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Re: 14 July 1099


>I'm afraid that we have been mixing metaphors, chronologically speaking. As
>my brother Ed has pointed out,
>Islam had its period of greatness-800 years ago.
>Christianity was as intolerant as Islam is today-800 years ago.
>Today, the part of the planet traditionally recognized as Christendom is
>wealthy, free, and tolerant. Today, much of the Islamic world is violent,
>profoundly intolerant,

Are you sure you're not judging it by a few extremists?
Is that not like judging the west by the KKK?

> and agonizingly poor and ignorant by any comparison
>with the modern West.

This even Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia,
has said recently, in large part echoing the recent U.N.
study that I mentioned in a previous message.

> They hate the West not because we're mean to them, or
>because of what some Frenchmen did a thousand years ago. They hate us
>principally because they envy us.

I think those reasons are true, but not the whole story.

>Joe Erkes
>PS I thought that my commentary regarding the reasoning behind Augustine's
>concept of the "Just War" was self-evident.  I'll summarize it briefly.
>Throughout the history of Christianity, even in Augustine's era, the focus
>of religious teaching has been interior (not exterior) growth.  The question
>"how can you reconcile the commandant that 'Thou shall not kill' with your
>participation in a state sponsored war?" has been around for a very long
>time and has been extensively treated in scholastic philosophy, particularly
>in the study of ethics.  The ever-constant answer to that question over the
>centuries has been that participation by Christians in war is OK so long as
>the war is a "just war".

If it was a constant answer, why did Augustine have to agonize over a
formulation for it?  It would seem it was not a constant answer before
Constantine made Christianity a state religion and then his empire fell,
leaving Christians both the popular blame and some responsibility for
doing something given that there was no more empire.

>In summary, those religious teachers were focused on improving men, not

Such distinctions were not so clear-cut in those days.  When Rome fell,
the church was left to distribute food to the people of the city, for
example.  And Augustine specifically refers to the state.  Here's that
same passage once again:

 "The commandment forbidding killing was not broken by those who have
 waged wars on the authority of God, or those who have imposed the
 death-penalty on criminals when representing the authority of the state,
 the justest and most reasonable source of power."


>  They were clarifying the distinction between moral and immoral
>wars for the benefit of their students, not making an argument for a
>religious Jihad.  To interpret the remarks of Augustine and Aquinas
>regarding the "just war" in the "Jihad" context is to misread history badly,
>I'm afraid.

In your opinion.  Justinian didn't seem to have any difficulty with it,
as I pointed out in a previous message.  Given that he was the supreme
Christian state authority of his time, matching Augustine's description
of who should make that decision, I'll go with his opinion as an
interpretation of then-current Christian doctrine.

Meanwhile, to interpret jihad as *not* meaning internal struggle is to
misread Islam badly, in my opinion.

For your perusal, here's a recent opinion by an articulate American Muslim:

``Both the Qu'ran and the Constitution teach ideals of peace, justice,
 and compassion, ideals that command my love, and my belief. Each of
 these texts, one the heart of my religion, the other that of my country,
 demand a constant struggle to do what is right.''
 --Zayed M. Yasin

John S. Quarterman <jsq@quarterman.org>
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