20060916

By the Sword

Well, it looks like Pope Benedict XVI is catching a lot of grief for quoting Emperor Manuel II Paleologos of the Byzantine Empire. Back in the 1391, Emperor Manuel II said:

"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."

Here is a quick history lesson for you all. Emperor Manuel II was the father of Constantine XI, the last emperor of the Byzantine Empire. Manuel II was married to Helena Dragas, a Serbian princess. Serbia was absorbed into the Ottoman Empire after the Battle of Kosovo Polje in 1389 (to this day the Serbs will argue that their sacrifice saved Western Europe from certain dominion by the Ottoman Empire). Because the subjects of the Byzantine Empire did not wish to abide by the agreement reached in the Council of Florence in 1452, the remnants of the Byzantine Empire fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453.

I present this brief history lesson to provide some context. The religion of the Ottoman Empire was and is (in modern day Turkey) Islam. The Byzantine Empire was Christian but it was of the Eastern Orthodox variety, a result of its schism from the Roman Catholic faith when the Roman Empire was falling apart. For the Christians of the Byzantine Empire during the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, Islam in the form of the Ottoman Empire was something they truly feared. Over the years European Christians clashed with the Ottoman Muslims numerous times. Dr. Hanson highlights two such battles, Lepanto fought in 1571 and Tours-Poitiers fought in 752, in his book Carnage and Culture.

Back to the quote Muslims around the world are having a hissy over. What about the rest of the speech by Pope Benedict XVI? Key excerpts of his speech are on the BBC website. Ponder the following excerpt:

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….

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.

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?

The BBC has listed quotes from Muslims around the world:

This from Salih Kapusuz, the Deputy Leader of Turkey’s Ak Party:

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.

It’s amusing that Salih Kapusuz, an apologist for Islamic Fascism, compares Pope Benedict to two well known fascists, Hitler and Mussolini. It’s interesting that Kapusuz referred to the Reformation and the Enlightenment when the Muslim faith still hasn’t had something comparable.

How about this one from Sheikh Youssel Al-Qardawi, head of the Islamic Scholars Associaton:

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."

Instead of condemning an academic speech full of complex theological discourse, Al-Qardawi should spend more time condemning the war that Islamic Fascists have declared on the West. I wonder what specific Islamic nation he is referring to or is he actually referring to the transnational Islamic Fascist community? How about Al-Qardawi apologizes for all the senseless deaths that Islamic Fascists have caused?

The prime minister of Malaysia, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has this to say:

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.

How will the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church rectify all the property damage and mayhem rioting Islamic Fascists will cause? Offer to take confession? This goes back to the Western idea of responsibility of ones own actions. There are too many examples of Islamic Fascists blaming the West for their own sordid dysfunctional societies. How about looking at the Pontiff’s speech and having a nice scholarly discussion instead of a bloody riot?

I can go on but I think I have made my point. Christianity has had its martial moments (I claim this land in the name of God and Spain!) but like I said earlier, we have had our Reformation and Enlightenment. All these people criticizing the Pontiff should look to their own societies first. These hypocrites are pointing fingers at us but their religion does have a history of converting people to Islam at the point of a sword or a gun. The journalists that were recently kidnapped in Gaza were freed only when they converted to Islam and they did so at gunpoint.

Back in February of this year I commented a little bit on the furor over the cartoons printed in Denmark. In my post titled Dissent and Tolerance, I pointed out that if the West is going to be critical of Muslims, at least criticize on something of substance. Pope Benedict XVI stated that the Islamic idea that God is so transcendent that “He cannot be seen in terms of human reason.” Violent conversion is not acting in accordance with reason which is contrary to God’s nature. That is a statement loaded with substance and pretty darn hefty to boot.

Pope Benedict XVI will probably express regret that the Muslim world didn’t understand what he was trying to say. This is a man who threw down the gauntlet in front of the College of the Cardinals. During the mass conducted prior to the conclave elevating him to the Papacy, he called on his fellow cardinals to “hold fast to the doctrine of the faith.” I don’t think an apology is coming from this particular pope.

The Muslim world will go on and have its riots. Should someone be forced by the sword to profess ones faith or do it after careful reasoned thought? At least they’re rioting over something worth fighting over instead of a stupid cartoon.

CIAO’
CPT NightHawk

3 Comments:

Blogger Ahmedinajad said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

16 September, 2006 23:01  
Blogger CPT NightHawk said...

I deleted the comment because:

A. The poster had a Blogger account but no blog or profile.

B. His comment did not carry the discussion further.

I have big shoulders so I can handle criticism however I will not tolerate oxygen thieves wasting the time of people reading my blog.

17 September, 2006 11:03  
Anonymous flaggazer said...

I've been watching churches being firebombed and nuns murdered on the tube today - which doesn't surprise me, but does saddened me deeply.

I also just saw some videos at http://www.samuraisoapbox.com/ that are about the gist of your writing. They are very disturbing.

I wish the west would open their eyes and see what we are facing.

thank you for your clarity on the topic.

17 September, 2006 21:42  

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