OK, I am obsessed by the Muslim avalanche against Pope Benedict ... and against what he said. There will now be many scholarly battles about the aptness of the pontiff's citation of a conversation between a late Christian Byzantine emperor and an erudite Muslim, a medieval affair. They will surely seem to some of us more than a bit nit-picky. I have linked to some pretty nit-picky writings myself. But it is Islam's contemporary tolerance for bloodshed that exercises us, and maybe Benedict was taking refuge in the past so as not directly to confront the present.
Here, from timesonline.co.uk (September 18), is an excerpt of a column by William Rees-Mogg, the former editor of the Times of London, about the contemporaneity of the real question: Is organized Islam more prone to murder now than Christianity and the other great world religions? The answer seems obvious.
Yet nowadays Islam is the only major religion in which violence is a serious doctrinal issue. It is true that tribalised Roman Catholics and Protestants in Ireland have only recently stopped killing each other and vengeful Sikhs assassinated Indira Gandhi in India, but neither the Catholic nor the Protestant churches believe in terror; nor do the Sikhs.
So, you may say, every world religion is on a timeline and Islam has been late in its peaceful development. Alright, very late. But today is late, at least one generation too late. Is the Muslim timeline pointing to quietude?
In any case, here is Rees-Mogg's whole article. Not a scholar but a learned journalist with a felicitous pen. He may even write with a pen.