Friday, September 15, 2006

That's not good... that's not good at all.

The way I see it, if the Pope really didn't mean to insult Islam with his comments, then he's not the sharpest Pope in the drawer. If he meant every word of it the way it came out, the vatican might want a new Pope, cause this guy is going to cause some big time trouble. If he wanted to talk about religious violence he should have looked at his own faith's bloody past first and foremost, from there he certainly could have brought things to the more topical state of Islam. Any way you cut it though, saying that Muhammad brought nothing but evil is just not smart. We've got enough religious termoil in the world right now without cracking open the crusades all over again!
“The emperor comes to speak about the issue of jihad, holy war,” the pope said. “He said, I quote, ’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.”’
What the heck was he thinking?

23 Comments:

Blogger The Dark Lady said...

Hm. Not sure how that was particularly useful and constructive.

10:57 AM  
Blogger Waldo Jaquith said...

"Not the sharpest Pope in the drawer."

The phrase is a keeper. :)

10:57 AM  
Blogger The Dark Lady said...

(his quote, that is)

10:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quotes out of context are dangerous animals. Judge, yes, but first, read the whole thing (even if you do have to cut and paste the rather lengthy url):

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/15_09_06_pope.pdf

1:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

definitely a cut-and-paste -- had to put it on two lines (do take the trouble -- it's worth the read):

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/bsp/
hi/pdfs/15_09_06_pope.pdf

1:17 AM  
Blogger Cory Capron said...

Thanks. I'll give feedback on the reading when I can.

11:58 AM  
Blogger Cory Capron said...

Again, thank you. It was indeed a good read. I look forward to he subsequent version complete with footnotes (and hopefully cleared of what appeared to be multiple text glitches).

I agree with you that the information is indeed out of context to a degree from what was reported originally. I can even accept the Pope's statement that the quote was not a reflection of his personal feelings towards Islam. However, my original statements (which had obvious venom in their wit from bewildered outrage) were not so much in defense of Islam as much as they were in the Pope’s lack of tact. That said, I don't agree with the quote at all. I merely say this to point out that I'm not motivated by a religious bias over this. I can find good and bad in both faiths and wish not to take this in that direction were anyone else to engage me.

In his lecture, the pope refers beforehand to the controversial quote as being of "startling brusqueness." Though eloquent, this in no way reflects a disagreement with the underlying point of the statement, only at best the audacious choice of words. Though I do think he probably did not mean to imply such, suspicion is nonetheless justifiable by the lack either overt dismissal or the humility to comment on corresponding shortcomings in followers of the Catholic faith throughout history (the brutality towards Native Americans for example, and the justification of manifest destiny). In Pope Benedict XVI’s detachment, he leaves himself open for criticism when evoking such an agitating and offensive statement during a time when Islam is in the spotlight, under heavy criticism throughout the West, and overall an incredibly sensitive subject. This detachment becomes doubly vulnerable when one questions the necessity of the quote within his lecture. The relevance of the conversations between the Byzantine emperor and Persian is clear, as is the issue of conversion through violence in how it pertains to the lecture topic of faith and reason (hey Tim, if you haven’t read it yet, this is a great compliment to your recent blog entry on the same) in religion. However, the specific statement that Muhammad brought nothing new but things “evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached” seems unnecessary, especially when it’s one of only two quotes taken from their conversations. Perhaps had he quoted more, his detachment would easier to accept due to a more palpable contextual separation between his stance and that of the emperor. As it stands though, the statement is blunt and in our face, and though he acknowledges some of that bluntness, he evades the discriminatory implications that the bluntness propels and encases.

In short I still think he was careless in his use of the quote. Islam is a sensitive issue, and few people are as impressionable in the world as the Pope, as such a great deal of responsibility lies upon him. The burden of such responsibility is that nothing can merely go without saying, especially something as delicate as this.

12:23 AM  
Anonymous anna said...

editor's note:
"make as much of an impression . . ."
;)

7:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Capron,

Thank you, not only for taking the time out of a scholar’s busy schedule to read the lecture, but also for your care and time in responding. I suspect that, in the end, we shall have to agree to disagree; however, I would submit my reasons for that suspicion

You have suggested that the Pope was careless in choosing the ultimately offensive quote. My reading of his text suggests that, on the contrary, it was the quote itself that inspired his reflections; thus the quote was seminal to his arguments. That the quote is “brusque” is witness to the degree to which the practice of jihad was incomprehensible to the emperor. Note that between his prepared text and the actual address, the Pope’s diction changed from “somewhat brusque” to “startlingly brusque”. It was not merely the emperor’s contention that “not acting reasonably is contrary to God’s nature”, but also the very vehemence of the emperor’s words that prompted the Pope to expound on the historic understanding of the relationship between reason and faith.

You have suggested that he might have quoted more of the dialogue, so as to clarify the distinction between his own words and those of the emperor; however, as he points out early in his address, “The dialogue ranges widely . . .” and “In this lecture [he] would like to discuss only one point-- itself rather marginal to the dialogue itself.” This implies a dearth of quotable material on the subject.

As for the book itself, it is not surprising that the Pope would draw from what is a fairly recent work(1) that addresses what is certainly a present concern for his flock, i.e. the relationship between the three major religions of the world.

Regarding your suggestion that the Pope, having failed to cite the offenses of the Catholic Church, lacks credibility, I would point out that, in unfortunate contrast to Islam, whose leadership have yet to condemn the present practice of violent jihad, the Vatican has repeatedly, formally apologized for the transgressions of the Catholic Church(2). How much more is required?

To your point that, for the Pope, “nothing goes without saying”, I would respond that he left nothing out of his address. The choice to extract and publish the only potentially inflammatory words contained therein, words that to any reader or hearer of the full address are clearly not his own, lay entirely with the members of the press who wrote the headlines and sound bites of the day – sadly, the only ‘news’ most people make the effort to receive. To me, the response of the Islamic world reflects more on the current state of Islam and on the toxic abuse of a free press than on the Pope himself.

Well, there it is, such as it is.
Best regards,
Anonymous

1. Recently a book on Islam was published in Italian by EMI with the title "I fondamenti dell Islam. Un introduzionem a partire dalla fonte: il Corano". The book, originally in German, is written by Adel Theodore Khoury from Lebanon, who, until 1996, was professor at Muenster University in Germany. The book presents the figure of Mohammad, his life and mission and shows that the Prophet understood the relation between the religions of the Book, the Jewish religion, Christianity and Islam: it could
be useful for promoting Christian/ Muslims relations.
[Fides News Service (Rome), 11/6/99]

2.http://www.americamagazine.org/catholicnews.cfm?articleTypeID=29&textID=2057&issueID=281
“Pronouncing the apology for Christian intolerance in the past was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger [aka Benedict XVI] . . .”

6:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aha! Those long urls show up in full if you click on the post from the sidebar -- cool!

6:52 PM  
Blogger The Dark Lady said...

Having read MSNBC, cory capron's comments, anonymous' comments, and the words of the Pope:
it seems a poor reflection on the reasoning of the radical members of the Muslim community that a historical quote taken out of context should incite them to riot. One would hope that they would choose to examine the original document and the full text of the Pope's lecture before engaging in such rash behavior. By behaving thus, they are only increasing the prejudice and fear that already exists towards them by confirming the suspicions of non-Muslims.

The words of the Pope can be used as an excuse for continued destruction.
It might have been better had he not used that particular quote in order to avoid altogether the misuse of his words, but in the context of his original lecture on the history of Reason and Faith, it may have been the best support of his topic and use of that particular ancient text for that portion of his lecture. Alas, due to my lack of knowledge of the original medieval text, I cannot say for certain.

In other words, the Pope may have needed to look at that quote from a few more angles before using it, but that hardly gives terrorists the right to destroy the buildings of civilians of differing faiths.

8:12 PM  
Blogger The Dark Lady said...

in other other words, I see no good answer -- in one case, a speaker must continually watch what is said for fear of offense, in the other, a people must endure continued insults . . .
this is why I give up and drink a large cup of tea.

8:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, it's terrible how, after Bush issued that death warrent for Chavez, the streets of the US were filled today with people burning Hugo Chavez in effigy along with the Venezuelan flag; torching their embassy and shooting that poor Venezuelan nun in the back just for being Venezuelan? Horrific!
Oh, wait -- wrong people! So very sorry.

9:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ahem, *warrant*, not warrent -- all credibility now scattered to the four winds, no doubt -- alas!

9:52 PM  
Blogger The Dark Lady said...

I was hardly saying the two were equal -- one is a statement that can be read as a faux pas, the other is a violent and destructive reaction. Bit of a difference, there . . .

10:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Dark Lady,
I am sorry. I fear you misconstrue. I was responding to this:
"in one case, a speaker must continually watch what is said for fear of offense, in the other, a people must endure continued insults . . ."
Wherein I find a difficulty in fairly accusing the Pope of a deliberate insult (as opposed to Chavez' "Diablo" comment to the giggling UN), or even of a faux pas.

Please forgive the sarcasm and the digression.

10:54 PM  
Blogger The Dark Lady said...

Fair enough. Note the "can be read" prefacing the "faux pas."
I was attempting to give two perspectives in one sentence, not necessarily voice my own particular opinion. Looks as though it was too brief to convey the meaning.
Ah well.

More Tea!

11:10 PM  
Blogger Cory Capron said...

Anonymous #1

Thanks for your patience. In the past when I’ve said I’ll have to get back to something, and then do, I never hear from that person again. Furthermore I’d like to compliment you for your manner of conduct. I swear I’m not trying to kiss up by saying that. I’ve been following blogs for the Marshall-Newman amendment debate and the Allen vs. Webb campaign and though it would be a great disservice to a lot of people to say that both have been nothing but wild animals going at each other with rusty forks… as a result of quite a few bad apples it is genuinely refreshing to have a nice civil discussion. It has in fact worked well to your advantage. Had you come at me hellfire and brimstone, we would have probably gotten nowhere. It’s a quality I’ve observed in several Catholics I’ve known over the years and respected the faith for seeming to produce. I will go so far as too agree with you that the news report was misinforming. The rest I simply want to reconsider when I have the time to do so.

Another thing I want to make absolutely clear is that my outrage and more considered point of criticism was and is rooted in a concern of violence. Islam is, much like Christianity, a peaceful religion… but it does have its radicals and currently it has some very violent interpretations out there. Though I’m not beyond questioning the Pope’s motive, at the end of the day I am more concerned with how the words can be used by those same people that use the Koran to justify violence.

I’d like to continue this discussion with that understanding. But for now I am swamped academically and in life. Once again, I’ll get back to this when I’m able.

Thanks again and take care.

12:45 AM  
Blogger Cory Capron said...

Most of this will still have to wait till I have time to re-read the lecture and your new links, but I'll address this part now.

"Regarding your suggestion that the Pope, having failed to cite the offenses of the Catholic Church, lacks credibility, I would point out that, in unfortunate contrast to Islam, whose leadership have yet to condemn the present practice of violent jihad, the Vatican has repeatedly, formally apologized for the transgressions of the Catholic Church(2). How much more is required?"

Understand that from the news report I was under the impression that the issue of his lecture was conversion through violence, not faith and reason. This shaped my reaction.

As I’ve said already my interest is not to defend Islam with this discussion. I have several reasons for this, including that since I am neither a Catholic or a Muslim nor was I raised as such, my knowledge beyond some basic general points is limited and not ingrained like that of a follower or scholar of scripture. In short, I can’t draw upon things without digging them up and I don’t have that kind of time to devote right now. My criticism is aimed towards weather or not the pope could have prevented agitation and weather that agitation is called for. I will offer this one point though that Islam is, as I’ve understood it, far more complicated than Catholicism in it’s structure of power/authority. What I mean is that with Catholicism, though there are some different forms, they all basically follow the guidance of the Pope. There is only one Pope, therefore it is much easier to say that Catholicism has formally apologized for acts of violence in its past. I’ve heard numerous Muslims disagree with Al-Qaeda, and there are movements in Muslim sects to challenge Osama’s definition of Jihad. The formal apology I think you are looking for is difficult to achieve. After all how long did it take the Catholic Church to make such apologies?

But before we go too far on that tangent, let me be clear that there is a big difference between apology and acknowledgement. I was not asking for an apology for The Crusades. I agree with you that the church has done such. Acknowledgement is a very different creature though. How long does the church have to acknowledge The Crusades less flattering moments or its problems with child molestation or numerous problems in-between such as there lack of outrage towards the Holocaust that Pope John Paul II finally apologized for? How long does America have to acknowledge Native Americans, Slavery, Hiroshima and thousands of other less than flattering moments in our history? How long do we have to acknowledge history?

As the Jewish people and say and John Paul concluded his famous jubilee apology: “Never again.”

We acknowledge and meditate on events that should not be forgotten so that "never again" will we retread tragic paths unnecessarily through ignorance (though sadly there is little to prevent those that retread through arrogance). I’m not saying that the Catholic Church needs to mope around all the time or build a hundred monuments or anything like that. In fact, we’re still a bit off track with this, because I wasn’t talking about the church. I was talking about Pope Benedict XVI. The difference is crucial. He’s still quite new and his stances on some things are not explicitly clear (at least to those that are not close followers of him like myself).
So again, that’s where my criticisms lie. And once again…

To be continued.

4:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Capron,
Thank you for your very kind compliments. I always enjoy the opportunity to engage in genuinely civil discourse. I am grateful for your concession that the press reports of the Pope's address were misleading (though, of course, I would contend deliberately so) -- on that much I had hoped we might agree. The other points, particularly the Pope's culpability in the violence that ensued, I propose we table as irreconcilable for the time being. It was that bone of contention that prompted my initial suspicion that we might have to agree to disagree -- I prefer to fix blame on the violent actors (as having had the "last clear chance", if you will) and those among their leaders who encourage them (with fatwas, and calls for "Death to [insert name here]!"), whereas you place the primary responsibility with the provocateur, as you see him.

At the risk of wearing out your hospitality, I would offer you one more link that I think, if and when you have the time, you will find interesting. In a way, it supports both our positions in that Henninger suggests that the Pope may indeed have been intentionally provocative.

http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/dhenninger/?id=110008979

Best of luck in your studies and thank you again for taking the time and effort to engage in this exchange.

Regards,
Anonymous

P.S. It may surprise you to learn that I intend to vote "No". My personal reasons are chiefly from the perspective that the purpose of the Constitution is to limit government and guarantee freedoms, in this case, especially the freedom to enter into contractual arrangements; whereas marriage is (or ought to be, were it not for our hideous tax system) solely within the purview of the church. However, I found a curious paradox while contemplating the issue: given that some churches do honor and perform same-sex marriages, is not the proposed amendment also an abridgment of the free practice of religion?

10:27 PM  
Blogger Cory Capron said...

I'm not sure if I've made this clear, but I'm not trying to say that any violence as result of this mess is all the pope's fualt, if his at all. Someone says something you don't like and you bomb them... the blood is on your hands. What I'm trying to figure out was if there is any cause to be upset, and I'm only so critical because of his position. I don't want to see innocent Catholics bombed by crazy people led by those that hide behind faiths that you have to wonder how truly loyal they are to the teachings of and how much they are simply hiding behind the fact that a lot of people in the world still feel you can do anything if an invisible person "wills it" and the power that comes from claiming to speak for that person.

Also, I'm really not as stubborn as I seem about this. I'm totally willing to admit I'm wrong. I just haven't found the time to read half of your argument over again. You can't blame a guy for not backing down simply because of the existence of a strong objection? I just haven't had time (if I wasn't enjoying this debate I'd not even be that interested in the issue right now) to read it all and say I agree or not.

"I am grateful for your concession that the press reports of the Pope's address were misleading (though, of course, I would contend deliberately so) -- on that much I had hoped we might agree."

I'm not clear as to what extent you mean. To me, MSN News tends to be the town crier at the end of the long game of musical chairs called The Associative Press. News Media is governed by ratings and paper sales. At the end of the day, people love a scandal; sensationalism sells. So I just assumed as the story spread it got whittled down to the juicy bits and thus fools like me who were misinformed on their way to class go blogging about how the new pope is as crazy Mel Gibson at a Bar Mitzvah. I don’t like to make off the cuff reactionary blog entries, but I’ve been stretched several directions right now and this one managed to slip through.

Take care.

12:46 AM  
Blogger Cory Capron said...

Oh and Anna is quite alive last I heard. ;)

12:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"as crazy Mel Gibson at a Bar Mitzvah."
Heh!
Perhaps we shall have to spar again, now that I've been outed :) -- I'd be delighted to throw a few urls at you to support the agenda-driven-MSM theory (when time allows). For now, thanks again for your hospitality here.
I must away to see a horse about a man.

5:46 AM  

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