Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Uh, guess I was wrong about the Iranians

So say two British bishops, one Anglican and one Catholic:

In a statement welcoming the hostages’ release on Thursday, [Catholic] Bishop [of the Forces Tom] Burns said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had spoken of forgiveness, and appealed to the religious traditions of Islam. This might seem puzzling, said the bishop. But it had to be seen in the context of the Iranians’ belief that Britain had violated their territorial waters.

"So, if that is the case they are putting forward, then by their own standards, the standards enshrined in their religion, they have then chosen to put their faith into action to resolve the situation," said the bishop.

"Faith in a forgiving God has been exemplified in action by their good deeds. They are offering to release the sailors and marines, not just as the result of diplomacy, but also as an act of mercy in accordance with their religion."

He added that the Iranian’s Islamic faith shared many religious values with Christianity. "Over the past two weeks, there has been a unity of purpose between Britain and Iran, whereby everyone has sought justice and forgiveness where that is appropriate," he said.

"Repentance has a common root in each religion. We all profess to hold a faith that comes from Abraham - the Father of all Nations.

"All nations form one community: we come from the one God who created us, and we will return to the one God as our common destiny."

And here’s the Anglican Bishop of Rochester, the Right Rev Michael Nazir-Ali:

"I saw on the one hand what Iran was doing, and what the president [of Iran] said had much to do with the moral and spiritual tradition of their country," he said.

"The president talked about the religious background to the release, with reference to the Prophet’s birthday and the passing over of Christ. What struck me was that if there were any values on the British side they were free-floating and not anchored in a spiritual and moral tradition."

He added, however, that he believed that both sides were acting from mixed motives, and challenged the Iranians to demonstrate similar tolerance in their treatment of religious minorities.

The nicest thing said in response to these comments is that the men are naive. I don’t object to appealing to the "better angels of our natures" and of our religious traditions, but the analysis accompanying that should be based both in a solid appreciation of the political and strategic context and in a clear-sighted appreciation of right and wrong. I get no sense from the statements that the bishops have thought about the former. And I’m distressed that Bishop Burns seems to be practicing a kind of moral equivalency, working from the assumption that, if the Iranians claim to have had right on their side, there’s no way we can call them on that.

In other words, unless they’re as "wise as serpents," they can’t be as "harmless as doves."

Discussions - 15 Comments

There are so many problems with these statements, it�s hard to know where to begin. There are the theological problems (we�re "one community"), problems of practical wisdom, and rhetorical problems to boot. Their foolishness reminds me a bit of N.T. Wright�s foolishness last year...what is it with these British bishops, too much BBC/Guardian?

"Repentance has a common root in each religion. We all profess to hold a faith that comes from Abraham - the Father of all Nations."

Oh my. Three points:

  1. Repentance must be sincere. Words by themselves have no meaning, absent the inclination of the heart. I think we have good reason to question the sincerity of anything uttered by the Iranian authorities.
  2. I am immediately suspect of anyone who relies upon "we all come from Abraham." From a strictly logical point of view it’s a meaningless thing. Just because Abraham is the root, it does not mean all faith branches are equally good, equally true, or equally sanctioned by God. I’m not arguing for the truth of one over the other; I’m simply saying that logically the implied conclusion does not follow.
  3. From a Christian point of view, I am doubly suspect of anyone who relies upon the "we call come from Abraham" argument. It suggests a sort of equivalence in faith traditions simply due to a common legacy. Jesus never suggested he was "one way of many," but rather the way. But, it’s a common ploy of theological liberals to use it. It’s an easy way to demonstrate "inclusiveness."

We’re living in strange days.

I’ve long since stopped listening to "mainstream" Christian leaders. The peaceniks took over those church leadership positions long, long ago. They only thing they are good for is "managing" the decline of the West.

dain wrote: I’ve long since stopped listening to "mainstream" Christian leaders. The peaceniks took over those church leadership positions long, long ago.

This is way off topic, but this has always intrigued me. What is it about institutions that seem to draw the liberal element? We see liberalism as the controlling force in educational institutions, charitable trust institutions, many government agencies and mainstream religious institutions.

Is it that such institutions offer a kind of insulated safe haven for them? Or is that they established a kind of beach head early and then froze out others not like them?

Don in AZ,

This will draw fire, I am sure, but I think you’ll find that a lot of liberals truly want to help other people, and to integrate that desire with their career paths. Whether righties agree with the efficacy of the process is not relevant, but if a young person wants to make a career out of helping those who are less fortunate, the business world is rarely the place to be, since the business of business is business. Very often, the business of "insitutions" is helping people.

There is no need to be "wise as serpents." These churchmen just need to be as intelligent as -- oh, say, 10-year-olds.

Very often, the business of "insitutions" is helping people.

They are remarkably inefficient at it if so.

You should check out "Dark Star", by Paul Theroux. He has some blistering things to say about the type of people who staff the NGO’s in Africa. (The religious figures come out best.) Interesting, considering his political leanings.

This may seem crazy (and maybe it is), but I believe there was a religious element in the Iranian government’s decision to release the British captives. It had nothing to do with forgiveness.

I suspect the Supreme Leader, who does consider himself guided by the almighty, would not condone keeping the 15 Britons knowing their capture was based on an error, and their captivity based on a lie.

Ayatollah Khamenei probably looked over the reports on where the British were captured, noticed that even the Iranians’ first report had the British outside Iranian waters, and said no, we’re not going to hold these people. He wasn’t going to go to war over the lie. Allah would not be pleased.

That being said, we cannot count on an "honest Iran" policy. There are other lies, such as their basic claim to divine guidance, that the Iranian theocrats have told themselves for so long that they accept them as truth.

You know the other lies. Those lies they’ll fight over. They’re willing to bring down the whole human race for those lies.

Fung wrote: "This will draw fire, I am sure, but I think you’ll find that a lot of liberals truly want to help other people, and to integrate that desire with their career paths."

On first blush -- I haven’t thought about it a great deal -- your answer seems plausible. I’m not sure it is the case for every single liberal that is a member of some institution, but I have no doubt that it’s true of at least some.

So many institutions tend to change over time such that their missions cease to be about helping others and turns to preserving itself. At least at the executive level. Entry level people probably do not see that institutional cynicism and join with a sense of true mission in their hearts. I wonder how many years it takes for such people to wake up and see the truth? Or do they?

I’m way off topic now. I’m just musing on a Monday.

For every Liberal who enters a profession to help "humanity," there are two (or more) who try to obtain sinecure at universities, NGOs, churches, government, and "charitable" organizations. Why do they do it? I think they are lying to themselves...they are accomplishing very little good, but they serve themselves oh so very well. It allows them a feeling of moral superiority for very little real self-sacrifice.

Business, on the other hand, is far more honest (most of the time, at least). Quid pro quo...Nature’s rule, and an honest one.

Yes, any real Christians should ignore or dismiss what these phony religious leaders are saying here. OR they should be working to get them booted out of the church! This malicious and bloodthirsty release of the hostages only provides further evidence of the inherent wickedness of Islam, the so-called "religion of peace"! I’d bet a month’s pay that those swarthy Iranian brutes forced those Brits to put themselves into naked piles and then set angry dogs on them, too. Probably put their Bibles and crucifixes into toilets, or stepped on them, or something awful like that.

The fact that Amhadena-whack-job (hahaha!!) had these people brutally released, and brainwashed them to try to sell their stories to (probably) secretly finance a campaign of terror, well, that too, tells us what we need to know about Islam!

Invading and/or nuking Iran to spread the gospel of the ONE, TRUE religion of peace - Christianity (well, ok, 2 religions, the "Judeo-Christian" heritage!) - is an obvious step forward in defeating evil abroad, but what about the Muslims here in the U.S.? How to pre-empt the evil that they most surely are plotting? How to eliminate their threat?? IDEAS?

Here’s an idea, Elizabeth:

Set aside one day of your week to study Islam. Set aside another day to study Iran’s theocratic dictatorship.

You might discover the two things are not the same.

So, a female troll? I don’t think so...what’s your real name, "Elizabeth?"

Years ago, a friend of mine conducted his dissertation around semantic differentials in the context of cooperation and competition. What I remember quite well (and I don’t remember much else, since I was hip-deep in my own processes) was this:

Those who prefer competitive behavior and situations tend to view the cooperation-competition continuum as redundant with weak --- strong. Those who prefer cooperative behavior and situations view the continuum as between good-- bad.

Another good example, I think, of how righties and lefties don’t merely disagree; they tend to frame the argument in different contexts. almost to speak different languages. The problem is, since the actual WORDS are the same, we are fooled into thinking that we speak the SAME language.

This, Dain, may be how you can believe 2/3 of the liberals are fooling themselves because they don’t behave as you do.

I believe I’m being quite objective about it. Liberals, like lillies, "neither toil nor spin." They are disproportionately employed in activities that must be supported by tax dollars or donations, and the "output?" Well...I guess there is some, if bitching can be considered a product. Have a nice day, Fung.

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