Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Zionist Face of First Things

The journal First Things, the premier religious journal in the USA, maintains a web log to which their contributors write. It does not, however, allow for the posting of comments by readers. Perhaps the editors of that magazine are unwilling to have readers challenge the neoconservatism which now passes for Christianity according to First Things.

I wish to comment on Wilfred McClay’s recently posted piece (Aug.23) in which he derides David Ray Griffin’s new book, Christian Faith and the Truth Behind 9/11, the Westminster Presbyterian Press for publishing it, the Catholic critiques of the Iraq war and American foreign policy, and everybody else who disagrees with the Bush Administration’s handling of world affairs. The enemies list is growing very long indeed, but the rhetorical skills of the neoconservative apologist seem to be growing rather dim.

Indeed I was sorry to read this disparaging and in many ways incoherent piece by Wilfred McClay. He wrote an excellent essay on Ralph Waldo Emerson some years ago which showed great acumen, and I have always considered him a thoughtful writer.

He begins by acknowledging his association with the Ethics and Public Policy Center of Washington, D.C., which was founded “to combat the perception that an intellectually and morally impoverished understanding of the dominant American religious traditions had rendered those traditions useless, or (as in the lamentable presidency of Jimmy Carter) worse than useless in guiding Americans’ thinking about a sensible and responsible foreign policy.”

Whew. This is quite a mouthful. But what he seems to be saying is that dominant American Christianity was not quite committed to the project of Empire, and that the people at the Ethics and Public Policy Center were determined to rectify this mistake, perhaps by furthering the alliance with Zionism. But why the dig at Jimmy Carter? Mr. Carter was the last president we had who acknowledged limits to energy use – there was the famous scene where he spoke from the White House wearing a sweater, because he kept the thermostats down. Mr. Reagan tore down Mr. Carter’s solar panels upon arriving at the august office. So much for the turn to a modicum of energy realism.

No doubt there were lamentable things that happened in Mr. Carter’s tenure, just as there have also been lamentable events in the presidencies before and after Mr. Carter -- but this snide disparagement of a good and decent man is wholly unwarranted.

Mr. McClay then goes on to praise Mr. George Weigel “in stimulating valuable thinking about the nation-state, war, and peace that is both strategically sound and theologically informed.” Concerning this last point I must demur. Mr. Weigel claims to be a Catholic, but he evidently holds no respect for Catholic Just War teaching. Both Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI have condemned the Iraq invasion, but apparently this effort for peace means nothing to the Country Club neo-Catholicism of George Weigel.

It gets worse. Mr. McClay describes the news that Westminster Presbyterian Press is publishing David Ray Griffin’s book as “jaw-dropping.” The book itself he refers to as “a crackpot September 11 conspiracy book.”

Now it is one thing to describe Mr. Griffin’s thesis in that book as shocking – which it is. But it is quite another to dismiss it in the cavalier way that Mr. McClay does. I would just like to ask Mr. McClay if he has given any thought to how Building 7 came down? It was not hit, and collapsed in a matter of seconds. Such facts – and there are many – point to a raft of troubling issues not dealt with in the “secular press” or by the government’s report. But then Mr. McClay adds insult to injury when he says that the appearance of this book “underlines the more general point that the most important intellectual and institutional expressions of the Christian faith, including Rome and Canterbury, have found almost nothing of value to say about the current Middle East crisis..."”etc. The phrase "including Rome"”is linked to an article in The Weekly Standard, neoconservative magazine sans pareil. This link consists of an article by neoconservative Joseph Bottum, “The Sodano Code: The Vatican’s stale policy on the Middle East,” which is a condemnation of the Vatican’s “functional pacifism.” Bottum writes that, “The Vatican was never anti-Israeli, and it certainly never condoned or praised terrorism. But, bit by bit, Rome’s advisers and experts on the Middle East came to be those whose first impulse was to take the Arab, and particularly the Palestinian, side in any dispute….”

Imagine that – taking the Arab side! What an affront, even to acknowledge that there might be two sides to the conflict. Aside from the intellectual dishonesty of the Bottum piece, and its transparently Zionist bias, I find it amazing that McClay had the temerity to link to an article in the Weekly Standard as an index to Catholic thought. If this was not sufficient, however, McClay urges us to read the right sort of people – his people – Norman Podhoritz, Victor Davis Hanson, Mark Steyn, Christopher Hitchens – all of whom are neoconservative courtiers and who are foaming at the mouth against Islam. Finally, Mr. McClay concludes his little diatribe by taking shots at those who criticize the “Christian pretensions” of George Bush et al. Now some of these critics who worry about “theocracy” and the like are, I agree, a little over the top. But notice how McClay refuses to engage their arguments, saying that, because they disagree with the neoconservative dogma, they can be “safely ignored and dispensed with.”

First Things had a great moment about a decade ago. It published a brave issue about “The End of Democracy?” which ruffled a lot of feathers in the Zionist sector which supports the magazine. Mrs. Gertrude Himmelfarb, for one, resigned her membership on the Board.

Since that time First Things has settled down to be a reliable echo chamber for the doctrine that Might Makes Right and There Is to be No Discussion. And since that time its editor, Father R.J. Neuhaus, has converted to Catholicism. Despite this, I find it alarming that First Things has become the premier intellectual-Christian apologist for neoconservatism. I fear that Father Neuhaus has been swept up, not into Catholicism, but into the Zionist delusion, and that he is not aware that the Zionists now have set their sights on the Catholic Church. For the true teachings of the Catholic faith – and some renegade Presbyterians – are all that is left of Christianity’s retaining wall against the Zionist annihilation of American politics.

Mr. McClay will be cheering it on, but for Father Neuhaus, a good and decent man, I tremble. It would have been better if he had remained a Lutheran, than to let these wolves into the fold!

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