Reasonably Ascertainable Reality

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Location: South Jersey, United States

Monday, March 28, 2005

Meet the Press

In case anyone missed it, Meet the Press was actually a gem on Sunday. See the transcript here. An actual intelligent, civilized discussion on faith in America and its role in government.
Some snippets (emphasis mine):
MR. RUSSERT: I want to read something that you said to The Washington Post in 2003: "Catholics have no right to impose their views on others. Even if they say homosexual conduct is unfitting for a Catholic, they have no right to impose that on the nation."
If you believe that homosexuality is immoral or that abortion is the taking of a life, or that you believe very strongly that Terri Schiavo should remain on a tube, are you not honor-bound as a political figure to try to, in effect, bring about that result, if it's a firmly held motional belief?
REV. DRINAN: Yes and no. Go back to Vatican II. Three thousand bishops agonized over this, and at the end of the day, they said that the church should never seek to impose its views. They should not have any shadow of coercion, renouncing 20 centuries of the church dominating the scene. So I think that it's a different world, and we respect everybody else and there's lots of things that are immoral that should not be illegal.

And Reza Aslan (a Muslim):

MR. RUSSERT: Mr. Aslan, when you hear "Christianity and freedom"--let me allude to something you wrote and said. "As a Muslim American, you belong to two communities. ...Your first allegiance is as an American citizen. You belong to the community of the United States. However, Muslims also belong to a second community as well, the community of worldwide Muslims."
Are they ever in conflict?
PROF. ASLAN: Sure. Of course they are. I mean, think what de Tocqueville was saying is not only absolutely true, but it also is the foundation of some of the conflicts that are taking place right now between the Western world and the Muslim world. We do absolutely equate Christianity and freedom so completely that the two become almost identical. And so when the president talks about bringing democracy and freedom and liberty to the Muslim world, especially to the atocracies in the Middle East, too often that comes off as bringing Christianity to the Muslim world. And this is something that I think Muslims are very sensitive to, particularly because of the colonialistic experience. And this was an era only 100 years ago in which some 90 percent of the world's Muslim population was living under colonial oppression, which was very clearly expressed, not just as a quote-unquote, "civilizing mission," but also as a Christianizing mission. That sensitivity is still there, and so I think it's very important.
Nobody doubts the quality of freedom. Nobody doubts that democracy is a good thing and that it should be spread through the world. But I think that it's important to understand that there are more than one way to do so.
MR. RUSSERT: When Americans hear reports coming from the Muslim world about infidels and "We will destroy the infidels," do you believe that the Islam has been hijacked by radicals? Or, the thesis of your book, that there truly are reforms coming in place which are going to show the world that Islam is a much more peaceful religion than people have heretofore thought about it, at least in recent years?
PROF. ASLAN: Yeah, absolutely. I think from the American perspective, we can look at the events of September 11 and the aftermath as perhaps initiating some sort of clash of civilizations, to use Samuel Huntington's ubiquitous term. But from the Muslim perspective, what is taking place in the Muslim world is an internal battle between Muslims, a battle between those Muslims who, for the past century, have been struggling to reconcile their faith with the realities of the modern world and those Muslims who have been reacting to those realities by reverting to a "fundamentalist" version of their faith. And by the way, we see this across the board in all religions, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism. It's a natural reaction to secularization and modernization.
We are now living in the twilight of the Islamic reformation, and it's a reformation that is inevitable. Reform cannot be stopped. It can be slowed down. There can be obstacles placed in the way, and I think since September 11, there have been some obstacles and there has been a galvanizing of these fundamentalist forces, but the tide of reform is inevitable.

As they say, read it all. Smart panelists, reasoned disussion...for once you could actually learn something. Lets hope more of these types of discussions are in our future.


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