Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Pope Benedict's real 'bird' aka goal

I mentioned in my previous post about the Pope that while he "was hitting two birds with one stone [ people] let slip the main target of his diatribe which is buried under a lot of philosophy and academic speech"
The time has come to reveal that main birdie :) I will let the neo-con's buddy, controversial author Amir Taheri clarify the idea in his own words :


"Contrary to first impressions, the lecture was not aimed primarily as an attack on Islam as a faith that, divorced from reason, is violent. The Pope's principal target was Protestant Christianity in all its versions. "

So basically the Pope was taking a dig at the Protestants . How ? This is how according to Mr. Taheri.

"Throughout the lecture, Benedict juxtaposes faith and reason, creating a dialectic he uses for an attack on Protestantism that, he claims, started the process of "de-hellenisation" of Christianity with the Reformation in the 16th century.[...] Benedict's core message is an argument in favour of organised religion and a rejection of secular ethics that he sees as a fruit of the scientific revolution. "

Check the whole article here , which also states that the Pope wants to see a rallying of Europe behind the Church and reclaim Europe as a Christian identity, I think that implies he would almost make a pact with the 'devil' to achieve that :P

I would appreciate your input about whether Protestants and Catholics are/were such great enemies as I can see there were many wars between them.

Books to read : "The Old Enemies: Catholic and Protestant in Nineteenth-Century English Culture "
Interesting links:
(1) why is there animosity
(2) Comparison of Catholic and Protestan theology .
(3) The final word on the Pope heavily recommended !


Nomad said...

I am a bit astonnished by theses statements, though

nothing to worry, as he is very old, this pope will soon be dead !

Mark said...

When I read his comments I thought it was more focused on attacking the idea of a totally secular society. Where people's sole source of truth and meaning comes from science. He was worried that people view religion and reason as mutually exclusive. Whereas he sees using reason with religion as essential.

programmer craig said...

I don't think his speech was an attack on secularism at all. It was an critique of atheists / agnostics. I persoannly agree with him, even though I'm not European and I'm not Catholic. Europeans seem to have very little faith in anything except science and vague warm-and-fuzzies for humanist philosophy. Those things won't take you far when life gets ugly. And life is getting very ugly, these days.

I would appreciate your input about whether Protestants and Catholics are/were such great enemies

Yes, were. Yes, are.

But I'd ratehr Europe was catholic than atheist. We're fighting a religious war, and we got no religion. Doesn't work so well :o

Non-Blogging said...

(Craig, you have an emblem now!)

Coming from one of the most staunchly (though increasingly secular) Protestant countries anywhere, I have to admit I never saw any discussion here on the Pope's remarks from the anti-Protestant viewpoint. My educated guess is therefore that whatever the Pope wanted to say was not really directed against Protestantism, although the Roman Catholic Church definitely doesn't treat other Christian churches as equals (and many Protestant churches are antagonistic towards Roman Catholicism).

There certainly was true animosity between Catholics and Protestants centuries ago but it's all more or less a thing of the past these days especially if we talk about violent antagonism (yes, I know about Northern Ireland).

The Reformation - despite some excesses - was a great and necessary thing to happen as a protest towards the corrupt Roman Catholic Church and for learning, people's right to question teachings and read the scripture in their own languages instead of repeating it in Latin like parrots. Today, there still is a clear difference between Protestant and Roman Catholic majority countries in many issues which statistics reflect. Take almost any international comparison of equality, social welfare, lack of corruption or democracy and you'll see it's generally Protestant majority countries topping the ranks, not Catholic countries. It's no coincidence or then I'm just blinded by my own cultural traditions.

That's a good heritage which in my opinion today has very little to do with some dogmatic issues such as those presented in the comparison tables or the actual religiosity of the population.

Highlander, do Roman Catholic or Protestant teachings appeal more to you and which do you think are closer to Islam?

K from Oslo said...

Hi there Highlander:)
You're absolutely right about this, and it is a point that has been raised up here in Norway too. During John Pauls papacy the Catholic and Protestant churches were getting closer, including accepting baptism from eachothers sects, but it doesn't look like Benedict wants to continue this process.

Mark; the key to understanding his speach lies in the definition of "reason".

PC; your wrong in assuming that Europeans are all atheists, in East and South Europe people are very religious, whereas in the north people are mostly agnostics, not atheists.

Angry Libyan American said...

H. you are bloody briliant. I knew he was trying to rattle the Euros to European Christian Identity. but I didnt see the protstant connection at first. Kudos.

Roman Catholic or Protestant teachings appeal more to you and which do you think are closer to Islam?

I dont know about H but Protestant teaching appeal more to me. And the Protestant faith is MOST DEFINATLY closer to Islam. And by Islam I mean orthodox sunni Islam according to the Quran and authentic tradition.

The Shite religion which I personally do not see as a branch fo ISlam, but i will label it as such for the sake of being Politically correct is closer to the Cathloic faith. The Shites are organized, their Ayatollah is kind of like their pope, they are also into the idea of Divine Right, and they run things like a Business. You have this Ayatollah, and that one, whos words and fatwas are binding.

In sunni islam taking the word of a Ayatollah over the word of God is apostatsy. You are not binded to a fatwa which is based on religion but your are binded by secular legal ruling which govern everyday life. Becuase Islam teaches that in these matters its better to obey the ruler, unless the ruler asks you to do something unlawful. Say if the ruler sets the street limit to 30. The Speed limit is 30. You gotta follow it. cuz. Their is nothing unlawful about the speed limit being set to 30.

But as far as religion their are no rulings only opinions on matters of gray areas. these opinions may be rejected, by me, and accepted by you. but nothing is binding becuase its not based on a clear DIVINE command or ruling. Anyone who is not God is to be Questioned. Their is no Buracracy between the people and God.

programmer craig said...


(Craig, you have an emblem now!)

Yep! A mysterious french person made it for me! I though LibyanWarrior would like it :)

K, I'll take your word for the religiousity of Europeans. I do think the Pope was reaching out to agnostics and nominal Christians rather than atheists. I don't think atheists are very receptive to religious message at all. Agnostics might be, if the time is right.

Non-Blogging said...

K from Oslo,

Quite a good point about John Paul. However, suspicions exist on both sides. There are in fact many Protestants who think getting any closer to the Roman Catholic Church would be undermining the Reformation and Luther's work, for example.

Atheism is in fact very rare even in Northern Europe while subscribing to all the dogmas of a church is on the decrease. According to a very fresh study among young Finns, for example, only around one in ten would label himself as Atheist. This is a good proof that religiosity as such is not vanishing anywhere, it's just changing its forms which in itself should be a good, reforming phenomenon not visible only in the field of religion but also in people's decreasing interest to tie them to, say, a political party for a lifetime.

Although it has its negative sides as well, the general trend of individuals listening to their hearts instead of blindly following an idea is healthy in my opinion.

UmmAminah said...


Your posts are as brilliant as ever!

Nomad said...

I don't think religion is necessary when we have to defend our freedom, then we would not have had Resistance in WWII, or neither been a republic in Revolution, religion is ment to keep people quiet like drugs

Angry Libyan American said...

Very Cool emblem pc. lol.
I do like it.

I agree with Craig the pope was trying to get to the seculars and the agnostics, primarly.

He was trying to re-ignite a dying flame of faith in their hearts, but drenching it with gasoline.lol.

NB:) I agree wholeheartedly. Following ones heart in matters of religion is all that matters. And that maybe one of the plus sides in the de-christianization of Northern Europen culture. People will not see religion as a cultural aspect of their identity but they will see it as a way of life which they honestly through reaserch, and spiritual growth belive in.

The Quran states that it is of no use if a person commits acts of worship and faith if they are forced to do so, or if they do not belive in those acts.

So as far as I am concerned forced religion, and falling following the religion of you parents and the your forefathers without actually beleving in it, is a mindless, and primative, and ignorant thing to do.

Anonymous said...

PC said, "I don't think atheists are very receptive to religious message at all."

You've got that right!
Personally I'm so sick with all religion. To me it's nothing more than a mental disorder. But then again the concept of one's reality is only what is in one's mind, right? So it's real to some people...

Sorry if I offended anyone, I've been.....well..... slightly moody lately.

K from Oslo said...

I think Benedict is a pope who is very much a man of the Vatican institution and I think he sees his mission as "putting the house back in order."

H, the wars fought between Catholics and Protestants, at least in Europe, was probably one part religion and two parts regular power struggle. As with the war in the former Yugoslavia and the situation in Northern Ireland, religion determined which "side" you belonged to. In addition the Catholic Church was a major player on the power scene of medieval and rennaisance Europe and was a huge landowner all over the continent. Many kings and princes welcomed the reformation as a way of getting their hands on Church property. But Protestantism wasn't a united movement, but rather a reaction to the power of the Catholic Church, both on a public and personal level. The religious wars were horrendous and I think much of the enlightenment came as a result of these. In the end peole were so tired of killing each other that there was a need for some universal values everyone could agree to. And as a concsequence the Enlightenment philosophers were very critical of religion other than as a personal matter.
In his speach the Pope takes a big step away from this line of thinking, he wants to bring faith back in the driving seat. So although I think he has some valid points, all in all I don't agree with him.

K from Oslo said...

BTW; Nomad;

I consider myself a Christian but I don't have much trust in organized religion. I think at best religion is about tradition, community and a way of connecting to the mysteries of existance. But at it's worst it's a way of controling people, it's easy to abuse, but so is ideology and even science too. All in all I think using your brain, rather than blindly accepting dogma, is the key.

K from Oslo said...

And sorry about ranting Highlander, but the subject is interesting and I'm procrastinating:)

Nomad said...

K from Oslo,
I would not define me as a religious one, long time ago I breakeked the chains

programmer craig said...

K, I think my views on religion are similar to yours. I might even go so far as to say most American Christians are in the same category. Just not the ones that show up on television :)

programmer craig said...

Nomad, is your profile pic making some kind of vulgar gesture at my profile pic!? :P

Nomad said...

is that what you notice ?

well, I think my pic is inviting yours for a trip in a kind of paper-kite performance

Maya M said...

Programmer Craig, I agree with you. Spiritual values make peace of mind easier and strenghten the fundament of the society (I don't count here primitive fanatism, of course). But once you don't believe, you don't believe. A Bulgarian writer once said, "I've tried for all my life to believe in God, but I couldn't".
Non-blogging, I also think that Protestantism is better than Catholicism. Inside Europe, there seems to be little difference now between Protestant and Catholic countries, but former Protestant colonies joined the Western civilization (and in fact are its cornerstones) while former Catholic colonies are failures.
The worst major branch of Christianity is ours, the Orthodox. From Russia to Ethiopia, there is not a single Orthodox country without serious flaws (the best is Greece). I don't know why, but this is what we see.
LW's comment is interesting. CIA is frequently critisized for overlooking the Islamic revolution in Iran. Imagine how good it would be if they had forecasted the events and sneaked their agent as Ayatollah! Once in office, he could proclaim freedom of speech, rule of law, friendship with people of other religions, equality of women, alcohol halal but nuclear energy haram and so on - eventual forgotten items could be reminded via coded e-mails :).

Non-Blogging said...

Maya, actually I wouldn't like to rank religions as to which one is better and which one is the worst but point out that generally speaking, we can see differences between countries where a church or religion has been dominant for a longer time. I'd thus rather talk about Protestantism, Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Islam, Buddhism etc. as cultures or civilizations, not religions. Most people today don't even know the dogmas of their own religions or sects. I'm quite sure if you took your average Catholic/Protestant/Orthodox and questioned him on the street regarding such dogmatic issues as how we are saved, how is Christ present in bread and wine and what sacraments the church accepts, the vast majority would fail the test.

But what you also pointed out is that I see some clear differences between countries with a certain religious tradition there and mentiond those values which I hold dear (equality, transparency etc.) which are generally doing better in Protestant countries than Catholic countries let alone those with an Orthodox tradition prevalent. But that's just my own viewpoint. For example, I bash often the lack of real democracy almost anywhere in the Islamic world, yet the values of a Muslim who values his family and looks down on the decadent excesses and individualism in Protestant countries are no less valuable than mine ;-). So, religions are equal, it's certain prevalent cultural values in certain countries which I prefer to others.

But this topic itself is very interesting to me and keeps me thinking a lot.

Highlander said...

Mark and K from Oslo you are new on this blog so welcome :) and by the way K thanks for finally taking the plunge to comment :P

NBA, Chris, Maya, LW , UmAminah and Nomad , thanks as ever for your input.

I enjoyed reading you all and picking up pieces of information :)

Xtreme said...

I'll answer Barrie back in his/her own words.

It seems so simple to claim that United States & Britain have the right to indulge in pre-emptive strikes to defend themselves, but is that to defend the people of these poor nations or it's oil interests? Given the fact that United States & Britain have little regard for the life and freedom of the people of it's own allied countries (saudi Arabia, Morocco, actually the list is so long that I won't bother writing the names of all the nations), how can you place your faith in them caring about those in other nations. Pls take off the anti-terrorism blinkers for a second and actually look at the situation and it's effect on Afghanistan, Iraq and the entire continents of Africa, Asia, Middle-East & South America. Spain has realised this too late.