Monday, March 14, 2011

At War with Community Responsibility

By Lawrence Davidson
March 14, 2011

I live in a university town just west of the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Both the town and the university share the same name, hence West Chester University. WCU is a publicly owned institution and part of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE).

Read on.


Peter Loeb said...


Historian Thomas Asbridge's book,
The Roots of Conflict Between
Christianity and Islam" (Oxford
University Press, 2004) provides
us with many new insights.

To begin with, the "countries" of
"the West" were not defined in
1095 even close to what we assume
today. One area was what remained
of a patchwork of realms such
as the Visigoths, the Lombards,
the Gauls and the "Franks", the
last of which historians now
associate with "France". In
addition, Western Europe was not
to be confused with a dominant
civilization whereas Muslim
civilations were vast and expanding.

In 1095 Pope Urban II gave a sermon in Clermont. His precise
words will never be known exactly
as there was no video to document
it. Citations should be read
with "a healthy dose of suspicion", cautions the historian, but versions have been cross-referenced with the pope's own letters at the time of the Council of Clermont as well as with other sources.

Pope Urban II's appeal was loosely
structured around the three
Augustinian principles of Just War:
legitamite authority, just cause and right intention. The oration
was filled with many images of Muslim atrocities:

"...A grave report has come from
the lands of Jeruselum and from
the city of Constantinople that
a people from the kingdom of the
Persians, a foreign race, a race
absolutely alien to God...has
invaded the land of those
Christians [and] has reduced the
people with sword, rapine and
and fire...they stretch asunder
the coverings of all the intestines
after ripping open their stomachs
with a blade and reveal with
horrible mutilation whatever nature
keeps secret...

...Let those who were formally
brigands now become soldiers of
Christ...[and] fight lawfully
against barbarians to achieve
eternal rewards..."

These words from Clermont and the
pursuant Crusades are not a
complete explication of today's hates.

Such hates have been visited on many groups over the milllenium.

Nor do these words explain why
those who are subject to brutal oppression should fail to respond.

The First Crusade did reach Jeru-
selum and "liberated" it although
subsequently Muslim groups retook
it. The Fourth Crusade stopped
at Constantinople (then the center
of Christendom) which it thereupon sacked.

Despite threats of excommunication
from the pope for failing to con-
tinue to Jeruselum ("the navel of the earth"), the Fourth Crusaders
simply returned with as much as
they could carry.

If history does not offer easy
"solutions", it does give us light.

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