The massacre in Paris has brought two things, already obvious, into high relief once again. We are observing, in slow motion, a collision between two very diseased cultures. The diseases are quite different but seem, in some respects, to be made for each other. One disease is listless and the other aggressive. One has no organizing principle, no arche, and the other has the wrong organizing principle. One is idolatrous and polytheistic and the other is idolatrous and monotheistic. One believes that no gods should be honored in the public square while the other believes that only one should be, but that is a false one. One used to be Christian, and must become Christian again, while the other must become Christian.
Our sympathies and prayers are obviously for France in this, but those sympathies operate on two levels. The first is the obvious humanitarian one, and applies to many more assaults than just this one. But the second has to do with what the West used to stand for, what West used to be, and the fact that we share in the (ignored) heritage that is under assault. This is the reason why the slaughter in France is headline news, while comparable atrocities committed by jihadists in Africa do not make headlines in the same way.
Once you have accepted the mindset that sees appeasement as a noble thing, it is awfully difficult to determine where to draw the line and start doing things differently. It actually requires repentance, and once you start repenting, you might find that it goes all the way down.
Our elites are not defending the West, but they are defending their notions of what the West ought to be. They are defending their ideals about the West, which is actually a hollow shell of what the West once was. Not only are they doing so, they are doing so against overwhelming odds. Their ideal, a cosmopolitan and multicultural secular state, is in fact under siege, and they are defending that “diversity ideal” against the forces arrayed against it. This is tough because what is arrayed against their secularism is God’s Grand Reductio.
For those who are committed to the naked public square God has raised up a rod of chastisement — radical jihadis who insist that Allah is god of the public square, and in that very same square, Muhammad is his prophet. These jihadis believe in Allah all day every day. They believe in him whether they pick up a knife and fork, or whether they pick up a rifle. If you tell me they shouldn’t believe in Allah that way, I quite agree with you. But if you think that such hard idolaters are going to be fought off by a civilization of lotus eaters, then you want something that has not yet happened in this world.
The secularists meanwhile are certainly refusing to stand up against this Islamist threat in any effective way, but they are trying to stand up to the threat posed to their precious system. This is why Islamists can go on a killing spree in Paris, and the tolerance police come out in force . . . to make sure nobody says anything rude about Islam on the Internet.
So what we are seeing is a collision between two diseased cultures. The disease of Islam is a fanatical desire to impose dhimmitude West. The disease of the West is an impotent and lame desire to include everybody in a group hug photo without having a clue how many suicide bombers are crowding into their happy picture.
There are certainly practical things to do on a practical level in response to this attack. Some of them would be lawful and some of them not. Some of the responses are obligatory, some prudent, and others just stupid. But whatever is done, all the responses will be utterly and completely ineffectual apart from an invocation of Jesus Christ, Lord of the nations. We do not just need a revival in the church — although we do need that, as faithful Christians have long known. We also need a revival in the West, and by this I do not mean a generic revival of some vague spirituality gas. I mean a self-conscious abandonment of our moribund secularism, and a sincere and heartfelt confession of the lordship of Jesus Christ.