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1. “Theology must become part of the solution if it is not to remain at the heart of the problem”. This is a key theme of Rabbi Sacks’ recent book “Not in God’s Name” concerning violence associated with religion.
2. Tony Blair has just argued in The Sunday Times that the “war with Islamic extremism” is at root one of ideology.
However the Western philosophy which he believes can win this war is a somewhat vague “anti-prejudice” “open-minded view of the world”. One fears this tends towards that nihilistic relativism within the well-off First World which has been one cause of the increasing disaffection of various sub-cultures. We of course take that side of the debate which has concluded that Christianity has been the major cause of the relative peace and social development which the West enjoys.
This all makes Blair’s key points below even more urgent. They should be seen as a call to Catholicism as it considers how to save Christian civilisation:
… We need a different rhythm of thought … Confront only the violence and fail to confront the ideology and we fail [to win the war] .… until we analyse correctly the nature of the threat, we have no hope of countering it successfully.
… The reality is that the adherents of this view of Islam are numbered in many millions, have in some countries, elements of official support, and are systematically teaching it to millions of young people across the world … even in its more moderate and non-violent form it has a way of thinking that is still inconsistent with the pluralist and open-minded view of the world that defines the only way it can work peacefully in the 21st century.
… Longer term we must build military capability …. [and] education … to promote religious and cultural tolerance and root out prejudice from … education systems. This has to become a no-holds-barred agenda item at the top table of global relationships …. we need to boost the capacity of civic society to counter extremism. This involves many dimensions from the encouragement of correct interpretations of scripture to the proliferation of internet material that counters the extremist narrative to the building of inter-faith understanding. …..
3. As we highlighted in our January 2007 editorial “Fostering the Regensburg Insight”, Pope Emeritus Benedict put this a little better back in his famous 2006 “Regensburg address”. He controversially brought out tendencies within Islam to relegate reason:
The intention here is not one of retrenchment or of negative criticism, but of broadening our concept of reason and its application.… reason and faith [must] come together in a new way [if we are to] become capable of that genuine dialogue of cultures and religions so urgently needed today. (para.15).
4. As we pointed out at the time, The Pope Emeritus, in the Bundestag (3rd entry) and Westminster Hall, was more severe concerning the secular undermining of reason.
November - December 2017
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