Was Pope Trying to Start a Debate That Should be Had?

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by Adam's Apple, Sep 27, 2006.

  1. Adam's Apple
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    The Reality of Religion: Putting Things in Context
    By Michael A. Ledeen, American Enterprise Institute
    September 26, 2006

    Everyone from W. on down has been at great pains to assure us and themselves that we have no basic conflict with Islam, that our battle is with some lunatics who say falsely that they speak in the name of Islam. So we feel quite uncomfortable when the pope--quite deliberately--poses a question about Islam itself: Is it capable of responding to reason, or is it, as he put it, completely transcendent, beyond the reach of man, and hence unchallengeable by man under any circumstances?

    It's a big question, not easily reduced to newspeak like "did the pope anticipate the reaction?" Or "did the pope go too far?" That sort of banter is embarrassingly silly. Of course the pope anticipated the reaction, he’s one of the smartest and most learned men in the world, and he's spent a lot of time studying Islam. He wanted to draw a line. He is not prepared to extend total, blind toleration to people who use violence in the name of faith, and he’s challenging the Muslims to answer the real questions.

    That quotation he chose--the one that asks, Is there anything positive that has emerged from the expansion of the domain of Islam?--wasn't generated at random. He picked it quite wittingly. Of course he knows that, for several centuries, Islam conserved the wisdom of the West, the same "Greek" wisdom he invoked as the indispensable partner of Christian faith. He’s defying the Muslims to admit that, because he knows that the jihadis don’t want to hear about it, and that an open debate about it may undermine the sway of so many dogmatic mosques, schools, TV stations, and Internet sites.

    And a surprising number of Europeans understood it, and responded positively. Did you notice that the former archbishop of Canterbury weighed in with a statement even tougher than anything the pope said? Lord Carey said that our problem was not with a minority of Muslims but with Islam itself, whereas the pope left the question open, and called for dialogue. Even the famously wimpy Spanish President Zapatero had words of support, an amazing spectacle for a man who has delighted in flaunting his laicism and challenging numerous Catholic doctrines.

    But I'm afraid that we're not engaging this debate, because our leaders are afraid to do so, and poorly equipped to participate. Our educational system has long since banished religion from its texts, and an amazing number of Americans are intellectually unprepared for a discussion in which religion is the central organizing principle.

    for full article:
    http://www.aei.org/publications/filter.all,pubID.24944/pub_detail.asp
     

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