Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Popes Divisions

Reuel Marc Gerecht wrote a very good piece in the Wall Street Journal about true ecumenical dialogue as opposed to the 'I'm ok, you're ok, lets not discuss difficult subject matter' dialogue that is currently taking place. I personally call this 'false' dialogue when dialogue skips around the 500 pound guerrilla that is Jihad. Mr. Gerecht explains:
Is the pope wrong to imply--in a rather roundabout way--that there is today something amiss inside Islam, as a community of believers sharing one faith and a long, common cultural tradition? There probably isn't a single liberal editor at a major American or European paper who doesn't think that there is something a little dysfunctional--a disposition that tolerates, if not encourages and admires, violence as expression of religious outrage--among young Muslim males from Northern Europe to Indonesia... Many Muslims know it too, even if they are not inclined to say so publicly--it's often dangerous and always enormously difficult for believing and nonbelieving Muslims to aggressively critique their own when they know non-Muslims are listening. Self-described Muslim intellectuals (often meaning the traditionally devout, clerics) really have a hard time engaging in self-criticism that fortifies non-Muslim critiques of Islamic society... And self-confidence is a huge problem. Militarily triumphant in the past, traditional Muslims had an easier time being tolerant toward the minorities in their midst; they certainly were unperturbed by the theological arguments and invective put forth by practitioners of a superseded faith. As many believing Muslims have become less self-confident--and the world around them has become ever more incongruent with the imagined, pure world of early Islam, when the faithful were unceasingly victorious because they were more perfect in their submission to God's will--they have become more acutely conscious and aggressive about their Muslim identity. Clerics in London, Copenhagen, Cairo or Tehran dictating terms about the appropriate comportment of non-Muslims toward believers has naturally followed... Pope Benedict nailed two facts about Islam that are contributing factors to the faith's very rough entry into modernity. The prophet Muhammad, the model for all Muslims, established the faith through war and conquest. His immediate successors, the Rightly Guided Caliphs, whom traditional and radical Muslims cherish, reinforced Islam's identity as a victorious faith through the rapid creation of a world empire...
It would be wise to be forthright and sincere on both sides of the divide rather than let Muslims shut down dialogue with a childish reaction of vitriolic language and senseless violence. To read the WSJ article in full click here.


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