172 results for d'Nalgar

Inky wretch



—–Original Message—–
From: [Jacques d’Nalgar]
Sent: Thursday, March 15, 2007 12:34 PM
To: ‘pgreenberg@arkansasonline.com’
Subject: Word games


Dear Apologist for Evil,

I can’t say it was wholly a pleasure to read your calculated mischaracterization of recent remarks related to unpleasant observations of the happily departed German bishops during their late great visit to apartheid Palestine:


According to you, all the suffering and misery of Palestinians is purely of their own making, and the Israeli military has nothing to do with it.

We are supposed to believe that the dwindling number of survivors now telling their terrifying stories must be lying, or that they were professional provocateurs now posing as innocent victims. Not content with denying their testimony, you defame those with the courage to offer it.

You could likely produce a collection of impressive looking documents that are supposed to prove your case, despite abandonment of the myth of a “self-inspired” exodus by even the official propaganda of Israel. Now only you, your fellow apologists, and a few Left Behind apocalypse hunters seem determined to revoke even that late and insufficient canard.

My admiration grows for those Israeli historians like Benny Morris, Ilan Pappé, Avi Shlaim, and Tom Segev who, despite the opposition and opprobrium they faced, insisted on digging through the archives till they found proof of the Israeli government’s involvement in this barbarity. Their courage stands in stark contrast to your determination to deny one of the more awful crimes of a century full of them.

The treatment of the Palestinians can no more be excused or denied than the Rape of Lebanon last summer, the ethnic cleansing of more than 700,000 Palestinians in 1948, the barbaric abuse of prisoners at Khiam and Atlit and Maasiyahu, or any of the other indelible crimes committed by Eretz Israel at its arrogant height.

I notice the telltale “Inky Wretch” at the end of your clever diatribe.  Let’s hope and pray your wretchedness doesn’t infect the next generation with your studied blindness to evil. I can’t say I blame you for not telling me just where your affections are located. I’d be ashamed, too.

There was a time when civilized nations seemed determined to lay out the record and resolve: Never Again. But now we seem to have forgotten how to shudder. And a “writer” like you can always be found to deny that these horrors ever took place, setting the stage for their repetition in our own time. See the recent-and continuing-events in Darfur.  And Palestine.  And Lebanon.  And Iraq.  And soon Iran as clever words like yours fester and spread their infectious poison.

Though you played no role in this vast crime, you are guilty of trying to deny it. Which makes you only a little lower than those who committed it. If there is such a crime as being an accessory after the historical fact, you’re guilty of it. Not that your complicity is worth exposing. It would be a waste of good ink.

Remember Deir Yassin.

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2007/03/15/inky-wretch/

Why Calvin is Cool


I just read your infomercial and browsed through your e-monastary and related e-inn. I’m still giggling, albeit to myself lest my wife think me mad. You are one unusual fellow — a calvinistic Baptist (odd enough) doing pulpit supply at a Presbyterian church! I had heard that Baptists and Presbyterians co-congregated back in the early days but thought the practice had long since died out. (It’s much more fun now to rest in the assurance that my beliefs are the only correct ones.) Your desire to be close to a pub makes you an extremely rare sort of Baptist — one who does not eschew the brew as most Baptists do (in public anyway).

Anyway, I’m thoroughly enjoying your writing and your sense of humor. And I’m asking for advice. We have lived in this area for more than 11 years. We sporadically attended a Sovereign Grace Baptist church about an hour’s drive away, but never felt like we belonged there. We have “experimented” with Arminian baptists and calvinistic Presbyterians, but the cognitive dissonance has always been more than we could bear. However, desperation for Christian fellowship and a keen desire for our teenage son to spend his last at-home year (we hope) in a church where his parents are actively involved is driving us back to a large Baptist church (ironically, the one J.B. Moody pastored twice around 1900 when he spoke of “tautological tomfoolery” regarding the notion of a “local church”).

Our first Sunday back was yesterday and we were once again confronted with all the things that drive us nuts — new-fangled Bible translations, loud applause after every “special” song, praise dancing, really really shallow Bible lessons in Sunday School, and so forth. We don’t know if we should just ignore these things and be “missionaries to the Southern Baptists” or run like hell from their worldly ways. Or is our discomfort with these things God’s way of pointing out our own pride and a weird sort of orthodoxy-based phariseeism? I’m almost through with C.S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity” and am newly reminded that our earthly journey is hardly a black-and-white one. Sounds like you’ve wandered and wondered a bit over the years, so I’m wondering what you think about our predicament.

If you’re ever in Hot Springs, give me a shout — we’ve got a great little German place downtown and I’d love to hoist a few with you and discuss what it would take to get you to pastor a new church here. I would even do a praise dance on 5th Sundays…

[Jacques d’Nalgar]

PS — “tautological tomfoolery” is from an address to the SBC J.B. Moody delivered here in Hot Springs around 1900. It’s published in a collection of sermons titled “My Church” (ISBN 0879210303) that used to be a standard text in Baptist libraries.

Painting by Flemish school (unknown, 15th and 16th centuries).  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:John_Calvin_-_Young.jpg or http://bit.ly/pJX1UL or http://tinyurl.com/3gzauaq

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2005/08/29/why-calvin-is-cool/

Vanished like the strange times we lived

Strange Days

By Jacques d’Nalgar, October 11, 2004


1974 was the year I graduated from ACS. We were one of the last classes from those strange days between the wars of 1967 and 1973 and the horror that almost erased Lebanon, a time and place that 30 years later, still weaves itself into my thoughts and dreams every day. By my senior year there were only two or three of us left who had started out together in the first grade; many families left after the wars and during the preludes to civil war that followed. Those of us who remained were the first witnesses to the end of ACS as an island of Americana in a foreign land, and the beginning of an evolution for the school that continues to this day.

As young children, we grew up in a time when the US embassy hosted Fourth of July celebrations at the beach, complete with twist contests, fireworks, and free Cokes and hot dogs. Streets were named after American presidents. American sailors were a common sight in Beirut when the Navy fleet visited each year. By the time we graduated, the fleet visits were a fading memory, Coca Cola was banned, and tear gas from anti-American riots at AUB wafted over our beloved ACS campus.

As teenagers, we were never preoccupied with the great political and military upheavals that were playing out in the region. In some cases, we followed them as you would an athletic spectacle; I still have a collection of Arabic newspapers from the “Ramadan War” of 1973. If we had bothered to notice, we’d have seen suffering and humiliation beyond comprehension, but we were far more concerned with homework and pop quizzes and acne and the traumas of real and imagined romances. During my senior and junior years at ACS, Larry David (our wonderful band director, now deceased) hired a train to take us to a beach near Sidon. Coming and going, the train would stop to board PLO escorts, armed with Kalashnikovs, for safe passage through refugee camps. We were more interested in the machine guns than we were in the men who carried them.

As Americans, we were typical creatures of our popular culture and we pursued hamburgers, pizza, and rock and roll with the same intensity as our stateside cousins. We were the sons and daughters of straight-laced missionaries, diplomats, and petroleum engineers, but we were growing up during those strange days when the facade of Norman Rockwell’s world was crumbling around us. We wanted to look like the hippies and Vietnam protesters we saw on television, so we grew long hair and wandered the ancient suqs to find used Army jackets. We rolled up notebook paper and pretended to smoke pot; some did more than pretend.

We came from different parts of America and Europe (there were few Lebanese students in those days) and were thrown together in the mélange of cultures that defined life in Beirut. As diverse as we were in terms of our geographical and economic backgrounds, at ACS it all boiled down to two distinct tribes – “day students” and those wild people who lived in the BD. Ours was, by comparison, a relatively normal existence. We went home each night to mothers and fathers, dinners around the kitchen table, and all those sundry little things you never again take for granted once you’ve left the sanctuary of home and family. We envied boarding students, with their seemingly bohemian lives, unfettered by the watchful eyes of uncool parents. I now suspect many would have traded their freedoms for our drab routines of home life – and some home cooking.

My last visit to Beirut was in 1978. In four short years everything had changed. The suqs were abandoned, their stone columns deeply eroded by bullets and shrapnel. I nearly wept as I stood in the ruins of Community Church; our baccalaureate service and countless others before it had been held in that majestic old structure. We used to walk home late at night and now we were afraid to be out after the sun went down. The neighborhood rooster had been replaced by a too-close 50-caliber machine gun. The Lebanon I had known was no more. ACS was empty. A few of the caretakers looked familiar and the banyan tree in front of the high school was a bit larger, but the courtyard and playgrounds were strangely silent.

Three decades have passed since graduation. By all accounts Lebanon and ACS are again thriving. But they are not the places of my youth, the sights and sounds and smells that still haunt my dreams and color my perceptions of the world around me. I now live in Hot Springs, the same small Arkansas city where Bill Clinton grew up; his stepfather sometimes sits behind us in the catfish diner down by the airport. About 20 miles from here is a small community that exists in name only. All that’s really left is an old church building and a cemetery. Everything else has disappeared under a lake built by the Corps of Engineers. Once a year, the descendants of the town’s residents gather for a picnic in the churchyard, to take care of the graves, sing a few hymns, and swap stories. For me, ACS is a lot like that. The buildings are still there, but the school that we once knew so intimately has vanished like the strange times we lived in. Thirty years later, we use e-mail and reunions to seek out our classmates and other alumni as touchstones, confirmations that those fleeting days, however strange, were real and still somehow meaningful…

For today’s students and teachers: whether you are there for many years or only a few months, ACS will have a profound affect on you that you may spend the rest of your life trying to understand. Embrace your culture, breathe deeply the history and humanity that surrounds you. There is no place on the planet as enchanting and exhilarating as Lebanon. May your ACS days be as strange as mine were, but in ways unique to you and the times you live in.

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2004/10/11/vanished-like-the-strange-times-we-lived/

Fertile shores of the 700 Club

Dear editor,

A couple of nights ago, channel-surfing landed me on the fertile shores of the 700 Club. The Reverend Pat Robertson was doing a spectacular job of keeping a straight face as he “logically” connected the dots for his audience, directly linking natural disasters in these United States — fires, floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes — to her continued diplomatic “interference” in Israel’s affairs, first with the Camp David agreement, then the Oslo accords, and now the “Road Map” to peace. The moral of Rev. Robertson’s story (he spelled it out in case you weren’t clever enough to follow along) was that Israel gets everything it wants or God will get you.

Such brilliant logic would be funny if the consequences of letting Israel run amok weren’t so tragic. America’s 50-year hands-off sponsorship of theocratic apartheid, now steeped in a folklore-as-religion of fables and prophetic fantasies, has brought untold misery to the Middle East and irreparable damage to nearly two centuries of charitable engagement by Western missionaries. It is hard to remember, given the current state of affairs, that Jews and Christians and Muslims lived together in relative tranquility for most of these last thousand years. (“Relative” is the important disclaimer here — for the last 500 years at least, us civilized Westerners are off the scale in terms of being really, really good at killing ourselves and everyone around us.)

Maybe one of the reasons Americans support Israel so uncritically is that we view them as a righteous extension, an “embed” of our Western, “Judeo-Christian” ideals in a godless heathen land. Maybe we’re vicariously reliving the thrill of exterminating our own indigenous populations, of herding them like animals onto reservations. Maybe the true mark of a civilization’s superiority is its ability to covet what it hasn’t been naturally blessed with. We noble Europeans and Americans have meddled in every corner of the globe in our rabid pursuit of land, water, cotton, opium, rubber, bananas, and now oil. But hey, as long as we’re wearing our WWJD trinkets, and as long as we leave Israel alone to misbehave just like we did… And as long as we’re praying our Jabez prayer (that the stock market recovers and we continue to be richly blessed with low-cost imported sneakers and blue jeans made with child and near-slave labor), then God is surely on our side. For ever and ever, Amen.

Jacques d’Nalgar

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2003/06/06/fertile-shores-of-the-700-club/