Maxed Out Mama has a terrific post, The Culture Wars, in which she directs her critical eye to current events:
Benedict seems to have laid out in one stroke the moral and intellectual crisis in the west, which has nothing to do with Islam at all. The west has the power right now to end any possible threat emanating from Muslim populations in the ME or in our own countries. However, our ethics dictate that we should not do so, and these ethics are based on moral principles that for many of us stem from faith, and for many others of us derive from philosophy. In arguing for full inclusion of these principles in western intellectual life, Benedict is also defending the right of Muslims to be Muslims in the west, just as he is defending the right of atheists to be atheists, and Christians to be Christians...
To me the idea of the essential freedom of human conscience is a necessary principle for any sane society, and it is also clear to me that Pope Benedict XVI has brought to the fore the worst threat to Muslims in the west. That threat is the possibility that the west would accept the NY Times and CAIR's idea that Muslim ideas and ethics could not be debated, which would completely unfit Muslims from participation in political life. Our political and social freedoms are based on the idea that we are all subject to questioning.
MOM goes on to note
Hatred and killing is a human problem. There will, at times, be religions and political movements based on hatred and killing in the pursuit of power. But there can never, ever be a society based on something other than the principle that "might makes right" which refuses to rebuke and openly debate those who seek power through violence. IMO the type of Islam that's a threat to the world today is not a religion but a political party. I fail to see why we should not debate it, and all of its precepts, and no threat by anybody is going to make me believe that shutting up is going to save lives.
Maxed Out Mama's post is a rational and dispassionate look at the events of the day and how our perceptions of those events are shaping our society. This is no small matter- it is imperative that we understand not only the events as they unfold, but also, that we are able to discern the impact those events will have on our society, culture and value system.
For a further clarification and insight into the current brouhaha, be sure to read MOM's Two Churches Attacked In West Bank This Morning. That post is a must read. In speaking of the Pope's remarks, MOM notes that
Okay, I understand and agree with him, but it then must follow that religion and ethics must be subject to criticism and analysis, for without criticism and analysis, reason has no function...Surely the pontiff must intend to recall to us that we have faced the fall of our civilization before, and that we will see our civilization fall now unless we mount a concerted defense of it.
...the primary front is western civilization's seeming willingness to abrogate full reason in favor of a falsely objective scientific standard. Science, due to its self-limitation to the verifiable and material, cannot alone provide an ethical basis for a workable society. Science gives us knowledge, but knowledge alone does not give us solutions to societal problems. Science gives us more ways to solve problems, but does not tell us which will succeed in the long run or provide a foundation for making a decision.
Taken together, MOM's posts transcend the events of the day and they address the bigger and multi dimensional picture and provide much needed insight into how those events may very well come to influence our culture, one way or another.
That insight is a gift that doesn't come around too often.