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Mid-Morning Art Thread | Main | Liz Magill and the Chairman of Penn's Board of Trustees Resigns
December 11, 2023

THE MORNING RANT: Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Latest Religious Conversion & the Act of Choosing to Become a Christian

Walking up to the chapel.JPG

Ayaan Hirsi Ali recently announced that she has decided to become a Christian. She had previously renounced the Islamic faith of her youth, embracing atheism while also educating westerners on the truth about the teachings and practices of radical Islam.

Ms. Ali’s account of her latest religious conversion generated much discussion among Christian conservatives, some of it critical, because the account of her decision to become a Christian lacks any actual discussion about faith or acceptance of Jesus as her savior. In fact, she never mentions Jesus at all.

As Ms. Ali makes clear, she is making a calculated decision – a decision that is somewhat political - to become a practicing Christian. My journey to become a practicing Christian was similar in some ways, which I’ll briefly delve into, so I pray that the rational decision process that has led Ms. Ali through the chapel doors will blossom into genuine faith with all of its rewards.

“Why I am now a Christian; Atheism can't equip us for civilisational war” [Unherd – Aayan Hirsi Ali – 11/11/2023]

To understand why I became an atheist 20 years ago, you first need to understand the kind of Muslim I had been. I was a teenager when the Muslim Brotherhood penetrated my community in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1985.

Suffice it to say, the religious indoctrination that she received from the Brotherhood, along with its accompanying hatreds, was rather ugly.

You can see why, to someone who had been through such a religious schooling, atheism seemed so appealing.

So, what changed? Why do I call myself a Christian now?

Here she begins to describe the socio-political reasons why a person would want to identify as a Christian.

Part of the answer is global. Western civilisation is under threat from three different but related forces: the resurgence of great-power authoritarianism and expansionism in the forms of the Chinese Communist Party and Vladimir Putin’s Russia; the rise of global Islamism, which threatens to mobilise a vast population against the West; and the viral spread of woke ideology, which is eating into the moral fibre of the next generation.

Ms. Ali has come to understand that the foundation of western civilization is Christianity, that western civilization is under assault, and that it cannot be saved without once again making Judeo-Christianity the cornerstone of the western world.

But we can’t fight off these formidable forces unless we can answer the question: what is it that unites us? The response that “God is dead!” seems insufficient. So, too, does the attempt to find solace in “the rules-based liberal international order”. The only credible answer, I believe, lies in our desire to uphold the legacy of the Judeo-Christian tradition.

As she continues to point out, not only is radical Islam and its colonizing forces a religious threat to western civilization, so are wokeness and the Church of Climate.

We can’t fight woke ideology if we can’t defend the civilisation that it is determined to destroy. And we can’t counter Islamism with purely secular tools.

While it is easy to criticize Ms. Ali for her seemingly faith-less embrace of Christianity, she does reveal that a seed has been planted in her that can grow into real faith as she learns the good news of the gospel.


Yet I would not be truthful if I attributed my embrace of Christianity solely to the realisation that atheism is too weak and divisive a doctrine to fortify us against our menacing foes. I have also turned to Christianity because I ultimately found life without any spiritual solace unendurable — indeed very nearly self-destructive. Atheism failed to answer a simple question: what is the meaning and purpose of life?

Seth Dillon of The Babylon Bee points out, fairly, that there is a lack of actual belief in Ms. Ali’s conversion story. ”There’s a big difference between believing that Christian values are good for the world and believing in Jesus Christ as your savior. There’s no mention of Jesus in this conversion story.”

Mr. Dillon also embraces the hope that Ms. Ali becomes a Christian in faith, not just in affiliation. ”I hope that she does become a Christian. But it’s important that people understand that being a Christian means more than finding Christianity attractive, useful, or preferable to some other religion.”

Seth Dillon - I hope she becomes a Christian.JPG

Like Ms. Ali, I chose to become a practicing Christian even though I was not necessarily a believing Christian at the time. I hoped the faith would follow.

Unlike Ms. Ali, I grew up in what was technically a Christian church before I abandoned organized religion. The mainline protestant church I grew up in was “Christian” in name, but by the time I left in the ‘90s it had been captured by left-wing activists who loved the rituals and vestments, but clearly didn’t believe in the tenets of the faith.

I had reached a point where I couldn’t handle one more ”forgive us for placing material wants over worldly needs” type of prayer-read-in-unison, and frankly, I couldn’t honestly state that I was a believer. I disaffiliated from my congregation, and for about 20 years thereafter I only attended a worship service as a guest of family.

Over those next 20 years I felt comfortable calling myself agnostic, although I remained culturally Christian, as well as a political ally of actual, practicing Christians. I also still loved the great hymns of the Faith, and in low moments I could still gain comfort from sitting down at the piano and playing those beautiful old hymns. The seed of Christian faith remained in me.

It was about a dozen years ago that my wife and I chose to leave the deep-blue Texas city where we had lived most of our lives. It wasn’t just the heat and the traffic we sought to escape, it was also the oppressive religiosity of the left-wing culture warriors who had gained control of local power, and who were implementing a woke, green sharia with theocratic zeal. This is when I started referring to the religion of these people as “The Sustainable Organic Church of the Carbon Apocalypse.”

People are inherently religious. It was almost certainly a factor in our evolution and survival as a species, helping to create family units, parenting structures, agricultural practices, forbidden destructive behaviors, etc. which allowed humans to flourish. But being inherently religious, we’ll rapidly adopt evil religious practices where there is a void from good religions. Anti-humanity death cults (the Church of Climate, radical Islam) have filled the void where Judeo-Christianity has retreated.

Cynical Publius and Buck.JPG

Compared to Austin, the southern bible-belt city we moved to was a refreshing breath of fresh air for how indifferent it was to how people lived their lives. You might hear “Have a blessed day” at a restaurant or dry cleaners, but no one was going to hector you for not composting your napkin.

About this same time, my wife wanted to learn more about the “spiritual solace” enjoyed by so many Christians in our new town, and I was eager to inoculate myself against the alternative religious practices of anti-Christian America. So, we found a solid, non-denominational, bible-based church that stressed faith, forgiveness, and Jesus as the savior. My wife’s faith was developing faster than mine, but I was definitely on board with the two of us identifying as practicing Christians.

A couple years later I received an unfavorable medical diagnosis which necessitated major surgery with a difficult recovery, and possible life altering (or shortening) results. Then something very powerful happened that accelerated my faith. Without me requesting prayer, people that I wasn’t even particularly close to kept telling me that they were praying for me, and not just a casual “I’ll pray for you,” but specifics on how and when I’d been prayed for. A co-worker whom I had no relationship with outside the office informed me that his congregation was lifting me up in prayer. A friend of my mother in another state – a person whom I had never met – sent word that her church was lifting me up in prayer. Clients told me that they were including me in their daily prayers.

I healed successfully from the surgery and my body was rid of the disease. Did the prayers on my behalf help my body heal? Perhaps. Maybe not. But I know for a fact that those prayers helped my soul heal at a scary time, and it helped strengthen my faith. And I also knew that I wanted to be part of that special fellowship of believers that was praying for me, and to start actively praying for others.

I no longer tell people facing adversity or pain that “I’ll pray for you.” I now say a prayer for them, and then inform them that they’ve been prayed for, hoping it will benefit them the way I benefited from prayer.

Returning to Ms. Ali, she now considers herself a “lapsed atheist,” and having made the decision to become a Christian, she is seeking to learn how to practice Christianity.

The lesson I learned from my years with the Muslim Brotherhood was the power of a unifying story, embedded in the foundational texts of Islam, to attract, engage and mobilise the Muslim masses. Unless we offer something as meaningful, I fear the erosion of our civilisation will continue. And fortunately, there is no need to look for some new-age concoction of medication and mindfulness. Christianity has it all.

That is why I no longer consider myself a Muslim apostate, but a lapsed atheist. Of course, I still have a great deal to learn about Christianity. I discover a little more at church each Sunday. But I have recognised, in my own long journey through a wilderness of fear and self-doubt, that there is a better way to manage the challenges of existence than either Islam or unbelief had to offer.

I have said a prayer for Ms. Ali that she finds true faith now that she has embraced the idea of Christianity. I have also prayed for all those Christian-curious people who decide to take that first visit to church, not yet possessing faith, but bravely willing to walk through the chapel doors and expose themselves to a possible new way of life.

And like Ms. Ali, I pray that a Judeo-Christian revival can save the western world.

*****

As I mentioned earlier, even when I lacked faith, at low moments I still liked to sit down at the piano and gain solace from playing old hymns, and this one was always near the top of my playlist - “Softly and Tenderly.”

Here is Alan Jackson accompanied by some beautiful piano playing. (It’s not by intent, but this performance is also compliant with Throckmorton’s First Law of Live Music: “If there’s an upright bass in the band, it’s probably going to be good.”)

Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling
Calling for you and for me
See on the portals He's waiting and watching
Watching for you and for me

(Refrain)
Come home, come home
Ye who are weary come home
Earnestly, tenderly Jesus is calling
Calling, "O sinner come home"

O for the wonderful love He has promised
Promised for you and for me
Though we have sinned He has mercy and pardon
Pardon for you and for me

(Refrain)

“He has mercy and pardon,” something that won’t be found in the anti-humanism of wokeness or The Sustainable Organic Church of the Carbon Apocalypse.

Have a blessed week.

[buck.throckmorton at protonmail dot com]

digg this
posted by Buck Throckmorton at 11:00 AM

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