Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Pope's Statement

There's a hullabaloo starting about "The Pope's Statement". My first reaction was in a reply to a comment on this blog. I actually took the time to read what is actually an academic speech. I think I can do an executive summary--and will, when I get a chance. In the mean time, here are my first impressions (my taking "Rhetorical Theory": at grad school should come in handy *some*where):

He's actually making the case for religion (and, in particular, theology) to be considered more seriously in academica and in intellectual circles generally. He (amazingly!) seems to be using
Manuel II's words (the part about Islam, which is incidental, but the part where Manuel's Christian insight into what is and isn't nice religion) as an opening quotation, as an example of what wonderful insights reason is capable of, when guided by religion (and he repeatedly says Christianity is particularly good at that).

My analysis: As I have taken to saying so often nowadays, the man and his use of that incident out of over 2000 years of Christian history are either naive, ill-advised ("There is no sin except stupdity," said Oscar Wilde), or malicious. I would say the same about the school of cardinals that elected their most conservative, and backward-looking theologian to lead them at the opening of the 21st century.

And in that sense, the complaints from the Muslim world have some basis; poking folks in the eye ain't the best way to make friends. Now if we had an official Caliph, he could challenge the man to a duel and we could be done with it and lots of people wouldn't have to be affected by riots and suchlike.

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