Thursday, July 10, 2008

Pay Very Careful Attention

In the waning days of the so-called Clash of Civilizations, it's worth remembering that The Hammer of God, Arthur C. Clarke's asteroid-apocalypse potboiler prophesied a new hybrid religion rising from the smoke and ashes of a war in Arabia:

THE SUDDEN RISE of Chrislam had been traumatic equally to Rome and Mecca. Christianity was already reeling from John Paul XXV's eloquent but belated plea for contraception and the irrefutable proof in the New Dead Sea Scrolls that the Jesus of the Gospels was a composite of at least three persons. Meanwhile the Muslim world had lost much of its economic power when the Cold Fusion breakthrough, after the fiasco of its premature announcement, had brought the Oil Age to a sudden end. The time had been ripe for a new religion embodying, as even its severest critics admitted, the best elements of two ancient ones.

This may all seem like wishful thinking on Art's part, but stranger things have- and will- happen.

Perhaps like this- an obscure, heretical Islamic sect has built Canada's largest mosque. And look at some of the dignitaries who attended this grand opening:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the crowd that the Ahmadiyya Muslim community knows the importance of tolerance and peace because it has been the target of persecution itself since its founding in the late 19th century.

"In this mosque, we see the love and benevolent faith of Islam," Harper said. "Ahmadis embrace Canada and Canada has embraced you."

Opposition Leader Stephane Dion said the success of the Ahmadi community in Canada, as captured by the sacrifices made to build the Calgary mosque, is at the essence of what makes the country great.

"Canada will show the world that Muslim communities can flourish in a secular state like ours," Dion added.

He praised the Ahmadiyya community for teaching its followers that loyalty to their new homeland of Canada is an integral part of their faith.

Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier reminded the crowd of the cold, rainy June day in 2005 when the mosque's cornerstone was laid.

"What we see today is a testament to your faith and commitment to the community. Your mosque is a proud new landmark on Calgary's skyline," the mayor said.

Roman Catholic Bishop Fred Henry said Calgary Muslims and Christians share a common spiritual journey in their worship of God.

"My Muslim brothers and sisters, we also have a common concern for promoting moral values and addressing ethical concerns in our city through our ongoing dialogue and our work together," said Henry.

Sir Arthur wasn't just a novelist, he moved among some very interesting circles in the scientific - and military/industrial - world. There's no shortage of prophetic undertones in his speculative fiction, never mind that pesky Monolith building near the old WTC. Which, of course, is also on the cover of Childhood's End, a book which in light of my recent research seems more and more sinister to me, as does the author himself.