We continue our recommended reading with the topic of Islam. Russian-born Canadian, Jamie Glazov of the Glazov Gang, has made YouTube presentations over the years and has often correctly stated that leftists enable Islam. Notions such as multiculturalism (a future topic on this site) drive the leftist agenda of Islamic expansion forward. Christians usually have no issue with people of any race. I believe all peoples on the face of the earth are made in the image of God, as many Christians do, but there is variation in how different Christian faith traditions understand this. The very fact of humans distorting God’s image in themselves is itself evidence of the existence of that image existing in each person in the first place. This has been well-explained by Reformed Church theologian, Michael Horton, in his book, For Calvinism (1).
“Luther too could speak of the potential for unregenerate humanity in “things earthly,” but Calvin saw this as evidence not of the neutrality or indifference of earthly things in relation to God and his kingdom, but of the ineradicable and indelible imprint of God’s image. Indeed, this is why humanity remains in some sense God’s image-bearer and covenant partner, even though in their sinfulness they are filled with idolatry and sophisticated schemes of religious distortion. Fallen human beings are not irreligious but idolatrous. The image must be suppressed because it is still there. Like a mirror that reveals a reflection that we do not want to see, it must be distorted, covered over, and smeared with mud. Because it reflects the God whose existence stands over against us in judgment, the image of God is no longer redolent of high office, but is a burden to be cast off. Precisely because it cannot be eradicated, it is disfigured beyond recognition.”For Calvinism by Michael Horton.
Paradise Lost: The Destruction of Islam’s City of Tolerance by Giles Milton (2). This book is about an event that is today unknown, little-known or positively avoided except by those who have been indirectly impacted by it. Paradise Lost sets outs the history of the burning of Smyrna, Turkey in 1922 as Kemal Ataturk rose to power. The stories in the book remind one of the terrorism we all too often witness today. Giles Milton is a British writer and historian who explored the history of the burning of Smyrna by interviewing living witnesses, descendants of those who suffered this event as well as through his research into letters, memoirs and publications about it. An excerpt follows –
“Yet there had been no resistance to the Turkish army and few inhabitants could really believe that their city would meet with such a fate. Smyrna had long been celebrated as a beacon of tolerance – home to scores of nationalities with a shared outlook and intertwined lives. It was little wonder that the Americans living in the metropolis had named their colony Paradise; life here was remarkably free from prejudice and many found it ironic that they had to come to the Islamic world to find a place that had none of the bigotry so omnipresent at home. There was another reason why Smyrna’s inhabitants were confident that the city would be spared. In the harbour there was the reassuring presence of no fewer than twenty-one battleships, including eleven British, five French and several Italian. There were also three large American destroyers, among them the newly arrived USS Litchfield. Everyone believed that these ships would deter the Turkish army from committing any excesses. By mid-afternoon of that day, the population breathed a collective sigh of relief. It was clear that the doom-laden predictions were wrong. Smyrna had been spared. In the tranquil suburb of Bournabat, where the great Levantine dynasties had their mansions, there were many who felt that the sense of panic had been overblown from the start. Hortense Wood had spent much of the morning peering out of her drawing-room window at the passing cavalry. Now, she felt that the danger had passed. ‘Perfect discipline and perfect quiet,’ she noted in her diary. ‘Not a shot was fired. And thus came the change from Greek to Turkish administration, in perfect tranquillity and against all expectations and apprehensions.’ She also felt vindicated. She had confidently predicted to her family that people were making a fuss about nothing and had insisted all along that Smyrna would fall peacefully into Turkish hands. Others actually welcomed the arrival of the Turkish army after long days of uncertainty. Grace Williamson, an English nurse living in the city, was relieved and happy that it was all over. ‘What a week we have spent!!’ she wrote. ‘There was hardly a bit of trouble . . . No shooting on the streets! Thank God. Such a relief, everyone is inwardly delighted to have the Turks back again.’ What happened over the two weeks that followed must surely rank as one of the most compelling human dramas of the twentieth century. Innocent civilians – men, women and children from scores of different nationalities – were caught in a humanitarian disaster on a scale that the world had never before seen. The entire population of the city became the victim of a reckless foreign policy that had gone hopelessly, disastrously wrong. The American consul, George Horton, witnessed scenes of such horror that he would carry them with him to the grave. ‘One of the keenest impressions which I brought away from Smyrna,’ he wrote, ‘was a feeling of shame that I belonged to the human race.’ The New York Times put it even more succinctly. ‘Smyrna Wiped Out’, was its headline. It was not hyperbole; it was a bold statement of fact. Smyrna’s hundreds of thousands of refugees clung to the hope that the Western governments who had done so much to precipitate the crisis would now come to their rescue. But those governments displayed a shocking callousness towards their own nationals, choosing to abandon the refugees to their fate in order not to jeopardise the chance of striking rich deals with the newly victorious Turkish regime… As families were forcibly evicted from their ancestral homes – and 2,000 years of Christian civilisation in Asia Minor came to an abrupt end – a vibrant new country came into being. Ataturk’s modern Turkish republic arose from the ashes of Smyrna. The events of September 1922 are fast becoming just another chapter of history. Yet to a handful of people – all in their nineties – the destruction of Smyrna continues to haunt them every day of their lives.”Paradise Lost: The Destruction of Islam’s City of Tolerance by Giles Milton.
Seven Myths Of The Crusades – Edited, with an Introduction and Epilogue, by Alfred J. Andrea and Andrew Holt Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. Indianapolis/Cambridge (3). We find in this book an expose of misconceptions and lies about Islam and the Crusades down through the centuries. This trend continues in our own day from parts of the media, academia and even by segments of the church. An extract –
“The notion that the crusades, which began in the late eleventh century, represent the “first major clash between Islam and Western Christendom,” and therefore something attributable solely to unprovoked Western aggression, is a rather sweeping, not to say striking, claim. In making such a claim in one of its feature articles, U.S. News & World Report was echoing former president Bill Clinton, who had delivered a speech the previous November at Georgetown University claiming that Americans of European descent had somehow at least partially brought the September 11 attacks on the United States because “those of us who come from European lineages are not blameless,” implying, again, that the First Crusade had been an unprovoked atrocity. The U.S. News article, though containing a number of factual inaccuracies, was widely read and accepted by a general public.”Seven Myths Of The Crusades, Ed. Alfred J. Andrea and Andrew Holt
Smyrna 1922 by Marjorie Housepian Dobkin (4).
“Marjorie Anais Housepian Dobkin (Armenian: November 21, 1922 – February 8, 2013) was Professor in English at Barnard College, Columbia University, New York…her grandfather was killed by a Turkish soldier during the burning of Smyrna, from which her grandmother fled as a refugee” (5) Here is an excerpt.
“The house of history since 1922 suggests that the ultimate victims may be those who delude themselves.”Smyrna 1922 by Marjorie Housepian Dobkin
The Blight of Asia by George Horton (6). This is a freely available, downloadable pdf. It is Horton’s eyewitness account of the burning of Smyra, Turkey in 1922, written by the then US Consul in Smyrna. George Horton’s story is also referred to in the books, ‘Paradise Lost’ and ‘Smyrna 1922’.
The following is a copy of most of the foreword to George Horton’s own account, written by former ambassador to Germany, James W Gerard.
“HERE at last is the truth about the destruction of Smyrna and the massacre of a large part of its Inhabitants by one who was present. The writer of the following pages is a man, happily, who is not restrained from telling what he knows by political reasons or by any consideration of fear or self-interest. He gives the whole story of the savage extermination of Christian civilization throughout the length and breadth of the old Byzantine Empire in a clear and convincing manner. That it should have been possible twenty centuries after the birth of Christ for a small and backward nation, like the Turks, to have committed such crimes against civilization and the progress of the world, is a matter which should cause all conscientious people to pause and think; yet the writer shows conclusively that these crimes have been committed without opposition on the part of any Christian nation and that the last frightful scene at Smyrna was enacted within a few yards of powerful Allied and American battle fleet. We turned a deaf ear to the dying Christians, when they called to us for aid, fully aware that America was their only hope, and now it would appear that there is a growing tendency in this country to whitewash the Turks and condone their crimes in order to obtain material advantages from them…”(Signed) JAMES W. GERARD
George Horton’s story of unanswered calls for help back home in the USA remind us of a similar event that occurred in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012. The US ambassador to Benghazi called for then Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, to send help to the embassy in the face of an imminent Islamic attack. No help came and Ambassador “Chris Stevens, Information Officer Sean Smith, and two CIA operatives, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, both former Navy SEALs.” were killed in a brutal terrorist attack. (7) Help did, thankfully, eventually come to Consul Horton but Ambassador Stevens and his three colleagues were left, literally, for dead. It was Speaker Newt Gingrich who made the most pertinent comment in response to the attacks and deaths – “We don’t negotiate with barbarians”, referring to the need for the US to just go in and defend their people, not mess about with negotiations. Speaker Newt understood as does President Trump now.
Many Western Christians’ (mis)understanding of the phenomenon of Islamic attack and its significance is repeated today. There is a parochial understanding of Christianity, spiritual forces and contemporary events – then and now. Even dear George Horton is not able to fully comprehend what happened under his own eyes. His account is utterly worth reading, nonetheless.
The Third Choice by Mark Durie (8). Mark Durie is a highly-credentialled linguist, theologian and Christian pastor. Here is an excerpt –
“The Western, post-Christian world has offered hospitality and the gift of inclusion to significant Muslim populations through immigration. It now faces the challenge of understanding Islam better. Within the context of world history, in which we find ourselves today, the deep theological and psychological forces at work in interactions with Islam urgently need to be engaged with. In these explorations, non-Muslims must grasp what is at stake for them in relation to militant Islam and its claims over them. They need to be equipped to understand how to conduct themselves in the face of these claims. This requires an education about topics never before considered, as individuals and communities permit their worldviews to be reviewed and transformed, through deep reflection upon Islam’s teachings, as well as upon their own Judeo-Christian spiritual inheritance. Through this process, the oppressive veil of silence which has been cast over the dhimma and its manifestations can be set aside, and the forces which had been empowering it exposed and disarmed. This book is a contribution to this task. The main instrument of freedom offered here is a truth encounter with the theology, origins and impact of the dhimma, including the life of Muhammad.”The Third Choice by Mark Durie
Horton, M S 2011. For Calvinism, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Kindle Edition.
Milton, G 2009. Paradise Lost: The Destruction of Islam’s City of Tolerance, Hodder & Stoughton, London. Kindle Edition.
Seven Myths Of The Crusades, 2015. Ed. Alfred J. Andrea and Andrew Holt, Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. Indianapolis/Cambridge. Kindle Edition.
Dobkin, M H 1998. Smyrna 1922 – The Destruction Of A City, Newmark Press, New York.
Horton, G 1926. The Blight of Asia, the Bobbs-Merrill Company, Indianapolis.
Durie, M 2010. The Third Choice: Islam, Dhimmitude and Freedom, Deror Books. Kindle Edition.