"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Crusader Spirit & God as 'an active soldier'

A couple of quotes from Beyond Fundamentalism: Confronting Religious Extremism in the Age of Globalization by Reza Aslan which I introduced yesterday.

How true does this seem to you?

"'The Crusader spirit runs in the blood of all Westerners.'" -- quoting Sayyid Qutb, "the twentieth century's most influential Islamist thinker" (pg. 63)

What are the implications of thinking of God this way? Do you imagine God this way as well?

"God, as conceived of in the ancient mind, was not a passive force in war but an active soldier. Central to biblical ideas about cosmic war was the belief that it is not human beings who fight on behalf of God, but rather God who fights on behalf of human beings. Sometimes God is the only warrior on the battlefield.  When the Babylonians conquered Mesopotamia, they did so not in the name of their king but in the name of their god,Marduk, who was believed to have sanctioned, initiated, and commanded each battle.  The same holds true for the Egyptians and their god Amun-Re; the Assyrians and their god, Ashur; the Canaanites and their god, Baal; and most especially, the Israelites and their god, Yahweh."  (pg. 67)

Other thoughts, questions or observations?  Any lessons to be learned? Morals to the stories? 


Amber said...

Define 'Crusader spirit' and I'll tell you if it seems true or not. :)

The thing with ancient religions, Egypt, etc. is that there was also the belief that their kings, their leaders were descended from the gods and were in fact part god themselves and would become gods when they died. The separation between 'church' and 'state' wasn't even a glimmer in someones mind. Everything was about the gods because everything was a god, basically.

The warriors and the people may have conquered in the name of their god or believed that their god had destroyed the enemy before them but practically they did all the fighting. None of them sat back and let the opposing army take the field without fielding their own troops because Baal would take care of it.

Susanne said...

Amber, thanks for your reply. I think "Crusader spirit" for this guy was Christians vs. Muslims...considering the source. :)

Thanks for what you added concerning ancient religions and gods. So do you find the Israelites' position re:Yahweh any different or basically the same as the Egyptians and Canaanites that were mentioned in the same paragraph?

Amber said...

In that case no, I don't agree that it's in all Westerners. :p

Hmmm...it's only different in the sense that the Israelites, afawk, didn't believe that their king/prophet/judge/etc was a god or a demi-god. Other than that (of course this is all painted with rather broad strokes), no. All ancient (and some not so ancient) peoples believed that their god went into battle with them and that the god of the other people (who went into battle with them) was weaker and would be crushed by the might of their god while the humans fought it out on the ground.

Susanne said...

Thanks for the explanation! Enjoyed it.

observant observer said...

I don't belong to the West...LOL, but I supposed what was mentioned by Sayyid Qutb was also the sentiment shared in opposite by the Christian leaders (just like what was quoted by the Pope, if I'm not mistaken he was quoting Manuel, such controversial quote that ignited the Muslim world).

I'm not going to defend the crusades, but I supposed after 400 years being "offended", it was just natural that the Pope should order something, otherwise the constelation of the world would be different. But blame it on such unorganized forces that it became such a very awful war. I supposed there was not official teaching of separation of state and church. We should admit that people do learn from mistakes, even though if we believe that Jesus teaching would not suggest violence, but the difficulties to define this would be when it comes to the sovereignity of a state. I supposed this situation commands the separation of the state and the church as what Jesus suggested as well: give to the King what he's entitled to and give to God what He's entitled to (I don't have the exact words of the english version...hehee)

Recently I heard that the Koreans (south or north?) were ready to wage "holy war". So I supposed the call for being involved in Holy war was aimed to get the higher purpose so all the elements of the society becomes ready to sacrifice the most.

As for God being involved in war, well I'm not trying to sugarcoat the belief of the believers that God takes part in history...but in a way that we don't understand. History spans in hundred of years if not million, we should be able to see the pattern I supposed, just as we can see from the Old Testament. It's not a pattern of choosing someone over the other I supposed, but (hopefully) being on the side of the "truth" that bear equals treatment of the whole nations. Just see how the old Israelites was very often punished even by the pagan neighbors to get the message taken by them.

Susanne said...

OO, thanks for taking time to comment. I am not familiar with what the Pope said or else I've forgotten it, but it seems interesting from what I gathered from your comment.

Yes, I think the North Koreans especially are taught that their leader is a god so I can see why 'holy' war would be something they fight if they are fighting for him somehow.

I appreciated what you added about fighting for truth. You are right that often Israel was punished by other nations for abandoning true worship of God.

Thanks much for what you added!

observant observer said...

Susanne, I think I owe you an explanation about the pope's lecture that explained what I told you before,I quote it from wikipedia actually:

"In his lecture, the pope, speaking in German, quoted an unfavorable remark about Islam made in the 14th century by Manuel II Palaiologos, a Byzantine emperor. As the English translation of the pope's lecture disseminated across the world, many Islamic politicians and religious leaders protested against what they saw as an insulting mischaracterization of Islam.[1][2]

Mass street protests were mounted in many Islamic countries, the Majlis-e-Shoora (Pakistani parliament) unanimously called on the Pope to retract "this objectionable statement".[3] The pope maintained that the comment he had quoted did not reflect his own views, and he offered an apology to Muslims.

The controversial comment originally appeared in the Dialogue Held With A Certain Persian, the Worthy Mouterizes, in Anakara of Galatia,[4] written in 1391 as an expression of the views of the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Palaiologos, one of the last Christian rulers before the Fall of Constantinople to the Muslim Ottoman Empire, on such issues as forced conversion, holy war, and the relationship between faith and reason. The passage, in the English translation published by the Vatican, is as follows:

“ Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.[5]

Susanne said...

Thank you! Now I know to what you were referring! I appreciate the explanation! :)