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Tag Archives: CHRISTIANITY

Minorities Should Express Shame, Not

Only Pride
Dennis Prager TOWNHALL,COM
Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Gay Pride. Jewish Pride. Black pride. Hispanic Pride.

Multiculturalism.

Ethnic pride. Minority rights vs. tyranny of the majority.

For a generation, America has been awash in the celebration of minorities and minorities celebration of themselves. Just recall Black is Beautiful or I am a woman, I am invincible.

At the same time, the majority group in America — white Christians — has been allowed to celebrate very little. Rather, they have constantly been reminded of what they should be ashamed of — their racism, sexism, homophobia, patriarchy, and xenophobia — real and alleged.

But what about minority shame?

Why does one almost never hear expressions of group shame from members of any American group other than white Christians (specifically, white Christian male heterosexuals)? Are the only evildoers in America white male heterosexual Christians? Is there something inherently wrong about members of minorities expressing anything but group pride? Are there no minority sins worthy of shame? The latter is in fact the argument advanced by many intellectuals concerning black racism, for example. For a generation, college students have been taught that it is impossible for blacks to be racist because only the racial group in power, i.e. whites, can express racism.

Of course, that is nonsense. A black can be a racist just as a white can be one. A minority race might not have the power to implement racist national policies but that hardly means that no minority group, or any individual, can be a racist.

All this came to mind recently when, by coincidence, I read two things about the minority group of which I am a member — Jews. I just completed reading Anthony Beevors The Fall of Berlin 1945, in which the author writes that in the midst of the massive rape of German women (millions of girls and women of all ages) by Red Army troops, Jewish officers in the Red Army were known to be the one group that protected German girls and women. In Beevors words, Red Army officers who were Jewish went out of their way to protect German women and girls.

I fully admit to a sense of Jewish pride when I read that.

The next day I read a news report that because of the objections of one kindergartners mother, a public school in North Carolina had banned the singing of Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer because the song contained the word Christmas. I blame the school officials first and foremost for this craven and foolish decision. But when the news report noted that the woman was Jewish, my heart sank. Just as I had read the Beevor report and felt a surge of Jewish pride, I read the North Carolina story and felt a surge of Jewish shame.

It was a surge of Jewish shame that years ago led to one of the largest demonstrations of Israeli Jews in Israel’s history. They were demonstrating against the massacre of Palestinians in the Sabra and Chatilla refugee camps in Lebanon. The killings were committed by Lebanese Christian militias, but they took place while Israel occupied that area of Lebanon.

It would seem, then, that group shame is a good thing.

There are at least three reasons:

1. It is maturing. Only children think only well of themselves. A group that only expresses pride is essentially a group of children.

2. If one expresses group pride, one is morally obligated to express group shame. Obviously, this does not apply to any person who does not identify with, let alone take pride in being a member of, a group.

3. If only the majority group is expected to express shame, then only the majority group is expected to be governed by rules of morality. It is, ironically, the highest moral compliment to Americas white Christians that they are the only American group of whom expressions of shame are expected. It means more is morally expected of them than of anyone else.

The relative absence of expressions of shame in the Muslim world over the atrocities committed in Islam’s name is an example of the above. The labeling of blacks who express shame over disproportionate rates of violent crime and out-of-wedlock births in the black community as Uncle Toms is another. The absence of any expression of shame in the gay community over the current blacklisting — and attempts to economically destroy — anyone who donated to the California proposition defining marriage as between a man and a woman is another example. When Sen. Joseph McCarthy blacklisted people in Hollywood for real or alleged support for the Communist Party, he was finally shut up with the words, Have you no shame, sir?

Expressing group shame when morally necessary is not airing dirty linen or giving solace to ones ideological enemies. It is, rather, one of the highest expressions of moral development. And it is therefore universally applicable. Being a minority doesn’t exempt its members from moral responsibility. It will be a great day for America and the world when minorities begin to express shame as well as pride. In fact, there is real pride in expressing shame. Minorities should give it a try.

Copyright © 2008 Salem Web Network. All Rights Reserved.

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by rbirkey on December 6, 2008

The November issue of Imprimis, the monthly newsletter of Hillsdale College, features an article adapted from a speech delivered by Dinesh D’Souza. Dinesh is a conservative author, thinker and speaker who worked as a policy analyst in the Reagan White House. His articles currently appear in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, Vanity Fair, The New Republic and National Review to name a few.

His speech draws heavily from the research he did for his latest book called: What’s So Great About Christianity.

Dinesh uses the example of Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence to connect the dots between what American’s believe about “self-evident” freedoms, and the roots of that idea in Christianity. He further strengthens that connection through writings of Alexander Hamilton, John Adams and others.

In contrast to the earlier Greek and Roman democracies, Christianity contributed a much higher view of human life, worth and dignity that radically affected slaves, women and children, and in more recent years, African-Americans for the good.

When it comes to our own history as a country, the First Great Awakening set the religious and spiritual groundwork for our nations Independence. Historian Paul Johnson writes that the War for Independence was,

“inconceivable… without this religious background.”

Likewise, John Adams wrote,

“What do we mean by the American Revolution? The war? That was no part of the Revolution; it was only an effect and consequence of it. The Revolution was in the hearts and minds of the people… a change in their religious sentiments.”

Dinesh points out that Christianity played a vital role in establishing a new concept of freedom based upon it’s assertion that humans are created in God’s image and are moral agents, with the ability/responsibility to be the architects of their own lives.

In conclusion Dinesh issues a warning. It was Friedrich Nietzsche who said that the ideas that formed Western civilization were based on Christianity. He warned us that if we remove Christianity, the ideals will fall also. Nietzche warned that with a decline in Christianity, new and opposing ideas would arise. We see this happening today with the redefinition of family, marriage, the revival of eugenics, and even arguments for infanticide. These are all signs of the gradual extinction of the foundational principles that uphold human dignity.

If we cherish the distinctive principles of Western civilization – no matter what our own personal religious views – we would do well to respect, rather than denigrate our Christian roots.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Christianity Challenges Kosovo, Muslims not Happy

Writer Michael Totten has repeatedly claimed that Kosovo was different from other Islamic countries. A point of view that I have never really believed in. Maybe in some ways it is, but those Kosovons who are so tolerant must of the been the “Christians in hiding” there. Because as more people are converting back to Christianity in Kosovo, the head of the Islamic community has come out against building any new Churches in Kosovo. Sound familiar? Sounds like Kosovo is heading in the direction of the rest of the Islamic world to me.

(It should be noted that my government foolishly approved of the independent Islamic state of Kosovo.)

Out of hiding, some Kosovars embrace Christianity

By Fatos Bytyci

KLINA, Kosovo (Reuters) – Hundreds of Kosovar Albanians gather on Sundays to attend religious services in a still unfinished red-brick church in the Kosovo town of Klina.

Turning away from the majority Muslim faith imposed by the Ottoman Turks centuries ago, these worshippers are part of a revival of Catholicism in the newly independent Balkan state.

“We have been living a dual life. In our homes we were Catholics but in public we were good Muslims,” said Ismet Sopi. “We don’t call this converting. It is the continuity of the family’s belief.”

Sopi has commuted 40 km (25 miles) every Sunday from central Kosovo to Klina to attend a morning mass since he formally became a Roman Catholic five months ago. This September was the first holy month of Ramadan during which no one in his 32-member family fasted.

The majority of ethnic Albanians were forcibly converted to Islam, mostly through the imposition of high taxes on Catholics, when the Ottoman Empire ruled the Balkans.

For centuries, many remembered their Christian roots and lived as what they call “Catholics in hiding”. Some, nearly a century after the Ottomans left the Balkans, now see the chance to reveal their true beliefs.

“Fifty or sixty percent of the population are linked emotionally with the Roman Catholic religion. This is because of feelings about what our ancestors believed,” said Muhamet Mala, a professor who teaches History of Religion at Pristina Public University.

EASTER EGGS AND CHRISTMAS

Originally Christians, the Sopis’ ancestors converted to Islam centuries ago during the Ottoman Empire but the family cherished Christian customs for centuries. They colored eggs at Easter and celebrated Christmas along with Ramadan.

“Islam started spreading in big numbers across Albanian territories when the Ottomans came in the 15th century. The majority of the people embraced Islam for economic reasons,” said Jahja Drancolli, a religion professor who also teaches at Pristina Public University.

“At the time, if you were a Catholic you had to pay a lot of taxes to the Ottomans.”

Around 90 percent of Kosovo’s Albanian population is Muslim, with just four percent Roman Catholics. The country is also home to dozens of medieval Serbian Orthodox monasteries and churches.

The area that is now Kosovo was conquered by Rome before the Christian era and later ruled for centuries by Christian Bulgarians and Serbs. It became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1455.

Under the Ottomans, many Catholics converted to escape the new taxes or qualify for jobs and advancement in the Muslim-ruled society.

In staunchly Catholic families, often in villages with a strong social network, men converted publicly but continued to practice Christianity at home. Women and daughters often kept the faith, meaning it was transmitted to children.

Catholic priests administered the sacraments to these “crypto-Catholics” during house visits to the women.

The Catholic Church officially opposed this ministry to the converts, but local clergy often ignored that and maintained ties to the families.

The fact that there were “Catholics in hiding” was known during the Ottoman Empire: Albanians even had a word for them, “laraman”, meaning piebald, or two-colored.

Some crypto-Catholic families began to re-emerge in public in the mid to late 19th century, when Ottoman power was waning.

MOTHER THERESA

Many mosques in Kosovo were destroyed during the 1998-99 war between Serb forces and the Kosovo Liberation Army. Since 1999, when the U.N. took control of Serbia’s breakaway province, ethnic Albanian mobs destroyed many Serb Orthodox churches.

Roman Catholic churches were not destroyed, however, and most of Kosovo’s towns have a square named after Nobel Peace Prize winner Mother Theresa, an ethnic Albanian nun born in neighboring Macedonia. She spent her life helping the poor in the Indian city of Calcutta and died in 1997.

Beatified in 2003, Mother Theresa became a heroine to many Albanian worshippers. A new cathedral, still under construction at Pristina’s Mother Theresa Square, will be the tallest building in the capital and big enough to hold 2,000 churchgoers.

“We don’t make appeals to anyone to convert. People call us,” said Don Shan Zefi, chancellor of the Church’s Kosovo diocese. “We are not talking about individuals any more. There are inhabitants from dozens of villages who have contacted us.”

Zefi said the process started decades ago, but added that today there are thousands of people who “want to become Roman Catholics again”.

The Islamic community disapproves of such converts.

The head of the Kosovo Islamic community, Mufti Naim Ternava, has opposed building a cathedral at the heart of Pristina and scoffs at new churches built across Kosovo.

“No human brain can understand how a church should be build in the middle of 13 Muslim villages,” he said.

SINS OF THE FATHER

Inhabitants of Kravoserija in the south of the country have had their own church since 2005, with the help of the Kosovo Catholic Church. Beke Bytyci is one of five villagers who has the keys to it, since chancellor Zefi only comes to celebrate mass every few weeks.

Opening the wooden door, he crossed himself: “I will be baptized next week,” he said.

More than half the 120 village families attend the ceremonies, and the small church is always full.

“My dad made a mistake in not raising me as a Christian,” said Ferat Bytyci, a 35-year-old merchant in the village and a relative of Beke. “Now things have changed and I don’t make the same mistake.”

(Editing by Adam Tanner, Tom Heneghan and Keith Weir)