Taking up your cross...literally
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 8:52 AM [+]
This is Magdi Allam's account of his conversion to Christianity. He is the prominent former Muslim baptized by the Pope at Easter.
I don't wholly agree with him and the pope's assessment of faith and reason, but I guess that depends on how you define reason. In the context of enlightenment "scientific" reason so lauded in the west, there is much in Christianity that is wholly unreasonable. Part of the error of the west is that too much faith is put in human reason and it led to all manner of erroneous doctrines and absurdly quantifiable Christian beliefs. (By the same token, some Orthodox converts have been swayed to abandon all notions of reason, which is equally NOT part of the Orthodox tradition.) But I did not wish to focus on this issue at all.
How many of us can say that our conversion to Christianity carried with it a credible death sentence? Can you even imagine? And the man does not live in Saudi Arabia or Pakistan...he lives in Italy! As he notes:
If in Italy, in our home, the cradle of Catholicism, we are not prepared to guarantee complete religious freedom to everyone, how can we ever be credible when we denounce the violation of this freedom elsewhere in the world? I pray to God that on this special Easter he give the gift of the resurrection of the spirit to all the faithful in Christ who have until now been subjugated by fear.
And while I agree with the heart of these words:
His Holiness has sent an explicit and revolutionary message to a Church that until now has been too prudent in the conversion of Muslims, abstaining from proselytizing in majority Muslim countries and keeping quiet about the reality of converts in Christian countries. Out of fear. The fear of not being able to protect converts in the face of their being condemned to death for apostasy and fear of reprisals against Christians living in Islamic countries. Well, today Benedict XVI, with his witness, tells us that we must overcome fear and not be afraid to affirm the truth of Jesus even with Muslims.
I must admit that I am not living in a Muslim majority country, nor even one where death threats for apostasy are really considered credible yet and so I am apprehensive about endangering those who live on such a knife edge. Ironically for many of them it is dangerous even to admit the existence of such a knife and silent dhimmitude reigns while the major media upholds the facade of peace and harmony amongst majority Muslims and practitioners of minority religions. When strife does arise and is actually covered by the media, blame is always laid upon external parties stirring up problems (in fact the ability for such blame to be placed is often a necessary component for coverage) - but in reality even when this blame is remotely warranted we must admit that the "guilty" parties have simply lanced the putrid and puss filled boil that everyone was ignoring up until then. It cannot be ignored forever; Cristiano is right in saying so and since he carries his own death sentence I will let him say it before I will.
Oh Lord, save thy people...