November 30, 2006

There's only one war....

Charlene and I caught on the radio a little of author John O'Sullivan discussing the events he writes about in his new book, The President, the Pope, and the Prime Minister: Three Who Changed the World.

It sounds like a great book! Three oddballs who no one expected would be put in charge of anything, especially not the crusade to defeat the evil of Soviet Communism. In fact, most "experts" didn't think there was, or even should be, a crusade.

Then, just afterwards, I found this very interesting piece, on just what the present Pope is up to. One doesn't have to be religious to suspect that we have an ally in the Vatican, just as we did during the 80's. I suspect Pope and President would both be saying that we are not at war with Islam (Yeah, yeah, I read Michelle Malkin too, and sometimes I doubts it myself) but rather we are tacitly allied with the majority of Muslims (though they may not have figured it out yet; they don't seem to be too big on thinking things through), who don't really wish to be clamped inside some Taliban death regime, OR to have their faith dissolved by corrosive secularism. And if that's true, then probably only the Pope has the standing to convey the message to them.

...Thus Benedict's true purpose in Turkey is that of uniting all the monotheistic faiths against a militant and self-consciously destructive secular culture. To that end he will seek a new political communion with Bartholomew I, the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople — the symbolic leader of the world's 250 million Orthodox Christians. Even the Russian Orthodox patriarch, Alexei II, who rejected overtures by the late Pope John Paul II, has indicated that he would now welcome talks with Rome.

Nor are the pope's attempts to produce a concerted monotheistic alliance restricted to Christians. On the first day of his visit, Benedict quoted an 11th century pope, Gregory VII, who talked about the duties that Christians and Muslims owe each other "because we believe in one God."

Far from being anti-Muslim, the pope views Islam as a key cultural ally against the enlightenment liberalism that for him corrodes the moral core of Western society.

It is important to realize, however, that Benedict recognizes a mutual problem in this explicit project of religious realignment around shared critiques and common discernment. Secular conceptions of race, state and nation have corrupted all the faiths, too often turning them into a vehicle for nationalism or racism...(Thanks to Amy)

It's worth reading the whole thing. I'll paste in a bit more below...

...But the papal visit is not primarily an attempt to pacify relations between Christianity and Islam. Instead, Benedict is there to engage with Islam and Eastern Orthodoxy in the hope of persuading both to join his project of overcoming secularism.

The Pope, far from being sectarian, wants to inaugurate a new religious renaissance in Europe that opposes both secular and religious fundamentalism. This apostolic journey is of a piece with the logic of the Regensburg address, rather than a belated act of repentance for it.

Benedict opposes secularism because it is both absolute and arbitrary. In the name of being neutral with regard to values, secular ideology eliminates all rival world views from the public sphere. By denying the existence of objective moral truths, it elevates self- assertion as the measure of all things. Social life is reduced to the arbitration of conflicting self-interest — a process in which the most powerful always win.

Ultimately, this arbitrary absolutism produces a society ruled by an unholy alliance of utilitarian ethics and the proxy politics of the managerial class. This collusion destroys the very idea of common action and a binding collective discernment. Thus does the pope attribute the failure of Europe's common political project to the growing secularization of European culture.

Benedict's religious alternative is not some form of theocratic absolutism. On the contrary, the Pope is a staunch defender of secularity — the separation of church and state. Benedict wants to disentangle the church from the state, but without divorcing religion from politics, because only a religion freed from subservience to the state can save modern culture from itself...

One has to suspect that the Regensburg speech was the equivalent of the old joke about hitting the mule with the 2 x 4. "You don't have to beat this mule. You just have to get his attention first."

Posted by John Weidner at November 30, 2006 9:34 AM
Weblog by John Weidner