The Temple Mount is God’s Jewish Footprint

Observations by Stephen L. Golay

My Islamic Thoughts #3




Reader Christopher wrote on Christopher Blosser’s, Against the Grain/Blog: “On judgment day he isn’t going to ask us if we discussed torture. He’s going to ask us what we did to try to stop it.”


THE LORD: Is that you, Christopher?”

CHRISTOPHER: “Yes, Chris S., that is.”

LORD: “Not the guy who keeps rolling this discussion down the torture way?”

CHRIS: “Oh, not him. It’s me, Lord.”

LORD: “Heard about you; you know, how you preserved the delicacy of your righteousness towards that prisoner. My, my, you certainly did more than just visit the guy.”

CHRIS: “Oh, you mean, how we had him sitting in his cell . . er, I mean his room. He even wanted to see pictures of that lady soldier who got hammered into the slammer in Texas. Had them on me, thank the Lord – well, you that is – thought it could get talk going.

LORD: “That’s him, the smelly, hairy one. When they hauled him in, I said to Ourselves, now they can do some real salvation saving. Time’s short. There’s some urgent rescuing out there. They had (how is it said) the goods on him.”

CHRIS: “Oh, you mean, the Prelude Plan to the next Big One.”

LORD: (Rising a bit off throne.) “Prelude, man! Is that what you call it – Prelude, like some damn concert opening. Is that what 781 lives were to you, a few toss off cords from a music score?”

CHRIS: “But, Lord . . !”

LORD: “Don’t sir me! Inside that greasy noggin of his, simmered the plan – one damn nasty slaughter – that was to be the sign-off for, as you put it, ‘the next Big One’.”

CHRIS: “Sir . . . I mean, Lord . . .”

LORD: “With the goods on the table, he as much admitted to the plan: the ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘when’ of it. Buried as a jihadist fuse in that brain of his.

“And, you sitting there, pleased as punch with your pleading ‘pretty please’, as he savored the bloody ‘what’ of it, seeing in his mind’s eye the ‘where’ of it, knowing your pleading please would let the ‘when’ of it ignite.”

CHRIS: “You say, what? Well, guess that’s one way of putting it. Anyway.

“But, oh Sir, we thought you would be pleased. We dignified his humanity, put grace within his confinement, by refusing all temptation to coerce, bend or submit his will. Visiting him in your name revealed your one-shop, unstoppable love for him.

“The evil in that room was not in him, but within us: the desire to lord our will, our wants over any man. We dare not act the lord in a manner you do not. In this great refusal of ours we understand, a little, of absolute righteousness – your righteousness, Lord, your great refusal to bend and coerce the will and heart of any man.”

LORD: “And, go on – Christopher.”

CHRIS: “It’s true. Sad it was. The Prelude Plan WAS in his brain. If he pulled it out, laid it on the table, there would have been time . . .”

LORD: “Yes, out with it yourself.”

CHRIS: “But . . but. You saw what happened in that room, come on. He wasn’t coughing it up.”

LORD: “And you thought a ‘pretty please’ would choke it out of him?”

CHRIS: “Absolutely Sir, because anything else would not have been. If anything is totalitarian in this world it is the moral law to preserve the dignity of every man, in all situations, in any and every moment given to us. Even at . . .”

LORD: “At the cost of . . . “

CHRIS: “Absolute perfect moral right has no cost – it can’t be bought. Once known it can only be done.”

LORD: “You’re ignoring the question. You’re telling me no one paid the price for your perfect act of righteousness, this little satisfaction of yours staged for the benefit of this jihadist man – whose brain housed the ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘when’ of the deaths of 781 lives?”

CHRIS: “We performed your righteousness with perfect grace and did not trespass the prisoner’s human dignity to . . “

LORD: “To save the humanity of 781 lives. To do that you refused to go beyond a ‘pretty please’?”

CHRIS: “But Lord, acting with such perfect respect towards the will of our enemy are we not participating in godlikeness . . . that our respect for the prisoner’s human dignity calls forth your great grace and compassion, etc., etc.? Have you not done likewise?”

LORD: “You’re right, Chris. Now I remember.

“Once I stayed the vengeful murderous hand of my servant to save a city, 100,000 lives, and much cattle.(More rising from the throne.)

“But this vile man sitting from you across the table was not my servant. You were! He had already submitted to the bloodletting of the ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘when’. It was his obedience to such evil that needed breaking. I delivered him to you. Are you not masters of the craft that could break that hold and save 781 lives – plus one!? (Listen up Christopher!) It was YOUR hand I intended to use to stay his.”

CHRIS: “He wasn’t talking. And, oh Lord, believe me, it was frustrating. The desire to do right so perfectly did not come easy.

“Yes, the evidence was right there: right on the table cluing us to sometime in Ramadan, in a midsize American city. The ‘what’ of it, though, was a bit unclear. True – you’re correct – not so much on the table as locked in that brain of his.

“We prayed only that he’d see your perfect righteousness in our refusal to coerce and bend his humanity. There was no other COMMON GOOD beyond this sit down of ours: this window of grace through which our absolute refusal to coerce paid visit upon his human dignity.

“And don’t, Sir, mock our ‘pretty please’. Our pleading was the moment your unconditional love graced the gift of our Christian fellowship with this man. This was NOT the moment for the 781. They were not sitting across that table. Love’s unconditional moment had no gaze but for THAT prisoner – no other. Such is the trembling of your righteousness being made perfect in us, in our act.”

LORD: “How well you speak. My!”

CHRIS: “Thank-you, Lord. We parsed our thoughts on many a blog. It was simply a matter of banning what didn’t match the absolute act of preserving man’s dignity – the man before us, today, this prisoner.”

LORD: “You miss my meaning. How well you point to what could have happened if you just squeezed a little.”

CHRIS: “Oh, you mean a little bit of this or that, and the prisoner would have outed the Prelude Plan.”

LORD: “That’s my drift.”

CHRIS: “A little here, and a little there, and he would have told us the Prelude Plan was set for the 21st of Oct, in Lincoln NE. Right in the center of the country (think of the art of that), Prelude to the big one where . . .”

LORD: “Now there’s some righteous intelligence for you.”

CHRIS: “And . . . and, that the plan was like that Russian thing: Raid Lincoln High, herding the school into the gym – crying Jihad. They had a perfect denotation blueprint. SWAT teams found it hard to locate a breakthrough. And with no hostage releases . . .”

LORD: “Well?”

CHRIS: “To watch it all go down . . . the ache in our hearts, for that moment, matched your perfect compassion.”

LORD: “For the 781?”

CHRIS: “Yes, for them. The moment for the 781 (our moral standing before them) was then (at the moment of it) not across the table from the man whose will held their fate in his brain.

“And, mind you Lord, how quickly you forget that the prisoner was visited in your name – for the honor of his dignity. Sitting there, we thought of you. It was the trembling of the moment that mattered – and, by God, we were hell-bent (praise be) not to sully that moent with the slightest tar of coercion.

“And regarding how that ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘when’ sat in his brain – if a ‘pretty please’ could not pull it out, it was the fault of the ‘pretty please’ not your perfect moral act within outs. Next time we’ll reword our pleading, match it better with perfection. Help us out, here. Are you not the Lord of the Absolutist Party?”


Boutique Islam

Richard posted in combox (Against the Grain): (Regarding the Pope’s current stock of advisors as ) “not seen by Islamic scholars as having an accurate understanding of Islam.”

Let’s see, Islam accords Christian scholars in correcting their misunderstanding of Christianity – right!

To say, proclaim, declare, confess something about God other than what Islam says about Allah is called (according to their lights) blasphemy – and non-negotiable. Right?

One can find the most precious boutique shades of Islam: little schools of thought that make plesant coffeehouse companions. 1400 years of Islam has floated all sorts. What counts is what a billion Muslims believe – and if boutique Islam has a fly’s chance in a teacup of swaying the hearts (and behavior) of 100 of millions.

The link below is an excellent exercise in sorting out “who is a moderate Mulsim”. Here is Islam on a plan, roaming the highway and byways with a roadmap. And the point of pointing all this out – because it is succeeding. Should we let Muslims define Moderate Islam – by what is buzzing down the road?

Moderate Islam is that which receives the “best and the mostest” – energy, loyalty, money, media exposure. Boutique Islam may keep the coffee pouring at Starbucks but it doesn’t move boots on the ground.

And, where are those boots going, what are they stomping on?

Aims and Methods of Europe’s Muslim Brotherhood”, Lorenzo Vidino


Slaughter of a Priest in Iraq

This is Islam, is it not? If not, there would have been a great cry against it – from Muslims.

Keep your coffeehouse conversation with boutique Muslims at Starbucks – it’s lines in the sand we need.

Sometimes hope comes unsheathed.



Richard Comerford wrote on Mark Shea’s combox:

“The conversion and reconciliation method normally has three key components:
1) Dialogue
2) Amnesty for the insurgents
3) Recognition of legitimate grievances and resolution

Executing Saddam will turn him into a martyr and delay dialogue with the insurgents.”


Since we’re not to hang the guy, we’ll go that way:


Dear Saddam (or is it Dear Leader; would President do). Thanks for talking. This sit down is real nice. Yes, we did read your poetry. It was, well . . . not in the Romantic strain. Shelley wrote his and got drowned dead off the coast of Italy; Lord Bryon got his up and expired in Greece. Poets are special folks. Wasn’t it Bryon who versified himself into martyrdom – oops, that was against the Islamic Ottomans.

As for talking, there’s been plenty of that. Ever since you were hauled in from that spider hole, talk of you and your deeds have been incessant, voluminous as unending edits of Wordsworth’s “Prelude”. (Now, there’s a poet for us: he kept changing his mind about the beheading of French kings.)

All this dialoguing, don’t quite know what is wanting. We’ve heard stories aplenty: stories about you and gassed Kurds, you and stripped to the bone generals, you and dead son-in-laws; you and piles of Shias and Marsh Arabs, all human debris. Rape rooms, millions of film feet of executions, torture; concentration camps for children of your adversaries; and, not to forget, tales of those sons of yours prowling the streets, their lust hanging out and unquenched. We’ve heard them all. Anything left untold? Maybe some undiscovered tape of your Presidential Self reciting poetry to the forerunners of Cindy Sheehan.

With all these stories on the table – what’s left for you to say? Do you have under arm a portfolio documenting that these stories are (yes, truly) events, stuff that happened, but turned in against itself, buried under a story’s truest meaning? The event is a shell, an act that can be any damn thing; what counts is what’s hidden under the subtexts and nuances of narrative mode. Such underhanded truth is dark-blind to eyes not under submission to diversity, multiculturalism and the religion of peace.

In proper dialoguing, the stuff of events must be shelled and tossed, only subtext meanings remain. That way the poetry comes through.

Amnesty for the insurgents.

You Saddam, you were once the big daddy insurgent: how you butchered your way to the top, and all that. That was such a blessed life: dozens of palaces, French, German and Russians showing the profit of it, plenty of supplicants to twist the knife.

Doubt, though, if the local insurgent boys have you much in mind these days: the course of butchering violence has other motivations. But since, they say, amnesty makes evil men good, why not let you in on it too. Your grievances (according to the subtext) were rooted in cares and concerns. Once we see the redeeming at of those heaps of human debris you piled (saving the unfortunates from the predications of little and big Satans) they are not so much heaping piles of flesh and bone but the haven of death cradling them from a greater damnation.

Looked at this way, amnesty is your due so that a subtext’s truest meaning (trumping the gritty event of slaughter) can shine bright and righteous. What’s left is language willed upon itself: the poetry of it, its rhythmic words hissing past all the chatter of those noisome testimonies.

Recognition of legitimate grievances and resolution.

By not giving all that “chatter of noisome testimonies” its full weight and voice we legitimatize your grievances. To have listened humbly, and with heart, to that witness would have weighed down (into drowned death) the poetics of your own grievances. It is yours that count.

Some say that bloody witnesses cry the loudest to heaven: that this is the only voice God hears; that since God is One he hears by acting; that he voices his consolation by roping THEIR grievances to the nearest tall tree. – giving liberty to the down-hearted. Sometimes (we are told) God so loves that he stomps his foot (his very Jewish foot) on the oppressors of the poor and faint of heart.

But, alas, where is the poetry in that! Saddam, it was your foot stomping that mattered.

Oh sweet Jesus, I’m all talked out. When amnesty washes out truth justice is not served. Sometimes the resolution is simply in stories being told.

I don’t get it. All this sub-text poetics is exhausting. Feel I need a good Psalm or two, one of those retribution jobs from King David.

Damn you. Damn that curial cardinal. Those lives piled high in Saddam’s heaps of human debris cry to high Heaven. But God be thanked, Heaven honors their human dignity to the point of righteous retribution. The Hebrews understood. To say that the Father of Jesus is Allah and not the God of Moses (to think and act as if this is so) is the cheapest of heresies – and the cruelest.

Forget you, Saddam. Let God’s footstep fall. As we say out here in the American West – hang ‘em high!

SIDE NOTE: By the way, Michael Ledeen (Jew and Neocon) never thought we should have “gone into Iraq”. Too bad we were not more RESPECTFUL of his advise; you, Saddam, may still be alive, free and negotiating your way out of this mess, while keeping a palace or two. But, sigh, Michael is such a nasty fellow there was no point dialoguing with him; without giving amnesty to his views we weren’t willing to listen to his legitimate grievances and come to some resolution. The Absolutist/Pacifist Party was very strict about that.


Augustine Closes the “Torture Debate”

(Responding to the state of the conversation on Christopher Blosser’s “Against the Grain.”)

Halt this torture debate! The conversation goes along over shifting ground: one day within the strict strictures of Church documents and history; next, arguing the points on the urgency of getting battlefield results. Back and forth – here, there. Different ways of looking about – conflicting duties and mandates. (Or, so its seems.)

A good portion of the debate is our cat-scratching over the definition of “torture”: what’s on the list, what’s not. The other catfight is over the definition of the ground (or ring) this debate is fought upon (within).

Ring the bell – to your corners, gentlemen!

Splash water on those faces. Robert A. Markus has written a book, Christianity and the Secular; Thomas G. Guarino, over on, has responded with a review, “For the Secular” (Aug/Sept, ’06). It is the ground of our debate that must be settled first, before we pull items off and on that torture list. Robert Markus has done it for us. Thomas Guarino has perfectly summarized the argument, with insightful qualifications.

Sorry, to those with a distaste for NeoCons! Markus’ argument is an Augustinian one. He, along with the earliest Fathers, was groping his way towards a tripartite understanding of temporal and spiritual citizenship: the sacred, the secular, and the profane. Nothing surprising in this, but for how easily it slips from our own – especially in this debate over ‘torture’.

Our debate, the author clearly shows, must be held within the secular sphere. We, with some humility, must permit that ground to set the agenda.

I’ll say no more than to suggest that we take our conversation and place it within framework outlined by Markus and Guarino.

Do it as an exercise. What turn of view comes forward?

Here’s an observation from that exercise.  (Some may see as a damper on what has just been put – oh well.)  In today’s Russia there is much torturing and political assassinations: Putin is pulling the country back to its totalitarian past. (On see Jamie Glazov’s “Symposium: to kill a Russian journalist”.)  Russia today is an example of how the torture debate argued within the “profane” sphere results in horrific “intrinsic evil”. (As an counter example, arguing exclusively within the “sacred” sphere – John H. Yoder, Mark Shea, maybe – results in sterile moral inactivity.) Read Guarino’s “Review” then the “Symposium” to see the point.

The larger point being: what must be talked about first is the ground of our debate. In that, the Augustinian “secular” has my vote.

(Would like to see Christopher B. put his roundup skills to work on the theme: “Augustinian Lessons from the Torture Debate”.)


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