Charles Moore's Mailbag

More 'Dueling Civilizations' Letters

Charles Moore - 2002.09.26 - Tip Jar

I liked your article

From James Manley

I liked your article on Dueling Civilizations and your other recent articles regarding religion and America. I hope all the negative responses to your columns aren't getting you down. Keep up the insightful commentary.

Thank you.

Chris Manley

Duel of civilizations - my tuppence

From David Hulse


I read your original article and thought that whilst it displayed tendencies towards stereotyping of Muslims, it did raise some interesting points. However, I have to say that your reaction to one of the letters, from a Mr. K. Resche, bordered on playground name-calling against Canadians. In your reply, you almost seem betrayed that Canadians could possibly disagree with your rather Republican view of the world. I sometimes do despair that Americans do not often look beyond their own borders or place themselves into the shoes of others, which I believe is probably what the population of Canada is doing. In case the American media is not reporting it, there is a global unease as to where the Bush administration is taking America.

You also make a point concerning the lack of democracies within the Arab world. Funnily enough, after years of turmoil, it looks as if the closest country in the region to democracy is Iran, which qualified just in time to join Mr. Bush's Axis of Evil! Other dictatorial regimes, in Egypt or Saudi Arabia, receive active support from the USA. Let us also not forget there are many regions of the world where democracy is thin on the ground and that it tends to be poverty that is the common link between these countries rather than religious dogma.

In short, whilst your article made a number of valid points, I feel that your interpretation of the facts could do with another point of view to challenge you into thinking the issues through further, exactly what Mr. Resche's letter was attempting to do. For you to dismiss his argument with a simple "Where would Canada be without the USA?" rebuttal is disrespecting the issue at large. After all, you are only human, and therefore fallible enough to be wrong occasionally.


Hi David,

I had to smile when I read your first paragraph . . . because I'm a Canadian born and bred. I've lived in Canada all my life and am typing these words from my redoubt on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia.

There are a few conservatives left in Canada, although we are a besieged and beleaguered minority. Incidentally, it was actually a Canadian - conservative journalist David Frum, then on George Bush's payroll as a speechwriter, who coined the phrase "axis of evil." You may be familiar with the names of a couple of rather prominent Canadian conservatives currently residing in the U.K., Lord Black of Crossharbour - the former Conrad Black, publisher of the Daily Telegraph, and his wife, Lady Black, a.k.a. the journalist Barbara Amiel.

Iran a democracy? Not by any definition I would recognize. There are apparently some factions in Iran who would like to make it a democracy, but the mullahs still pull the levers and run the show.

Speaking of poverty and religion, it is actually only in the more prosperous parts of the world where atheism and irreligion ever gain any substantial traction. I ran across the stats that appear below in a column by my colleague and former editor John MacIntyre on the weekend:

  • Percentage of people in Latin America who say they have "a lot" or "some" confidence in the church, according to a survey by Lagos: 78
  • Percentage of people in Latin America who say they have "a lot" or "some" confidence in the police: 39
  • In the judiciary: 35
  • In political parties: 18

Where would Canada be without the U.S.? Up the creek and heading for the rapids without a paddle, being as over 80 percent of our trade is with America, and our entire armed forces might be able to defend the smallest province, Prince Edward Island, for a day or two, but I wouldn't bet serious money on even that. No slur intended against our brave and capable men and women in uniform, but our federal governments over the past forty years have allowed the military to deteriorate to such a sorry pass that it is now just a skeleton force using mostly obsolete equipment. Without the Americans, we would be in big trouble.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.



Note: Below is an edited-down version of a 3,000+ word diatribe I received from the K. Resche David Hulse referred to on his letter above. I wish I could say it is astonishingly extreme, but unhappily, the anti-American, anti-Israeli sentiments he expresses are far from unusual among the Canadian left. A recent Ipsos-Reid poll of Canadians found 84 per cent of respondents said the U.S. was at least partly responsible for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Sometimes I'm ashamed to be Canadian.


Re: Islam Vs. West

Hello Mr. Moore:

"My god , my god" . . . are you insane? Your articles concerning computer technology seemed rational . . . you really don't take this subject very seriously do you? People are dying, and this is your response? It is to despair.

At times like these, I'm ashamed to be Canadian.

You should be ashamed to be a Canadian . . . because you are not one . . . you are a American in-waiting . . . you have no idea what being a Canadian is - I've often observed how people such as you have no identity, you are American without being American . . . you are a Canadian, but that represents nothing to you . . . the idea of looking at the world in a rational, altruistic, and unprejudiced manner . . . I imagine you don't even believe that is possible . . . being a Canadian is hard, but being American is ready made and almost instant . . . it is junk food.

So you align your philosophies with your material interests and pretend there is no hypocrisy . . . you become shallow and irrational . . . yet supremely rational when it comes to your own interests . . . the stereotypical American soul.

Do you understand what real is? I think that you don't.

I've heard you consider yourself a Christian . . . believe me sir, you are no Christian.

Your Christ of the stars and stripes, who would answer those who were driven from their homeland with murderous force and ultra-terrorism . . . who would use polls to prove the logic of a justifiable and inevitable genocide . . . who has all answers cheap, easy and in advance . . . who justifies a nation born in terrorism, responding to terrorism with ultra-terrorism . . . such a Christ does not exist.

That Christ that would bear and justify these hypocrisies, lies, murders, propaganda of lies for the purpose of genocide, is properly called the "anti-christ."

At least be truthful of what church or synagogue you belong to.

Israel in no way resembles, calls upon, or follows the conventions of a civilization of the west or democracy as the idea was meant to be understood . . . except in the "staged" sense, to say otherwise is a lie.

I have lived in Israel and have seen the system work. I am not Jewish, but I have not met an honest and intelligent Jew who is not perfectly aware of what is going on. The objective here is to take the entire south eastern Mediterranean coast to the Persian Gulf. If the Palestinians were as docile as cows, that would just serve as an excuse for Israel to seize them as a barbaric spewer's of milk and terrorists of the grass. Do not point at elections or the falsity of Arab seats in the Knesset. There is no democracy for anyone but Jews, and that is not democracy. Do you think because the National Post or Andrew Coyne alludes to this, may point to sham seats in the Knesset in east Jerusalem, it is true? Do lies and staged antics make a democracy?

Nor could a Christian justify responding to terrorists who have been murderously driven from their land with ultra terrorism, targeted assassinations and other prerogatives of Israel that create the terrorism they want us to believe they are trying to solve . . . what is the point of the matter? Its obvious to anyone who can see . . . The point of the matter is it's a staged play. Terrorism serves Israel more than Palestine, as it always has. If there is no terrorism they create it. Israel began with the darkest terrorism that succeeded.

Just as the '67 war was first reported an attack on Israel by the Arab nations, then when the truth could be no be longer hidden . . . it was a justified preemptive attack . . . now its a very pre-preemptive attack, still justified apparently, but really all a staged play -they win/others lose and are the "terrorists." They have no intention of giving Palestine a state, ever, ever. Their objective is the entire west bank, Gaza, (devoid of Palestinians) part of Syria, all of Lebanon, half the Sinai and the island of Cyprus . . . and complete military hegemony of the entire middle east . . . warlordism as you call it.

You invoke the "Civilization of the West," but your ideas have no part in it. Men like you only take what you like and leave whatever doesn't fit your schedule. Nor for you the difficult Canadian habit of looking objectively and without prejudice and not taking sides, speaking for justice (this is a shame for you?) and ignoring the American jackal press. No, you want to get with the mob . . . it's soon time for a lynching and people like you can smell that. Nor could anyone except the extremely retarded think Israel a typical example of Western civilization.

You are a liar Charles Moore, and nor are you Christian . . . nor can I feel any respect for a man who could claim part of religion in which genocide, terrorism and violence play no part . . . and yet you advocate it, you wish to bring it in, served with sugar, because you think it serves your interests. You are no part of the church of Christ and you would only claim otherwise as ultimately you desire to bring it into disrepute and put it into service of theft and murder. As your type has done much in the past.

Nor have you any part of the "Civilization of the West" . . . empirical truth and individual salvation are the pillars of Western civilization, and culture. Propaganda, lies, and leading the mass with myths and fables is inimical to the very idea of the civilization of the west.

Israel is no bulwark of the Civilization of the West in the middle east . . . it is a bulwark of the Civilization of the East in the West. It is paving the way, for the excuse and justification for a despotism of the like never seen here before . . . using the west and democracy as a cover.

My father told me how just as there is a magnificence about very good men, so there is a magnificence about very evil men . . . who do not hide the fact they are evil from themselves or others. Who had the courage to not lie to conceal themselves. These evil men were redeemable, out of them is good created from evil.

But evil men who claim to be good, and think themselves as do'ers of good, but who only do good for themselves and evil to others . . . who sit in the church and claim to be Christian, who read the words of Christ and seek salvation for themselves, yet sanction the most depraved evils on their distant neighbours . . . these men are truly evil and close to irredeemable. They are the deceivers, for they deceive themselves in order to deceive others . . . out of them nothing but evil is produced . . . evil in the name of good defiles both.

In the end they will have no part of good, but even evil will reject these men.

Put your blood money on Israel Mr. Moore and turn your back on justice in this conflict. But don't pretend you standing for the forces of democracy, rule of law . . . and most especially the "Civilization of the West."

Your standing for prejudice, greed, and terror, which you cloak with false self righteousness.

K. Resche

P.S.: I think there is a surprise in store for the likes of you. It is called Justice. You have stated yourself a religious man in past articles, but apparently you are not aware that the fundamental mystery of God is inescapable Justice. That means it distinguishes not the Jew from the Arab. There is no excuse for murder committed in avarice.

It's interesting how the US almost called it's war against terrorism "Divine Justice" . . . as almost a screed to show how it did not believe in a divine justice, God or other than the divine justice of the winner, but was not against using the name of God as a weapon of hearts and minds . . . for the victors terrorism is divine and genocide is justice if rendered on the loser.

But neither the world nor the United States will escape justice for their part in the displacement and genocide of the Palestinian people. It would have been better if they had simply put the entire nation to the sword . . . this would have been at least honest . . . but the lies, the staged plays and the hidden and deep malice and viciousness is a violence against the spirit and soul of their own people. They have implicated there own peoples . . . just as they have installed dictators and warlords in lands in the name of democracy. Divine Justice will come for all.

And it will come for you, Charles Moore, when you realize your winners and your victors will reap what they sow . . . and the harvest will truly be terrible, for what have they sown but the worst murder and lies? United States always ends up creating monsters. They made both Saddam Hussein, Osama bin laden and are responsible for the regime in Iran, but Israel will be the worst. What will happen when Israel has complete control over the middle east, weapons of mass destruction and a long history of violent expropriation and exploitation? Who will be master of ceremonies then? Civilizations of the West my ass! And then you will realize there is no excuse that you have stood for murder and lies and preferred propaganda to an unprejudiced finding out of facts and justice. You preferred to point the finger at the weak then finding out the truth and standing up to the strong. And you called yourself a religious man and wrote articles lauding the Israelis because you believed in there right to destroy Muslims more than you believed in justice. You didn't believe in justice.

You say you are a good man but you stand for evil because it asks less of you.

Mr. Resche,

We are so far apart on a vast number of issues that I see little point in perpetuating a futile argument.

People who strap high explosive to their children and send them off to blow themselves up in crowds of innocent babies and grandmothers are not civilized. Anyone who thinks they are is horribly deluded.


Dueling Civilizations

From Timothy E. Larson

Dear Sir,

Have you read "What If Jesus Had Never Been Born?" by James Kennedy? It addresses the good done by the influence of Christianity (though it's generally attributed now merely to "Western culture," as if that existed outside the influence of Christianity) while also looking at the sins of Christendom. Whenever someone brings up the Inquisition or whatever, I ask them to read this book first then get back to me. Your articles struck much the same chord in me as that book. If these civilizations based on other religions are just as peaceful and enlightened as ours, why haven't they advanced their citizenry in liberty, education, and technology like the West (based on Christianity) has? I enjoy your articles. Keep it up!


Hi Tim,

I've heard of the book, but haven't read it yet. I must try to get hold of it.


Re: The 'Dueling Civilizations' Letters

From Steve Watkins


I quote from your article:

"How the hell can you reason with people like that?"

I think that single sentence pretty much sums up the whole problem. I was watching one of the evening newsmagazines (I think it was Dateline NBC), and there was a story on Iran. Most of the young people interviewed bore no hatred for America, and in fact many admired our freedoms and culture. While this interview was going on, a large crowd was assembled outside for prayers - chanting "Death to Israel; Death to America."

Thanks for a thoughtful and insightful article.


Hi Steve,

Thanks for your comments.


Dueling Civilizations Islam and the West

From Noah B. Wallace

Hi Charles,

I was just browsing the responses to your article on Low End Mac. I have a few problems with your article:

First. Do you think that using Low End Mac as a bully pulpit to throw out your non computer opinions is really acceptable? Well maybe it's your chunk of bandwidth and you may do with it what you want. Maybe there's a better site. Maybe something like "Born Again Technologists."

Second. The whole idea of someone who makes Christianity, or any other kind of religion for that matter, the center of their of their philosophy using the word reason astounds me. Really. You hold up a bunch of 2000 year old writings. The Muslims hold up a bunch of 2000 year old writings and all of you argue about who's values are correct. If it wasn't such a source of human misery I'd laugh. Both religions (and maybe all religions) have had their share of atrocities inspired by their respective tenets. Neither one of these refuges of the frightened and small minded have any place in reasonable discourse.

Let's play a little game. It's called live a consistent existence. First I ask a question. Do you believe in Darwinism (essentially that asks is the Bible the literal truth)? If you say yes, I say well you're not really a Christian are you? You've thrown away half of the tenets (the Old Testament) of your religion. If you say no, my response might be "So the scientific method means nothing to you?" then you have to forfeit everything that science (that would be the work of man not God) gave you. That is nothing that uses a transistor, no modern medicines, no steam or internal combustion engines, no Macs or PCs.

That's right. Who are the Luddites but the most consistent Christian sect.

I'm sorry to say this, but I don't have time for inconsistent belief systems. Yours is right in there. At least the Muslims pretend to reject technology. They will use it though. Especially cell phones and jet air plane. The fact that the most recent religious atrocities have been caught on video and happen to have been perpetrated by Muslims doesn't mean the body count isn't more or less the same as integrated over history. Your religion in its current state is more civilized. That isn't to say that it has always been that way. Or for that matter it will always be that way.

How about a little more. How are your religious rites any better than some primitive tribe dancing around a fire? Because they're indoors with plumbing and electric lights? Please. Man has always been afraid. Afraid of the dark, of natural disasters, of death. The fact that your security blanket is wrapped in a more gilded box doesn't make it any better than anyone else's. They're all products of ignorance and fear. It's people like the suicide bombers, and the Jerry Falwells, and the Pat Robertsons, and the Zionists, and you all telling us who has the best way to avoid the big empty at the end that is the source of a huge amount of human misery and despair. There is no room for enlightenment in any of this. No one wants their parishioners to be anything but ignorant. If mankind could understand anything but the most basic intellectual ideas and the the rudiments of reason we wouldn't have people like Bin Laden or Arafat or the Pope, or you telling people what to believe. It wouldn't pass the most piddling litmus test of reason.

That's all for now. I encourage you to restrain yourself in demonstrating your ignorance.

Noah B. Wallace
Ph.D. Physics

Hi Dr. Wallace,

Re: Christianity and reason; ever hear of Thomas Aquinas, who postulated the most comprehensive argument for the rationality of the Christian faith?

I have no problem with the scientific method, as far as it can take us, which is not all that far. It's a circumscribed technique for observing and quantifying fragmented facts, but far from the last word, even in its own context.

I'm not a Darwinist. I do believe that the biological component of humanity is probably the product of some sort of evolutionary process, but one that was initiated by the Divine Creator, but that humanity itself - what makes homo sapiens essentially different from the animals, is no result of natural selection or evolution of any sort, and that living spirit was breathed into the proto human by God.

As for Western civilization, I contend that it is undeniably a product of the Christian religion and Christian culture, and anyone who denies this is indulging in selective ignorance. I have little use for the so-called Enlightenment (die Aufklarung), but it is very interesting that modern science and technology (which I consider mixed blessings) were developed in a culture that was Christian-based and nowhere else.


Dueling Civilizations

From: Tom Gabriel

Dear Mr. Moore,

Thank you for your insightful article. If there is anything to be learned from the events of 9/11/2001, I think it is incumbent upon us to look at it and try to learn, if only in that way to honor the unwitting sacrifice of thousands of lives.

There is, I believe, a strong message for each of us in this hideous tragedy. Perhaps each will take it in his/her own way, because it is indeed an individual message. Events of great impact, whether positive or so overwhelmingly negative, tend to have that effect.

For me, the acts of the Islamic terrorists speak to everyone of every religion (or belief) and are a cry to all of us. The message I get is a strong warning about fundamentalism of any sort overpowering any sense of goodness or any benefit that can come from any form of religious or spiritual belief, no matter its form.

I do not believe any religion can boast of a clear record in this matter, including the Christian. To say that the various transgressions of Christianity, whether the holocaust of "witch-burning" in the Middle Ages (actually designed to deprive women of standing and property, as well as scare people away from the old matriarchal religion) or the bombing of abortion clinics or the "Religious Right's" attempt to dictate to us all what our conduct should be (How about "judge not lest you be judged"?) is irrelevant to the issue is a cop-out. It is relevant to the last word, the last action, all of it.

It is from this kind of behavior that I believe every man and woman who has any sense of their connection to God (or Goddess, or Source, or whatever name) has a responsibility to turn away.

Resolutely and firmly.

In conscience.

It is fundamentalism, no matter the name of the religion or its particular form.

It is saying that we are holy and they are not, therefore anything is justified against them (the infidels, the unclean, the heathen).

Actually, Christianity at its clearest comes closer than a lot of faiths (certainly including Islam) in recognizing that we are all pretty much in the same boat as far as holiness is concerned. It is in the decision of those who accept Christ and then figure they are better than all those sinners and therefore can hate and persecute them in perfect righteousness that the trouble lies. Jesus Christ was not an intolerant figure (in fact, especially for His time, He showed an enlightened, forgiving attitude that a few of His followers today would do well to think about, long and hard). He clearly grieved for humanity more than He ever judged them (us).

That is an expression of unconditional love, which I believe is one of the highest products of any religious/spiritual belief, and I believe His demonstration of it - time and again - was a part of His Being, and also a lesson for us.

If we see religion as a law, then those who follow the letter of the law without giving due heed to its intent and indeed spirit will breed conflict and violence. Religion without its highest expression, without the highest aspirations of its followers (other than world domination, or getting their precious behinds saved from Hell) is nothing but words, and without its spirit, they can be damned confusing words at that.

When you have an entire religion that seems to point its people in this no-questioning, us vs. them, death and slavery to the infidels direction, you have an example of the exact opposite of Christ's example to us, and in my opinion you have an example of precisely where fundamentalism of any sort will eventually lead.

It isn't pretty.

It isn't very spiritual, and I don't think it is where any responsible or even vaguely valid religion has any business leading us.

Perhaps one of its worst qualities: it takes its followers away from the place where they are allowed to use their minds and their hearts to reason with those who differ from them - out of fear for their immortal souls!

There really isn't, and never has been, "us vs. them" - we are all "us", and "them" are just those of "us" who live down the road apiece and maybe "think different" (or are made to). I don't believe this world was created as a battleground. I think it was made for all of us to learn respect for other beliefs, other races, other ways of life.

The true purpose of the attacks on September 11, 2001, beyond and beneath all the nonsense coming from bin Laden, et. al., was to turn us away from that simple idea.

If we do it, they've won.

Keep the Faith, Charles,
Tom Gabriel

Hi Tom,

Anyone who thinks their profession of Christian faith makes them morally superior on personal merit hasn't understood the Gospel very well.

As St. Paul put it: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief."

It's a bit ludicrous to claim to be holier than St. Paul.


Dueling Civilisations- Limiting God's love?

From Glenn Ang

Dear Charles,

Here is my take on this topic. Your feedback is most welcome.

Live Jesus in our hearts, forever!

We must keep in mind the following:

We pray to the same God

The founder of Islam, the Prophet Mohammed had great respect for Jews and Christians. However, he was rejected and dismissed by both Jews and Christians as a sect and a threat.

Jesus is greatly respected in Islam as a prophet (Isa), and so is his mother, Mary (Mariam)

We also share many texts in our holy books; Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Yes, it is also true that to Muslims: Jesus in not God. However, is this an insurmountable block to our common humanity?

The God we both pray to is a God of love, compassion, kindness and mercy. Love knows no bounds and drives out all fear. We cannot give up on the power of God's love to drive out fear and anger, nor its power to bring people together as one. While a sizable number of Muslims hold the views you espouse in your column, a similarly sizable number also hold differing views.

Differing views that do not hark back to the "classical" Islam you speak of. It is not that easy classify Islam. There are now many branches that have come from the same root. Speaking of roots, Christianity and Islam share the same roots. We are created in the same image, by the same spirit, and the same love of God moves in all of humanity and creation.

Our cultures and experiences have shaped our understanding of God. Humanity in its weakness and frailty cannot claim to completely understand the ways of God. While Jesus has revealed the whole truth to us, we (like his disciples) can never fully comprehend the depth and breadth of his message. In the same way, we can never claim to fully understand our brethren(I cannot even claim to fully understand my wife and son, whom I am with daily.). We will always have our differences, but we will also always have God's love in each of us. God never abandons his people, all of whom he has created in his loving image. We are on a journey of faith and love, together with all of humanity.

Do not give up on the power of the love of God and Christ to bring people together, it works in ways we are only beginning to comprehend. There are many passages in the Bible that speak of this love of God (just as there are also many in the Koran) and Jesus that resides in all of humanity. I will just quote two below:

John 1:1-5,14
Matt 25:31-46

In these passages, the Bible does not speak of different standards of treatment across religion, race or creed. All creation comes from the fullness of the love of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. We cannot limit nor fully comprehend its workings in this wonderful world of ours. Finally, all nations will come before Jesus and God. Whether Christian, Muslim or otherwise, we are all brothers in Christ and whatever we do to the least of us (for that matter, to any of us) we do to Jesus. All nations and all of humanity will be judged on how we have loved. After all, to have loved is to have known Jesus. For Jesus is the God of love. God bless.

Glenn Ang

Hi Glenn,

I agree with much of what you say here. However, persons who do not acknowledge Jesus as God cannot legitimately be said to be praying to the same God as Christians. Jesus is not an optional extra. I refer you to the Creed of St. Athanasius for the exhaustive articulation of Trinitarian doctrine.

Jesus said:

"Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Mark 16:15-16

"I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." John 14:6

St Paul affirmed:

"Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2:9-11

Not my formulations; I believe what the Bible teaches.

God Bless,

Dueling civilizations

From: Derrick Streng

Mr. Moore,

I just finished reading your latest article on Islam and skimming about half of the attached letters.

Great article, and some pretty well thought out letters. I thought I might share some of my views on Muslims with you.

I've noticed an interesting pattern amongst almost all the proponents of Islam in the news media of late; a justification of the self declared evils of the Muslim faith by comparing it to the hypocrisy within Christian history and present. A comparison of two unrelated things; theological doctrine and social aberrance. There is a difference between a church and it's doctrine. I cannot think of a single theological group thoughout history that hasn't acted in the name of their faith whilst the very act was contrary to the doctrine that the group subscribes themselves to.

Hold people accountable for what they do - not the religion which they profess. Unless, like with the Muslims, their doctrine condones what they do. It's important to recognize that religion is not a a guise for evil. Call it what it is. Don't fear being "politically incorrect."

The United states of America, aside from being created from Christianity's moral ethics, is based on agency (the ability to choose for one's self) which, in and of itself, is a key principle of Christianity. As you know, Mr. Moore, in the most fundamental terms of their faith, Muslims would rob you and I of our agency because we choose not to subscribe to their doctrine. We are infidels. They would have us acted upon and not free to act for ourselves.

"Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself." - Lehi

Lehi is not saying, "ye who are righteous give the wicked their consequence of death and captivity." No. What he is saying is that when one follows the teachings of Jesus, one becomes free through his atonement. When we choose wickedness we give up our agency unto condemnation and spiritual death. God is the judge, and we are free to choose.

Grant Streng

Inquisition - The 'Dueling Civilizations' Letters

From Al Shep

Mr Moore

Please allow me these three points.

1) Interpretations of correct Christianity and Islam vary radically. Stating that your view is the only correct view seems a bit arrogant.

2) Past crimes in the name of Christianity and current crimes in the name of Christianity (read the Balkans) are not valid crimes of Christians. Christians do not slaughter women and children in the "Lord's" name. I must also argue that you may be wrong were it concerns Islam.

3) Bigotry and racism abound in the media, churches, and throughout this fine country. Truth be told, your arguments sound as if they have been unduly influenced by the bigotry and racism you hear around us. Please take the time to look through the media's sensationalism, and the misinformation that abounds to the truth.

4) The "fruit of knowledge," at least my interpretation, granted "man" knowledge of good and evil. May that man be woman, Christian, Jew, or Muslim they still know fundamental right from wrong. This is not a cultural thing, but a fundamental of humanity.

5) We as Americans and Christians do not have such a wonderful track record of reasoning. Take racism, sexism (notably that we should look the other way when a man beats his wife and or children), the way we treat the infirm (lepers), the retarded, the old, the young, the whatevers. We as a people have often been lax in our judgment. (Special note, look back to how so many took their children to public lynching where at times men were burned alive to music and popcorn).

Consider your comments are blanket statements. I remember hearing that the Klan felt that there would eventually be a race war as black and white cultures were fundamentally at odds. If I remember correctly, they felt that blacks fundamentally had a different history and values than their white brothers. They pointed to specific ideologies that they felt were obvious points of conflict. I personally found their arguments flawed and naive. They knew and probably know so little about the black culture yet presume to understand the beliefs. They are wrong, as I think you too are.

I am not calling you a Klan member, just pointing out that what seems sound reasoning is sometimes clouded by misinformation and false assumptions.

I must commend you on your very courteous and thoughtful replies to the comments, though you did kind of tarnish them with the opening paragraphs. So I would like to pose this off topic question.

I would like your view on the view I have heard and tend to agree with which is that Jesus never said to not follow the teachings of the Old Testament. Like the incident with the potential stoning of Jezebel. I was taught that the issue was not that the law was unjust, but that the carrying out of the punishment was unjust. Why was the man not stoned? Did these potential stoners have a moral right to carry out the stoning (I took this to mean did not some of them cheat)? My question more directly is that should we not live the life of a Jew and attempt to follow the Lord's guidelines rather than taking the easier road of current Christianity. Should we not go back to stoning fornicators (this would definitely cut down on unwed mothers, at least living ones)? Should we not go back to allowing indentured servitude?


Hi Al,

I'm a Catholic Christian (Anglican Catholic). I humbly accept the Church's traditional interpretation of Christianity as correct.

Christianity is full of paradoxes.

Jesus said:

"Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven."

And a bit farther on:

"It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery."

So is some respects, Jesus was even tightening up the law of the Old Testament.

But to the crowd about to stone the adultress, He advised:

"He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her."

What he was illustrating in Matthew 5-8 is the futility of our trying to be righteous on our own merit. Can't be done. That's what the Atonement is about.

See Romans Ch. 6, 7, 8 for St. Paul's explanation of what obtains.


Thank You - Re: Inquisition - "The 'Dueling Civilizations' Letters"

From Al Shep

Thank you, and let me apologize for the tone of my question and some of my statements. I can see them being offensive, and I humbly apologize. When I write off the cuff, I don't always stop and think how it sounds or edit for clarity.

Thanks for the excellent answers to my questions concerning Christ. I really need to sit down with a minister or priest. (I consider both to be excellent sources of insight into the Bible, though I am Baptist by upbringing. My sister in law is a Catholic, and I was surprised to find the priests to be rather cool. At church, my ministers had little good to say about Catholic priests, and I was shocked when I found one priest to be an almost normal person.)

I must also admit to disagreeing with you on some of your Mac views as well, but even there you give a great deal to think about the wonders of the Macintosh universe. Your writings are often inspired, and quite good reads. Your fact checking is also excellent. Your opinions (hey, I think the 5200 is a great little machine, if that gives you insight into my quirky views) are debatable (though best done by ones better than me).

I know you are busy so do not bother responding in any way if you do happen to read this. You seem a prolific writer and I would hate to slow your excellent spreading of knowledge.


PS - again please forgive the bad grammar.

Re: Dueling Civilizations: Islam and the West

From Dmitri Popov

Hi Charles,

Thank you very much for your answer. I must admit that your arguments sound very convincing. I really admire your almost renaissance knowledge - from PowerBooks to Islam - and I'm an avid reader of your columns at Low End Mac and Mac Opinion. Thank you for your great articles!


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Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at and a columnist at If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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