In Defense of Islam

What a wondrous world we live in, when wealthy, liberal (?), journalists (?) can so ably diffuse religious tensions inspired by a tendentious pope with but a few words. The new pope - the illustrious (?) Pope Benedict the 16th - has caused quite a stir, what with his gratuitous quotation of a 14th century Byzantine emperor:

"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."

They say context is king and there is so much surrounding those remarks that entire volumes of encyclopedia have been written.

A Byzantine emperor? That very name evokes the old Roman empire and that introduces Constantine into the story, the Roman Emperor who transformed the religion of Christianity from that of the persecuted to that of the persecutor.

Sorry, but this is my blog and I do have the right to editorialize as I choose.

So here we have a 21st century pope, quoting the words of a 14th century emperor - the literal descendant of Constantine. In the 1000 years between Constantine and Manual II Palaeologus, Rome had fallen to the Huns and a vibrant new religion was threatening Nova Roma (Constantinople) from the South - Islam. There is no need to wonder why an emperor who is beset by opponents might feel such venom, so the real question is why would his figurative descendant (the pope, who perhaps in his mind still thinks of himself as the Holy Roman Emperor) be recalling those days?

In these times - less than 1000 years later, but not by much - Catholicism is again beset. Having cast their lot with the Europeans, Catholics have seen their star wax and wane; now, birth rates in Europe are declining; now, citizens of Europe are less likely to accept the solemn dictates of a bunch of men who have removed themselves from society to better control it; now, the growth of the Catholic church is coming from the nations of the Southern hemisphere (a different sort of man [can the Europeans really entrust them with the keys to the kingdom?]) - and here on all side Catholicism is once again beset by the rise of Islam.

Of course the pope knew he was insulting Islam; Islam is a threat to him and his power base. Of course the pope is against Turkey joining the European Union; a thriving nation placed side-by-side with nations who are growing weaker daily - an Islamic nation at that - would send a definite message to the remaining nations of Europe and a message with which the pope would prefer not to contend.

So, surely the good Mr. Friedman must be kidding when he tells us that the pope was actually treating Islam with respect. Surely he can also see that the pope was merely protecting his turf - as any good gangster would do.

Sphere: Related Content

No comments: