Knowledge is power – redux

Buried in John Waters’ wordy belated birthday tribute to Emperor Constantine Pope Benedict XVI in today’s Irish Times [subs req] are some points worth noting. Not the comparisons of Christianity to Islam, “a very real form of obscurantism”, nor the references to “pseudo-rebels [who] seek to mollify and court [Islam]”, and not even the “secular media analysis, [of Benedict as] a stop-gap and a throwback, a “reactionary”, a “right-winger”, an obscurantist”, nor the accurate descriptions of media distortions of some of Benedict’s statements. It’s his identification of the very real intellect of “this subtle and brilliant pope”. And his subversive strategy.

One of the many paradoxes of being pope in the modern world is that you must speak through a megaphone controlled by your enemies. If John Paul II was an actor who communicated by disarming the megaphone-holders with charisma and charm, Benedict’s strategy is determined subversion.

And John Waters uses an interesting reference to describe the objective of that strategy

The baptism of Magdi Christian Allam is an example of Pope Benedict’s radicalism, an event worth a hundred million words, a symbol of the new Enlightenment spearheaded by this most disarming of popes. Benedict’s project is the restoration to western culture of an integrated concept of reason, the re-separation of the metaphysical from the physical.

He’s right, in a way, that Benedict seeks an “integrated concept of reason” – Benedict has appealed to a “greater form of reason” previously. But, as I’ve pointed out before, the re-equating, or re-entwining, of religion and science that Benedict actually seeks is not an Enlightenment, it’s an Un-Enlightenment. Knowledge is power, indeed.


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