Salam Alaykum, Pope Benedict

Washington, D.C. — The Pope is celebrating mass at Nationals Stadium in Washington DC, and I can’t help but think … Continued

Washington, D.C. — The Pope is celebrating mass at Nationals Stadium in Washington DC, and I can’t help but think of the line from the old Paul Simon song, “The cross is in the ballpark.”

For me, that means there is the possibility of holiness in even the most pedestrian spaces and the most mundane moments.

I welcome a reminder of that, even from a spiritual leader I do not call my own.

I welcome whatever sacred gifts this Pope brings.

I welcome his speaking of the eternal to a world dominated by the material.

I welcome his teachings on love and hope, enshrined in his first two scholarly but poetic Papal Encyclicals. These are values that people of all faiths and no faith at all share. By highlighting them, the Pope creates the space for a respectful conversation between people from different traditions on how they understand and apply hope and love.

I welcome that conversation.

And it has already begun.

After the Pope’s ill-fated remarks on Islam in his Regensburg Address, a group of Muslim scholars opened up that conversation by sending the Pope an Open Letter, done in the Qur’anic tradition of debating “in the fairest way”, which offered gentle clarifications on Islamic thought concerning jihad (it means struggle, not holy war), forced conversion (not allowed in Islam, where there is “no compulsion in religion”) and relations between Christians and Muslims (should be conducted based on the two great commandments, Love of God, and Love of Neighbor).

I will be at the interfaith meeting with the Pope this evening in D.C. And there will be another one, based on a broader document called A Common Word Between Us and You (which originated from the letter described above), in November in Rome.

Here is what I would welcome at tonight’s meeting (which I will write about tomorrow): A concrete commitment to common action based on shared values.

How can Catholics and Muslims – and people of other faiths and no faith at all – apply the values of hope and love, together?

Can we commit to ending malaria?

Can we commit to halving poverty?

Can we commit to educational programs which humanize “the other” instead of denigrating them?

As the Pope wrote in his first Encyclical: “the love which God lavishes on us … we in turn must share with others.”

Watch my interview on this subject with On Faith’s Sally Quinn.

About

  • andrew

    People “love” religion for one main reason. It promises everlasting life. Trouble is the thoughtful among us are very skeptical of such promises. Anyone can promise anything. But reality shows that everything dies. Everything…without exception.Once upon a time the only knowledge we had was told us through religion. Religion ruled the earth and would remove (or cure) those who doubted their “truth”.Those primitive times are long gone. Now we have science which shows that much of what the church told us over the eons was absolute nonsense; and universal literacy and worldwide education are spreading these realities, and now religion is on its knees praying for credibility and respectability when there is none for those who believe and promote irrational mumbo jumbo, the supernatural and magic that never actually works.None of religions claims have ever been shown to be true. Only groupthink keeps religions alive; groupthink and childhood indoctrination; without which we’d all be atheists.

  • speed123

    Awesome and positive article, Eboo! (much better than some of the divisive pundit on On Faith)Best of luck in the upcoming interfaith meeting… dialogue and understanding IS what we all need.God bless.

  • Arminius

    Speedy,As you know, we seldom agree. But we do this time! My reaction to Eboo’s beautiful essay was like yours.Arminius

  • Ralph

    Give me a break! The pope and his gang are about as concerned about sickness and poverty in this world as the hedgefund managers are concerned about the need for an increase in the minimum wage. The money wasted in the upkeep of this bunch, with their fancy dresses, golden accessories, palatial quarters and priceless works of art, world-wide jet trips, etc., would feed and give medical supplies to thousands of the “less fortunate” of this world. The whole show is a continuation of the world created by Ceasar…only the players have changed. (Women are still excluded.)

  • wieciech

    Thank you for the positive article. It is unfortunate that even though you included people of faith and those without, there are some who see right past the message that there are certain, common ground areas where we can work together right now, even though differences exist.If there are many with your views at the interfaith meeting, I would imagine that it will be fruitful.

  • speed123

    First time for everything, Arminius ;)

  • Deist

    To: Eboo Patel On arrival here in the US, the Pope was quoted asYet, the Pope brings another message, on this visit, to ask people to believe in the miracles.

  • Daniel in the Lion’s Den

    Once, I visited Rome and as part of my tourist experience, I went to Vatican City where I discovered the Vatican Museum, which I had never heard of before, and spent a whole day there.It is the largest museum in the world, and is the gathered archeological remains of the Roman world. The artifacts are so numerous that many of them are simply labelled in an ad-hoc way with little yellowed index cards, with antiquated type-writer printed explanations. Many of them are not labelled at all, but are just there, from some unkown artist, about some unkown subject.So, the Catholic Church extends from the remains in that museum to the present day.

  • Anonymous

    Really? So “forced conversion (is) (not allowed in Islam, where there is “no compulsion in religion”)”.Too bad this thought was missing when all those (hundreds of thousands? millions?) conversions were taking place in medieval India at the point of a sword/scimitar/talwar/other sharp pointy object.Maybe, that still does not qualify as a “forced” conversion.

  • VICTORIA

    brother patel- thank you thank you thank you

  • Anonymous

    I thought the pope would arrive in a popacopter or a popeship or something cool. Or he could have parachuted into Times Square with Angels to guide him down.I love his squeeky, lispy, Dr Strangelove accent, tight with restrained hysteria and menace. Peter Sellers (and Peter Lorre too) would have appreciated it.If Hitler had won the war Ratzinger could have been the Nazi president today.Life can go this way or the other. One never knows how things will turn out.Its a funny old world.

  • Caroline Smith

    What I would like to know is, have Moslems ever lived in peace with their neighbors or for that matter with themselves, ever since Mohammad proclaimed himself as the messanger of God. Is not that what is being practiced today?I have read Quran. No where did I find what Moslems are doing and practicing today. if they do beleive in Quran and God, they should not have these senseless hallucinations but practice COMPASSION. This is what I learned from Quran, compassion and helping the ones who are not so lucky.

  • Arminius

    Jeff P,Wow! One hell of a great response. I am with you. ‘Humanize’ is the word. A shame for all of us that so many, including some here on this blog, cannot listen.Arminius

  • jimbo

    It was distressing a few months ago to watch the McCann family grieving their daughter’s disappearance, and visiting with the pope as if there was anything he could possibly do.If there was a God, and if the pope was his earthly representative, surely they could have magically intervened and brought the little McCann child back from whatever misfortune has befallen her.Time to wave goodbye to absurd superstition. Time to get real.

  • Pete Petrides

    I too welcome this visit of Pope Benedict! As an American, I bellieve we should recall what a high priority President George Washington placed upon religion. He said, “Religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society”. We forget or trivialize this at our peril.

  • 911 Truther

    This pope (if not a muslim hater) is probably a hate-monger. He will take a cheap shot at anyone weak where he can to for self-aggrandisement like the George W Bush. A method to divert attention from their own smirks and short comings. Now Pope John Paul, a Polish handsome man did not need these gimmicks needed by Darth Wader. He did not approve the war on Iraq. It is interesting, how this theory explains the buddy-buddy of the W. and the Ratzinger. Cheney was criticized by Pope John Paul even as he tried to flatter and fool him (actually insult him) by presenting him a glass dove. Every single leader of the world, including the Catholic Hugo Chavez knows about 911 inside job and many condemn it. But this Ratzinger does not open his mouth on such a necessary truth. That tells me a lot about him.

  • Comrades Of Holy Space Ship Earth et al!

    It’s Not the Messenger. “IT” is about via The-Message!

  • cantabb

    One way Muslims could try to promote the dialog is not just to point out but also focus on the shared areas common to the 3 Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, Islam), instead of constantly bringing in the differences. Major differences do exist between the two branches of Islam itself, cause of much of indiscriminate killings in Iraq, Pakistan and elsewhere. Share the Islamic message of peace with other faiths. Muslims always complain that the West doesn’t understand their faith: take the responsibility for trying to make them understand what Islam is and is NOT, rather than blaming the West. Show us where are the moderates lie; not just denounce the fringe element if it has ‘highjacked’, instead of doing nothing to curb it or complaining about it. It’s not just the Pope, but explain to the Media, people in general the interfaith commonalities, address the prevailing misunderstandings. America, more than any country in the world, is the melting pot with guaranteed freedom of religion, assembly and expression. One can remain isolated from the rest of society and still function well, but you can not complain about being defined by others from what they assume the religious practices and behavior in the name of the religion from what they see in the media.Since there are lots of concerns, a much greater and more concerted effort is required from Islamic moderates to ease the tension, reduce the misunderstanding and promote trust and friendship.I know the trust is a two-way street. But in pluralistic societies trust can be built, ever so slowly perhaps, by tolerance of and respect for those unlike you.Good luck…

  • Ilan

    CCNL write:Jesus, the illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man suffered from hallucinations, has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a mamzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). Would that be Jesus, the water skier, of “New Teatament” fame?

  • Liora

    CCNL:Here is Publishers Weekly on one of your favorite sources, Bruce Chilton. As matters stand, there is no certaintly that Jesus existed, literate, illeterate, or otherwise.Chilton’s book is a good, relatively fast read. That’s about it. He’s done better.From Publishers Weekly

  • VICTORIA

    thanks for the link to ‘a common word between us” here is an excerpt from that letter-Come to a Common Word! **************************** *********************** AND ENDS WITH— Christians intertwined everywhere as never before, no side can unilaterally win a conflict *********************** i welcome any to read the letter and learn more about the religion of islam , as it is, from it’s scholars and adherents- absorb some of the beauty of the message- as always, peace

  • Kenneth

    I just watched some of the mass (on the local DC news channel) that Ratzinger held at the new DC stadium.I ask: Would Jesus wear garments worth at least $50k+? The gaudy display of wealth (golden crosses etc) is pure hypocrisy…Shame on you Ratzinger, you disgusting old fool…

  • dc_scribe

    Mr. Patel, You wrote, “Can we commit to educational programs which humanize “the other” instead of denigrating them?”The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “humanize” as: to represent as human : attribute human qualities to b: to adapt to human nature or use.So, it seems what you’re saying is the “other” isn’t quite human but let’s try to think of them as human or attribute human qualities to them too! Beyond that I’ve a more fundamental question for you: Doesn’t the very fact of creating and belonging to a group, whether it’s a religious one called Christianity or Islam or a sports team like Yankees create an “other” and therefore rivalry? The basic promise of most, if not all, religions is “join us, we’re the best way to get to god or salvation or whatever.” By implication that means the “other” is denigrated. If the “other” too can get to god, or salvation or whatever without belonging to the group, religion’s basic promise is undercut.Having accepted membership in these groups and having helped create the “other,” your call to “humanize” the “other” is too little, too late. Ever since man created organized religion, the “other” has been tortured and killed. Not being able to see that reality is the failure of all god-men. So, why not call for an abolition of all religion? Then there would be no “other!” And we’d all, once again be just human, without having to go to school to learn how to “humanize” the “other.”

  • Doug

    Catholicism and Islam are both communitarian religions (as is biblical Judaism). They seek to make the laws of society conform to their beliefs. As minority religions in America, they have no choice but to act as private faiths. But the Pope told the Cardinals yesterday that they might resist the urge to see faith treated as a private matter.Jesus’s version of Christianity was preached among people with no governmental power and was designed as an apolitical religion. That is its best feature.

  • Sandy Grogan, NC94

    Regarding the Muslim scholars open letter:

  • Sandy Grogan, NC94

    Regarding the Muslim scholars open letter:

  • Sandy Grogan, NC94

    Regarding the Muslim scholars open letter:

  • subhash chaudhari, India.

    Interfaith Dialogue : Go for it

  • [email protected]

    I have noted with some interest at least one response advocating thru ‘channels of reason’ that Jesus is [was] a fictional character.I guess that after the early Christian church got finished with ‘redacting’ the Gospels and the New Testament Letters, that to many Jesus must surely appear to have been a fictional character. The only miracle that he apparently does not perform is that of levitation [unless one considers walking on water to be the same thing.]Nevertheless, the last 50 years of scholarship addressing the “Historical Jesus,” has CLEARLY drawn a distinction between Jesus as a Fictional [or composite] character, WHICH HE ISN’T and Jesus as an EMBELLISHED character, which he certainly seems to be, especially if one makes the mistake of LITERAL INTERPRETATION of the New Testament.It is important to realize that in the 1st thru 3rd centuries, A.D., that the writings that comprise the New Testament were NEVER intended to be taken either literally, or even more so as an accurate ‘history’ of the events of which they speak. That was simply not the writing style of the time and period from which they come, thus if they are examined from a CRITICAL perspective, one can find NUMEROUS subsequent variations and redaction’s for almost any section or verse of the New Testament. SEE: Bart D. Ehrman, MISQUOTING JESUS — The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why, (2005), HarperSanFrancisco.With regard to current critical studies on The Historical Jesus, SEE: John P. Meier, A MARGINAL JEW — Rethinking the Historical Jesus (1991), Doubleday/Anchor Bible Reference Library [and multiple subsequent volumes] AND John Dominic Crossan, THE HISTORICAL JESUS — The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant, (1991), HarperSanFrancisco [and multiple subsequent volumes.]With regard to the ‘original teachings’ of Jesus, as opposed to the redacted teachings SEE: John Davidson, THE GOSPEL OF JESUS — In Search of His Original Teachings, (1995), Element [Press}, Rockport, Ma.Enjoy your reading !!!

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    BruceRealtor,Summarizing 200 years of historic Jesus studies:Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/ simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations, and who has also been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a mamzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). Analyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, On Faith panelists) via the NT and related documents have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus’ sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects. The 30% of the NT that is “authentic Jesus” like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus’ case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hittites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics. For added “pizzazz”, Catholic/Christian theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the “pew people” to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the “filicider”.Luther, Calvin, Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley et al, founders of Christian-based religions, also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of “pretty wingie thingie” visits and “prophecies” for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immaculate conceptions).

  • Bud

    Finally an essay by Eboo that even I can relate to. I agree that we, in this society, are too materialistic, and that there are more important things in this life than what kind of car you drive or how many bedrooms you have in your mansion. Things like love, caring for our fellow human being, compassion, empathy, and treating people with respect and dignity even when viewpoints and cultures differ. But, I suppose what is still unsettling for me is the need to wrap these concepts in faith or a religion. Because everything I mention can be practiced and experienced without any faith or belief in a deity. The concept of an “interfaith meeting” seems to necessarily leave out those who do not practice any organized religion. I truly believe we need to open the doors to everyone, even those the faithful have historically banished and demonized.

  • Anti-PROOF: JESUS A FICTIONAL CHARACTER:

    Wow, you truly are a windbag. I’m sure you’ve swayed every Christian from their foolish beliefs. Please give yourself a huge pat on the back as you’ve done such a great service for society. The problem with the world today is there are not enough people who believe in a higher power. I think the world would be a safer and friendlier place if everyone believed in God in whatever faith they so choose. Not like yours though, your god is your oversized ego. Your intellect keeps showing you the “proof” you so desperately need. You need something; I’m not so sure you’ve found it yet. Maybe you should trying looking in a church. Doesn’t have to be Catholic, you have the freedom to choose.

  • Fan of Hope

    I am confused when I read the posted comments and the article…are we all reading the same work?I think the commentary was a wonderful reflection on common issues facing all people of the world irregarless of religion, but it seems others thought it was a discussion of the Pope’s clothes and anti-Jesus statements. If we were to look closely at all of the teachings of all religions without imparting our own cultural biases we might see how they premise they are all based on is making things better and caring for one another. I would ask all people who are spewing hate on this board to consider that when writing their next posting on how more spiritual and valid their positions are than others. Please think — the mean of this was to add hope to the talks of Muslim and Judeo/Christian relations and look at broader issues as a place for a growing committee to the world community as a whole.How can any of that be bad????

  • Another common sense proof: Jesus not real

    We know, for example, that the ancient Egyptians believed in their gods so fervently that they built massive structures like the Great Pyramid — still today one of the largest and most enduring human constructions ever created. Despite that fervor, however, we know with complete certainty today that the Egyptian gods were imaginary. We don’t build pyramids anymore and we do not mummify our leaders. More recently we know that tens of millions of Romans worshiped Jupiter and his friends, and to them they built magnificent temples. The ruins of these temples are popular tourist attractions even today. Yet we know with complete certainty that these gods were imaginary because no one worships Zeus any more. Much more recently, we know that the Aztec civilization believed in their gods so intensely that they constructed huge temples and pyramids. In addition, Aztecs were so zealous that they were sacrificing hundreds of human beings to their gods as recently as the 16th century. Despite the intensity, however, we know today that these gods were completely imaginary. The Aztecs were insane to be murdering people for their gods. Killing a person has no effect on rainfall or anything else. We all know that. If the Aztec gods were real, we would still be offering sacrifices to them. Today’s “Jesus” is just as imaginary as were these historical gods. The fact that billion+ people worship Jesus is meaningless. The “God” and the “Jesus” that Christians worship today are actually amalgams formed out of ancient pagan gods. The idea of a “virgin birth”, “burial in a rock tomb”, “resurrection after 3 days” and “eating of body and drinking of blood” had nothing to do with Jesus. All of the rituals in Christianity are completely man-made. Christianity is a snow ball that rolled over a dozen pagan religions. As the snowball grew, it freely attached pagan rituals in order to be more palatable to converts. You can find accounts like these in popular literature: “The vestiges of pagan religion in Christian symbology are undeniable. Egyptian sun disks became the halos of Catholic saints. Pictograms of Isis nursing her miraculously conceived son Horus became the blueprint for our modern images of the Virgin Mary nursing Baby Jesus. And virtually all the elements of the Catholic ritual – the miter, the altar, the doxology, and communion, the act of “God-eating” – were taken directly from earlier pagan mystery religions.” “Nothing in Christianity is original. The pre-Christian God Mithras – called the Son of God and the Light of the World – was born on December 25, died, was buried in a rock tomb, and then resurrected in three days. By the way, December 25 is also the birthday or Osiris, Adonis, and Dionysus. The newborn Krishna was presented with gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Even Christianity’s weekly holy day was stolen from the pagans.”

  • Another Proof: Jesus fake

    Have you ever thought about the offering plate in church? If God is real, why do they have to pass it? If you read these verses in the Bible, you can see that God claims to be extremely powerful and willing to answer any prayer: Matthew 7:7 Because even though I created the universe and everything in it, and even though I will give you everything you ask for in prayer, I can’t give a cent to any church, ever. When they pass the offering plate at church, be sure to give generously! This, of course, is ridiculous.

  • SICK PROOF: JESUS WANTED SLAVERY

    Here are ten passages from the Bible that clearly demonstrate Jesus’s position on slavery: Genesis chapter 17, verse 12: And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised. The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “These are the regulations for the Passover: No foreigner is to eat of it. Any slave you have bought may eat of it after you have circumcised him, but a temporary resident and a hired worker may not eat of it. Now these are the ordinances which you shall set before them. When you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, and in the seventh he shall go out free, for nothing. If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s and he shall go out alone. But if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ then his master shall bring him to God, and he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him for life. If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property. If the bull gores a male or female slave, the owner must pay thirty shekels of silver to the master of the slave, and the bull must be stoned. No one outside a priest’s family may eat the sacred offering, nor may the guest of a priest or his hired worker eat it. But if a priest buys a slave with money, or if a slave is born in his household, that slave may eat his food. Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can will them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly. Now a centurion had a slave who was dear to him, who was sick and at the point of death. When he heard of Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his slave. And when they came to Jesus, they besought him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he built us our synagogue.” And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this he marveled at him, and turned and said to the multitude that followed him, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave well. Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever your task, work heartily… Bid slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect; they are not to be refractory, nor to pilfer, but to show entire and true fidelity. If the Bible is written by God, and these are the words of the Lord, then you can come to only one possible conclusion: God is an impressive advocate of slavery and is fully supportive of the concept. As you can see, these slavery passages present us with an immense contradiction: On the one hand, we all know that slavery is an outrage and a moral abomination. As a result, slavery is now completely illegal throughout the developed world. On the other hand, most Christians claim that the Bible came from God. In God’s Word, the “creator of the universe” states that slavery is perfectly acceptable. Beating your slaves is fine. Enslaving children is fine. Separating slave families is fine. According to the Bible, we should all be practicing slavery today. If God were to exist, and if he were playing any role whatsoever on our planet, he would eliminate this connection between himself and slavery. There is no way that a loving God would allow himself to be perceived as condoning and encouraging slavery like this. Here is the thing that I would like to help you understand: You, as a rational human being, know that slavery is wrong. You know it. That is why every single developed nation in the world has made slavery completely illegal. Human beings make slavery illegal, in direct defiance of God’s word, because we all know with complete certainty that slavery is an abomination. What does your common sense now tell you about a Bible that supports slavery in both the Old and the New Testaments? Given the fact that the Bible clearly condones slavery, your common sense should be telling you that God is imaginary.

  • PROOF: JESUS A SCAM ARTIST LIKE BENNY HINN ON TV

    If someone were to come to you today and say, “I am God!”, what would you do? Yes, you would immediately ask for proof. Of course you would. And you would not want goofy proof.You would want real, solid, tangible proof. No normal person, and I mean no one, would accept anything less than rock solid proof from a person who claims to be God. Why should it be any different with Jesus? Jesus was a man who claims to be God. If he is God, then he ought to be able to prove it in a real, inimitable way. If he cannot prove it then, quite clearly, he is not God. A Christian would say, “But Jesus HAS proven it! Just look at all of the miracles he did in the Bible! He healed the sick! He changed water into wine! That PROVES that Jesus is the Lord!” Does that make sense to you? Imagine that someone, today, were to come up to you and say, “I am God, and I will prove that I am God by healing the sick and turning water into wine!” What would you say? Be honest. You would not believe this person because: Everyone has seen all sorts of “faith healers” who can “heal” the sick. And we all know that this sort of “healing” is quackery. If it were true, then we would not need doctors, hospitals or prescription medicines. Turning water into wine… Doesn’t that sound like something that a B-grade David-Copperfield-wannabe magician would do in a nightclub act? There are a dozen ways that you could stage things to make it look like water is turning into wine. There is no reason why a normal person would accept a magic trick as proof that someone is God. Neither of these miracles can be scientifically tested today. Not one of Jesus’ miracles left any tangible evidence for scientists to study. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. I know that that may not be enough, so let me offer a second proof. If you draw a circle, you know that there is distance across the circle. Let us call it the diameter of the circle. There is also a distance around the outside of the circle. Let us call it the circumference. If you divide the circumference by the diameter, you get another number. Let us call it Pi, and its first 6 digits are 3.14159. Pi is an irrational number. It is a number that is made up of an infinite number of non-repeating digits. There will come a day when machines called computers will calculate billions of digits of Pi. If you calculate Pi out to the millionth trillionth digit, here is what you will find: 9823456451237823492278583495083498745…. Now, having proven that I am God to any rational being, through my documentable movement of a mountain and through my foreknowledge of Pi at the millionth trillionth position, here is what I want to say to the human race as your creator, and as the creator of the universe… Wouldn’t that be awesome and amazing? If we had such a book, and if Mount Sinai had actually moved, then there would be no questions about Jesus. We would all believe that he is God. How could we not? Imagine what such a book would say on the following pages. A book like that, I am sure, would leave all of us in awe.

  • thy neighbor

    thank you for a wonderful example of ecumenical respect and acceptance. here’s hoping americans of every faith (or of no faith) embrace and emulate your example.

  • Anonymous

    You are not a real Muslim so your words mean nothing. The truth is you could not be a Muslim and say what you are saying unless you are lying to get an upper hand on your enemies. I do not think that is the case with you however, I think you really think you are a Muslim but the truth is you are not.

  • Tim

    “I welcome that conversation.”That conversation and dialogue you want and that you enjoy only takes place in a Western, Christian civilization. In the Islamic world, where Islam dominates, there is no conversation because there is no religious freedom; there is no separation of church and state. You live in a fantasy world where Islam is what you think it should be while the reality of the true expression of Islam is all around you. The reality is in the acts of terror, the religious police, the forced dress code, the religious intolerance. The reality is that a conversation, a dialogue, like this one that takes place in the WAPO is not allowed in the Islamic dominated society. You only have the conversation because of the fact that it is happening in a Christian nation that allows for freedom of expression and freedom of religion. Yet you only see and promote what you think Islam should be or perhaps what you have created in your mind. The self delusion is staggering.

  • jeff

    The Catholic church is one of the worlds most corrupt organization and most brutal religions. It is on par with Islam when it comes to blood thirsty religions. They encourage poor people to breed like rabbits when they realize many will starve or die of disease at an early age but as long as there will be more Catholics to support their corrupt dogma is worth their suffering. Any one with an Brain and looks at the history of the Catholic church would realize the world would be better off without this corrupt bloody religion!

  • Ellen Knight

    Dear Mr, Patel. I listened to your interview with Sally Quinn (I found her questions to be baiting and shallow, not intended to encourage information or foster understanding).I was very impressed by your thoughtful, complete and insightful answers from a seemingly ill-informed interviewer looking to create pretend controversy.I hope we hear much more from you in the future.

  • Anonymous

    When we offer “gentle clarifications” and discuss openly without agenda, try to understand, and share similarities, that is when we are most productive. The world will change with this attitude. What an exciting thought. We all can then share the JOY of spirituality.

  • Rick Faircloth

    Hi, Eboo…Thanks for your thoughts.As a long-time Christian and ordained minister,As the black community will never completely be respectedThe black community has the same problem. Many of that communityThe black community, as well as the Muslim community, must be willingThe basic concept is this: any community, white, black, Muslim, Christian must be willing to hold its members accountable for their actions and when members of that community do wrong, punish and stop them “from within the community.” In other words, the community must take responsibility for its own members. Members of various communities cannot always be defended in their actions simply because they are “my brothers.”May it be so.RickRick Faircloth,

  • Jati Hoon

    If pope’s Religion is song of love, then,”keep on singing, keep on singing”.Patel you are doing a great work of bringing people of different faiths to listen and talk, togather and so is “POPE.”

  • Idolator

    Not a big fan of organized religion but Pope’s comments earlier on Islam were not wrong: Yesterday 51 blown up at a funeral in Iraq, 24 killed in Mosque in Afghan….Islam has to have whole nation named after the religion. In fact, more than 50. Intolerant.Many prominent Muslim clerics have openly called for mass murder and violence against infidels.

  • SM

    You do not have enough knowledge and experience, let alone background to talk about Muslim-Catholic relationships, or problems in other parts of the world, that have a very complex history. You would do yourself (and European and Middle Eastern Muslims) a favour to stop your pathetic talks in public about things that are beyond your comprehension. P.S. And, yes, we noticed that YOU were there.

  • josh

    Hey Minister Rick Faircloth!Your racist comparison of the black community to the Arab Muslim world is a poor attempt at intellectual criticism. You’d do well to trash this sermon. What a bunch of nonsense.

  • Dunnage

    Great, but this Pope’s problems are not those of faith.

  • Dalai Lama

    Someone from the Wash. Post is supposed to be vetting comments. Let’s have an experiment: shuuut…shuuut: POOOWWWWW!!! This nonesense is now on your screen!!!

  • Jack Smith

    Eboo,Benedict is guilty of sowing seeds of divisiveness which may be befitting an illeterate laborer, when he is ranting against his adversaries. As the representative of his group and especially a spiritual leader/ascetic, a higher level of ethical behavior is expected from him.Also my tax dollars are being used for unnecessary pomp and ceremonies. Someone needs to notify the star-struck W of separation of chuch and state. Why not throw a lavish party for the head wiccan next?By the way, one last question, since you used the word holy to describe the aura you are feeling around Benedict:

  • Rick Faircloth

    Josh:Would you care to explain the shortcomings of my perspective? You need to back up your criticism with some perspective of your own. Don’t just throw rocks… help us understand!

  • Narayan Inamdar

    I think the leaders of all sects must first agree that there are misinterpretations of their faith and some of their followers are not following their faith to true spirit which the scholars portray or think should be. The scholars bring to the public forum what the correct interpretations of their faith is. Most of these interpretations are not understood by the common followers of the their faith. In fact when the scholars have to implement it in their lives they have two standards. One for preaching and other for continuing to preach their faith. This duality has some fine lines and once they cross these lines they find themselves in a big public debate.If the scholars understanding of their scriptures and as brought out in public forums is not followed by their own members then the first responsibility of these scholars becomes that they re in force their scholarly understanding to each one of their members as GandhiJi professed and practiced in India. Once they are convinced that every member is following to the true spirit then they can compare the faiths and the results of their faith. Otherwise it adds to the confusion and creates more chaos than help purify a mind body and actions of followers. The society in general will get divided and will not add to the peace and prosperity of the peoples of the planet but will head in a destructive mode.

  • sami

    Excellent postings by the Bostonian and Anon 11.But here’s your problem. You must understand thatMohammad is the only other person I know who came from outside the known centers of civilization and power.What he accomplished is unrivaled in the history of Mankind.Give me a name.

  • VICTORIA

    REV FAIRCLOTH- personal accountability!

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