A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

17 September 2006

The Pope Blows It

Or does he?

I'm in two minds over Benedict's remarks last week. One--we have been supplied with no context as to these remarks. He was giving a lecture about the place of violence in religion (it hasn't any), and they just sorta fell out, apparently.
In the speech, the Pope referred to criticism of the Prophet Mohammad by 14th century Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus, who said everything Mohammad brought was evil "such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."
--Via Yahoo! News.

Two: it's clear that no self-respecting modern leader should be quoting from a 14th-century text written by a superstitious man who was probably convinced Muslims were born with cloven hooves and who would have shrivelled and died if exposed to the global world of today.

On the other hand, that's what religion is all about: citing the authority of a chain of dead men to prove you have a moral cause. And it's also what history is about to some extent--quoting the dead to show how events can be viewed today.

Three: the Pope should show a little sensitivity--or at least some ₤µ¢λing political awareness.

On the other hand--you don't see huge crowds of Christians and Jews rioting when an Imam suggests going out and killing Christians and Jews (often citing fourteenth century and older texts to justify it).

Nor do the same infidels complain to their courts and governments in the face of some truly vile defamation by Arab-world news organs.

In between the extremes is the truth. Let's face it, most Muslims aren't into beheading people. Jews don't drink the blood of babies. Only idiots believe that the Iraq war is some sort of Christian crusade. These are things that happen outside this little bubble we call reality.

Until we outgrow this obsession of "my imaginary friend is better than your imaginary friend", there are always going to be inaccurate statements made by @$$#013s.

I framed that last sentence in those terms deliberately. Perhaps we'll soon see the reason why.

In context, the Pope's remarks were probably harmless, if foolish. Had we been present when he made them we might understand that he was saying that killing for god is like ₤µ¢λing for chastity.

Or we might have thought that he was expressing as official Church policy on Islam a sentiment from the 14th century. But really--is that credible in the 21st century?

It's one thing to think a bunch of 14th-century peasants would regard this as gospel (ahem). And it's one thing to think that 14th-century Muslims would be worried and take up arms against the threat. But it's the 21st century, and we know better now.

Or at least we ought to.


At 12:52 p.m., Blogger a h m a d said...

I was thinking about this issue and I came to notice that many people in power have not lived with people of other beliefs! Hence everything they know about the "other religion" is what they read in the books or heard from media.

(Maybe it is a blessing in Lebanon that we have 17 official religious sects. Any average person has friends from several sects and this allows the Sunnite, Shiite, Orthodox, Catholic, Maronite, Durzi, etc. to know about each other in face to face interaction and friendships.)

At 2:40 p.m., Blogger Metro said...

Interesting point. I spent my formative years in an English Catholic school. Many of my classmates were forced by the Byzantine language laws of Quebec into that same school. My childhood friends included all sorts of faiths, creeds, languages, and colours.

A more hetrogenous mix worldwide might make understanding each other a bit easier.

At 9:31 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nony here. Decent post. Some good arguments.

I gotta ask though, why the discord for Jesus? Why call him imaginary? No worries, I'm not looking to behead you, just wondering why you must refer to any person's god as imaginary?


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