A Minnesota Reader Celebrates Holy Week With Tales Of Christian Extremists—Extremely Poor, Extremely Chaste…Extremely Not Terrorists
April 01, 2015, 07:06 PM
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From: Ronald Kyser (email him)

Ayaan Hirsi Ali says moderate adherents of her former faith claim it has been "hijacked by extremists". This is a popular Mussulmeme, so to speak, but it's catching on as well among Nasrani leaders in the West.

Examples from February:

  • After a pair of rare shooting sprees in her capital, the Danish prime minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, held a press conference in which she assured us, "This is a struggle between the core values of our society and violent extremists.” (This was in English. In her own tongue, "violent" has the flavor of rape: voldelig/voldtægt.)
  • The next day, President Obama told the Los Angeles Times: “We also have to confront the violent extremists…”
  • Anticipating al-Shabaab’s veiled threat on the Mall of America (with its many Somali shopgirls), Minnesota’s US Attorney Andy Lugar led a delegation to the White House for a summit on, what else, violent extremism. The home of Prince and the NFL’s Vikings is already a hotbed of violet extremism, after all.
  • Vladimir Putin even dared to pin the murder of his electoral rival on these ubiquitous extremists.
Nobody stops to define extremist, however, though the Enlightenment extremist Miss Hirsi Ali does come close. My dictionary says it's someone who holds extreme views, i.e., on the far end of the spectrum. But note, they're on the spectrum.

The heretic, the heathen, the infidel, are not. The extremist, by definition, starts in the right place. He just goes too far, too fast, too soon.

Keep in mind when you hear the word "extremist", that the speaker is admitting the fellow is right.

It is Holy Week. So, in the penitential spirit, the violet extremism , of Lent, here is a list of genuine Christian extremists.

  • The Church of the Brethren, Paul Gottfried's old employer, sponsors the Center on Conscience and War with the Mennonites and Quakers. They suggest that young men who, on principle, wish to avoid registering with Selective Service can do so by putting off getting a driver's license until age 26. This not only severely limits their job prospects, it bars them from federal employment for life. Just ask Michael Elgin. [Elgin v. Dep’t of the Treasury, February 26, 2012]
  • Doukhobors This Russian sect now in western Canada often, like the Mennonites, gets in conflicts with its neighbors over things like the education of their children. Their traditional method of nonviolent protest is mass marches in the nude. Nudity anywhere, any time, in Canada is extreme.
  • Trappists As if poverty, chastity and obedience weren't enough, you can always try the full papal enclosure of cloistered monks and nuns. Going beyond that, the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, better known as Trappists, don't literally take a vow of silence, but they have most people believing they do.
  • Shakers American Albigensians who, like the old Cathars, live a life of sexual abstinence. All of them. Not a growth demographic.
  • Skoptsy Carrying this extreme to its own extreme, these Russians make the Doukhobors look sane by removing not their clothes, but their genitals. Wikipedia has photographs of a skopets and skoptsya "of the Greater Seal" which you do not want to view. (Trust me.) Evidently Origen didn't go far enough.
  • Autocrucifixion The ultimate expression of asceticism—having yourself nailed to a cross with real nails. In the Philippines, the town of Pampanga serves as the Pamplona of this devotion, which is strongly discouraged by the Church, to say nothing of the public health authorities. Do sanitize the nails, should you attempt this.
Like those other extremists, these Christians enjoy nothing better than to inflict suffering. The difference is in the direction.

See earlier letters from  Ronald Kyser.