BENEDICTINE DECONSTRUCTIONS

Pope Benedict at Regensburg

LOGOS III BENEDICTINE DECONSTRUCTION
BY DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS

WORKS OF GOOD FAITH It seems that, no matter what men and women do, only the Christian faith can save man, and somehow that is very reasonable to Christians. Is that because a man can only be known on this Earth by his works, and the works of Christians are the best works of all? Then why do reasonable Christians, when confronted with their own unreason, place the emphasis on the irrational faith of “fools” instead of rational
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works, and rely on “God‟s mysteries” to excuse their contradictory nonsense instead of justifying themselves with the Greek reason they once lauded to the high heavens over Europe, and went so far as to claim, along with Pope Benedict, that their Greekmodified, European Christianity is the only truly reasonable faith? Does history repeat itself? When modern science is of no avail to defend them but is their ruin instead, shall Christians uphold faith once more, and, armed with high technology and low morality, march blindly into the trenches? The great skeptic David Hume, in Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion , had Cleanthes refuse to call skeptical scientists and skeptical religious liars. Scientists were skeptical of religious doctrines and presumed that faith given its lack of perceptible evidence was beyond the capacity of human reason to understand, yet at the same time they doubted their senses and had faith in unseen things, the abstruse metaphysical principles of their science. The religious were skeptical of scientific doctrines yet had confidence in the great dogmatic truths of Theism and were inclined to uphold even the most absurd tenets of superstition. Still, Cleanthes refused to call them all liars for regularly contradicting their doctrines with their own behavior: “Your own conduct, in every circumstance, refutes your principles, and shows the finest reliance on the received maxims of science, morals, prudence and behavior .” Instead, he called the skeptics a “sect of jesters” for distinguishing between science and common life and between the sciences themselves, seemingly unaware that the abstruse arguments employed all around were of a similar nature and of virtually the same force and evidence, or the lack thereof. Then Cleanthes turned to Demea and remarked on “a pretty curious circumstance in the history of sciences. After the union of philosophy with the popular religion, upon the first establishment of Christianity, nothing was more usual, among all religious teachers, than declamations against reason, against the senses, against every principle derived merely from human research and inquiry. All the topics of the ancient academics were adopted by the fathers; and then propagated for several ages in every school and pulpit throughout Christiandom. The Reformers embraced the same principles of reasoning, or rather declamation; and all the panegyrics on the excellency of faith, were sure to be interlarded with some severe strokes of satire against natural reason.” Pope Benedict remarked at Regensburg that scientism would fain ignore the question of God‟s existence, “making it appear an as unscientific or pre -scientific question. Consequently, we are faced with a reduction of the radius of science and reason, one that needs to be questioned.” If theology tried to be scientific in that narrow context, Christianity would be reduced “to a mere fragment of its former self.” Religion then would be entire a subjective matter of p rivate conscience instead of an objective science based on dogma promulgated by theologians. Ethical anarchy and moral relativism would eventually prevail much to humanity‟s ruin. Wherefore reason and faith must be reconciled. In fact, says the pontiff, “T he scientific ethos is
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the will to be obedient to the truth, and, as such, it embodies an attitude which reflects on of the basic tenets of Christianity.” Therefore “retrenchment of negative criticism” is out of the question: what we must intend in the “br oadening our concept of reason and its application.” We shall succeed in overcoming the danger “if reason and faith come together in a new way.” Neo-Kantian philosophers offered a novel way of justifying both reason and faith if not marrying them, just before the Great War, when prosperity had made Germans sick and tired of the materialist monopoly on thinking as the economic rationalization of the economy reduced human beings to mechanical ants or mindless worms. Modern science had become so productive through collecting facts and understanding their causal relations that people had come to think, although they do not sincerely believe it in depths of their hearts, that to fit the world to order by analyzing it and synthesizing its parts for consumption was the purpose and meaning of life. Persons habituated to this detail-and results-oriented process thought classical metaphysical speculation was useless and worthless, forgetting the fact that not only did they induce metaphysical generalities from the particulars under study, but that the processes of their own disciplines were based upon certain metaphysical presuppositions. So possessed are some unwitting metaphysicians by the notion of the natural government of cause and effect and the material usefulness of empirical science that they would manacle the human spirit with the iron-clad tenets of materialism. The more noble-minded sort people longed for something spiritual, organic, and medieval, something indistinct and infinite they felt they had lost to the commodity fetish. Barbarian souls inclined to paganism and violence expressed contempt for peaceful commerce and spat upon the proverbially greedy Jew and his Christian progeny. The Lutheran and Catholic churches were still relatively influential in the vestiges of the Holy Roman Empire, but they had sold out to politicaleconomic authority and spiritual faith was up for grabs. German philosophy had weakened; classical speculative metaphysics was obviously a ridiculous enterprise, offering nothing practical to offset materialism. “Back to Kant!” was the cry heard from frustrated philosophers. The Neo-Kantians were not of one school or way of thinking – they were notorious quibblers – but upon one thing they unintentionally agreed: given the advantage of industrial advances, they were not about to throw science and technology out the window along with useless metaphysics of materialism and idealism. Instead of resorting to the “retrenchment of negative criticism,” they fought encroaching materialism by putting it on more reasonable ground, spinning out a logical philosophy of science, literally calling it philosophy instead of metaphysics; indeed, the only legitimate philosophy would have to be scientific as far as they were concerned. That would be a philosophy of objective truth corresponding to the
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evidence that every reasonable person would agree upon. The Neo-Kantians claimed that materialistic and idealistic systems of thinking exceeded the limits of knowledge because there is no knowledge beyond experience: the world as a whole simply cannot be known. So it would seem that the Neo-Kantians kept the baby and threw out the bathwater. The mechanistic explanation of phenomena is indispensable to the scientific progress of the race, but the dogmatic metaphysics of so-called realism is simply unreasonable and therefore impossible to maintain in reality. But what to do with the metaphysical religious and idealistic opiates some people take so much pleasure in and now crave because the materialistic rage has diminished the supply? Notwithstanding our rejection of Romanticism because it hated the positivism we have embraced for our good in the form of a more reasonable philosophy, let people enjoy metaphysical opium to their heart‟s content in a novel sphere, meaning a narrative circus especially fashioned for poetry, art, religion. Or so said Neo-Kantian Friedrich Albert Lange: he wrote the three-volume book that exposed the current metaphysics of materialism as so much blather about incomprehensibles. Indeed, we need the ideal world, a realm of freedom where our individual minds can run rampant among the possibilities, as much as we need the natural world of cause and effect. So let us keep apples and oranges, or rather wheat and manna separate. And this is no insult or diminishment to reason, which Pope Benedict thinks is separate from faith, for reason straddles and applies to both regions of the mind, but has fuller play in matters of faith; the region every will would rule if only it could, for every will would persevere forever if it could, and to that end it wants no restraint. The Inquisitor would dominate that sacred region of wishful freedom from material resistance; and by mixing his idealistic reasoning with scientific reasoning, he would rule the whole world withal, dooming infidels to the racks of eternal damnation. Thus do we try to keep religion, the worship of power, separate from politics, the distribution of power. Nevertheless, every church has its politics, and every politic its religion, for the human being has its reasons for doing things wherever we find it. The Neo-Kantians had their “value-theory” school at Baden, where precedence was given to idiographic or individual human values, in contrast to the “logical – theory” school at Marburg, where the emphasis was placed on the nomothetic laws of nature. German professor Rudolf Euchen was influenced by value-philosophy. He professed a form of Christian activism that was completely lacking in calls for specific action, but so eager were educated people of the world for a resurgence of spiritualism that he was awarded the 1908 Nobel Prize for Literature, much to the consternation of those who believed philosophical ruminations were not literature at all, let alone the poetics some Neo-Kantians claimed such endeavors. Professor Euchen was loyal to the Fatherland in the Great War: he lectured the troops in Belgium and went on to formally deny, along with other reputable German thinkers including astute scientists,
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the atrocities committed there. Thus another Christian with good intentions succumbed to politics and helped pave the lwo road to hell, thinking it was the highway to heaven. Separating religion from politics might help us to feel good about anything we do or at least give us a cause to excuse our behavior as something beyond our control, determined by the laws of nature which human society is subject to. On the other hand we have a theocracy, the worst alternative for those who love the freedom religion professes to give from politics before religion capitulates to politics. Another member of the Baden school, Hugo Munsterberg, made his way to the United States, took up teaching at Harvard and was credited with putting the fledgling science of industrial psychology on firm footing. He went out of his way to explain the behavior of Americans to Germans, and the behavior of Germans to Americans; he wrote popular articles such as the one supporting the consumption of alcohol as salutary; he soon became the most famous psychologist in America. He naturally sympathized with Germany at the outbreak of the war, hence he was slandered by American patriots, who accused him of being a German spy, and thus he was tragically discredited. He too believed in segregating things according to their limits. For instance, in his 1898 President's Address to the American Psychological Association, he said: “Keep within the bounds of your domain. Remember the words of Kant: „It is not augmentation, but deformation of the sciences, if we efface their limits. Kant is speaking of logic, but at present his word seems to be for no field true r than for psychology. Psychology, it seems to me, encouraged by its quick triumphs over its old-fashioned metaphysical rival, to-day moves instinctively towards an expansionistic policy. A psychological imperialism which dictates laws to the whole world of inner experience seems often to be the goal. But sciences are not like the domiciles of nations; their limits cannot be changed by mere agreement. The presuppositions with which a science starts decide for all time as to the possibilities of its outer extension. The botanists may resolve to-morrow that from now on they will study the movements of the stars also; it is their private matter to choose whether they want to be botanists only or also astronomers, but they can never decide that astronomy shall become in future a part of botany, supposing that they do not claim the Milky Way as a big vegetable.” As we shall see below, Pope Benedict overstepped the bounds of his domain in 2006 when he meddled in politics and quoted an old denunciation of Mohammed in current political context, and then traced a political line between East and West, implying that his side is more reasonable therefore best or morally superior. We understand his desire for a single religion to tame the world, namely his own brand of religion, a one-eyed octopus that would encompass the globe. How can a religion that deals with ultimate things be compartmentalized and made water-tight with creed and
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dogma? Shall there be hundreds of such compartments floating around and banging into one another from time to time? Or even worse, shall individual consciences enjoy billions of religion-of-ones, each and every one a windowless monad differing only in subjective perception? In any case, Neo-Kantianism, since it is, after all, the “Back to Kant” movement, is anathema to the conservative pope from Bavaria. Never mind that Immanuel Kant was one of the most rational Germans alive at the time and that his famous thing-in-itself is virtually tantamount to the Unknown God of sacred scripture. Some Neo-Kantians, by the way, said Kant‟s Thingie was a superfluous mistake that could be disposed of without discrediting his philosophy – what good is something that cannot be known, anyway? Well, it is good for faith. But not good enough for the faith of Pope Benedict, ex-Cardinal Ratzinger, who represents all those who believe in the reality of Logos, the Son of God, who is no honest illusion of useful fiction or as-if personage conjured out of the thing air by metaphysicians. Cardinal Ratzinger wound up his 1996 Guadalajara speech firmly on Faith, but since he became pope he had seen what fundamentalist terrorists can do with high technology. He is no communist – quite to the contrary – but now he seems more inclined towards Reason than Faith, towards the doing of good works, meaning reasonable works, to save Christianity and the rest of the world from the violent fundamentalist fanaticism of the Muslim faith, and, hopefully, his own, since the fundamentalists of both faiths object to the same sins and would have no difficulty sleeping with each other. The status of a hard-working farmer in ancient China was far superior to a lowly merchant with his filthy lucre; but in the West, hard work, especially of a menial sort, was much despised in many quarters, something to be performed by slaves if possible. Christianity has been called a “slave religion” for good reason, and if the sword of Jesus had not been sold to high authority for an imperial franchise, it might have become a religion of slave revolt, in favor of a communist order under a benevolent despot, if it were not for the ecclesiastical law set for in the letter to the Ephesians attributed to Paul: “Slaves, be obedient to the men who are called your masters in this world, with deep respect and sincere loyalty, as you are obedient to Christ; not only when you are under their eye, as if you had only to please men, but because you are slaves of Christ and wholeheartedly do the will of God. Work hard and willingly, but do it for the sake of the Lord and not for the sake of men.” And, in direct contradiction to the notion that works do not save: “You can be sure that everyone, whether a slave or free man, will be properly rewarded by the Lord for whatever work he has done well.” Noble pirates of land and sea are not so disposed to hard continuous labor if they can somehow shirk it: they prefer to live off the fat laid up by others and turn a quick profit on goods and human beings so they might have ample leisure to enjoy
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the corruptions of flesh. Christianity ennobled humble work to such an extent that nobles gave up everything to squeeze through the eye of a needle to join the humble workforce. The monastic system, which had its origin in the East, was an economic boon to the West, at least until the orders became prosperous and had to join the feudal system to survive. The founders of the Cistercian order, for example, were so dismayed by the laxity of the Benedictines that they went off into the wilderness and did their own thing. The order grew and prospered to such an extent, by virtue of good management and free labor, that it helped generate an economic boom; and then it too fell under the dominion of the secular system and declined. Our present pope, Joseph Alois Ratzinger, chose Benedict for his regnant name, in recollection of Saint Benedict of Nursia, the founder of western monasticism, “whose life evokes the Christian roots of Europe.” Saint Benedict, son of a Roman nobleman, had the wherewithal to indulge himself in the worldly life of the city, but he was repulsed by the evils he saw there in his youth, and fled the city in his early teens, determined to be poor and to work for his living. A monk by the name of Romanus put him up in a cave below a monastery at Subiaco, where he lived for three years as a hermit. He was recruited by a monastery nearby as its abbot, but the job did not work out, and the monks tried to poison him, so he returned to his cave. But his reputation for sanctity attracted others, who eventually persuaded him to build thirteen monasteries, in one of which he lived. He proceeded to elaborate the nowfamous Benedictine Rule of the Benedictine Order, a first a decentralized communistic organization that prohibited private ownership of property and rigorously suppressed differences in worldly rank. The household is ruled by a universally elected patriarch, a monarch for life. The Order‟s spiritual discipline is based on the principles of obedience, humility, and silence. Monks pray in order to realize the presence of God and to thus see everyone as Christ, for all are one and equal in Christ. Benedictine mysticism embraces the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount as truths to be realized in works. The monks do not beg for alms, but work diligently to give them. The type of work is freely chosen according to the circumstances; satisfaction of the early need for manual labor eventually allowed for more and more mental work; for instance, the intellectual work Pope Benedict engaged in as a university professor. Idleness is ruinous: a human being needs the discipline of works whatever his calling, to be human, and his calling to divinity is in dedicating his works to the highest calling, that he may be, as Saint Gregory put it of the Benedictines, “wearied with labors and pains for God‟s sake.” The troubled man is told, “Go and work!” Work then, is essential to humankind, and good works essential to Christians in the order of the Benedictines. And there shall be no shortage of work, since viciousness and selfishness necessitates charity. Now it is said that Saint Benedict, who died in C.E. 543, saw God and saw the world in God: Saint Gregory said Saint Benedict saw the world gathered into a
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sunbeam – that is, he saw the Light, and in the light of that Light he saw and therefore correctly predicted his death. Now it is said that the monastic life and mysticism is originated in the East, but what is the difference between East and West? The same Sun sets on everyone‟s head. Heraclitus asked: “How can anyone hide from that which never sets?” It is the world that spins and revolves around the relatively fixed Sun, yet we know the Sun, which we know is in fact wider than the “breadth of a man‟s foot,” as Heraclitus claimed, changes as well, for as he also said, “Everything flows and nothing abides: Everything gives way and nothing stays fixed.” NOTHING IS PERFECT One might imply from Pope Benedict‟s speech that his Christian sun is the one and only true Sun, and that it only appears to be several because its Greek light is distorted in the Eastern hemisphere, and even eclipsed by Islamist terrorists who presumably cloak anarchy with religious pretext drawn in Arabic. But according to some iconoclasts, to name the grand deity of one‟s prejudices is a violent act: The real name must be kept secret, for if it were revealed, the potency would be rendered relatively impotent by definition – the high priest might then be exposed as a damned fool and the subsequent ridicule might subvert his confidence. Again, to speak of the ineffable supreme being as a particular being by name, and to pray to that name, or to even define the absolute with such grand qualities as omnipotence and omniscience, was deemed by sages on both sides of the invisible line to be a mark of ignorance from the earliest times on, an ignorance that hawkers of all faiths dangled glittering generalities and promises of pleasant things in paradise before simply to draw vulgar people into the routine to keep them down and eventually wise them up. The occultists at the occluded core have faith in Nothing, non-figuratively speak, a faith they deem preferable to faith in some thing. The truly faithful are not on a mission: they have nothing to prove; they make no claims to know the ineffable and impossible, although they have feeling about the subject of subjects. They are certain that nothing in this world is certain: Only Nothing is permanent. But the absolute Nothing of Meister Eckhart, the negation of negations felt as Being, the nameless name revealed to Moses, and especially the pantheism of absolute monotheism, presents a clear and present danger to the either/or dichotomies: God/World; Good/Evil; Male/Female; Reason/Unreason; Rational/Irrational; West/East; and so on and so forth. The pope of so-called European thought and faith, thinking that he is thinking clearly because he discriminates, remains trapped in the paradox of that sort of thinking, and words that are strictly true would seem paradoxical to him. But we do not blame a man for being true to his beloved structure, providing he knows its imperfections and confesses them. The Roman Church is at odds with its perception of evil, the negation of its own good, and we
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think its pontiff, if he would cast stones in the face of suspected nihilists, should throw one at everyone instead of attributing the source of violence to the East alone, particularly the Muslims of the Middle East who have their own bigots; who are in effect, like Christians, frustrated Jews with a long tradition of hurling the term “hypocrisy” at Jews, and who in council developed the modern meaning of the earlier term, which meant “actor.” Just as Pope Benedict may public prof ess that all men and women are born in original sin, we may say that the only sin is in individual mortal existence distinct from the whole, and that each and every one of us who is civilized, so to speak, is a hypocrite, owns an “underlying crisis” betwee n the reality that s/he is at present and the ideal s/he would be according to the conscience inculcated by his or her culture. THE PAPAL JIHAD In his September 2006 Regensburg speech, Pope Benedict used a conversation that took place circa C.E. 1391 between “erudite” Manuel II Paleologus and “an educated Persian,” to make his point, that God is reasonable, that the Greek Logos interpolated in the New Testament is God or at least His essential instrument. Manuel, the Pope‟s “erudite” historical mouthpiece, said to an “educated” Persian: “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.” The Pope thought the emperor, whose domain was suffering at the hands of Muslims at the time, made that statement even though he “must have known” that surah 2,256 of the Koran reads, “There is no compulsion in religion.” The Pope insinuated that the pacific surah was an early one, and that certain injunctions to combat infidels were later interpolated into the Koran to justify religious intolerance – scholars claim the reverse is true . We leave the “must have known” to the deconstructionists, who will probably return full circle to the Pope‟s own prejudices, which are markedly in favor of the ancient Greeks, whom we are to assume were a reasonable sort of folk who preferred oral combat to bloody war. The Pope‟s chosen emperor, who is “a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy,” is averse to Mohammad‟s violent technique, purportedly based on the irrational notion that “God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality.” But the Byzantine emperor knew that God is a reasonable god who is displeased by bloody conversions, for faith must be a matter of conviction based on strong arguments, and is not something to be accomplished by force of arms. In any event, to go against reason is to go against God, for reason is His instrument, is Logos. And that is why highly educated persons such as the Christian emperor and his Muslim interlocutor can sit down together and have a reasonable discussion eschewing violence instead of the Muslim beheading the
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emperor for deliberately insulting the Prophet during the conversation – perhaps the emperor‟s guards were standing by to prevent such an unreasonable deed. THE GOLDEN DAYS OF REASON Prior to his insulting quotation, the pontiff had reflected on the good old days, back in 1959, at the University of Bonn, where historians, philosophers, philologists, and two faculties of theologians “made up a whole, working in everything in a single rationality with its various aspects and sharing responsibility of the right use of reason.” In fact, everyone got alon g together although the faculty included skeptics and atheists. “This profound sense of coherence within the universe of reason was not troubled, even when it was once reported that a colleague had said there was something odd about our university: it had two faculties devoted to something that did not exist: God. That even in the face of such radical skepticism it is still necessary to raise the question of God through the use of reason, and to do so in the context of the Christian faith: this, within the university as a whole, was accepted without question.” Pope Benedict, who apparently knows quite a bit about “God‟s nature,” asked: “Is the conviction that acting unreasonably contradicts God‟s nature merely a Greek idea, or is it always and intrinsically true ? I believe that here we can see the profound harmony between what is Greek in the best sense of the word and the biblical understanding of faith in God…. John began the prologue in his Gospel with the words: In the beginning was logos. This was the very word used by the emperor: God acts with logos.” The Pope claimed that “the Greek translation of the Old Testament… is more than a simple… translation of the Hebrew text: it is an independent textual witness and a distinct and important step in the history of revelation, one which brought about this encounter in a way that was decisive for the birth and spread of Christianity. A profound encounter of faith and reason is taking place here, an encounter between genuine enlightenment and religion.” Genuine enlightenment should of course include theology in university curricula as a bona fide science. As Pope Benedict knows, not all Christians are as sanguine as he is about the Greek hijacking of their beloved Eastern religion; during the course of his speech in Bavaria he mentioned the fact that the Reformers were disgruntled by the Grecian factor: “Dehellenization first emerges in connection with the fundamental postulates of the Regormation in the 16th century. Looking at the tradition of scholastic theology, the Reformers thought they were confronted with a faith system totally conditioned by philosophy, that is to say an articulation of the faith based on an alien system of thought. As a result, faith no longer appeared as a living historical Word but as one element of an overarching philosophical system. The principle of sola scriptura, on
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the toher hand, sought faith in its pure, primordial form, as originally found in the biblical Word. Metaphysics appeared as a premise derived from another source, from which faith had to be liberated….” The pontiff then referred to the second stage of dehellenization he has spoken of in his 1959 Bonn speech. Theologians such as Harnack abandoned the absurd tribunal metaphysics justifying Jesus the Christ, and emphasized Jesus the man in the simple terms of common sense. This tendency was in accord with the modern scientific way of thinking, the rationality based on experimental verification. Of course all the above took religious authority away from Catholic priests, placing the sacred text into commonplace people, translated of course into their vulgar tongues. Each an every person is now to have their own conscience. As for modern science, it took the mystery out of religion, depleting its spiritual and ethical content. This trend has led to “a dangerous state of affairs for humanity,” the pope declared, and then he identified the third stage of dehellenization, currently in progress, if one wants to refer to the cultural and therefore ethical relativism and religious pluralism, now ideologically idolized as multiculturalism, progress, may heaven forbid it, particularly when its confused adherents claim that the early Roman Church “was a preliminary inculturation which ought not to be binding on other cultures. The latter are said to have the right to return to the simple cultures of the New Testament prior to that inculturation, in order to inculturate it anew in their own particular milieux. This thesis is not only false; it is course and lacking in precision. The New Testament was written in Greek and bears the imprint of the Greek spirit…. The fundamental decisions made about the relationship between faith and the use of human reason are part of the faith itself….” The imminent theologian H. Richard Niebuhr took his fellow Christians to task for their hypocritical lack of brotherhood in The Social Sources of Denominalization – Christians are often preoccupied with calling one another hypocrites. Christianity is not only a bigoted religion of By-Godders in respect to non-Christians, who are all to burn in eternal hellfire if they do not capitulate to the Christian incarnation of love, but are bigots according to their own fractions as well. Professor Niebuhr laid the final blame for the sectarian divisions on the failure of the Christian church to transcend social divisions; that is, to be truly catholic; but he also holds the tool of disunion responsible; to wit, the sort of Greek influence extolled by Pope Benedict: “The orthodox explanation of this strange phenomenon in the church of brotherhood has been sought in the divergence of opinion between men as to the manner of their soul‟s salvation. That strange interpretation of the faith which has prevailed since the days when Greek disputants carried into it the problems and methods of Greek philosophy, and which professes to believe that the salvation of men and nations is dependent on the maintenance of some opinion about metaphysical processes, has been responsible for many false analyses of the character
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and mission of Christianity. This typically Greek evaluation of the nature and function of ideas must be held in part accountable for the intolerance in religion which has given rise to many denominations through the exclusion of groups professing an opinion more or less divergent from that which had become established. But it is also responsible for obscuring the fundamental ethical problems of denominationalism by regarding all differences from a purely ideological point of vi ew.” Just what is this Logos or reason or rationality which Pope Benedict believes causes everyone to get along so well despite their different and often conflicting faiths or even their complete lack of faith? The Pope‟s learned audience at Regensburg d id not have to ask, since everyone including those Christians “learned in ignorance” naturally considers themselves as quite reasonable human beings simply by reason of being human in the first place. This Light of the West, bound to enlighten the East any day now, is the Logos or Word, and in person is none other than Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, the one and only unbegotten Son of God, come to fulfill the Law or Logos of his Hebrew Father in Heaven, that everyone who recognize his Son as their personal savior shall be saved and the rest be damned. Pope Benedict, waxing reasonably about reason to all those reasoning heads naturally nodding in the affirmative at their recognition of themselves as reasonable people, spoke with an ambiguous or forked tongue, surreptitiously passing off his faith‟s personal god as the one and only God. Reasoning is in practice ambiguous. We name the process of reasoning, reason, and presume for the sake of convenience that everything has a meaning or objective rational basis, best understood logically, according to the subjective faculty of reasoning, expressed in speech. Such is our wishful thinking, and such seems reasonable, at least until we make a sunny idol of Reason, the Word, and anthropomorphize the subject of our logolatry as the sole Son of God. Not that we object to the allegory and its mythical elaboration on religious grounds: We simply say that the notion goes beyond reason to foolishness, as honest Christians willingly concede, instead of making a big deal out of the reasonableness of their religion. THE STICKING POINT We feel the usual sticking point: The very naming of a supreme being who might be pleased or displeased with our conduct depending on the opinions of those who claim to represent that Being, as the one and only “God,” which happens to be a term of pagan origin, and the identification of that name with “Reason,” which serves to rationalize the will of God according to the will of God‟s appointed representatives who wield political and cultural power on Earth, is an act of intellectual terrorism. In fact the Pope is more familiar with this sticky business than the most of us, a stickiness that supposedly involves a continuing rapprochement between traditional
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oriental mysticism and Western reasoning. We are mindful that the authors of the Old Testament managed to absolutely separate their tribal deity and raise it as divine singularity above all other, merely manmade gods, by refusing to violate the Unknown with a name – they knew very well from the Egyptians that the name must be kept secret because naming something gives man power over the thing named. So the ineffable YHWH, the simple subjective declaration, “I AM,” was revealed in a burning bush. In other words, this god is not anything in particular, and would be nothing if it were not for the fact that people have faith in nothing, for nothing is perfect, hence nothing is enough. Wherefore it would seem to the pagans that Jews, absent any idols, were really atheists with religious rituals. The Pope compares this process of transcendental abstraction with Socrates‟ rational effort to transcend mythical entities, and finds a close analogy. He says, “This new understanding of God is accompanied by a kind of enlightenment, which finds stark expression in the mockery of gods who are merely the work of human hands.” He does not say that the Roman Church mothers the most enduring anthropomorphic myth of the ages, that god is a single albeit tribunal male person, nor does he say that the abstract notion of divinity is a historically conditioned concept fashioned, figuratively speaking, by the hands of man, and that the mental evolution or theologizing from totem animals to clay, silver and gold idols to fleshly patriarch progresses further when the patriarch is dropped in favor of the highest principles wanted in action, say, truth, love, and justice; in the final analysis, the unnamed absolute, the one of ones, is absolved of all formal aspects – monotheistic theology is bound to negate all theology, and in a non-theistic structure there is nothing outside or transcending the spiritual context or realm. If X must exist, as an absolute and independent unknown god, in order to secure the mental field, we had better recognize that ground as historical ground for cultivation, that X in its particulars may be improved to our advantage, existing for humankind, hence needing our participation and progress to X. The notion that the Supreme Being needs us is nothing new to the spiritual masters who appreciated the coincidence of inductive and inductive reasoning symbolized by the Shield of David. THE DECLINE OF LOGOS Pope Benedict‟s praise of the revolutionary iconoclastic Jewish enlightenment pales in contrast to his praise of Greece as the Light of Western Civilization, although the catholic light rises time and time again in the East for the edification of the West – it rises at least as often as it sets. Indeed, despite his prodigious and almost saintly efforts, the pontiff is unable to reconcile his one-and-only with the other ones that keep popping up, hence he tends to rail against relativism in favor of the absolute or categorical substance of his own organization, whose reputation lies in ruins. He
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believes the light of the ultimate reason for living is waning, that Christian-inspired humanity is degenerating to self-abortion and suicidal homosexuality and riotous mass murder, a regression led by the great evil of relativism, which is ultimately bound to make a selfish and arrogant god out of each and every individual. His recognition and impeachment of the classical corruption of original purity grew out of his experience as Professor Ratzinger in the Sixties, when students demonstrated disrespect for patriarchal authority, many of them joining Germany‟s gay rights movement. Of course the rebellious youth movement veered away from the unity of Western and Christian culture, to plurality and multiculturalism – the Eastern religions and all sorts of cults were embraced, and women wanted abortions and the Christian and democratic equality preached but not practiced. In 2005, Pope Benedict declared, before noting that the world is “moving towards a dictatorship of relativism,” that “a particularly insidious obstacle to the task of education is the massive presence in our society and culture of that relativism which, recognizing nothing as definitive, leaves as the ultimate criterion only the self and its desires.” He warned that “absolutizing what is not absolute but relative is called totalitarianism.” The world awaits his persuasive homily on just what the absolute is, and why his absolute would any more absolute than the others if consensus were not imposed by the terrorism he abhors. Pope Benedict spoke again of the “crisis of culture” in the West just a day before Pope Paul II died, returning to his sticking point, the Light of the West that the Church co-opted and shed on Faith. He claimed that Christianity is the religion of the Word: “From the beginning, Christianity has understood itself as the religion of the Logos, as the religion according to reason…. It has always defined men, all men without distinction, as creatures and images of God…. The Enlightenment is of Christian origin…. It was and is the merit of the Enlightenment to have again proposed these original values of Christianity and of having given back to reason its own voice…. We Christians must be very careful… to live a faith that comes from Logos, from creative reason, and that, b ecause of this, is also truly rational.” It still appears that Logos must be male and ritually voiced in public only by males, contrary to early Christianity, and that Christian equality can only be had among men under an infallible Patriarch of the West – a term the Monarch of the Vatican dropped from his list of regnant titles; much to the dismay of certain patriarchs of the Orthodox Eastern Church, who believed he was thereby asserting the dominance of the West over the entire world. Human beings seem to need a reason to fight to the death, or rather they need their reasoning power to win the fights, for faith in brute strength will not suffice to that end given the blessing or curse of the reasoning faculty. Reason is naturally cultivated, to the end that men battle not for life but for their ways of life: A life not worth fighting for, they say, after putting their confidence is reason, is not worth living; on the other hand, some invert the structure and say that a life one must kill for
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is not worth living, and to do a harm is a greater offense than to suffer one. However that may be, Pope Benedict did not remind us, during his (hopefully) unintentionally inflammatory speech at Regensberg, wherein he implied that peace is rational and violence irrational, that the very Romans who persecuted the Jews were profoundly influenced by the intellectual tendency of the warlike Greeks, who had also imposed themselves on the warlike Jews; nor did he remind us of the spiritual and religious trappings Hebrews borrowed from warlike Egyptian and other, more indigenous, warlike African cults, and that the power elite were influenced by the wise men from the warlike East, where despots presided. Egyptian Christians, for instance, accustomed as they were to the traditional notion that the pharaoh is in fact the son of god resurrected in human form, did not mind worshiping a god-man. Nor did all Jews, despite the Hebrew hatred of Pharaoh, eschew the possibility of the advent of their own avatar, a spiritual and secular messiah who would establish a theocracy – they were simply not satisfied with the allegedly messianic aspirations of Jesus of Nazarene, whom they viewed as a pretender. Needless for the Pope to say, the Roman Church advanced itself as catholic by being universal and establishing itself as the singular in the several, assimilating and sublimating the ancient and barbarian rites and superstitions while reconciling good and evil. A democratic house or council of lords would not suffice to resolve the differences within massive catholicity: A focal point or center or principle was needed, a supreme ruler, a vicar for the Supreme Being, to serve vicariously in His stead. The Roman Church is consequently a totalitarian institution with an infallible father, a presumable benevolent despot whose creed is contrary to the static logic and either/or ratios of the ancient West mentioned above, that three things cannot be one and the same thing at once, that the one-and-only-god is at once kind and cruel, a fact of life that the ancients accepted and even praised. The Heavenly Father loves his image in man so much that he allows man to be evil so that He may punished him severely for his disobedience to the arbitrary authority of the Divine Arbiter. As Pierre Bayle ruefully pointed out under the rubric Manichaeism in his talmudic dictionary, to have two gods, one good and one evil, would be more convenient or logical in static terms. At least we would be spared interminable theodicy, or its resolution in absurd dogma, or having logical contradictions summarily dismissed as God‟s mysteries. No doubt the dynamic logic of the East adopted by the West is quite capable of resolving such issues in the favor of concrete universals and coincidences of opposites and continuums and the like. In any event, absent the magical syntheses and leaps to faith that transcend the obvious means between cause and effect, there would be no modern science, nor would we be walking upright with our heads in the heavens, trusting in the ground to support our dynamically balanced weight. We are glad our pope accepts the findings of modern science, but we are troubled by his unscientific prejudices.
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Yet the Pope, who has said somewhere that his Church is not Western but is catholic, is after all a European-born Christian, and we who have discovered that we can only speak to our prejudices in one way or the other, no matter how objective we think we are being, might forgive him for setting Europe apart from the East and claiming Reason for his native religion and residence – we are to have blind faith in Reason as well as faith in Faith, that we not be led astray by passion, never realizing all along that reasoning is also a passion. In any case, we wish the Pope‟ Regensberg speech had been better tempered and more inclusive. A Pope must be, like the Supreme Being, everywhere at the same time, or nowhere in particular, regardless of his relative position on Earth; since God is one, Pythagoras might have said, travelers should observe the religion prevailing wherever they venture, or to do in Rome, so to speak, what the Romans do; hence a pope might do his best to somehow observe all the religions wherever he is located, if his religion is truly catholic. That might be impossible, but we still wish he had been more catholic in his speech in regards to the faiths he did mention. And “we” are not all furious fanatics with scimitars to sharpen that we may finish off the Party of War as led by the Great Satan of the West. Numerous catholic-minded cosmopolitans as well as cynical citizens of the Cosmos regret that Pope Benedict did not bother to give credit where it is due, for instance to mention that Muslims and Jews literally saved the barbaric West from darkness – and yes, the Roman Church did serve as a bridge over the Dark Ages. Nor did he mention that modern inductive science is a gift of the Oriental intellect, reportedly much inclined to poetic mysticism hence receptive to scientific revelation. “Metaphysics,” quoth Jacques Derrida, deconstruction‟s rock star, “the white mythology which reassembles and reflects the culture of the West: the white man takes his own mythology, Indo-European mythology, his own logos, that is to say the mythos of his idiom, for the universal form of that he must still wish to c all Reason.” The Pope‟s prejudicial speech on the metaphysics of Reason and Faith and their imputed relevance to the conflict between violent, irrational Islam and peaceful, reasonable Europe, brings to mind the effort of anti-Jewish German theologians and philosophers just before the world wars, to save Jesus the Christ by taking the Jew out of Jesus and making a Greek Christ out of him. And of course the revamped Apollo appeared to the irrational minds of those who mistook a part for the whole to be absolutely reasonable, an allegory for sunny Reason itself, white mythology‟s heliocentric hero, the only Greek god who established his own religion, the first catholic religion of the Hellenes, after he slew the dragoness or great Earth Mother. Ah, but the repressed returned from the decay: Wine is favored over mead, and the drunken orgies and bloody sacrifices resume. We cannot help but mention for the reader‟s amusement in this enlightening context that a neighboring priest at Subiaco become so jealous of Saint Benedict that he tried to ruin the reputation of the monastery by staging an exhibition of naked
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women dancing in its courtyard. Saint Benedict eventually removed himself and his monks to Monte Cassino, where, according to Saint Gregory, “There was an ancient chapel in which the foolish and simple country people… worshipped the god Apollo. Round about it likewise upon all sides there were woods for the service of devils, in which, even to that very time, the mad multitude of infidels did offer most wicked sacrifice: The man of God, coming hither, beat in pieces the idol, overthrew the altar, set fire in the woods and in the temple of Apollo built the order of Saint Martin: and where the altar of Apollo was, he made an oratory of Saint John…” That is w here Benedict had himself buried, alongside his beloved sister Scholastica, on the very spot where he overthrew Apollo in the name of Jesus the Christ. Little did we know that imperialist Apollo, who was originally an ambitious caveman and a shepherd, would steal the light from the East, bring it home in a tripod on the back of a three-legged elephant named Kali Yuga, and claim that the one and only Logos was contrived in the West, where it was dubbed Ratio or Reason. Good Heavens! There ought to be a law against stealing someone else‟s light without permission and recompense; and there is such a law in the West, but the copyright on the Light is expired; and if it were not, the West might not be sued, anyway, for plagiary is still deemed good for society in the East, hence the gospel, especially the emperor‟s pragma, should be spread free of charge – long before the invention of the copyright, Christians in some places were prosecuted for copying out sections of the sacred text. But never mind, for it would have been inappropriate for the Pope to digress and speak of such frivolous things when reasoning, a process that has for centuries served to draw the lines or causes people fight over and to further aggravate the violent tendency, yet is often hailed as a foremost agency for world peace – we suspect that people do what they want to do under the cloak of power-worshiping religion and politically rationed reasons or causes, and that our reasoning power is as faulty as we are in other respects. THE CONTRASTING CRUSADE Now in his Regensburg speech the Holy Father neglected, in the interest of being just or diplomatic, or politically correct in deference to ignorant folk, who may find their identity in differences and are overly proud of it – he neglected to refer to crusading Christian violence by way of a contrasting illustration alongside his reference to jihadic Islamic violence. Such a balancing act might have demonstrated the benevolent intention that his acolytes attributed to his infallible nature in response to the outrage over his speech: Yes, of course, the Holy Father only wanted to elevate the light of reason over humankind and to condemn irrational violence in general; therefore he was very sorry that Muslims were offended by what someone else, the emperor he had quoted, had said about Islam seven centuries past. Nevertheless, his
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negligence reinforced the suspicion that religion is the first and last refuge of bigots and serves to justify and condone violent behavior provided it is organized into mass murder and mayhem against perceived enemies – today a mere 10% chance that a nation of people is out to get us is reason enough for waging a pre-emptive war in the name of god and democracy, destroying a sovereign nation, killing hundreds of thousands of noncombatants, and plunging its citizens into civil war, based, of course, on religious differences forged some centuries ago. Pope Benedict said what he meant and meant what he said in his speech, and he later said that he was “deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries.” Muslims throughout the world engaged in mass demonstrations against the Church; a nun was killed in Somalia and priests were beheaded or have disappeared in Iraq, home to the Garden of Eden and to one of the world‟s old est Christian communities; it is estimated that nearly half the population of Christians, who fared well under Saddam Hussein, particularly well in the liquor business, have left Iraq since the inception of the American-led invasion referred to by the U.S. president, a born-again Christian fundamentalist, as a crusade; since then, many Iraqi Christians have been threatened, kidnapped, bombed and assassinated; there was some respite when the Sunnis and Shias went at each other, but the Pope‟s remarks turned certain Muslim heads towards the Christians, whom are suspected “agents of the crusaders.” The pontiff and his friends and admirers took his benevolent intention for granted after his speech incensed ordinary Muslims; somehow his supporters believed he had used the derogatory remark to initiate a peaceful dialogue with Muslims, whose leaders, not all of them so deeply offended, he later invited over to his summer residence for a chat. Pope Benedict gets mixed reviews for his general stance on Islam, a religion he did not welcome as a world faith in his opening homily as pope, a faith upon on which he casts an increasingly “wary” eye; but, to give him due credit, the balance of his attitude does seems to tip towards tolerance – in any case he came forth and rebuked the United States and Israel for their barbaric conduct. As for his provocative speech, he added a few clarifying remarks to the written text, but the actual speech had already been delivered, and the additions are elusive. In any case we are weary of all the cringing “I‟m sorrys” we hear from famous people nowadays: we might as well say “I‟m sorry” before insulting someone instead of later, and then we could say, “Well, I said „I‟m sorry‟, so what‟s the problem?” If only the pope would fully revise the written version of his speech after the fact, doubling its size to admit the wrongs of his faith after using an historical mouthpiece to insult the Prophet. Better yet if an unprejudiced pope, a metaphysician who had climbed the metaphysical ladder to Being to discover that the religions below were vulgar things devised to keep people in check, had orally delivered the Regensburg speech in the first place; he might have also referred to the First Crusade

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for balance, inserting the following observations into his reasonable speech about Reason and Faith and their relation to peace and violence: Ontological entities or the beings-in-themselves referred to by metaphysicians can never be fully apprehended because they simply do not exist as conceived or intuited. We may argue, for instance, over the difference and relationship between the onto-theological entities, Reason and Faith. What is the underlying, psychological nature of such arguments? An attempt to know oneself by making oneself an object to see if it conforms to higher authority, particularly the authority of the patriarch who is identified with reasoning and the critical analysis of the world into objects good and bad. The father‟s authority may be projected onto an imaginary father called G od, whose creative analysis of the infinite into conditioned finite things is hypothetically beyond the reach of effective criticism. In other words, quibbling about Reason or the mysterious causeless Cause we should have blind faith in are forms of worrying about obeying our father or else – or else all hell might break loose. Indeed, we had better love and obey our parents, especially our father, who set the conditions of our existence, or else. Do we have faith in him and out of fear love him despite his violent, discriminatory and seemingly arbitrary reasoning and punitive disposition? Is our conduct reasonable and loving; that is, is there an appropriate submissive ratio between him and us? Does our conduct conform to his dictates? Love is naturally a familial affair; if the structure of the society is authoritarian, its concept of God will be infantile and its reason-for-being brutally cold and calculating, far removed in effect from the unconditional love attributed to the mother, the virginal church wherein siblings are conceivably equal. In flight from the painful details of pathetic existence, it is no wonder that we turn to our idols for consolation, particularly to the most powerful idol of idols in whose ideal embrace we would be serene and safe – there is no pleasure of reward without pain of punishment in this relative world, thus in full conformity to the absolute law of supreme being we would be dead to the passionate world in order to live a reasonable life in heavenly peace. Ontological entities are, in effect, vanities, sometimes convenient and sometimes not; and their vanishing point is the Vanity of vanities, the Unknown X or Terrorist Almighty before which so many millions have fled by force of contradiction to their early demise, marching off to war upon that from which they flee; hence from death they fly behind the violent name or war banner of some noble sacrificial cause justified by the causeless cause of their terrifying origin, the light at the end of the tunnel. They are ironically greeted in the end by that from which they have run: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever shall save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it.” Why not be fully prepared? Why not surrender our perverse will to live? Why not die virtually in advance of the fact?

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We hear from the likes of Heraclitus that war is the father of civilization: “War is both father and king of all; some he has shown forth as gods and others as men, some he has made slaves and others free.” It does seem that almost all our technological advances including our social systems are responses to the exigencies of war, but we see hardly any advance in morals. Is not Death the patriarch, and Holy War the salvation of virtue from vice? Abbot Guibert of Nogent wrote of the First Crusade as it was in the winter of C.E. 1095: “Now, at the time, before this great movement of the nations, the whole of France suffered the cruelest conflicts, with robbery, fire and arson, brigands and bandits on almost every road. Men fought pitched battles for no other excuse but insatiable greed. In a sentence, whatsoever was open to sight was coveted and take by these rogues. Then, there was a marvelous and incredible change of spirit, by reason of the decree of Pope Urban. Men sought out bishops and priests to invest them with the sign of the cross. And even as the wildest winds are often laid by a little fall of rain, so we beheld this immediate peace, and cessation of customary fights and tumults, by means of a breath that passed invisibly from man to man. And this breath – we cannot doubt it – was of Christ…. O, how fitting and pleasing to all to see those crosses, so beautiful whether of silk or of woven gold or of plain cloth, which these pilgrims by order of Pope Urban sewed in the shoulders of their mantels or cassocks or tunics. It was indeed proper that soldiers of God, prepared to fight for His honor, should be signed and fortified by this fitting emblem of victory. Since they wore this symbol as a mark of faith, they very truly obtained the Cross whose sign they carried.” Now these Christian soldiers or lawless knights, who were laying their own country to waste until inspired by God‟s repr esentatives to war elsewhere, were joined by a humble and hopeful army of the poor, and by fanatics and desperadoes, and there were many wives and children in train, many of whom would die on the holy flight from death to death. Albert of Aix, witness to the devastation the popular movement caused in his Rhineland, observed the French rabble rouser, Peter the Hermit, raise a crowd of “all the common people, sinful as well as chaste, adulterers, murderers, thieves, perjurers and robbers, every kind of person indeed called Christian, nay women and penitents also, also joyfully entered upon this expedition.” Barbaric Europe envied and resented the flourishing civilization of Islam at the time, wherefore Mohammed was perceived as the ideal anti-Christ, the Great Satan; and upon his person the will of unruly Europeans was united in hate-others-based group-love. Religion sanctioned crimes and purged the perpetrators of blood-guilt. Muslims were all the more hated by Christian thugs and ruffians for their monotheism as frustrated Jews. In fact, thousands of Jews were slaughtered for good measure: “They said to each other, „Look now, we are going to a distant country to make war against mighty kings. Our lives will be in danger to conquer those kingdoms that do not believe in the crucified one, when it is actually the Jews who murdered and
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crucified him.‟ Then they stirred up hatred against all of us in all quarters and declared that we should accept their abominable faith or else they would annihilate us, even to suckling infants…. Battalion after battalion, like the army of Sennacherib, the errant ones came…. They issued a proclamation that read, „Whosever kills a Jew will receive a pardon for all his sins.‟ And to encourage them along this path there was a man called Dithmar or Folkmar who swore that he would not depart from this kingdom till he had killed at least one Jew.” THE AMBIGUOUS BALANCE That should suffice to balance crusade with jihad on the scales for Pope Benedict, who purportedly would not forsake faith in reason when reasoning is in the interest of his particular faith. And in the future let the flock be reasonable, whatever that might mean, in the name of God. We pray that the Pope attach a reasonably good description of reason to his next speech praising it by name, so that we shall know it if we see it walking down the street. Of course God, being omnipotent and essentially unlimited, would have no reason (cause) to be self-restrained, nor any reason whatsoever to reason for that matter. To the extent that we know it in ourselves, reason is a defensive strategy, and a highly successful one, at least until we start murdering each other, and that is said to be for our own moral improvement – the reasons given for wars have been many, and they seemed rational at the time, and all the parties thereto thought they were on higher moral ground than their enemies. Nevertheless, if God is Logos, as per the Greek interpolation into Greek-language scripture, then to use Reason to undermine Reason, by defining the infinite, is blasphemy; and, as we know, blasphemers should be tossed onto the hellish bonfire of the vanities along with popular skeptical philosophers, witches, and perverts. Yes, indeed, we are pricked by several con tradictory points in the Pope‟s learned speech; we are likely to get stuck on sticky points and kick against the pricks. For instance, the leading ideas of the radical religious protest against the Roman Church were rooted in the contradictory doctrines of church fathers, who found and smoothed out differences of opinion in the Christian canon. The Protestants wanted to think for themselves and to have copies of sacred scripture in their own language and homes rather than rely on the so-called reasoning of churchmen, whose superstitious dogma was incomprehensible and often patently absurd. Not that the early protesters were more reasonable or humane in their treatment of differences of opinion or heresies during those troubled times of old: Jacques Derrida and his literary ilk, kith and kin might have been burned at the stake, their many books used as faggots, by pious Catholics and Protestants alike. The late Mr. Derrida‟s homeland, by the way, was Augustine‟s, and he wrote a sort of Augustinian -Jewish confession, „Circumfession,‟ as his own mother lay dying.
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Quite a few fundamentalist Protestants today, protestants who are in effect frustrated Old Testament Hebrews who want an eye-for-an-eye instead of unconditional love and forgiveness, are fond of cursin g “humanists” and consigning them to the eternal torture of hellfire: they may be instantly saved if they capitulate to the preacher‟s worldly authority – he excuses his arrogance by claiming that he speaks not on his own behalf, but that of the one and only God, whose power he covets: “Glory be to him whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine,” exults the early Christian epistle to the church at Ephesus. Jesus crucified asks God, according to an apocryphal text, “My Powe r, my Power, why hast Thou forsaken me?” Religion is the worship of Power and politics its relative distribution; it is impossible to divorce religion and politics. Of course the Reformation and the Enlightenment were closely related, and in such a way that purist Protestantism was eventually corrupted into the feel-good religion of private capitalism, a technological ritual of legalized organized greed evolved from piratical practices brought home from the high seas – once forever saved, anything goes. The pagan term for the personal deity („god‟) is inscribed on the currency of the United States, where deist -designed money is most often mistaken for the deity who engineered and wound up the universal clock then stepped back to watch it tick, hence money might as well be called mammon instead of money. Radical Christians espoused the principles of the French revolution, the leading principle being that of Reason unfettered by Rome‟s reasons or any other authority than the laws of Nature, God‟s own authentic testament. Catholic scholars, by the way, once located the beginning of the Enlightenment in the reasoning of Thomas Hobbes, hardly a liberal by today‟s standards; Hobbes was, ironically, along with Machiavelli, a principal albeit misinterpreted philosopherhero of German philosophers who espoused the so-called irrational underpinnings of the “might-is-right” nationalism. Yes, come to think of it, the Enlightenment, the light of which is praised by our current pope, was the deadly enemy of the Roman Church. Of course humanism was also suspected as usual – the classical disciplines or trivium were applied to the Church dogma and nothing but the dogma, as if to reinforce the view that there is nothing outside of the sacred text, no matter how impoverished the writing of the ancients might be given the possible advances of human reason. Ironically, humanism‟s placement of the ordinary human being at the center of the universe is atheistic anathema to those who would worship humanity in a divine singularity, just as those who think a human can be divine is anathema to others. But let us let bygones be bygones, and accept the apologies of the Roman Church for its contradictions and hypocrisy over the centuries, for we are in large part sinners who know not what we do yet nor who we are, and perhaps we shall never know – that is the greatest of all sticking points of the Know Thyself Project. By all means let Pope Benedict be a reasonable humanist and Holy Father at once. He may
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be a Greek, a Hebrew, a Christian, a German, a European, or all of the above and more wrapped into one, if he likes the differences. His contribution to the clash of civilizations, by raising Occident above Orient, will certainly give him a lot to apologize for in the future if he is a reasonable and enlightened man – his remaining life might be an apology for Love, and that would be a very good thing for the whole wide world, for no doubt the Sun shall descend on the West and rise again in the East.

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