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Faith, Reason, and the War Against Jihadism:…

Faith, Reason, and the War Against Jihadism: A Call to Action

by George Weigel

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In this short volume Weigel is convincing in demonstrating the threat that Islamism presents to the civilized world. Perceptively, he noted in the '90s that this was the case at one conference and then was never invited back. The book is divided into an introduction and three simple parts that are organized well. Most Americans are not willing to accept his first main premise covered in the introduction: "Deadly Serious Business." Then, in the three parts of the book he continues along these lines: "Understanding the Enemy," "Rethinking Realism," and "Deserving Victory."

Weigel points out a basic fact that needs to be grasped initially nonetheless this simple fact has eluded American policy makers. Many parts of the world are not secular and religion is a motivating and compelling force throughout much of the world.

Weigel opposes the three great Abrahamic monotheistic faiths trope (p. 17ff). Norman Daniel points out that the Qur'an is not the Bible for a very distinctive reason. Muhammed is justified by the Qur'an, yet in Christianity Jesus is revealed by the Bible; they are not the same (p. 183 n 12). The aggressiveness of Islam is clear historically according to Efraim Karsch (p. 186 n 22). Karsch also outlines the dhimmitude of Jews and Christians in Islam.

Weigel is pointing out that wishing jihadism did not exist will not make it go away. You must understand the enemy in order to defeat it. In addition, if the West, particularly the U.S. is to be effective in the war against terror, it must continue to provide leadership and a convincing set of confident, Western ideas to oppose the jihadists. The same program was true and needed in the Cold War should be developed. That program is critical but barely formulated. The West suffers from a cultural malaise in my thinking. But, Weigel is on the right track.

Perceptively, Weigel noticed the early accommodationist tendencies of the Obama regime and it may decline even further (pp. 162-163).

Weigel describes the program of Christian Troll, a key advisor to Benedict, who provides key insights (pp. 166ff). Troll attempted to outline several issues of genuine dialogue (Muslims ask, Christians answer, Christian W. Troll, S.J., translated by David Marshall, and Dialogue and Difference, Cf. http://www.answers-to-muslims.com/). The approach is reasonable, respectful, and based on the developing idea of rational thought as an inheritance of the Enlightenment.

The pope correctly identified the instructive nature of the Enlightenment for the Church: something that Islam at some point may encounter. Benedict stated:

"The church, on the basis of a renewed awareness of the Catholic tradition, took seriously and discerned, transformed and overcame the fundamental critiques that gave rise to the modern world, the Reformation and the Enlightenment. In this way the church herself accepted and refashioned the best of the requirements of modernity by transcending them on the one hand, and on the other by avoiding their errors and dead ends."

The Church has grappled with the Reformation and the Enlightenment: the fruit of this labor is Vatican II (Cf. http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2010/may/documents/hf_be...).

One of the most important points of recent contact between the Vatican and Islam were remarks made by the pope.

The Regensburg lecture was a lecture delivered on 12 September 2006 by Pope Benedict XVI at the University of Regensburg in Germany. It was entitled "Glaube, Vernunft und Universität — Erinnerungen und Reflexionen" (German: Faith, Reason and the University — Memories and Reflections). In his lecture, the pope, speaking in German, quoted an unfavorable remark about Islam made in the 14th century by Manuel II Palaiologos, a Byzantine emperor. As the English translation of the pope's lecture disseminated across the world, many Islamic politicians and religious leaders protested against what they saw as an insulting mis-characterization of Islam. The pope quoted: "Show me just what Muhammad 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" (Cf. Lecture of the Holy Father - Faith, Reason and the University Memories and Reflections", Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 12 September 2006).

Although the pope clarified that he was only quoted the Byzantine Emperor, he nonetheless had his own critical comments to make on Islam. The pope stated: about Islam, which he described as being of a "startling brusqueness, a brusqueness which leaves us astounded" (ibid). The pontiff was comparing apparently contradictory passages from the Qur'an, one being that "There is no compulsion in religion", the other being that it is acceptable to "spread the faith through violence". The pontiff argued the latter teaching to be unreasonable and advocated that religious conversion should take place through the use of reason. His larger point here was that, generally speaking, in Christianity, God is understood to act in accordance with reason, while in Islam, God's absolute transcendence means that "God is not bound even by his own word", and can act in ways contrary to reason, including self-contradiction. At the end of his lecture, the Pope said, "It is to the great logos, to this breadth of reason, that we invite our partners in the dialogue of cultures."

An Open Letter to the Pope ensued regretting his critical comments about Islam. It is interesting to note that those Muslim clerics who do not oppose suicide terrorism are not signatories of the Open Letter. Only moderates attempted to open up a dialogue with the pope. The pope was addressing, and clearly lamenting, religious violence. His target was not Islam itself; Muslims responded in kind: violence flourishes.

Cf. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regensburg_lecture
Cf. other works by Weigel: http://www.librarything.com/catalog/gmicksmith&deepsearch=weigel
1 vote gmicksmith | Aug 30, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385523785, Hardcover)

“History must be made to march in the direction of genuine human progress; world affairs have no intrinsic momentum that necessarily results in the victory of decency. Maintaining the morale necessary to achieving progress in history requires us to live our lives, today, against a moral horizon of responsibility that is wider and deeper than the quest for personal satisfactions. The future of our civilization does not rest merely on the advance of material wealth and technological prowess; the future of the West turns on the question of whether our spiritual aspirations are noble or base.”
—from Faith, Reason, and the War Against Jihadism

More than half a decade after 9/11, safe passage through a moment of history fraught with both peril and possibility requires Americans across the political spectrum to see things as they are.

In this incisive, engaging study of the present danger and what we must do to prevail against it, George Weigel, one of America’s foremost public intellectuals, does precisely that: he sees, and describes, things as they are—and as they might be. Drawing on a quarter century of experience at the intersection of moral argument and public policy, he describes rigorously and clearly the threat posed by global jihadism: the religiously inspired ideology which teaches that it is the moral obligation of all Muslims to employ whatever means are necessary to compel the world’s submission to Islam. Exploring that ideology’s theological, social, cultural, and political roots, Weigel points a new direction for both public policy and interreligious dialogue, one that meets the challenge of jihadism forthrightly while creating the conditions for a less threatening, more mutually enriching encounter between Islam and the West.

Essential reading in a time of momentous political decisions, Faith, Reason, and the War Against Jihadism is a clarion call for a new seriousness of debate and a new clarity of purpose in American public life.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:19 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

This manifesto urges all Americans to recognize and confront the religious convictions and passions that fuel Islamic jihadism, to understand its theological sources and ideological roots, and to take its global vision of the human future with the seriousness this challenge requires. The book offers fifteen prescriptions for meeting the threat of jihadist terrorism. On the far side is the brighter prospect of a world capable of genuine pluralism: a world in which freedom, while never free, is not in retreat, but is poised once again at the cutting edge of history, and is the foundation of peaceful society.--From publisher description.… (more)

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