Aesthetics, morals, community.

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...includes political matter.

The Cross and the Crescent By Lord Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury.1991-2002

The Cross and the Crescent
(The Clash of Faiths in an Age of Secularism)

The Beach Lecture, Newbold College, Bracknell
September 18th 2006

I must begin this lecture by thanking the College for the invitation to give this year’s Beach Lecture. I am so grateful to Dr.David Trim for his considerable administrative help in making this possible. It is for Eileen and myself a joy to meet Dr Beach again, whom we have known over the years and whose commitment to ecumenical co-operation is well known.

The subject I have chosen: The Cross and the Crescent emerges from my keen interest in developing healthy relationships with Islamic scholars and leaders, as well as from my many visits to Muslim countries ever since I took up office as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1991. In retirement I continue to work in the field of inter-faith collaboration.

In 1942 Dr. William Temple in a famous phrase described ecumenical relations as the ‘great new fact of our time’. I wonder how he would describe the relationships between faiths today, and particularly the relationship of Islamic countries and the West? For myself I would say of this relationship that it is the most dangerous, most important and potentially cataclysmic issue of our day. This lecture attempts to describe why this is so, and to suggest some ways that we might be able to strengthen links between this close neighbour, in religious terms, and overcome the hostilities that are driving the West and Middle East apart.

Thirteen years ago Professor Samuel Huntington makes his own position very clear. According to him we are witnessing in our time a ‘clash of civilisations’. His own conclusion shocked many:
“Islam’s borders are bloody and so are its innards. The fundamental problem for the West is not Islamic fundamentalism. It is Islam, a different civilisation whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture and are obsessed with the inferiority of their power”.

The problem with statements like that- indeed, the most dangerous aspect- is that they run the risk of becoming self-fulfilling prophecies; that is, if enough people believe the thesis, a clash becomes more likely. A seriously disturbing feature of Huntington’s thesis is the assumption that the clash will arise not from extremists on the margins of Islam but from the very being, the heart of Islam. Once that assumption is believed then the ineluctable conclusion is reached- no dialogue is possible; a state of war exists between two quite different civilisations.

Wahhabi Colonialism By Melik Kaylan

The Wall Street Journal

Wahhabi Colonialism

September 18, 2006; Page A18

Pope Benedict XVI recently cited a Byzantine-era critique of Islam, and the usual hubbub of outrage ensued. Various self-appointed and official Islamic spokesmen (they're always men), including the head of Turkey's religious affairs directorate (why does Turkey have one?), responded sharply in the name of their faith. One might argue that a confident, evolved religion welcomes all kinds of open debate. Or one might intone gravely that the West continues to mishandle its relations with the umma -- the sphere of active Muslim believers -- with the implied assumption that there is such a unified entity of tens of millions, and that they all feel outrage in the same way at the same time. Islamist polemicists, in particular, cherish the archaic umma concept, evoking, as it does, a premodern utopia of monolithic harmony.

Many in the West buy the notion, with its familiar en bloc echoes of the proletariat. But should the rest of us believe them? Do we insult Muslims by buying into it, too, or insult them the more by considering it antiquated and bogus?

What a Load of Armitage! By Victoria Toensing

The Wall Street Journal

What a Load of Armitage!

September 15, 2006; Page A12

Richard Armitage has finally emerged from the cover-my-backside closet, "apologizing" on CBS for keeping quiet for almost three years about being the original source for Robert Novak's July 14, 2003 column stating that Joe Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, worked for the CIA and had suggested him for a mission to Niger. He disingenuously blames his silence on Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's non-legally based request -- any witness is free to talk about his or her testimony -- not to discuss the matter.

Put aside hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer funds squandered on the investigation, New York Times reporter Judith Miller's 85 days in jail, the angst and legal fees of scores of witnesses, the White House held siege to a criminal investigation while fighting the war on terror, Karl Rove's reputation maligned, and "Scooter" Libby's resignation and indictment. By his silence, Mr. Armitage is responsible for one of the most factually distorted investigations in history.

Islam-Haters: An Enemy Within By Ralph Peters

New York Post



September 7, 2006 -- ISLAMIST fanatics attacked us and yearn to destroy us. The Muslim civilization of the Middle East has failed comprehensively and will continue to generate violence. The only way to deal with faith-poisoned terrorists is to kill them.

And the world's only hope for long-term peace is for moderate Muslims - by far the majority around the globe - to recapture their own faith.

But a rotten core of American extremists is out to make it harder for them.

Hezbollah Didn't Win By Amir Taheri

The Wall Street Journal


Hezbollah Didn't Win
August 25, 2006; Page A14

The way much of the Western media tells the story, Hezbollah won a great victory against Israel and the U.S., healed the Sunni-Shiite rift, and boosted the Iranian mullahs' claim to leadership of the Muslim world. Portraits of Hassan Nasrallah, the junior mullah who leads the Lebanese branch of this pan-Shiite movement, have adorned magazine covers in the West, hammering in the message that this child of the Khomeinist revolution is the new hero of the mythical "Arab Street."

An Open Letter to Günter Grass By Daniel Johnson (Parts I & II)

An Open Letter to Günter Grass

August 17, 2006

Dear Günter Grass,

First: why an open letter? I have never written one before, whereas you have written dozens. You are, so to speak, Europe's leading man of open letters. I admit that the idea of turning the tables on you did appeal to me.

But there is another, more personal reason for my decision to address you in this way. In a newspaper interview about your autobiography, "Peeling the Onion," you have admitted after 60 years, that you belonged to the Waffen SS. I want to make you aware of my feeling of betrayal — a feeling I believe I share with most of your countrymen. And I want to show solidarity with the victims, living and dead, of the regime you tried so hard to prolong.

President Taylor ~ Editorial

The Wall Street Journal


President Taylor
August 18, 2006; Page A14

In our current era of polarized politics, it was probably inevitable that some judge somewhere would strike down the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretaps as unconstitutional. The temptations to be hailed as Civil Libertarian of the Year are just too great.

So we suppose a kind of congratulations are due to federal Judge Anna Diggs Taylor, who won her 10 minutes of fame yesterday for declaring that President Bush had taken upon himself "the inherent power to violate not only the laws of the Congress but the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution, itself." Oh, and by the way, the Jimmy Carter appointee also avers that "there are no hereditary Kings in America." In case you hadn't heard.

"Red State Jews" ~ A Whine, and My Reply

Here's the whine:

The Wall Street Journal

August 9, 2006


Red State Jews
August 9, 2006; Page A10

This is a soul-searching moment for the Jewish left. Actually, for many Jewish liberals, navigating the gloomy politics of the Middle East is like walking with two left feet.

I would know. For six years I was the literary editor of Tikkun magazine, a leading voice for progressive Jewish politics that never avoided subjecting Israel to moral scrutiny. I also teach human rights at a Jesuit university, imparting the lessons of reciprocal grievances and the moral necessity to regard all people with dignity and mutual respect. And I am deeply sensitive to Palestinian pain, and mortified when innocent civilians are used as human shields and then cynically martyred as casualties of war.

Radical Ideas for Iraq By Max Boot

Radical Ideas for Iraq
The current strategy isn't working. We either need more troops or a lot fewer.
by Max Boot
08/10/2006 12:00:00 AM

PRESIDENT BUSH admitted in late July that the security situation in Baghdad was "terrible" and announced that he was sending more troops to quell the violence. Because this is what I advocated in a May 24 column, I should be happy with the president's decision. But, alas, as with so many American initiatives in Iraq, it's too little, too late.

The First War, All Over Again By Daniel Gordis

From: Daniel Gordis
Subject: The First War, All Over Again
Date: Fri, 21 Jul 2006 11:14:31 +0000

*** To join this list, send a BLANK email to: Or see for more information.

*** Now available: COMING TOGETHER, COMING APART: A MEMOIR OF HEARTBREAK AND PROMISE IN ISRAEL, covering the years 2003 through last summer, from the depths of the Intifada through the disengagement.

The Amazon link is

This is a different kind of war, and an old kind of war. In the last
war, when they blew up buses and restaurants and sidewalks and cafes,
Israelis were enraged, apoplectic with anger. This time, it's
different. Rage has given way to sadness. Disbelief has given way to
recognition. Because we've been here before. Because we'd once
believed we wouldn't be back here again. And because we know why this
war is happening.

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