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Karen Armstrong On The Dangers Of Bush's Fundamentalism


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Very scary. But articles like this, I'm afraid, that are however well-intended to wake up a sedated, apathetic, largely propagandized global population will do little to correct the obvious. In fact they will probably only serve to widen the schism that is beginning to tear apart some of the most historically stable of the Christian denominations.

 

It's not one man's fault, it's not the fault of the spiritual cabal that's been advising him, Reagan, and Nixon before him. What we're witnessing is the surfacing of the great war between the children of light and the children of darkness that has been waged in mostly secret ways and in our ignorance since our beginnings. At a time when these entities should be cooperating to find solutions to our common problems, they fight each other, either directly in secrecy, or in the open through avatars, Anyone who has been paying attention for the past thirty years or so should know by now that it doesn't matter much who or what party occupies the White House or 10 Downing St. What does matter is who's pulling their strings one way or the other and why.

 

The economics of the world have slowly been turned into the sort of place where much of our livelihood is based upon exploiting the suffering or pleasures of others, not in producing things of intrinsic value. In that sort of a militaristic and victim-filled world of economics, there is little room for hope; except, perhaps, for the recent actions of leaders like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. At least they seem to get it. But then they're very smart people.

 

flow..... :unsure:

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  • 2 weeks later...

 

It is only scary if one adopts the attitude that there is no divine order to this universe. To me it seems there are no accidents. Life plays out as one harmonious drama or dance. It is an evolution of consciousness that balances victims and perpetrators. Though I can't ignore what is going on in the middle east, I can only do what is in my power to try and change our country's position on it. For the most part, it seems not to be in my cards to be a major role player and so one must resign oneself to ones assigned place in the world and do what is most important. And that is to examine and allow to evolve the spirit which is within and grow towards love and peace within which in turn has a profound effect on that which is outside. Just a view to consider.

 

Love in Christ,

JM

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It is very scary, I see extreme Christian fundamentalism as every bit as bad as extreme Muslim fundamenalism and just as evil!

 

Hi loveapple,

 

If I may say, "scary'" is just a thought with no reality unless you choose to perceive it as so. There is no fear in love. You seem to see things as 'good' and 'evil' which is why you see things as 'scary' and cannot reside fully in a place of no fear. To one on a spiritual path it is necessary to get beyond 'good' and 'evil' back to the tree of life. To do so it is helpful to understand just what opposites are.I will include a short writing of mine that perhaps may help clarify the point.

 

What is good and what is evil? This is a question asked throughout the ages. No finite definition has ever come to unanimous agreement and if it had it lasted only for some fleeting moments and then passed away with the society that created it for expediency purposes.

 

Even with our modern nation, what was once considered good to many such as slavery was later thought of as evil. The taking of land from the Indians was once justified by many as good for America but was not deemed as such if you were in the moccasins of an Indian. Time changes circumstances and circumstances changes our definitions. Why is this?

 

It is because the terms good and evil are deemed opposites. The demarcation line of one versus the other is a line subjectively defined as whatever the controlling caste of a society at that time defines. Opinions and positions on such matters change. Killing in the United States now is considered evil but even that has exceptions. When we are involved in War, we make heroes of those who have killed many and dare not call them evildoers.

 

Good and evil, they are abstract terms that only have reality to the individual or society whose mind makes the distinction. Granted, every action or thought has a consequence regardless of where one draws the line between good and evil but nevertheless they are abstract terms of ever changing perceptions. They are terms that have even reversed meanings in history depending upon whose perspective we are looking from.

 

Is good created by God and evil by some other sub-god such as Satan as some religions would have us believe? It would seem that that would not be the case. If God is God and creating good then he must also be the creator of that which is its opposite or evil. One can not hold the title of creator of all things and create an abstract term as good and then blame the creation of the opposite on that which is created. Yet, there is another way to look at it with a deeper understanding. Maybe God is neither creating good nor evil? Perhaps God only created creatures with a mind that had that potential of choice and the ability to make such distinctions if desired.

 

Opposites then are a product of duality of the mind. Perhaps God is the potential yet partakes of neither? Other creatures of creation do not seem to have such distinctions. In the animal kingdom we witness life and death and killing endlessly and yet we neither call it good nor bad. It is accepted as a natural part of life and evolution. Man having evolved as part of creation with a thinking mind is able to create thoughts that are not necessary for survival alone yet are chosen to take command of earth and become a god himself. To do this he needed to make his own rules of operation that could change with his whims and desires. He needed to make himself as independent as possible from the creator himself. He needed to control food supplies and resources so as to no longer seem to be accountable to the rest of creation but only to himself.

 

Evil was thus born in the mind of men. Evil born of opposite scales of right and wrong, good and evil, desirable and undesirable, ugly and beautiful, love and hate and a myriad of other judgments. All perceptions, opening up a Pandora’s Box of demarcation lines changing with his every whim, custom and transient thought. So then, perhaps man did through choice choose good and evil as a subjective reality in which to live and have pleasure of his own seeming creation. If God created neither, those terms are merely illusions created in the melodrama of man’s mind making a reality out of nothing.

 

What need has God for such folly? What need does he have for such absurdities of mind? What need does he whose source of power is unlimited and enemies are none have for a mind that is subject to doubt, hate, anger, jealousy, fear and guilt? What need would he have for revenge and war? What need does he who is complete and knows all things have for thinking or even language of such terms? What need does God, whose completeness is peace and existence is love, have for desires and the affairs of men who through choice choose folly for transient and fleeting moments of happiness and pleasure rather than his eternal essence present within them? What is good and what is evil? A conundrum, a riddle I say. They are but illusions of man’s mind that have no basis in the presence of reality in God.

 

Love in Christ,

JM

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If God is God and creating good then he must also be the creator of that which is its opposite or evil. One can not hold the title of creator of all things and create an abstract term as good and then blame the creation of the opposite on that which is created.

 

Great points. I just read something similar this past week (I read a LOT). :)

 

 

"In a small way, we can see this in our own minds. If we can think of light, then we can also think of its absence. One thought entails the other. So perhaps even God, as the greatest of all possible beings, could not just have thoughts that were all positive. Even in God, if there is a thought of light, there will also be a thought of darkness.

 

"But, we might be tempted to say, could God not keep the thoughts of darkness under control? We are now thinking of God as a person who thinks, and who can keep some thoughts to himself, while making others public - "creating" them as objects. Yet what right do we have to do that? ... We simply have no idea what God may or may not do, or what is involved in creating a universe.

 

"If the universe expresses the thoughts of God, perhaps it would not express those thoughts in a complete way if many thoughts had to be suppressed. ... It could be that some positive - "good" - thoughts could not be adequately expressed without some negative - "bad" - thoughts.

 

"When St. Augustine wrote about this, he used the analogy of a painting. There has to be shade as well as light for a painting to exist. ...

 

"These are no doubt remote analogies for God. But they can give us some idea of how it could be that good things, like love, might entail the possible existence (which we hope will never be realized) of bad things, like the breakdown of relationships. So, in God, the thoughts of some good universes might entail the possibilities of bad things, though God might hope they would not be realized."

 

 

- What the Bible Really Teaches ... (a quote)

Edited by Kay
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Hi loveapple,

 

If I may say, "scary'" is just a thought with no reality unless you choose to perceive it as so. There is no fear in love. You seem to see things as 'good' and 'evil' which is why you see things as 'scary' and cannot reside fully in a place of no fear. To one on a spiritual path it is necessary to get beyond 'good' and 'evil' back to the tree of life. To do so it is helpful to understand just what opposites are.I will include a short writing of mine that perhaps may help clarify the point.

 

What is good and what is evil? This is a question asked throughout the ages. No finite definition has ever come to unanimous agreement and if it had it lasted only for some fleeting moments and then passed away with the society that created it for expediency purposes.

 

Even with our modern nation, what was once considered good to many such as slavery was later thought of as evil. The taking of land from the Indians was once justified by many as good for America but was not deemed as such if you were in the moccasins of an Indian. Time changes circumstances and circumstances changes our definitions. Why is this?

 

It is because the terms good and evil are deemed opposites. The demarcation line of one versus the other is a line subjectively defined as whatever the controlling caste of a society at that time defines. Opinions and positions on such matters change. Killing in the United States now is considered evil but even that has exceptions. When we are involved in War, we make heroes of those who have killed many and dare not call them evildoers.

 

Good and evil, they are abstract terms that only have reality to the individual or society whose mind makes the distinction. Granted, every action or thought has a consequence regardless of where one draws the line between good and evil but nevertheless they are abstract terms of ever changing perceptions. They are terms that have even reversed meanings in history depending upon whose perspective we are looking from.

 

Is good created by God and evil by some other sub-god such as Satan as some religions would have us believe? It would seem that that would not be the case. If God is God and creating good then he must also be the creator of that which is its opposite or evil. One can not hold the title of creator of all things and create an abstract term as good and then blame the creation of the opposite on that which is created. Yet, there is another way to look at it with a deeper understanding. Maybe God is neither creating good nor evil? Perhaps God only created creatures with a mind that had that potential of choice and the ability to make such distinctions if desired.

 

Opposites then are a product of duality of the mind. Perhaps God is the potential yet partakes of neither? Other creatures of creation do not seem to have such distinctions. In the animal kingdom we witness life and death and killing endlessly and yet we neither call it good nor bad. It is accepted as a natural part of life and evolution. Man having evolved as part of creation with a thinking mind is able to create thoughts that are not necessary for survival alone yet are chosen to take command of earth and become a god himself. To do this he needed to make his own rules of operation that could change with his whims and desires. He needed to make himself as independent as possible from the creator himself. He needed to control food supplies and resources so as to no longer seem to be accountable to the rest of creation but only to himself.

 

Evil was thus born in the mind of men. Evil born of opposite scales of right and wrong, good and evil, desirable and undesirable, ugly and beautiful, love and hate and a myriad of other judgments. All perceptions, opening up a Pandora’s Box of demarcation lines changing with his every whim, custom and transient thought. So then, perhaps man did through choice choose good and evil as a subjective reality in which to live and have pleasure of his own seeming creation. If God created neither, those terms are merely illusions created in the melodrama of man’s mind making a reality out of nothing.

 

What need has God for such folly? What need does he have for such absurdities of mind? What need does he whose source of power is unlimited and enemies are none have for a mind that is subject to doubt, hate, anger, jealousy, fear and guilt? What need would he have for revenge and war? What need does he who is complete and knows all things have for thinking or even language of such terms? What need does God, whose completeness is peace and existence is love, have for desires and the affairs of men who through choice choose folly for transient and fleeting moments of happiness and pleasure rather than his eternal essence present within them? What is good and what is evil? A conundrum, a riddle I say. They are but illusions of man’s mind that have no basis in the presence of reality in God.

 

Love in Christ,

JM

 

 

I don't quite understand what you are saying Joseph. Slavery was always evil, so was taking Native American land, the perception was different, neither action was ever good.

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I don't quite understand what you are saying Joseph. Slavery was always evil, so was taking Native American land, the perception was different, neither action was ever good.

 

Hi loveapple,

 

The point being in whose eyes was it 'good'. To the slave owner it was 'good', to the slave it was 'evil'. To the American Indian the taking of his land was 'badl' in his eyes but to the United States at the time it seemed 'good'. "To him that esteems something to be evil, to him it is evil".

 

They are concepts of mind, not spirit. God is a spirit. God partakes of neither. Good and evil are not created by God but rather by the mind of man who decided to partake of it. (Relates to Garden Story and tree of the knowledge of 'Good' and 'evil'.)

 

In reality, evil does not exist, neither does ugly, neither does hate, etc.. etc.. That is unless you consider this temporary abode reality, then for you they might exist but only in mind.

 

Hope this helps,

Love in Christ,

JM

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(snip)

"These are no doubt remote analogies for God. But they can give us some idea of how it could be that good things, like love, might entail the possible existence (which we hope will never be realized) of bad things, like the breakdown of relationships. So, in God, the thoughts of some good universes might entail the possibilities of bad things, though God might hope they would not be realized."

- What the Bible Really Teaches ... (a quote)

 

Hi Kay,

 

Interesting entire post. I just took the bottom part here to clarify a point. The last sentence of the quote you used says 'though God might hope they would not be realized' . My experience precludes the possiblity that God 'hopes' anything. God is complete, omnipresent, and best described in words as perfect peace and love. The attributes of mans mind do not apply to God. Mind is phenomena and not essence.

 

Love in Christ,

JM

 

PS Your quotation of one point I made did not include the rest of the paragraph which might give the wrong context to a reader so I am pasteing in the entire paragraph for clarification.

Is good created by God and evil by some other sub-god such as Satan as some religions would have us believe? It would seem that that would not be the case. If God is God and creating good then he must also be the creator of that which is its opposite or evil. One can not hold the title of creator of all things and create an abstract term as good and then blame the creation of the opposite on that which is created. Yet, there is another way to look at it with a deeper understanding. Maybe God is neither creating good nor evil? Perhaps God only created creatures with a mind that had that potential of choice and the ability to make such distinctions if desired.
Edited by JosephM
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My experience precludes the possiblity that God 'hopes' anything. God is complete, omnipresent, and best described in words as perfect peace and love. The attributes of mans mind do not apply to God. Mind is phenomena and not essence.

 

Love in Christ,

JM

 

I find it interesting that you preclude using a term like "hope" but not peace and love (which are just as much attributes of man's mind as hope is).

 

I think the "parts" of this reality can tell us just as much about God as realizing that all parts are unified.

 

And I come at this from the perspective that Christ demonstrated to us what God is like. I'd say Christ had "hope" for his disciples, for all mankind.

 

But that's cool. :)

 

My experience is very different from yours it seems.

 

PS Your quotation of one point I made did not include the rest of the paragraph which might give the wrong context to a reader so I am pasteing in the entire paragraph for clarification.

 

Sorry. Just snipped for bandwidth brevity. Not meaning to quote you out of context.

Edited by Kay
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I find it interesting that you preclude using a term like "hope" but not peace and love (which are just as much attributes of man's mind as hope is).

 

I think the "parts" of this reality can tell us just as much about God as realizing that all parts are unified.

 

And I come at this from the perspective that Christ demonstrated to us what God is like. I'd say Christ had "hope" for his disciples, for all mankind.

 

But that's cool. :)

 

My experience is very different from yours it seems.

Sorry. Just snipped for bandwidth brevity. Not meaning to quote you out of context.

 

I did that because 'hope' doesn't exist in completeness. Love and peace are the best words I can use for essence of God which is really undefineable in words but do not contradict completeness. 'Hope' is incomplete. When 'knowing' comes there is no more need for hope. I guess I'm saying that God knows, he doesn't hope and hence my comment on the quotation you posted. Just linguistics I guess.

JM

Edited by JosephM
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Scary, yes, imo. Esp. the parts about running foriegn policy or environmental policy based on apocalypical visions. I don't think it's new though-- other people have stated the case as well. However, I don't think it is just an extension of what occured during the Nixon or Reagan administrations. Right wing religious views may have been supported at times, but weren't so pivotal. Even during Bush sr. admin (I think Bush Sr. is an Episcopalian, btw-- not a fundamentalist). The EPA started, and was very strong, in the Nixon administration. I had a good friend who worked for it back then. Nixon was a paranoid, perhaps, but I think some of the things he did pale in comparison to the acts of the Bush administration. However, I think the influence of the Religious Right wing has increased over the past ten or even 15 years. So maybe that's what you meant?

 

I don't know if Bush shares the views expressed by some fundamentalist Christians about the Apocolypse and Israel, but at least his actions (or non-actions-- sitting around and waiting as long as they did) and his speech (all the "evil doers", etc. etc.) would certainly seem sympathetic anyway. I'm pretty sure they are part of Bush's very bright set of advisors.

 

--des

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  • 1 month later...

Karen Armstrong has now written an important response to the recent misguided speech of the Pope > http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1874653,00.html

 

TITLE > We cannot afford to maintain these ancient prejudices against Islam

 

EXCERPT > The Pope's remarks were dangerous, and will convince many more Muslims that the west is incurably Islamophobic.

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Karen Armstrong is worse than a fool, she's a fool with a megaphone.

 

Anyone interested in beig reasonable in this whole thing should actually read what Pope Benedict XVI actually said. The text of the speech can be found here.

 

The whole article and situation which has arisen since Pope Benedict XVI spoke at Regensburng University on September 12 would be laughable if it weren't for the physical violence, death threats and murder coming from the Muslims. After all, does anyone really expect the Pope to say that a religion which necessarily demands the denial of the central Christian doctrine, the Divinity of Christ, is fine with him? Come on.

 

To begin with, Karen Armstrong tells a few blatant lies in her article,

 

Last week, Pope Benedict XVI quoted, without qualification and with apparent approval, the words of the 14th-century Byzantine emperor Manuel II: "Show me just what Muhammad 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."

 

Whether or it not it would be terrible for him to say that Islam was a religion founded on the sword is irrelevant. The fact is that His Holiness did in fact qualify it, and has qualified many times since. From his address

 

In the seventh conversation (???????? - 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, a brusqueness which leaves us astounded, 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 (???? ????) 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 Hazm 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.

 

Strike one for Karen Armstrong.

 

Let's take a look at one of her little fibs about the Crusades

 

[...] the Crusaders ended their campaign in 1099 by slaughtering some 30,000 Muslims and Jews in Jerusalem.

 

The Crusades actually ended when the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem fell in 1291 with the capture of Acre by the armies under Khalil of the Malmuk Sultanate. The final battles were joined after the Sultan had declared war on the Christians, despite a Peace Treaty he had signed. Some of the Chrsitians escaped to Cyprus, the rest were murdered.

 

It is always difficult to forgive people we know we have wronged.

 

Oh yeah, those poor Muslims, the Christian Empire of Byzantium just decided to go Muslim. No fighting or aggression there. I can't imagine why we arent begging their forgiveness.

 

Jesus had told his followers to love their enemies, not to exterminate them.

 

One of her few true statements. Of course it so decontextualized by her dhimmitude that it lacks all meaning. While Christian war has and will be controversial, an unfortuante compromise with the world. Muslim war has is sanctioned by the Qu'ran and Mohammed.

 

Surah 47.4

 

Now when ye meet in battle those who disbelieve, then it is smiting of the necks until, when ye have routed them, then making fast of bonds; and afterward either grace or ransom till the war lay down its burdens. That (is the ordinance). And if Allah willed He could have punished them (without you) but (thus it is ordained) that He may try some of you by means of others. And those who are slain in the way of Allah, He rendereth not their actions vain.

 

Surah 2.216-217

 

Warfare is ordained for you, though it is hateful unto you; but it may happen that ye hate a thing which is good for you, and it may happen that ye love a thing which is bad for you. Allah knoweth, ye know not.

hey question thee (O Muhammad) with regard to warfare in the sacred month. Say: Warfare therein is a great (transgression), but to turn (men) from the way of Allah, and to disbelieve in Him and in the Inviolable Place of Worship, and to expel His people thence, is a greater with Allah; for persecution is worse than killing. And they will not cease from fighting against you till they have made you renegades from your religion, if they can. And whoso becometh a renegade and dieth in his disbelief: such are they whose works have fallen both in the world and the Hereafter. Such are rightful owners of the Fire: they will abide therein.

 

Surah 9.5

 

Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

 

Besides all this of course there is the example of Mohammed himself, a military commander who led his armies into battle, defensive and offensive, and raided cravans and other arabic tribes.

 

But back to Karen Armstrong,

 

[...] pointing out that the Catholic church is ill-placed to condemn violent jihad when it has itself been guilty of unholy violence in crusades, persecutions and inquisitions and, under Pope Pius XII, tacitly condoned the Nazi Holocaust.

 

I've already acknowledged that the Church has participated in fighting, but that when She does it is a compromise with the world, not something commanded by God. Unfortuantely, Karen Armstrong is so illitterate about history she thinks that Pope Pius XII "tacitly" supported Hitler.

 

She is obviously ignorant of the Pope's radio address in January 1940 in which he decried, "The horror and inexcusable excesses committed on a helpless and a homeless people have been established by the unimpeachable testimony of eye-witnesses." which were being committed in Poland. Or his Christmas radio address in 1942 where he commented on, "all who during the war have lost their Fatherland and who, although personally blameless, have simply on account of their nationality and origin, been killed or reduced to utter destitution."

 

Further, she ignores that during the war His Holiness Pope Pius XII attempted to set up immigratio programs for Jews to flee to Brazil (and eventually to 13 other Latin American countries), he protested vigorously to the members of governments deporting Jews and passing restrictive statutes on them. He was prepared to lend gold for a ransom to the Jews of Rome and later hid 477 Jews in the Vatican proper and another 4,238 in various monasteries and convents.

 

In recognition of the Pope's work in helping European Jewry, the World Jewish Council, gave money to the Pope, "in recognition of the work of the Holy See in rescuing Jews from Fascist and Nazi persecutions."

 

But of course, no one has to take my word for it, as I would naturally defend a Pope. How about the Chief Rabbi of Rome during the war, Israel Zolli, was so moved by the example of Pope Pius XII that he converted to Catholicism and took the baptismal name Pius in tribute.

 

Karen Armstrong continues,

 

Coming on the heels of the Danish cartoon crisis[...]

 

You mean that one where some people in Denmark drew pictures of Mohammed (some caricatures, other simply pictures of a man in the desert)? and embassies were burnt down and people killed? Ooops, my mistake... religion of peace... religion of peace. How can those Danes even sleep for being so intolerant and provocative?

 

The 9/11 terrorists, who in fact violated essential Islamic principles[...]

 

Which are those Ms, Armstrong?

 

The early conquests in Persia and Byzantium after the Prophet's death were inspired by political rather than religious aspirations. Until the middle of the eighth century, Jews and Christians in the Muslim empire were actively discouraged from conversion to Islam, as, according to Qur'anic teaching, they had received authentic revelations of their own.

 

Some were actively discouraged because the Sultans needed the jizya tax to keep royal coffers full. Of course, they also had to fully accept their roles as dhimmis, with fewer rights than Muslims politically and religously (no building of churches or synagogues, no repairing of these already existing buildings, no proselytizing, no public displays of worship, no public displays of anything non-Muslim, wearing distinctive clothing, etc.)

 

As we see the violence - in Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon - for which we bear a measure of responsibility, there is a temptation, perhaps, to blame it all on "Islam".

 

That's right, ignore those imams and fatwas. Those terrorists holding qu'rans and chating "Takfir!". Nothing religous here, it's all whitey's fault. Bad whitey!

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I greatly applaud the articles and writings of Karen Armstrong. I have read her autobiography "The Spiral Staircase" in which she describes her struggle to find her place in the world. Yet her long, almost nun-like, study of the Religious History, enables her to speak with authority on the Muslem-Christian conflict of our time.

 

The Christian story describes Jesus as speaking out against the religious fundamentalist authorities of his time. He was killed for it. To me, in standing up against our misconceptions of Islem; in speaking up ahainsdt the fundamerntalism of both faiths, Armstrong is a Christian, following the example of Jesus.

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I greatly applaud the articles and writings of Karen Armstrong. I have read her autobiography "The Spiral Staircase" in which she describes her struggle to find her place in the world. Yet her long, almost nun-like, study of the Religious History, enables her to speak with authority on the Muslem-Christian conflict of our time.

 

The Christian story describes Jesus as speaking out against the religious fundamentalist authorities of his time. He was killed for it. To me, in standing up against our misconceptions of Islem; in speaking up ahainsdt the fundamerntalism of both faiths, Armstrong is a Christian, following the example of Jesus.

 

I sure wish I knew how to get the extremists in both religions to put down their swords -- verbal as well as real guns and bombs and missiles -- and start to actually listen to each other and develop mutual respect. This requires a humility and gentleness and patience and kindness which are at the core of both religions but you would never know it when listening to the extremists of either religion.

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I sure wish I knew how to get the extremists in both religions to put down their swords -- verbal as well as real guns and bombs and missiles -- and start to actually listen to each other and develop mutual respect. This requires a humility and gentleness and patience and kindness which are at the core of both religions but you would never know it when listening to the extremists of either religion.

 

Reza Aslan, in his book No god but God, is a Muslim writer who gives a balanced and interesting history of Islam from the perspective of one who wants his religion to undergo a reformation. Given that there are also Christians who seek out a new reformation of their own faith, I would like to believe that progressives of both faiths can come together in mutual respect and understanding. (The fundies of both religions, on the other hand, are obviously a huge problem for societies around the world.)

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I heard a really good commentary by a Muslim woman on NBC's Evening News around a week ago. She said that she wished that the Pope had NOT apologized for his words, because the individuals' that are yelling (and unfortunately killing) haven't even heard the speech.

 

Warning - the following is sarcasm:

 

"Hey I know what we'll do! We'll prove that Islam isn't used as a tool for evil by, let's see, killing a nun. Yeah, that'll show 'em." :rolleyes:

 

Perhaps the words that the Pope QUOTED would have been better left unsaid, but good grief ... Over react much?

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I heard a really good commentary by a Muslim woman on NBC's Evening News around a week ago. She said that she wished that the Pope had NOT apologized for his words, because the individuals' that are yelling (and unfortunately killing) haven't even heard the speech.

 

Warning - the following is sarcasm:

 

"Hey I know what we'll do! We'll prove that Islam isn't used as a tool for evil by, let's see, killing a nun. Yeah, that'll show 'em." :rolleyes:

 

Perhaps the words that the Pope QUOTED would have been better left unsaid, but good grief ... Over react much?

 

Sadly, those who resort to violence rarely are guided by the truth or any kind of reasoned conversation. Slogans work! And let's always remember that Christian behavior has been no better than Muslim behavior and, unfortunately, these trends continue in our current affairs. Blaming the other faith is just fanning the flames of violence. Since slogans work, the pope should have known better. Very few are ever going to read the whole speech. Christians have a lot of explaining to do for centuries of violence which is now, unfortunately, continuing.

 

Arab-American James Zogby offers a thoughtful and gentle response to the Pope's unfortunate speech > http://www.aaiusa.org/washington-watch/249...urse-in-reality

 

In my blog today I said:

 

+ Washington Watch of the Arab-American Institute offers "Theologian Gets Crash Course in Reality" by James Zogby. Excerpt: "While some apologists attempted to argue that the pontiff’s speech was intended to create dialogue, insulting the very foundations of the “other’s” faith is not a useful approach. As one leading liberal US Catholic theologian argued, a more appropriate message might have been a genuine mea culpa for Manuel’s words, or an apology for Christianity’s own history of violence." Zogby is one of the best commentators on the American scene and deserves to be read frequently. He opposes US policy in The Middle East in a reasonable and informed way. He strives to bring people of all creeds and views together.

 

My blog has a new format. What do you think? Thanks.

Edited by mystictrek
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And let's always remember that Christian behavior has been no better than Muslim behavior and, unfortunately, these trends continue in our current affairs.

Can I ask, what's the metric you're using for making this comparison? Berlin's Deutsche Oper

just cancelled a show containing a scene that displayed the severed heads of Buddha, Jesus, and Mohammad. Berlin officials were apparently afraid of Muslim backlash, given the response to the Danish cartoons and the Pope's comments. As far as I can tell, they weren't concerned about a violent reaction from Christians or Buddhists.

 

Christians have a lot of explaining to do for centuries of violence which is now, unfortunately, continuing.

If you're referring to the Crusades, those have been roundly condemned from every corner of Christianity. I'm not aware of any theological persuasion that thinks the Crusades were justified, and any Christian is quick to say so. What is the "continuing" violence you're referring to?

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I wish Pope Benedict hadn't said that. I'm sure it was taken out of context, but gosh darn if you say these things they will be taken out of context. As a public figure he should know that his words are read in sound bites. Very few people read his whole speech.

 

 

That said it is getting pretty touchy these days with Fundamentalist Moslems going around and killling and plundering over cartoons and words by a pope and other stuff like that. There was a play in Germany NOT done because they were so worried about the security situation which they feel is dire. People's human rights of free speech are getting trampled on. I think the pope has the *right* to say whatever he likes,

without some goon squad coming along.

 

 

I also think you could get some pretty bloody words by reading the Bible out of context though. Just

start in Leviticus wiht everything punishable by death or some other nasty punishment not exactly fitting the crime. You can throw in the sequence about the children being eaten by bears.

 

And whatever the particulars of various historical events, Islam has no corner on a history of bloodiness.

From wholesale witch burning, to silence during the Holocaust (except in a few celebrated cases), to the Inquistion and the Crusades.

 

James, you could tone down your "fool" rhetoric, and nobody would mind.

I take it you disagree strongly. ;-)

 

--des

Edited by des
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Sadly, those who resort to violence rarely are guided by the truth or any kind of reasoned conversation.

 

I don't disagree. In fact, I quite agree. My basic point was that there are idiots and idiotic behaviors on both sides of the fence. It's not all the fault of the big bad Christians or Americans, and it's not all the fault of the big bad Muslims.

 

However, I have no patience for anyone that uses violence as a response to WORDS that they don't like. I've been fed up with the behavior of many Christians for a long time and I have no problem saying so. (Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson are asses, for example). Now I'm finding that I can say I'm fed up with the crap from Muslims too, and to hell with political correctness. :)

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des:

 

James, you could tone down your "fool" rhetoric, and nobody would mind.

I take it you disagree strongly. ;-)

 

des, how could you tell? But seriously, there are things that you can't call other than what they are, no matter how much we wish they would smell like roses.

 

I wish Pope Benedict hadn't said that. I'm sure it was taken out of context, but gosh darn if you say these things they will be taken out of context. As a public figure he should know that his words are read in sound bites. Very few people read his whole speech.

 

His Holiness isn't a politician or just a "public figure" his role is to be the Vicar of Christ, the Head of the Visible Church (whether you agree or not about the Pope's importance, you must recognize that Catholics see him this way and given that he is primarily addressing us, this is the most important view). It isn't his job to speak in sound bites, it's his job to defend the Faith and inform the Faithful.

 

I also think you could get some pretty bloody words by reading the Bible out of context though.

 

If you are saying I misquoted the Qu'ran (which you seem to be) than feel free to re-insert the context you think I'm missing. The fact of the matter is that the Koran authorizes open-ended war against non-Muslims because allah has made Muslims the rulers of the Earth.

 

And whatever the particulars of various historical events, Islam has no corner on a history of bloodiness.

From wholesale witch burning, to silence during the Holocaust (except in a few celebrated cases), to the Inquistion and the Crusades.

 

Again, I haven't denied that Christians have fought, killed, massacred etc. But the important distinction is that the book that Muslims hold to be the literal, uncreated word of allah (a perfect book existing eternally in Heaven which can only be rightly expressed in Arabic) not only allows in certain cases (like in the Bible, the Jews made war in specific cases, with clearly limited targets), but in all cases, an unceasing war against non-Muslims (unless they choose to become Muslims or give up their human rights, namely dhimmitude). Jesus specifically warned Christians about making war and committing violence. Christians who do so live in tension between many earthly needs (peace, security, defence of the poor and weak) and the words of their God, Muslims live no such tension.

 

Islam does not corner the history on bloodshed, but their god and prophet corner the scriptures and example on authorizing it.

 

des, no disrespect (or personal attack) in mostly responding to you, but you're the only one who will respond to me, no point in pretending to talk to anyone else (DCJ excepted).

 

DCJ:

 

As far as I can tell, they weren't concerned about a violent reaction from Christians or Buddhists.

 

As Kathy Shaidle might say, it's the 54284th riot-free day in Lourdes...

 

If you're referring to the Crusades, those have been roundly condemned from every corner of Christianity. I'm not aware of any theological persuasion that thinks the Crusades were justified, and any Christian is quick to say so. What is the "continuing" violence you're referring to?

 

This seems to be an unduly harsh criticism of what was essentially a series of defensive wars. So I guess what I'm trying to say nicely is that I for one, represent a theoogical persuasion which doesn't roundly condemn the Crusades, you would find that the Catholic Church, as an institution, is also fairly ambivalent about them.

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I want to re-focus on the beginning of this thread for a bit. This 'religious right' is made up of two seperate elements. The first element is the politically and economically ultra-conservative mind-set that already shows a willingness to adopt facism in order to enforce its agenda on society. This is not hysteria or conclusion jumping, it's a fact. The current CEO of United States, Inc., Geo. Bush, and his regime, are not as rabid as their constituency, but use them as a power base. The other element is religion. Combine the two and you have a weapon that, when used by calculating individuals like Bush/Cheny/etc., can be aimed at any place or at anyone who criticizes or attempts to organize against the imperialist policies of US, Inc. Having said that, we must not be afraid of the regime and its current powerbase, but of the inability of liberals to organize in any meaningful way AGAINST this 'religious right'. The most I've seen done is to be told to vote for pathetic Demublican or Republicrat politicians. Let us learn the lessons of the civil rights and anti-war struggles of the 1960s...fill the Washington Mall with people demanding an end to the Iraqi oil field wars...demand an end to the constant equating of Christ with the politics of death, power, greed, and hate, etc. etc. Until liberals get some backbone and stand up to the religio-facsists, we will remain nothing more than a target.

Edited by Russ
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