Thursday, August 16, 2007

Dhimmi Bulb

The conventional wisdom for American religious conservatives has secular Europe succumbing to a resurgent Islam for want of a strong belief system (ie. religion). But while atheist Ayaan Hirsi Ali is hounded out of the Netherlands for her strident anti-Islamic rhetoric, and the late atheist writer Oriana Fallaci was put on trial for offending Islam with her impassioned defense of Western values, what have the Christian religious authorities on the Continent been doing, for their part? Why they've been rolling out the red carpet:
Roman Catholic Bishop Wants Everyone to Call God 'Allah'
proposal by a Roman Catholic bishop in the Netherlands that people of all faiths refer to God as "Allah" is not sitting well with the Catholic community.

Tiny Muskens, an outgoing bishop who is retiring in a few weeks from the southern diocese of Breda, said God doesn't care what he is called.

"Allah is a very beautiful word for God. Shouldn't we all say that from now on we will name God Allah? ... What does God care what we call him? It is our problem," Muskens told Dutch television.

"I'm sure his intentions are good but his theology needs a little fine-tuning," said Father Jonathan Morris, a Roman Catholic priest based in Rome. Morris, a news analyst for FOX News Channel, also called the idea impractical.

"Words and names mean things," Morris said. "Referring to God as Allah means something."

Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington, D.C.-based Islamic civil liberties and advocacy group, backs the idea as a way to help interfaith understanding.

"It reinforces the fact that Muslims, Christians and Jews all worship the same God," Hooper told FOXNews.com. "I don't think the name is as important as the belief in God and following God's moral principles. I think that's true for all faiths."


I'm glad I don't have to make this stuff up. I'm not that creative.

55 Comments:

Blogger Oroborous said...

What does God care what we call him? It is our problem," Muskens told Dutch television.

I happen to believe that Muskens is right on both counts, but so is Father Jonathan Morris, and Bishop Muskens is ignoring the implications of his own professions - that it's our problem, one that will inevitably have a human solution, and that means that Father Morris's argument trumps.

I'll take Ibrahim Hooper seriously when he starts using "Yahweh" in interviews.

August 16, 2007 8:00 PM  
Blogger Bret said...

Why not just call God Satan? Why not call black white? Why not call a table a chair? Why not? Because you'd be speaking another language, that's why? We have enough trouble understanding each other without changing the usage of words.

August 16, 2007 9:18 PM  
Blogger erp said...

O, it must be true that great minds think alike, you beat me to it. I was just about to propose that Moslems call their God, Yahweh, and see if he minds.

Re: language. I've just finished reading "The Road to Serfdom" and it was interesting to note that even 60 years ago, Hayek wrote that the left have taken control of the language and turned it on its head. He was referring to the word "liberal" which now means the polar opposite of its original meaning. I've been saying for a long time that the left are past masters of semantics and the right are either tongue tied or too naive and foolish to have even noticed.

In the film, "United 93," terrorists kept using the word, God, not Allah, the better to hammer home that we are all praying to the same entity. Such are the little touches that send the minds of the great unwashed where their masters want them to go. It set my teeth on edge.

August 17, 2007 5:11 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

Yes, words mean something. Not only to Christians but to Muslims. But actions mean even more.

I've started reading the book "Honor: a History" by James Bowman. He points out that the attitudes driving the virulent anti-western Islamists is something that pre-dates Islam. It is the honor ethos. The west has largely lost that ethos under the pressure of Christianity, but Islam did not reform the honor culture of Asia but was adapted to it.

To people who hold to the honor ethos, Bishop Muskens actions will merely confirm their attitude that Eurpoean culture is weak and dishonorable. Giving in, even in the spirit of friendship, earns you less respect, not more.

Turning the other cheek only invites another slap.

August 17, 2007 6:53 AM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

The west has largely lost that ethos under the pressure of Christianity

Hmm, let's see. Harry has them traipsing through history killing willy-nilly for the glory of the faith and Duck sees them as a bunch of honourless, cheek-turning wimps getting slapped around by everybody else.

The story reminds me of when my elder son was in cub scouts about fifteen years ago and attended an anodyne "Scouts Day" church service in some ultra-liberal church. They had to sing a nice little ecumenical hymn of thanks to the tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic. I'll never forget the third line:

"He is Allah, He is Buddha, He's the Mighty Manitou..

August 17, 2007 8:55 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

'The west has largely lost that ethos under the pressure of Christianity'

I haven't read the book, but this can hardly be right. Honor killings (and the whole apparatus of 'honor') were alive and well in places like Sicily and Italy and Dalmatia even within my lifetime.

Yet those places have been Christian, even more assertively Christian than the European average, for a long time.

The erosion of 'honor' in Europe is due to the gradual extension of Liberalism, a secular movement.

August 17, 2007 9:51 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

Duck sees them as a bunch of honourless, cheek-turning wimps getting slapped around by everybody else.

Peter, I was trying to give Christianity credit for a good thing. I'm talking about honor in its ancient form, which is how most Islamic societies practice it. The only people in the West who practice honor in that context today are gangsters.

Under Christianity, honor was softened and transformed into the idea of chivalry, which placed obligations on the powerful to protect the weak and powerless. The practice of duelling has an interesting history. It was originally instituted by the Church to try to discourage blood feuds by making it a highly ritualized, formal activity.

Harry, no doubt the ancient honor culture survived in backwards areas in the Mediterranean region, but the modern world evolved largely from the Anglosphere plus France and Germany, not Sicily.

August 17, 2007 12:43 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Yes, but when did they get around to evolving?

When was Etienne Galois shot?

August 17, 2007 2:23 PM  
Blogger David said...

I don't mind calling G-d "Allah" or, for that matter, "the Big Spook." But Bret nails it. Allah is the Arabic word for G-d, God is the English word and we're speaking English here.

It also seems like a stretch to blame the church for the Bishop's idiocy. I suspect that he is effectively more Dutch than Catholic, which is the problem with European Christianity.

August 17, 2007 3:51 PM  
Blogger David said...

Oh, and Jews are generally insulted by people calling G-d Yahweh.

August 17, 2007 3:51 PM  
Blogger Duck said...

Harry,

Who was Etienne Galois? Google doesn't know.

August 17, 2007 4:16 PM  
Blogger erp said...

David, what is the Hebrew word for G-d?

August 17, 2007 6:46 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Have I forgotten how to spell his name? Maybe. Senior moment, perhaps.

20-year-old French math prodigy, spent night before duel furiously writing out mathematical suppositions that are regarded as brilliant.

Shot dead next morning.

Around 1810.

August 17, 2007 7:04 PM  
Blogger Bret said...

Évariste Galois

August 17, 2007 8:30 PM  
Blogger Bret said...

erp:

יהוה

August 17, 2007 8:38 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

It reinforces the fact that Muslims, Christians and Jews all worship the same God," Hooper told FOXNews.com. "I don't think the name is as important as the belief in God and following God's moral principles. I think that's true for all faiths.

Nonsense on stilts, and completely redundant proof that devotional thinking is an oxymoron.

Taking the charitable view that his premise is true, then the consequence of his conclusion is that religion -- that is, the insistence upon proper faith -- is completely beside the point.

Those who use "Allah" just aren't going to buy it. Consequently, his premise is most assuredly not true for all faiths, and would require significant flights of fancy to assume for any.

Come to think of it, "interfaith understanding" also belongs in the oxymoron hall of fame.

August 17, 2007 9:18 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

I had been avoiding saying anything about the God/Allah thing, as it means nothing to me. However . . .

via Charles Johnson:

'There was no manger, Christ is not the Messiah, and the crucifixion never happened. A forthcoming ITV documentary will portray Jesus as Muslims see him.

'With the Koran as a main source and drawing on interviews with scholars and historians, the Muslim Jesus explores how Islam honours Christ as a prophet but not as the son of God. According to the Koran the crucifixion was a divine illusion. Instead of dying on the cross, Jesus was rescued by angels and raised to heaven.

'The one-hour special, commissioned and narrated by Melvyn Bragg, is thought to be the first time the subject has been dealt with on British television. Lord Bragg said: “I was fascinated by the idea ... Jesus was such a prominent figure in Islam but most people don’t know that.”

'He denies the programme will divide communities. Raised as an Anglican, he describes the documentary as thoughtful and well researched. “I hope it will provoke among Muslims the feeling they are included in television.”'

I don't generally read LGF comments, but the ones on this are all on point. Ginn sez:

'However, Patrick Sookhdeo, an Anglican canon and spokesman for the Barnabas Fund, which works with persecuted Christians, accused broadcasters of double standards. Mr Sookhdeo, who was born a Muslim and converted to Christianity in 1969, said: "How would the Muslim community respond if ITV made a programme challenging Muhammad as the last prophet?"'

On the other hand, this would provide a wonderful opportunity for moderate Muslims to respond in kind, wouldn't it?

August 17, 2007 10:01 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

At LGF, Mich-again offers:

'Actually, I went to a Meet the Muslim event at my Catholic Church a couple years back, and the guy was pretty slick talking about how Islam reveres Jesus and Mary. blah blah blah. Had the old codgers lapping it up.

Then I asked him point blank if they believe Jesus was crucified and he danced around for a while until the "no" finally came out. And at that point he lost the room and the crowd got kinda ugly and cynical towards him. So there is a chance that the movie will backfire. Why would Christians be impressed by Islam's denials of Jesus? Thats supposed to build a bridge between the faiths? Good luck with that.'

August 17, 2007 10:13 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

And Pawn of the Oppressor sez:

'I don't think the average Muslim knows a damned thing about Jesus or his teachings, from the looks of the state of the world these days.

'That's just my opinion. I could be wrong.'

OK, I'll stop now.

August 17, 2007 10:20 PM  
Blogger erp said...

That's what I thought.

August 18, 2007 5:33 AM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Harry Eagar--Defender of the Faith. I love it. No, seriously, it is just great to see all you Duckians animated by what to call the deity you don't believe exists.

Inter-faith dialogue can be important and enriching but it is also very hard work and I think best left to religious leaders and elites. Films for the masses and "Meet the Muslim" evenings (what a hoot!) run up against the push-pull of universality/separateness that exists in us all and carry the seeds of a potentially dangerous reaction. Just look at how the Muslim guy in Harry's comment "lost the room and the crowd got kinda ugly" when he admitted he didn't believe in the crucifixion. This was news to them?

"All men are my brothers" sounds wonderful until you begin to see how it can justify ignoring the plight of your real brother. If there is one Biblical story that needs to be better studied and understood today, it's the Tower of Babel. This isn't particular to religion, either, it's the same in politics. The Anglosphere can be very tight in the face of a crisis but prickly and jingoist in less menacing times. Do we think inviting a Canadian to the States to give his historical take on the War of 1812 at a July 4th bash is helpful? How about a Yankee guest of honour at the annual meeting of the Daughters of the Confederacy? Gotta see that other point of view, don't we?

World federalists, world government types, religious universalists, etc. are well-meaning fools who endanger us all.

August 18, 2007 5:36 AM  
Blogger erp said...

We're animated by the abuse of language, not the deity.

August 18, 2007 5:42 AM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Once an editor, always an editor, right erp? Well, I suppose if Dawkins can tout the beauty of the King James Bible and argue its importance to a good education, the Duckians can be allowed strong views on theological nomenclature.

August 18, 2007 7:59 AM  
Blogger David said...

erp: Jews don't think that G-d has a name in the sense that people have names, because Jews reject the idea that G-d can be defined. "Yahweh" is a guess as to how one would pronounce a word used in the Torah to refer to G-d, if one ever pronounced it, which we don't. We substitute the word "Adonai," meaning Lord, instead. Writing "G-d" instead of "God" is a bow to this tradition.

There's a move away from "Lord" these days because it is sexist (i.e., defines G-d as a man). I couldn't care less about the supposed sexism but strongly support the movement because I think that "Lord" is a terrible metaphor.

I have to say that I agree with Harry that the Muslim effort in Christiandom to kiss up to Christians by talking about how Islam venerates Jesus is bound to fail.

August 18, 2007 8:07 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Well, even if we don't believe, we can believe we know how many gods each kind worships. If the numbers are not congruent, then it can hardly be true that two groups can claim to worship 'the same one.'

Here is my tentative god count, by sect:

Unitarian/Universalists: 1 or everyone

Jews: 1

Muslims: 2

Zoroastrians: worship 1, but believe in 2

Protestants: 2 or 3

Roman Catholics: 3 or 4 (Orthodox: 3)

Ancient Hawaiians: 4

Hawaiian Congregationalists: 3 or 7

Hindus: 7 million

Buddhists: ?

August 18, 2007 9:20 AM  
Blogger Bret said...

"There's a move away from "Lord" these days..."

You mean the common prayers no longer start "Baruch ata Adonai..."? That's news to me.

August 18, 2007 9:50 AM  
Blogger erp said...

Words and their meaning matter. It's a subject I care about. If we can't agree on what words mean, there can never be any agreement on anything.

There are few things I feel less qualified to discuss than religion. I do know that the name of G-d is not spoken by observant Jews and apologize if anyone was offended by the ill-advised choice of words in an offhand quip.

August 18, 2007 10:51 AM  
Blogger David said...

Bret: No, I meant a move away from translating Adonai as "Lord." Mostly we've just been saying Adonai.

August 18, 2007 12:04 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

And now a series of fatwas against another writer, accompanied by Muslim lawmakers trying to take over a press club to prevent a talk with journalists.

It isn't only the word for 'god' that means different things to us from what it means to Muslims.

August 18, 2007 2:45 PM  
Blogger erp said...

Not only Moslems, but the left in general.

August 18, 2007 3:31 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Peter:

No, seriously, it is just great to see all you Duckians animated by what to call the deity you don't believe exists.

I, for one, would have to be in a persistent vegetative state to care less than I do now.

Rather, it is the hilarity of it all. Without self created exclusivity, there is no point to religion, particularly of the monotheistic kind. I seriously doubt Tiny has any idea how self defeating his rhetorical question is.

Just as with interfaith understanding. It is "hard" because it is a contradiction in terms, and is good only for heaps of devotional language that make a fog bank a model of crystal clarity in comparison.

August 19, 2007 7:03 PM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

..there is no point to religion, particularly of the monotheistic kind.

Uh, oh.

August 20, 2007 4:10 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Plugging in 'deity' gets some people more emotional. The same arguments apply, though, about the word democracy.

Or several others.

August 20, 2007 8:15 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Uh, oh.

On reflection, I could have chosen better words than "no point".

What I meant to say was that no monotheistic religion emphasizes good works over good faith.

If good works were sufficient for salvation, then then fealty would serve no function whatsoever: no need to accept Jesus as one's savior, or bow down to Mecca five times daily.

Which is where Ibrahim Hooper is either lying, or stupid, when he says [it] reinforces the fact that Muslims, Christians and Jews all worship the same God ... I don't think the name is as important as the belief in God and following God's moral principles. I think that's true for all faiths.

The name (as if any human knows what G-d calls itself) and all manner of non-moral hoop jumping (as if, despite being completely ignorant about G-d's real name, humans can ascertain those devotional hoops) are vitally important to religion; they are religions' sine qua non.

Above you said Inter-faith dialogue can be important and enriching but it is also very hard work and I think best left to religious leaders and elites.

Who will immediately betray the utter vacuity of the exercise.

August 21, 2007 9:16 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Besides, isn't it way less important what ol' Nameless is dubbed than what he encourages his worshippers to do?

August 21, 2007 9:27 AM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Skipper:

...no monotheistic religion emphasizes good works over good faith.

Arguably, but no polytheistic religion or secular creed like libertarianism or socialism emphasizes good works at all.

However, it wasn't your "no point" that worried me as much as your singling out monotheism. I'm worried you might end up with a golden calf on your front lawn.

August 21, 2007 11:00 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

I'd say socialism does promote good works.

Child-labor laws or universal education come to mind.

Monotheism wasn't out front on either of those.

August 21, 2007 8:48 PM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Only if you believe the state has a soul that can be saved by universal welfare and the planned economy. Socialism-in-power has no use for charity or individual good works and in fact often resents and undermines them.

True, there are lots of decent leftists who do things like build houses for the poor or open AIDS clinics in Africa, and they see it as part of the great struggle. But it is a dreamy, out-of-power thing. Once they are in, those folks tend to be marginalized or subsumed in the bureaucracy. Or shot.

August 22, 2007 5:48 AM  
Blogger David said...

Skipper: Works v. grace? That's a little far a field, isn't it. If Christianity (and, once again, this is not really theism v. atheism, issue but an intra-Christian schism) emphasized works over grace, it would be attacked (rightfully) for holding that the rich can buy their way into Heaven.

Of course, because the church wants people to try to buy their way into Heaven, they fudge a bit on the relationship between works and grace. It's very much like the old joke:

"Doctor, my brother thinks he's a chicken."

"Why don't you have him committed?"

"We can't. We need the eggs."

The church would like to disabuse people of the notion of salvation through works, but they can't. They need the cathedrals (and, to be fair, the hospitals).

August 22, 2007 8:24 AM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Yes, there is a question for you, Skipper. Which do you think should be more important to the religious, good works (art, music, cathedrals) or good faith (no chicken sandwiches in airports on Sunday)? Take your time.

David, are you sure this is just a Christian issue? Not according to my Jewish friends trying to fend off their rabbi and the UJA.

August 22, 2007 8:54 AM  
Blogger David said...

Believe me, they take some fending off. But Judaism has to make up its mind on salvation first, before we decide whether it comes through works or grace.

August 22, 2007 9:48 AM  
Blogger monix said...

We Catholics get around the faith versus works question by demanding "faith, fruitful in good works."

August 23, 2007 6:17 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Peter:

Yes, there is a question for you, Skipper. Which do you think should be more important to the religious, good works (art, music, cathedrals) or good faith (no chicken sandwiches in airports on Sunday)? Take your time.

The person you need to be asking questions of is Ibrahim Hooper, who, apparently without a hint of irony uttered this cartload of buzzard kibble:

It reinforces the fact that Muslims, Christians and Jews all worship the same God," Hooper told FOXNews.com. "I don't think the name is as important as the belief in God and following God's moral principles. I think that's true for all faiths."

By good works, I did not mean building hospitals or cathedrals, but rather the question of whether any religion ever accepts following G-d's moral principles, regardless of fealty.

Or doesn't living a moral life constitute good works?

It is a lead pipe cinch that neither Islam nor the Pope, nor any sect of Christianity, ad nauseum, emphasize moral behavior over scripturally revealed hoop jumping.

Consequently, all this ecumenical blather reveals that devotional thinking does a real disservice to the second half of that term.

Considering the religious can't even agree on G-d's calls G-dself, the religious should be a heck of a lot more circumspect about their certainty regarding matters of faith.

What are the chances anyone called Mr. Hooper on his jaw dropping nonsense?

August 24, 2007 11:00 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

BTW, I forgot to address this:

no polytheistic religion or secular creed like libertarianism or socialism emphasizes good works at all.

That is wrong. Communism and socialism both draw their adherents precisely through empasizing good works; that they both do so while completely disregarding both history and human nature is beside the point.

As for libertarianism, it seeks to create conditions least conducive to bad outcomes, which is the same problem from another direction.

That libertarians get an F for addressing free-rider problems is also beside the point.

August 24, 2007 11:03 PM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Hmm, after several reads I'm still not sure what your point is there. I'm sensing you don't much like good works or good faith, but still like to complain if one takes priority over the other.

August 25, 2007 5:26 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

It's really, really hard to find a religion that dislikes bad works.

That counts more for me.

August 25, 2007 10:12 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

I'm sensing you don't much like good works or good faith, but still like to complain if one takes priority over the other.

I think you are allowing too many preconceptions to color your reading, thereby causing you to miss my point.

Both Muskens and Hooper traffic in either idiocy or deception when they say things like What does God care what we call him? It is our problem or It reinforces the fact that Muslims, Christians and Jews all worship the same God ... I don't think the name is as important as the belief in God and following God's moral principles.

For any of that blather to be true, then both Christianity and Islam would lay out the precepts for living a good life, and not be the tiniest bit concerned with theological hoop jumping.

I happen to think that "good works" are not the least hard to distinguish, and do not benefit in the least by being shackled to either Cosmic Muffin or Hairy Thunderer.

If G-d doesn't care what we call him, then why should he care which direction, how many times, or in what posture people pray?

Ecumenical nonsense is all about quibbling over good faith, and has nothing to do with good works. Pope Benedict has demonstrated that point just as effectively as every Imam cast upon either side of the Shia - Sunni divide.

Considering we don't even know what G-d calls itself, that quibbling would be unneedful of parody if it wasn't so often murderous.

Theological experts are will not help, as any application of devotional "thinking" in the direction of interfaith understanding will only serve to undermine all faith in the process.

August 25, 2007 6:00 PM  
Blogger David said...

Skipper: "Good works" is not the same thing as obeying the commandments. You don't get credit for obeying the commandments because that's what you're supposed to do. Good works are beyond the commandments (charity, nursing the sick, feeding the hungry, etc.).

Also, the relevance here of good works is how they effect your chance of salvation. This is a big issue in and amongst Christianity. It's not an issue in Judaism. I don't know the state of play is Islam.

In Christianity, the technical answer is that salvation doesn't come through good works, salvation comes only through the grace of G-d. That is, it is a gift given by G-d without any conditions. You can not earn it through your own efforts because G-d cannot be forced to give it to you. When, for example, Protestants say that Catholics are not Christians, one of the things they cite is that Catholics believe in salvation through good works. The Catholic response is to deny that they believe in salvation through good works. On the other hand, they say, it would be odd if someone worthy of salvation didn't engage in good works or if G-d ignored good works in deciding whether someone was worthy of salvation. "Aha" say the Protestants, and around they go.

This is tied up with two other interesting topics: predestination; and why Christians believe that non-Christians can be saved, even though they mostly don't realize that they believe that.

August 26, 2007 8:46 AM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Just wondering, Skipper. If the various Christian positions on good works are as illogical, inconsistent and irrational as they seem to be, should we stop doing them?

August 26, 2007 10:15 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Well, could we agree that it would be a good idea to stop persecuting people for disagreeing about something which, apparently, is impossible of agreement?

Sheesh.

If the energy religious people put into silly disputes were diverted to meaningful purposes, we wouldn't need dynamos.

August 26, 2007 10:34 AM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

You mean let you papists vote? In your dreams, Mick.

August 26, 2007 10:56 AM  
Blogger erp said...

Mick?

August 26, 2007 12:28 PM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

erp:

Protestant Anglo-Irish term of endearment and respect for our beloved Catholic co-religionists.

August 26, 2007 2:18 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

David, Peter:

Apologies if I unduly conflated the term "good works" and Ibrahim Hooper's "following God's moral principles".

However, even if I am guilty of that, it has nothing to do with the point I was making: Tiny Muskens and Ibrahim Hooper, in their quoted remarks are either trading in idiocy or deception; I suspect the former.

I don't have much exposure to devotional "thinking" -- it is nearly painful to read (Constantine's Sword is the only one since a girlfriend subjected me to attempted conversion by the book. It is an endless cycle of in depth historical analysis nearly leading the author to an obvious conclusion, until devotional thinking promptly sends the whole enterprise into a ditch, only to start again.).

Devotional thinking indulged in too often -- which is to say, at all -- lends its practitioners to uttering sentences that hang together grammatically, but at best are bereft of meaning, and, at worst, completely contradict not only the implied point, but also the very basis of the utterance.

The quotes I have cited are a perfect example, which I shall repeat:

What does God care what we call him? It is our problem ...

It reinforces the fact that Muslims, Christians and Jews all worship the same God ... I don't think the name is as important as the belief in God and following God's moral principles.

Tiny, in one rhetorical question, has completely undermined religion's raison d'être: it does matter, and all the world's revealed texts make Oaob's* feeling on this point very clear.

Ibrahim then piles on, adding the patina of blinding ignorance. If he truly believed in what he just said, he would be beating a path to his nearest Unitarian church, or at least would promptly repudiate those many parts of his religion that relegate non-Muslims to dhimmi status, where it doesn't insist on depriving them of the gift of life entirely.

David, your response, thoughtful as it is, completely substantiates what I have said here: Muskens and Hooper are hauling tumbrels of intellectual offal. This is all about religion, and nothing at all to do with Oaob.

Which leads directly to the gordian knot Christianity finds itself with regard to the most pathetic of all religious disputes: eschatology, which must be distilled essence of ignorance tarted up as certainty.

The only way to cut that knot is to acknowledge that what Hooper says is objectively true. But to do so guts religion, as it does not require ascertaining the direction one faces during prayer to make a decent stab at laying out moral principles defining a good life, of which "good works" must be a subset, leading to the very real possibility that your distinction lacks difference, at least at the edges.

The alternative is to wander experiencing self-colliding devotional thought: salvation comes through the grace of G-d, but that grace is wholly dependent upon proper fealty, except that it isn't really: either it comes without preconditions, or it is very much dependent upon those conditions. Either there is no point to evangelism if the former is true, or Oaob can be "forced" to reward proper genuflection.

Protestants thereby resemble Wily Coyote running in midair, saved only by devotional thinking from plummeting to earth.


Peter said [if] the various Christian positions on good works are as illogical, inconsistent and irrational as they seem to be, should we stop doing them?

The religious position (likely excepting Buddhism, although my knowledge of it is insufficient to say for sure) is illogical, inconsistent, self defeating and plumbs the stygian depths of ignorance.

That has nothing whatever to do with whether we should do "good works", as they are worth doing in their own right, and are easily identifiable to any non-psychopath without even an inkling of religious instruction.

This is not about good works, it is about religion, which, in turn is bears no relationship to Oaob.

As Muskens, Hooper, the Pope, Islamists, et al. grossly over determine daily.

*Oaob: On account of because. Which surely ought to be the English name for G-d, as it perfectly captures G-d's job description, but also carries the additinal, and inestimable, benefit of leading to endless fighting over how Oaob pronounces Oaob.

August 26, 2007 3:59 PM  
Blogger David said...

Skipper: Since Vatican II even the Catholics admit that G-d understands English.

August 26, 2007 5:05 PM  

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