Showing posts with label Western Civilization. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Western Civilization. Show all posts

Saturday, March 16, 2019

The suicide blames everyone but himself

This week on 3 Chords & the Truth, the first song is ‘A’ Train’s “Time Stops.” Interesting title . . . if only it did stop.

If only we could stop time long enough to figure out how to put the brakes on this runaway train that no doubt will end in our self-destruction.

Our self-destruction. The ongoing self-destruction of whatever we like to think of as “Western civilization” in our present age of everything falling apart.

You’ve seen the news — our president going to the wall for his border wall. Our president threatening his political opponent with violence by what he sees as his military and law enforcement . . . and his motorcycle gang. The massacre of Muslims at prayer on the other side of the world.

We got problems. But any problem we have, and by “we” I mean white folk like myself, cannot be blamed on an “invasion” of brown-skinned people across the southern border of the United States or by Muslim immigration.

If western culture, such as it is, is being subsumed by other cultures, and if those of European stock are being “replaced,” so to speak, by “invaders” whose skin is too brown for the tastes of some — it is because “Westerners” gave up on their culture and their future long ago. They not only quit having children, but also quit building up social capital and believing in the concept of commonweal.

If you don’t know what that is, look it up. You’re already online, Google it.

My weekly struggle with doing a music show that’s informed by what’s going on around us is not to be inundated by it to the point of being tendentious . . . or steeping all of life in partisan ideology. It comes down to deciding which elephants in the room to engage with or blow by.

But the elephant in the room this week is our impending ruin, thanks to our own prejudice, spite and self-pity. The elephant in the room every damn week is the demagogues we put in high places and how every damn day they give license to the greater demons of our fallen nature.

Thursday in this country — Friday in New Zealand — a white-supremacist spouting off about outsiders and “invaders” and the overwhelming of Western civilization by the unwashed hordes went on a shooting spree in Christchurch. Forty-nine Muslim worshipers were gunned down as they prayed in their houses of worship.

MUCH OF the rhetoric the gunman posted in an online manifesto was virtually identical to that of the president of the United States — the one as arguing for building a wall on the Mexican border and banning Muslim immigration to this country. The terrorist in New Zealand wasn’t the first to rail against invaders and “animals” — Donald Trump beat him to it.

Trump likes to demonize. He likes to put dehumanizing language and memes out there like armies sow the battlefield with land mines — you don’t know who is going to be blown up, but you damn well know somebody will eventually.

Let’s get our mind around this thing: The elected president of the United States — the former great hope for democracy and liberty in this world — gleefully and constantly eggs on the hateful and the unstable, both here and abroad, to turn their wrath on The Other as a means of aggrandizing himself and augmenting his political power.

Because of what he says and does, people undoubtedly have died. He has taken what used to be on the far margins of Western civilization and brought it into the mainstream. He has given courage to cowards and agency to aggrieved racists and bigots.

Get familiar with the term stochastic terrorism. It’s the governing ethos of our federal government . . . as represented by the 45th president of the United States.

Remember Anwar al-Awlaki? His primary job with al-Qaida was propagandizing ordinary Muslims into a radical state . . . and then they might join al-Qaida, or they might just blow up stuff and kill people as freelancers. It didn’t much matter to him, and he didn’t much know who would do what or where.

But he pretty much knew somebody would do something.

He stopped doing that one day in Yemen, when an American drone shot a few Hellfire missiles up his rear end. A few years later, Americans elected their own Anwar al-Awlaki as president.

Who swore to us Friday that right-wing terrorism wasn’t a big problem. Well, at least not for him.

Well, may God have mercy on us all, because it will not end well for a people that refuses to recognize the simple fact that God made us all and loves us just the same.

In Galatians, the apostle Paul told us:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendant, heirs according to the promise.”
WE GOOD Christians — at least the ones so ready to beat brown people to death with their Trump-autographed Bibles — forget that those slaughtered Muslims in Christchurch knew a little about Abraham themselves. As did the slaughtered Jews in Pittsburgh last year.

As do the Latino Catholics at our southern border.

Perhaps the best all of us who the president has again threatened with violence by "his" cops, "his" military and "his" Bikers for Trump can hope for is that this present darkness is merely the prelude to dawn.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Whatever happened to shame?

shame noun \ˈshām\

: a feeling of guilt, regret, or sadness that you have because you know you have done something wrong

: ability to feel guilt, regret, or embarrassment

: dishonor or disgrace
Shame is a good thing.

Shame is what keeps us from being monsters. It's the thing that puts in touch with our fallen nature, with the reality that we're not OK. Not all the time.

Blessed is the society where shame is possible, where standards are in place that form a context for shame -- for what is shameful and what is virtuous. Shame, properly understood and properly enforced, is the thing that allows us to get over ourselves.

A society without shame is a land of sociopaths. A society without shame is one of monsters. A society without shame is in desperate need of reformation -- or, if reform is not possible, destruction -- for the well being of the rest of humanity.

Western culture is fast losing any sense of shame. It is on the edge of the abyss and its cultural "elites" are hellbent on pushing it over the edge, given it has decreed there are is no good or bad, only diverse choices that are appropriate for the almighty individual. Personal autonomy trumps all -- except, of course, those things that People We Don't Like advocate -- and it's those who deem themselves too enlightened for shame that get to captain the S.S. Anything Goes upon the Sea of Moral Relativism.

IT IS in such a society that "voice of her generation" Lena Dunham can admit in print that she, at age 7, explored her little sister's vagina, that she later did "anything a sexual predator might do to woo a small suburban girl" so her sister would let her kiss her on the lips for five seconds or just "relax on me" and do so without an inkling of shame. Admit such behavior as if she were copping to raiding the cookie jar or throwing spitballs in class.

It is also in such a society that you can be cavalier about such and then be outraged when others . . . aren't.

"The right wing news story that I molested my little sister isn't just LOL- it's really f***ing upsetting and disgusting," Dunham emoted via her Twitter account. She was just getting warmed up.

"And by the way, if you were a little kid and never looked at another little kid's vagina, well, congrats to you," she added amid her Internet "rage spiral." By the way, congrats to me. And my family might not have been as patently weird as Dunham's, but it was right up there.
Still, to dismiss Lena Dunham as an insulated and spoiled child of Manhattan’s ruling class is to misunderstand her story entirely. If there is such a thing as actually abusing a child through excessive generosity and overindulgence, then Lena Dunham’s parents are child abusers. Her father, Carroll Dunham, is a painter noted for his primitive brand of highbrow pornography, his canvases anchored by puffy neon-pink labia; her photographer mother filled the family home with nude pictures of herself, “legs spread defiantly.” Self-styled radicals from old money, they were not the sort of people inclined to enforce even the most lax of boundaries. And they were, in their daughter’s telling, enablers of some very disturbing behavior that would be considered child abuse in many jurisdictions — Lena Dunham’s sexual abuse, specifically, of her younger sister, Grace, the sort of thing that gets children taken away from non-millionaire families without Andover pedigrees and Manhattanite social connections.
WELL, I CAN certainly understand where Dunham's unfamiliarity with shame came from.

What I can't understand is why people so insist on taking all their cultural cues from weirdos they don't know like Dunham and any number of other freak shows in our celebrity obsessed society instead of those good, unfamous people they do know. Then again, evil is a mystery.

What eventually becomes of cultures that worship evil and deify notorious freak shows merely because they're famous freak shows is less of a mystery: "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."

Hoss, we in trouble deep. It's harvest time.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

One of these things is not like the other

I write to you from a time near the end of our world.

I write to you from a time close to the tortured end of our ability to play both the Id and the superego against the middle --
and by "we," I mean Western civilization, for whatever that label is worth anymore. The hour is late, our world is crumbling, and the time has come for us to choose.

I suppose I could go on world without end about this, but I doubt I could shed much more light on the subject than I'm fixing to do very simply. You see, I am not a sophisticated man. Then again, our choice is not a sophisticated one.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

BASICALLY, we can choose to submit -- to God, to grace, to love and to each other. We can choose to live in truth and the light. We can choose to die to ourselves and to live for something -- Someone -- much greater.

This story (above) from the
NBC Nightly News is kind of what that looks like.

ALTERNATIVELY, we can choose the way of non servium -- I will not serve . . . you. Or God. Or truth. Or the light.

We can choose to serve only ourselves. And when my serving myself conflicts with you serving yourself, the law of the jungle must prevail. In a "top of the food chain" kind of world, he who belches last, belches best.

This interview from the BBC is kind of what that looks like.

When morality is fluid, God is Self and love has conditions, our fate is left to lawyers, guns and money.
For the s*** has hit the fan.

Choose wisely.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pigs do it . . . dogs do it. . . .

Back in the olden days of Midwestern radio, a "Barn Dance Frolic" was a hillbilly-music program that aired Saturday nights on WHO out of Des Moines, Iowa.

Today in American high schools, including all across the great American midriff, what you see on the dance floor might also be described as a "barn dance frolic." As in,
"Pigs do it, cows do it, even dogs and sheep do it . . . OH MY GOD, BILLY AND MARY ARE DOING IT IN FRONT OF THE WHOLE SCHOOL!"

Well, not exactly. Genitalia remain covered, and the kids call it "dancing."

AND RIGHT HERE in River City, the Omaha World-Herald is talking about how it's giving high-school administrators fits:
The dance style known as grinding — pelvis to pelvis gyrations, typically with the boy behind the girl — has grown popular at high school dances, but several school administrators say it's indecent.

With homecoming season in full swing at Omaha-area high schools, administrators are employing a variety of tactics aimed at cleaning up dirty dancing.

“Every school needs to stop this,” said Jonna Andersen, principal at St. Albert Catholic School in Council Bluffs, who cracked down for this year's homecoming dance.

Andersen warned students ahead of time that they must dance face-to-face, and if they didn't, the music would be stopped. Letters went home alerting parents to the rules, and administrators enlisted help from the homecoming court to encourage students to abide by them.

School officials were concerned about how students might respond, and planned to stop the dance if they didn't comply, she said. But the dance a week ago ended up well-attended, students followed the rules, and they reported having a good time, Andersen said.
ONE MIGHT say that if Catholic schools are having to tell their teenagers that dancing like you're doing it "doggie style" is morally problematic and not decent for public consumption, something has gone horribly wrong with Catholic catechesis and moral training -- both at school and at home --in the preceding decade.

Of course, one also might say that's obvious, so why bring it up? I dunno, maybe it's because "obvious" stroked out and died about 20 years ago.
Back to the story. . . .
Although it's nothing new for young people's dancing to alarm the older generation, Lincoln Southwest High School Principal Rob Slauson said the current trend in dancing goes “way beyond” the days of Elvis Presley gyrating his hips on stage. The students are “simulating sex,” he said.

“We're talking about a situation now where the young lady is facing away from the man, and at times she's putting her hands on the floor, raising her rear end,” he said.

“And in some dances, the girls are wearing short skirts and the guys actually pull the skirts up while they're dancing. And then there's contact between her groin area and his groin area.”

Chaperones have a difficult time policing the dances when students form a circle in the middle of the dance floor and the adults can't see what's going on, he said. High school dances can attract more than a thousand students.

Slauson said he warned students about their dancing before last year's prom. Although the situation improved, they still resisted, he said.

School officials last June decided to step up their response and prohibit guests from other schools at Southwest's dances, with the exception of prom. It's easier for school administrators to discipline their own students than those from other schools, he said.

Slauson said the policy was a “shot across the bow” to let students know the administration was serious about cracking down.
METHINKS "shots across the bow" aren't going to touch on the larger problem -- including what these school administrators are going to be dealing with next year as their student bodies continue to marinate in this sort of cultural stew.

(NOTE: The first "how to" video probably is safe for work. The following teenage application of "grinding" principles definitely isn't -- in fact, it's what we Catholics call a "near occasion of sin." I wouldn't advise watching any more than necessary to get the idea of what kids find acceptable on the dance floor.)

MY FIRST reaction to this stuff is "They have to teach dry humping?"

My second reaction is that what ordinary folk used to consider public indecency -- and still would be considered sexual harassment in the workplace -- is what kids today consider "normal," which pretty much is the end of the line of what we consider
(or at least once considered) "civilization."

Folks, this isn't just another instance of kids "pushing the envelope" and scandalizing the old folks. That ended somewhere short of dry humping.

This is flat-out simulated sex, and the only place to go from here is the real thing.

In public.

At your kid's high school.

Perhaps with your kid.

SO, DON'T GIVE me that crap about Boomers scandalizing the folks with the bump, and bobby-soxers scandalizing great-grandpa by doing the jitterbug. Nobody ever found condoms on the floor after the high-school hop back when TV would only show Elvis Presley from the waist up.

The condoms-on-the-floor thing came from this MSNBC story in February.

What we're dealing with here is mass abandonment of human dignity -- the continuing objectification of human beings, if you will. When you're "grinding" little Susie on the dance floor, you're not enjoying the company (or the beauty) of a wonderful girl with a sparkling personality and winning smile. Instead, you're getting what jollies you can in public with a butt and a vagina -- albeit covered
(for now) -- that happen to have a torso, head and legs attached.

For young women, substitute the appropriate male "features."

(Please. Don't give me that bull about it being "not sexual." I'm not an idiot, and I understand the physiology of, and the stimuli involved with, sexual intercourse.)

Back about the time of the fall of Rome, in a Christmas homily, Pope Leo I reminded the faithful of who and what they were:
Christian, remember your dignity, and now that you share in God’s own nature, do not return by sin to your former base condition. Bear in mind who is your head and of whose body you are a member. Do not forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of God’s kingdom.
THAT'S JUST so much history. Leo the Great has been dead for millennia, and now so is dignity.

And judging by the cultural evidence surrounding us, we even regard ourselves as nothing more than exceptionally intelligent farm animals. Who engage in "barn dance frolics."

If I were a school administrator, I'd be tempted to break up the "freak dancing" with the strategic application of a cattle prod.

It's the only thing animals understand, after all . . . and it's not like the kiddies could complain that I was offending their dignity. That, they -- we -- discarded a while back.

Monday, August 04, 2008

You tried to tell us, Alexander Isayevich

Alexander Isayevich Solzhenitsyn is dead.

That makes one less who will look humanity square in the eye and tell it what's what.

THIS IS SOLZHENITSYN'S diagnosis of what ails the West, excerpted from his 1978 address at Harvard's commencement -- a speech, come to think of it, about as brave as anything that had gotten him in so much trouble back in the U.S.S.R.:

I am not examining here the case of a world war disaster and the changes which it would produce in society. As long as we wake up every morning under a peaceful sun, we have to lead an everyday life. There is a disaster, however, which has already been under way for quite some time. I am referring to the calamity of a despiritualized and irreligious humanistic consciousness.

To such consciousness, man is the touchstone in judging and evaluating everything on earth. Imperfect man, who is never free of pride, self-interest, envy, vanity, and dozens of other defects. We are now experiencing the consequences of mistakes which had not been noticed at the beginning of the journey. On the way from the Renaissance to our days we have enriched our experience, but we have lost the concept of a Supreme Complete Entity which used to restrain our passions and our irresponsibility. We have placed too much hope in political and social reforms, only to find out that we were being deprived of our most precious possession: our spiritual life. In the East, it is destroyed by the dealings and machinations of the ruling party. In the West, commercial interests tend to suffocate it. This is the real crisis. The split in the world is less terrible than the similarity of the disease plaguing its main sections.

If humanism were right in declaring that man is born to be happy, he would not be born to die. Since his body is doomed to die, his task on earth evidently must be of a more spiritual nature. It cannot unrestrained enjoyment of everyday life. It cannot be the search for the best ways to obtain material goods and then cheerfully get the most out of them. It has to be the fulfillment of a permanent, earnest duty so that one's life journey may become an experience of moral growth, so that one may leave life a better human being than one started it. It is imperative to review the table of widespread human values. Its present incorrectness is astounding. It is not possible that assessment of the President's performance be reduced to the question of how much money one makes or of unlimited availability of gasoline. Only voluntary, inspired self-restraint can raise man above the world stream of materialism.

It would be retrogression to attach oneself today to the ossified formulas of the Enlightenment. Social dogmatism leaves us completely helpless in front of the trials of our times.
THIS, MEANWHILE, is from an article in today's edition of The Sun, the mass-market London tabloid:

Many Ibiza tourists are hardcore ravers who drink, dance and smoke away their nights then spend their days in the baking sun.

No wonder it is known as the island that never sleeps.

But however much fun it may sound, the non-stop lifestyle takes its toll on the sleep-deprived, dehydrated partygoers’ faces, with many needing more than a dab of concealer to cover their facial creases.

But the party girls refuse to rein in the late nights and heavy-drinking sessions.

Instead, they have found the perfect way to revive their looks — Botox.

The latest must-do in Ibiza isn’t a new club night, it is beach Botox — and mum and daughter team, Christine, 47, and daughter Nicole Shenton, 27, are cleaning up.

They moved themselves and their beauty firm, Belisimma, to the White Isle six years ago after discovering there was a gap in the market on the island.


“Business has been non-stop since we started, especially from British party girls.

“A lot of girls admit the most sleep they get is kipping on the beach in the day.”

Mum Christine says: “We find that most of our clients are British girls who have good jobs, money to spend and are here to party.

“Their faces are obviously affected by the amount they drink, smoke and sunbathe. They want to do all those things but still look good.

“That’s where we come in.”

One of Belisimma’s regulars Laura Jackson refuses to get on the plane home looking worse than when she arrived — even though she spends a fortnight partying every night.

Single mum Laura, a jewellery designer from Manchester, says: “I’ve been having Botox out here for the past two years and can’t get enough of it.

“It’s great — the moment I land, I call Christine to get some Botox before I hit the clubs. Then after two weeks of clubbing, she gives me a top-up before I get on the plane home.

“When I tell people I’m 25, they never believe me. It’s amazing considering the kind of lifestyle I lead. It’s non-stop partying from the moment I get off the plane, and I usually come to Ibiza at least twice a year. “This means a fortnight of drinking a lot and getting hardly any sleep.

“Also, when I’m at home I go out drinking every weekend, and spend most Sundays in bed eating a fry up.”
"SINGLE MUM LAURA" deludes herself in more ways than one. Go to the Sun story page and look at her picture.

And I'm quite sure that when she tells people she's only 25, they never do believe her.

Just like -- way deep down where we can see the truth about who we really are -- we don't believe, not really, our own PR about how happy, healthy, prosperous and enlightened we are in our Western, postmodern rave-up.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

No roomah in the ummah . . . alhamdulillah

The trouble with Islam is that an infidel just can't catch a break.

If you trash the Prophet and his followers, you're going to catch hell.
If you compliment a Muslim when she makes a valid point, then point out the commonalities with the Catholic Church's theology of the body, you are called weird.

And when you leave a comment on Tokyo
Cairo Rose's blog to ask what's so weird about standard Catholic theology and cultural criticism . . .

The Mighty Favog Says:
May 6th, 2008 at 1:45 am

lol you’ve been edited. no anti-Islamic sediment on my blog. I had enough of that on the daily reveille. I can actually CONTROL comments here. you said somethign about wahhabis, etc. yeah not here go find someone else to spam

- Shirien

p.s. i also edited your URL, no music here either K? Thaaanks
NOW, I FULLY EXPECT that my response to being mendaciously tarred as "anti-Islamic" for politely asking some questions (and restating the Catholic position which seemingly agrees with the Muslim take on modesty) will be short-lived in Shirien Elamawy's (her real name) dawahland.

So, I'm posting it here . . . for posterity:

The Mighty Favog Says:
May 6th, 2008 at 6:02 am
Excuse me, but what was anti-Islamic about asking questions? Or are you incapable of defending your assertions . . . and your faith?

An honest question deserves an honest answer. Responding to an honest question — and an attempt at some form of dialogue — with disingenuous statements and rank hostility is both dishonorable and doesn’t exactly cover Islam in glory.

In other words, child, it would appear that you can dish it out, but you can’t take it. It likewise would appear that would be the modus operandi of your faith as well — if you are a truly representative witness to it.

Furthermore, if you are not Wahhabi (the no-music thing, I seem to remember, is a Wahhabi thing), what are you? I know not all stripes of Islam are anti-music, what others besides the Wahhabi movement among Sunnis are?

Or is asking that inherently anti-Muslim?

In the peace of Issa the Christ.

OH . . . AND WHILE I'm thinking of it, would you like to hear the story of how Ms. Elamawy came to be a columnist for The Daily Reveille and the explicit purpose of her column?

I knew that you would.

Again, straight from the ummah's mouth:

Anyway, fast-forwarding to the end of my freshman year at LSU. Everyone read and still reads The Daily Reveille on campus everyday. One day, I picked up the paper and saw a cartoon drawn on the op-ed page that not only caught my attention, it infuriated me. This wasn’t the first time The Daily Reveille printed something bigoted and completely offensive to Muslims. I decided to head over to the newsroom to have a little talk with the cartoonist but to my dismay he wasn’t there. Surely, I wasn’t going to leave without complaining. After all, I had to defend Islam. And I’m a girl, complaining is in our nature.

So, I requested to speak to the editor-in-chief at the time. It turned out I wasn’t the only one offended by a cartoon which depicted the Iranian President sitting at a laundry mat waiting for his brain to be finished being “washed” with “Quran Detergent;” other people had apparently been complaining all day.

After complaining about how unacceptable it was for him to print the cartoon, he sincerely apologized and told me he “wants to make sure that it doesn’t happen again in the future,” even though he was graduating only week later. He told me that at that very moment they were holding a forum for people who wanted to apply for being on the opinon staff for the next semester. He highly recommended I apply for a position after knowing I was a mass communication major. Subhanallah, it really was the Qadr of Allah that I went to complain at that very moment, because next thing I knew he led me into the room in which I was to apply. And I did. And so did about 100 other people who wanted one of 12 spots.

Anyway, I applied, got called for an interview and then alhamdulillah I got the job. And that started my work in mass dawah. Which wallahi has been such a blessing from the very beginning. However, you have to have a strong heart when speaking the truth about Islam. Don’t sugar coat things, don’t fall under the pressure of those around you.

Wallahi I can’t tell you all how many times I got people saying “Write about something else!” and subhanallah for a brief moment you think about it… then you realize that you are doing this purely for the sake of Allah and I figured if they fire me for not wanting to write about anything other than Islam, then so be it. But they actually loved the readers I would bring and the hits I would bring to the website too, alhamdulillah.
I HAVE just a single question.

If I were to return to LSU as a grad student, could I get a regular column in the Reveille for the explicit purpose of Catholic evangelization? No, I don't want to be just the token non-traditional student who's a "religious nut" but writes about all kinds of stuff.

What I want is the deal Ms. Elamawy got. I want a column "speaking the truth about Catholicism and the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Don’t sugar coat things, don’t fall under the pressure of those around you."

That's the deal I want. Fair is fair. Because I would be doing it purely for the sake of Issa the Christ, alhamdulillah.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Beauty is not skank deep

For traditional Christians and modern Westerners, it's not a difficult task to find areas of profound disagreement with Islam and then beat those divides into gaping chasms of civilizational conflict.

particularly would be true in the years since violent jihadists flew jetliners full of innocents into skyscrapers full of innocents in a bid to poke a finger into the eye of the Great Satan.

That, however, does nothing to help us -- as Christians and modern Westerners -- come to the difficult realization that, in so many ways, we are the Great Satan.

Or, at a minimum, willing and enthusiastic dupes of Satan.

IN THAT LIGHT, perhaps it would be useful to explore one area where Christians and thoughtful Westerners can have common cause with thoughtful Muslims -- or at least ought to have common cause with those who profess Islam.

I would submit that the devil's greatest success among Western modernists has been in equating "freedom" with the grossest debasements of human dignity, which by extension are the most profound slurs against a Creator who made mankind in His image. The means of debasement are legion, but they all are rooted in denying the fundamental nature and dignity of -- and, yes, divine image within -- human beings by recognizing them solely as objects.

Not as people, but as things.

Satan's second greatest success among modern Westerners has been in convincing them to run right past the concept of "tolerance" into the abyss where what we profess has nothing to do with how we live.

As one who has toiled for a decade and a half as a volunteer in Catholic youth ministry, let me illustrate this concept from that vantage point.

It's not only possible but, indeed, probable to have large numbers of self-professed Catholic teen-agers -- teen-agers who have gone through Confirmation and made solemn promises therein -- to think nothing of dressing like hookers, defining a "good date" as one that ends inside the pants of a young woman, getting wasted every weekend or otherwise behaving in a manner indistinguishable from the most hardcore of nihilists.

THE STARK REALITY of what used to be known as Christendom is a spent culture in which belief is alienated from practice, humanity is alienated from its fundamental nature and, finally, humans are profoundly alienated from their Creator and one another. Its logical -- and inevitable -- end is Death.

I think that's a cultural critique that orthodox Christians and mainstream Muslims not only could both embrace, but also could see as grounds for cooperation.

Which brings me to "the Hijab Challenge."

The Hijab Challenge was the brainchild of a Muslim columnist for The Daily Reveille, my old college newspaper at Louisiana State University. Briefly, what Shirien Elmasraya did was, I think, brilliant --
an in-your-face throwing down the gauntlet to American society's notion of feminine "beauty."

DOES OUR NOTION of womanly "beauty" mainly involve who a woman is, or merely what standard equipment she comes with? Do we value what is divine, or do we prefer to turn a multidimensional imago dei into nothing more than a one-dimensional object -- a thing to be used for our own ignoble purposes:
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a column challenging University women to wear the hijab - or headscarf - for a day.

A handful of girls took on my challenge this past Friday. They came to campus adorned by the beauty of the hijab.

They went to class, hung out with their friends and lived their daily routine wearing something they normally wouldn't wear.

But anyone who didn't know them personally would most likely assume these women were Muslim, and they were most likely oppressed.

In the past year and a half I've written, I've probably gotten more hate mail and hate comments below my articles online than just about anyone else on
The Daily Reveille's

Some of those who would comment would regurgitate over and over again that women in Islam are oppressed, we are backwards and we need to be liberated from our hijab.

I, in turn, wanted to liberate the people who hold these views from the oppression of media brainwashing and prejudice by challenging them to wear hijab for a day and see what it is really like - the result?

None of those who accused me of being oppressed took on my challenge. They are so afraid of reality and so embarrassed to be proven wrong that they did not even bother defending their claim by agreeing to participate.

So let it be known that your words never did and never will hold any weight with me.

Half of my life, I didn't wear hijab. I was oppressed by society and beauty magazines who told me and my peers that less clothes means more beauty.

To me, the hijab is liberating.

One of the women who decided to take on my challenge was Melissa Breen, mass communication sophomore.

"In order for people to truly be open-minded, they must be willing to step outside of their comfort zones," Breen said.

Breen's friend Sarah Berard, English junior, also decided to participate.

"In order to truly love and respect other people, you have to try to understand them. So as a Roman Catholic, for me, the hijab challenge was an opportunity to come to a better understanding of Muslim women," Berard said.

Michelle Richardson, anthropology junior, said it was a special cultural experience.

"It helped demonstrate to the world and to myself that you are not any less of a free, powerful woman for making the personal choice of wearing the hijab," she said.
WE LIVE IN A CULTURE that makes a fetish of "edginess" and rebellion. What that culture fails to appreciate is that the only revolt here is against truth. Make that Truth, with a capital "T."

Otherwise, what we preceive as "edgy" is merely pedestrian slavishness to a warped and dehumanizing status quo, and what we perceive as "beauty" is predicated on appealing to some of our uglier impulses. Thus blinded, it's difficult for the modern American to appreciate Ms. Elmasraya for the revolutionary she is.

And entirely too easy to laugh and say "Look at the backward Muslim" instead of acknowledge the rot in our own self-mutilated culture.