Islamic militants are like Medieval Christians:
September 21, 2001 5:08 AM   Subscribe

Islamic militants are like Medieval Christians: The religion to which [modern-day Christians] pay lip service is a thin, watered-down version their distant predecessors would denounce as wicked. The Islamic Faith, by contrast, never had an Aquinas and thus never experienced a renaissance; it was never neutered. [...] Those we are at war with are consistent advocates of faith and self-sacrifice. We cannot defeat them by "getting back to God" -- that is, by clamoring to become earnest practitioners of a slightly different version of the same evil we're fighting. Instead we must selfishly, unequivocally and proudly stand for the worldly values that ended the "dark and doleful night of Christian rule" and ushered in the prosperous way of life Westerns enjoy [today]. (Via fkrn)
posted by dagny (15 comments total)
Thousands of years of religious history spanning much of the globe reduced to one pat argument. That's some feat.
posted by Summer at 5:17 AM on September 21, 2001

The best thing about that worthless site is the author's belief that he's speaking from a viewpoint of reason.
posted by rcade at 5:35 AM on September 21, 2001

A rare case in which it would have been better to link the luckless and clueless author to MeFi - where there have been complex and sophisticated exchanges on this admittedly enormous subject - rather than the other way round.
On the other hand if he had posted something like this he would have probably and justly flamed, via a massive auto-da-fé, into eternal damnation from civilized discourse.
I myself would probably have struck an innocent match.

Bad, bad post.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:41 AM on September 21, 2001

Comparisions Do not Help .................................
Also, Remember... u would be Burinig in HELL for Eternity for such Blastfamy...........

.One bright day in the middle of the night, two dead boys went out to fight. Back to back, they faced eachother, and with their swords they shot each other. A deaf policeman, hearing the noise, came to the rescue of the two dead boys. If you don't believe this lie is true, ask the blind man; he saw it too.

Yes Interesting read wasn't it
posted by xxx--xxx at 6:28 AM on September 21, 2001

Speaking as an athiest I don't see anything "unreasonable" about this author's point of view, and I certainly don't think it's a "bad, bad post". Reading the article without a religious bias I don't find it unnacceptable or unhelpful to see Muslim extremism and Christian extremism on a par at one end of a continuum, with the moderate versions of both religions on a par at the other. At the end of the day all religions offering an afterlife are exclusive, dividing humanity into two groups: the saved and the damned. It's just the degree to which religious culture attempts to enforce this segregation in real life that distinguishes a "modern" religion from a "medieval" one.
posted by mudskunk at 6:45 AM on September 21, 2001

Mudskunk: the problem with the article is that it offers a lazy caricature of Christianity, Islam, the history of Western thought and culture, etc. But actually reading, learning, and thinking about all that complexity is a lot more work than just saying modern militant Islam=medieval Christianity=bad.
posted by straight at 6:57 AM on September 21, 2001

Quite right straight. I'm not a Christian and have no sympathy towards religion but this article displays no knowledge of the subject at all. What mediaeval christianity is he talking about? Where? There were a thousand different flavours of Christianity in the middle ages just as there are now a thousand different flavours of Islam.
posted by Summer at 7:17 AM on September 21, 2001

This was a poorly written opinion piece. However, I think we really do need to reexamine the use of christianity in public discourse about the WTC/Pentagon attacks and our responses.

While I thought that Bush's presentation last night was excellent, it concerns me greatly that he said that god was on our side.

The extremist muslims use the word jihad, or holy war. Why just war isn't enough, I don't know, but "holy" is terribly scary. When our response is also couched in religious sentiment, it threatens to turn this into a religious war.

Please, this is not Christianity vs. Islam. We all must be very careful to not speak as if it were so, which is what "god is on our side" sounds like.

Purely as a PR mechanism, it speaks poorly to all of the predominantly non-christian countries we wish to have as our allies.
posted by yesster at 9:40 AM on September 21, 2001

Here's a story for you. During the Christian occupation of a segment of Jeruselem in the 12th century, some Christian soldiers weren't doing very well, so the Muslim ruler sent them an Islamic doctor. The doctor heads into the Christian compound to see the soliders. One of them has a nasty leg wound. The doctor makes a poultice for it, and gets the man to lay off the garlic and onions and alcoholic beverages. Then go goes to see a man with a terrible fever. He recommends cooling him down, having him eat light, cool foods, and put him in a place with lots of fresh air. A couple of days later he goes back to see the soldiers, and both are doing much better. While he's there, the Christian doctor comes to visit the men. He looks at the leg would and says, "Well, this isn't getting any better. It will have to come off." He then proceeds to take an axe to this man's thigh, busts a major vein, and the soldier dies instantly. Then the two doctors had a look at the man with the fever. The Christian doctor says, "Well, this man has demons in his head." He opens up his skull, pulls out his brain, salts it, and puts it back in. Needless to say, the man died. The Islamic doctor wanders home, his work....well, finished, marvelling at the barbarity of the Christians.
posted by Hildegarde at 9:54 AM on September 21, 2001

On that story just posted : the Jews and Arabs were highly touted in Christian Europe as men of medicine because Catholic theology forbade tampering with the body and propoudning any theories that contradicted the set in stone ideas of the time. But Arabs and Jews had no such mandates and were thus more likely to be up on things.
Even Queen Elizabeth had a Jewish doctor (Lopez) till lhe was executed because some lacky told the queen the doc was out to poison her. And this at a time when Jews had been exiled from England. Only doctors allowed to remain.
Did the patients have HMOs? did their families bring law suits for malpractise?
posted by Postroad at 10:01 AM on September 21, 2001

Hilde, it would be nice to know a source for this story, or is it just from your imagination?
posted by jdbanks at 10:03 AM on September 21, 2001

Not that I don't think Christian doctors in the 12th century (if they actually merited that name!) weren't capable of some stupid things, or that Muslim physicians weren't better, I'm just having a hard time believing that anyone could have thought that taking a man's brain out of his skull would have anything but bad results, whether they salted it or not.
posted by jdbanks at 10:07 AM on September 21, 2001

I'm sure if you were born in the 12th century, it wouldn't seem so unreasonable.

Then in the 13th century, Church scholar Thomas Aquinas -- strongly influenced by an ancient Greek philosopher, the father of logic, Aristotle -- departed from the accepted idea that Christian dogma is a province exclusively of faith.

And where did the knowledge of those Greek philosophers come from? Hmm...from Islamic scholars that had archived and saved antique writings.

I think that Islam *did* have a Renaissance. While Europe was falling into the dark ages, Islam was thriving. A lot of their knowledge was centuries ahead of the Western World.
posted by mkn at 10:28 AM on September 21, 2001

mmm salted brain.
posted by cell divide at 10:32 AM on September 21, 2001

Yes, the posting was a bit pat, but if you compare Islam of today and medieval Christianity, there are a lot of comparisons.

Christains in midevil times wouldn't come in contact (usually) with any "infidels." (Jews or Muslims or otherwise..but especially Muslims.) They believed that you would immediately go to heaven and sit next to God if you die on a crusade, the whole point of which was to covert Muslims, and if that didn't work, to cleanse the world of "infidels." They believed with all surety that they were right, theirs was the one true religion, and that dying a martyr is the greatest thing in the world. They HATED Muslims. They were not allowed to question religion or risk excommunication and eternal damnation. Does this sound a tad bid like militant Islam to you?

The difference? Christians through time have questioned the dogma and it has become a more flexible religion through the questioning. Until the Islamic militants (and I'm NOT speaking of all Islam) question the wisdom of their ways, they won't get anywhere and we won't "Rid the world of terrorism" to quote our oh-so-smart-President (dream on, Bush.)

And no, I'm not a Christian, nor do I think much of Christianity through the ages or even today. But it has certainly progressed farther than Islam.
posted by aacheson at 12:33 PM on September 21, 2001

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