Terror, Darkness, Lucy and Light


Another terrorist Christmas attack, in Strasbourg, France – on the border with Germany – with the young man of particular religious persuasion yelling the usual Arabic greeting, before shooting thirteen people, three of whom are dead, more in critical condition, all in the midst of this season of joy, all in accord with the avowed threats of the Islamic State.

I wrote about France a while back, when another deadly attack occurred, and the words more or less stand the test of time. Europeans celebrate and gather more and more behind gated bars; ugly bollards block off avenues and parks; and police stroll around holding automatic weapons, all dousing the fun. This is only going to get worse.

Meanwhile, back in Poland, and Hungary, there are no terrorist attacks to speak of, people walk around undisturbed and unruffled, for quite obvious reasons unspoken in polite company.

Yes, there are attacks besides those carried out by radicalized Islamic terrorist, such as the mentally ill man who shot up the cathedral in Brazil, ironically on the same day as the Starsbourg massacre, just as noontime Mass was ending, killing three people before taking his own life before the altar. May God rest the souls of all the victims, and have mercy on the perpetrators.

The difference between the two is that mass murders by the mentally unstable are incredibly rare, as well as random; whereas Islam has jihad as an ongoing operative principle, so their attacks are not really ‘random’, but rather ‘intermittent’; they are also, from their perspective, ‘rational’, geared to instil maximal fear in the populace; and, finally, they are not all that rare at all. In fact, in many parts of the world, such massacres are rather frequent. We only hear about them if those of Occidental persuasion are on the receiving end of the bomb, gun, knife or truck, that is, Europeans, Canadians and Americans. Otherwise, it’s back story news, if news at all.

Now, everyone in Strasbourg – and numerous other cities – will have to wonder before heading out for some Christmas cheer: Will I be next? Perhaps best to stay home and catch that crappy series on Netflix with a bottle of Pinot Noir, and some ordered-in food. And, if push comes to shove, grow a beard or don a burkha, or at least a niqab, and start reading the Qur’an, starting with the main bits, just in case they one day come knocking.

Sounds loony, perhaps, but will even that protect us? The U.N. – that prudent and sober body of world leaders – is seriously pondering making blasphemy against Islam, particularly insults directed at their founder Mohammad, a crime against international law. And now Google has developed an ‘app’ for their android devices – called ‘Smart Pakem’, for reasons unknown to me – so that Muslims may report such nefarious behaviour – to whom is not yet clear, maybe Interpol, keeping in mind that such ‘blasphemy’ is a serious offense in thirteen countries, so far, punishable by long prison terms. And ‘prisons’ in these nations are a few steps below what you might find in Canada, whose detention centres are Hiltons by comparison. In Pakistan, blasphemy is a capital offence; so the shooter in Strasbourg was only carrying out what he thought to be the logical – well, sort of logical – conclusion of Sharia law, that infidels insult Islam simply by not converting to Islam, and deserve not to live.

And, remember, ‘smart’ phones can, in theory, record everything you say, and everywhere you’ve been, even if turned ‘off’.

Yeah, they’re making a list, and checking it twice, they’re gonna find out who’s naughty, and who’s nice. So, as Google once advised in its former motto, which it recently, and rather mysteriously, dropped, ‘Don’t be evil’.

Submission, indeed.

On a more hopeful note, today is the feast of Saint Lucy, the saint of ‘light’, who was put to death during the persecution of Diocletian, in 304, a decade before Constantine made Christianity legal. The legend is that, as an orphan of rich parents, she dedicated her virginity to God, and began to distribute her wealth to the poor. Her aunt, worried about her future – as aunts of orphaned nieces are wont to do, I suppose – had betrothed her to a pagan suitor, who, seeing his dowry dissipate, condemned Lucy to Paschasius, the governor of Syracuse, who condemned her to be defiled in a brothel. But not even a team of horses could move her; nor would the wood alight when they tried to burn her alive; so she was summarily dispatched by a sword or a dagger, perhaps after having her eyes gouged out; hence, Lucy, as befits her name, is the patroness of those with eye ailments, and a worthy intercessor in these days of darkness. For the light, and the Light, are on their way, and fear and darkness will flee away. Soon.

I will leave you with a few words from Saint Ambrose in today’s Office of Readings, as we enter these last days of Advent:

The Word of God moves swiftly; he is not won by the lukewarm, nor held fast by the negligent. Let your soul be attentive to his word; follow carefully the path God tells you to take, for he is swift in his passing…