Home > Tag Archives: Hilaire Belloc

Tag Archives: Hilaire Belloc

March 16th. 2017

We’re in Deadly Peril from Islam

Fight and slay the pagans [i.e. infidels] wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem of war.The Koran, Sura 9:5

What was the meaning of all that whisper of fear that ran round the west under the shadow of Islam, and fills every old romance with incongruous images of Saracen knights swaggering in Norway or the Hebrides?G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man.

Continuing our series of old articles from the Brandsma Review (we haven’t had any for  around six months) here’s one I wrote  around the turn of the millennium. I wouldn’t change a line of it, but I think  the threat from Islam is now far  greater than it was then.

In the mid 1960s I worked on a London newspaper with a Moslem from the Indian sub-continent called Khalim Siddiqui. He was intelligent and courteous, totally convinced of the truth of Islam, and impressively eloquent on the benefits of regular prayer. But his mind was entirely closed to other philosophies: they weren’t even worth investigating. He knew all he needed to know about Jews and Christians: God had rejected each in turn and raised up ‘the prophet’ Mohammed. Moslems were the final, complete heirs of the Abrahamic faith.

Twenty-five years later, Khalim could be heard ranting on the radio, calling for the implementation of the fatwa on Salman Rushdie, and for an Islamic parliament which would claim the allegiance of British Moslems and subject them to its own laws. By then, he was clearly not only a bigot, but a dangerous fanatic.

The question is, had he been one all along?

Francis Martel, writing in the magazine Culture Wars (July-August 1999) can help supply part of the answer: ‘There is not one Islam that is reasonable and approachable, and another that is the demented distortion of that…There is no non-fundamentalist version of Islam.’ (Martel is the pseudonym of an American who teaches in an Islamic country.)

There is much to admire about individual Moslems. One can be grateful for their stalwart opposition to abortion and euthanasia; their alliance with the Vatican and other Christians at the Cairo population conference was crucial in defeating the machinations of Planned Parenthood. We have even carried a fine pro-life article by a Moslem doctor, Majid Katme, in this Review.

And yet…I have come to believe that now Communism has been defeated the next big challenge facing Europe is coming from Islam—as so often in the past. But this time, it will be mainly internal rather than external And because of the woeful spiritual state of the West, we are as yet quite incapable of defending ourselves against it.

More than 60 years ago, when the West was not yet as degenerate and ‘post-Christian’ as it is today, the southern shores of the Mediterranean and the Near and Middle East were controlled or dominated by France, Britain and Italy. At that time, Hilaire Belloc issued a warning that must have seemed absurdly alarmist. It’s worth quoting at length:

‘Islam survives. Its religion is intact; therefore its material strength may return. Our religion is in peril of dissolution, and who can be confident in the continued skill, let alone the continued obedience, of those who make and work our machines?…There is with us a complete chaos in religious doctrine where religious doctrine is still held, and even in that part of the European population where the united doctrine and definition of Catholicism survives, it survives as something to which the individual is attached rather than the community. As nations we worship ourselves, we worship the nation; or we worship (some few of us) a particular economic arrangement believed to be the satisfaction of social justice. Those who direct us, and from whom the tone of our policy is taken, have no major spiritual interest. Their major personal interest is private gain, and this mood is reflected in the outer forms of government by the establishment of plutocracy.

‘Islam has not suffered this spiritual decline; and in the contrast between the religious certitudes still strong throughout the Mohammedan world, as lively in India as in Morocco, active throughout North Africa and Egypt…lies our peril.’

Speculating on the probability of some notable change in the Middle East, he added: ‘Perhaps that change will be deferred, but change there will be, continuous and great. Nor does it seem probable that at the end of such a change, particularly if it be prolonged, Islam will be the loser.’ (The Crusade, 1937)

When our ancestors attempted to wrest the Holy Places from the Moslems they were aware that Islam intended to conquer the whole world,and could well do so if it were not vigorously opposed. It is little over 300 years since the last serious Moslem attempt to take over Europe was launched. It was defeated under the walls of Vienna by King John Sobieski of Poland. Islam is still just as determined to achieve world domination: that is regarded as a religious duty.

The Moslems had a respect for Richard Coeur de Lion and Don Juan of Austria, even though they regarded them as infidels. They must find us modern Catholics, with our ‘apologies’ for Lepanto and the Crusades, utterly pathetic—a pushover! That is not to suggest we should now seek to overthrow Islam by force of arms—that would be anachronistic, absurd and unjust. But we should, by now, be aware of Moslem intentions, and resisting them by political, economic and above all by spiritual means. For we are confronted by an aggressive Islamic revival, stretching all the way from the Philippines to Nigeria.

In his Culture Wars article, Martel points out that from its beginnings in sixth-century Arabia, Islam has divided the world into the Dar Es Orb and the Dar Es Islam, (the world at war and the world of peace, or the world that has ‘submitted’, which is what Islam means, and the world still to be conquered. Once a territory becomes part of the Dar Es Islam, it must remain so.

In this connection, the Evangelical Christian apologist for Israel, Lance Lambert points that one reason why Moslems wish to destroy the Jewish State is that Palestine is part of the Dar Es Islam, having once been under Moslem control. Its very existence is an affront to Islamic theology. (So, presumably—although I have never seen this argued—must be the existence of non-Moslem Spain and Portugal.)

Although the peril to the West is clearer now than it was in Belloc’s day, few seem to be concerned. This is probably because the astonishing successes of tiny Israel in the wars of 1948 and 1967, and then the crushing Desert Storm victory over Iraq, have led us to despise the military capabilities of modern Islam.

We are missing the point: the danger is not so much external (though it could well become so) as internal and spiritual. The United States (the only remaining superpower) has been particularly naive in its dealings with Islam—failing to realise that Moslems simply have no concept of the individual having the right to choose his own path. Islam is of its very nature aggressive and totalitarian. It has is no separation of ‘church’ and ‘state’.

Public relations consultants to major Moslem organisations in the US use the liberal media to assuage the public while they pursue radical agendas inimical to the American system. ‘Now, in addition to homophobia, we have Islamophobia, a dread disease no contemporary journalist wishes to catch,’ says Martel. The American Islamic Council and the Council of American-Islamic Relations have managed to condition the media not to criticise the activities of Moslems for fear of a libel suit. Forthright coverage of militant Islamic terrorist groups operating in America resulted in journalist Steven Emerson being placed on a blacklist. Martel continues:

‘It is not possible to publish a critical essay about the Koran, as the Atlantic Monthly did in January 1999, without screams that the West has begun a new Crusade. Arab and Islamic studies are now popular in universities happy to receive petro-dollars to build special libraries and programmes and to endow professorships. The Moslems who support or teach in these programmes would be the first to riot in the streets should universities in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Bahrain or Oman accept a chair in Christian Theology or Jewish studies…In America, several generations of Christians and clergy—including Bishops and Cardinals—who have been nourished on share-and-care theology easily buy the view that the Moslems are being bashed by wicked people.

As I study what Moslems are about in the United States, I am struck by the ‘virus’ theory , that given enough local nutrition and space, Islamic society will attempt to reduplicate itself and emphasise its power and exclusivity. In short, in England and America, where there are some 1200 mosques each, and in other countries of the West, most Moslems prefer to create islands of Islam or ‘beachheads’ as Khomeini called them when he condemned Salman Rushdie. When these grow large enough to exert political power, they begin to demand that the large society change to fit Islam, as in England, where Moslems demanded their own separate parliament. Other Moslems in England argued against this, but mostly because they felt it was ‘too soon’.

Western foreign policy towards Islamic countries is as supine as its treatment of Moslems at home. Martel points out that when Desert Storm entered Saudi Arabia, the Americans permitted the Saudis to tell them that chaplains could not wear crosses, and worship services had to be disguised as counselling sessions. ‘When such behaviour is acceptable to the West, Islam knows that it is winning the worldwide culture war.’

The Balkan situation is muddled, as it has been throughout modern history—but now very much to Islam’s advantage. Islamic nations have armed, trained and financed the Bosnian army and the KLA in Kosovo. Their aim is an Islamic state comprising Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo—the largest chunk of Europe under Moslem control since the days of the old Turkish empire. President Alia Izetbegovic of Bosnia is known to be a fanatical proponent of the formation of Islamic states, and has purged his army of non-Moslems. Under the Dayton accords, his country is supposed to be a multi-ethnic society with liberty and justice for all. Yet in 1997, Izetbegovic addressed the Eighth Session of the Islamic Summit Conference in Teheran. It is worth recalling that Izetbegovic was imprisoned by the Yugoslav Communists for his pan-Islamic agitation which shows—as Martel drily comments—that the Marxist governments of Eastern Europe knew exactly what they had to suppress.

If all the above strikes you as over-alarmist, listen to Archbishop Giuseppe Germano Bernardini, O.F.M., Cap., of Izmir (formerly Smyrna) in Turkey, where he has lived for 42 years. In an intervention to the Post-Synodal Council in Rome, Archbishop Bernardini gave examples of the futility of ‘dialogue’ with Moslems: During an official meeting on Islamic-Christian dialogue, an authoritative Moslem person, speaking  to Christians participating, at one point said very calmly and assuredly: ‘Thanks to your democratic laws we will invade you; thanks to our religious laws we will dominate you.’ The Archbishop said the ‘domination’ has already begun , with petro-dollars used not to create work in poor North African or Middle Eastern countries, but to build mosques and cultural centres in Christian countries with Islamic immigrants—including Rome, the centre of Christendom. ‘How can we fail to see in all this a clear programme of expansion and conquest?’

He added: ‘During another Islamic-Christian meeting, always organised by Christians, a Christian participant asked the Moslems present why they did not organise at least one meeting of this kind. The Moslem authority present answered in the following words: ‘Why should we? You have nothing to teach us and we have nothing to learn.’

Archbishop Bernardini said of course we must distinguish the fanatic and violent minority from the tranquil and honest majority; ‘but the latter, at an order given in the name of Allah or the Koran, will always march in unity and without hesitation.’

He appealed to Rome to begin to face up to the threat from Islam: ‘And now I would like to make a serious proposal to the Holy Father: to organise as soon as possible, if not a Synod, at least a symposium of Bishops and those engaged in the pastoral care of immigrants, particularly Islamic immigrants, and open to the Reformed and Orthodox Churches. The symposium could be useful to study in a collegial way the problem of the Islamic individuals in Christian countries, and thus find a common strategy to face it and resolve it in a Christian and objective way. I end this exhortation suggested to me by experience: do not allow Moslems ever to use a Catholic church for their worship, because in their eyes this would be the surest proof of our apostasy.’

Early this century [that’s the 20th, of course]  G.K. Chesterton wrote a fantasy called The Flying Inn about an England turned Moslem in which all the pubs were closed by law. (It was rescued, if I remember rightly, by an Irish sea captain who travelled around the country with a large cheese, a barrel of rum, and an inn-sign.) I used to think the whole idea was just too absurd: now I’m not so sure.

When Father Richard John Neuhaus reviewed a book called The Decline of Eastern Christianity under Islam and pointed out some of the things referred to above, he was savaged by the Council of American-Islamic Relations, which demanded that the Catholic Church should ‘investigate’ him for daring to suggest that Islam is a permanent threat to Western Society and that Christian-Moslem dialogue might be a delusion.

Of course, it is. As Martel says: ‘Remember the past. Know Islam, love the Moslems, but accept no follies that would lie about a global threat that will surely be permanent until the heathen are converted.’

* * * * *

I have hardly touched the surface of the vast subject: in particular, the ongoing persecutions of Christians in many Moslem states should have an article to itself. The atrocities committed in Sudan, above all, are almost unbelievable: and it is astonishing that they get so little mention in the Western media. The persecution of the Christian Copts—the original inhabitants of Egypt—has lasted off and on for 1400 years. I should also have liked to have dealt in depth with the role of Israel in relation to Islam, and to have discussed the history of Mohammed and the Moslem attitude to women.

For further reading I would recommend, in addition to the July-August 1999 issue of the Catholic magazine Culture Wars (206 Marquette Avenue, South Bend IN 46617) the following Protestant publications: Robert Morey, The Islamic Invasion: Confronting the World’s Fastest-Growing Religion, Harvest House, Eugene, Oregon 1992 (187pp.), and The History of Islam: Its Self-Understanding, its Claim to Jerusalem. The latter is a pamphlet published by Christian Friends of Israel, 15 Teddington Business Park, Station Road, Teddington, Middlesex TW11 9BQ, England. Some very informative tapes can be obtained from ‘Prayer for Israel’, 199 Widmore Road, Bromley, Kent, England.

Re-reading what I wrote then I realise that perhaps I may have been a little over-gloomy. We should at least be grateful to President Trump for taking the first tentative steps to neutralise the Moslem threat, in addition to his apparently genuine conversion to the pro-life cause.

September 19, 2015

The Grace of God is in Courtesy

Hilaire Belloc

Henry Sire, in his  book Phoenix from the Ashes (see our post for September 10) points out that the achievements of the great religious foundresses  of the Middle Ages such as St Clare or St Bridget of Sweden are not to the liking of feminists, whose ambitions for their sex stop at the gates of heaven. Yet the fact remains that from the time when the literature of romance arose, the ethos of medieval Europe surrounded women with an idealism that no previous culture had known…

But the fuller signs of that idealism were to be seen as the spirit of chivalry and romance made its mark on Europe. It created relations of courtesy between the sexes that reversed everything that had been accepted in human history . The conventions emerged of behaving to a woman as to a person  of higher rank, of rising at her approach, of treating her in conversation as one deserving higher respect than a man, as one whose delicacy it was indecent to offend and whose virtue it was shameful to slight. By such manners Christianity taught brute strength  to defer to the more delicate human qualities and affirmed their value. These marks of homage , undreamt of by pagan societies and now disappearing as paganism returns, are the fruits of the Christian ideal of hierarchy, an ideal that depends not on material power but on moral respect, that asserts not equality but value. A culture that speaks of value engenders respect, courtesy and chivalrous devotion. One that speaks of equality has only the jostling of sow and boar for the trough.

For some reason that custom of standing up if a lady comes into the room reminds me of an incident when I worked in the RTE Newsroom. It was Christmas Day and the Head of News invited us all into his office for a drink. While we were there the (male) Director-General suddenly arrived. Immediately everyone obsequiously rose to their feet, except myself and one other man. He went by the unusual name of Rivers Carew, the deputy chief sub-editor of television  news. Rivers was a Protestant, a poet, and a gentleman in every sense of that word. If the DG had been a woman, Rivers would certainly have stood up, and I hope I would have, too.




November 20, 2014

The Preferential Option for Protestantism

On November 10  I mentioned  Hilaire Belloc’s prophecy in 1937 that Islam would eventually recover its power, and that the former Christian nations of Europe lacked  the spiritual strength to defeat it. He was dead right.

But another prediction  of Belloc’s, that  Catholicism would grow while Protestantism would decline, has proved to be quite mistaken. (I mean real Catholicism and real Protestantism.)

In  this present  post  we  see  just how serious the falling away has been, using the extreme example of what’s been happening in Latin America. (With acknowledgments to the Rorate Caeli blog, from whom I quote extensively)  In the next post,  I hope to suggest  how this disastrous trend could  be reversed.

So first, have a careful look at this table. It’s really scarifying.

Historical data suggest that for most of the 20th century, from 1900 through the 1960s, at least 90% of Latin America’s population was Catholic.

What happened exactly in the 1960s?…It is always affirmed by those who say that the collapse in almost all Catholic indicators that followed the Second Vatican Council was a coincidence;  that the 1960s and 1970s were an era of strong secularisation and that the collapse would have happened anyway.
Well, that might conceivably help to explain the collapse in Western Europe, North America, and Australia. But in Latin America (where the current pope studied to be a priest during the 1960s, being ordained in December 1969), what happened instead during the same period was an intense religious revival. But instead of it being channeled through the traditional structures of Catholic life, these same traditional structures were being dismantled by the Latin American hierarchy inebriated with the spirit of aggiornamento, and Latin Americans, who just wanted pure religious life, converted in droves to Protestantism, the only ‘space’ in which they could find signs of the Christian message. In Honduras, the country of the most powerful man in the Roman Curia today after the Pope, Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga (who has been a bishop in the capital since 1978, first as auxiliary then as Archbishop), the hierarchy led by him managed the amazing feat of transforming that country in the first Catholic-minority nation in Central America, a vertiginous fall from 94% to 46% in the same period–and the same happened in Uruguay, across the Rio de la Plata from Buenos Aires:

In the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council, whose influence in Latin America was widely and deeply felt by all the faithful in the region since the beginning, in particular by way of radical and immediate liturgical upheaval and of the various ‘Latin American conference documents’ (Medellín, Puebla, Santo Domingo, Aparecida), it can only be said that, as the Latin American Church insisted on a poorly-understood and anti-traditional version of Christian poverty, making what the hierarchy thought would be a ‘preferential option for the poor’, the poor made a preferential option for Protestantism. As the Church abandoned traditional spirituality and worship for mundane politicised concerns and liturgy, many faithful looked for authentic spirituality wherever they could find it. They found it elsewhere.

The Maradiaga principle has been tried and tested; its effect is abysmal, as proved by the clear numbers. The liberal-and-liberation-theology experiment in Latin America did not work. It will not work when applied to the world stage, either, and may even hinder the growth of Catholicism in those few strongly conservative nations, such as those in Africa, where a muscular, morally strong, and orthodox Catholic faith is still spreading out confidently.

I think that comment from Rorate Caeli  is absolutely right.  Surely two  of the positive things about evangelical Protestantism  are a) its emphasis on the Bible as the inspired word of God, and b) its emphasis on salvation. People need both these things, and the Catholic Church, sorry to say, frequently fails to provide them.  Liberation theology, and the kind of secularised religion served up by progressive  Catholic prelates, just don’t provide the kind of spiritual sustenance we fallen humans require as a bare minimum.

November 10, 2014

Belloc’s Prophecy Fulfilled

In January 1937, the month I was born, Hilaire Belloc wrote the following prophetic passage at the end of his book The Crusade:

The comparatively recent domination of Western Europeans, English and French, over Mohammedan lands, is due to causes mainly material and therefore ephemeral. One must always look to moral (or, more accurately, to spiritual) causes for the understanding of human movements and political change. Of these, by  far the most important is the philosophy adopted by the community, whether that philosophy can be fully expressed as a religion, or taken for granted without overt definition.

Now it is true that on the spiritual side Islam had declined in one factor wherein we of the West had not declined, and that was the factor of energy allied to, and productive of, tenacity and   continuity of conduct. But on the other hand, in the major thing of all, Religion, we have fallen back and Islam has in the main preserved its soul. Modern Europe and particularly Western Europe has progressively lost its religion, and especially that united religious doctrine permeating the whole community, which unity gives spiritual strength to that community.

There is with us a complete chaos in religious doctrine, where religious doctrine is still held, and even in that part of the European population where the united doctrine and definition of Catholicism survives, it survives as something to which the individual is attached rather than the community. As nations we worship ourselves, we worship the nation; or we worship (some few of us) a particular economic arrangement believed to be the satisfaction of social justice. Those who direct us, and from whom the tone of our policy is taken, have no major spiritual interest. Their major personal interest is private gain, and this mood is reflected in the outer forms of government by the establishment of plutocracy.

Islam has not suffered this spiritual decline; and in the certitudes still strong throughout the Mohammedan world, as lively in India as in Morocco, active throughout North Africa, even inflamed through contrast and the feeling of repression in Syria–more particularly in Palestine–lies our peril.

We have returned to the Levant, we have returned apparently more as masters than ever we were during the struggle of the Crusades, but we have returned bankrupt in that spiritual wealth which was the glory of the Crusades…These lines were written in the month of January, 1937; perhaps before they appear in print the rapidly developing situation in the Middle East will have marked some notable change. Perhaps that change will be deferred, but change there will be, continuous and great. Nor does it seem probable that at the end of such a change, especially if the process be prolonged, Islam will be the loser.

I believe Belloc would have quite surprised at how accurate his prediction has proved to be, even though that change was in fact deferred by the Second World War.  But he would have been astonished, and indeed appalled, by how much the change has been in Islam’s favour. The tables have been turned: France is menaced by hundreds of thousands of Algerian settlers who have no intention of being assimilated, and Britain has been quietly swamped by  equally intransigent Moslem immigrants from Pakistan, Bangla Desh, Somalia and elsewhere. Neither country has the spiritual strength to withstand the peril it is now facing.

One man who does understand the situation  very well, even though he is totally anti-religious, is David Abbott, who sums up  the situation very well in his book Dark Albion:  A Requiem for the English:

[P]arts of our towns now resemble Islamabad, complete with sharia law, political corruption, paedophile grooming gangs, burkas, oppression of women and female genital mutilation. Twenty-five thousand immigrant girls suffer this abuse every year in Britain, with not a single arrest for this criminal offence…

Britain is now a society loosened to its very foundations by a copious admixture of foreigners, an imperfect fusion of races, its people disunited by successive immigrations and threatened by a totalitarian religious ideology. The contemporary sound of our island is the noise of the Tower of Babel.

And all this was deliberate policy, epic treachery on a scale with that of classic traitors such as Coriolanus, who waged war on his native Rome, and Judas, the greatest sinner in Dante’s Divine Comedy, in which traitors suffer the worst torments in the deepest part of hell.

He is referring of course to politicians of all three of the main political parties–particularly the Labour Party. The middle-class socialists and liberals who decide what is politically and socially acceptable don’t live anywhere near the working-class in whose interests they purpose to act but whom, in reality, they  despise. No, they dwell in nice leafy suburbs far from the Islamified neighbourhoods so graphically described in Mr Abbott’s furious diatribe.  (His chapters “Hideously Moslem” and  “What a Load of Ol’ Shiite” are particularly vituperative.)

Abbott quotes a vicar’s wife who wrote that Inner-city Birmingham has been a police no-go area for 20 years. Whenever she went out of doors after dark, locals assumed that as a white woman she must be a prostitute. Most of the run-down Irish pubs had been turned into mosques. An increasing number of Moslems had been arriving in the area with EU passports. She asked one of them, newly arrived from Antwerp, why he had come. He was surprised she should ask such a question, and replied: “Everybody know. Birmingham best place in Europe to be pure Moslem.”

Abbott finishes his book with a scary but quite believable chapter entitled “William the Conquered 2066”, in which he imagines what Britain might be like in just over 50 years’ time. Moslems are in control of government.  Churches are being turned into mosques or madrassas.  Sharia law is rapidly being  introduced. Ambitious men are converting to Islam in the same spirit as many people in the Soviet Union  joined the Communist Party, as a career move.  Virtuous Moslems are campaigning to change the names of streets, replacing the names of  monarchs and ministers, soldiers and sailors with heroes of Islam . Society is ruled and policed by swarthy sanctimonious men who consult nothing but their old books.  Ham and bacon are outlawed. During Ramadan, restaurants are  open for only two hours,  at dusk.  Doddery old King William (the present Queen’s grandson) receives a delegation of a dozen Moslem politicians, with bushy beards and shaven upper lips. They have a series of  non-negotiable demands, one of which is that his  granddaughter be made to marry a Moslem.

I had intended to mention Abbott’s attitude to religion in general, which is somewhat inconsistent. But I think I’ll leave that for the present.







October 24, 2014

Knavish imbecility

Yet more on the Synod. The Hermeneutic of Continuity blog  sums the thing up beautifully:

Well that wasn’t a very edifying spectacle was it, the Synod? An outrageously dishonest attempt at procedural manipulation at the highest level, publicly shoved into the turf nose-first by decent men who just couldn’t stomach any more of it. Thanks be to God for Cardinal Pell and Cardinal Burke: at least we have heroes to sing of after the debacle.

I suppose in advance of the follow-up Synod, we now have to face another year of false hopes and unnecessary confusion over Christ’s teaching on marriage and the family while the wrong targets are routinely chosen for praise and blame, promotion and demotion.

Sorry – I have been very busy with pastoral work, haven’t much time to post, wanted to say something, and find it hard to be patient with what has gone on. I was glad to be able to quote Belloc recently to a concerned young man who had not heard his famous words: `The Catholic Church is an institution I am bound to hold divine; but for unbelievers, here is proof of its divinity, that no merely human institution run with such knavish imbecility would have lasted a fortnight.`