Michigan winters can be depressing, a real downer. Add to that, the state of the world as 2016 begins and it’s amazing anyone can function.
A cartoon in yesterday’s paper showed half a dozen people nervously peeking into a dark room labeled “2016” – clearly, nobody wanted to go in.
Who knows what the year will bring?
Adding to my sense of foreboding has been a couple of books I’ve been reading. Perhaps I should stop reading! Then I could stop thinking and become like lots of other people. It’s difficult, though, to watch hours of mindless drivel on television or at movie theaters when there are so many good books to read.
The books I’ve been reading are “The End of Byzantium” by Jonathan Harris and “Isabella” by Kirstin Downey. The latter is about the famous queen of Spain, but includes a long section on the fall of Byzantium and what followed.
Byzantium was the name of the Eastern Roman Empire, founded by Constantine the Great in the fourth century. It survived the fall of the (western) Roman Empire by a thousand years. Byzantium was the greatest power in Christendom during that period. Constantinople, its capital, was known as “the Queen of Cities.”
Yet it fell.
It fell to the Muslim Turks in 1453. It’s fall was as dramatic and interesting as the fall of Babylon to Persia in 539 BC. The consequences for both were dramatic.
Residents of both had considered their capitals impregnable. Most Americans and Britons today would describe their own countries similarly. After all, they have nuclear weapons. The US has the greatest military on earth.
But, as the falls of Babylon and Constantinople show, it doesn’t mean a thing! And, just as the “handwriting was on the wall” for Babylon (Daniel 5), so it is today for the West.
I went to see my primary doctor recently, shortly after San Bernardino. He couldn’t understand why so many people brought up in the United States could become “radicalized.” I know that Britons, Australians, Canadians and people in other western countries don’t understand this, either.
An article in yesterday’s Lansing State Journal called for more Muslim immigration into the US. The reasoning was simple – the more people from the Middle East who come here, the better, because they either go back enthused about the American way of life, or they stay here committed to America.
This is naïve thinking at best. At its worst, it’s downright dangerous.
Both my doctor and this writer represent 1960’s liberal thinking. They believe that our western way of life is superior and that anybody who moves to the West will naturally see things that way given a short period of time to adjust. And their children, naturally, will be just as committed to the American (or British) way of life as anybody else born here, embracing our liberal values.
This reasoning fails to understand that there is a major difference between Islam and the West – one means “submission” (or “surrender”), while the other believes in freedom. These two cannot be reconciled. Any child brought up in the former, while living in the latter, is inevitably going to be confused.
Why can’t people see that?
If they cannot grasp what is written above, then they can at least read some history and learn lessons from the past.
Note the following from “Isabella,” describing the fall of Christian Constantinople to the Muslim Turks. Don’t think this can’t happen again – it’s happening right now in the Middle East as Christians are being driven out by Muslims. After the fall of Byzantium, it happened to other European nations as the Muslims moved into the heart of Europe. Again, hundreds of thousands have moved into central Europe in the last few months.
(When I was on a tour of Turkey a few years ago, I asked our tour guide three times what happened to all the Christians when Constantinople fell to the Muslims. Three times, I failed to get an answer.)
“On the last day, a crowd of men, women, children, nuns and monks, “sought refuge” in Hagia Sophia . . . (the sixth century cathedral built by Justinian) . . . the Turks broke down the doors of the church with axes and dragged the congregants off to slavery. The statues of the saints were smashed; church vessels were seized. “Scenes of unimaginable horror ensued,” historian Franz Babinger writes.”
“The Turkish soldiers killed four thousand in the siege and enslaved almost the entire population of the city. They plundered the churches, the imperial palace, and the homes of the rich, and they did considerable damage to much of the city’s fabled architecture . . . unique and rare classical manuscripts were torn apart for the value of their bindings and thrown into the garbage.” (“Isabella”, page 172, 2014)
“By the end of 1459, all of Serbia had fallen under their control. About 200,000 Serbs were enslaved by the Turks…..Soon, he (Mehmed, the sultan) attacked the city of Gardiki, in Thessaly, killing all 6,000 inhabitants, including women and children. He had accepted the surrender without struggle of the Genoese colony of Amasra, on the Black Sea coast, where he enslaved two-thirds of the population.” (p. 175)
ISIS continues to treat Christians the same way. There was, and is, no respect for other religions.
In the fifth century, the Roman Empire was invaded by barbarians (non-Romans). This is a reason they no longer exist. Spain itself was overrun by Muslims in the eighth century, a reason why Isabella took the stand she did centuries later. When the Holy Land fell to the Muslims, it was necessary for the West to intervene to enable pilgrims to travel there safely. After Constantinople fell, the West was in shock, rather as it would be if the United States fell.
The historian Niall Ferguson wrote after Paris that the West has the feel of Rome about it, that we are in danger of falling the same way; conservative columnist Mark Steyn wrote that “the barbarians are at the gate, and there is no gate!” – a reference to the fact that Angela Merkel and others are welcoming the invaders.
There clearly are genuine and justified concerns about allowing more Muslims into western countries. Just yesterday, the BBC has reported that Germany has been shocked by how many German women were sexually assaulted and even raped over New Years, a direct result of the recent surge in immigration from the Middle East and North Africa.
TV reporters and those who write for newspapers advocating more immigrants are clearly ignorant of history. They endanger all of our lives.
Reporting right now is focused on the growing Saudi-Iranian conflict, a continuation of the 1400-year-old struggle between Sunni and Shia Islam. Neither can respect the other. They just want to kill those who believe differently from themselves. We can see it clearly when looking at the two branches of Islam – why do the same reporters find it so difficult to see the threat Islam poses to Christians and secularists in the West?
Christians for centuries have prayed “Thy Kingdom Come” (Matt 6:10) as Jesus Christ taught us to do in His model prayer. Never has the need for that kingdom been greater. Only He can put an end to false religion and the religious confusion that threatens the end of our civilization.