the same rage. Although iconoclasm was eventually eondemnedrnat the Seventh Ecumenieal Couneil, the rahies hasrnneer been eliminated. The Bogomils, Cathars, and Albigensiansrnwere not only unsound on the Trinit- and enemies of thernestablislied order of the Church, but many went as far astray inrnthe practices of everda- life as die Anabaptists who embracedrnsome of their heresies. Deny the images that reflect the hicarnation,rnit seems, and you will go on to reject marriage and pri-rnate properh’ and all decent order.rn’This is not to say that I agree with a friend of mine, a convertrnto Orthodox)’, who once told me that flicrc is no salvation forrnthose who do not venerate icons. But, if I have to fall into onernextreme or another, I had raflier be superstitious than irreverent.rnI can sa- with the Anglican Thomas Browne that I lo’crn”the ciilih’ of hat and hand,” because it is not only throughrnicons that Christians displav flieir respect for the human fleshrnthat God created and Christ deigned to sanctif,’. Christian worshiprnis not purely cerebral, but a complex system of organizedrnphsicai gestures: standing, sitting, bowing, kneeling, and prostrating;rnsprinkling, censing, anointing, and breaking. Unitariansrnhae almost entirely succeeded in eliminahiig flie ritual elementrnfrom their comical services, but they are not nearly halfrnso Christian as the aerage Muslim. (Better a foolish Turk,rnIjuther shoidd have said, than a Unitarian with a Ph.D.)rnWherever Christians are, flicrc you will find the Cross,rnand wherever Muslims are in charge, they will makernwar upon it. During the Gulf War, when our soldiers were stationedrnin Saudi Arabia, presumably, to save the Saudis’ baconrn(or, rather, flieir goat), U.S. military chaplains were forbiddenrnto display flie Cross or exen to carry a Bible with a Cross emblazonedrnon the cover. Perhaps it is a good thing the South did notrnconquer the North, since the Cross of St. Andrews on the Confederaternflag woidd hae caused problems wifli our Muslim allies.rn(Or is that one more proof that the South was right?)rnHow few flags toda- actually include a Cross—or an’thingrnmeaningful! Riding past a displav of flags on the way into Romernfrom Fiumicino Airport, I cannot help observing that nearly allrnof them were variations on the flag of flie French Revolution,rnincluding flie Italian flag, which Uniberto Bossi had the badrntaste to describe as “la drappa jacohina.” The BriHsh UnionrnJack is, of course, made up of the Cross of St. Andrew superimposedrnupon flie Cross of St. George, and as I stare at it, I see thernstripes of the British Gross unwind fliemselves and straightenrnout into alternahng red and white stripes—the perfect svmbolrnfor a Unitarian state.rnA few das later, I find m)’self in Pisa, visiting the church ofrnSt. Stcfano, designed by Vasari and built as a Tuscan navalrnchapel for the Medici’s Knights of St. Stcfano, who vere supposedrnto be naval crusaders against the Turks. Painted on fliernceiling of St. Stefano is a series of oil paintings depicting Chris-rnHan naal victories over the Muslims, and all along flic upperrnpart of flie walls is a procession of captured Turkish naval standards.rnI am puzzled b’ about a dozen of them that I take to bernour own Stars and Stripes until I realize there are no stars andrnnotice that each flagpole is topped by a Turkish crescent. ThenrnI remember seeing these very flags when I first visited thernchurch oer ten years ago. On fliat occasion, flic resemblancernof Old Glor- to a Turkish battle flag seemed amusing, but lessrnso toda’, as flie United States is bent on building its own OttomanrnFaiipire in the Balkans and the Middle Fast.rnAt best, the Stars and Stripes signify nothing more lofh- flianrnthe power of the unitary state (flie 50 stars —another favoriternTurkish device —representing the states are a cruel joke). ThernCross, however, is no mere historic accident. If Christ hadrnconic in flie ZOfli century, we should not have stuck —as thernjoke has it—an image of an electric chair on top of churchrnsteeples. The Cross was, indeed, an inverted image of shame,rnbut its symbolic properties have been the subject of meditationrnfor better Christians than I am.rnThe Cross is, most obviously, a tree—albeit manmade — andrnflius refers not ouK’ to the prophecy of a savior hanged upon arntree but also to the Tree of Life. The vertical axis runs from Hellrnto Heaven, as St. John Chrvsostom observed: “The cross uprootedrnus from the depths of evil and elevates us to the summitrnof virtue.” The horizontal axis, however, stretches out to encompassrnthe earth in its embrace. If the ends of each axis werernjoined, tlie’ would form h’o circles, but although circles are arnperfect shape in fliemselves, they are closed and exclusive,rnwhereas the Cross of Christ is open to all who will take it up.rnThose who can bear this Tree of Life cannot fail entirely tornappreciate life. To protect innocent life, Christians may have tornkill enemy soldiers in a war or execute murderers, but they mayrnnever deliberateh’ take an innocent life, no matter how noblernthe purpose is, whether it is keeping soldiers out of harm’s wayrnby bombing civilians or ensuring a “qualih’ of life” by killing unbornrnchildren. The abortionist and his patient, the terrorrnbombers of Dresden, the Nazi and communist butchers —ifrnany of them had been Christian, they woifld have acknowledgedrntheir sin and repented publicly. If there are “Chrfstians”rnwho wish to defend, say, flie pilot of the Enola Gay or the officersrnwho ordered the missile and bombing attacks on Yugoslavia,rnfliey have eliminated fliemselves in advance from thernChristian argument as effectively as if they had administered arnretroactive abortion to their mofliers.rnPresident Bush is perfecfly correct to say fliat this struggle isrnno clash of religious and civilizations, and the establishment’srnrepeated declarations that Islam is a religion of peace have flierneffect of erasing whatever line in flie sand had been drawn betweenrnour hT) worlds. The Muslims, it is true, are continuingrnto build flieir towers of skulls, most recently at flie World TradernCenter, but the United States is building its own monuments inrniAfghanistan. An even nominally Christian America would berndeclaring a new crusade, not against “terrorism” (a propositionrnas abstract as poert}’ or drugs) but against Islam. At the samerntime, we woifld be treating our enemies and flieir families andrnneighbors as creatiires made in the image of God. We would,rnof course, be sending in our warriors to do batfle wifli the Taliban,rnbut fliough civilians would certainly be killed, either byrnaccident or in revenge, there would be no villages mistakenlyrnwiped out by high-altitude bombing.rnBurke lamented the passing of the Age of Cliivalr’. I mournrnthe exit of Christianitv’ from the world’s stage, the final disappearancernof Christendom. Go look for it somewhere in MiddlernEarth or in b’aery, but not on this earfli in this time. In such anrnage, it is unreasonable to look for Christian statesmen or to criticizernflie unbelieving politicians who are forced to make difl^ieifltrndecisions b’ the light of what human reason they have, butrnit is up to Christians, flie exiled children of Eve who do so muchrngood work tcstif)ing to their reverence for life in unborn children,rnto bear witiiess bofli to the exclusive truth of their faithrnand to their respect for the lives of people living under the terriblernmoral and spiritual darkness that is Islam.rnDECEMBER 2001/11rnrnrn