Admittedly, Benedict is a new pope. He is entitled to some early errors; given that we do not insist that he is without error, as do dogmatically correct Roman Catholics. Indeed, I feel that his latest writing, supposedly on reason and faith, is distinctly unfortunate. It is bad theology and it is bad politics.
And the Roman Catholic Church is unfortunately as eager to enter the political arena as are the American Christian fundamentalists. They wish to do so for the same reason: They are quite sure that they know what is right for the whole world. This is in stark contrast to their supposed leader, Jesus the Christ, who told his followers to put away the sword when he was being taken to the authorities before being crucified.
What woes we have caused by being sure that God was on our side! Look at the many wars in our history that bear the stamp of righteous indignation and see the damage.
What Pope Benedict said on Sept. 12, 2006, was mightily confused.
He said he was talking about the dynamic between faith and reason. However, for reasons known only to him, the pope hauled out a supposed dialogue between one of the last Byzantine emperors, Manuel II, a 14th-century figure who dealt well with both the European powers of the day and with threats from the Ottoman Empire, and a mythical, unnamed Muslim scholar.
The pope said that at one point in this alleged medieval discussion between a minor secular figure, Emperor Manuel, and an anonymous Muslim, Manuel thundered, "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."
Can you blame the Islamic world for becoming upset? Our "swords" are all over their countries, killing people and rendering such diatribes quite hypocritical. Words like "evil" and "inhuman" are not kind or accurate, unless you apply them to all of us.
Moreover, for every sorry act of hostility and aggression that Muslims have done, we Christians have done one to balance out the aspersions. There are plenty of guilty parties, both Christian and Muslim — not forgetting to include the Jewish religion and the Jewish culture of Zionism, which recently attacked Lebanon with fierce rapacity.
In addition to this inflammatory prose in the pope's sermon last month, the U.S. and what few allied forces are still with the Bush camp are continuing to kill Muslims by the hundreds. Over 100,000 bodies have officially been counted on the Iraqi side of this latest warpath of ours.
In such a climate of attack and unreasonable insult, one would expect the Islamic world to react with anger. In general, the Muslim civilian population has done just that. There is an enhanced feeling among the Arab nations that the pope is casting the Roman Catholic Church's lot in with the Bush fundamentalists. These two groups' agendas — the papal "Opus Dei" and the fundamentalist Christians — both feel that the earth should be their version of The Lord's. They, in thinking along these lines, are spoiling for a final battle with weapons that can destroy the earth altogether. The beast once again slouches towards Bethlehem to be born, to quote the poet W.B. Yeats.
However, no less than 38 leaders of the Islamic world sat down together and drafted an open letter to the pope, which closed with these words: "We hope that we will all avoid the mistakes of the past and live together in peace, mutual acceptance and respect. And all praise belongs to God; and there is neither power nor strength except through God."
The Islamic culture follows its religion in valuing hospitality, fairness and the politics of reason. The Christian world claims to do the same. However, in this instance, the Muslim world has stepped up to the plate and asked for open and compassionate dialogue designed to bring the nations together and to calm rhetoric, violence and general fears among the people of Islam.
I hope that we, newly refreshed in our governance with a change in the balance of power within our legislative houses favoring the hopefully more liberal and peace-minded Democrats, may start to step up to that plate also and talk peace.
There is a radical, alternative healing modality for working with mentally and emotionally ill people, called "oponopono." As you might guess from the vowel-rich term, it is a Hawaiian healing technique. The protocol for this technique is:
- The healer familiarizes himself with the patient's condition.
- The healer locates the same condition within himself.
- The healer heals that condition within himself.
- The patient also becomes healed.
It sounds mythical, I know. However, Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len (Google-search on his name for more information) has been working in this manner at the Hawaii State Hospital for four years now, using this "oponopono" technique with good success.
Dr. Len never sees the patients. He reads their histories and then works on the cases within himself. In the four years since he has come there, shackled patients have become calm and can walk freely around their units. Patients who have been heavily medicated seem no longer to need the sedation. Hopelessly ill patients are getting well and being released.
Dr. Len explains that "total responsibility for your life means that everything in your life — simply because it is in your life — is your responsibility. In a literal sense, the entire world is your creation." This fits perfectly with the sentiments of the sources I channel, who say repeatedly that "All is One."
Our world is emotionally dysfunctional. Can we find this dysfunction within ourselves?
Our hearts have grown weary, cynical and closed. We specialize now in blaming others for what is going on with wars and rumors of wars. We see our armies on the ever darkening plain of the world's anger, suffering and fear, and we bow our heads and move on without responding. The natural tendency is to ratchet down our organs of hearing and sight so that we do not have to see the broader horizons beyond our small orbit of work, family, play and rest. What can one person do, after all?
One person can heal himself. And in doing so, he can heal the world that he sees. And if more and more of us take responsibility for this world, internalize its dysfunction, find it within ourselves and treat it, who knows how consciousness may change on planet Earth? I hope the dialogue between Islam and Christian worlds and groups may become ever sweeter and more full of the vaunted virtues of our spiritual leaders, Jesus and The Prophet.
I open my arms and embrace your spirit. May your eyes see a world of love and light this day! And if you do not see that perfection which is your heart's desire, may you take responsibility for what you see, and work in consciousness within yourself for the blessing of all our human tribe.