I have not offered any opinion of mine own on the proposed Mosque site. I think a lot of odd things have been said about it, not the least of which was the GOP reaction to his expressing the mainstream conservative opinion on the matter, that they do in fact posses a Constitutional right to build but that it is a very bad idea. One has to remember an idea you support, when spoken by one on the other side of the aisle, remains a good idea (and recall that even a broken clock is right twice a day). Another silly thing touted is that this building is “two whole blocks away” and nowhere near the ‘Ground Zero’ location. The reason that notion is silly is that the Park51/Cordoba people have chosen this location is its proximity to the former World Trade site. It seems to me that the those who protest that this is too far away miss a crucial point. Neither the sponsors nor the objectors see that is correct. Doubtless one can point at countless other ideas fronted on this topic which are incoherent or silly.

For myself, the matter comes down to a question of local vs national control. Local zoning boards control what gets built where, yet the site of the WTC attack is no longer just a local affair. So here we have two conflicting authorities. How far out from the WTC site does the WTC memorial committee hold sway? Does the fact that the Park51 group has selected that site on account of its proximity to the WTC mean that the more global WTC committee might be consulted and in that case … might the religious nature of the 9/11 attack which is exactly the same as the religion to be practiced at the Cordoba House have impact. On these sorts of questions I don’t think the default notion that the Constitutional notion of separation of church/state necessarily holds sway. Certainly these questions could and should allow for differences of opinion and the discussions should not be as dismissed out of bounds purely on a Constitutional basis.

If the WTC commission is the one making the zoning decision on the Park51 project, I’d be curious to hear their reasoning for why that project can is given its blessing and the St. Nicholas (the church actually destroyed by the event) cannot be restored. Mr Bloomberg has offered the opinion that both projects should go forward. 

But the interested observer has noted, I have not given my opinion about whether or not I think Park51 should be allowed and have been dancing around the question. I think that the project should be given the OK, but my reasoning is admittedly convoluted, but I will attempt to give it. 

In the Orthodox liturgical practice in either the Great Vigil (on Saturday evening in the Slavic tradition) or Sunday morning Matins service in the Greek tradition there is a part of the service known as the Resurrection canon. These canons are meditations on eight of the nine “Odes” which were important liturgical poems from Scripture (for example the ninth ode is the Magnifcat + Benedictus from Luke’s gospel and the third is Hannah’s poem from 1st Kings (1st Samuel for the protestant readers)). The canon grew to replace the readings of the odes over the centuries and are poetic reflections on those verses and their connection to Christ. In several of those odes we find adamant and definitive phrases against the “sons of Ishmael” which is to say Islam. These Odes were written and composed and passed into liturgical concrete during the seven or so centuries in which the Roman empire (Eastern) struggled against the rise of Islam. The initial thrust of Islam west was halted in three crucial battles, of which the battle of Tours and Charles Martel is the one typically remembered in the West as that occurred in Spain and was instrumental in making Charlemagne place and time on the world stage possible. The other two battles were between fleets and armies of the (Eastern) Roman empire in Greece. 

The point of this digression is that there is precedent and reason for a principled stand for Christianity against Islam. So why then should this Cordoba house be built by the Saudi’s? Because I think the proximity to the WTC memorial of this building will serve as an irritant not as an easement. It will stiffen not weaken our resolve to oppose the spread of Islam.


Filed under: ChristianityIslamMark O.PoliticsReligion

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