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Nomad: From Islam To America--A Personal Journey Through The Clash Of Civilizations By Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Written by Rex M. Rogers   
Friday, 02 March 2012 12:31

Nomad is Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s third book, the second that is autobiographical.

This book retells some of her family and remarkable personal history. But Ali focuses most of the text on immigrating to America, Islam in America, her description of Islamic religious teaching and cultural perspectives on sex, money, and violence, and finally her recommendations for preserving and developing free societies.

Ali is an excellent and engaging writer. Her vocabulary is impressive and her social and political analysis more so. In American political culture she’d be called a conservative for many of her views, yet she is liberal in her attitudes toward sexuality and religion. She embraces and propounds Enlightenment thought and yearns for a world where women especially would be liberated from male, religious, and cultural masters. Most of all, she wants people to be free to think, to learn, to decide, and to do as they independently wish to do in the pursuit of happiness.

Ali is an atheist, having rejected Islam during the last two decades of her geographical, spiritual, and intellectual journey. Yet she does not trash Christianity as some atheists do. Rather, she says “The Christianity of love and tolerance remains one of the West’s most powerful antidotes to the Islam of hate and intolerance.”

Ali considers the Muslim veil in all its gradations simply a form of mental slavery. She says, “The veil deliberately marks women as private and restricted property, nonpersons.” Islam, Ali says, takes girls and “grooms them for docility.” They live in an “apartheid of sex” that is legally and culturally enshrined. Even in the West, Alia says, Muslim women are “conditioned to live in a prison within a society that is free.”

Ali is also strongly critical of Islamist schools and what she labels an authoritarian and rote approach to learning. She contends students are brainwashed with no exposure to any ideas conflicting with Islam and students are cut-off from society, and that schools perpetuate misogyny under an arbitrary god of fear. She argues this approach to education ruins girls, if they attend school at all, by making them subservient, compliant, and unable to think for themselves. She believes this education ruins boys by developing in them an arrogant sense of entitlement and lack of curiosity dampening their creativity and ability to be as productive as they could be in a free economy.

Ali is understandably extremely critical of practices like female genital mutilation or “brutal excision,” which pre-dates Islam but is embraced by many within Islamist culture. Ali says this egregious offense to girls is happening daily in the West—as is honor killing, albeit less frequently, and child-brides in arranged marriages, quite frequently. These offenses, along with other debasements of femininity, are why she says, “I believe that the subjection of women within Islam is the biggest obstacle to the integration and progress of Muslim communities in the West.” She goes further in answering her critics, arguing that to claim oppression of women has nothing to do with Islam and only a traditional custom is intellectual dishonesty.

As in her bestselling autobiography, Infidel, Ali argues strongly against the cultural relativism behind “multiculturalism.” She believes multiculturalist attitudes undermine assimilation, progress, and wellbeing among immigrants whose cultures are protected by Western governments as untouchable even when they perpetuate the subjugation—or “gendercide”—of women. She calls this the “racism of low expectations,” noting that “Every important freedom that Western individuals possess rests on freedom of expression.”

Ali also believes the Christian Church has bought into multiculturalism and its morally relativistic outlook. She believes Europe, especially, is “sleepwalking into political, cultural, and ideological disaster” because the Church is neglecting immigrant neighborhoods. At the same time, she says it is naïve to think inter-faith dialogue will bring Muslims into the fold of Western Civilization. She thinks governmental or ecclesiastical multiculturalism aimed at “respect” becomes just a “euphemism for appeasement.”

What’s most interesting is to hear Ali, an atheist, encourage Christians to be more evangelistic in reaching out to Muslims. She acknowledges that the Christian God of the Bible is a loving, forgiving God of redemption and hope, something even she says Muslims need. She urges Christians, as well as Western governments, not to bow to the politics of intimidation.

There are other experts emerging who speak to the “clash of civilizations,” but few if any bring to the discussion the personal experience, visceral depth of understanding, and gifted intellect as does Ali. Agree or disagree with her arguments, but do Ali and the principle of freedom of thought the respect they deserve by doing due diligence on her views. Ali is influential because her experience, talent, and critical thinking have earned her influence. I highly recommend this book.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

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Infidel By Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Written by Rex M. Rogers   
Thursday, 01 March 2012 19:34

This is a book about survival against all odds. On nearly every page of the book a story is told that makes you wonder, “How is this woman still alive?” The book is the incredible autobiography of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somalian woman who escaped her family, clan, culture, and religion in search of freedom.

Let me say at the top that I highly recommend this book for several reasons. First, it provides a view of clan culture in East Africa that for me at least was new, informative, and enlightening. Second, it helps you understand the ways in which Islam works itself out in different cultures, the political ideology the religion demands, and the manner in which the theological system and traditions that have built up over centuries regard people, girls and women in particular, and life itself.

Third, the book is simply compelling. It’s different, relates familial or religious practices that are astounding for their disparagement of human life and individual value, and provides a social analysis at once winsome and courageous. Fourth, the author Ali was always smart but is by now a well-educated woman who can write. I’d even say gifted as a writer. I was hooked in the first few pages. Fifth, Ali is a political scientist by education and profession so her political and cultural analysis is as good as any you’ll find dealing with the topics she addresses.

Ali made her escape from Germany by taking a train to Holland where she found a kind people and a welfare state especially prepared to receive and nurture a scared but strong Somali woman who wanted nothing but to be independent, to live freely. She made this bold run for freedom at 22 years of age after her father had arranged a marriage for her with a Somali man living in Canada, a man she did not choose. Her father had put her on a jet to Canada but she bailed during her layover in Germany.

The book relates with amazing memory formative events from her childhood spent in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, and Kenya. She describes her religious odyssey, one that eventually saw her reject Islam and embrace atheism. (Ali at least in this book is not an “angry atheist” and she does not attack Christianity. She simply no longer believes in God or an afterlife.) She speaks knowledgeably and movingly about female genital mutilation—which she endured, the sexual paranoia of her religion and culture, and her later experiences with love and sexual maturity. And she shares her feelings and concerns for family members who, though often hateful and abusive, she still loves.

Eventually, through what can only be described as a process of pluck and passion she becomes an elected Member of Parliament in the Netherlands, makes a controversial short film (Submission, Part 1) with a Dutch producer about the plight of women under Islam, loses her Dutch citizenship only to have it restored, and finally immigrates to America.

In the meantime, the Dutch producer is brutally killed on a Holland sidewalk by an Islamist murderer who leaves a note pinioned to the dead man’s chest with a knife, a note to Ali. She then becomes the focus of Islamist assassins and now requires constant security likely for the remainder of her life. As a result of all this she becomes a personality lauded worldwide for her beliefs and actions in support of freeing women and girls from religious suppression.

Ali is especially articulate and passionate about multiculturalism, which she believes allows cultures to perpetuate evil in the name of moral relativism. She believes most European countries have made a huge mistake in adopting a multiculturalist attitude toward immigrants, which she contends delays their assimilation and adoption of the new language and new values in their new homeland. This, she says, perpetuates poverty, isolation, ignorance, and suppression of creativity and independence in women, thus denying the economy productivity it and the immigrant group could enjoy.

As I said, I highly recommend this book because it is well written and because I believe Ali offers so many sagacious lessons. The West would do well to listen and to learn.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

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Listening To The Donkeys In Our Lives
Written by Rex M. Rogers   
Tuesday, 28 February 2012 20:17

I always loved the Old Testament story of the talking donkey, in part because I've always loved animals of any kind. But this is more than an animal tale (Numbers 22).

The donkey in this story, Balaam's donkey, proved smarter than his human. Perhaps there are donkeys in our lives with words of wisdom too.

I've had a few donkeys in my life, and I didn't always listen. When I did, I've been the better for it.

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

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Even The Lone Ranger Didn't Go It Alone
Written by Rex M. Rogers   
Monday, 27 February 2012 23:27

People sometimes think they can make it alone. But it’s not so. Human beings are first, last, and always social creatures.

In the extreme, people who think they can do it alone end up freaky weird. Think Howard Hughes, Bobby Fischer, or the Unabomber.

People need interaction, certainly for emotional wellbeing but also for achievement. Sure, there are great works of art or literature that are the products of one genius. But even they didn’t spring forth fully formed and fully able to produce. They had to learn, to be nurtured, to grow and to grow up. Someone, more often, some many, invested in them.

God created us for communion with him. Then he created others for our companionship and community. First Adam, then Eve, then the family, and then the human race.

Cultures vary. There’s the individualistic West and the communal or collective East, and there’s strengths and weaknesses to both. But even in the West’s frontier-forged independence we still needed each other then and now. Even our legends, Daniel Boone, Kit Carson, had sidekicks. Even our heroes like Teddy Roosevelt didn’t charge up San Juan Hill alone. Nor did the Greatest Generation, with more than it’s share of heroes, win WWII one at a time.

Scripture says, “For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord” (Romans 14:7-8). We belong to the Lord and are positioned as regents in his creation.

So despite Simon and Garfunkel’s pithy phrase, “I am a rock, I am an island,” we’re really not. Even their final poignant lyric doesn’t fit human beings and human experience: “And a rock feels no pain; And an island never cries.” We’re neither rocks nor islands. We do feel pain and we do cry.

So going it alone in some kind of macho misperception is an enormous mistake. People only go it alone when greed, pride, hurt, or arrogance overcome them.

Even the Lone Ranger didn’t go it alone. He had has faithful Tonto.

One can be lonely in a crowd, I know. This is a by-product of modernity. People live amongst millions in relative angst and alienation. It’s a sad life because it is not a “normal” life.

If one is a Christian he or she need never be alone. Indeed Christians are not and cannot be alone for the Holy Spirit of God indwells us (1 Corinthians 3:16). Yet many believers seem to act as if they are alone. This too is a sad life.

Friendship, relationships, companionship, a good marriage, fellowship, these are powerful enabling concepts. They are gifts of God. Seek such things. Nurture them. They make life livable, enjoyable, and fruitful.

I don’t want to be a rock. I don’t want to be an island. I don’t even want to be the Lone Ranger. I want us, not just me.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

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Population Is A Big Word For People
Written by Rex M. Rogers   
Friday, 24 February 2012 18:26

There are 2.77 times more people in the world today than when I was born in 1952. Almost 3X as many—7.3 billion in 2012—as when I added one more to the total. To me this is mind-boggling.

The U.S. population in 1952 stood at approximately 157.55 million. Today US population stands at 313.1 million, just 2 million shy of 2X as many people as when I was born.

The U.S. population tripled during the 20th Century. This is a growth rate of 1.3%. The average growth rate among countries of the world is 1.17%, though as an average it doesn’t say much because there are countries as high as Liberia at 4.5%, meaning its population more than doubles every 20 years. Or there are countries as low as the Cook Islands at -2.23%.

Along with Africa some of the fastest growing countries of the world are in the Middle East and North Africa, Arab, Persian, and Turkish Muslim-majority countries. Israel stands at 1.66% population growth rate. The U.S. is getting older month by month while the Middle East is getting younger.

Europe is actually declining in population rate of growth, even with immigration. This stresses European countries’ economies. In the U.S. people are living longer with fewer youth coming into the workforce.

Some 80% of ours and of world population live in urban areas and some 80% live near coastlines. We are a city people by the sea.

Demographics is more interesting than it first appears. There’s much more in the statistics. For example, in the U.S. 45% of youth under 5 years are children of minorities. The U.S. continues to “brown.” In the Middle East there’s more than 100 million under the age of 16 years. That’s one-third the population of the U.S.

Population is a fancy word for people. There are 7.3 billion of us in the world and counting, each one made in the image of God. Each one is just as temporally and eternally significant as I am.

People one and all are not simply animate life forms. With numbers like 7.3 billion, which no one can really understand, it’s easy to forget that. Each one matters. That’s what makes demographics all the more mind-boggling.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

 
Christian Perspectives Re The Immigration Issue
Written by Rex M. Rogers   
Tuesday, 21 February 2012 09:11

Immigration remains a volatile issue in the United States, particularly in this presidential election year. It's an issue that doesn't really come and go, just grows quiet for a time only to come rushing back when a politician makes a comment or something happens on the border.

What should Christians think about immigration? Are there ways we can contribute to the discussion and, hopefully, resolution of the issue? I believe there are. In particular, we could help both political parties by simply reminding them that the "immigration issue" is really about people. Here are a few of my thoughts to stimulate your thoughts:

The immigration issue is not irresolvable. But it won't be resolved without honest, principled debate and a will to work toward the American Dream for both citizens and would-be citizens.

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

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Dr. Rex M. Rogers

Dr. Rex M. Rogers

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