Thursday, September 21, 2006

The second speech

I was rather surprised to learn, upon looking through the Belmont Club archives, that Pope Benedict's speech at Regensburg was not the first time that he spoke on the subject of Islam. The post was  Domine, Quo Vadis? and written on August 21, 2005. It seems clear in retrospect that Benedict XVI was attempting very early on in his papacy to address the central question of the war from a theological point of. At the time I wrote:

Here's the full text of Pope Benedict XVI's speech to Muslims on the subject of combating terrorism in the world today. Benedict's verbatim speech should be read because it is almost certain to be misinterpreted and distorted in the coming days to suit competing political agendas. (Speculation alert) Benedict, in giving this speech on his first trip back to his homeland as Pope, may be deliberately reprising John Paul's first visit to his homeland Poland in 1979. On that occasion, as Peggy Noonan writes, John Paul asked the one question which any Communist regime is unwilling to answer or even discuss. But it hung in the air in despite of the commissars, and set the agenda for the coming decade. Eastern Europe was never the same again. And the issue, of course, was whether man had an inherent transcendence and a right to be free.

Is it possible to dismiss Christ and everything which he brought into the annals of the human being? Of course it is possible. The human being is free. The human being can say to God, "No." The human being can say to Christ, "No." But the critical question is: Should he? And in the name of what "should" he?  ... You must be strong with love, which is stronger than death. ... Never lose your trust, do not be defeated .... Never lose your spiritual freedom.

The erudite Benedict is certainly aware of the parallel. He asks in turn, 'can we survive, except as brothers?' Whether he has found the fulcrum of history, as John Paul did, remains to be seen. But like his predecessor he has put the unmentionable on the table and must now, as John Paul did, accept the danger that comes to all who do business with serious memes. Although the Pope's speech was delivered to Muslims, his real audience is inevitably going to be the West in general and Christians in particular. Realistically, Benedict's message will reach ordinary Muslims only at third hand in a heavily distorted way; it can hardly be expected to sway them. But the signal it sends to the West, at least to those who look up to him as a moral and religious leader, is that here is something we cannot look away from.

What Benedict said on the occasion of his first visit to Germany as Pope was this: "Terrorism of any kind is a perverse and cruel decision which shows contempt for the sacred right to life and undermines the very foundations of all civil society. If together we can succeed in eliminating from hearts any trace of rancor, in resisting every form of intolerance and in opposing every manifestation of violence, we will turn back the wave of cruel fanaticism that endangers the lives of so many people and hinders progress towards world peace. The task is difficult but not impossible." And like John Paul II before him who left the fatal interrogative where it could not be ignored, Benedict has left a question of his own. Can we survive, he asks, except as brothers? And if we are brothers, what part can intentional violence ever play in our relations? Islam may not answer, but it must face the question. And so must everyone; for our own sakes.


Blogger enscout said...

Benedict was indeed addressing those of us in the West in his recent address. He went on to frame the message as a warning against murder (terrorism), materialism & secularism (idolitry); the three biggest problems currently facing the West.

9/21/2006 05:01:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Earlier Posts Currently Missing from Homepage.
In your "What'll it be" post, your two comments are also gone, but here is something that fleshes out the one you wrote to me about declining Islam and the Suicidal West.
Brussels Journal titled:
"Is Islam Dying? Europe Certainly Is"
Linked by 2164th
and the first comment at the bottom of the Journal Article pretty well tell the tale as things stand now.

9/21/2006 05:17:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

I should have added that not only Islam must face the question. So must the Christian world. I leave the Jews out of this; I cannot answer for them. But for many majority Christian countries, and the United States in particular another issue arises, really Benedict's question in another guise: what does it mean to fight a war against your brothers? Not that you would recognize them as such, but who remain so nonetheless.

These issues are particularly pressing because while war has always been considered evil, it is recognized that on occasion, it will be the lesser evil. The doctrine of Just War, if it means anything, is that sometimes War will be preferable to Peace. Yet there must be something different about the Christian, which conceptually at least, should set him apart from the Jihadist, even within the context of Just War. And inherent in some of Benedicts speeches is one crucial difference: that while we fight to defend our life in the end we leave them free to be Muslims. His discourses are based on the same ground: that love, freedom and reason are inseparable from God. They are inalienably part of Man, and we go to the Father but through Him.

This is the longest I've gone on about the theology, so I'll stop here.

PS Doug, try the archives. The earlier posts should be there.

9/21/2006 05:18:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

A few weeks ago I attended the funeral of my aunt and was struck by one prayer during the service, said aloud by all, it was a famous one that ended with "... I believe in the Holy Catholic Church."

This was said in my aunt's and our family's traditional church, a Methodist Church. Present were both Methodists and Baptists and perhaps other faiths as well. I thought of the wars that were fought, the people who would have died rather than speak those words.

Admittedly, such things are almost normal in the United States - as a recent post from Wretchard observed - but if the threat of Islamic Fascism has truly caused Christians of all types to embrace each other, then the followers of Mohammed may have really started something, as the saying goes.

9/21/2006 05:19:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Doug Urbanski summed up the central theme being that the biggest threat we face in the west is Moral Equivalency.
Those that compare the man below as equal to or better than the Pope provide perfect examples.
The real view of the man behind the Curtain shines through in the
• Der Spiegel: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Interview

• Daily Mail: Why This Man Should Give Us All Nightmares

9/21/2006 05:27:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Wretchard: I am at best uncomfortable and at worst utterly incompetant to discuss the theology, but to say things a different way:

It has often been said that Islam needs a Reformation.

But what if we find out that Christianity no longer needs the one it has, and in fact, desires, if not needs, the exact opposite?

9/21/2006 05:33:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9/21/2006 05:35:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9/21/2006 06:03:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Sorry, Doug. Malformed HTML. Fixed it now.

9/21/2006 06:04:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Written by Joseph Ratzinger shortly before he became Pope Benedict XVI,
Christianity and the Crisis of Cultures
looks at the growing conflict of cultures evident in the Western world. The West faces a deadly contradiction of its own making, he contends.

Terrorism is on the rise. Technological advances of the West, employed by people who have cut themselves off from the moral wisdom of the past, threaten to abolish man (as C.S. Lewis put it)—whether through genetic manipulation or physical annihilation.

In short, the West is at war-with itself. Its scientific outlook has brought material progress. The Enlightenment's appeal to reason has achieved a measure of freedom. But contrary to what many people suppose, both of these accomplishments depend on Judeo-Christian foundations, including the moral worldview that created Western culture.

More than anything else, argues Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, the important contributions of the West are threatened today by an exaggerated scientific outlook and by moral relativism-what Benedict XVI calls "the dictatorship of relativism"-in the name of freedom.

Benedict xvi books .

Father Fessio on Pope Benedict XVI

Ignatius Press

9/21/2006 06:06:00 AM  
Blogger sfrcook said...

Wow, Wretchard, as always beautifully said. Nothing to add other than an old posting to something you titled "Return of the Madman."

Your description of Islam may well be accurate and there does seem to be a historical continuum of Islamic belligerency and intolerance. yet it is also not a coincidence that Islam poses a much greater threat to the West today, than say 100 years ago. Furthermore, millions of Moslems today participate in societies that operate under consensual government, as they do here.

"Which brings me back to my earlier contention. The nature of Islam, while critical, is tangential to my concern to the apparent identity crisis of the West. We can acknowledge our sins, but we must vigorously defend or virtues. We must be terrible to our enemies initially, yet magnanimous later. For we must never lose sight of our shared humanity, and of the tragic understanding that, now as ever in the past, it is our brother whom we destroy."

9/21/2006 06:19:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Unfortunately, Hewitt's latest interview with Father Fessio did not get transcribed.
Here is an earlier one: Hewitt Interview w/Father Fessio
This raised quite a firestorm, and Fessio wrote this explaination to the washington post: (scroll down a bit)

Letter of Clarification to the Washington Post

9/21/2006 06:22:00 AM  
Blogger galloworth said...

Our Lutheran church also occasionally uses the words "catholic Church." The word catholic simply means "universal." Certainly, using it in a service shows that the symbol of the word (it has obviously become shorthand for the Roman Catholic church) is being used in an ecumenical way. But this sort of thing happens all the time. Martin Luther said that he preferred immersion as a method of baptism, which would surprise many Lutherans today.

9/21/2006 06:36:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

The famous--or infamous--Time Magazine cover, the red-on-black block lettered question "Is God Dead?" dates from 1966. Forty years ago this year.

Time for an answer cover: "Maybe Not".

9/21/2006 06:48:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

That would be definitive!
Then there was the famous cover for the edition in which they "discovered" that men and women were indeed different.
Good to know.

9/21/2006 07:26:00 AM  
Blogger Richard H said...

Has the pope's address ben translated into arabic and posted at sites where arabic readers will find it? It would seem the Vatican (and I speak as a Methodist, not a Roman Catholic) would be wise to set up an arabic website to disseminate its materials.

9/21/2006 07:44:00 AM  
Blogger enscout said...

In three Gospels, Matthew Mark & Luke, Jesus used what is translated from the Greek word for "murder" rather than the more general Greek word for "kill" when he reminds his followers of G-d's command. The more generally used translation has haunted many & continues to be a stumbling block for Christianity.

That is not to say he is condoning the killing of fellow creatures, but there is a distinction.

The concept of G-d using the devil's temptations & deceptions to test his creation is not a new one. It is the basis for the Book of Job. It may be helpful to look at the current situation with Islamic terrorism, Western materialism and other sources of human-generated trouble in the world through such a lens.

Chapter 26

2 "How have you helped him who is without power?
How have you saved the arm that has no strength?
3 How have you counseled one who has no wisdom?
And how have you declared sound advice to many?
4 To whom have you uttered words?
And whose spirit came from you?

5 "The dead tremble,
Those under the waters and those inhabiting them.
6 Sheol is naked before Him,
And Destruction has no covering.
7 He stretches out the north over empty space;
He hangs the earth on nothing.
8 He binds up the water in His thick clouds,
Yet the clouds are not broken under it.
9 He covers the face of His throne,
And spreads His cloud over it.
10 He drew a circular horizon on the face of the waters,
At the boundary of light and darkness.
11 The pillars of heaven tremble,
And are astonished at His rebuke.
12 He stirs up the sea with His power,
And by His understanding He breaks up the storm.
13 By His Spirit He adorned the heavens;
His hand pierced the fleeing serpent.
14 Indeed these are the mere edges of His ways,
And how small a whisper we hear of Him!
But the thunder of His power who can understand?"

9/21/2006 08:54:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

Gentlemen, stop your engines
EEStor's new automotive power source could eliminate the need for the combustion engine - and for oil.

Business 2.0 Magazine
By Erick Schonfeld and Jeanette Borzo, Business 2.0
September 20 2006: 2:16 PM EDT

SAN FRANCISCO (Business 2.0 Magazine) -- The Disruptor: EEStor

The Innovation: A ceramic power source for electric cars that could blow away the combustion engine

Headquarters: Cedar Park, Tex.
CEO: Richard Weir
Founded: 2001
Key stat: Product in development
Video More video
CNN and Business 2.0 look at ways to improve technology in terms of engine and fuel efficiency. (September 20)

The Disrupted: Oil companies and carmakers that don't climb aboard

Forget hybrids and hydrogen-powered vehicles. EEStor, a stealth company in Cedar Park, Texas, is working on an "energy storage" device that could finally give the internal combustion engine a run for its money -- and begin saving us from our oil addiction. "To call it a battery discredits it," says Ian Clifford, the CEO of Toronto-based electric car company Feel Good Cars, which plans to incorporate EEStor's technology in vehicles by 2008.

EEStor's device is not technically a battery because no chemicals are involved. In fact, it contains no hazardous materials whatsoever. Yet it acts like a battery in that it stores electricity. If it works as it's supposed to, it will charge up in five minutes and provide enough energy to drive 500 miles on about $9 worth of electricity. At today's gas prices, covering that distance can cost $60 or more; the EEStor device would power a car for the equivalent of about 45 cents a gallon.

And we mean power a car. "A four-passenger sedan will drive like a Ferrari," Clifford predicts. In contrast, his first electric car, the Zenn, which debuted in August and is powered by a more conventional battery, can't go much faster than a moped and takes hours to charge.

The cost of the engine itself depends on how much energy it can store; an EEStor-powered engine with a range roughly equivalent to that of a gasoline-powered car would cost about $5,200. That's a slight premium over the cost of the gas engine and the other parts the device would replace -- the gas tank, exhaust system, and drivetrain. But getting rid of the need to buy gas should more than make up for the extra cost of an EEStor-powered car.

EEStor is tight-lipped about its device and how it manages to pack such a punch. According to a patent issued in April, the device is made of a ceramic powder coated with aluminum oxide and glass. A bank of these ceramic batteries could be used at "electrical energy stations" where people on the road could charge up.

EEStor is backed by VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and the company's founders are engineers Richard Weir and Carl Nelson. CEO Weir, a former IBM-er, won't comment, but his son, Tom, an EEStor VP, acknowledges, "That is pretty much why we are here today, to compete with the internal combustion engine." He also hints that his engine technology is not just for the small passenger vehicles that Clifford is aiming at, but could easily replace the 300-horsepower brutes in today's SUVs. That would make it appealing to automakers like GM (Charts) and Ford (Charts), who are seeing sales of their gas-guzzling SUVs and pickup trucks begin to tank because of exorbitant fuel prices.

9/21/2006 09:35:00 AM  
Blogger jaycurrie said...

The Pope has been on record for some time with a rather trenchent view of the issues facing Islam. You can read a summary in Spengler's column in the Asian Times at spengler.

And to the commentor suggesting that Islam is in need of a Reformation: arguably the Wahabbi movement is the Islamic Reformation....what Islam needs is an Enlightenment.

9/21/2006 11:04:00 AM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Charles - I couldn't help but think that the Islamists, on reading about a ceramic device that can store the equivalent of a half ton of TNT (20 gallons gasoline equivalent) are thinking, if true, it is a boon for mankind and Islam if it can be made into a bomb.

Jaycurrie - Thanks for the link. As with Wretchard, I remembered reading another speech the Pope had given that was far more disturbing about the threat of Islam than the latest speech - a postive appeal to reconciling region with reason, which was oddly the one the Islamic manipulators of the "young warriors" decided to push the "outrage" button on.

(We should remember that networks of radical Islamists have assembled, and that the demonstrations of rage, anger, frothing hatred are hardly spontaneous. They have reached out and have a number of "young tough bucks high on testosterone and religious rapture" under their strict control - no mob - that are employed as deliberate tools of intimidation against craven "let's be friends at all costs" Western Lefties. This is carefully orchestrated by radical Islamists, using the same model of the networked Left pioneered by Jewish activists using a range of interlinked organs - media, activist lawyer muscle, international communications, academia, "street protestors", a cadre willing to do acts of violence, Foundations, NGOs, Front groups, and wealthy donors to advance the causes of Stalinism or Trotskyism.)
(And the coalition of Communist groups would have been even more advantaged if, like the Islamists, they had the Internet, the ACLU, and modern encryption technology).

Anyways, Spengler notes the same passage I remembered particularly:

And immediately the holy father, in his beautiful calm but clear way, said, well, there's a fundamental problem with that because, he said, in the Islamic tradition, God has given His word to Mohammed, but it's an eternal word. It's not Mohammed's word. It's there for eternity the way it is. There's no possibility of adapting it or interpreting it, whereas in Christianity, and Judaism, the dynamism's completely different, that God has worked through his creatures [emphasis added]. And so it is not just the word of God, it's the word of Isaiah, not just the word of God, but the word of Mark. He's used his human creatures, and inspired them to speak his word to the world, and therefore by establishing a church in which he gives authority to his followers to carry on the tradition and interpret it.

That is the unfortunate truth. Islam suffers twin maladies that make it's "reform" by democracy, reason, whatever other the Left's sadly shaken "Multi-culti, post-modern" Faith - highly doubtful.

1. As Benedict notes, it is thought to be the pure, direct word of God to his subjects in 7th century Arabia. To reform then on core issues goes against the direct instructions of God - which is more like the God of the Jewish Old Testament than the benevolent, nice guy God Jesus spoke of - all powerful, of supreme will, and merciless to those who disobey His Commands.

2. In the 13th century, Sunni Islamic scholars issued a collective Fatwa saying that all doctrinal matters had been settled. The Qu'ran, Hadiths, and Shuras were closed to new interpretation - as Islam was eternal, unchanging, unaffected by time and mankinds temporal progress. This proclaimation that Islam is now "fixed in stone" has been unchallenged ever since, and may explain why the Ummah has not recovered from the Mongols, but has been in decline except by demographic measures ever since.

9/21/2006 12:28:00 PM  
Blogger Don Cox said...

"In three Gospels, Matthew Mark & Luke, Jesus used what is translated from the Greek word for "murder" rather than the more general Greek word for "kill" when he reminds his followers of G-d's command. "____How can we know what word Jesus used when all we have is a Greek version of somebody's recollection of what he said in Aramaic? I wouldn't base any arguments on the precise wording of quotations from Jesus as given in the Gospels.

9/21/2006 12:35:00 PM  
Blogger Pastorius said...

I'm surprised Doug did not note Pope Benedict's book,

Without Roots: The West, Relativism, Christianity, Islam

That book contains some very strong criticisms of Islam.

9/21/2006 03:48:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...

don cox:

I don't know how old you are but if you're 45 or better you may have some recollection of the event that took place on 10/22/1963. I was still an adolescent but I remember many details of the events of that day: what I ate, the radio station I was listening to when I heard the news, the reaction of my teachers and fellow students. Almost everyone that was, say 8 years old remembers with great clarity where they were and what they were doing when they were told of the assassination of President Kennedy. Each of us has his or her narrative but the crux of our accounts is the same. And if some 16-year-old kid in South Dakota can remember the details, imagine how much more detailed recollections for folks that were there, at the event or those involved in the chaos. The conclusion of the story is the same. The President has been shot - murdered.

It is significant to your remarks in that it was almost the same time difference, +/- 40 years, as the time between when these Gospel writers walked with their messiah and the time that the stories were scripted. And each of the writers, even though they have their own individual recollections which vary slightly, each remembers the teacher using the same word. Now imagine if the teacher were, in the eyes of his students, somebody very important, like a world leader or a celebrity. No, imagine if the teacher was the Emanuel. The G-d manifest in human form on Earth. The Savior of all humanity. How much more etched into each of he writers' memories would be the words. Now reconsider that each narrative story collaborates the other.

It doesn't seem too much of a stretch that first century linguists might have gotten the correct translation and meaning when they originally committed the narratives to text in Greek - the original language used to write the New Testament - only to have some of the meaning watered down or miss-translated through the many versions (Latin [the Vulgate was completed in +/- AD400], Armenian [5th century], Gothic[AD312] & Coptic[3rd century AD] were early translations) until we finally get to the first English translation in the 7th century by a monk named Caedmon. Since that time other English translations were made independently. The one from which we draw our 'Thou shalt not kill' was the familiar King James version completed in 1611 and used by English speakers for 350 years, during which time the British Empire flourished.

In fact, the NKJV translates Matthew 5:21 as 'Thou shall not murder' having reverted to the more accepted original Greek translation.

We each believe because of unique experience and conclusions drawn from others'.

BTW - It seems pretty impossible to follow the law not to kill with so many murderers about. Perhaps the distinction is vital.

9/21/2006 05:43:00 PM  
Blogger Chris said...


9/21/2006 06:02:00 PM  
Blogger W. E. Messamore said...

It has often been said that Islam needs a Reformation.

Not quite. Christianity's reformation brought it back to its essential doctrines the doctrines of grace and freedom in Christ. Yet Islam's essential doctrines are different in nature and encourage violence and imperialism. A return to those doctrines is exactly what has created a generation of militant terrorists and their sympathizers.

9/21/2006 07:06:00 PM  
Blogger fred said...

This has been an interesting discussion so far, because finally we are getting into the heart of the conflict, both with our Islamic enemies, and the vicious political and inter-cultural war going on within our societies.

I must admit that I am beginning to experience a twinge of fear. We have been far less successful at dividing our Islamic enemies than our Islamic enemies have been when it comes to exploiting our fractures and divisions. Unity of vision and purpose seems to come far more easily for them. We are struggling in extremis with this.

For perhaps the majority of Americans, there is an obliviousness of the danger to our civilization over the long haul. We believe our technological and scientific edge will always save our bacon. However, we lack the commensurate faith in our cultural bedrocks. In a long war, never, ever underestimate the sheer determination of an enemy willing to do whatever it takes to prevail.

God bless our young men and women in uniform. They are perhaps our finest. Of course, our privileged elites in the Ivies and prestigious institutions would say that they are the nation's finest. And that illusion will be the death of us all.

9/21/2006 07:15:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Don Cox said...
"In three Gospels, Matthew Mark & Luke, Jesus used what is translated from the Greek word for "murder" rather than the more general Greek word for "kill" when he reminds his followers of G-d's command. "____How can we know what word Jesus used when all we have is a Greek version of somebody's recollection of what he said in Aramaic? I wouldn't base any arguments on the precise wording of quotations from Jesus as given in the Gospels.

Q: Since Ex 20:13 and Dt 5:17 say, "thou shalt not kill?" (KJV), why were so many people and animals killed?
A: That is a good question about a commonly misunderstood point. If Exodus 20:13 really meant never to kill any people, that would be news to Moses. On more than one occasion, God told Moses to fight wars and execute lawbreakers. If Exodus 20:13 really meant never to kill anything, that would be news to God, who commands animal sacrifice.
The Hebrew word, râtsach, could mean kill people, but Hard Sayings of the Bible p.148-149 says that of the seven Hebrews words for killing, this word, appearing 47 times in the Old Testament, is the one that means murder. The context of Exodus indicates that some wars and lawful execution are not only allowed, but also commanded. See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.121, Today’s Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.402-403, and Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible p.285-286 for more info.
As an interesting side note, according to Now That’s A Good Question p.458-460, a former governor of Pennsylvania vetoed a bill to reinstate the death penalty, quoting this verse and misinterpreting it.

Q: Ex 20:13 and Dt 5:17 says though shalt not kill. He charged that we not kill and yet He sent His only begotten Son to be sacrificed (i.e. killed) by His people the Jews which confuses me. … Please explain why Jesus had to die for my sins. Why did I have to kill Jesus? Why did we have to break one of His commandments in order to set things right with our God and our souls?
A: See the answer to the previous question on killing animals, executions, and wars. As for the atonement, God sent Jesus knowing He would be killed by evildoers. However, they were in a state of disobedience to God when they did so. Nonetheless, God even uses people's rebellion and evil for His purposes. Romans 8:28 is really an amazing verse. It says " all thing God works together for good for those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." It does NOT say God only works all good things together. Rather, it says God works all things (good and evil) together for good for those who love Him.

Q: Since Ex 20:13 and Dt 5:17 says not to murder, why does God sometimes kill people?
A: The Ten Commandments were given to people; and God, who is all-knowing, is not bound by what He gave us. For example, God accepts worship, and we are not to accept worship.
Q: In Ex 21:20, why is someone merely "punished" if they beat a slave and kill him?
A: Exodus 21:12 specifies the punishment: death for deliberate murder, and fleeing to a refuge for manslaughter. This applies to both slaves and free.
There was no mention of a different punishment for a slave, and no need to mention the punishment was the same, as murder of a freeman or slave was the same in Egypt where they lived. This Egyptian law is mentioned in Life in Egypt in Ancient Times by Bernard Romant, translated by J. Smith (Minerva 1978/81) p.124.
Q: In Ex 12:29-30, why was God [allegedly] unjust to kill all the Egyptian firstborn instead of Pharaoh himself, since Pharaoh sinned?
A: Three points to consider in the answer.
All the Egyptians enslaved the Israelites. Pharaoh himself did not whip the slaves, the Egyptian taskmasters did. For 400 years Egyptian society thought it normal to benefit from the Hebrew slaves.
People often bear the consequences of the actions of others. Cocaine-addict mothers give birth to babies with smaller brains, addicted to cocaine. Millions died because of the murderous madness of Hitler and others. These things happen in a fallen, unjust world. See the next point though.
Complete justice is delayed until judgment day. For example, in Luke 13:1-5 Jesus was told of Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus said that this did not happen because they were worse than other Galileans, but that if you do not repent you also will perish. Some are punished more severely than others for the same things in this life. However, on Judgment Day, God will judge with justice and set everything right.

9/21/2006 08:25:00 PM  
Blogger fred said...

I have an interesting question to pose to all of you, which I fear would be out of bounds among my fellow Roman Catholics. Why did the early Church change the Hebrew meaning from "murder" to "kill?" I have my own hunches, but I leave it to others to explore as an interesting side point to the discussion.

I have no problem with the Hebrew understanding of it. Never had a problem with the concept of killing people who are mortal threats to individuals or civilized societies. On the other hand, we have very significant groups of Christians who think the thing to do is to stretch your neck out to the enemy for beheading. And they really believe that they are doing God's will and we who refuse to do that are evil.

9/21/2006 08:42:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Here's the link

John Lennon blows his top and loses his cool as right wing cartoonist Al Capp baits the Beattle and Yoko at their Montreal bed-in in 1969.

9/21/2006 10:35:00 PM  
Blogger For Freedom said...

Who in the First Century BC would have predicted that within four hundred years, a religion known as Christianity would take over the Roman Empire and use as its symbol a Cross??
The cross was in fact a somewhat popular execution device of the Romans, most famously used by Crassus to crucify the losers of the slave revolt by Spartacus in 71 BC.
The symbol of the cross has been incredibly changed and has been transformed from wicked execution device as a symbol of warning to slave revolts, to symbol of Christian Martyrdom, something Holy.

Beyond this, as Pope Benedict pointed out, Christianity now symbolizes a God of Love, Logic and Reason. The Universe is ruled by unerring law, and there are consequences to actions, from the Christian viewpoint (and should we say from the Scientific viewpoint).

Could God be capricious and change the rules whenever it pleases him? This is the irrational Islamic god.

Wonder why Science was developed in Christian Europe.

9/21/2006 10:52:00 PM  
Blogger istarious said...


There's an interesting play on words in the Bible, as written in Hebrew. First and foremost, we must remember that the Hebrew Bible is really a moral historic tale told in a poetic narrative.

Here's the play on words from the Hebrew, which I find interesting:

ha-ga-r = mother of ishmael

ha-ga-r = where it is living there

ha-ga-r = that which is stored there

ha-ra-g = to have killed

ra-tza-h = to have murdered

ne-tza-h = forever

ni-tza-h = to have won

Also important to consider that in Hebrew script vowels are largely missing, and that words are written mainly by consonants. Vowels were only later added to the alphabet by the Phoenicians.

9/21/2006 11:40:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

istarious .

I think you'd have a different take on Melville if you had actually lived in New York City long enough so that when you finally left -- as Mellville did-- you caught a glimpse of the "angel of light".

I know I did.

9/22/2006 12:17:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

CBS 2 Exclusive: Ahmadinejad Bonds With Rabbis
WCBS-TV New York ^ | 09/21/06 | Andrew Kirtzman

Posted on 09/21/2006 8:58:57 PM PDT by conservative in nyc

It was a meeting out of the Twilight Zone: An Iranian president who wants Israel wiped off the map ... and a dozen rabbis who couldn't agree more.

WCBS-TV gained exclusive access to the event, held at the Intercontinental Hotel in Midtown. There, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad railed against Zionists, meaning the Israelis.

"They have no respect for the lives and dignity of the Jews," Ahmadinejad said through a translator. "If they could they would destroy 6 billion people in the world."

And then he made a chilling prediction about the future of Israel.

"But their time is ending. God willing," he said.

And the rabbis, who believe Israel's founding violated God's will, couldn't have been happier. One even went so far as to praise the controversial leader.

"God should give you long life and health and strength and not to be intimidated by the attacks of Zionism, that is attacking you as being anti-Semitic, which is a pure ploy of Zionism to intimidate people," one rabbi said. "They shouldn't speak up against their illegitimate state."

Ahmadinejad once again questioned the existence of the Holocaust. And the rabbis, some of whom lost relatives in the war, suggested it was all a Zionist conspiracy. The city's Jewish groups told CBS 2 the meeting was a travesty.

When told by CBS 2 that mainstream Jewish groups were calling the meeting an obscenity and a charade because these men represent nothing, Ahmadinejad replied, "Why are you asking this question from me? You represent Jews?"

The Iranian president never answered the question.

9/22/2006 12:48:00 AM  
Blogger whit said...

The problem is: How do you tell a billion people that their religion is a cult? Especially when their book is so replete with exortations to defend the faith with violence if need be.

Oh, I know that some Jews will say that Christianity is a cult and some people scoff at all religions, but how can you take a religion seriously that sets as its central tenet: The purpose of life is to submit to Allah and to obey the laws of the Koran in order to be eternally rewarded with 72 virgins or for the women, 72 studs. Now that is some "high-level" spirituality.

Does the Muslim ever seek to know or be like God or to understand his reason for being? Is his earthly purpose merely to conform to Allah's laws with martydom as his only hope for eternal reward?

Once again, the West is faced with a fundamentalist, waxing Islam. The pattern seems to be that when Muslims return to their Book, all hell breaks loose. When they drift away from their Word, things settle down. This look like the exact opposite of Judaic and Christian histories.

9/22/2006 02:05:00 AM  
Blogger enscout said...

for freedom: "Wonder why Science was developed in Christian Europe."

Credit St. Thomas Aquinas. Until his time Christian leaders had adopted the view that science, learning, etc was bad for most humans because it drew men’s hearts away from G-d: Hence, the Dark Ages.

Aquinas, who was genius, posited that all things, including al knowledge is part of G-d's Providence and, therefore should not be suppressed. His prescription: was thought restrained only through council with G-d.

His theology was adopted and the age of enlightenment, which had been suppressed by the church, began in Europe.

Interestingly enough, less than a century before Aquinas, the Arab philosopher Al Ghazzali had influenced the adherents of Islam to adopt this science = bad mindset and Islam, which had been at the forefront of knowledge on the planet, was guided down the path of faith without reason.

istarious: "Also important to consider that in Hebrew script vowels are largely missing, and that words are written mainly by consonants. Vowels were only later added to the alphabet by the Phoenicians."

yes, in addition, Hebrew text was wrtten without spacing between words. Amagine trying to read that! I think that readers of ancient hebrew text relied on rote as much as recognition to get through the verses.

There are several books published about the Bible Code that are quite interesting.

9/22/2006 04:39:00 AM  

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