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Sun, Sep. 17th, 2006, 11:18 am
venus_paradox: God is in the Roses and the Thorns---Rosanne Cash

Recently, the Pope has come under attack for statements he made regarding Islam, particularly quoting Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologus in his statement, "Show me just what Mohammed 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."

Now, I don't need to point out the blatant irony of that statement, considering that both sides raped, pilaged, and burned millions of lives in the name of their "God".  What interests me is Pope Benedict's speech transcription itself, which I find a very fascinating glimpse into the psyche of two cultures, two philosophies, and shockingly enough, a somewhat enlightening unification of them.

 So, here's the transcript of his speech so you can read it for yourself: http://www.zenit.org/english/visualizza.phtml?sid=94748

Type your cut contents here.

What amazes me is the seemingly never-ending battle between a reasonable, rational God versus a non-rational, non-reasonable God.  Ultimately, what's causing so much controversy for the Pope is the media's simplification of this battle: a Christian God who follows the idea that  "In the beginning there was the Logos" vs.  the statement he makes about the Muslim God: "But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality. Here Khoury quotes a work of the noted French Islamist R. Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazn went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God's will, we would even have to practice idolatry."

What's even more interesting is Pope Ben's attempt to unite this dichotomy in the end:  

"Here I am reminded of something Socrates said to Phaedo. In their earlier conversations, many false philosophical opinions had been raised, and so Socrates says: '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 would suffer a great loss.'

The West has long been endangered by this aversion to the questions which underlie its rationality, and can only suffer great harm thereby. The courage to engage the whole breadth of reason, and not the denial of its grandeur -- this is the program with which a theology grounded in biblical faith enters into the debates of our time. "

I think it's pretty sad, the way the media has portrayed his speech, and portrayed the reactions to it.  If you read the whole speech, he's certainly not agreeing with the Byzantine Emperor, he was really trying to show that there needs to be a unification of the rational and the irrational in order to truly understand theology, and I regard this as a step in the right direction.  For me, personally, unification of the rational and irrational means not limiting or denying the irrational merely because of a prejudice against it.  For a long time (and it's still around), it was held that rationality was a masculine aspect, associated with idea of a male scientist/empericist/rationalist, versus the irrational woman who acts on her passions.  The Pope fails to mention Sophia, supreme goddess of Wisdom for Western culture (who plays a significant role in the Gnostic Gospels and the Apocrypha), who in myth unites divinely the aspect of reason with the aspect of passion.  Wisdom is a violent mistress, as any who have followed her path have found.  He fails to acknowledge Her, and I think that's his only transgression.  Unification of the rational and the irrational, the sacred and the profane, the Virgin and the Whore, Jesus and the Magdalene is what he's talking about, but definined in other terms according to a long-standing tradition that, in my opinion, cannot be breached unless it's more ancient sources of power are rooted out and examined.