Christ Christianity Christians - Muhammad Islam Muslims

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Drifterwood, Nov 30, 2010.

  1. Drifterwood

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    Most of us (Westerners) can distinguish between the actions etc of the former, but we don't seem to want to with the latter.

    Why are we so willfully ignorant of Muhammad and Islam?

    I think I have an idea, but please, what are your thoughts?
     
  2. haulthat

    haulthat Member

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    Not to be an asshole, but this thread is a little bit ignorant in itself. The real problem is that the list of issues Westerners are willfully ignorant of is UNFUCKINGBELIVEABLY LONG! I have a lot of opinions specific to your questions but ya... I think my honest answer is because many of us want to and we can. Ignorance is a beautiful and comforting thing until the consequences of it bite us in the ass, that hasn't happened enough or as clearly as it needs to for us to learn. Learning in order to change your view and avoid a conflict is a basic sensible idea that I have lost hope in taking root in our society today. I will toss out seeds as I may, but I don't grow bitter if they don't grow. (btw I love it when foreigners comment on Americans referring to such things)

     
  3. Drifterwood

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    It is sad to read that. I would add that there is more benefit to learning than just avoiding conflict, though that is a good start.
     
  4. D_Tim McGnaw

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    I find this topic very interesting, I think that ever since Islam conquered much of the Christian Eastern Roman empire and then destroyed the last vestiges of Christian political hegemony in the form of the Byzantine empire the two cultures have found themselves at war with one another for people's consciences.

    I think a degree of mutual ignorance and bigotry has been essential to both sides in the war. It isn't uncommon to hear Muslims blame "Christians" or "Farangi", westerners in general for the actions of a minority of barbarous Christian zealots who become the exemplar of the savage infidel. It isn't uncommon to hear people from countries with cultures once dominated by Christianity describe Muslims and Islam in much the same terms and based on a similar generalisation of the actions of a zealous minority to include an entire religion and millions of peoples.

    It's to do with in-group and out-group thinking which is at the very heart of religion. In order to define what is good and right about one's own culture, religion, society etc it is often the habit of humans to describe what they think is evil and wrong about the culture, religion and society etc of other groups of humans.

    What then happens is that instead of viewing these other groups in the round, and with an eye for subtlety and realism, we have a tendency to shrink our view of others and create bogeymen, stereotypes, and false archetypes which do not account for the full range of variables which exist within large groups of human beings.

    It has been common practice for many centuries among societies influenced by Christianity to view Islam as a threatening and destructive force, and as a literal horde of barbarism. In order to both define themselves in opposition to and mobilise violent defence against Islamic encroachments upon the Christian culture sphere Christian influenced states have always reduced Islam by describing it as a religion of violence and oppression, and have reduced individual Muslims to the status of little more than the cardboard cutout image of the Saracen/Moor/Terrorist beheading Christians with scimitars. This is a strong part of the powerful influence of folk memory on peoples in Christian influenced countries.

    A similar cultural bias and folk memory exists in majority Muslim countries where tales of savage Christian reprisals and shameful Christian barbarity were common currency for centuries.

    The reason this conflation and mutual bigotry exists is because the two religions/cultures have been in competition with one another for predominance in Eurasia for so long. When the French ban the wearing of visible signs of Islamic faith, or the Swiss ban minarets, or when Saudis ban Christians from entering Mecca or Iran bans Christian missionary proselytism these are the modern signs of this ancient competition for souls.

    Mutual mistrust and ignorance are essential to both sides in this cultural conflict, and for most ordinary people further investigation which might reward them by presenting a more rich and more subtle and more complicated picture of the culture their's is defined in contradiction to is either not thought necessary or not possible. The problem comes from lack of education, and in many cases total abject ignorance on both sides of what Islam is and what Christianity is, and what Christians are and what Muslims are.

    The most recent chapter in the centuries old conflict between the two religions/cultures has merely brought to the fore prejudices and ignorance which are a part of a historical discourse which goes all the way back to the time when Islam and Christianity first encountered one another.


    Those of us from both cultures who have tended to be well informed about one another and have taken the time to investigate each other's culture and religion tend to have a more nuanced view, and hold less extreme opinions, and tend to be capable of seeing beyond the stereotypes and cliches and to understand the differences between zealotry and common practice, and see individuals rather than cartoon hordes of evil-doers.

    When people understand the facts about each other rather than the false presumptions, and when reality interposes itself on the requirements of propaganda and misrepresentation that's when ignorance is conquered and people begin to view one another as humans and not generalisations.
     
    #4 D_Tim McGnaw, Nov 30, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2010
  5. At.your.cervix

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    I find the thread title interesting, as it is a far from perfect parallel. Christians believe that Christ was more than a divine prophet voicing the will of God--in christian belief, he was the divine manifestation of God itself. Big difference. Muhammad may be revered as the most beloved messenger of God, but he is not to be worshiped as God.

    Why bring this up? It shows just how far we need to go when somebody making a very well intentioned post about the Christian West needing to understand the Islamic East still has a little trouble with discussing the issues.

    Obviously everyone has a far better understanding of the overt values and social subtleties of their own culture than those of others, but in a world with ever diminishing borders between once insular nations, it behooves each and everyone of us, from every nation, to make an effort to better understand our once distant neighbors.

    Personally, I considder myself a theist, although I haven't found any of the world's religions resonate with my own sensibilities--yet. That said, I have learned quite a bit about my own culture from reading both the Old and the New Tesiments of the Bible, as well as the Gnostic texts found at Nag Hamadi. To a lesser degree, I have learned much about the Islamic world from reading the Qur'an; I only say "to a lesser degree" because there are quite a few passages in the Qur'an which are so deeply rooted in Middle-Eastern culture that they are opaque to at least this Westerner. I have similarly gained from reading the Hindu Vedas and the Buddhist Sutras. All of which, has given me just a little more understanding of the wide range of people who we share this ever shrinking globe with.

    Is this enough? Obviously no. But it is a start. Travel opens ones eyes and heart to others as well. Reading about other cultures and histories helps too. So does honest empathic discourse--with a healthy dose of expectation that people from disparate cultures are bound to create more than occaisional cultural faux pas. But it is a learning experience which will yield rewards for everyone, even if that learning will always be incomplete. That's part of the challange of living in the 21st Century.
     
  6. Drifterwood

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    :smile:

    Precisely what I was thinking when I started the thread AYC, and whilst I agree with Hilly's wonderful post, I think that there is, as you mention, a fundamental theological gulf between the two religions, and one that Christianity finds harder to accept than Islam.

    Christianity has beaten itself up over the divine nature of Christ since the very earliest days, it still does, not that many Christians have any great knowledge of the history I suspect. For Christians, Christ is the Messiah, so no more need for prophets, he is the real deal, game over.

    But then comes along Muhammad, a new prophet, and christians convert freely to his new interpretation of God and Mankind's spiritual relationship to God. Muhammad reveres all the previous prophets known to him. He sees Mankind's spiritual relationship to God as an evolution, a journey which I believe is also true of Judaism, the Vedas and Buddhism.

    But at some point it appears that some Muslims have decided, as have some Christians with the Bible, that the Koran is the done deal. This effectively has set the two at odds with each other, which I do not think was ever the intention of Muhammad, nor had he a say, Christ Jesus.

    I do have some further thoughts on this.
     
    #6 Drifterwood, Nov 30, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2010
  7. GeorgeTSLC

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    No, that's at the very edge of religion!

    It's at the heart of institutions when they degenerate into self-preservation, forgetting that they were founded to achieve something beyond themselves. Which can certainly happen to organized religion when it goes wrong. But Catholic doctrine has long been--ever since we figured it out--that anyone who's trying to live as God (or the Goddess or the World Spirit or . . .) would have them do is in fact part of the Church and on the way to salvation! Seems to me that that transcends and/or apotheosizes "in-group thinking".

    The mainstream theologians' concept of the Christian Church includes among many other paradoxes that the Church is divine and the Church is human. I would be surprised if Islamic thinkers hadn't come to the same conclusion about their institution(s).

    Of course, it's the humans that can get things wrong. And do.
     
  8. Getting9

    Getting9 New Member

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    Christians, Roman Catholics, Muslims and Jews believe in the same GOD Almighty. It's just there channel of communication with God that differs. (Christians-Christ Jesus; Roman Catholics-Mary; Muslims- Mohommed and Jews-I am not sure of). What I cannot understand is the hate existing between these believers-especially in Ireland between Protestants and Catholics and in the western worl between the Christians and the Muslims. I say each to his own and leave them each other in PEACE.
     
  9. DevonTexas

    DevonTexas Well-Known Member

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    Christopher Hitchens is one of the most notable (of late) UK philosophers and he regards Islam as one of the most dangerous forces out there.
     
  10. Drifterwood

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    Islam, or fundamentalist Muslims?
     
  11. B_VinylBoy

    B_VinylBoy New Member

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    That only proves that a noted UK philosopher is also motivated by fear & theological propaganda. Which comes as no surprise since the biggest culprits are the ones who have the power as well as the labels. The only real dangerous force comes from people who buy into it, and then act out on their convictions with no regard as to who may get hurt (or killed) in the process.

    Can someone tell me when the "S" in LPSG stood for Stormfront? :rolleyes:
     
  12. D_Tim McGnaw

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    Do you mean me and my post? If so then there is a good reason why I didn't mention the theological differences between Islam and Christianity, namely that in my view in the main it isn't the theological differences, or rather the theogenic differences between Islam and Christianity which cause mutual ignorance among practitioners of both faiths or indeed non-practicing persons living within the culture zones of both faiths.

    Rather it is the demands of a somewhat more mundane conflict of non-theological nature which have obscured the realities of life as lived by both groups of people in both their respective collective consciousnesses.

    People don't conflate violent terrorist zealots/extremists with ordinary mainstream practitioners of a faith and/or persons from a particular cultural background because of abstract and essentially arcane differences in theological conception. These generalisations and conflations arise from a general ignorance which is encouraged by the needs of extremists on both sides of the cultural divide in whose interests it is to promote the ignorance which causes these misconceptions.

    Whether or not one views Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah, and both the son of god and god's physical manifestation or as one in a series of prophets leading to an ultimate and supreme prophet in the person of Muhammad has little enough to do with whether or not one decides to view anyone who takes one or other of these views as little more than a simplistic and inaccurate generalisation.


    As an atheist it has always been my first concern to understand those things I choose not to believe in, however the demands of faith, and the exigencies of much of life do not always require such diligence and attentiveness to subtlety and detail. Instead most people, religious or not, are happy to live in a world of primary colours, generalised stereotypes, archetypal discourses in which the individual human being and the necessity to understand them is lost.

    Hence the common conflation of the word "Muslim" with the word "Terrorist" in many people's minds, or of "Christian" with "Savage Infidel" in many other people's minds.

    As much as ignorance is the cause of these kinds of fictions and generalisations it is people's satisfaction and with their own ignorance which both promotes and sustains them. Theological distinctions aside the mutual misunderstandings of the Islamic and Christian worlds have more to do with group-think, complacency, and self-indulgent ignorance than anything else.
     
    #12 D_Tim McGnaw, Nov 30, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2010
  13. GeorgeTSLC

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    Now, that would be insulting if it weren't so ignorant.

    1. Outside of a purely Evangelical context, using "Christian" to mean solely the evangelicals is a mistake. Better terms to distinguish from Catholics are "Protestants" or "evangelical Christians", depending on what you mean. To imply that Catholics aren't Christian is . . . let's just say impolite, for now.

    2. It's interesting that you list Christ as a conduit to God, when nearly all Christians believe that He IS God.

    3. If you are clumsily asserting that non-Catholics don't pray to Mary and the other saints--asking, BtW, not for them to exert their own power but to pray to God with us--whereas Catholics do, perhaps you're right. I don't know as much about Protestant theology as I perhaps should. Anybody want to enlighten me? Or do I have to go Netsearching?

    If your point is that Catholics neglect Christ in favor of Mary, you are wrong. The repeatedly emphasized point is that Mary leads to Christ. Only for the ignorant does she become the Goddess. (Admittedly, some zealots who should know better can encourage that misbelief.)

    4. Lest others be mistaken, as I was: There are an awful lot of ways to spell the name of "the Prophet", and Mohommed is yet another of them, though comparatively uncommon--less than 45K hits on Google.

    5. Muslims do not consider Mohammed as the sole conduit to God. Like Christians, they pray directly to Allah (aka God).

    6. Jews admit no conduit to G-d. Like Muslims and Christians (of all stripes, including the Mormons so prominent where I live), they pray to Him.

    Socioeconomics more than religion in itself.

    Don't we all! But it doesn't help to mischaracterize others' beliefs.
     
  14. D_Tim McGnaw

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    Now you know as well as I do that no RC theologian would totally negate any purpose in being a Roman Catholic by stating that all good roads lead to god and no one need be a Roman Catholic to be on that road.

    The point of the theology you mention is that the RC church believes fundamentally that humanity is more likely to be living a life acceptable to god if it practices Roman Catholicism, it admits that it is possible to live in a manner which is acceptable to god without being a Roman Catholic but it stresses that the best and most efficacious, the most tried and true, the most direct route to salvation is by the practice of and participation in the sacraments and adherence to the dogmas of the Church of Rome. Otherwise what on earth would be the point in even being a Roman Catholic?

    So even in an attempt to disguise its in-group-think core the RC church exalts the fact that to be a Roman Catholic is to be a member of a group more likely to be acceptable to god than any other. :rolleyes:
     
    #14 D_Tim McGnaw, Nov 30, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2010
  15. At.your.cervix

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    Actually, I was referring to the original poster who started this thread.
     
  16. D_Tim McGnaw

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    OK :smile:
     
  17. At.your.cervix

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    You know, this supposed finality of God's messages to mankind has always fascinated me--especially in the Judeo/Christian/Muslim tradition where there had always been an steady ongoing series of prophets. Suddenly, it all stops with Jesus or Mohammad? Seems pretty odd to me.

    On a more pragmatic level, the assertian that the culturally specific aspects of these prophets messages ought to fit in with the culture of the 21st century, after the endless social, scientific, political, and technological changes which have occured in the thousands of years since those prohets spoke is a recipe for local and global social discord.

    But even more troubling for me (at least as I write this) is that this socio-theological discourse is occuring on a bulletin board of a group of people centered around big dicks. Well now I have something fresh to bring to my therapist. Too bad she isn't a Freudian.
     
  18. vince

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    What's troubling about it? Seriously.
     
  19. At.your.cervix

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    . . .and with those five words, my dreams of becoming a stand-up comic were dashed forever. . .
     
  20. DevonTexas

    DevonTexas Well-Known Member

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    Well, that's a slippery slope. There are at least 10 mil Muslims who wish harm on all us non-Muslims. How's that for starters?
     
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