Muslim, Jewish, Christian intrinsic crazy modes

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.

9 Responses

  1. Because Jesus consorted with tax collectors and prostitutes, there is a heretical strain of Christianity that has beatified tax collectors and prostitutes. Those are the Liberals who devolved from the Unitarians who devolved from the Puritans. But I’m inclined to see something else here, which is not so directly tied to religion, and that is the romantic love for the chivalrous hero that runs through so much of Western culture. The phenomenon of the White knight is not limited to those bugbears of the manosphere who spring to the defense of unworthy women. There is, in the heart of a great many Westerners, a deep desire to spring to the defense of the underdog, to champion the weak, to brandish a sword in the face of a hideous dragon. Of course, because of this desire to appear in the role of St. George, many Westerners fail to notice that the underdogs they champion are, in truth, orcs and gargoyles.

    This is not unconnected to religion, of course, since the cult of chivalry is a byproduct of Christian sentiment. But we have to recognize the inversion that has occurred when our modern St. Georges defends what are really dragons in distress, and run their lances through what are really beautiful damsels. This is the moral inversion you describe–the Christian who demands that we winkle the motes from our eyes before we hoist the beam from our neighbors’. But the moral inversion is really just a setup for what I would call Sudden Savior Syndrome. This is not a bad instinct, by the way–so long as we are able to distinguish between dragons and damsels. Unfortunately, moral inversion means that many of us are not.

  2. Very good comment by JMSmith.

  3. There’s a difference between Sudden Jihad and Prophet Syndromes on the one hand, and Moral Inversion Syndrome on the other. The Jews and Muslims can be seen engaging in that behavior all through their history, in many different settings, so that we begin to suspect its causes are somehow innate to the group. (If we broaden the meaning of SPS in reasonable ways.) This is not true of Moral Inversion Syndrome. It is a distinctly modern sickness among Christians. So you can propose a theory that has it rising directly out of Christianity, but then you should expect to see it all through our history—unless you have some external factor that used to suppress it, and now allows it to proliferate. I can’t think of anything that would be.

  4. The description of Sudden Prophet Syndrome as given by Bonald strikes me as false. I know a lot of secular, gentile-befriending, Christmas-tree-welcoming Jews who, as adults, suddenly started to care a lot about being Jews. Here’s what consistently changed:

    – They had a sudden interest in their Jewish lineage–going both ways
    – They had a sudden interest in Jewish holy scriptures
    – They had a sudden interest in Israel (typically a Zionistic one)

    Here are things that consistently did NOT change:

    – Their number of gentile friends did not decrease
    – Their attitudes towards public Christianity (including the display of Christmas trees) did not cool

    There certainly are Jews who are relatively secular but are still antagonistic towards public Christianity and have mostly Jewish friends, and I’ve known some of these too. They’ve typically been like that their whole lives, though.

    I’ve also known some Jews, myself included I guess, who underwent the changes I mentioned but sans the Zionism.

  5. It’s also true that most Christians and Muslims who connect with their their heritage don’t follow their religion’s distinctive crazy path. However, to see that it’s basically right, notice that you can’t really mix them. To become a social justice prophet, a Christian must define himself antagonistically to his heritage; he must see past generations of Christians as bad. A Jew who does this, on the other hand, can feel closer to his people and their struggles as outsiders. And for all we’ve heard about Christianity being as intrinsically violent as Islam, a newly-enthusiastic Christian won’t be inspired to acts of individual violence. (He may well come to support some damned fool war in the Middle East, though.)

  6. I’m afraid all Christians are prone to it.

    Is this true in all times and places, or just ours?

  7. I suspect all times and places, but I have no familiarity with old sermons and short fiction to prove it. In our own time and place, this is one Christian tic that doesn’t seem to correlate with being orthodox vs. progressive. (Being the Manipulator is, of course, progressive.) Also, there is plenty of impetus for it in the New Testament (“Thank you, God, that I am not like this tax collector.”) Finally, it’s fair to call Moral Inversion Syndrome a distinctively Christian form of silliness because it sounds plausible for us but not for Jews or Muslims. I’ve never had a sense that either of those faiths puts such an overwhelming emphasis on being contrite (as opposed to not having reasons to be).

  8. […] The Bonald has a choice little esssay on intrinsic failure modes.  Here is what he says about Christianity. […]

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