JOHN STONESTREET (Breakpoint Radio) — The recent terrorist attacks in Paris have captured the attention of the West like no event since, arguably, 9/11. Everywhere you go, especially on the internet, you see the French tri-color and the word solidarite.
Which is as it should be. What happened in Paris was horrific. And our sentiments are easy to understand. Like New York, Paris is an iconic western city. Many of us have been to Paris or at least desire to go there. Its landmarks are instantly recognizable like the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame, and it’s the center of much culture, fashion, and food.
As President Obama rightly said, the attacks were an attack on all of humanity. Yet Paris is hardly unique in being the victim of Islamist terror. For example, just a few days before the Paris attacks, a series of ISIS bombings in Beirut left 43 dead.
Yet, as Elie Fares, a Lebanese doctor, wrote on his blog “When my people died, no country bothered to light up its landmarks in the colors of their flag . . . When my people died, they did not send the world into mourning. Their death was but an irrelevant fleck along the international news cycle, something that happens in those parts of the world.”
Speaking of “those parts in the world,” The State Department estimated that, worldwide, 33,000 people were killed in terrorist attacks just in 2014. And it might surprise you to learn that the worst offender isn’t ISIS, but it’s Boko Haram, which like its Arabian counterpart, has declared war on its Christian neighbors.
After Friday, the West is scrambling to find a response to Islamist terror. But part of the problem, as I told you Tuesday on BreakPoint, is that the increasingly secularized West simply does not and cannot understand the motivation and appeal of groups like ISIS.
People for whom religion is, at best, something optional, cannot understand people for whom religion is the center of their existence. People who have rejected the Christian eschaton — the end of the current age and the restoration of all things — cannot understand people whose goals are to usher in their own version of the eschaton.
That’s at least partly because the West seems to believe it has already achieved a kind of eschaton in which the reign of human ingenuity and prosperity and technology has supplanted the reign of God. The mark of the secular West is that it actually believes humans are ultimately in control of all things. We believe the world is the way it is because we make it that way. We talk about “directing our own evolution.” It’s a conceit as old as the human race: “you will be like God.”
But of course we aren’t. So when events don’t turn out the way we think they should, our illusion is shattered and our response is panic and flailing.
Think about the apocalyptic language used to describe the impact of climate change.…