September 15th, 2006


Religion of Peace?

So, the Pope caused quite a ruckus by his academic chat in Regensburg. The world Islamic community seems to be saying, "We are too a religion of peace -- and we'll kill anyone who says different!"

Every religion wants to see itself favorably reported upon. Many religions have inflammatory things to say about other religions. This is nothing new. But is it just me, or is there a hysterical, paranoid, very ugly side to Islam?

I mean, compare our loonies to theirs. We got loonies, too, you know -- fundamentalist, make-up-your-own-law, mind-control sects. We even have "Christian" groups that preach hate and violence. But they don't come out swinging over what some elderly cleric says in a university lecture. I mean, sticks and stones and all that.

But many Muslims do. Who else would riot -- all over the world -- over cartoons published in some obscure paper in a small country, in a foreign language spoken by only 5.5 million people (0.1% of the world population)?

The classical view of Islam (by Christians) is that it is simply the most successful of the various Christian heresies. This is why Dante put Mohammed in the circle of Hell reserved for schismatics. I understand that Muslims obviously have a different view of their origins and of the value of their religion. But we Christians ought to be able to say where we disagree with Islam without being targeted for retaliation -- and we ought to be able to quote long-ago Byzantine Emperors on Islam as part of an academic discourse. The learned, grownup, civilized response (as Islam once knew) is to argue the other guy down, not shout him down (or knock him down).