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Saturday, September 16, 2006


David Alexander

There is a definite truth in what the Byzantine emperor was saying given that Constantinople fell to the Turks a mere fifty years later. The military expansion of Islam in the Mediterranean world is an incontrovertible fact.
We must not ignore the truth but recognize it wherever it appears not matter how uncomfortable or politically incorrect:

"Do not recognize truth on the basis of men; rather, recognize the truth first, then you will recognize the holders of truth." Thus, the cognizant rational person recognizes the truth, and then examines the statement itself. If it is true, he accepts it regardless of whether the person who made the statement is a liar or an honest person. Indeed, he may even strive to seize the truth from the statements of those who are in error, knowing full well that gold is mined among dirt and sand.

Al-Ghazali a 12th century Muslim Scholar from his work the Rescuer from Error. This was towards the end of Islam's Golden Age when it interacted with Greek thought.

More here from Al-Ghazali with commentary:


Decide on the Goal, Then Pronounce . . .

Just as the Pope does, I believe that there should be more sanity in the world than there is today. If a single word, a single opinion, a single cartoon, a single book evokes violent reaction then the world is insane. Evocation of such violent reaction ought not to be the case.

Also, every religion or culture or society MUST at a minimum promise a wonderful life to its own kind, offer to take care of its own kind. This, I believe, is the minimum yardstick by which we can judge the achievements of any religion, culture or society. Other than the “Shintoists” (i.e., the Japanese), the “Zarathustras” (i.e., the Parsis) and the “Sikhs” I am yet to see any religion or culture or society that can take care of the most unfortunate ones of its own kind. The Jews come very close to meeting this minimum yardstick. The poorest, the most unfortunate ones among these religions, cultures or societies are cared for by those who have plenty, who are fortunate, who are privileged.

This is the message, the philosophy of “Anotodyaya” that Gandhi propagated and wanted to incorporate in the Indian politic (but unfortunately failed). The Parsis and the Sikhs have it incorporated in their religion in their mannerisms, in the way they take care of their unfortunate ones. In the same way, the Japanese have taken care of their poor, their handicapped, their unfortunate ones.

The Hindus, the Christians, and the Muslims fail this minimum yardstick by miles. The track records of Hinduism, Christianity and Islam leave much to be desired. The unfortunate ones, the less privileged ones are made to live the lives of vermins. They are forced to steal, rob, plunder for survival. The fortunate and privileged Hindus, Christians and Muslims do not care for, or educate, or assist those who are unable to do so of their own kind. The rich and the powerful of all these three religions care little for the unfortunate ones in their own religion let alone caring for the unfortunate ones of other religions.

Having said what I have (above) it is essential to feel and understand why rioting starts as soon as a critical word is spoken or written or a picture drawn. After we understand that we must then decide our goals before making a statement or attempt anything given that such insane, irrational responses are evoked at the drop of a pin.

We know that every religion, every culture has its mix of liberals and fanatics. The goal of those outside the religion SHOULD be to help grow the numbers and powers of the liberals within that religion or culture. Unless that happens no meaningful and rational dialogue is conceivable. Also, as the numbers and powers of liberals grow that religion and culture will become ripe for introspection and renaissance, instead of sliding back into the dark, middle ages that saw much fanaticism and zealotry all round.

If any religion is unable to do so on its own it becomes the responsibility of other religions to assist the process of moving away from fanaticism and zealotry.

David Alan Hjelle

As a Protestant that has a deep respect for much of Catholic thought, I'm a bit stymied by what Nostra Aetate is really trying to say. I understand that many religions around the world have truth in them--and, if that's all the document is trying to say, I agree. It seems that it goes further, however. Does Catholic orthodoxy truly teach that Christians, Muslims, and Jews all are worshipping the same God?

You can read more of my thoughts on the matter on my blog.

Thanks for helping me understand. :-)

Carl Olson

Other than the “Shintoists” (i.e., the Japanese), the “Zarathustras” (i.e., the Parsis) and the “Sikhs” I am yet to see any religion or culture or society that can take care of the most unfortunate ones of its own kind.

Do the thousands of Catholic (and other Christian) hospitals, clinics, orphanages, half-way houses, counselling centers, charities, and programs count? Does the world's most extensive, expensive welfare system, which exists in a Christian country (the United States) count? Just wondering...

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