Saturday, September 16, 2006

Take A Good Look in the Mirror, Islam

If we are to have any dialogue with today's Islam, Islam must first take a hard look at the essence of itself, primarily through its history (not to mention a number of other things). In my previous post, we see the violent reaction by Muslims to the Pope's allusion to a 15th century quote by a Byzantine emperor about the new thing Islam brings to religion: violence. The Muslim reaction illustrates Benedict's point, which would be funny if the consequences weren't so sad.

The irrationality of Islam promotes this kind of reaction. Read again Pope Benedict's explanation (below) of how Islam's view of God, who is complete transcendance, allows Allah to make any command on his people. There is no need for a rationality in Islam since Al'ah is Lord; He can command whatever he like. If Al'ah's will is to promote pagan worship, he can do so since since he completely transcendant. He doesn't need to be rational; he is completely transcendant from reason and its confines.

I'm not saying that Christians never practiced violence. They did, even in the name of Christ. However, these were not the teachings of Christ and the Church. Secondly, popes, eager to stop the expansion of Islam and gain back! what was taken by Islam, roused the troops to war. It was NOT in order to force conversions; it was to take the Holy Sites in Palestine back. Reform eventually became necessary for the Church to bring itself back to the teachings of Christ and the Traditions.

The reform of Islam on the other hand would be completely different. In its scriptures, conversion to Islam is to accomplished either freely or by coercion; violence is taught. The main objective for Islam is to establish an Islamic order in the world. Thus, Islam, to reform itself, would it would have to dismantle itself; it would no longer be Islam.

A reform of Islam that brings Muslims back to the root of its teachings as in Church reform would look much like the radical Islamic movements promoting terror. Islam, by nature has never been a peaceful religion per se, though its adherents can be. As a religion, it spread mainly by tribal and territorial conquest, coercsion with the threat of taxation, and acts of violence and oppression. Violence is in the warp and woof of this religion. Any forced taxation or coercive proselytizing by Christians was and is an abheration, not the essence of Christianity. This is why the Byzantine emperor quoted by Benedict XVI said what he said.

Islam, however, to have true reform, will have to reject major portions of the Q'uran. I doubt this will happen unless Islam alters its view and embrace a God who is also immanent. If they're going to go to such great lengths, they can avoid re-inventing the wheel; they might as well freely convert to Christianity, whose God is both transcendant and immanent!

If you want to see the essence of Islam, view a timeline of its expansion here. You'll be surprised by how imperialistic and violent it is. Then you'll see why the Pope's careful treatment of the subject is so noteworthy and not a veiled attack.

Islam, you have brought nothing new to religion but violence and forced conversion. To all peaceful Muslims who renounce violence, thank you. However, I feel for you. To reject the violence of Islam is to change or do away with your infallible book.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Muslims Angry At Pope

Muslims Angry at Pope

Whenever I see reports of what someone said, I like to go to what the person actually said. Case in point, the media reports Muslims are growing violent over the Popes's apparent slight against Islam for promoting violence, which is inconsistent with a just God. You may want to know that the Pope was using the quotes of a byzantine Emperor to set up his thesis: the use of reason is not just a Greek development as opposed to Islam's idea of God being transcendant. The idea of a completely transcendant God allows him complete freedom to be irrational, including using violence for conversion. Interestingly, Muslims grow violent over this issue, primarily over Benedict's quote which emphasizes the "new" thing Islam brings to religion is violence. Looks like Muslims are making the Pope's point.

To get a proper view of what the Pope said, read what he actually said and judge for yourself.

Lecture of the Holy Father

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Can Sharia Law be the Law of the Land?

For those who treat Islam as simply a religion, misunderstand it as well as any religion. A religion or "religio" binds the person's life to the deity worshipped, as in Islam, so in Christianity. An interesting article below strips Democracy to its essence. Please read and let's discuss the challenge facing the Dutch in Sharia could come via Democracy.

I have a couple of immediate reactions. If we reduce Democracy to majority rules, then any block of people who gain the majority get to have their way, within the confines of a republic based on its constitution (which also can be changed via the majority).

Now, I do get a bit tired of Christians who treat American Democracy as if it were a branch of Christianity. This "Americanism" which has been so prevalent in our country, is a doctrine that was decried by Pope Leo XIII. He saw it as a heresy and a challenge to authentic Christianity. In Christianity, the majority does NOT rule, Christ does. So, democratic principles where the body politik is the basis of authority does not fit Christ's kingdom. Sorry, but Democracy is not a Christian idea (I hope not to lose my Christian friends who think otherwise).

The idea of Democracy is not new but old as the hills. As a matter of fact, Plato discussed it in The Republic, but not in glowing terms. In fact, he recognizes the possibility that Democracies can implode, being a precursor to despotism. If a political majority becomes unjust and imprudent, it will enact laws and form a civilization that will eventually undermine itself. This is why, according to Plato, Democracy is second from the bottom of the list of governments. This is NOT something we "Americanists" typically want to hear. We want to have God on our side in the cause of Democracy. It is telling that Jesus in the Gospels doesn't advocate Democracy; as reiterated by Leo XIII.

This is why I treat the evangelization techniques of President Bush regarding Americanism with extreme skepticism. The "principles of freedom" that Democracy proposes never transform a people or race like religion transforms. It will give immediate relief to an oppressed people. However, this new found "freedom" eventually allows the unfettered action of political movements to establish a government that will ultimately REFLECT THE ATTITUDES, VALUES AND MORES OF THIS FREE PEOPLE. So, the only transformation Democracy brings is political.

What happens now if the majority's attitudes, values and mores are summed up in the principles of Sharia Law? What Democratic principles can stop this? Or say a new democracy, like Iraq, makes friends with a current American foe, like Iran? Can America, being true to democratic principles, have the right to alter what's happening in Iraq? I say no. This is democracy in action.

If anyone wants to bring social tranformation to a country must use religious means other than Democracy. However, then you get into proselytizing and coercion. If there is to be a true transformation of a nation of citizens, it must be done freely and uncoerced. This is why I think the Bush Doctrine is short-sighted: it equates the political structures of Democracy with the transformative structures of religion. Second, it forces this "religious structure" on a people who neither understand the consequences nor wish to give up their religious and social mores.

This is why all along I have seen the ill-named "War on Terror" as a clash, not only of civilizations, but a clash between religions. It fails to call a spade "a spade." It completely misunderstands the nature of the war, and the means that are required to fight it. Call me a medievalist (don't worry, I won't be insulted if you do!), but our fathers from the 7th Century forward saw it as such, and still found it an extremely difficult battle to wage. It requires all our resources: religious, economic, and military. It is no different now. The utopian zeal and flag-waving in favor of Democracy is NOT going to solve this problem.

I have another observation. I find it interesting that those, described in the article above, will run to "principles of Democracy" in the face of Sharia, not knowing that the very principles they call "Democratic" are really the Judeo-Christian/Natural Law principles of our Western Culture that much of Europe is allowing to slip. These are certainly religious in nature as well and affect an entire culture. This is why any call for the private practice of Religion is a stupid one.

Given the Dutch response, I think they see the seriousness of the situation but are failing to face the solution. The key is in what kind of battle this is: a simple and influential religious force is overwhelming a decaying and decadent Christendom. It is high time they repudiate the stupidity seeing religion as a private affair and engage in a personal and social reform based on Judeo-Christian and natural law principles. And, this is something we proud American better learn too, or we follow the course of the Dutch.

Let me sum up with a few key thoughts:

1. Democracy doesn't transform a society, it reflects it; it is not a religion.

2. Extreme forms of Islam are not simple religions whose adherents behave by practicing it privately; they want to either convert all mankind, or kill them. They have no preference.

3. Those who lean on "Democratic principles" are really leaning on the Judeo-Christian principles and natural law; the religious ones they often deny that form a basis of our culture.

4. The clash we are experiencing is not one between terrorists and non-terrorists, but a clash of religious ideologies. The predominent ideology in the West is "Decadent Christendom", which has lost its moral compass. This is the face the jihadists' see.

5. Currently, I doubt we Westerners have the collective guts to face such a ominous opponent.

6. If we are going to win this clash, we as a people MUST regroup, reform and return to the principles that formed the greatest culture in history. We must have a massive religious conversion and repudiate Decadent Christendom and Hedonistic Western Culture.

7. Lastly, our Islamic enemies are not afraid to die for what they believe and in order to stop them, we must be willing to die for what we believe. Which brings us to the greatest question of our time: my friends, what do you believe, and will it give you the courage to die for it?

This is not a problem that is simply solved by militaries and politics. Our jihadist enemy has correctly defined the nature and principles of this war which we decadent westerners must realize and accept: This is a holy war! I know this may anger some, but the history of this conflict shows it to be as such. Our enemy is fueled by a religious zeal to the death, to embark on a religious campaign no matter what the cost, with religious benefits that are out of this world, with a goal to set up an Islamic religious kingdom that requires either our participation or death; either will do. In the face of such a challenge, political and social mores are not only at stake; but our souls as well!

So we must reform and re-arm ourselves for the real battle. My fear is that our decadent and hedonistic ways will weaken our resolve in the name of false "Pluralism" to meet the challenge, causing us to wimp out and roll over like dogs. Some have been known to give up their immortal souls for the sake of the world. Do we give up our immortal souls for simply one more orgasm, one more cocaine high, one more pizza roll, one more beer, one more plasma TV, or one more private "Shall we gather at the river?

My friends, we face some stark choices. What will it be? Convert, be "converted"...or be killed?