“Do not say that you are interested in money for the sake of the poor, for two mites were sufficient to purchase the kingdom of heaven (cf. Luke 21:2).”
“The pretext of almsgiving is the start of avarice, and the finish is detestation of the poor. The collector is stirred by charity, but, when the money is in, the grip tightens.”
“A man who has embraced poverty offers up prayer that is pure, while a man who loves possessions prays to material images.”
“The man who has tasted the things of heaven easily thinks nothing of what is below, but he who has had no taste of heaven finds pleasure in possessions.”
“The man who thinks nothing of goods has freed himself from quarrels and disputes. But the lover of possessions will fight to the death for a needle. Sturdy faith cuts off cares, and remembrance of death denies the body. There was no trace of avarice in Job, and so he remained tranquil when he lost everything.”
I really don't have anything new to say about the Muslim anger over what Benedict said; I will merely reiterate that he cited one dialogue between an Emporer and a Muslim that touched on the nature of God and reason, and that he did not try to make that Muslim a representation of all of Islam. For the best (from what I've seen) source on what the Pope really meant, go here. (HT: Amy Welborn)
Now as fun as it is to pontificate on faith and reason, and the clash of civilizations or lack thereof, Christians in the Middle East and North Africa have been sorely pressed for a long time, and if it wasn't this statement of Benedict that sparked the current round of church-burnings and shootings, it would have been something else in the near future.
I urge you to support groups like CNEWA or Aid to the Church in Need; I know from personal experience that you can set up monthly automatic donations with CNEWA (either a general donation or a specific sponsorship of a child, seminarian or novice religious).
Importantly, CNEWA also helps education Americans about the Eastern Churches–it may be surprising to many Republicans that some Palestinians are Christian, and they are getting the greasy end of the stick from Muslim and Israeli alike.
CNEWA's ecumenical outreaches may mean that they'll be helping the Orthodox Palestinians rebuild their churches that were damaged in this most recent outbreak of violence.
Harmonious interaction between bloggers, particularly Christian bloggers, is very important to me. Blogs have tremendous potential for bringing folks of diverse backgrounds together. They can also contribute to fracturing the Body Christ. One courtesy I ask of my commenters is to use "interpretive charity" (aka charitable interpretation). It means, among other things, that we should imagine the blogger or commenter we're about to smite with a withering retort as our dear, sweet grandmother. It also means we should attempt to address in advance ways in which our statements might be misunderstood. Why? Well, apparently textual communication leaves something to be desired. The following statements about email could easily be applied to blogging.
"Though e-mail is a powerful and convenient medium, researchers have identified three major problems. First and foremost, e-mail lacks cues like facial expression and tone of voice. That makes it difficult for recipients to decode meaning well. Second, the prospect of instantaneous communication creates an urgency that pressures e-mailers to think and write quickly, which can lead to carelessness. Finally, the inability to develop personal rapport over e-mail makes relationships fragile in the face of conflict."
"To avoid miscommunication, e-mailers need to look at what they write from the recipient's perspective… One strategy: Read it aloud in the opposite way you intend, whether serious or sarcastic. If it makes sense either way, revise."
78% of email senders believe they are clearly communicating. 91% of email receivers believe they are correctly interpreting. 56% of the time, the receiver correctly interprets the message. I wonder what the stats for blog posts and comments would be.
"It's difficult for me to read much of the debate over homosexuality without becoming annoyed at both sides, despite the fact that one of the sides is 'my' side. And it's not just the extremists throwing used condoms at priests on the left or picketing funerals on the right. Here are my pet peeves that you see often enough even among reasonable people."