Beware of a religion without irony


Whenever I consider this matter I am struck by a singular fact about the Christian religion, a fact noticed by Kierkegaard and Hegel but rarely commented upon today, which is that it is informed by a spirit of irony. Irony means accepting “the other,” as someone other than you. It was irony that led Christ to declare that his “kingdom is not of this world,” not to be achieved through politics. Such irony is a long way from the humorless incantations of the Koran. Yet it is from a posture of irony that every real negotiation, every offer of peace, every acceptance of the other, begins. The way forward, it seems to me, is to encourage the reemergence of an ironical Islam, of the kind you find in the philosophy of Averroës, in Persian poetry and in “The Thousand and One Nights.” We should also encourage those ethnic and religious jokes which did so much to defuse tension in the days before political correctness. And maybe, one day, the rigid face of some puritanical mullah will crack open in a hesitant smile, and negotiations can at last begin.

This is such a nice piece of writing. He uses the lack of irony as a warning light for the common man’s viewpoint on the ongoing battle of secularism and Islam. Lack of adaptability is at the root of Islam’s modern day problems. Since Islam’s culture does not encourage adaptablity and planning for change, they are confined to reacting to change. The results speak for themselves. About a thousand years ago the Caliphate was the best form of government on Earth. It was not inherently good at governing or encouraging economic development but because the alternative forms of govenment were so much worse, it was successful. This is were most Muslims stumble. They focus on the success of the Caliphate and not the ineptitude of the other forms of government and the way they did business. The Western world recognized this problem and zipped by Islam five hundred years ago because they changed the way they did war and business. Then the Western world changed the way they did government and eliminated any purported advantages of the Caliphate form of government. Technology continued to drive new changes in the Western world and Islamic businesses were nowhere to be seen. The way the Western world practiced religion changed multiple times. Despite all of these changes God is not dead in the Western world. Organized religion may even be on the upswing but not in the traditional sense. Traditional pastors and priests whine about the dramatic increase in non-denominational churchs. The irony is that they would rather see the people going to a non-denominational church than not going to church at all. A rising tide lifts all boats. Isn’t it ironical that prosperity and increased spirituality can co-exist in the Western world but not in Islam? Times have changed for everyone but the Muslims.