News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Spiritual Hypocrisy in America on Islam

Friday, February 10, 2006

Spiritual Hypocrisy in America on Islam

Numerous statements have come to light recently about how many neo-conservatives and religious right pundits and leaders see Islam. These remarks are not restricted to extremists within Islam but are thrown at Islam as a whole. The remarks run from picturing Islam as a bastard religion to a terrorist religion.

Martin Luther, the Protestant theologian and preacher had a different view. Instead of focusing on the outside threat posed by Islam in his own time, he saw the real threat as being spiritual decadence within his own society and culture. ...

Recent statements by right-wing commentators include the following:

These statements set out to portray Islam as comprised of irrational and irresponsible individuals. At the same time, the comments appear to take it for granted that western culture and religions are inherently different and eminently rational. In setting up this opposition, these writers and pundits hope to paint western civilization, American society, and themselves as righteously virtuous. By implication, and along with other comments they provide, Christianity and Judaism are superior to Islam.

By setting themselves up as arbiters of virtue, these people presume to cast aspersions on others, as though there are no problems not only with themselves and thei own consciences but also problems within their own culture. This type of spiritual self-righteousness is often employed by those who delude themselves into believing they are in close contact with God.

There is an alternative to this approach. It understands all questions of ethics and religious attitude as starting first with oneself and working one’s way out. It is this ethically oriented approach that scours one’s own conscience before attacking others. At the same time, it does not presume to judge others since one cannot presume to do so since that judgment will itself reflect back on me. In this regard, Luther’s comments on Islam prove instructive.

According to Martin E. Marty, the sociologist of religion
[Luther’s] most consistent point: there dared never be any religious, theological, or spiritual claim that "our side" had a monopoly on virtue. Instead, Luther's whole theme was a call to prayer and repentance by "our side." The Muslims, he sometimes said, though they were evil, might be more pious than most Christians. Historian Mark Edwards writes that Luther saw the Turks as a "scourge of God," an apocalyptic sign that the world was coming to an end.

What was repentance to include? The twentieth century's major biographer of Luther [in 3 volumes!], Martin Brecht, summarizes: Luther preached that the true "Turks," the real enemies, were all on "our" side. He specified them, "greed, usury, arrogance, arbitrary morality, tyranny of those in high places, unfaithfulness, evil." Arrogance disturbed him most.
Conclusions you could draw from Luther’s remarks, juxtaposed with those of the talking heads quoted above, include the following:
  • The emphasis on attacking Islam as a religion is an effort to turn eyes away from our own spiritual decay,
  • political leaders have taken over religious prejudices between adherents of religions to exploit them for purely political purposes
  • The neglect of the dictum that spiritual and ethical realization begin within oneself and at home.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bah, what intellectual self-gratification! Bottom line is, would you want to live in a society that is this intolerant of freedom of speech and expression. Remember that one reason the cartoons were drawn was to illustrate the self censorship that the western press has when it comes to topics of Islamic sensitivity (of all the cartoonists invited to participate in this cartoon fest, few were brave enough to submit entries.) All these car- burning, journalist-murdering rampages around the world reaffirm that Muslims fit the stereotype so illustrated. Not all Muslims are like that, you say; but who's standing in the way of these Islamic clerico-fascists? HArdly any.

musafir said...

Good posts. You're a kindred spirit.

The Lord said...

You are preaching to the blind, deaf and dumb. The West, and westerners are so absorbed in self gratification that they presume that the rest of the world should recognize their (albeit delusional) greatness, follow the bright star from the east and bow at their feet. And by the way, the problems of this world were not and are not caused by Jews, Muslims, Africans or Orientals, but by the idol worshipping and devil guided cult called Christianity.

Anonymous said...

Typical Islamist response; always plat the victim. Islam is the agressor in the world. Christianity is dead in the west. The west is secular and athieist. Religious fundamentalists full of self-righteousness murder women and children indiscriniately in the name of Allah. Since Allah allowed the murders and terrorist acts Allah therefore approved of them. Nice morality. Nice philosphy. Please return to the seventh century.