I finally had the chance to get through this book, via the unabridged audio verson.Â It’s a rather interesting work, though more along the lines of religious apologetics in my view than useful political commentary.Â As an apologetics piece and even an unabashedly biased view of history, Robert Spencer’s work is quite powerful.Â Christianity and Islam have fundamental differences and while co-existence is needed for mainly temporal reasons these shouldn’t be glossed over.Â Yet take this book for what it is:Â a Christian look at Muhammad and Islam and it certainly articulated many of the reasons I myself do not follow the latter.Â It would be foolish to rely solely upon this book for information about Muhammad and Islam for it is only one look at these subjects.Â Nevertheless, I enjoyed it and will probably seek more on these topics.
Where Spencer fails in my view is the first and last chapters, wherein he attempts to turn a religious apologetics piece into contemporary political commentary.Â He is correct that Islamofascists, Muslim radicals or whatever term one wishes to employ about those Muslims who use violence to further their goals, are inspired by the violent beginnings of Islam.Â Any religion can be exploited as an ideology to be wielded in the temporal realm.Â I’m not quite sure what Spencer is asking for in these chapters.Â While Spencer himself is a fellow Catholic, this appears to be a dubious flirtation with the medieval notion of Christendom that one sees among manyÂ American Protestants today. It’s a rather curious flirtation at that because on the one hand they wish to maintain the American ideals of democracy and freedom, but only seen through the lens of their brand of Christianity. Nor are they consistent even in this as most would reject stripping â€˜heretics’ or atheists of their rights under the Constitution. Yet if we look back on what Christendom meant to the medievals, then matters which cause harm in the spiritual realm are all also matters of State concern. The lines between Church & State are very tenuous, if not non-existent in many cases. Under this scheme, atheism and heresy are just as bad as murder. Indeed, one could reasonably argue that they are worse since it’s not just the body that is killed but the eternal soul and society as a whole suffers from the confusion these sow by obscuring the Truth. I’ve yet to see how their dubious flirtation with this notion resolves the inconsistencies in their reasoning, let alone a full understanding on their part of how adoption of this idea would kill the â€œAmerican experimentâ€.Â The “fiction” the secular West maintains about Islam being a “religion of peace” is a useful and necessary one.Â Granted, we shouldn’t be blinded by such rhetoric, and such is ripe for parody and dry moments of irony, but unless we are willing to reinstate Christendom, take up the Cross and eradicate Islam once and for all, Spencer’s commentary here isn’t very applicable in resolving modern conflicts.Â Understanding one’s enemy is one thing, adopting an antiquated worldview in combating them is quite another.
UPDATE: It appears that this post elicited comments from Mr. Spencer and caused a bit of a stir at his site as well as on this blog. Instead of creating a new posting about this, I thought it more prudent to respond there. You can find Mr. Spencer’s comments and my reply here. Please note that as this is the first time I’ve posted there it may take a few hours for my response to appear as comments there are moderated.
— John (Average Gay Joe)