Monday, September 30, 2013

Come back Ottomans?

A bit of a Monday morning round up ...

As we reel from news of atrocities committed in the name of extreme Islam, this article is a useful reminder that there is a way to develop the application of sharia law which takes account of modern life rather forces modern life to conform to life as it was some 1400 years ago. Although not without its own cruelties and militarism, the Ottoman Empire "for centuries, .. peaceably ruled much of the civilised world".

Speaking of the Ottoman Empire, and as a reminder of its dominance over Christianity, it happens that Bosco Peters has posted this morning on a Stylite quest to reconstruct a chapel and house on top a pillar of rock in Georgia. It had previously been used by a Stylite "until the Ottoman Empire invaded Georgia in the 15th century."

Whether we like it or not, extreme Islam is a phenomenon in the history of religions of humankind. That history continues to take its twists and turns, including the rise and fall (and rise) of human allegiances to religions, and to specific convictions within those religions. Thus today we can jump from Georgia to Scotland to reflect on their census figures re religion, posted by Thinking Anglicans here. Protestants might reflect on the statistical stability of the Roman Catholic church. For Anglicans there is an interesting twist to the figures. Meanwhile in NZ we await publication of our 2013 census figures ...

It is not unknown on this site for the faithful adherence of Episcopalians to their prayerbooks to be observed, sometimes in conjunction with observations about Kiwi Anglicans somewhat 'loose' approaches to using our prayerbooks. Thus a post by Bishop Dan Martins, via Creedal Christian, caught my eye in respect of its liturgical observations of no less than a TEC House of Bishops' meeting. Creedal Christian's post carries the provocative title "Cognitive Dissonance and Liturgical Innovation in the House of Bishops."

But the Creedal Christian re-publication of +Dan's thoughts highlights something else, which also connects with the history of religions unfolding before our eyes through these weeks, the current mission of Pope Francis. Where is Pope Francis leading his church? He is saying things which progressive Episcopalians find congenial, yet he has actually done nothing to change the conservative doctrine of the Roman church.

Bishop Dan makes an astute and poignant observation:

" I find him a remarkable man, and am both humbled and inspired by his ministry. He is frighteningly Christ-like. But I also happen to agree with most of his positions on controverted issues. 

And here's the deal: He isn't proposing any changes in either the theological or moral teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. None. 

If I were a supporter of same-sex marriage, or abortion rights, I could find nothing in the Pope's statements that would lead me to hope that a change in church teaching in these areas is imminent. So why the sudden triumph of style over substance? I not only agree with his views, I also agree with the need he has expressed to change rhetoric and reassess priorities. 

But many of the same voices that are raised in adulation of the Bishop of Rome still see Episcopalians who share his views as outliers, and benignly and charitably (more or less) consign us to the margins of TEC. Just sayin'."

I think the Ottomans and Pope Francis would get along fine. They understand the need to connect the doctrinal rock of faith with the pastoral fluidity of the world in which we live today.

(Added Tuesday) Time magazine weighs in on the Pope as a radical traditionalist:

"even if the teachings that put a kick me sign on the church could be changed by fiat, it would be self-defeating to do so. The mainline Protestant churches have all tried just that--throwing out the unwanted baby of the traditional moral code with the theological bathwater. Yet they're still drowning. Over the centuries, people have found plenty to complain about in the church's bans on abortion, contraception and extramarital sex. But that fact doesn't undermine the code's internal consistency--or its appeal to those who have found in it a tough but beautiful truth."

Too return to Islam, Cranmer poses an important question in this post. How can a religion of peace inflict brutality on its own members? Ditto, read this Telegraph post asking why we cannot call murder murder and terrorism terrorism?

Let the final word be with the Word of God, this time in the reflective hands of Fr Jonathan, as part of Anglicans keeping holy writ.

22 comments:

Tregonsee said...

Years ago there was a military strong man in Chile named Pinochet. Not a bad ruler, as such go, and did a lot of things to repair the economy. Of course, he was completely reviled. A US commentator of the day remarked that all Pinochet needed to do was to claim to be a Socialist. Keep doing what he was doing, and since he was now a "Socialist" people would love him. Sometimes I think ++Francis heard that comment. We shall see.

Peter Carrell said...

They both have South America in common as their home continent!

Andrei said...

"for centuries, .. peaceably ruled much of the civilised world".

You have to love historical revisionism.

For example The death of Patriarch Gregory V of Constantinople, who was dragged from his Cathedral on Easter Sunday 1821 and hanged in his vestments - and left hanging for three days after which his body was dragged through the streets and tossed unceremoniously into the Bosporus.

Peter Carrell said...

Fair point Andrei!

But there have been many empires which have offered a certain kind of 'peace' with a mixed bag of assault, war, and suppression of rebellions ... I can think of the Romans, British, Austro-Hungarians ...

Anonymous said...

You're right, Andrei. The article is a farrago of historical ignorance and special pleading, designed as a puff piece for the latest pro-Muslim series by the BBC, fronted by their old Muslim newsreader, Rageh Omaar. (For the record, Omaar is a telegenic journalist complex issues, not a historian - but what does that matter?) The Independent journalist even admits he knew little of how far Muslim depredations and conquests went into Europe.
There was a very good reason Manuel Paleologus said what he did to the emissaries of the Ottomans who had been destroying his empire - and it would not be long before they massacred untold numbers in Constantinople and devastated monasteries and churches in the Balkans.
The shock troops of the Ottomans were the Janissaries - kidnapped Christian children who were brought up as Muslim warriors. For that reason, Christian families would often hide in the mountains to prevent the kidnap of their children. Greek independence took centuries of resistance and untold bloodshed. If they had not succeeded, Greece would have ended up like Syria or Egypt today - and the Arabs heartily loathed the Turks as well. Remember Lawrence of Arabia?
Turkey is in considerable ferment today, between the creeping Islamists in power and those who maintain the legacy of Ataturk, as the recent riots in Istanbul showed.
Martin Skanderbeg

Anonymous said...

The British Empire arose more from accident than design (it wasn't based on intentional invasions and conquests)and it was not notably brutal or oppressive. Amritsar was a drop in the bucket compared to the huge massacres and 'communal violence' (as they used to call Muslim-Hindu warfare) before and since. (It's worth finding out how many Hin0dus dies resisting the Mughals. It is an enormous shame that much of Africa and Pakistan failed to maintain the good things of British rule (parliamentary democracy, rule of law, freedom of speech and religion etc) and that despots arose in its place.

The Austro-Hungarian empire wasn't notably illiberal either.

Marcus Britannicus

Peter Carrell said...

OK. The answer to my question 'Come back Ottomans?' seems to me No. On the other hand I wonder if life was better under them than under the Taliban ...

Shawn Herles said...

Muslim rule is never good for anyone who is not Muslim. I mentioned in the previous thread on this topic Serge Trifkovik's 'The Sword of the Prophet'. Along with many other horrors it details the rape of the Christian Balkans under the oppressive tyranny of the Ottomans. I doubt much if any of that will be in the BBC documentary. When it comes to Islam, the BBC engages in whitewashing and dishonest propaganda, funded by money forcibly stolen from British citizens.

Looking for examples of good Islamic rule is like looking for the abominable snowman. It might exist, but the evidence is not remotely convincing.

Better to pray for the conversion of the Islamic lands to Christ.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I agree it is better to be kicked in the guts and spat on than to have your hands cut off.
But I would choose neither.

Peter, I was beginning to wonder if this was a prelude to NZ Anglicanism's 2015 apology to Turkey for Gallipoli! :)

Martin of St Sava

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Martin
That apology is coming up right after the British government and the Churchill family apologise for sending the ANZACs on such a flawed, foolish and futile gesture in the first place!

Shawn Herles said...

I like Time's description of Pope Francis as a radical traditionalist. This seems a far more accurate understanding than those who see him as a potential liberal. Francis seems to me to be closer to JP 2 than to J 23.

Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, you seem to have a correspondent on your blogs who gives himself many names. Firstly: Anonymous, then a name beginning with M. - this latter sometimes preceding some outlandish foreign pseudonym.

He has so many opinions on many different things, but, can we be sure he is not just a multiple personality masquerading under pseudonymous titles?

Split personalities can often be given credence on topics that deserve an out-front identification - under a single identifiable name. Then your other correspondents can be assured they are dealing with one and the same person, with identifiable prejudices, that can then be easily dealt with.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
So long as I can keep track myself of the single identity making its way through many witty pseudonyms I am confident I am dealing with one and only one person. I think I can see a consistent line of conservative, theological, political and economic thought ...

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Ron. I long suspected I had a personality disorder and you have helped me to see it is MPD.

Dr J. Martin Hyde

Andrei said...

That apology is coming up right after the British government and the Churchill family apologise for sending the ANZACs on such a flawed, foolish and futile gesture in the first place!

Here's something I bet you didn't know Peter - if Gallipoli had come off Constantinople and the Dardanelles were to be the spoils of the Russian Empire under a deal cut by the British, French and Russians as to how the Ottoman Empire was to be divided between them.

So those ANZAC boys were actually fighting and dying for the Tzar.

It was the Bolsheviks who rescinded the deal, the Russian revolution may have saved Turkey who knows?

Peter Carrell said...

I didn't know that Andrei!

Shawn Herles said...

I object to the claim that having multiple personalities is a disorder. All of my personalities are perfectly ordered and generally get along just fine.

Bryden Black said...

Multiple names? Sorry SK, that Dane of many names ...! We literally didn't follow you!

MichaelA said...

"if Gallipoli had come off Constantinople and the Dardanelles were to be the spoils of the Russian Empire under a deal cut by the British, French and Russians as to how the Ottoman Empire was to be divided between them."

But the important bit remained, i.e. what Britain and France wanted: Iraq, Palestine, Syria-Lebanon. And they got them.

That gave them oil wells in Iraq, plus two pipelines, one to a terminal in Tripoli, Lebanon (for France) and one to a terminal in Haifa, Palestine (for Britain)!

MichaelA said...

That's not what your fifth self told me, Shawn

Shawn Herles said...

"That's not what your fifth self told me"

Ignore him. That one can't be trusted.

Anonymous said...

Andrei, that's very interesting. Just imagine attending the first Divine Liturgy in the Church of the Holy Wisdom since 1453 in the second Rome!

MichaelA: "But the important bit remained, i.e. what Britain and France wanted: Iraq, Palestine, Syria-Lebanon. And they got them."

Yes, a triumph of our geopolitical wisdom! It's been pax aeterna ever since.

Martin Sykes-Picot