Tuesday, January 13, 2015

French Cardinal Tauran Reacts to Terrorist Attacks

President, Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue:

"We always try to dialogue, but then these crimes occur and they have no possible justification. They don't follow true Islam either. They are very harmful as well, because they decrease the credibility of inter-religious dialogue. People get confused about whether they are true believers or not.”

The French Cardinal says religion does not promote war and hate in the world, though some misuse it as a tool for violence.

So much to react to.

1) "We always try to dialogue, but then these crimes occur"

I think one of the problems with inter-religious dialogue is that, in general, it's an elitist exercise. Well-educated clergy and academics don't need inter-religious dialogue.

Everyday people need inter-religious dialogue.

I strongly believe in it, I ran an interfaith message board for eight years.

The purpose of inter-religious dialogue isn't to "promote understanding" although it can produce that result. Its purpose is to produce tolerance. How does it produce tolerance? By having people speak their minds and then having others listen and not react violently (either physically or verbally). Political correctness doesn't produce tolerance. It makes hurt feelings the basis for grievances. Hurt feelings become the justification to get the offending party to be quiet. It's politically self-serving. All you have to do is say "I'm hurt" and then criticism is silenced.

That's what Muslims want to do. Their hurt feelings silences criticism of Allah, the Koran and Islam in general.

Interfaith dialogue among clergy is always a sedate affair because nobody ever says anything offensive, whereas talk among the "rabble" would by necessity be blunt. And that's a good thing. You can't change what isn't acknowledged. 

If Muslims want people to stop thinking they're a bunch of terrorists, they have to start by letting people state their feelings that they think they're a bunch of terrorists.

Because if that thought is silenced, then it will never be addressed.

Interfaith dialogue forces people to listen. And in listening they learn to suck it up. You can't keep up being chronically offended (unless you're rewarded for it.) You learn to not get upset at opinions you don't like. 

Another positive aspect of inter-religious dialogue is debate. Now people might think that arguing over religion is a great way to fuel religious tension.

In fact, I think what it does is it focuses speech on facts and logic. You can't be factual and logical when you're emotional. Religions gain respect by the behaviour of their adherents (and that's the way it should be). Those adherents who can be factual and logical gain credibility for their faith, and those who can't are demerits-- and people tell them to shut up and learn how to debate.

And a third good consequence of inter-religious dialogue is that if people talk to one another, they're not shooting. And it's harder to be violent to groups of people you've had a long-standing engagement with, even if it's to debate religion.

There are some fanatics for whom these points will not apply because they are too far-gone. But that's just the point: reach people before they are too far-gone.  

If you really want to reach everyday people, this is what needs to be done.

2) They don't follow true Islam either

I have a fundamental problem with Catholic clergy saying there's "a true Islam". It would be better if Muslims believed in this "true Islam" as opposed to a violent one. But I think saying there's a "true Islam" attributes to it an inherent coherence that cannot be proper to a false religion. Islam is a fabrication, so there's no "true Islam". There are many possible readings of the Koran. Just like there are many possible readings of the Bible, but only the Church can elaborate on those propositions that are true or false.

3) They are very harmful as well, because they decrease the credibility of inter-religious dialogue.

Precisely because it never reaches the people it most needs to help: everyday people.

4) The French Cardinal says religion does not promote war and hate in the world, though some misuse it as a tool for violence.

Religion is a very broad phenomena. Of course some religion promotes war and hate. Duh.

Rather than whitewash the fact, we should oppose it as false religion.

Cardinal Tauran also says:

After the attacks in Paris, some said the Vatican may be ISIS' next target. Cardinal Tauran doesn't think terrorists would go that far.

That is astoundingly naive.