we in the West not only make, but rely on, the distinction. In fact, this is what defines us, describes the foundation of our culture. If I'm vulgar enough, some big dude may give me the whooping I deserve. Alas for him, the law does not recognize the concept of "fighting words." A jury may certainly acquit him, and perhaps rightly - but that's just another beauty of our system, where law is balanced by justice and common sense. We tolerate ambiguity.

With Islam as it presents itself in the streets, my intemperate speech requires a whooping - well, a stoning. For what I wrote in "Piss Christ," were I sufficiently important, a fatwah would be issued against me. And really, don't I seem like a pretty reasonable guy? - maybe too opinionated, maybe too sure of myself, but more concerned with being right than with sounding right? And even if I'm just utterly wrong, and even if I'm insensitive, or downright offensive, even the ACLU would theoretically defend me. (Laugh Out Loud.) Point being, the marketplace of ideas has been such a central idea to us - it is the plaza, the agora of our polis. The bazaars of Islam, sad to say, have no offerings, no wares of freedom. What do they have?

In the late 1850s a rumor swept through Bengal and then greater India that the cartridges used by Indian solders under the Raj were greased with both cow and pig fat. I sigh, I shake my head, and point out that the cow is sacred to Hindus, and the pig is anathema to Moslems. And cartridges were held in the mouth. Yuck. So of course the Sepoy Mutiny lasted for several years. Blood blood blood. Key concept? Rumor. Rumor. Rumor. Perhaps it was true. But rumor. The circumstances, the details are different today, but the attitude is the same. Rigidity and the inability to achieve a perspective that is not formed solely by dogma. Reasoning is emotional. Judgments are black or white. Self-injury is inevitable and suicide is a sacrament.

Islam, I'm vulgar enough to say, is a lunar cult - attested still in its crescent. Allah (al-ilah - "the god") was Mohammed's local and dominant moon god, Sin, made grand. Al-Ilah had - has - three daughters: al-Uzza, al-Lat and Manat, acknowledged in the Koran in the so-called "satanic verses"- which were expurgated and repented of by Mohammed - he was, you see, "tempted of Satan" to write them. But I digress. The moon is a universal symbol for the irrational - from folklore to Golden Dawn to Jungian psychology. It may be mere wordplay for me to require a genetic relationship between its occult lunar past and modern - well, current - Islam. But the fragility of Moslem character that at the hint of a rumor must rush en mass into the street and rant and riot and burn makes that case far more forcefully than any words I could string together.

There is in astronomy the phenomenon of the terminator, that line on a celestial body that divides day and night - the eternal glooming that rings a globe. Likewise, the borderline personality forever hovers in the perpetual twilight between psychosis and the merely neurotic. And it is not inapt, I think, to notice that Islam - lunar, crescent moon Islam - as it manifests itself through its public actions finds its most characteristic expression in the shadowland of irrationality, oppression, violence and destruction. The required perspective to see this, however, can only be achieved at a very great distance. Alas, dogma bears no wings.

What then? What hope? I turn to grand old Milton, writing of blinded Samson in his Palestinian agony:

O dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon,
Irrecoverably dark, total eclipse,
Without all hope of day!

Every poet writes on themes that move him, that speak to his soul and urge, compel his soul to speak. We do not know with what tears these words of Milton were written. We know they would have come from blind eyes - that Milton, the incomparable Milton shared this affliction with mighty Samson. What we can know is this: to speak of what might have been could flood the world with tears. Islam could and might have turned from darkness to light. But prophets of hate have turned that flock to the dark wilderness, and they would make a wilderness of the whole world. Well might we weep - but we must, well, keep our powder dry. Because they are coming, and they bring darkness with them, and they carry long knives. They enjoy killing, and they want to die. I suppose that answers the question. Islam has made itself psychotic.



Brent said...

I can appreciate the comparison and the similarities are undeniable. I worked with several borderlines (and several budding borderlines). I went through a phase that attracted them. Oh, yes. I was just starting out…that phase. You know, wanting to help…thinking people really wanted help stage. Borderlines really feed off this but they really don’t want to change. Opps, that slipped out. Anyway…I think maybe narcissistic personality disorder would better describe our enemies. Grandiose sense of self-importance; preoccupations with fantasies of unlimited success, power, and beauty; sense of one’s specialness and uniqueness; requires excessive admiration and attention; sense of entitlement (I like that one); exploits other people and takes advantage of them (ooh.) lacks empathy for other people’s needs; arrogant, haughty bx or attitudes. (Now, who was I talking about, liberals?) We could easily step it up to sociopathic, but to be kind, antisocial. Since true sociopathy is rare. However, it does fit.

I tend to look at societies as in a state of constant growth, developmental stages if you will, that if for some reason the growth is stopped, pathology is manifested. For example, currently the U.S. seems to be at an early adolescent stage. (We did elect a president stuck in early adolescence – BC.) We however are not stuck in development. This is where we are and I have confidence that we as nation will grow up. We will look back and thank daddy George for doing the right thing even if we, at the time were emotionally reactive and threw our temper tantrums and engaged in our power struggles. We deep down in our collective conscience (Yes, we do have conscience – even liberals, I think.) know what is right and feel safe because someone is in charge that will do what they believe is best though not popular.

My hunch is: Islam is not so. Now I’m not a student of Islam. I’ve read some. I’ve read all you have said about it in this blog. It seems that Islam is stuck. If Islam were in my office, I wouldn’t ascertain where and how it got stuck at first. I would change the bx. Billy has to stop beating people up. Where it got stuck really doesn’t matter. The current is dysfunctional and must stop. Someone must stop it. Obviously, their mothers can’t. (Wait a minute. Did I stumble onto the where they got stuck?) So some other authority must step in and correct these bastards. (Opps. I guess I will die with you.)

I know this is simplistic thinking, but if we’re making comparisons, I thought I’d throw in my two cents.

I think I’ve read all your stuff now – on this site, some on the others. I’m not much into fiction and too stupid to get the poetry. It’s been a good read. Thanks for putting it out there. Too bad it’s copy righted. I was going to put on my site and claim it was my stuff. (Surely, you get that joke.)

Jack H said...

Greetings B. I think NPD is too functional to be the counterpart of Islamism. What borderline personalities are on the border of, is psychosis, and this seems a closer match than the mega-ego and insensitivity of the narcissist. It's not just about feeling superior, but of wanting to destroy. The one does fade into the other, of course, and the overlap is clear, and it's really just an analogy anyway. But narcissists are merely unpleasant and annoying and hard to deal with. Borderlines will get you.

I don't know about societies and stages of development. In such case, what would an adult society be? When has there been such a thing? If ours is in adolescence, what was it in the '30s? - and '40s? - surely a more mature time than now, one of self-sacrifice and hard work and heroic endeavor. Even the ’50 are noteworthy for a sense of self-restraint. Looks like our society is running in reverse order – starting out highly organized (Constitution) and flywheeling into chaos. But all analogies are flawed. Obviously, it has to do with decadence. Perhaps it’s a midlife crisis.

I don’t think lefties are lacking in conscience. It’s values that are the problem. The angst they emote is quite impressive, about how bad America is. Such a conscience. So here’s the reasoning: 9-11, because America deserved it, what with all this exploiting and oppression we enjoy inflicting. So the Islamists were right and we were evil. And Israel deserves their pizza parlor bombs, because they stole Palestine, and are Jews, so they’re evil and the Islamists are right. And the Russians deserve to have their school children murdered, because they’re evil. And the Balinese. And the Philippinoes. And the people in Dufar. And the Buddhists. All evil. The only one’s who aren’t evil is the Islamists. They act for good reasons. Everybody on the planet has been evil to them. That, I believe, as the *reductio ad absurdum* logic of the liberals. Plenty of conscience. It’s just seared – a sort of, um, conversion reaction. :-)

Islam is stuck the way any true believer is stuck. They are (it is) absolutely right, if they are right. Pick some liberal (theologically) Christian sect … no Trinity, no biblical inerrancy or sufficiency. Are they right? I suspect you would disagree. It’s not that Islam is stuck, it’s that it’s wrong. We’re stuck, believing as we do and believing we’re right. Same with them.

But there’s a reason for it. You know the 12th Imam? The one who disappeared down a well in a cave in Qom in the 900s, and who’ll reappear in the end times to lead the armies of Allah? Reappear out of the well? Reappear out of the *pit*? Who do we know of, you and I, that will rise out of a pit to conquer the world and lead the army of the moon god against us and our God? Who are the Sons of the East that will rise up against us?

Yeah, they are stuck. But Judas too had his function. Islam is one of the religions of the Antichrist. A Dali Pope Imam is just the coming thing. Stop him? Well, he’s been stopped before. But these are interesting times, eh, my friend?

Sounds like you’re moving on. Wrung me out like a wet rag, and hung me up to dry, huh? I feel so dirty.


Drop in any time.


Brent said...

Hey Jack,

No, I thought I'd start a cult based on your writings. I'm committing them to memory even as I write. I've read them into my computor and have them playing as background noise - that didn't come out right, or did it?

Keep writing. More importantly, keep thinking. You have challenged my thinking and have taught me to evaluate thoughts more thoroughly.

My escatological views have evolved, or devolved as some have said. In high school the seed was planted of dissatisfaction concerning dispensationalism/futurism. I never got into this frenzy/excitement of end time events. Now I studied, and studied. I taught. I can interpret the charts. I can quote the verses. I even staged the rapture back in 2000, or was it 88, or 81, or 1910, or 1874, or 1818, or one of the many more failed predictions. You get the point, which is not these poor fellas just missed it. Whenever it was, poor Randy was left behind. Within me there grew a dissatisfaction. I saw no practical purpose for escatology except to escape or produce fear and guilt. This is not an attempt to degrade your view. I'm just on a different journey. I've not arrived yet. My view tends more to an escatology of victory. I don't have everything ironed out but at some point will put it out there for others to critique. I have determined that I will not speak of anything that Father has not first worked in me or at least I will acknowledge where He is still working.

I am somewhat familiar with the poor chap that fell down that well. I'm pretty sure he's not coming back. I think we have to be very careful with Scripture. It is more than just an intellectual persuit. We must rely on the Holy Spirit to help us understand. Through the years there have been many, many sincere folk that got it wrong - I being accounted with them.

I'll give you a few morsels that started me on this journey. 1st: Daniel's 70 weeks. How is it that the 70th week is still out there floating? This seems inconsistent with biblical exegesis. Now I could accept an historist point of view the in essence hx repeats itself but the 70th week needed to happen as it said it would.

2nd: the time statements of Jesus and the expectation of Jesus' return found in the Apostle's writings. It seems to me that they were expecting Jesus in their lifetime.

The traditional answers just seemed to ring hollow for me.

Jack H said...

That's pretty funny. You've made me laugh. A cult that never meets, and everybody just wants to be left alone. I'd join. I'll be putting out my own CD of my greatest hits: "Git the Hell off My Mountaintop!" - "Who Said YOU Could Be Saved?" - and my personal favorite, "Me Me Me Me Me".

Glad to add a twist to your brain. It's what I do. I just don't seem to be able to think like a normal person. I've diagnosed myself as marginally autistic. About a hundred dollars worth.

Re eschatology, it is a confirmation, like all prophecy, for after the fact. Not a whole lot of predictive value. Interesting for a certain mindset, but really needs balance. Take a look at Dwight Pentecost, if you haven't already. Very organized thinker. "Things To Come," as I recall. But again, to get caught up in all that is to count your cumin. There's a whole other point, isn't there. For my part, I enjoy and admire the elegance. Never did wait fer no Motherships, myself personally.

Oh, getting specific on me, eh? Golly, it's been so long. As I recall, the gap between the 69th and 70th week is the Church Age. We might draw a rough analogy from scripture using the principle that even in time of war, a newly married man takes a year off to spend with his bride. What? In urgent time of war??? Yes. So we've had 1,974 years off. A tighter match is outlined in my Chronology table - forgetting the name - in The Age of Base Metal. The periods of oppression, for the Age of Judges, are subtracted, and then the dates work out perfectly. Really beautiful. Same idea, with Daniel. I'm being vague I know, but all this is off the top of my head. Prophecy really isn't my thing either.

The repeating of events is called, as you must know, the Law of Double Fulfillment. Given that Antiochus does NOT match up with Daniel, to assume he is the one solely meant creates more problems than its solves, for anyone who takes Scripture as an honest witness. Also, the whole liberal interpretation of Daniel assumes that the book wasn't written in the 500s, but in the 130s BC - and it gets the last "week" wrong, because it was written before Antiochus failed. In other words, the Bible is just a book. "Double Fulfillment" is not the easiest answer, but it's infinitely better than this other.

Expecting Jesus is the doctrine of imminence. Again, I had these objections too, and did a lot of plowing to dig up some satisfactory answers, but that was some years ago, and it fades. I think I wrote something out. I’ll see if I can find it, and post it. But here, it has to do with Jesus being the Bridegroom. Jewish custom had the Bride waiting on his arrival, never knowing. He would come for her by surprise – that was the point, to take her unawares – as a sort of test of her love and devotion. You see how it applies. My “Whom the Lord Loves” deals with this, after a fashion … Jesus could have come right away. Just didn’t work out that way.

The thing that rings hollow to me is all this talk about comfort. We all struggle with burdens, and the burdens seem to be crafted specifically for each of us. Custom-made crosses. While you wait.


Brent said...

Omm! One session. You're a quick fix. Talk about brief therapy. You must be the standard that the insurance companies use when compensating a dx.

Comfort -- my how we hide from our fears. Maybe it's me and exposes my heart, but I see the expectation and need for suffering throughout the Bible. This is the escapism that I was alluding to. And probably the distaste I have for futurism.

I believe that prophecy was predictive and had meaning to the original readers/hearers. Wasn't a blessing promised to those who read and heed Revelation "for the time is near?" It's easy (riiight!) to look at it after the fact and say, "Oh yea, that's what it meant. Anyone could see that." But the Jews missed their Messiah. They interpreted the prophecy wrongly. They were looking for someone to come on their terms to do what they wanted. They were interpreting the prophecies through their filters. This shows me that we can get in the way and MUST rely on the Holy Spirit to help us understand. I'm not talking about some warm fuzzy. I think that's why many of the Jews would get deceived from time to time and Jesus warned His followers to beware when others would say He's in the desert... I could post some of my old sermons that preached the imminency of Christ's return (afterall, Paul and the others preached imminency. My would they be mad today! "What! did I look like a fool!?"). Fool for Christ? Only if He mandates it to me personally. Otherwise, I'm just a fool. "I didn't tell him to do that," said Jesus. I've wasted plenty of foolishness - zeal without knowledge.

Anyway, it's late and I'm rambling. (Notice how good I am at avoiding responsibility? It's all the kids I work with. Or is it the staff? opps. I did it again.) More to come. I'll have to write that apologetic on 70 weeks and Jesus's time statements. I'm no writer, though. Your writing may be like a free flowing spring gushing out millions of gallons per min. But my writing is like child birth, pushing out the words between the screams of pain and sweat and cursing.

Jack H said...

Well we are promised a cross. What a marketing device: Get saved and suffer! But there it is. If for no other reason, then that we suffer through compassion. But when I say comfort, I mean Comforter. Consolation. I know you know what I mean. The standing beside someone in pain - silently, because words will not do. I've had some pain, and never noticed any comfort. But there are children, wretched in their moodiness, who will not allow it. Maybe that's me. Would have been nice to hear a voice, though. We need something other than the passage of time, to assuage suffering, sometimes. But the hollowness involved in the promise of comfort is in me, not God. And I've never had a complaint about Jesus. He gets it.

Prophecy was predictive, and is, but it's flat - we don't have the perspective to judge true distances. One mountain heaped upon another, and no sense of scale. That's what I mean when I say, not predictice. I should have said, not datable. Oh, you poor fool. Did you name the days and hours? Hahahahahaha!!!! The time wasn't near as a function of chronology, but of proximity. It was at hand - close, to be picked up at any moment. As it were. I think I looked into that, years ago. But my lexicons are packed away.

The way I look at it, is there are wonderfully datable periods. I've done that work, and if I'm wrong, it's not for lack of evidence. And that 70th week is datable too. It's just when the week starts that's the problem, the "day and hour" that no man knows. We look for signs, as men have always done. Just as they have thought the sky was red, so might we. But honestly, the sky is red. We don't know when the storm will start, but we hear the thunder. That is the value of the doctrine of imminence: you've got a raincoat handy, just in case. That boneheads have raced out and tried to corner the market on raincoats is just their hard luck. Sensible, not fanatical. Puh-leeeease.

Oh, what? So, yer pregnant? i dont git it. waddya mene???!! like iz itt tawinns er sumpin???!!

Oh, McGoo, you've done it again.