Thursday, September 28, 2006

Inzamam Acquitted of Cheated, Docked for "Disrepute"

(from the BBC)

No surprises here. Inevitably, questions are now raised as to whether this will damage cricket. In my opinion it has not, and the sport is strong enough to rebound.

Was Inzy correct to do as he did? I believe so, personally, because he had no other appeal at the time. Really, a dramatic protest was his only option, in my opinion.

If anyone did bring the sport into disrepute, it was Hair.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Violent Protests Continue

Violence continues across Asia in response to the Pope's Regensburg speech (get the story here.)

Reading the above is a pretty sad affair...

Reading the above is a pretty sad affair. And it reminds me of a quote from an article I linked to yesterday:

One columnist, Abdelwahab Al Affendi, ridiculed those who demanded a retraction of the Pope's original remarks.

Mr Al Effendi wrote saying that nothing short of the Pope's converting to Islam will ever assuage the anger of those people!

(From the BBC; emphasis mine.)

Sad as it is, though, it does remind me of something humorous Fr. Richard John Neuhaus quoted in an article over at FIRST THINGS: On the Square:

Somewhat over the top but nonetheless not without interest is the following open letter to the pope from offended Muslims. I assume it is fictional.

Dear Pope Benedict XVI:

We Muslims are not at all violent, not that you said we were, but who needs to read your speech when the local imam, who hasn’t read it either, can tell us what it says? Since peaceful efforts to convince you of our commitment to peace have failed, we hope that the mass riots, burnt effigies, cries of “Death to the Pope!” and a smattering of grenades in assorted churches will exorcise every ghost of the rumor that we are violent, and prove that Mohammed pitched a tent big enough to include interfaith camels. It is hoped that you will rescind your position, even if it wasn’t yours to begin with, lest our peacefulness escalate even further.

While on the subject of humour ... I found this response to an upset Muslim who "truly was a Muslim who valued peace and actually does condemn violence."

“Nothing I say can convince you I am right, and nothing you say can convince me you are right.

Clearly Muslims and Catholics are going to view the Pope's remarks differently. I think our Pope is the Vicar of Christ (the son of God) and speaks the truth. Also remember that the Pope was quoting the Byzantine Emperor, so if the quote has people offended, why don't you just go protest against the nation of Byzantium?

Why don't you guys go picket in front of the imperial palace in Constantinople? Why don't you send a petition to the current emperor? Why don't the heads of state of Muslim nations tell the Byzantine ambassadors in their countries how "insensitive" these remarks were. Heck you could even go protest in front of the Cathedral of Hagia Sophia, after all, the man whose words offended you so much was not Catholic but Eastern Orthodox.

The Byzantines are a reasonable people; they have preserved much of the wisdom of the Ancient World, Socrates, Virgil, etc. They have wonderful art and architecture. They are the very epitome of a civilized society. Please lobby your protests against them, I am sure Byzantium and the Muslim world can reach some sort of understanding, a way to co-exist, without further insult.”

I thank Fr. Neuhaus and Fidei Defensor for the laughs. But the "yucks" underscore a deeper point, and that is the rage expressed against the Pope is so ridiculous, what is left for us but to laugh?

Superb Article About the Crusades

I commend a wonderful article to you about the Crusades by Jimmy Akin, via Insight Scoop. It really is a masterly run down of the history, with a section placing it in context.


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Now for something completely different

Cricket News!

Before I go to bed, I thought I'd blog about something else that is important to me: cricket. Inzamam-ul-Haq heads back to London to the place where all the controversy started. He goes back to the Oval to defend himself against charges of ball tampering and bringing the game into disrepute. As Captain, he was deemed responsible even if one of the bowlers is actually alleged to have tampered with the ball. (Get the story here and here.)

My own opinions on this are pretty simple...

My own opinions on this are pretty simple. Darrell Hair handled the ball tampering allegations extremely poorly. While I agree he had a right as umpire to do as he did (i.e. exchange balls without first issuing a warning through the Pakistani captain), it was poor form not to consult with Inzamam-ul-Haq, and poor form not to at least issue a warning. Darrell Hair's conduct after the affair only deepens my antagonism towards him and his conduct over this. I well remember that he was the one who repeatedly no-balled Murali. It is little wonder then that India have requested Hair play no part in the upcoming series. It's little wonder.

I also find this interesting. There are times I wish it were Hair and not Inzamam on trial here ...

The Pope and the Islamic World

As you can readily imagine, I have continued to follow the story of how the Holy Father's words are being interpretted -- for good or ill -- by certain elements of the Islamic Community.

Yesterday, Pope Benedict met with ...

Yesterday, Pope Benedict met with representatives of the Islamic world: diplomats and some Italian Muslim groups. Amy Welborn has the text, and AmericanPapist has valuable commentary.

My own take tends to centre on how the world's press interprets these things. The press tends to take the moral high ground, almost always attempting to say the Pope is hypocritical when criticising modern Islamist violence. Typical of this is in this post by the Seattle Post Intelligencer:

Crusaders in 1099 captured Jerusalem and began wholesale attacks on its population, including Muslims and Jews, historians say. At the same time in other parts of the Muslim world, a golden age of science, medicine and learning was under way with its intellectual hub in Baghdad.

In the early 13th century, Crusaders sacked Constantinople, the ancient center of Greek-led Byzantium, in part to use the plunder to fund more forays into Muslim lands. The Byzantine Empire never fully recovered from the blow and Muslim forces took the city - now called Istanbul - in 1453 and it became the seat of the Ottoman Empire.

Religious scholars have noted that Ottoman policy did not demand conversion to Islam across its realm, which covered much of the Balkans at its peak. But some places, notably Albania and Bosnia, welcomed the faith. In Orthodox Christian Greece, an old saying is still widely used: Better the turban than the papal tiara.

It is the typical, one-sided "You Barbaric Catholics did some nasty things yourselves to those poor, innocent Muslims". Of course, many attrocities were committed on both sides. The sack of Jerusalem and Richard the Lionheart's massacre at Acre were met by Baybars' sacks and massacres at Tyre and Antioch. Moreover, the press tends to forget that Europe felt legitimately threatened (cf The Conquest of Spain which Fr Stephanos points out occured 300 years before the First Crusade), were invited to defend the Holy Land by an Eastern Orthodox Emperor, and went to secure the Holy Sepulchre, which had itself been destroyed by those poor, innocent Muslims. It was not -- strictly speaking -- a conquering enterprise, as is clear evident in the fact that they stopped after they secured the Holy Sepulchre and the rest of the Holy Land. The press tends to conveniently forget the immediate root causes of the conflict was a particularly cruel and nasty destruction of one of our holiest sites:

The turning point in western attitudes towards the east came in the year 1009, when the Fatimid caliph of Cairo, al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, had the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem destroyed. His successor permitted the Byzantine Empire to rebuild it under stringent circumstances, and pilgrimage was again permitted, but many stories began to be circulated in the West about the cruelty of Muslims toward Christian pilgrims; these stories then played an important role in the development of the crusades later in the century.

(from Wikipedia.)

The point of this is that the press tends to get it lop-sidedly wrong, so as to self-righteously mock us. However, they also tend to forget something else ... The Crusades and other things which the World likes to smear us with happened in the past. And Pope John Paul the Great apologised for those times in which we sinned during those events. Islamist violence is, however, happening today. The Holy Father has a right and a duty to criticise it, especially in light of the fact that we have apologised for when we have not carried out the Will of Christ in these matters.

In related news

The criticism of the disproportionate reaction among many quarters in the Islamic world is no longer (it seems) restricted solely to the blogosphere. An Indian columnist has a very insightful piece. He also has an interesting quote from Gandhi:

"Mussalmans have an ordeal to pass through. There can be no doubt that they are too free with the knife and the pistol. The sword is an emblem of Islam. But Islam was born in an environment where the sword was, and still remains, the supreme law. The message of Jesus has proved ineffective because the environment was unready to receive it. So with the message of the Prophet. The sword is yet too much in evidence among the Mussalmans. It must be sheathed if Islam is to be what it means - peace."

I find that interesting, because Gandhi is almost always cited as having nothing but effusive praise for Islam.

Moderte Islam is finally speaking out, too. Over in The Phillipines (via Fr. Stephanos, O.S.B again) and around the rest of the Muslim world. It's about time.

Monday, September 25, 2006

NPR Interviews the Aga Khan

It's been a while since I blogged about anything from NPR. This morning they interviewed the Aga Khan. And it is interesting. He says it is not a clash of civilisations, but a clash of ignorance. Pretty interesting stuff.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Defending the Pope Against Claims of Heresy

I commend a wonderful article to you that addresses the attack leveled against the Holy Father that he is a Modernist Heretic. It is entitled The Hunt for Heresy: Dr. Droleskey vs. Cardinal Ratzinger.

There is one line out of all of this that seems especially topical:

"...and when dealing with an academic theologian, such as Ratzinger is, context is everything."


Saturday, September 23, 2006

First Things First: My Thoughts on Regensburg

To mark the end of my hiatus (I hope), I have decided to talk a little about my own take on the fallout of the Regensburg speech. Fr Tucker, on of my favourite blogs (Dappled Things), has two interesting articles (here and here) whose main point is that the real message of this brilliant lecture has been lost. I commend them to you.

In fact, one of the most important lines from this ...

In fact, one of the most important lines from this speech, and indeed what might be a defining moment for this papacy is the following excerpt:

The intention here is not one of retrenchment or negative criticism, but of broadening our concept of reason and its application... Only thus do we become capable of that genuine dialogue of cultures and religions so urgently needed today.
(emphasis mine)

So let me explain. First, I found the speech fascinating. And I read it as soon as I read the initial BBC Online news item. Why? Because I always read what the Pope actually said rather than how it is reported. This is lesson I learned during the previous Pontificate of Pope John Paul the Great. Every time he would write an encyclical the most bizarre things would be reported in the British press. So, I stopped looking to the press to tell me what the Pontiff wrote, and instead I read it for myself. Admittedly, as a teenager, I was ill-equipped to decipher this genius's writing. In other words, I was just informed enough to work for the Times, the Guardian or the Telegraph.

In any case, pardon the digression ... I was captivated by his discussion of λόγος, and I too was struck by the implications of a God who could transcend his own logic. As an interesting aside, Drew at the Shrine of the Holy Whapping, has a superb analysis of the fundamental differences between the Catholic and Islamic understanding of the nature of God.

And this then brings me to the disproportionate rage that the loonies in the Islamic world has exhibited due to the Pope's use of Emperor Manuel's "evil and inhuman" characterisation. Incidentally, I have yet to hear someone comment on whether the Emperor was using good, old-fashioned Greek hyperbole here to hammer home his point. Khoury, alluded to it, in the interview you can read in Fr. Tucker's second article I linked to above.

So what can be done about the "rage," summed up neatly by Mark Shea? I have a novel solution. We must fight back with a weapon so powerful, no amount of suicide bombs can match its might. We must Love our Muslim brothers and sisters exponentially greater than their worst offenders hate us. Love is the ultimate weapon that defeated sin and death, and it is the weapon we must employ now to calm even the most ire-filled heart.

To that end, I have been saying full rosaries for the Pope, Conversions of Sinners, and the Calming of Passions amongst our Brothers and Sisters of the Qu'ran. Though I am but a simple minnow of little importance, I would like to make a request that the Sacrament of Love be offered wherever possible for these or other similar intentions. Because it is the ultimate act of Love, where our Saviour laid down his life for us, I think its power is more than sufficient to calm passions if even one such Eucharist is offered. Again, it is probably not my place, little minnow that I am, to make this request ... but if it can be made, I would that it were effected and soon.

Until the passions are calmed, and that genuine dialogue so needed takes place, I will continue to say my little rosaries ...