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Phil-osophically Speaking

Convergence Of The Twain

Even though the struggle between Christianity and Islam began 14 centuries ago, its violent and persecutory vestiges still haunt us. While Christianity, for example, is the fastest growing religion in the world, it is also the most oppressed and molested of all the religious faiths. For those killed around the world for their religious beliefs, 75 percent are Christians. Even as Christianity explodes among the denizens of Africa and Asia, attempts to muffle and eradicate it grow with alarming speed. The building of churches and seminaries in Arab lands are forbidden; Christians are slain with impunity in Nigeria; 600,000 to 1 million Coptic Christians, despite the presence of the American military, have fled Iraq fearing for their lives. There is not extant a single Christian church in Saudi Arabia; a mass exodus of believers in Egypt continues unabated to safer pastures and postulates of the Christian faith are languishing in the prisons of Pakistan for no crime other than observing the tenets of their religion.  

The roots of this onslaught penetrate deep into the ancient soil of history and it has sowed and reaped homicidal storms throughout the centuries. Moreover, there is no indication whatsoever that these fiery eructations have been exhausted. Apportioning blame is one of the charges of historical reflection, but too many historians and pundits hesitate to produce honest evaluations either because of multiculturalism, fears of ethnocentrism or suspicions of all things Western to analyze with detachment the antecedents of this clash of cultures.

It has become something of a self-conscious, albeit ludicrous preoccupation regarding the lengths some analysts will go to elude the truth if they cannot reconcile it to blaming their own culture. Even today some academicians cannot admit that the proximate cause of WWI was German militancy and aggression. They like to think that the “Great War” was purely the product of miscalculation precipitated by an unwise arms race. Henry Wallace, who was vice president during FDR’s third term but fortuitously not in his abbreviated fourth term, blamed the United States for the Cold War even though pursuant to the Yalta Conference the U.S. sustained free elections in once occupied territories and massively demobilized its military.  Still, Wallace (Claire Booth Luce memorably and devastatingly called him Joseph Stalin’s Mortimer Snerd) blindly maintained that the United States was, in effect, the Archimedean lever that tilted the globe into the Cold War. 

So what are the facts concerning Islam? First and foremost, it is one of the great world religions having contributed, in important ways, to the advancement of civilization. There is no gainsaying that millions of Muslims are good, decent and law-abiding people, aspiring to brotherhood and human fraternity. The chasm between Western Civilization and much of the Muslim world has been attributed to the West’s unshakable friendship with Israel, the culture’s all-embracing secularism and modernism and, clearly, America’s vaunted military power visible throughout the Middle East. While all of these no doubt contributed to Arab resentment, none can be said, in the face of any refined analysis, to be the basis of its origin, nor can it be said with any confidence that if these arrangements were different, Arab antipathy toward the West wouldn’t exist. 

Any understanding of Islam must begin with Muhammad, the founder and greatest influence on Islam, who was not only a prophet and a teacher, but also a soldier and a conqueror. As a result, any examination of Islam cannot but emphasize its unfettered military dimension.  While religious tolerance is a mainstay of Islam, indeed laid down by the Quran, it sees other religions as inferior, especially those that are not monotheistic —- which includes Christianity whose Triune God (Muslims seeing the distinction between personhood and nature as a sophistical theological contrivance) is deemed as nothing other than ersatz polytheism. 

The upshot was that by the 8th century, Militant Islam was on the march. Like a gigantic blast of wind, everything in its path was swept clean away; its armies overran the infidels in Palestine, Syria, Egypt and the North African Coast all the way to Morocco. Western Christiandom seemed ripe for the taking as the Umayyad, the first great Muslim dynasty, struck at Europe north of the Pyrenees. On a road between the two towns of Tours and Poitiers in 732 one of the most consequential battles in history was fought when Charles Martel, the Frankish Statesman and military leader, decisively defeated the Arab army. In the aftermath of this macro-historical battle, many more conflicts would arise including several Crusades. But the Crusades as Bernard Lewis, the most outstanding student of the history of Islam observed, were a brief but important interlude in a long history of Jihad. It was a counter-offensive against the much longer and relentless Holy War the Muslims had waged against Christianity four centuries earlier.

The Theocracies of the Arab world present an inherent danger not only because of the aspects of its millenarian, apocalyptic theology, but also because their government and religion are inextricably wedded. The war between the Catholics and the Protestants in the 17th century devastated Europe, but it also led to a philosophical and political evolution resulting in a separation between church and state that divided power, enlarged personal freedom and relegated belief to the private domain of the conscience. It was in this way that the West resolved the bloody crucible of religious strife. It is a revolution of thought that we can only hope for and one, I am sure, Christians throughout that troubled region are praying for.


News

The New Hyde Park-Garden City Park School District is planning improvements to a district that has already seen much success in recent years. The school year has only just begun and the Board of Ed is already setting its sights on the future. 

 

At the Sept. 8 board of education meeting, Superintendent Robert Katulak’s monthly report outlined the major goals set for the district last month. While approved in August, the three goals were made available to the public this month and each target different areas for improvement throughout the district. 

 

The first goal deals with English Language Learners (ELL) within the student population. ELL students are those that speak a language other than English at home and score below proficient on assessments. 

Senator Jack Martins discussed education, business and drug use among other topics in a an exclusive interview with this newspaper and FiOS 1 News. He’s currently seeking re-election in November, being challenged by Democrat Adam Haber. Pointing to what he called “key legislation,” particularly the tax cap legislation passed in 2011 and prescription drug bill he helped shepherd to enactment, Martins feels New York State is on track to continue fiscal responsibility.

 

“In these last four years, we’ve had four balanced budgets, we’ve cut taxes working together, we have paid off debt, streamlined government, kept spending below 2 percent each one of those years,” Martins said.


Sports

Sewanhaka boys soccer coach Peter Burgess wasn’t sure how long his team’s playoff drought was when it was broken last season. 

 

“Somebody said it was 13 years,” said Burgess, whose entering his fourth year coaching varsity. “But I think it was five or six, I don’t know maybe longer.”

 

But one thing’s for certain, he wants to keep last year’s momentum going. 

 

The Indians, who started their season with a 3-0 loss at Hewlett, will aim for their second straight trip to the playoffs this year. 

The Sewanhaka Indians made their Nassau Conference II debut with a bang.  The Indians opened their season at home against the Calhoun Colts, unsure what to expect, as all they had ever seen of the Colts was one tape of a scrimmage. 

 

“It was nerve raking leading up to the game,” said Head Coach George Kasimatis. “We weren’t sure what to expect on offense or defense, you have to guess early on. “

 

But it didn’t take the Indians long to introduce themselves to the conference, as junior, Quarterback, Elijah Tracey broke a 75-yard run taking it the distance to put the Indians up early, which ended in a 27-7 rout of the Colts. 


Calendar

Town Zoning Meeting - September 17

Herricks Meeting - September 18

Bike Safety Day - September 21


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com