Sacralizing Violence

In the middle of writing an article on “political theater” for The Catholic Thing (yesterday morning your time, gentle reader), a friend emailed. He called attention to the shootings of police in Dallas, thus inspiring me to check the news. I’d been trying to avoid the news lately, having enough misery from other sources; when possible, I like to budget these things.

My impression, from the lofty height of political non-involvement, has been that everywhere is turning into Baghdad. I don’t mean by this only that our world is becoming more violent; or that the violence any reader might recognize can be restricted to physical carnage. Violence is spreading in many forms, and as ever, the worst of them may be spiritual – violence, or given human limitations, attempted violence against God.

For with the politicization of all human life in the West comes de-Christianization, and vice versa. I have put that baldly so the reader may view it clearly.

The post-modern, de-Christianized or de-Christianizing mind, is not apt to grasp this. We are materialists and utilitarians and, by extension, bureaucrats. We work with filing systems that are alphabetical, not hierarchical.

We put things in separate, but theoretically equal files. Politics goes in this file, religion goes in that. Even economics are routinely sequestered from politics; and every question of policy has its very own folder. There is considerable irritation – I often found this as a newspaper pundit – when someone mixes the files. How dare I intrude into the political file with a religious observation!

But the political files keep expanding, so that in order to make room for them, the non-political files need to be thrown out.

Often, I found that my editors (usually the harshest of my critics) were not anti-religious; at least not “personally.” Once I had one who even went to church. Though Protestant, he wasn’t “prejudiced against Catholics.” Or so he declaimed. I soon noticed that his real objection was to my messing with his filing system. The op-ed was for politics. Religion was on another page. The fact that it was now a non-existent page did not concern him: that had been someone else’s filing decision.

My point, that day, so far as I recall it, was, curiously enough, that politics were intruding on what had once been more-or-less universally understood as the religious domain – the public religious domain. That the profane was impinging on the sacred. (The issue was “gay marriage.”) And in the course of that, “sacralizing” itself – or given the usual qualification, trying to do so.

The person (or persons?) gunning down policemen could not have had a plan to slaughter all of the police in the United States. Such people may well be trying to instigate violent chaos. They certainly intend murder, if not suicide, too. But their act is chiefly designed as a gesture – a piece of political theater, a profane “liturgy.”

We may not like this theater – I would hope we do not – but that does not make it less theatrical. Nor does it remove such acts from the larger sphere in which political posturing is performed in less outwardly violent ways.

The grandstanding all about us is, nominally, political and not religious. That is partly why our more liberal politicians cannot bring themselves to confront radical Islam (for instance). Instead they condemn “terrorism,” which can be interpreted as a political crime. They can easily imagine a world in which one political entity is opposed to another, and therefore “declare war” on the Daesh. They cannot imagine one in which religions clash, in defiance of the political principle of “multiculturalism.”

I mean this seriously: they can’t imagine it. From Obama down, and well through the ranks of conventional Republicans, religion is a thing of the past. It no longer fits in their filing system. They are perfectly sincere in refusing to recognize “Islam” as a valid political category, because it is religious. The violence must therefore have purely political causes.

And they are sincere, too, in condemning any opposition to the religion, Islam, as an offence against multicultural tolerance, as a form of “racism.” This put them in the quandary of Orlando, where two of the Democrats’ reliable constituencies – homosexualist and Muslim – were in obvious conflict. The homosexual victims must blame anything else but militant Islam for the slaughter. They must not split the “progressive coalition,” which is post-religious by definition.

The current politicization of Islam, I have said myself, is a deformation of religious Islam. That is to say, it is an adaptation of Islam to conditions in a world that, far beyond the West, has become post-religious. It is a world in which the religious gesture – oriented by nature to “Allah,” or “God” – is replaced by the political gesture, oriented explicitly to one’s fellow man.

In that sense, which must seem rather arcane to the liberal mind, “terrorism” is certainly a deformity of Islam. That Islam might have a record of turning violently political, whenever it feels threatened, would be beside the point. It also has a record of turning peacefully religious when it does not feel threatened. Today, it confronts a highly politicized world.

Of course I know nothing yet, perhaps never will, about the specific shooter(s) in Dallas. One thing I can guess from this distance is that he or they had been schooled in “terrorism” by the present masters. This includes the use of violence as “political theater.”

Bush in Iraq, Obama in America, have subscribed to the same secular or (as I prefer to call it) profane and post-religious dogma. It is that “liberal democracy will save us.” Those who won’t subscribe are a puzzle to them. What can they be thinking?

My own view is that Christ can save us. But I think, in order for Him to do so, we must try to get increasingly out of His way.

David Warren

David Warren

David Warren is a former editor of the Idler magazine and columnist with the Ottawa Citizen. He has extensive experience in the Near and Far East. His blog, Essays in Idleness, is now to be found at:

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Saying that Islam is sometimes peaceful does not help to clearly define it as demonic. Allah is not God.


    • It is odd — generally, investigations into domestic terror take weeks, months, doing it properly. Yet, the media is now saying, with certainty, that this gunman “acted alone” (how can they be so sure?) and also that “we may never know” what “set him off”. Why would we never know? That’s very strange too. Generally government at all levels instructs us to not jump to any conclusions and wait to see what the investigation yields. He is described as a “loner” and yet he was very active on Facebook. Obviously he was reading, looking at, some things, via device and tech, as many are.

      I myself will not regard this matter closed or definitively understood until the authorities fully investigate the phenomenon reported some years back in the NY Times colloquially known under different ominous terms, including, “gang-stalking” or “mob-stalking”. My own take on this horrible violence and others lately is that this gunman in all likelihood had been “mob stalked” by others via his tech or through proxies close to him. What occurs typically is that there are one or two very violent individuals, usually middle aged, angry, men, who select a “target” for their own profit (sometimes this might be a spurned love interest or an acquaintance whom they just dislike for whatever reason) and then obtain access to their whole lives via technology. Then, they animate divisions among the target’s circle of friends/work/important relationships to make it seem that “everyone” is against them, and this is something that no matter what the target does they cannot seem to get a grip on. It’s a nightmare. The method/means here has to do with slander and taking innocent things, like someone’s facebook page, and adding lies or doctoring things in order to send otherwise normal people out on some false crusade. The organizer’s goal is to make the target violent on the group he has selected for the vent/wrath after this target reaches the breaking point by constant stalking from strangers and friends implying so many strange things, and/or suicide, which brings embarassment down upon the target’s circle as well as tragedy. One may indeed say it has a political whiff to it, or anarchist, or satanist.

      It’s been a known phenomenon among US federal authorities certainly since ’07, without any action, comment or investigation, even while sometimes high profile people, candidates, etc., are implicated by stalkers, or there are indications that stalkers sell the information they gain by their surveilling of a target to highest bidder, and this means that political mouthpieces and operatives will sometimes repeat or ape information or propaganda one might call it that they would otherwise not have said. They too have been terrifically duped.

      This process advantages itself based upon human’s propensities towards gossip, angry gossip, about others one “hates”, and the idea that any activity is “ok” based upon political activism. So then you have like middle school students or grannies reading something somewhere or getting a text from someone purporting to be a friend that animates them to go out and stalk their neighbor in the local grocery store. The target then despairs and kills him/herself (or goes out and does what we just saw happen). People have not been taught basic ethics to go along with their political passions, so, they believe that it’s ok to do all these things, or that it is “harmless”, or that they are “entitled” to it, or even that they are “righteous” because after all, some great slander or calumny has been inserted into their ear by the profiteering activist with all the tech info at the top of the greed and food chain.

      In all likelihood, these tech activists saw in this gunman a great target and had animated acts of stalking by whites against this guy. They divide and conquer. They don’t care about the white supremacists who were willing to stalk this man, nor do they care about the gunman, nor certainly BLM protestors (obviously) nor police. In fact, their work is done once they get the target unhinged. Evidently this man had been nursing a situation for quite some time and was just “waiting” for word or some trigger. Somehow, someone triggered him and this is what all our illustrious medial elites and investigations need to yield. Unless perhaps they know they are complicit in all of this, in which case they just nurse their survivor’s guilt and look the other way on it. Yes, chaos never favors reason, democratic process, freedom of the press. It only favors evil and we are now living its grandiose effects.

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    • Excellent important article, though I could quibble on a couple points Warren is hitting on something very important and thought provoking, and perhaps that thought needs to include some new questioning about Catholicism’s view of the secular state. Can a supposedly religion-neutral state ever do anything but veer in the direction the west is now going?

    • David Warren. You pointedly identify what has become the standard of religion and politics, removing from each their dissimilarity, that “Liberal democracy will save us.” Reinventing religion as the ape prancing to the tune grinded out by contemporary secular humanism, the soul of our political philosophy is Bergoglioism. There. I’ve coined it. Bergoglioism. Essentially religion has lost its savor as the salt that is meant to change the world. instead Catholic doctrine is reshaped to accommodate mankind, not change it in the image of Christ. It is trampled underfoot by Bergoglioisms chief lieutenants Cupich, Marx, Kasper, Danneels the list goes on. Social justice in line with Engels and K Marx, egalitarian and godless is the new Catholicism. Theatre fits in perfectly. Kissing countless babies for the cameras, kissing active homosexuals, raising to cardinal author of the Art of Kissing, is violent theatre meant to impact, disable the faithful. Seemingly as violent to the soul as the recent grandstanding acts of violence. Actually more so since the homicidal kill the body, the evil kill the soul.

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      News flash: There have been more than 3,500 gun deaths — virtually all black on black — in Chicago since Obozo took office, a figure that rises day by day. Yawn. This doesn’t fit the liberal media narrative, however. Post-Dallas, we hear from Jesse Jackson that Trump and the cops are to blame, we hear from Obozo that guns are to blame and we hear from Hillary that whites are to blame. Political correctness demands that the truth must be avoided at all costs so not as to offend a large segment of the voting public.


    • Over the Fourth of July weekend, there were sixty shootings in Chicago. One has to assume that a great number of these were black on black.

      Media: Yawn.

      The media focuses only when a white cop shoots a black man. In the recent instance in Minnesota, the media immediately jumped to the conclusion that a white cop had shot a black man, The governor of that poor state IMMEDIATELY, without hearing any facts, told the media that it was an instance of “racism”.

      But it now appears the cop was Hispanic. Oops – the media will have to omit that fact. Otherwise, they will not be able to fan the hatred that they want to engender.

      In this most recent instance in Minnesota, it does appear that the cop shot a poor innocent man who was only trying to comply with the officers directions. But in almost every case before that, the media pretended this was the case when it was not.

      The media seems to be trying to start a race war. Race wars are good for the media, bad for everyone else. They have been trying so very hard, mostly by lying to us. In most of these cases, a young black man made the decision to attack a cop, or was waving a gun around, or otherwise put himself in a very bad situation, one that no one with a lick of sense would do.

      But we were not told the full truth. In most of these cases, the media tried to start their race war by lying and telling us the cops shot the poor kid for no reason at all. Like some malignant devil, the media fed on the sometimes- legitimate anger in the black community about policing. But they fed the anger, they purposely left facts out in an effort to turn rational concern into irrational hatred.

      Over and over again, the local authorities found no reason to prosecute the police officers. Over and over again, the federal government was called in to undo the “racist” local authority’s decision. Over and over again, they found no reason to prosecute.

      Now, in Dallas, the media seem to have been successful in starting their long desired race war. The media have fed a mob mentality, and it seems that cops have started doing the rational thing – they do not engage in tough communities as much any more, and as a result, MORE blacks are being shot and crime rates are rising in those inner cities.

      True to form, the media brought about more of what they sought to avoid, by lying to us all.

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    • I felt so loved when you referred to me as “gentle reader”. This reference made my coffee taste a bit sweeter this morning. God bless you!
      The Gentle Reader


    • Yes, that is a nice touch. I remember Miss Manners using it and I think it was common in the New Yorker magazine back in the 1920’s when things were, or at least as they seem today, a bit more upscale, respectful, and classier. If we can “dumb down” maybe we can “smarten up?”


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      For with the politicization of all human life in the West comes de-Christianization, and vice versa. ….there it is, that’s what’s going on,when people cry when someone gets killed by a bullet but yet that same person says its everyone’s right to tear a baby in pieces inside a womb and yes no doubt we need HIM

    • I like your very apt description of the Dallas police shootings as “political theater’. Same goes for the Islamic terrorist activities. Same goes for Pope Francis as he lays waste to Catholic teaching. Political theater gets attention but does it resolve anything? Not likely. Not likely when Obama falsely claims that racism and guns are the cause when the reality is the breakup of black families due to Democrat welfare programs resulting in victim-hood but sure-fire votes. Not likely much will be done about with Islamic terrorism when our government refuses to even identity it properly. And not likely with Pope Francis as he seeks popularity by watering down Catholic doctrine.

      The reason for all of this is an inability of recognize the truth and proclaim it. We live in a an age that is largely Godless, an age of little or no faith. We have lost our way, our minds have been darkened, we have fallen in a pit. God help us all to have faith in Him and seek the Truth that will set us free again.



    • David, love the filing system analogy. However, as much as no polictico will not say radical Islam. No ONE in the discussion will say Satan. We are not affected enough, my clergy brothers won’t touch/name it either. Until we are moved to call the battle of principalities for what it is, the question ‘what can we do?’ remains…an open file.
      Deacon Toby



    • Thank you. Every time we can say something to a friend (or an opponent) that takes a question, or an incident, out of the political file and puts it into its real file we say a prayer for grace.

    • Vintage David Warren.

      I do agree that leftist politics is the new, post-Christian religion. Many of our “Catholic” Bishops, parishes, newspapers, schools and certainly most colleges are preaching and serving the new religion. Has a contemporary “Jez” ring to it.

    • David, I think your analysis is most correct. However, I fear that you’ve missed the proverbial elephant in the living room. The fact of the matter is that the Catholic Church (and here I mean her ecclesiastical leaders from the pope down) have removed the “religion” file from our own domain and substituted yet more political files to add to those in which we are now drowning

      The bishops have done a great job ridding the Church of our Catholic religion and giving us, instead, yet more politics. Where should we start: global warming, Obamacare, shilling for the Democrat party, free market economics, the arms race, gun control, on and on. We even have bishops insinuating themselves into the politics of parades and whether homosexuals should march or not. The bishops waste their time on more politics while at the same time Sunday Masses are emptied of worshippers and the lines for Confession non-existant.


    • Remember when JP II would give a speech or sermon, and he would be constantly talking about “Jesus Christ”, “Jesus Christ”, “Jesus Christ”?

      The current Pope talks about global warming, immigration, politics, meets with movie stars, judges people severely, then tells us we should not judge people.




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    I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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