London Postcard: Along the Thames This Morning


Hi there. I’m back in London again, thanks to Kristi’s generous parents.


Tables of books on a Sunday morning — this required restraint on my part.

Another ‘Brainwashing’ Reference in a Report on Islamic Extremism

Kier Simmons in Brussels for NBC Nightly News: “The young people are being brainwashed, this man told me.” Meaning, brainwashed by Islamic extremists.

My ears perked up because “brainwashing” was implied, all but stated, in a report on Islamic State from last year.

It’s interesting to hear a word that originated in studies of communist prison camp survivors, and expanded later to refer to American religious cult practices, now being used to refer to Islam State’s propagandistic outreach.

‘The Paris Attacks Were Not “Nihilism” but Sacred Strategy’ :: Middle East Forum

“A 2014 opinion poll found that among French 18-24 year olds, the Islamic State had an approval rating of 27 percent, which must include the overwhelming majority of young French Muslim men. For Europe, the challenge from within will be more enduring and intractable than the challenge from without.”

Source: The Paris Attacks Were Not ‘Nihilism’ but Sacred Strategy :: Middle East Forum

Also see Islamic State using cult brainwashing techniques


A single interpretive tool can save you from the work of understanding.

Easily repeatable narratives often become absolute truths.

When an easily repeatable narrative becomes a socially accepted truth, beware and be wary.

— Question it.

If someone claims to know your motives, be suspicious of his motives.

— What might he gain from your agreement?


The mind might be fallen, but the mind is not a result of The Fall.

Evangelism Implosion!

Stop the madness!

“The Church of England is set to signal to members that speaking openly about their faith could do more harm than good when it comes to spreading Christianity,” writes John Bingham in The Telegraph of London.

That makes me think the long-standing work of Evangelism Explosion has been more like an evangelism implosion.

Here’s why, in highlights from Bingham’s article:

“The study, called ‘Talking Jesus’, was commissioned jointly by the Church of England, the Evangelical Alliance and ‘Hope’ an umbrella body which brings local churches together in different areas, in an attempt to arrest the decline in attendances….

“Non-believers were asked if a practising Christian had ever spoken to them about their faith. Of those who said yes, only 19 per cent said it made them want to know more compared with 59 per cent who said the opposite.

“While 23 per cent said it made them feel ‘more positive towards Jesus Christ’, 30 per cent said it left them feeling more negative.”

As church attendance declines in the United Kingdom and the United States, Islam is rapidly catching up with Christianity in terms of numbers, and likely will surpass it globally within the next century. Why? Because, according to the Pew Research Center, Muslims are more likely to have more children—more likely than Christians and much more likely than the average of all non-Muslims.

I can’t imagine Christians out-reproducing Muslims, whether statistically or practically speaking. For Christianity, the war of numbers appears to be lost. For that matter, the war of argument appears to be lost, too. I can’t imagine Christians meaningfully winning debates with the New Atheist folks, either, because like any supernatural religion, Christianity depends upon revelation and tradition as its primary modes of authority, and those two modes can be difficult to challenge with evidence and reason. Impasse. Deadlock. (A few subtle and nuanced thinkers believe they have found their way around it, only to be vilified from all sides.)

Oddly enough, if the so-called New Atheists want to win the world, they might want to stop debating and start procreating. I didn’t say start boinking—my guess is they’re already quite adept. They might need to stop using one of the (very good) things their intellectual forerunners fought to have in Western society: birth control. After all, people tend to stick with the religion in which they were born, sayeth Richard Dawkins. And apparently, more people are being born into Islam.

And, New Atheists, you can’t just shoot for one or two kids. Pew says the average Muslim woman will have 3.1 children. Luckily, those three children will become good people, and only the 0.1 has a chance of becoming a terrorist or joining ISIS. I’m sure that’s similar to the possibility of a kid born into an American Christian family becoming an abortion-clinic bomber. In either case, there are scary outliers wearing popular labels.

Think about it: 3.1 children per Muslim woman. The Christian women aren’t going to beat that birth rate. They’ve been fully appropriated into middle-class American/Western dreams, which get complicated and difficult to achieve with three or more kiddos—with just one kiddo, for that matter.

So, New Atheists, you gotta beat that birth rate.

Procreating is ideological warfare.

If evangelism—whether the religious or the atheistic sort—isn’t likely to change people, then I guess what wins the world is the point of view most commonly held among the biggest families.

A certain religious prohibition against birth control was never strictly moralistic or patriarchal, you sillies; it was global strategy.

Once again, we revert to ancient concerns: How can my tribe survive and thrive?

21 Stoic Life Hacks For #Stoicweek | Thought Catalog

Stoicism never has gone away, not completely. For good reasons:

“This guide for living has been so effective and resilient that it’s been used by some of the most powerful, successful and wise people in all of history. From Marcus Aurelius, the last of the Five Good Emperors of Rome to Epictetus, a former slave, it’s a philosophy designed for extreme abundance and adversity alike. It was the favorite of leaders like Cato (who challenged Caesar), Bill Clinton and Theodore Roosevelt, writers like Seneca and Ambrose Bierce, painters like Eugene Delacroix, entrepreneurs like Elizabeth Holmes and Tim Ferriss, sports teams like the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks, soldiers like Frederick the Great and James Stockdale, and countless other practitioners over the centuries.”

Source: 21 Stoic Life Hacks For #Stoicweek | Thought Catalog

Also see:

Margaret Graver on Stoicism & Emotion

Paradoxes for Better Living, 1

Paradoxes for Better Living, 2

Paradoxes for Better Living, 3

Andy Warhol’s semi-Stoic psychology — plus 40 more quotations from Thought Catalog