September 12, 2011

Quick Hits (091211, Evening)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:37 pm

While waiting for Glenn Beck TV’s debut to come up on my computer, which is not going to happen …


Michelle Malkin: “Fast and Furious update: More guns, more stonewall.” But “squeaky clean, scandal-free.” (/sarc)

Ed Driscoll at Pajamas Media: “The Beauty of Social Insurance Is that It Is Actuarially Unsound” — Wherein we learn that characterizing Social Security as a Ponzi scheme was once seen by liberal economists as a feature, not a bug.

Klavan on the Culture at Pajamas Media: “The ‘War on Terror’ Is All About God.” The PC police won’t like that.

At the Associated Press: “TechCrunch founder leaving AOL-owned blog.” He tried to start up a tech venture fund while retaining the ability to review tech products and services. Sensible people objected. That this was even considered is a bad reflection on AOL management and TechCrunch’s founder.

Eleanor Clift objects to our “obsessive focus” on terrorism since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. What an ingrate: Although a strong case can be made for controlling home security-related spending, 39 terror plots have been foiled since 9/11 because of this “obsessive focus.”

Max Boot at The Weekly Standard: “Losing Iraq?” If we do, it’s all on Obama. Every bit of it.



  1. Tom,
    10 years after 9-11 and 5 years since the Pope spoke on Islam. Read, This is why I love this Pope.
    – Greg

    Is Dialogue With Islam Possible? Some Reflections on Pope Benedict XVI’s Address at the University of Regensburg | Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J. | September 18, 2006

    I. Both before and since his elevation to the papacy, Benedict has taken a consistent approach to controversial issues: he locates the assumptions and fundamental principles underlying the controversy, analyzes their “inner” structure or dynamism, and lays out the consequences of the principles.

    For example, in Deus Caritas Est, Benedict does not address directly the controversial issues of homosexual partners, promiscuity, or divorce. Instead he examines the “inner logic” of the love of eros, which is “love between man and woman, where body and soul are inseparably joined . . .” He shows that it has been understood historically to have a relationship with the divine (“love promises infinity, eternity”) and to require “purification and growth in maturity … through the path of renunciation”. In love’s “growth towards higher levels and inward purification … it seeks to become definitive … both in the sense of exclusivity (this particular person alone) and in the sense of being ‘for ever’.” …

    II. While in Deus Caritas Est Benedict defends the foundational truth that God is Love, in his Regensburg lecture he is defending the foundational truth that God is Logos, Reason. The central theme of the lecture is that the Christian conviction that God is Logos is not simply the result of a contingent historical process of inculturation that has been called the “hellenization of Christianity”. Rather it is something that is “always and intrinsically true”.

    In the main body of the lecture, Benedict criticizes attempts in the West to “dehellenize” Christianity: the rejection of the rational component of faith (the sola fides of the 16th century reformers); the reduction of reason to the merely empirical or historical (modern exegesis and modern science); a multiculturalism which regards the union of faith and reason as merely one possible form of inculturation of the faith. All this is a Western self-critique.

    But as the starting point of his lecture, Benedict takes a 14th century dialogue between the Byzantine Emperor and a learned Muslim to focus on the central question of the entire lecture: whether God is Logos. The Emperor’s objection to Islam is Mohammed’s “command to spread by the sword the faith he preached”. The emperor asserts that this is not in accordance with right reason, and “not acting reasonably is contrary to God’s nature”. Benedict points to this as “the decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion”.

    It is at this point in the lecture that Benedict makes a statement which cannot be avoided or evaded if there is ever to be any dialogue between Christianity and Islam that is more than empty words and diplomatic gestures. For the Emperor, God’s rationality is “self-evident”. But for Muslim teaching, according to the editor of the book from which Benedict has been quoting, “God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality”.

    Benedict has struck bedrock. This is the challenge to Islam. This is the issue that lies beneath all the rest. If God is above reason in this way, then it is useless to employ rational arguments against (or for) forced conversion, terrorism, or Sharia law, which calls for the execution of Muslim converts to Christianity. If God wills it, it is beyond discussion.

    III. Let us now turn to the statement in Benedict’s lecture which has aroused the most anger. Benedict quotes the Byzantine Emperor’s challenge to the learned Muslim: “Show me just what Mohammed 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.”

    Benedict’s main argument — that God is Logos and that violence in spreading or defending religion is contrary to the divine nature — could have been made without including that part of Emperor’s remark (made “somewhat brusquely” according to Benedict) that challenges Islam much more globally. And in his Angelus message the following Sunday, Benedict said: “These (words) were in fact a quotation from a Medieval text which do not in any way express my personal thought.” Nevertheless, it may be instructive to examine this “brusque” utterance of the Emperor and ask the question: Is it simply indefensible?

    As a thought experiment, let’s reverse the situation. Suppose a major spokesman for Islam publicly issued the challenge: “Show me just what Jesus brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman.” What would be the Christian response? Not to burn a mosque or an effigy of the Muslim spokesman, or to shoot a Muslim nurse in the back in Somalia. It would rather be to reply with some examples of just what makes the New Covenant new: the revelation that God is a Father who has a co-equal Son and Holy Spirit; that Jesus is God’s Son made flesh; the Sermon on the Mount; the Resurrection of the body; the list would be long. As Irenaeus put it: he brought all newness, bringing himself. Such a statement would not make dialogue impossible; it would be an occasion for dialogue.

    … It’s worth noting, however, that while consistent Christians and Muslims in fact hold the position of the other to be erroneous in important ways, the Christian is not obliged by his faith to subject the Muslim to dhimmitude nor to deny him his religious freedom. There is a serious asymmetry here, which Benedict has criticized before. The Saudis can build a multi-million dollar mosque in Rome; but Christians can be arrested in Saudi Arabia for possessing a Bible.

    Certainly, it may sound provocative to make the claim the Emperor did. But why (since Christians believe that God’s full and definitive revelation has come with Christ, who brings all prophecy to an end) isn’t it just as provocative for a Muslim to proclaim that Mohammed is a new prophet, bringing new revelation that corrects and supplements that of Christ?

    Is it really offensive to say that Christians and Muslims disagree profoundly about this? Is not this the necessary starting point that must be recognized before any religious dialogue can even begin?

    And if the response from Islam is violence, then must we not ask precisely the question raised by Benedict: Is this violence an aberration that is inconsistent with genuine Islam (as similar violence by Christians would be an aberration inconsistent with genuine Christianity)? Or is it justifiable on the basis of Islam’s image of God as absolutely transcending all human categories, even that of rationality? And if the response to this question is violence, then the question has been answered existentially, and rational dialogue has been repudiated.

    IV. Finally, has no one seen the irony in the episode related by Benedict? Byzantium was increasingly threatened in the 14th century by an aggressive Islamic force, the growing Ottoman Empire. The Byzantine Emperor seems to have committed the dialogue to writing while his imperial capital, Constantinople, was under siege by the Ottoman Turks. It would fall definitively in 1453. Muslims were military enemies, engaged in a war of aggression against Byzantium. Yet even in these circumstances the Christian Emperor and the learned Persian Muslim could be utterly candid with one another and discuss civilly their fundamental religious differences. As Benedict described the dialogue, the subject was “Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both”.

    The West is once again under siege. Doubly so because in addition to terrorist attacks there is a new form of conquest: immigration coupled with high fertility. Let us hope that, following the Holy Father’s courageous example in these troubled times, there can be a dialogue whose subject is the truth claims of Christianity and Islam.

    Comment by Greg — September 12, 2011 @ 10:09 pm

  2. Ground Zero or ground zero caps or lc alert, Jerry Schwartz of Ap tells al to Richar Morgan at Commercial Appeal, see my comments there via your blog here. Maybe update is needed? Wash Post caps it, nyt lc’s it, according to Phil Blanchard, former copy edit at Post.

    Comment by Dan Bloom — September 13, 2011 @ 12:20 am

  3. Tom, I am presenting three Links to three articles that need to be seriously considered all together in regards to our countries foreign policy. Presently I question if Rick Perry is really the correct person to be president. As a Roman Catholic, why would we want a Neocon president and how is it so different than Obama’s foreign policy?
    What have the Neocons done for Roman Catholicism? (Besides sending Roman Catholics soldiers to die in their wars for what end?
    I believe in the last election the Catholic vote actually elected Obama, and its what is going to defeat him next time. Now, Just because Perry jumps on Ohio SB5 anti abortion bandwagon lets not make him the president just for that!

    Please read both of these articles and please comment.

    Rick Perry is the Neocon Warmonger Choice for President

    What Is a Neoconservative? – & Does It Matter?

    3. Jesus’ Government

    Comment by Greg — September 13, 2011 @ 4:36 pm

  4. The first two are disappointments, but NOR piece is the bigger. To say that “neocons” have their origins in the Stalin-Trotsky battle is laughable. It’s a real comedown for an outfit I used to respect. Sobran is/was his usually brilliant self. His key message is that you can’t expect salvation through politics. How that’s relevant to “neocons” is hard to grasp.

    The bottom line on Israel and jihad and the culture corrupters is really the same: If you ignore your enemies, they won’t go away. They’ll eventually come for you. To pretend otherwise is to invite mega-9/11s.

    Comment by TBlumer — September 13, 2011 @ 5:20 pm

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