Lawrence Auster, I believe it was, coined the phrase “Sudden Jihad Syndrome” to describe the phenomenon of a seemingly peaceful and apolitical Muslim deciding without apparent provocation to wage homicidal jihad on the infidels in his vicinity. The key assertion in this phrase is that an outside trigger is not necessary, that war on non-Muslims is a “meme” carried by Islam itself. Note that one needn’t say that violent jihadis have the true, authentic version of Islam. One may think that the question of “authentic” Islam is meaningless or uninteresting to non-Muslims, or one may believe that Islamists are distorting Islam, so long as one grants that this distortion is a natural one. That war should be waged on non-Muslims is a reading or misreading of the Koran that requires no outside forcing (such as the provocation of Western oppression or contamination by Western ideologies) and so may be expected to reoccur irrespective of the non-Muslim environment. Auster himself seemed convinced that it was not a misreading, that nonviolent Muslims are the equivalent of non-practicing Christians, but I prefer to remain agnostic on this question.
Islam isn’t alone in having internal crazy modes (I’d call them “failure modes”, but who am I to say what the proper functioning of Islam is?) Do you have a Jewish neighbor: has lots of Gentile friends, isn’t offended by Christmas trees, isn’t much into religion or politics? You never know–he might at any moment reconnect with his heritage and be stricken by Sudden Prophet Syndrome, announce that his host society is racist-sexist-homophobic, and go off on the social justice warpath. How about a Christian neighbor? Better stay on your toes. She might hear one too many times about tax collectors and prostitutes getting into heaven before priests, and it may trigger Moral Inversion Syndrome, and she’ll go around haranguing her fellow Christians about the many moral lessons they can learn from prostitutes. This sort of thing is not the proper interpretation, but I’m afraid all Christians are prone to it. We know that we’re all sinners, so we tend to imagine that spectacular sinners have some deeper spiritual awareness, or at least they’re not “hypocrites” like respectable Christians. Rather like in that most socially inverted of art forms, the murder mystery, in which the culprit is never the guy found on the scene who has a criminal record and a clear motive but always a respected pillar of the community whom no one but the detective would have suspected, we’ve told ourselves stories so often about repentant thieves and wicked respectable men that we’ve forgotten the whole point about this being unusual. (Once, long ago, I read an article by a Jew who pointed out that Christians sometimes act as if they hold the ordinary virtues of the conscientious worker and family man in disdain. If our prelates want to go look looking for elements of sanctification, this would be a better place for them to start.)
Each of these crazy modes is, in pure form, either too silly or too destructive to last long. That they continue to plague our world is the work of the Manipulator. In any religion, the manipulator is easy to spot. He’s the Islamist who doesn’t feel the need to strap explosives to his own chest. He’s the social justice partisan who’s forgotten socialism and is now careful only to invoke Jewish moral zealotry against Christians and lower-class whites. He’s the Christian who only applies moral inversion to sins he doesn’t really believe are sins, i.e. the Dumbledore Fallacy. (Ask him whether the doctrine of gradualism applies to the sin of “racism”. I’m still waiting for some understanding for lovers of their own people.)
As Christians we must be especially on guard against Christian craziness. We’ve just seen its destructiveness. Yes, of course all men are sinners, and all are a mix of good and bad. Nevertheless, it’s still true that being a prostitute is a bad thing and that being a housewife is a good thing. And there’s no gradualness in our final destinations.
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