For John, BLUF: Star Wars is not wrong about the power of faith. Nothing to see here; just move along.
On 23 November, in The Old Gray Lady, Columnist Ross Douthat wrote "The Joy of ISIS".
I think that OpEd Writer Ross Douthat is on to something here.
For me the key passage in a somewhat confused OpEd is this:
But if the West’s official alternative to ISIS is the full Belgium (basically good food + bureaucracy + euthanasia), if Western society seems like it’s closed most of the paths that human beings have traditionally followed to find transcendence, if Western culture loses the ability to even imagine the joy that comes with full commitment, and not just the remissive joy of sloughing commitments off — well, then we’re going to be supplying at least some recruits to groups like ISIS for a very long to come.This is a very serious issue. Ask yourselves how many of your friends "speak in tongues" or have had a "conversion experience". Probably not so many. But, they are out there, believing in God and that joy Ross Douthat talks about. However, to "operationalize" this would require a shift in how Western elites understand life. They may not be able to understand Daesh, since they don't understand their own populaces, and their interest in Jesus Christ.
What makes it easy for Mr Douthat to recognize this phenomenon is his background. Read his bio, linked to above (Wikipedia). Mr Douthat's family became Pentecostal, and then Roman Catholic. People who believed in the power of God. They found something in Faith. And then he risked it all by going to Harvard, but I expect he can still see this desire to find transcendence, as he calls it.
Mr Douthat's view of the Joy of Life is not the only one. Here is a comment by another newspaper personality, a very smart one, working in the the Middle East and North Africa:
Some very bright young people find this transcendent purpose in forming companies like Apple, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Think of the narrative of starving in the garage, staying up for days writing code…in order to transform society (and get rich).Yes, that is, in our Western society, a very legitimate view, but it is not the only one. The view of faith is still a valid view and to the extent we do not offer it via Christianity of Judaism or some more mainline Islamic Faith, or some other faith, they to that extent to we open the door for Daesh recruits.
Religion is not the only larger purpose in life. I think Ross should give science a chance!
Regards — Cliff