He rebukes us for not disappearing, as we rightfully must. He cannot stand bloggers who write unceasingly, he writes unceasingly on a public forum, granting himself permission to do the opposite of what he says, for his own sentiments are profound and important and true. If only we would just disappear, when we say we will, instead of continually swinging from pole to pole, like manic depressives shunning benzodiazepines. If you are going to go, he yells, just go. Don’t return to pen another epistle when backs are turned, deciding not to become a hermit after all. Leave the about-turns to wise sages, whose gold embossed volumes decorate the homes of the truly enlightened, with their spiritual quest and authentic faith, that we modernites could never comprehend. Go, he demands, and leave us in peace, and purify your heart, and vanquish your attention-seeking ego, and disappear for good, and don’t come back, and remember your place, and be silent. Yes, cease, he urges unceasingly, returning to the forum he promised to abandon once more, to rebuke the returning writers who cannot keep their promises when they say they will put down their pens. Cease.
It changes you, even if you think it won’t. A year ago, virtual intruders injected my website with a malicious script that defaced one thousand published and unpublished posts and caused them to redirect to a website filled with spam. It was upsetting, but nothing I could not fix with a little patience and perseverance. Sure enough, the momentary paranoia subsided and I moved on.
“A writer who adopts political, social, or literary positions must act only with the means that are his own—that is, the written word. […] The writer must therefore refuse to let himself be transformed into an institution…” — Jean-Paul Sartre
For our beloveds, we have successfully personalised, internalised and secularised our faith. “Who are you to judge?” we demand, whenever public sins are acknowledged in public. “Let him without sin cast the first stone,” we retort, whenever confronted by our misdeeds. “Have you never sinned?” we ask, whenever charged with holding our beloveds to account for their actions. In this new realm, the one who is mugged must never reproach the thief. The one who is wronged must never demand redress. All deeds, however they impact others, become personal, between the individual and his Lord alone, never to be tried or condemned.
Bizarrely, our activists — who claim to be despised because they speak the truth to power — are foremost in promoting this new dichotomy. Such is our spectacular failure to inculcate a morality that affects us in any meaningful way. Instead we have a generation that preaches forgiveness for the oppressor and demands the oppressed turns the other cheek. It is all back to front. We are supposed to be harshest on ourselves: as individuals, to forgive those that wrong us, not to forgive ourselves for wronging others. But in this age of identity politics, such a demand is impossible. Thus the one who has been wronged is told today: only the sinless has any right to complain. What a strange morality, indeed.
No, dear sir, it is not true: I am not your ideological opponent. In fact, from a theological perspective, we walk similar paths. Often I agree with the sentiments you profess in public. I have owned and read your works, and have always considered you a kindred spirit. But this isn’t about ideology or fraternity. It’s about something else entirely. As we have both always noted, we are not called to defend our brothers come what may, but rather the true, the just and the good. “Stand out clearly for justice, even against yourselves…”
Look, the first interrogation undertaken by investigating judges followed a preliminary investigation conducted over a period of three months. That preliminary inquiry yielded at least one certainty, that the accused had actually met at least one of the complainants. Continue reading “Tendentious advocacy”
If Jimmy Swaggart could do it, so can you. Our foremost activists, after all, still stand firmly at your side, still pushing half truths and prevarication to rehabilitate your reputation, standing shoulder to shoulder with you, come what may. Already the articles have been published in the Muslim online press, once again painting a skewed picture of the affair, repeating all over again information debunked long ago, while omitting every detail that stands against you. Your loyal friends stand ready to defend you, even at the expense of your religion. Continue reading “Rehabilitation”
Manly perfection, consisting in abstinence from things unlawful, or in chastity of manners, and having some art or trade, or in abstaining from doing secretly what one would be ashamed to do openly, or in the habit of doing what is approved, and shunning what is held base, or in preserving the soul from filthy actions, and what disgraces it in the estimation of men, or in good manners, and guarding the tongue, and shunning impudence, or in a quality of the mind by preserving which a man is made to preserve in good manners and habits, or manly virtue or moral goodness.
— Lane’s Lexicon 2/2702
I think I am reaching that stage in life of being apathetic towards religion. No, not becoming agnostic, or rejecting faith, or ceasing to practice it. But growing disinterested in the clamour of activists, in the competing visions of faith, in the demands of communitarianism. Yes, I think I am becoming an apathetic believer, like so many others. Repulsed by the odious characters that now claim to represent us, I think this is the only way to preserve our sanity. Yes, we are disengaging and dropping off. This is the age of apathy.
In the end, everybody believes what they want to believe.