Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Whose side am I on?--what a question to ask....

It might possibly seem from some of my posts recently that I'm standing up for the Pope as the "good guy" against a wave of hypersensitive Muslim fanatics. This is not precisely true, seeing as I consider him personally to be a scant few degrees more rational in civilized behaviour and intellectual detachment from his topic -- and those are only surface characteristics, easily assumed by the most rabid fundamentalist of any stripe with sufficient knowledge and practice.

The one stance within his speech that badly needs due recognition is that religion ought to have a sense of reason, instead of assuming itself (pardon my language) sacrosanct and the rational disciplines accounting it all subjective delusion and neurological imprinting. Unfortunately, his idea of religion and social doctrine is hardly rational nor humane enough for me, so I consider him a poor choice to be making that point.

But then you have the religious insult factor, and it becomes apparent that some people are completely unwilling to be rational with their religion and allow that it might have factors that show it in a bad light -- instead, they merely make those flaws the more apparent by jumping to conclusions and violence. Pope Benedict may have studied more about Islam than any pontiff before him, but it's a fair bet that over well 90% of the Muslims who are/have been railing against him are completely uninformed about his position relative to both the U.S. and to the (split) history of Christianity overall, which I've been trying to give some insight on lately. A well-educated man who addresses a gathering of peers and students is probably not expecting to be taken literally-and-skewedly by those outside who have no basis in that academic discipline, but due to the constant technological publicity of our world it is possible to become outraged over secondhand remarks far more quickly than one would have had time to absorb the entire presentation in person.

Which is why I tend to ignore most of the hype and outrage around socio-political gaffes until I can take them in context with the event and preferably get to the original source material (like I said, I found the link to that actual speech and posted it here). To react to mere words without as much perspective as possible on where they came from is ill-educated and at the mercy of whatever opinion-framer wants to set their agenda by the hypersensitivity of others......but what we see clearly here is that a majority of the people on this earth are far more keen on burning the finger in effigy than seeing where it was pointing at the moment of taken affront.

That is, at the idea that it is inherently irrational to enforce faith by violence, and thus against the nature of divinity itself. A better and wiser man would have said far more than that; a more practical and prudent man would have said far less. Personally, I'm inclined to see some truth in the (trying to remember name) supposed prophecy regarding the scheduled Popes before the Antichrist shows up....remember, this was going around a lot online before the papal election? 'Benedict' was one of the implied names -- it means "speaking well/goodness", like a 'benediction' is a blessing -- but going together with an ultimately ineffectual stance against the tide of negative events. In this case, the extreme intellectual sophistication of Cardinal Ratzinger, and his eloquence in favour of traditionalist doctrine and the purity of the Roman Catholic Church, are no defense nor immunity from being a doormat/assistant (however you wanna look at it) to the rising tide of terminal extremism sweeping the globe. Personally, considering his former office (and his known views)....well, let's just say I haven't not been expecting it....:-

Of course, he could just be asking for it, trying to start another Crusade.....um, yeah, who the hell deliberately goes around picking fights with Muslims unless they've got 'em in high-security/no-media confinement? Personally, I don't think that the present Pope is quite so much of an self-motivated martyr for that (otherwise why retain the Swiss Guard and the bulletproof Popemobile?), though I'm fairly sure that he thought he would be helping things in some positive fashion by advocating religious rationality as opposed to religious irrationality. The problem is, that only works when there's a bridge of communication between you and your intended audience. There may have been one between him and the audience in the room, but there was (consequently?) none between him and the millions of Muslims who only got the bit that quoted about Islam being "evil and inhuman".

[Note: Emperor Manuel II Palaeologos was unable to be reached for comment on his own research and perspective regarding Islam and the prior condition of the Arabic culture within which it arose. His statements must therefore be taken as coming from a relatively contemporary and personal experience of the religion's effects on/surrounding the Byzantine Empire of the 15th century.]

For the record--I do not trust the Pope in any degree, nor do I agree with any of his signature/endorsed policies that have come out of the Vatican. I am not now nor have I ever been (in this life at least) a member of the Roman Catholic Church, though I'm related to quite a few of them and went to a Catholic school for first grade. But I do believe that irrational religions are dangerous (as are those that hide behind a pretense of rationality), and that it is far better to have an intelligent and civil dialogue with those of other beliefs than to berate, harass, socially and legally discriminate, tax and stigmatize, torture, brainwash and kill in the name of any god or the absence thereof.

[Admittedly, that can and should be said far more clearly and explicitly than it was....but hell, how much circumspection can you expect from the supreme leader of one of the oldest and most absolutist denominations in the world? Expect chauvinism and condescension from a pope -- that way you won't be disappointed when the status quo remains unchanged or becomes regressively entrenched.]

But anyhow, anyone in these days who has a significant problem with that above concept probably hasn't thought very much about the state of this world -- or else they are willing to destroy it and the rest of humanity for the sake of what they think will be heavenly favour in the world to come.

[Gee, won't they be surprised.....]

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