Religion And Referees

August 23, 2007

Conversing with Robert Spenser of Jihad Watch and author of the just published Religion Of Peace? Why Christianity Is And Islam Isn’t is like an intellectual sparring match with someone very much at the top of his game. Spectators are treated to a fine display of the ‘sweet science,’ in the comfort of their seats. That said, if you want to step into the ring with Spenser and expect to last more than a round or two, you had best know your subject matter.

Yesterday, we had the pleasure ofstepping into the ring with Robert Spenser in a BlogTalk Radio interview, hosted by Fausta.

Spenser frustrates many of his detractors because he really is at the top of game. It becomes very clear very quickly that he understands Islam’s religious, political and psychological components and manifestations. His logic is clear and crisp and he does not equate opinion with fact and he expects the same of those he debates. Rather degrade his exchanges, he demands they be elevated. This is no small matter. Spenser is a lightning rod because the intellectual demands he makes of his adversaries usually backs them into a corner. Consequently, the responses are usually predictable. He is often referred to as an ‘Islamophobe’ or similar nonsense.

The genesis of Spenser’s confrontation with Islam is clear: He cares little about what Muslims say. His focus is on behavior and action.

The promise of Al Andalus is long gone, having been replaced by centuries of totalitarian Islamic leaders that have left a legacy of death and failure. Like all leaders of totalitarian societies, they deliberately promote the most primitive and base human instincts. These leaders have nothing to fear from dysfunctional and a poorly educated society. Rather than shepherd their populations from the dark ages into the modern world, technologies are used to develop and encourage the paranoia, denial of reality and projection that have become the recognizable dysfunctions of much of the Arab and Islamic world.

None of this would be remarkable save for the fact we are in the 21st century. Christianity has evolved from a faith that gave us the Inquisition, the dark ages and the Crusades. Judaism has evolved from the faith that demanded confrontation, conflict and war as the Israelites settled the Land. Islam has remained in a twilight zone- the religion that time forgot. That truth, more than any other, is what Spenser really addresses.

Spencer’s arguments pull no punches. Islam has never evolved because the religious dysfunction and expression came about as the result of centuries of dysfunctional religious leaders. When religion and religious expression are allowed to be the exclusive purview of dysfunctional ideologues, the result is a dysfunctional expression of faith. Further, when those perverted expressions of religious faith become integral parts of a very dysfunctional political expression and political process, the results are inevitable. Dysfunction always breeds more dysfunction.

When moved by the power of faith, man created great cathedrals and monuments. There was a time when Islamic art, literature and architecture were grand expressions of man’s potential. Mosques were colorful examples of creativity, color and inspiring architecture. Today, mosques are cold, colorless, severe and drab. What motivates and inspires Muslims today is very different from those earlier expressions of faith.

Robert Spencer also reiterates another unequivocal truth. It is the evolution of religion and the evolution of a believers relationship (or non relationship) with his or her faith that has powered human development. It is an absolute truth that modern society cannot exist alongside backward religious expressions. That is why nations predicated on a free and democratic Judeo-Christian ethics are producing nations and why virtually all of the Arab world are only capable of consumption. It is also an unequivocal truth that producing nations and societies are very different than consuming nations.

One of the accepted hallmarks of civilized society is an accepted code of moral behavior. No matter one’s prejudices, biases or beliefs, we are all expected to behave in a certain way. We are all expected to treat others, regardless of their religion, culture or creed, in the same way we ourselves expect to be treated. If that accepted code of moral behavior is not present in a particular society, that society cannot be counted as civilized, no matter how ‘well dressed’ or how much they consume.

In civilized societies, religions are measured by what they build and not by what they destroy. Religions are measured by how many lives are saved in the name of God and not by how many lives are taken in the name of God. The Judeo-Christian world understands morality and ethical standards as inclusive, applicable to all. Many in the Muslim world see morality and ethical standards as exclusive, applicable to themselves as needed and otherwise of no relevance or consequence.

Robert Spenser is a referee. Everybody plays by the same rules. Everybody.

Until they do, he’ll keep blowing the whistle.

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