Friday, September 22, 2006

all is not lost

I know I'll get hit for suggesting "equivalencies" here, though I am always clear in stating that there is no equivalency between today's radical and extreme Muslims and today's ordinary Christians. But it must also be said that Christians, from the fourth to the eighteenth century, can match the Muslims one-for-one when it comes to having spread the faith with the sword. Read the history of the Christianization of Europe and you have to go hunting for that minority of the faithful who spread the faith without the sword, merely by witness and works.

We live today not in the time of Christian Crusades and Inquisitions, but in a time when the pope is needed as a bridge-builder, a link-maker. Having quoted claims seven centuries old that only "evil and inhuman" things were new in the program of the Prophet and in the name of Islam, it will be harder for the pope to have dialogue with the Muslims who do good and human things. Some on the Muslim and American right seem to be craving a war of civilizations, a war about which we know only one thing: Both sides (or the many sides) would lose.

Rather than point to the "evil and inhuman" nature of Islam's, Judaism's, Christianity's, Hinduism's, Buddhism's, and other holy wars, the pope will serve better if he can still find dialogue partners in search of the good and human. All is not lost. Yet.

— Martin Marty | Sightings | the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago Divinity School | 09.18.06

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