Iconoclasts' challenge to turn the other cheek


Iconoclasts' challenge to turn the other cheekWhen the Jesuits' founder St Ignatius Loyola was on the road riding with a Moor in 1522, the Moor argued that the Virgin Mary was no longer a virgin after Christ was born.

The instinct of the recent former soldier Ignatius was to kill the Moor on the spot. But they were approaching a fork in the road, and Ignatius decided that if his mule took the same path as that of the Moor, he would kill the Moor. If the Moor took the other path, he would let the Moor live. As it happened, charity, mercy and understanding ruled, and the Moor's life was spared.

We can only hope that Muslims who would like to kill Pope Benedict XVI for similar reasons will also allow themselves to be stopped in their tracks.

Australian Jesuit Daniel Madigan, a consultor to the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, says in this issue of Eureka Street that both Christianity and Islam have shown themselves ready historically to use coercion and violence to root out schism and heresy.

"War and violence still find support among religious people of both traditions, and Benedict seems poised to go even further than John Paul II in his opposition to it," he observes.

Meanwhile there was no threat to kill the editor, but we provoked a strong reaction from an Adelaide reader last week after pontificating in our subscriber email about Steve Irwin's lack of real reverence towards animals. He told us to "connect with Australia's ordinary folk".

Iconoclasts' challenge to turn the other cheek"Steve Irwin was a good bloke and a family man—the vast majority of Australians recognise this and don't need elitist pretensions... to discern his significance."

There are two sides to every argument, and often they are both right. Our iconoclasm rolls on in this issue, with Binoy Kampmark's contention that Irwin or any other zookeeper cannot be a true animal lover because zoos are essentially "cordoned off spaces, celebrating the subjugation of nature". From another angle, Brian Matthews asks why Australians barely noticed the death of Colin Thiele, who is one of our great children's writers.

"Thiele and Irwin died within a week of each other. The Prime Minister said that Irwin died a ‘quintessentially Australian’ death while Colin Thiele, whom Howard never mentioned, died of a heart attack in Brisbane."

We might well ask if Thiele's reverence is unAustralian.



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Existing comments

"Virgin" Mary does not refer to sexual virginity. Rather it means that Mary was born without original sin. So I have been taught by different Catholic Bishops, Priests, Nuns, and other religious in US, England, and Ireland.
However, at the time of Benedict that concept might have not been so clear.
You might also check various Catholic websites concerning this issue.

Ed Lalor | 19 September 2006  

Your story about Ignatius of Loyola raises a point which, even if peripheral, is worth thinking about. Why do religionists who credit their God with having created the incredible complexity of nature, then regard it as a "miracle" when this complexity is by-passed, as in the myth of the "Virgin birth"? Is not this the ultimate blasphemy?

Gerry Harant | 19 September 2006  

Given that the litercy level in many of the countries where violet demonstrations appeared to occur is low, how do they know what the pope said. From attention seeking, ratings driven TV Reporters ?

Gary Carroll | 20 September 2006  

Irwin was a man of the people. He appeared on TV, and was well known by everyone. Colin Thiele was known in certain circles, but was of the same "knownness" as Irwin.

Theo Dopheide | 03 October 2006  

Heavens knows what 'various Catholic websites' actually say, but I'd jib at Bishops' confusion. 'Born without original sin' is what is celebrated in the feast of the Immaculate Conception. The term applies to Mary's birth, with soul free from whatever original sin really is.
Virgin Birth = sexless conception of Jesus as Son of God. A generation later. The latter is asserted in the Creed well before the first Pope Benedict, the former wes enshrined as dogma as recently as 1854.

Sandy Curnow | 03 October 2006  

Your quote from a reader on Irwin co-incides with a letter in our local paper saying "David Hicks is...a traitor to our country..and our way of life. Let him rot where he is forever. Both comments seeem to rest on the notion that if we like some-one, he is good; if we dislike some-one, he is bad and deserves no justice. Both deny any need for objective standards in judging value or human worth.

Lenore Crocker | 19 January 2007  

In my experience religion in general is agressive and cannot tolerate diversity of views. In the case of Ignatius and the Moor, it was not charity mercy & understanding which save the Moor from Ignatious fury at all. It was just luck. The only religion which tolerates diversity is Judaism - because in judaism, there are no doctines which must be believed.

Trevor Green | 27 January 2007  

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