SAUNDERS, Doug "The Mysterious Minds of the Suicide Bombers," Globe and Mail, November 30, 2002.

by Robert Brow  (

Here we have a readable report of an academic study titled Kamikaze, Cherry Blossoms and Nationalism by Ms. Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney. She studied the letters and diaries of the Japanese kamikaze suicide pilots who flew their planes loaded with explosives into American battleships during the last war. She proved they were not wild-eyed fanatics devoted to the emperor. They were emboldened by great literature and devoured Baudelaire, Nietzsche, Goethe, and Emerson, which they read in the original languages. (Apparently none of them read the Bible?). "They wrote their suicide notes in French, German, and English." What they shared with the 3,500 other top students who volunteered to be kamikaze pilots was a deep disillusionment with Japanese society and the Bushido form of Shintoism. They were Romantics who wanted to make a statement about the futility of life in the hope that somehow their death would change the situation.

I wonder if a similar disillusionment might help explain why hundreds of the finest young men of Europe were willing to engage in the madness of the Crusades in the face of the overwhelming power of Islamic civilization?

Could it be that the Arab suicide bombers in our day are not really enamored of Islamic theology? Is their willingness to die the expression of a deep sad disappointment with the Arab world in the face of American might? Osama bin Laden was banished from Saudi Arabia for his opposition to what was going on in his own Royal family.

It is the people who recruit the suicide bombers, and finance their operations from behind the scenes, who view western civilization (based on Judeo-Christian democratic values) as a threat to their status and power structure.

How do we relate to this paradoxical situation? On the one hand we expect our government to deal wisely and justly with threats to our safety. Having some who know Arabic and understand the Arab mind would help. But as Christians we also render to God what is God's. And that requires a prayer conversation with our loving God. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit long for every person to have heart healing and hope for this life and the next. That is why we love enemies. And my personal observation is that where Christian congregations flourish and teach in a country there is hope that effects huge political change.

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