Friday, December 01, 2006

Why do I get the feeling I am really, really alone

When the current Pope Benedict arrived in Turkey all the Anglo dailies carried the story captioned as some form of “Pope arrives, Muslims Enraged” and I was okay with that…I mean really - what doesn’t the Muslim street rage and seethe about? If they will riot about cartoons, than anything is open season for rage. And since the Pope is leader of the largest Christian sect of Infidels while wouldn’t they rage? It not only seems quite logical to me but psychological consistent as well.

Apparently, the Pope has won acclaim by facing Mecca and saying a prayer in a mosque according to this Beitbart article:
In Turkey, he carefully avoided anything that could be perceived as a slight against Islam. He said all religious leaders must "utterly refuse" to support violence. Even when a statement from al-Qaida in Iraq denounced the trip, the Vatican responded with a general rebuke of "violence in the name of God."

The pope's dramatic moment of silent prayer in Istanbul's famed Blue Mosque on Thursday capped a wide-ranging effort to win back Muslim sentiments, which included expressing support for Turkey's steps to become the first Muslim nation in the European Union.

The gestures were well-received among Turkish religious leaders and in the media. Mustafa Cagrici, the head mufti in Istanbul, waxed poetic about "a spring ahead for this world" after praying alongside Benedict at the Blue Mosque. He said the pope "stood in prayer just like Muslims." It marked only the second papal visit in history to a Muslim place of worship. John Paul II made a brief stop in a mosque in Syria in 2001.

Scenes from the pope's minute of prayer _ eyes closed, hands clasped _ appeared on the front page of nearly every newspaper in Turkey. "History written in Istanbul," wrote the Vatan newspaper. The pope's visit also made the front pages of several Arab newspapers. The pan-Arab Asharq al-Awsat ran a front-page picture of the pope praying in the Blue Mosque, with the headline, "The pope turns toward Mecca in prayer."
Excuse me, but I rather wish he hadn’t. When the leader of modern day Christendom deliberately turns to pray towards Mecca, I cannot help feeling that it’s a betrayal. A bit a small one, and made as a gesture of reconciliation, but what are you asking to be reconciled too? I really am very afraid of what’s next.


Anonymous said...

I too am afraid. I have been afraid for many years now as I watched the threat of Islam grow. I don't just mean radical Islam. Radical Islam is a phrase used to assure the west and all her liberal naves that only "radical" people hate like this. It is a euphemism that makes it seem like only a few nuts are involved. All of Islam is involved. I have never met or herd for that matter a moderate or liberal Muslim.

The Pope's actions are very perplexing. I would not turn to face the west in reconciliation. They would never enter a church except to burn it. We can have no peace with this religion of hatred and contradiction. What has happened to our Catholic tradition of martyrdom. Why are we so afraid to die for our faith.

Michael said...

Why should we want to die for our faith? We should, rather, live for it, and stand up and fight for it.

The Pope should never have faced Mecca in prayer, unless he was in a church which was incidentally built that way. (Out of curiosity, do Christians face any particular direction in prayer?)

As a Jew, I face Jerusalem in prayer. Living in the Galil, north of Jerusalem and also north of Mecca, you might say that I have Mecca while in synagogue. Perhaps, but it is incedental, and I didn't realize it untilwriting this comment. Mecca is nothing to me; just some Arab outpost. It ought to be nothing to the Pope.

Why does the West want to appease the unappeasable muslims? Did we learn nothing in 1938, or 2001?

Kateland, aka TZH said...

As someone else who is far wittier than I remarked (relapsed catholic) at least he didn't kiss the Koran, but in my mind he might as well have.

As far as I know, Christians don't need to face any particular direction to pray. I can't speak for all the various protestant or orthodox groups and when I was young attending a non-catholic religious service or even going into a religious non-Catholic building was a big no-no. My how times have changed.

I don't think we have learned a damned thing. One of the things I have heard Christians say about what is commonly referred to as the old testament, is that they find it far too bloody. All the killing sanctioned by G-d is somewhat scary and off-putting. They seem to totally miss the point and the lesson to be learned - which is why the killing needed to be done in the first place.

I suppose it all goes back to misinterpreting the 10 commandments from Hebrew. Christians take it as "thou shall not kill" rather than "thou shall not murder". How one misinterprets the Hebrew word for "murder" as "kill" is beyond me. But that does give rise to a fundmental change in ethics.

When I was about 5, my mother was trying to give me a lesson in Christian pacifism and explained that if someone was trying to kill us it was better if we didn't fight back to save our lives, in order that we didn't face final judgment with the sin of killing on our hands. This I found scary and quite off-putting. I decided to seek a second opinion and asked my grandmother and she told me she would fight the legions of hell to save me. Then I decided to seek out my grandfather's opinion. He told me that he would rise up to kill anyone who tried to kill me before they even had the opportunity. That was it. I was sold on the value of pre-emption which sounded not only fine but sane.

Anonymous said...

There is an excellent book "Just War Against Terror" by Jean Bethke Elshtain. It is an application of the just war theory to the war on terror. It was well written and very good read. In short it is not only proper to fight terror, it is just.

Christian pacifism, which I suppose is noble, is really not at the heart of Catholicism as some would say. Turn the other cheek did not mean that we were to be butchered. Even Jesus fought evil. If you use the parable of the good Samaritan as an example you get quite another ethic that turn the other cheek. If the Samaritan had come across the act of the robbery would Christ have said to pass by? Of course not by extension we would be bound to defend this man. Pacifism is only for the weak in spirit and in body.

When I said that we Catholics, Christians, need to stop fearing death and be willing to die for the faith, I am referring to Christ telling us that we would be persecuted for following Him. I also meant in that we should not appease the horde simply to preserve peace. If the outcome of speaking the truth is my death so be it, to deny the truth has far greater consequences.

Steve B said...

The Pope. Prayed in a mosque. Doesn't sound like it should be one of those "snows in hell" kind of sayings?

"The Pope'll pray in a MOSQUE before I let you borrow my lawnmower again!"

Now, not so much.

Chris Taylor said...

I guess I am the lone dissenter here because I don't see the big deal. It is not as if the Pope renounced Christianity and converted to Islam. He was merely showing respect for the customs of that faith. Did he say "The one true God is Allah and Mohammed is his Prophet"? Did he repeat the Five Pillars of Islam? I think not.

To go all the way over there and then pointedly slight Islam would undermine anything else he attempts to accomplish on his trip. I don't think he's been as fulsome in his defense of Christianity as one might wish, but obviously he's got other priorities for this particular journey.

Maybe one of them is getting out in front of local populations and showing them that hey, you can actually respect the observance of other religions, whose practices may be contrary to yours, and not be any less dedicated to your particular faith. And not have to run about rioting and hacking off heads lest these differences be taken for heresy.

That seems like a pretty good message to be sending to the Islamic world right about now.

Kateland, aka TZH said...

Chris, I am going to take a wild guess and say that you were never raised in Catholicism, because if you were you, would have a better grasp of the nature of the dilemma the Pope’s actions caused.

As a Catholic, I am never allowed to pray or copy the outward rituals of Christian heretics (actual or material), let alone any non-Christian heretics, and especially not while in pray to the Lord. This extends to attending services in a Baptist church as much as a Muslim mosque – for funerals as much as weddings. To do so, would be just cause to run to seek absolution from sin. Just because many Catholics play fast and loose with the rules does not mean the rules have changed.

To you, the pontiff’s actions were a small gesture of respect and reconciliation but to others he is flirting with heresy.

There are other ways of showing respect or tolerance for other’s views without mimicking the rituals or gestures of material heretics.

Chris Taylor said...

You're correct, I was not raised in the Roman Catholic church, and I can see how it will cause some vexation in light of that interpretation of Catholic doctrine. I don't really have a dog in that fight since the Bishop of Rome doesn't have quite the same place in my spiritual firmament. =)

Obviously there are going to be a lot of folks seeking clarification regarding this act and what it all means to the layperson. Perhaps it is one of those "only Nixon could go to China" moments. One hopes the Roman church will explain it to the satisfaction of Catholics worldwide.