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Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Pope, Ignatius, and Jesus on punching people

The Pope has said that if people say something mean about your mom (or your religion) it's ok to punch them ... The Pope Got It Completely and Utterly Wrong

This reminds me of an event in the life of Ignatius of Loyola. Here's a description from Ignatius and the Donkey ....

Shortly after his conversion, the ex-soldier and courtier Ignatius was riding down a dusty road in Spain in the company of a Muslim Moor. They were discussing religion, and, not surprisingly, they disagreed on a few points. The Moor angrily ended the discussion and rode off. As a parting shot, he made some insulting remarks about the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Ignatius was outraged. He thought it might be his knightly duty to defend the honor of Mary by killing the Moor, but he wasn’t sure that would be consistent with his new faith. He left the decision up to the donkey he was riding. They were approaching a crossroads. If the donkey took the road that the Moor took, Ignatius would follow and kill him. If the beast took the other road, he would let him go. The donkey took the other road.

What impresses me about this story is that Ignatius told it. He included it in his Autobiography, which he wrote near the end of his life. At the time Ignatius was a much-honored churchman. He was regarded as a master of discernment and a font of spiritual wisdom. So Ignatius told a story about himself that made him look foolish and dangerously misguided. I like the humility of that decision. Ignatius is saying to me: beware of pride. You’re not as smart as you think you are.

And this makes me think of Jesus too, that guy who criticized religious authority and who advised always turning the other cheek and forgiving, even in the face of his own death. Are we to believe that if those who taunted and tortured him had instead insulted his mother, all hell would have broken loose?

I think the need to punch people who insult one's mother or religion has nothing to do with defending the honor of either. It has to do with protecting one's fragile self-esteem by silencing any challenges.

Further reading ... Even Americans Who Don't Favor Mocking Religion Support The Right To Do It ... How the Catholic Church made its peace with Charlie Hebdo ... What’s the point of lampooning religion? To upset the religious? ... Pope Francis gives freedom of speech a cruel punch ... On Charlie Hebdo Pope Francis is using the wife-beater’s defence ... Pope Francis Is Wrong About 'Charlie Hebdo.' We Have a Right to Make Fun of Religion.


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