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Crazy

There, I said it (seven in a series)

Via Reuters (emphasis mine):
...The statement came amid mounting anger from Muslims over remarks by the Pope in a speech in his native Germany on Tuesday that was seen as critical of their faith. Calls for him to apologize had spread beyond the Islamic world.

In that speech, the Pope appeared to endorse a Christian view, contested by most Muslims, that the early Muslims spread their religion by violence. Islamic fury erupted on Thursday and has cast doubt on a visit the Pope plans to Turkey in November....

...Two churches -- neither of them Catholic -- were fire-bombed in the West Bank, although no one was hurt....
Point proven.

Setting aside questions about Islam's status as a "religion of peace" and just looking at the behavior on an individual level, what kind of moron has this thought process?:
I can't believe their leader said my religion was spread by violence in its early years. That's ridiculous! It makes me so angry that I'm going to set fire to their place of worship. That will show how wrong they are!
Duh.

It's like the Danish cartoon all over again. Seriously, how messed up is it to respond to possible allegations of ancient violence with a firebombing? The world and the media will be quick to point out that "these are just a few extremists," but even accepting this to be true, when was the last time Christians, extreme or otherwise, responded to insults from Islamic leaders with global anger and firebombing mosques? Criticizing Christians past and present is a regular pastime for millions across the globe—if I got violent anytime some moron popped off with some half-baked litany of Christian injustices throughout history, I wouldn't have time to get anything else done. Until Christians regularly and globally respond this way to these sorts of stimuli, maybe it's OK to lay off of us for a little while.

Comments

I agree it's crazy to retaliate in such a manner, but what gets to me is the backtracking and apologizing.

When will our Christian leaders say the truth and stick to it? Why do they feel the need to do so? If comments such as the Pope's will only lead to an apology, why comment at all? Doesn't that negate the sentiment altogether?
We'll see how it goes, but just from a glance at the story, the initial apology sounded a lot more like "I'm sorry if you were offended" than "I didn't mean it." I'd give that kind of apology, too. A retraction seems silly, though (the Pope probably can't claim intoxication like Mel Gibson), and I hope he sticks to his guns if he meant it.

I don't honestly know enough about Islamic history or the Pope's speech to know whether I think what he said is true or not. I just know the firebombing response is the very definition of "unclear on the concept."
Well, what happened was he read an exchange from a debate between a Byzantine Emperor and a Persian scholar. The line Muslims are angry about was something the Emperor had said. So it wasn't quite the focus of the speech, and had been taken out of context by Islamic media. However, it didn't take long for them to try to prove the line true.
I'm no longer surprised by Muslim reactions to things. I've had several Muslim (male) students who have horrified me with their views. what still stuns me is the way so many westerners seek fervently to accomodate dangerous, implacable people.

A book that explains a lot of this as a phenomenon of history is Occidentalism by Buruma & Margalit.

God wakes me up at 4.00 am pst almost everyday to pray for Muslims.
Thanks for the recommendation; I may need to give it a read.

It's a good thing you love God, because that might be annoying otherwise.
It's a pretty easy read. Brings anti-Westernism clear from Napoleon through Imperial Japan and the Nazis to this.

When you wake up it has little to do with loving God. I know it's a privilege to participate, though nothing about the Muslim world much appeals to me, to be honest. You-know-who might fill you in on my Brother Andrew moment. It's all no big deal. Helps me be fit to wake up early for Premiership matches.
You get woken up at 4am every day to pray for Muslims? Are you an intercessor too? It sounds like it. I occasionally get woken up at around 3 or 4am to pray but fortunately not that often. Since I got sick, God has taken it more easy on me with the early morning calls. Wow, that's a really serious prayer burden you've got there. I'm going to friend you if that's okay.
friend away. just don't expect too much. i'm no natural intercessor, but i do what i must. it doesn't seem like much of a burden. i'm up anyway. i find it all kind of comical.

those silly extremists

Maybe it's, like, cultural er some junk.

;)

Since when does the Pope have to be for the Muslim way of doing things?

I mean, you said all there was to say, I'm just over here giggling with incredulity.

Re: those silly extremists

Since when does the Pope have to be for the Muslim way of doing things?

Exactly. In respect to that expectation, the whole world has taken leave of its senses. I hate being obvious, but...um...he's the Pope.
All you have to do is study the history of Islam to realise it's basis is violence. Mohammed's way of uniting the disparate Arabian race made up of countless small tribes was to conquer each tribe one by one and make them convert to Islam. By doing so, he united the entire race into a nation. Very damn clever and very effective but it does mean the religion is based in violence. All you have to do is check out the rewards to martyrs who die in warfare listed in the Koran to see the psychology behind the impetus to violence. To my mind, the Pope was making a severe understatement.

You have to admit, though...

The Pope accusing early Muslims of spreading their religion by violence is the pot calling the kettle black.

Even today - Fred Phelps is still out there. And abortion clinics still get bombed. And every White Supremacist group claims Christianity.

Brother, just because the blood on our hands isn't fresh doesn't mean it's not blood.

Re: You have to admit, though...

This is exactly my point, friend. When those things are true (can you find recent abortion clinic bombings? that one always gets mentioned, but the most recent I found was in 1998...it's a good cliché, but it may not be so solid as an example from "today"), we do have to admit them, and hopefully repent.

That's a totally different response than we're seeing to the Pope's remarks (which were, in fact, quoting someone else...have you read the speech yet?). Even if one considers his comments to be hypocritical, that's different than claiming they are false, then responding with violence. The latter is just batshit crazy.

You'll see no claim that Christians are innocent of blood here—our very hope is rooted in the fact that we are not. We have freedom through repentance, not denial.

When was the last time?

In response to your question, "When was the last time...". Perhaps if your remove the condition "responded to insults from Islamic leader by" and simply asked when the last time Christians firebombed mosques and expressed global anger, it would be much easier to respond. How about 48,000 Iraqi civilians dead since the United States, an avowedly Christian nation, invaded Iraq? U.S. use of cluster weapons in Afghanistan and Iraq despite the fact that these deadly weapons contiue to kill and maim civilians and children in Laos and Vietnam 30 years later? Did Bush say God told him to invade Iraq? See here http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9618531/. If the proportions hold, then how many "non mortal injuries" have occurred among Iraqi's since the war began in comparison to nearly 16,000 injuries among U.S. combat personnel?
Surely you would agree that the vast majority of the American military personnel in Iraq would call themselves Christian, and even if only a relatively small proportion of Iraqi civilian deaths can be blamed on them, a small proportion of 48,000 is still a big number! I guess I'm asking the question "Do we as Christians have any place to stand from which we can criticize Muslim stupidity or Muslim violence?"

Even when we don't agree, I like your reading and your thoughts.

Wow, so many places we disagree. Here are the bullet points (and yes, I realize there's a pun in there):
  • The veracity of the Bush "quote."
  • America as an avowedly Christian nation.
  • Equating the U.S.'s elected president (regardless of his professed faith) with a religious leader.
  • Equating soldiers under government orders (regardless of their professed faith) with those reacting violently to a perceived slight (because really, could the Pope's remarks even be reasonably seen as an attack?) to their faith.
Disagreeing on those premises makes this seem like apples and oranges—perhaps bad apples and bad oranges, but still different fruits altogether. I think I can understand questioning whether Christians have a place from which to criticize, but because of the premises we don't agree upon, my answer to that question is "yes, by all means." It shouldn't be the only thing we comment upon, but it's absolutely fair game.

Besides which, I can also be completely arbitrary in my ranting—the joy of online journaling. :)

"condescension"

Lee,
You seem to be an eminently reasonalbe individual. Were you a teacher? Your response created this lovely space within which I could ponder. Thankyou
How about even if we disagree on the premises you mentioned...
Do we as (human beings/Americans/Christians) have a ... (duty, obligation, moral imperative?) to speak out boldly and loudly against the (sin/crime/horror/violence) perpetrated by the "us" (before/more than) that perpetrated by the "them"? Another way to think about this is something Dr. Allender said (I quote from memory, so I could very much get this wrong, and if I do, please don't blame Dan): "If/when we speak to someone esle's sin without first being honestly aware that we are in reality worse sinners than they, we will always come across as condescending."

Re: "condescension"

That's an excellent point, and I largely agree with you and Dan (I say "largely" only as a caution, because I can't think of any exception to my agreement, but I'd hate to give away the farm...).

And I'm glad my comment was received as space instead of shutting down further consideration. I've been a teacher in the past and sometimes I miss it.