Thursday, December 03, 2009

On War, and Words, and Wars of Words

The discussion being conducted by my friend and mentor, the HP, with our dear reader, Maria, has ssen so many important issues raised, and so many good points made on all sides of them, that I am almost embarrassed when I attempt to enter the discussion.

There are two points that bear further consideration, to be sure:

The first is the question whether there can be a permanent relationship between Islam and Christianity that is not essentially that of war.

I answer this question with the learning of my Medieval masters, who tell me that the proper answer to complex questions is usually: sic et non, "yes and no".

Maria's close ties to a Muslim family are more than a powerful argument: their existence constitutes that absolute and tyrannical bane of all argument, however powerful, however eloquently couched; those ties are a fact, against which no mere argument may resist.

The fact, however, proves only that people who profess and practice Islam and people who profess and practice Christianity are capable of friendship.

What is at stake in the question, however, is something different: the question is, in essence, whether there exist the intellectual prequisites for dia-logos among Christians and Muslims.

In an earlier post, I dealt with a similar question, from the side of peace: I asked whether Islam is a religion of peace, and answered that the question is unanswerable, insofar as the question is so poorly formulated, with such naivete, as to be useless for the purposes of critical discourse.

Without re-hashing that issue, I can say that peace and war are technical terms in the juridical lexicon, they refer to states of affairs obtaining among human societies, or within a given human society.

When there is the tendency toward violence, and the general absence of faith (again, in the Roman juridical sense of fides - though Christianity has introduced a measure of faith among civilized peoples, which not even war may suspend or abrogate), then there is war. Among different peoples, the Greeks called this condition polemos. When the condition obtained within a given political society, they called it stasis.

Now, on these bases, we may proceed to consider whether any other condition than polemos is possible among Muslims and Christians.

I purpose to offer considerations in this regard at my earliest convenience.

Now, to air.



Maria said...

I look forward to reading more. I think another aspect of this is what, in a particular society, do the Muslims and Christians want to accomplish, and this might influence whether the society is anything other than polemic. I also think it depends on the demographic the Muslim and Christians communities comprise. Muslims and Christians at an women's college may very well co-exist in mutually enriching relationships. Muslims and Christians in Bosnia, not so much, typically. But I don't think that proves that they *can't*. I don't know.

Maria said...

Maybe I'm begging the question...

Lazy Disciple said...

Please bear with me, Maria, as I work through a few issues begin to address the questions we have to hand in this conversation.

You are not begging the question.


Humbly Presumptuous said...

Dear Maria,
the issue is very tough, as 1400 years of history show. The trouble is that doctrinally Christianity and Islam are mutually exclusive. Islam, in fact, was born on the explicit negation of the main tenets of Christian doctrine: the doctrine of the Trinity (for which God is one in three persons) and of the double nature of Christ, true man and true god. The Quran negate to Jesus a miraculous birth, from the vergin Mary, neither a miraculous ascension in heaven. Unfortunately it denies that he suffered, died and was resurrected, thus showing who God really is.
Does this means that Christians and Muslims cannot coexist? Not necessarily. They can do it, on the ground of their common human nature, with those requirements in peoples reciprocal conduct that in our tradition we have tried to elaborate under the name naturala law. But, if they go into the specifics of their traditions, I think it becomes very difficult. Woe to us, therefore, if we forget their essencial diversity, which verges into making them alternative to each other. All the issue would be then muddled, in an intellectual and spiritual confusion that certainly doesn't help a possible, however improbable, dialogue.

Maria said...

I guess I just wonder how much of the current conflicts between Muslims and Christians has to do with doctrinal differences, and an awareness of as much. I'm also wondering: if any when someone arrives at a satisfactory answer as to how or whether Muslims and Christians can peacefully coexist, or even mutually benefit from coexistence, or not: why is this answer important, and who is it important to?

Maria said...

Sorry: it should read "if AND when" not "if ANY when"

Humbly Presumptuous said...

Dear Maria, all that LD and I have been writing is there to mean that doctrine is not something apart from life, because it speaks about life. We can put forward all kind of psychological and sociological reasons on why Muslims are opposed to the West, and expecially the USA, but we have to realize that these reasons of possible conflicts among men are precisely what doctrines intend to account for. There have been through the centuries great authors on the Christian side, St. Thomas Aquainas for example, who have been concerned with establishing a rational dialogue with Muslims. But even willingness to engage in such a dialogue requires a spiritual conversion: to understand what other people say and why. I dare say that this spiritual conversion is of the essence of Christianity, with its announcement that "the logos became flesh"; unfortunately there seem to be little sign of it on the other side. I would highly rejoice if I knew of Muslim authors curious to understand what Christians really say, leaving aside their preconceived notions. It would be a first step toward co-existence, which interests everybody.