Others learned a more lasting lesson from 9/11. Tony Blair seized the opportunity to establish the Tony Blair Foundation “to promote respect and understanding between the major religions.” Without attention to religion, politicians are hamstrung in today’s world. “We in the West tend to see people of religious faith as people to be pushed to one side,” Blair said earlier this year. “That quite aggressive secularism you see in the West does not understand what is happening in the rest of the world.” Blair wants to see religious passion harnessed to “make globalization work,” but he resists secularists’ efforts to use fears of holy terror to bludgeon believers back into their hovels.
Ten years on, all this is now obvious. Resurgent secularism is a blip on the screen, New Atheism a rearguard action in a losing battle. The ferment among Muslims and Christians continues apace, and in some places it will again turn tragically violent. We have no choice but to deal with it. The message of 9/11 was always this: The gods are still back, and they are here to stay.