Monday, November 30, 2015

The Regensburg Lecture, Benedict / Schall, Book

I first read this book in February of 2013 and read it again in the face of attempts by Muslims, media, Obama and others to claim that "Islamic terrorism is not Islamic" after Paris.

Such claims of course fly directly in the face of history, the Koran, Islamic tradition, and numerous events and discussions, including the response to Pope Benedict's Regensburg lecture covered in this book, which I consider to be extremely important for the trinity of faith, reason, and truth in our time -- both relative to Islam and secular attacks on that holy trinity of meaning.

The proximate reason that the political left and Islam reacted to the speech was Benedict's use of a QUOTE from a 14th century dialogue between Byzantine Christian emperor Manuel II Paleologus and a Persian scholar relative to violence in Islam which reads:
“Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached,”
That was a QUOTE, used to point out that violence being associated with Islam is very old -- as old as Islam actually, and that there are many verses in Islamic texts, especially LATER ones that indicate that use of violence against "infidels" is actually commanded by Islam in a number of cases. The "religion of peace" only becomes operative when the entire world is unified in an Islamic Caliphate under Sharia Law in the most recent Islamic texts .... some of the oldest ones are less violent, because at that time Mohammad was powerless to act militarily.

As is often the case -- as in the Charlie Hebdo killings, the Danish Cartoon killings, etc, ... after the Pope's lecture, churches in the West Bank were attacked, an Italian nun was killed in Somalia and a priest was beheaded in Iraq. "Moderate Muslims" claimed to be terribly offended (with the Pope, not the violence), and many on the left were offended as well -- as Kerry intimated after Paris, even he -- and Obama who declared that "the future does not belong to those who slander the prophet", find such attacks and certainly "outrage" to be as Kerry put it "legitimate".

The alignment of the left and Islam is not accidental from the point of view of the book.
Moreover it is a difficult thing to understand, state, and accept the truth, however much these efforts constitute the real purpose of our minds. We can see both in our revelational and in our philosophic traditions that truth is not always or even often accepted and kept. But truth is never rejected without proposing a counter-theory or proof that would justify this rejection. That is, we can ironically not be "unreasonable" without, at the same time, being reasonable, without giving reasons for our deviation from reason. Such counter theories in the form of ideologies or myths, become themselves aspects of understanding the whole truth about something. To understand truth, it is necessary to understand the plausible errors surrounding it and arguments against it. 
As Benedict pointed out in the lecture, Islam teaches that God is not bound by rationality ... unlike the Christian God, the God of Islam is NOT a "God of order". So Islam, like much modern thought rejects reason in favor of "other means" -- whatever those may be!
“God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality.”
This is much the same as modern leftist liberal thought -- "post modern", "deconstructivist" which find the idea of "truth" to be no longer operative -- the truth is VERY relative, and in fact can be pretty much whatever the left decides it to be. Clearly, without truth, there is no reason -- and there is no consistency, and THAT is exactly the kind of universe that the Islamic god rules over -- and strangely, where the modern US left lives in as well!

The lecture points out, what Socrates said to Phaedo on the loss of truth --  "It would be easily understandable if someone became so annoyed at all these false notions that for the rest of his life he despised and mocked all talk about being -- but in this way he would be deprived of the truth of existence and suffer great loss".

The lecture itself is not very long, but it is very deep. The essence of the Catholic Faith the synthesis of the Greek Mind with Christian Revelation, through Augustine and Aquinas.  The assertion is that has been happening since the Enlightenment and Reformation is the "de-Hellenization" of faith -- which Benedict argues is destroying the university and civilization with it. This de-Hellenization  is in danger of converting Protestant Christianity to being "irrational", as the secular and Islamic worlds are forced to be since they lack the "logos" (Christ ... logic, reason).

We are vulnerable to the illogic of Islam because we have lost our spiritual Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), and our intellectual trinity "Faith (revelation/insight), Reason and Truth".

It is a VERY worthy read -- and re-read a few times. The whole book is only 160 pages, and the lecture itself is only SIXTEEN! They are however "a bit high octane" -- maybe like trading in your glass of beer for a glass of 190 proof Everclear!

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