Friday, September 22, 2006

Houston Chronicle Editorial Redo

The following comes from the September 19 Houston Chronicle Editorial page concerning the recent Muslim rage against our Pope Benedict XVI.
'The ill-chosen words of Pope Benedict XVI and the deranged response of Muslim extremists occupy two different planes of reality. That world leaders and opinion writers have said fairly little about the latter reflects not the extremists' legitimacy but merely their predictability. Carried out by a tiny splinter of the world's billion Muslims, these events get little analysis only because there's not much to say.'
First of all, when well-educated, upper-middle class Pakistani Muslims in Karachi are ‘happy’ that 9/11 occurred and would be willing to die as suicide bombers, this is not a ‘tiny splinter’ of the world’s ‘billion’ Muslims. Not to mention that the 21 perpetrators of 9/11 were well educated Muslims from well-to-do Muslim families.
'With apparently unlimited free time on their hands, the fanatics greeted the pope's words with the equivalent of a small war. They may have murdered a nun caring for sick children in Somalia. They unquestionably firebombed five churches in the West Bank, burned a papal effigy in Iraq and inspired Gaza's "Army of Guidance" to vow vengeance upon Christian targets. Is it news that a cancerous Muslim minority commits crimes under the pretext of faith?'
‘Cancerous Muslim minority’ is wrong again. When a plurality of Muslims believe the Jews were behind the 9/11 bombings, then 'minority' is not the apt word to use here.
'Does it surprise anyone that irrational people answer ideas with violence? Finally, is there the slightest chance that fanatics care about the contempt they inspire in Westerners, including most Western Muslims? All this is why so much attention has flowed instead toward the less serious and more forgivable gaffe by the pope. As he's consistently shown, Pope Benedict reveres verbal dialogue. So while it may not be proportional, analysis of how Benedict erred is likely to be more fruitful. Plenty of other political and religious leaders, after all, may want to avoid his mistakes.'
Pope Benedict XVI’s lecture at the University of Regensburg was a philosophical and theological analysis of the risk the world takes of separating reason from faith.
'he pontiff erred in two ways: badly choosing his public words in a time of world conflict, and then possibly being disingenuous about why he chose them.'
Number one: let’s assume that the editor has been around for say 40-45 years. The Catholic Church has been dealing with Islam for roughly 1300 years since Mohammad’s Muslim hordes swept into the then Christian Middle-East. I believe 1300 years of Church history truncates 40-45 years of an unlearned editor in relation to Church history, theology, philosophy, and religious current affairs. Number two: Pope Benedict XVI is a gentle man with a heart of gold. A man of his stature doesn’t arrive at the Throne of St. Peter through lies and deceit. He was ‘sorry’ about the reaction to his lecture. Enough said.
'Within Benedict's long, cerebral speech to Bavarian academics, the quote that triggered the uproar indeed seems oddly aggressive. "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman," it begins. The line fails to support any of the pope's later points. Theological tradition, meanwhile, does include the technique of making provocative statements by citing others — then safely distancing oneself from the words. That's what the pontiff said of the Byzantine quote in his speech.'
Um, what do you know of theological tradition. Since when is free speech only applicable to everything else on the planet except ‘theological tradition’?
'It's impossible to know what he really intended when he crowbarred an ancient indictment of all Islam into his dense, scholarly talk. Also unknowable is why he reportedly brushed off warnings about the quote from colleagues.'
Who, and when, and where did these ‘colleagues’ warn the Holy Father? Where do you get your information? Hearsay does not count as fact. Rumor mongering does not count as fact. Since when did anything but the facts become front page news and dissertation?
'At worst, Benedict is guilty of impolitic speech. It just doesn't compare to the blood and fear spread by those enraged by his words. Benedict, though, is a participant in the culture of free speech and conscience. Recognizing that he'd spoken badly, the pontiff chose to honor free speech's other side. He amended his words with a public apology.'

By the way, the proper to refer to 'Benedict' is Pope Benedict XVI. Have some respect.

This is not the only time the Houston Chronicle editorial page has gotten mostly everything wrong about religion, Christianity in particular.


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