“Big Popey,” by J.F. Atkinson, Chiasm, 19 September 2006, http://chiasm.blog-city.com/popey.htm.
FWIW, count me in the ‘WTF Pope?’ legions – despite being a Catholic (if not a particularly orthodox one) and despite finding the fundamentalist frothing at his remarks totally retarded obv, his choice of words seem so-obv-as-to-be-basically-purposely provocative that his soul’s gotta be heavy with guilt over the (obv awful inexcused etc) shooting of a 70-year old Italian nun three times in the back outside a children’s hospital in Somalia and whatever other insane reprisals he has exposed Catholics around the world to. While he was using that quote in the process of making a pretty legit (as far as these things go) point, there’s no reason why he had to use that particular and ripe-for-misrepresentation quote unless A) he really is completely out of touch with the world and/or has a tard for a PR guy, or B) he felt that the provocation served a political-theological agenda more important than the safety of his followers. I’m guessing ‘B’, and if it weren’t the Pope we were talking about I would say that this is ‘kind of a dick move’.
It’s also worth noting, as Christopher Hitchens did today on some C-SPAN jawn, that it’s difficult for even die-hard War on Terrorcrats to be sympathetic on this with a Vatican that sided with these same extremists in condemning the Dutch Mohammed cartoons as blasphemous, no? Wondering if we’re gonna get commentary on this from also-Catholics and staunch connectivists Tom Barnett or Dan tdaxp, who both seem ‘weirdly’ but explicably silent on this issue so far.
Well, I can recognize a smack-down when I see it (and when Sean Meade reminds me by email!). I have been struggling to integrate Pope Benedict XVI’s speech into my series on Jesusism-Paulism, to take the story of the Christians from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Islam, but in the meantime here is my response, slightly reworded:
We live in an exceptional time when two greatest world religions are each re-experiencing the world of their birth.
Christianity is an ideology that is optimized to spread in unipolar environments. It teaches submission to the state and subversion of resources. Christ’s and Paul’s words were particularly effective against the Romans because a military insurgency could never work, but an ideology one might. The goal was not to spread a reborne Israel throughout the Mediterranean but to convert Mediterraneans to be the new Children of Israel.
Islam is designed for a chaotic, post-superpower world. Mohammed’s words were particularly effective because the Romans had previously destroyed the Persian Empire, and much of the world was lawless and disoriented. Islam provided a grand unifying ideal where none existed and spread this through violence that none could resist.
Two-thirds of the world, everything but the Islamic and African states, is as Rome was. Your security is guaranteed by the police, and your state’s security is guaranteed by the American military. Violent confrontation against the system cannot work, so the best method for spreading your beliefs is co-option of the system.
One-third of the world, the African and Islamic states, is as Arabia was. The police are corrupt and the Americans don’t care. Peaceful subversion of the system cannot work, because there is no system. The best way for spreading your beliefs is force.
Hence we see Christianity acting through words and Islam acting through violence. Christianity has been violent, as Islam has been peaceful, but for the first time they are both in their Environment of Evolutionary Adaption simultaneously.
I also take issue with his implication that the Pope is somehow uniquely insensitive to the Catholic faithful. From the beginning, the Church has encouraged martyrdom operations. As I write:
“Insane reprisals” are in no way new to the Catholic faith. Indeed, such martyrdom operations helped spread the faith. If the physical safety of all Catholics was the prime goal of the Church, then suffering under Diocletian and Caiaphas was for not. But then, if the physical safety of all Catholics was the prime goal of the Church, it never would been as successful as it has been.
Islamic persecution — the persecution of others by Islam — and Christian persecution — the persecution of Christianity by others — are how those faiths spread.
“What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.”