[ by Charles Cameron — on the distinction between philo and agapo in Greek, loyalty and honesty in public service ]
If you are familiar with the Gospel of John, you may recall the passage in which Christ questions Peter (upper panel below) which is often rendered in English “Do you love me?” “You know that I love you” (thrice — but which is subtler in the Greek, since Christ twice asks Peter if he loves him (unselfishly, most deeply), to which Peter responds that he likes him (feels affectionate or friendy love for him) — and on the third occasion, Christ uses Peter’s choice of verb, “Do you feel friendoy towards me?” and Peter answers, “Yes, you know I do.”
Comey twice avoids giving his verbal assent to loyalty, which Trump each time asks for, ansd on the third occasion goes part way to meet him with an assurance of “honest loyalty.”
Comey goes on to testify:
As I wrote in the memo I created immediately after the dinner, it is possible we understood the phrase “honest loyalty” differently, but I decided it wouldn’t be productive to push it further. The term – honest loyalty – had helped end a very awkward conversation and my explanations had made clear what he should expect.
Both Christ and Comey strike me as attempting twice to hold their interlocutor to a higher standard than that which he proposes, while tactfully making a verbal concession on the third attempt…
Once again, we find ourselves experiencing pain before which words seem insufficient.
I have previously addressed victims of terrorist acts; I have addressed their families; I have even addressed those who may have had an opportunity, even in some small way, to advocate for or support those most vulnerable.
This time, however, I feel a need to address those who perpetrate these crimes.
You are loved. The violent and deadly crimes you perpetrate are abhorrent and detestable, but you are loved.
You are loved by God, your creator, for he created you in his image and according to his likeness, and placed you on this earth for much greater things, according to his plan for all humankind. You are loved by me and millions like me, not because of what you do, but what you are capable of as that wonderful creation of God, who has created us with a shared humanity. You are loved by me and millions like me because I, and we, believe in transformation.
Transformation is core to the Christian message, for throughout history we have seen many transformed from being those who persecuted Christ himself and Christians to those who went on to live with grace. We believe in transformation because, on a daily basis, we are personally transformed from a life of human weakness and sinfulness to a life of power and righteousness. We believe in transformation because the whole message of the cross and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is to take humanity from the bonds of sin and death to a liberation in goodness and everlasting life. Our world is certainly suffering from the brokenness of our humanity, but it is our responsibility, personally and collectively, to encourage and inspire ourselves and all those whom we meet along our path to a life of virtue and holiness and the love and forgiveness of all.
This, of course, is far from the reaction that many may have expected, but the Christian message is just that: to look at our world as through the eyes of God, who loves all and who desires that all be liberated through him.
[ .. ]
What is increasingly obvious is that many of these attacks come about due to a loss of the meaning and comprehension of the sanctity of life, our own or that of others; so join me in praying for the brokenness of our world that causes parents to lose their children, children to lose their parents and humankind to lose the humanity for which it was created.
I have long been prepping a book about religious violence, and in particular the way in which it can be triggered and viewed as sanctioned by the words of scriptures which elsewhere encourage peace, to be titled Landmines in the Garden — the garden being Pardes, Paradise..
Now that the specifically eschatological element of ISIS has been laid out in detail by WIll McCants in his brilliant The ISIS Apocalypse, however, I have felt a shift in emphasis, and the book as I now perceive it will view religious violence — and indeed other violence such as that which drove Dylann Roof to his Charleston killings — through th specific lense of forgiveness and love, as exemplified by Bishop Angaelos, and for the matter, the members of the Charleston congregation who testified to their forgiveness of Roof at his trial.
To accompany Bishop Angaelos’ words, here’s a Coptic priest from Cairo, Fr. Boules George delivering a recent and no less remarkable sermon:
The first thing we will say is “Thank you very, very much,” and you won’t believe us when we say it.
You know why we thank you? I’ll tell you. You won’t get it, but please believe us.
You gave us to die the same death as Christ–and this is the biggest honor we could have. Christ was crucified–and this is our faith. He died and was slaughtered–and this is our faith. You gave us, and you gave them to die.
We thank you because you shortened for us the journey. When someone is headed home to a particular city, he keeps looking at the time. “When will I get home? Are we there yet?” Can you imagine if in an instant he finds himself on a rocket ship straight to his destination? You shortened the journey! Thank you for shortening the journey.
We thank you because you gave to us to fulfill what Christ said to us: “Behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves” (Luke 10:3). We were lambs; our only weapons: our faith and the church we pray in. I carry no weapon in my hand. We are so grateful that you helped us fulfill this saying of Christ.
[ by Charles Cameron — better to fall in love and out of terror ]
One can perhaps sympathize with the bumbling jihadist Mark Taylor, lonely in Syria and in need of female companionship: no wonder he appeals on an “Islamic marriage” datng site:
I need a righteous practicing Muslim lady who wants to do Hijrah [immigrate] here inshallah
It may be, however, that he’s the one who should be making hijrah away from Syria and jihad..
I say this because Bruce Hoffman‘s Atlantic piece from 2001 shows that love can transform terrorists into a, well, less destructive member of society. When Arafat wanted to de-fang members of Black September, he invited a hundred beautiful young women to a meet-up:
here, in a sort of PLO version of a college mixer, boy met girl, boy fell in love with girl, boy would, it was hoped, marry girl. There was an additional incentive, designed to facilitate not just amorous connections but long-lasting relationships. The hundred or so Black Septemberists were told that if they married these women, they would be paid $3,000; given an apartment in Beirut with a gas stove, a refrigerator, and a television; and employed by the PLO in some nonviolent capacity. Any of these couples that had a baby within a year would be rewarded with an additional $5,000.
I imagine Mark Taylor would face serious prison time if he did indeed return — a far cry from $3,000 and an apartment with gas stove, refrigerator, and television — but hey, conjugal visits? I dunno.
Love may lure some unfortunate women into terrorism — but it can also draw dedicated fighters out of it. It’s a mighty forceful force, is all I’m saying.
Shannon Conley met a guy online. She was 19, a normal Colorado teen with glasses and a big, toothy smile. He was 32.
One day in early 2014, Conley nervously told her father that she had a new boyfriend. She wanted her dad to meet him, so she set up a Skype call on her laptop. During the chat, the couple asked for his blessing to marry. They also told him that Conley would be moving to Syria, where they would wed and start their lives together.
Their lives, they told him, would be dedicated to ISIS.
Conley had recently converted to Islam after researching the religion online, and felt strongly about righting the global wrongs against Muslims. Then, adopting an extremist stance, she decided she wanted to lend her skills as a certified nurse’s aid to ISIS—also called the Islamic State, and known the world over as the vicious terrorist group responsible for brutally murdering countless victims and inciting new levels of global fear. They, she thought, were the way to do it.
It was then that my question struck me: is anyone studying romance, specifically, as a gateway drug for violent extremism?
Black September was, suddenly, not a deniable asset but a potential liability. Thus, according to my host, Arafat ordered Abu Iyad “to turn Black September off.” My host, who was one of Abu Iyad’s most trusted deputies, was charged with devising a solution. For months both men thought of various ways to solve the Black September problem, discussing and debating what they could possibly do, short of killing all these young men, to stop them from committing further acts of terror.
Finally they hit upon an idea. Why not simply marry them off? In other words, why not find a way to give these men—the most dedicated, competent, and implacable fighters in the entire PLO—a reason to live rather than to die? Having failed to come up with any viable alternatives, the two men put their plan in motion.
They traveled to Palestinian refugee camps, to PLO offices and associated organizations, and to the capitals of all Middle Eastern countries with large Palestinian communities. Systematically identifying the most attractive young Palestinian women they could find, they put before these women what they hoped would be an irresistible proposition: Your fatherland needs you. Will you accept a critical mission of the utmost importance to the Palestinian people? Will you come to Beirut, for a reason to be disclosed upon your arrival, but one decreed by no higher authority than Chairman Arafat himself? How could a true patriot refuse?
So approximately a hundred of these beautiful young women were brought to Beirut. There, in a sort of PLO version of a college mixer, boy met girl, boy fell in love with girl, boy would, it was hoped, marry girl. There was an additional incentive, designed to facilitate not just amorous connections but long-lasting relationships. The hundred or so Black Septemberists were told that if they married these women, they would be paid $3,000; given an apartment in Beirut with a gas stove, a refrigerator, and a television; and employed by the PLO in some nonviolent capacity. Any of these couples that had a baby within a year would be rewarded with an additional $5,000.
Both Abu Iyad and the future general worried that their scheme would never work. But, as the general recounted, without exception the Black Septemberists fell in love, got married, settled down, and in most cases started a family.
If so, would that be a sort of variant on the homeopathic formula Similia similibus curantur?
Shakespeare — who coined the phrase “The lunatic, the lover, and the poet / are of imagination all compact” which I used in my subtitle — died 400 years ago today.
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