Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Pope on the ropes

Let’s agree that some Muslims can be a teensy bit reactionary when it comes to public commentary on their religion.

And while ‘off-the-charts bat-shit insane’ is probably more accurate, I am concerned that HedyBlog might incite riots in Ankara, so I will refrain. Ahem.
So why do they have their undies in a bunch this time?

According to CNN, the pope quoted 14th-century Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus who said: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."
First of all, raise your hand if you’ve read the complete text of the Pope’s speech.

No? I didn’t think so. I hadn’t read it until about an hour ago.

And this is just a hunch, but I’m thinking that most of the Muslims burning Pope Benny in effigy haven’t read it, either.
The pope’s speech was about two of my favorites: faith and reason.

Here’s his central theme (taken directly from the text):

“Is the conviction that acting unreasonably contradicts God's nature merely a Greek idea, or is it always and intrinsically true?”

Is God reasonable? Or is that something that Christians, because of Greek influences, have assumed about God?
He’s brilliant. The pope is brilliant.

It’s an awesome question because it points to the fundamental differences between the Christian and Muslim faiths.

I could call Muslims bat-shit crazy for using violence to spread their faith. Or I could learn the differences between what Christians and Muslims perceive as their God’s will.

As westerners, we have a hard time understanding why certain Muslims use violence to spread their religion. Like recently, when those two kidnapped journalists were forced to convert to Islam at gunpoint. Seemed rather silly, didn’t it?

But according to the pope’s speech, “for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality.”

So it’s easier to understand why Muslims would convert people by whatever means necessary – including violence – because to their God it doesn’t matter how they get there as long as they get there.
It’s thinky shit, for sure. And I’m not doing it justice here.

Before I read the full speech, I thought the pope was an idiot for using that quote, knowing what could happen. I’m quite certain he knew.

But I get where the pope was going with his speech.

He was trying to open a dialog, trying to help us understand why Muslims do the things they do.
It was a courageous thing to do.

And he deserves credit for not apologizing for what he said.

He’s expressed regret that his words were misunderstood, but he hasn’t apologized yet.

I never thought I’d say this but: Yay, pope.
So does the pope answer his own question? Is God reasonable? Is faith bound by reason?

Yes, he answers it. And yes, as a Christian, he believes that God wants us to come to faith through reason and not violence.

But the pope wasn’t attacking Muslims so much as pointing out our need to understand them better. Here’s how he summarized his speech:

“In the Western world it is widely held that only positivistic reason and the forms of philosophy based on it are universally valid. Yet the world's profoundly religious cultures see this exclusion of the divine from the universality of reason as an attack on their most profound convictions.

A reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures.”
I am listening to: A Debussy Recital by Philippe Entremont
I am reading: Paint It Black by Janet Fitch
And I am: Getting sick


the dilf said...

Let's face the facts...Why does everyone talk around the issue?...I'll state what everyone thinks....Muslims are Freaks...Not all of them, but.......I understand that only 5% of them are completely nuts, but the other 95% do NOTHING to tame these people...NOTHING!...they dont condemn the riots..the killings...NOTHING!....If Christians even talk about the murdering, the response is pretty much "Don't call us violent, or we'll KILL YOU."....These people are IDIOTS. They know nothing except Killing and the Koran!'s Pathetic...How about you earn a degree, get a job and create something?....Do something that will improve the world instead of destroying it!!

It's amazing how I'm Catholic and my Neighbor is Lutheran and I just dont have the urge to KILL HIM..It's actually a good feeling.

Just give this a try...Educate your people...Give them opportunities...Maybe even "Kill the Hatred."...