Monday, September 18, 2006

I don't believe in God, but I can't accept that there's nothing. I don't particularly like the current Pope or what he stands for, but I'm ambivalent about the Catholic church and I can't blame people for wanting to have faith. I am not very well educated on Islam, but I don't believe that all Muslims are experts at flying planes into buildings.

All that aside, I genuinely don't think that it was the Pope's intention, when he quoted the Byzantine emperor, Manuel II, who described Islam as "evil and inhuman", to make some kind of Catholic first-strike against Islam. He may be misinformed and naive, but I don't think that he's stupid. Or at least not enough to think that he could imply that followers of Islam are homicidal maniacs and get away with it. I actually think that he knew that his words would carry some resonance, but not in the way that he intended. In the speech he said that Manuel i's words were "startlingly brusque," and apparently made certain that the audience understood that he was reading a quotation.

Of course what he failed to do was allude to Christianity's history of violence, such as the crusades or the Inquisition. In every religion there are always people who take the "word" too literally and end up landing outside of the rational. Islam is tarnished by violence right now, but Christianity has been just as violent in the past.

But what do I say to my Mum when she says that she just watched the news and thinks that those who follow Islam might actually be homicidal maniacs, after all? I want to tell her off and encourage her to be open minded. But to my Mum she feels justified in saying this and thinking this, because Christianity's violence is in the past and Islam's is happening right now.

Because to her, the Pope's references to Islam's purported disposition for bloodshed caused some Islamic followers to become so enraged that they went out and killed a nun by shooting her in the back.

How can I argue against that logic?

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