Living- Your polite and persistent request for me to read Mr. Spencer has worn me down. I found a free sample of the first chapter of “Not Peace but a Sword.” Below is my take on the Introduction. It’s not as polished or as in depth as I would make it for a graduate course or military presentation, but it should do for our conversation. That and it would most likely be much longer if it was. Let me know if I need to read and comment on the remainder of the free sample.
All else- This is a product of the discussion of Mr. Spencer in this thread- forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=866322
-“It is fashionable in certain sectors for Catholics in the U.S and Europe to call upon the Church to make common cause on life issues, and other areas of apparently shared moral concern, with Muslims.”
First, why is this just “fashionable?” One would assume that collaboration with Muslims, and other non-Catholic faiths, on areas of shared agreement would not only be wise, but would help foster goodwill and friendship which are necessary for spreading the Word. While Mr. Spencer is correct to point out we should not ignore the differences between our faiths in order to not “derail the collaborative effort,” he seems to be dismissing the idea of cooperation on those areas that our faiths agree on. Odd given that he holds that an examination of our differences would make such cooperation more fruitful.
Second, does this “fashionable” status apply to other non-Catholic faiths? Is there some aspect of Islam that makes it less necessary or possible to engage in cooperation with Muslims versus our cooperation with other non-Catholic Christians and other non-Christian faiths?
Third, what exactly does he mean by “certain sectors?” Is he referring to our numerous Bishops, Church officials, and Holy Fathers who have undertaken to enlist the aid of Muslims and other non-Catholics in defending and promoting life issues and these “other areas of apparently shared moral concern?”
“Is cooperation with Muslims really a good idea?”
Not only is cooperation with Muslims really a good idea, it falls under treating people of other faiths “with the respect they warrant as human beings made in the image of God and endowed with an immortal soul, a soul for whom Christ died.” While Mr. Spencer is correct in pointing out the rise in violence and persecution against Christians by Muslims, he is incorrect in implying that this rise violence and persecution by a minority of Muslims should be used as a basis for determining if we should cooperate with any Muslim or the Muslim community as a whole. Additionally, to refuse to cooperate with or shun cooperation with Muslims simply because they are Muslims runs counter to Church teachings. It is unjust discrimination.
Lastly, and cynically, aside from Church teachings, cooperation with Muslims is in our own self-interest. Muslims have been reported as defending Churches and Christian communities from attack in at least Pakistan, Iraq, Indonesia, and Egypt. One would hardly think such actions by Muslims would take place if we refused to cooperate with Muslims due to the actions of a minority of their faith. I would daresay, for example, that the Pope Emeritus thought it was a “good idea” when he called on Christians and Muslims in Cameroon to jointly defend traditional African values.
-Starting on the latter half of page 13 with “Islam today presents a double aspect.”
–The double aspect- Islamist Jihadist and “Muslims in Western countries”
–Analogy used to highlight the differences between these two aspects- “These Muslims [Muslims in Western countries] appear to be as different from their co-religionists who are torching churches and massacring Christians as a tongues-speaking, fire-baptized Pentecostal is from a blue-blooded Episcopalian who listens to NPR in his Mercedes.”
The comparison, even in analogy, of Islamist Jihadists to our Pentecostal brothers is uncharitable. While our Pentecostal brothers, or as Mr. Spencer mockingly characterized them “tongues-speaking, fire-baptized Pentecostals,” have numerous errors in their theology, they are not engaging in the immoral behavior that the Jihadists are and are not trying to justify these immoral behaviors with their interpretation of their faith. I would hazard a guess that if I used the phrase “tongues-speaking, fire-baptized Pentecostal” and using them as the Christian version of Islamist Jihadist in an analogy would garner me an infraction for violating Catholic Answer Forum’s (owned by the same organization that is promoting this book) rules regarding charity toward others.
That aside, we are left with dealing with a rather shallow caricature of Muslims. Either a Muslim is a terrorist (no need to dance around the truth, an Islamist Jihadist that burns down places of worship and murders people due to their faith is a terrorist) or a wealthy political liberal. Even worse, apparently this latter type of Muslim only exists in the West.
Even assuming that Mr. Spencer is just citing these two types of Muslims as examples of the extreme, I’m confused as to why he is doing so. First, if these are the extremes, than Islam today presents more than just a double aspect (Extreme A-Jihadist, Extreme B-rich politically liberal Western Muslims, those Muslims who aren’t Extreme A or B). Second, examining the extremes and the relationship between the extremes doesn’t actually help with explaining “the relationship of Islam in general to Christianity and the Catholic Church.” All it actually does is reinforce a shallow (the extremes make up a minority of Muslims) and skewed (see the definition of the term “extreme”) understanding of Islam and its relationship with Christianity and the Church.