Monday, September 18, 2006

You may not always be infallible, but when you're right you're right

So Pope Benedict gives a dry, scholarly lecture defending the importance of reason in religion (a topic that should be dear to the heart of most UUs), in which he happens to quote a medieval Byzantine emperor who noted that there is a tendency toward violence within Islam, and that it is evil. An excerpt:

"In the seventh conversation edited by Professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the jihad (holy war). The emperor must have known that Sura 2, 256 reads: 'There is no compulsion in religion.' It 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 turns to his interlocutor somewhat brusquely with the central question on the relationship between religion and violence in general, in these words:

"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 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 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...."

And some Muslims get so insulted that they start shooting nuns and burning churches, just to prove the Pope wrong.

Except that instead, they prove him right.



At September 18, 2006 at 11:25:00 PM EDT, Blogger Seven Star Hand said...

Hello Fausto and all,

There is no truth without discernment and taking this situation out of context will never solve this world's problems. The straw that breaks the camel's back always follows the results of earlier deeds.

The Pope's choice of words was brain dead, in my humble opinion, if he was seeking to spread peace. He could have appealed for cooler heads and humility from all sides using any other words, but instead he chose to quote Crusade era hypocrisy that was guaranteed to inflame Muslims. Now we see the backtracking and spinning that always follows the gaffes of those afraid of simply telling the truth.

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

The "infallible" Grand Inquisitor (the pot) sought to lecture Islam (the kettle) about spreading religion through dark deeds by quoting a Dark Ages text while the USA and Europe are in the midst of the Neo-Crusades. The irony and absurdity in this situation is amazing, to say the least. It evidences both the fallacy and fallibility of those who vainly and arrogantly pretend to serve the Creator.

Dear Pope, ever heard of Karma or the golden rule? Ever stop to remember how the Vatican and western nations became so rich and powerful over the centuries? Ever consider giving up your blood drenched wealth and earthly power to end the blatant hypocrisy of your vane, materialistic, and duplicitous empire? Ever think of forgoing your peacock's robes to walk the walk instead of simply talking the talk? Remember the "eye of the needle" and "log and mote in the eye" parables? Is this a demonstration of your infallibility, wisdom, or utter blindness? As another wise one once said; What goes around comes around!

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

Guess what guys and girls, war, violence, and injustice are evil, no matter what the excuse or cause or who is doing it to whom. Anyone who thinks the Creator would judge religion, war, or any other profiteering at the expense of others as wise or acceptable activities has a very big surprise in store.

Here is Wisdom!!
...and here too...

At September 18, 2006 at 11:48:00 PM EDT, Blogger Bill Baar said...

Sinkford really needs to speak in support of Benedict. Ratizinger was defending a reasonable and rational Christian faith.

I don't believe a majority of Muslims support these folks out there calling for the Pope's death, but there is enough hysteria out there that Liberal Religious leaders really need to stand up to them.

We shouldn't ignore this.

At September 18, 2006 at 11:56:00 PM EDT, Blogger LaReinaCobre said...

They proved him right about what?

At September 19, 2006 at 8:17:00 AM EDT, Blogger Magdalene6127 said...

Thank you for posting this thoughtful piece. I take it you have access to the full text of the pope's speech? Can you direct me to that?

This is the first time I have understood what he was actually trying to say. I still think, given the times, he could have made his point without that direct quote. But the reactions seem out of step with the quote in context.

Ours is a world that has lost touch with context.


At September 19, 2006 at 1:39:00 PM EDT, Blogger Magdalene6127 said...

Oh... I just noticed the link. Thanks!


At September 19, 2006 at 7:27:00 PM EDT, Blogger The Emerson Avenger said...

Well the Pope is actually seriously wrong about one thing that he said in his recent lecture and it has nothing to do with Islam. . .

Herewith the text of a recent letter to the editor that I sent to the Times -

Sir, Some Muslims have taken offence to the Pope's recent words about Islam and are demanding a retraction and apology. Ironically the most foolish and least truthful thing that the Pope said in his lecture isn't even about Islam. It is what he said about the nature of God. The Pope's assertion that "violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul" is open to considerable question and, within the context of Christianity, seems to be patently dishonest.

All that Pope Benedict has to do is read his Bible to learn that God is perfectly capable of committing acts of extreme violence. In fact, if Christians and Jews, (to say nothing of Muslims and various other faiths that accept the Bible as a "Holy Book") are to believe certain stories that are told in the Bible, they have to believe that God is ready, willing, and able to behave like a genocidal war criminal. I personally do not believe that God ever actually flooded the whole world, willfully destroyed whole cities and kingdoms, or commanded the ancient Hebrews to commit horrendous acts of violence that by modern moral, ethical, and legal standards would clearly and unequivocally constitute mass murder, war crimes, and even genocide; yet the Bible tells me that God did so.

Even if one completely disregards the Biblical record that clearly speaks of God's capacity for extreme violence one need only look to Nature, and what many modern scientists often call this "Violent Universe", to quite readily see that violence is by no means "incompatible" with the Nature of God.

Perhaps Pope Benedict XVI owes God a retraction if not an apology.


Robin Edgar

At October 14, 2006 at 3:37:00 PM EDT, Blogger Jaume said...

The Catholic doctrine teaches that the Pope is not always infallible. In fact, only occasionally he is so.

According to the doctrine, the Pope is infallible only when he speaks "ex cathedra", i.e. in full and conscious use of his position as head of the Church, being announced in advance, and on issues of doctrine and faith.


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