Saturday, September 16, 2006

On Benedict XVI, Islam and the Politics of Abusive Discourse

The essence of an abusive relationship is inversion. In a domestic context it goes something like this: the victim must do everything in her power to please the aggressor. If she fails in even one task, say setting dinner our immediately before the aggressor’s return from work, she will be beaten. She is reminded that the beating is her fault, she enraged the aggressor by failing in her duties and thus forced him to beat her. How much worse, then, and how much more deserved a beating she merits, were she ever to tell the aggressor that he is a violent man prone to get his way only by threats of violence and resort to actual violence. Indeed, such a statement from her would be provocative at best and surely will make matters worse by inflaming the passions of the aggressor so that the cycle of violence will only intensify as a result of her actions.

In the West today, this sort of relationship is condemned for what the evil it perpetrates—the attempt to evade responsibility for bad acts through the use of violence. This sort of controlling behavior is in its extreme forms viewed as pathological, and certainly anti-social. Society would tend to come together to protect itself from this sort of evil, and to protect the victim from further abuse. There was, of course, another time, when in the West, such behavior would have been viewed as perfectly acceptable. Indeed, interaction, viewed simply in terms of power relationships, would be assessed on the ability of the powerful to maintain control and on the utility of methods for keeping the powerless in their place. In our scenario, the victim would be condemned for her provocation, her aggressor viewed as well within his rights to administer a violent tonic to this bad behavior, and indeed, to the extent that condemnation is made, it might be directed at the aggressor for failing to run his household in away that maintained the power relationships in more appropriate balance (Herrup, 1999).

It should come, then, as no surprise, that a portion of a lecture to academics given in Germany on September 12, 2006 by Benedict XVI should have produced the reactions it did, both in the dar al Islam and the dar al harb. The speech, delivered as an academic lecture at Regensburg University, was entitled Faith, Reason and the University. The offending portion of the lecture read in full as follows:

This profound sense of coherence within the universe of reason was not troubled, even when it was once reported that a colleague had said there was something odd about our university: it had two faculties devoted to something that did not exist: God. That even in the face of such radical skepticism it is still necessary and reasonable to raise the question of God through the use of reason, and to do so in the context of the tradition of the Christian faith: this, within the university as a whole, was accepted without question.

I was reminded of all this recently, when I read the edition by Professor Theodore Khoury (Münster) of part of the dialogue carried on - perhaps in 1391 in the winter barracks near Ankara - by the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both. It was presumably the emperor himself who set down this dialogue, during the siege of Constantinople between 1394 and 1402; and this would explain why his arguments are given in greater detail than those of his Persian interlocutor. The dialogue ranges widely over the structures of faith contained in the Bible and in the Qur'an, and deals especially with the image of God and of man, while necessarily returning repeatedly to the relationship between - as they were called - three "Laws" or "rules of life": the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Qur'an. It is not my intention to discuss this question in the present lecture; here I would like to discuss only one point - itself rather marginal to the dialogue as a whole - which, in the context of the issue of "faith and reason", I found interesting and which can serve as the starting-point for my reflections on this issue.

In the seventh conversation (diálesis - controversy) edited by Professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the holy war. The emperor must have known that surah 2, 256 reads: "There is no compulsion in religion". According to the experts, this is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under threat. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Qur'an, concerning holy war. Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the "Book" and the "infidels", he addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: "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". The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God", he says, "is not pleased by blood - and not acting reasonably (syn logo) is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death...".

The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature. The editor, Theodore Khoury, observes: For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident. But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality. Here Khoury quotes a work of the noted French Islamist R. Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazn went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God's will, we would even have to practise idolatry.

At this point, as far as understanding of God and thus the concrete practice of religion is concerned, we are faced with an unavoidable dilemma. Is the conviction that acting unreasonably contradicts God's nature merely a Greek idea, or is it always and intrinsically true? Id.


Consider carefully the nature of the reference in the context in which the reference is made: He starts with the proposition that there appears to be coherence between faith and reason, a coherence evidenced by the practices of the university. This proposition sets up a series of binaries with which he will be concerned for the rest of the paper. And, indeed, it is to the possible reconciliation of one particular set of binaries—faith and science, the Greek and the Christian, God and Humanity, within a single ontology that drives his analysis. So, the set up in clear—suppose an oppositional set of binaries and propose the falsity of the opposition and the unity of binaries within a greater singularity. Within Western thought, Christian, Jewish, Enlightenment, Marxist, and post-modern—this pattern of thinking is well worn, and indeed, to some extent, foundational. It is the essence of Western thinking irrespective of the normative structures in the defense of which it is interposed.

Having announced his goal—an examination of the verities of a set of supposedly oppositional binaries (the oppositions of which he intends to harmonize within a superior and more comprehensive framework), Benedict starts fleshing out the foundational binary to be examined. For that purpose he uses an ancient text, relating a dialogue between a late Byzantine Emperor and a Persian scholar, touching generally on the relationship between God and humanity and specifically on the subject of Christianity and Islam.

The choice of this particular text is astute for his primary purpose—to add complexity to the binary he interrogates. The text he chooses to introduce the oppositions is itself an example of a common form of oppositional writing. This form of oppositional writing was quite popular in medieval Christendom, as theatre for the edification of the laity and the reassurance of the clergy; Jews were forced to endure its usually well orchestrated pattern for the purpose of proving the evils or irrelevance of the original covenant versus the truth, value, relevance, completeness or finality of the next. Pictures of these so-called disputations were common all over Europe. Beyond the form, the text itself reveals a host of oppositions that are then reflected in the rest of the discourse: that between Greek and Persian, Emperor and scholar, faith and reason. The text itself, thus, was chosen as an example of the deeply embedded drive to oppositional thinking within all culture.

Benedict then focuses on a particular dialogue within that text, on the notion of compulsion in religion—another foundational binary. In the dialogue, the Emperor, aware of yet another set of oppositions (that between sura 2, 256 and the later instructions on holy war), is said to brusquely dismiss the possibility of a conflation of religion and violence (and of course there is tremendous irony in this statement considering Greek Christianity’s own early and long brush with compulsion and violence) by suggesting yet another binary—between reason and God’s nature. To bring out this supposed binary, he quotes the relevant language (which will be crucial to the development of his harmonization of supposed opposites later in the lecture): "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." The point is then elaborated in the paragraph and a half that follows. Benedict quotes an elaboration of that remark, grounded in the body-soul binary, and then generalizes the binary by quoting as against a Christian Hellenistic rationalism an approach to Islam, “Ibn Hazn went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God's will, we would even have to practise idolatry.”

This last opposition now clearly draws out the fundamental question that Benedict sought to describe at the beginning of the lecture, but in a form that could more usefully frame the discussion he was principally concerned with—the relationship between Hellenism and Christian faith, between God and Humanity, between science and faith, etc. He posits a form of Islam (and later suggests an analog in some strains of Christian thinking) in which God is embraced as irrational against a sort of rule-of-law rationally framed God. Benedict clearly has a preference for the later. He rejects the notion of an incomprehensible, arbitrary or irrational God in favor of a God that undoes contradiction, and suggests that God and order are synonymous, and from this bridges the now harmonized relationship between faith and reason, science and theology within a Christian cosmology. And why not? He is the elected head of a large Christian sect, whose values and faith he has sent a lifetime defending. One would hardly have expected him to rise in defense of something else. And his lecture was well done and not inconsistent with a long and venerable line of discourse on this subject along those lines.

In that context, Islam played an incidental role, and the relationship between the Prophet, Islam, and coercion, and even smaller direct role. The lecture focused on oppositions and synthesis. It did not focus on the theology of Islamic notions of jihad. It did not even suggest that Islamic notions of jihad invariably compelled forced conversion. Nor was it concerned with the nature of the relationship of the Prophet to his God. It was concerned with the way a 14th century text drew out a set of oppositions. And he did not shy from quoting the relevant 14th century language, though he was careful to contextualize the statement. And indeed, that sense of oppositional thinking, Benedict reminds us, seeps into Islam itself. Benedict remarks on the oppositions between sura 2, 256 and later Qu’ranic writing suggesting a more violent engagement between faith and membership in a religious community. Ironically, the text in question was prepared in translation by a Maronite Archbishop of Lebanon (and professor at Muenster) Theodore Khoury. Khoury is also a religion scholar who has produced work advancing interfaith dialog (Abraham: A Blessing for All Nations; Khoury n.d.).

Stylistically, that particular text and that particular quote was meant to add power to the analysis by deepening its overtones. It is not for nothing that Benedict would use the words of Greek Emperor to articulate the Greek notion of rationality. That was a clever stylistic twist and helped to drive home the point he was attempting to articulate. Against this, Islam supplied its own parallel set of normative contradiction—between sura 2, 256 and later incarnations of obligations under conditions of holy war (in the original traditional sense). Again, another clever stylistic turn, with complex overtones. Clearly a jab at a conception of religious duty within Islam that has not been entirely repudiated. But more importantly a reminder of Islam’s own rational turn. Yet all of this subordinated to the service of the great object of the address, the harmonization of apparent antimonies within the framework of the Christian theology he has sworn to advance. Benedict thus comes to the heart of the address to the university—a showing that theology belongs, alongside science, in the academy.

“The intention here is not one of retrenchment or negative criticism, but of broadening our concept of reason and its application. While we rejoice in the new possibilities open to humanity, we also see the dangers arising from these possibilities and we must ask ourselves how we can overcome them. We will succeed in doing so only if reason and faith come together in a new way, if we overcome the self-imposed limitation of reason to the empirically verifiable, and if we once more disclose its vast horizons. In this sense theology rightly belongs in the university and within the wide-ranging dialogue of sciences, not merely as a historical discipline and one of the human sciences, but precisely as theology, as inquiry into the rationality of faith. ” Id.


This is hardly the stuff of provocation to sectarian strife. The address was a deeply intellectual exercise, touching on matters that have been at the heart of religious-secular dialogue since the European Enlightenment. It sought to support a conclusion that does not necessarily or invariably follow from the logic of his presentation. Its conclusion is not necessarily or invariably supported by his logic (accepting all of his premises, for example, one could have taken his argument, as well crafted as it was, in quite another direction). But, but that is the nature of discourse. And Benedict-s contribution was elegant and surprizingly conciliatory. And that was Benedict’s point, in part. In form at least, the address represents another part of a long, internal conversation within the European family in one sense, and an attempt to seek universal normative frameworks on another. Except in passing, it was not about Islam at all. 14th century conceptions of Islam played, at most, a supporting role in the development of the thesis, supplying part of a useful antimony. Or was there something more to the passing reference?

The reactions to this address suggest otherwise. Indeed, the reactions suggest that, for some people at least, the debates of the 14th century between Greek Christians and Muslim Persians provide an accurate mirror of modern debates within Islam and between Muslims and the West (secular and otherwise). That realization, is a lamentable part of this episode, but one hardly noticed by a press eager to score points at the Vatican's expense. More lamentable still is the way in which a lazy and craven Western press has participated in the demonization of the lecture and the distortion of the reference actually made (reporting on United States television, for example, that Benedict had refered to the Prophet himself as "evil and inhuman" when in fact the reference was to any purported command in Islam to compel conversion.

The BBC was kind enough to quickly (and with more than a hint of approval) report the reaction to the speech among people and organizations purporting to speak for Islam (or perhaps just for themselves but vested in the West with some sort of religious representative authority) (BBC 2006). As reported by the BBC, the reactions tended to fall into a few well worn categories.

The first category included justificatory statements on related themes. Terrorism was high on the reactive agenda. Thus for example, the reaction of the Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf: “Our strategy must clearly oppose the sinister tendencies to associate terrorism with Islam and discrimination against Muslims, which are giving rise to an ominous alienation between the west and the world of Islam” (BBC 2006). It is hard to reconcile anything in Benedict’s remarks to anything contained in this statement. Like other statements from the West that may brush up against Islam, Benedict’s lecture appears to be little more than a gateway for the expression of unrelated views of the right thinking required of the West in its dealings with Muslims. The Saudi Grand Mufti spoke on similar themes: “This is all a lie ... Islam is far from terrorism and was spread only through the conviction of peoples who saw the good and justice of Islam¨ (BBC 2006).

The second category is more robustly dysfunctional, though at least refreshingly honest. Thus Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was quoted as suggesting that “The Pope must not take lightly the spread of outrage that has been created. The Vatican must now take full responsibility over the matter and carry out the necessary steps to rectify the mistake” (BBC 2006). The statement from the Pakistani Parliament could be taken in the same light: “The derogatory remarks of the Pope about the philosophy of jihad and Prophet Muhammad have injured sentiments across the Muslim world and pose the danger of spreading acrimony among the religions” (BBC 2006).

A more benign version of the theme struck by the Malaysian Prime Minister was offered by the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit: “This was a very unfortunate statement and it is a statement that shows that there is a lack of understanding of real Islam. And because of this we are hopeful that such statements and such positions would not be stated in order to not allow tension and distrust and recriminations to brew between the Muslim as well as the west¨(BBC 2006).

Another set of reactions suggested that the Catholic Pontiff had authority to speak of or for Islam far greater than Benedict himself might have thought possible. Thus, for example, the Palestinian Prime Minster, Ismail Haniya, spoke “In the name of our Palestinian people... we express our condemnation of the statements of his Excellency the Pope, against Islam as a belief, Sharia, history, and a lifestyle” (BBC 2006). Most of the comments took it upon themselves to interpret Benedict’s lecture as having been necessarily about the meaning and character of Islam’s approach to conversion and took offense at what they took to be bad theology. On a related theme, Sheikh Youssef Al-Qardawi, Qatari Muslim cleric and Head of the Islamic Scholars’ Association said: “Our hands are outstretched and our religion calls for peace, not for war, for love not for hatred, for tolerance, not for fanaticism, for knowing each other and not for disavowing each other. We condemn this and we want to know the explanation of this and what is intended by this. We call on the pope, the pontiff, to apologise to the Islamic nation because he has insulted its religion and Prophet, its faith and Sharia without any justification" (BBC 2006).

The irony, of course is obvious, as is the irrelevance of the reactions for the object of criticism. Benedict is taken to task for an incorrect analysis of the conversion rule of Islam from a lecture that had nothing to do with that subject and used a quote from a Greek Emperor to make a point about Western ontology within universities. But the object was not to engage Benedict in the niceties of the lecture but to use the reference by a non-Muslim to issues of Muslim theology or practice as a basis for articulating a rule about the suppression of discourse, or at least a rule about the control of discourse between religious communities involving Islam on Muslims. Thus, for example, Salih Kapusuz, Deputy leader of Turkey’s ruling AK Party declared that “The owner of those unfortunate and arrogant comments, Benedict XVI, has gone down in history, but in the same category as Hitler and Mussolini. He seems to have a mindset that comes from the darkness of the Middle Ages. He is a poor thing that has not benefited from the spirit of reform in the Christian world. It looks like an effort to revive the mentality of the Crusades” (BBC 2006).

Perhaps most interesting of all were the comments suggesting that Benedict had an obligation to correct Byzantine foreign policy by repudiating the comments of one of the last Greek Orthodox rulers of Constantinople. This suggestion was made by Dr. Muhammad Abdul Bari of the Muslim Council of Britain, who was quoted as saying “One would expect a religious leader such as the Pope to act and speak with responsibility and repudiate the Byzantine emperor's views in the interests of truth and harmonious relations. Regrettably, the Pope did not do so and this has understandably caused a lot of dismay and hurt” (BBC 2006).

Perhaps the West has grown to expect reactions like this to any mention of Islam outside of the faith. These reactions, both passive and aggressive, suggest a range of interests that are engaged whenever someone not of the faith seeks any engagement, even incidental engagement, with Islam. They conflate another set of antimonies that perhaps ought to be the subject of Benedict’s next university lecture—the West’s protective sensitivity to religion and the West’s commitment to full free and open political debate. When religion seeks both the right to fully participate, as religion, in political and policy debate, but at the same time seeks to hide behind the protections afforded religious belief and practice, the political order in the West can be subverted by the resulting paradox.

It is in this context that it is easiest to understand the pathos in the New York Times reaction to the lecture (and the ensuing criticism. In an editorial (New York Times 2006), the New York Times showed an amazing ability to misread, distort, demonize and contort Benedict’s words, and then use them as another excuse to demand that yet another Western authority figure apologize to yet another undifferentiated mass of potentially violent people in an effort to avoid violence. This editorial was written by the frightened, desperate to avoid another beating. The editorial starts by declaring its belief that the level of religious anger is at an unacceptably high level. And then it immediately does something extraordinary—on the basis of some unknown process and through some unknown mandate and authority, it declares )as fact) that Benedict’s reference to the 14th Century Greek text quoted in his address constituted an insult to Islam. The quote was described as provocative because Benedict chose to quote Manuel’s statement. Unstated, but clearly emerging from the way this second paragraph of the editorial was written, was an intimation that the Pontiff cravenly sought to disguise a personal view of Islam as “evil and inhuman” by putting those words in the mouth of a late Byzantine Emperor and then burying that quote in a speech about something else. “In 2004 when he was still the Vatican’s top theologian, he spoke out against Turkey’s joining the European Union, because Turkey, as a Muslim country was ‘in permanent contrast to Europe.’ A doctrinal conservative, his greatest fear appears to be the loss of a uniform Catholic identity, not exactly the best jumping off point for tolerance or interfaith dialogue” (New York Times 2006) Amazing.

This reading by the editorial staff of the New York Times was apparently confirmed by the protest that followed in the wake of the speech. It was reconfirmed by the editorial staff’s own apparently authoritative interpretation of Islam: “For many Muslims, holy war—jihad—is a spiritual struggle, and not a call to violence. And they denounce its perversion by extremists, who use jihad to justify murder and terrorism” (Id.). The statement is presumptuous and arrogant—after all, who are these people to decide for Muslims or any one else, the true nature of Islam, or its requirements when even they clearly suggest that there is on on-going intra faith struggle over the meaning of jihad, one more and one less to the (Western secular) tastes of the editors at the New York Times. But it is also perversely ironic, the editorial staff of the New York Times commits the very sin for which it and certain Muslim leaders condemn Benedict.

But Benedict was a bad boy. His words, to which the world “carefully listens” (id.) (but as I have tried to make clear, they hardly bother to understand), when they sow “pain, either deliberately or carelessly” (id.) can have “tragic and dangerous” (id.) consequences. Those consequences, the New York Times suggests, can be avoided by “a deep and persuasive apology, demonstrating that words can also heal” (id.). Most Western leaders were quite slow to react. Not so the German Chancellor. “German Chancellor Angela Merkel has come to the pontiff's defence, saying the aim of the speech had been misunderstood” (BBC 2006a).

To its credit as a superb player in the diplomatic sphere, the Vatican was quick to offer a response. But the tenor of the reaction does not bode well for interfaith relations in the future. “In a statement read out by a senior Vatican official, the Pope said he respected Islam and hoped Muslims would understand the true sense of his words” (BBC 2006a). On the other hand, it wasn’t much of an apology. "The Holy Father is very sorry that some passages of his speech may have sounded offensive to the sensibilities of Muslim believers," the statement said” (BBC 2006a). Read in a particular way, it could be said to suggest that the Pope was saddened by the inability of people to understand what he was trying to say. That, certainly, is more in the still of Benedict. And this was not lost on his listeners in the dar al Islam. “The Vatican Secretary of State says that the Pope is sorry because his statements had been badly interpreted, but there is no bad interpretation," Abdel Moneim Abul Futuh, a senior official from the opposition party told AFP” (BBC 2006a).


But they suggest something far more sinister—and sad. On one level, it suggests that dialogue with Islam is not possible. And that is ironic indeed, because it suggests a certain continuing validity in the 21st century to the 14th century indictment of irrationalism suggested by the Emperor Manuel II Paleologu’ response to the idea of forced conversion in Islam (whatever the verities of that conception). The irony grows in the context in which this appears—a defense of Christianity against a much more sustained and threatening attack on its normative values by Enlightenment secularism. Where the response to even oblique dialog is a conversation ending “offense to Islam” then power replaces discourse and coercion displaces persuasion. On the other hand, the response may well prove the limits of Benedict’s conception of the universality of the harmonization of reason and faith; perhaps it is limited to Hellenized Christianity after all. But the consequence of that notion may be frightening indeed.

On another level, this episode confirms the difficulty of academic engagement with Islam, at least at an institutional level. All discourse always runs up against a risk of “offense” and “insult.” Query and disagreement becomes heresy or apostasy or a defamation of the faith. But this is to be expected in a culture that conflates religion, politics, culture and science. It serves as warning to Benedict himself of the project he is pursuing, as unveiled in his speech at Regensburg. There is a bit of irony of that as well. Ex Corde Ecclesiae can be perverted and used to stifle discourse as readily as a chorus of “insult to Islam.” For Benedict, that ought to be the great lesson of this episode, though I doubt it will be. And that is a shame.

On yet another level, it confirms that religious discourse with Islam, at least in its political guise, now is about power. Sadly, this power dialogic is little more than an exercise of a pathologically (or opportunistic) abusive power at that. Thus we come full circle to the beginning of this essay. Reduced to its basic level, the pattern of interaction between Islam and the West is becoming clear, at least at the level of institutional relations. Those relations now mimic more that of the relationship between the aggressive abuser in a dysfunctional family—the person always threatening violence as a means to control, or to stifle conversation—and his victim who becomes the willing partner in the pattern of abuse. The reaction in its many forms can all be reduced to variations on a theme—you have no part in any dialog about Islam. Control of that conversation is strictly limited. Any deviation will result in an immediate emotive reaction. Engagement is out of the question. Violence is a necessary substitute. There can be no talking to those who do not first submit. In this context, a portion of Benedict’s speech becomes even more eerily relevant: “It was clear that, by inquiring about the reasonableness of faith, they too carried out a work which is necessarily part of the "whole" of the universitas scientiarum, even if not everyone could share the faith which theologians seek to correlate with reason as a whole” (Benedict XVI 2006).

It also suggests that power discourses of this type are also characterized by fear. How else can one explain the tone and content of the reaction of the New York Times editorial staff to the speech. Like the abused party to a dysfunctional relationship, the editors of the New York Times worked hard to demonize the address for the purpose of reducing the possibility that the West would be violently assaulted for the Pope’s address. That violence would occur, the New York Times had no doubt. That it was the fault of Benedict, the New York Times. Was also quite sure. But where relationships between religions become grounded in violence and fear of violent reaction, where violence is always the fault of the victim, then all semblance of dialog and good will evaporate. The New York Times does more to contribute to a culture of violence by its playing the role of victim of an abusive relationship than does Benedict by his rather mild incidental reference to Islam. I am afraid that the New York Times, and the elites it represents may continue to get its wish—an increased proclivity to violence and a rejection of dialog—as long it embraces the pleasures of victimization. I am saddened that even the Vatican, and a mind as sharp as that of Benedict XVI, will be censored or silenced in the future, rather than challenged on his own terms and engaged.

REFERENCES:

Bendict XVI, Faith, Reason And The University, Apostolic Journey Of His Holiness Benedict XVI, To München, Altötting And Regensburg (September 9-14, 2006), Meeting With The Representatives Of Science, Lecture Of The Holy Father, Aula Magna Of The University Of Regensburg, Tuesday, 12 September 2006, available at (provisional text, September 16, 2006).

British Broadcasting Company (BBC). 2006. In quotes: Muslim Reactions to Pope (September 16, 2006).

-----------. 2006a. Pope Sorry for Offense to Islam (September 16, 2006). Available http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/5351988.stm.

Cynthia B. Herrup. 1999. A House in Gross Disorder: Sex, Law, and the 2nd Earl of Castlehaven. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ex Corde Ecclesiae. 1990. Apostolic Constitution Of The Supreme Pontiff John Paul II On Catholic Universities. Promulgated 15 August, 1990.


Khoury, Theodore. n.d. A Blessing for All Nations According to the Jewish, Christian and Islamic Traditions. http://www.sedos.org/english/khoury.htm.

New York Times. 2006. Editorial: The Pope’s Words. The New York Times (September 16, 2006).

3 comments:

Seven Star Hand said...

More proof that religion is the opposite of truth, wisdom, and justice

Now we have the Grand Inquisitor (the pot) lecturing Islam (the kettle) about spreading religion through violence (dark deeds) and quoting a Dark Ages text while the USA and Europe are in the midst of the Neo-Crusades. Does anyone else see the irony and absurdity in this situation?

The West has killed far more Muslims than they have killed westerners, yet our press and leaders can only see Muslim desperation in the face of western military and economic dominance, (all in the name of God and country), as the sources of evil in this world.

Guess what guys and girls, war is evil, no matter what the excuse or cause or who is doing the killing. Any idiot who thinks the Creator would judge religion or war as wise or acceptable activities has a very big surprise in store.

Here is Wisdom...

Eric said...

test

Eric said...

(my previous writing of my comment got zapped into nothingness, so I was testing; now I'll try again)

The post is quite sensible, but overkill. Anyone who reads the Pope's speech will see that the Islam part is peripheral. The main part is interesting, though, and deserves more attention. I criticize it from the Scotist/Ockhamist/evangelical point of view at

http://www.rasmusen.org/x/2006/09/20/god-first-morality-second/