Monday, September 18, 2006
Personal Asides: What is This? The Vatican to Monitor the Pope? Liberal Relativist Neil Steinberg Instructs Us on Religion.
Correction: When in Matthew XVI: 15-16, Jesus Christ said to Peter, Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it He meant, of course, pending on the acquiescence of the Vaticans p. r. office which shall have the right to bowdlerize Peter so as to not make waves or disturb the comfortable. That is what Saturdays New York Times implies now that Benedict XVI has gotten into trouble with Muslims because of his remarks attesting to a conversation on the truths of Christianity between 14th century Byzantine emperor Manuel Paleologus II and a Persian scholar. Benedict, one of the most renowned biblical scholars and theologians of the West, quoted the Emperor as saying, 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. The pope now says he regrets the episode. Even that clarification was a mistake. The Muslims didnt accept it. They burned churches and shot a nun. He has followed up with a profound apology. He shouldnt have.
Benedict cited the quotation, saying that the doctrine of holy war and violence in the name of religion is contrary to Gods nature and to reason. A not very stunning conclusion. But since this truth has kicked up serious complaints in the peaceful religion of Islam The Times and some Italian newspapers, Vatican sources will have to be more vigilant about letting statements like Benedicts go uncorrected it being more important to pacify our hot-eyed bearded turbaned mullahs than to speak the truth. I am sure our own Catholic Senator Dick Turbaner, Durbin, would agree about his Pope.
The savviest commentator on Rome is John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter. Hes been an extreme theological liberal in his past due to the liberal newspaper hes worked for, wrote a savage book on then Cardinal Ratzinger but then trimmed his sails and wrote another in favor of him when Ratzinger became Benedict XVI. Why? Some say its because Allen has moderated; others because as a good journalist he wants to ingratiate himself with his news sources.
Allen has just written that any PR consultant would have told the pope that if he wanted to make a point about relationship between faith and reason he shouldnt open up with a comparison between Islam and Christianity that would be widely understood as a criticism of Islam, suggesting that its irrational and prone to violence. Heavens no. We dont want that misconception to get out now that Islam has responded by burning down only a few churches and shooting only a few nuns in Palestine. That violence erupted after Benedicts talk proves that Benedict should not have issued a regret. Some day some time were going to have to confront these guys and it could have been now. Only the day of confrontation has been delayed because of the Vatican PR office.
The fact is that Islam teaches that Muslims must wage war on non-Muslim states, that todays jihad terrorists have the same motives and goals as Muslims who fought the Crusaders, that the Crusades were defensive forays and Muslim persecution of Christians has continued for 13 centuries and still goes on. It is also clear that Muhammad did not teach peace and tolerance but led armies and ordered the assassination of his enemies that the Quran commands Muslims to make war on Jews and Christians that what we know as the Islamic world was created through a series of brutal conquests of non-Muslim lands that the jihad continues today with the outlook that unless curbed Europe could be Islamic by the end of this century and that ex-Muslims live in fear even in the United States. And Benedict apologizedfor what?
Neil Steinberg, the best feature columnist in the Sun-Times fills the marketing niche of the sophisticated and worldly wise upwardly mobile young urban male. His writing skill makes his column an interesting read. The other day it occurred to him that those who want prayer in the schools prefer only Judeo-Christian prayers not the prayers or worship phrasings of exotic religions. To him this insight seemed an inspiration. To most, it is commonplace.
He wrote his relativism the other day under the heading Believers think theres no god but their God. Of course: thats why theyre Judeo-Christian believers! So did the founders and those following them who endorsed voluntary prayer in public schools. He continues: Those who support prayer in school, for instance. They dont really want prayer in school. They dont really want little Kiki burning incense and little Haji offering bread-fruit to the great god Gamesh. Is this what he suggests the Declaration meant? Deist Thomas Jefferson wrote that we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator
Jeffersons use of the word Creator stamps him as one who supports the tradition view of Creator as First Cause. Along came the Warren Court, which, influenced by Hugo Black who wrote that even secular humanism is a religion, not withstanding that it does not believe in God. That was a flat contradiction to the first charter of our liberties. If he were better-schooled, Steinberg would tell us in his column that Blacks nihilistic view is to be preferred over Jeffersons in the Declaration. Blacks view is highly unorthodox for his time and ours. But were he to do this, Steinberg would be different from his heavy-weight colleagues: Debra Pickett, Stella Foster and Richard Roeper.
But the fight to return to the old verity goes on. Those who believe in the God Jefferson described have the right to insist that voluntary prayernot forced prayernot be abrogated in public schools because some like Steinberg believe either in no God or that any belief is of equal stature. Not as the U. S. was originally constituted, sorry. That doesnt mean that theres no room for dissent but does mean that the Founders God can be voluntarily beseeched without harming the Constitution and will be again when the goofy Warren courts nihilism can be rectified. Steinberg doesnt understand the historical significance or obviously hasnt read Black (a former Klansman whose membership was revealed when, as Alabama senator he was up for confirmation to the Court).
But let us not be too tough on Steinberg, the best feature writer in this citys liberal Democratic newspaper of record. He has courage, is gifted, is sometimes perspicacious and also writes good jokes.