The importance of faith and religion is a factor which is very growing into perception of people about the meaning of life for each one of us during our earthly time. The news is that the traditional way to look faith and religion seems day by day more and more inadequate to the contemporary society. The internet age cannot be satisfied (or, at least, persuaded) just through dogma, because – and nevertheless the efforts of the Congregation for the doctrine of the Faith – today peoples are no more disposable to accept such kind of obscurantist attitude.
The question is that faith and religion are no more considered as nightmare of the past or people’s opium, but something of extraordinary importance for our present and future life, and “a civilizing force in globalization”, as Tony Blair says in a recent interview, stating that “in the past decade, the old connection between religion and globalization has been augmented in a surprising way.” In a fine analysis, he recognize that “Muslims often says of extremists that it’s really got nothing to do with religion.” Unfortunately, he adds: “And I say to them: these people say that they’re doing it in the name of God, so we can’t say that it doesn’t matter. It does matter.” Perhaps this is correct, and of course, it does matter. But Blair seems to forget that in St. Bernard’s words “killing for Christ” was malecide and not homicide, and “to kill a pagan is to win glory since it gives glory to Christ”, and that long before the Crusades, Popes Leo IV and John VIII had declared that warriors pure in heart who died fighting for the church would inherit the kingdom of God, because death in battle is martyrdom. As pointed out by Desmond Seward, this sounds no different at all, as an image in the mirror could be, from the contemporary sect of the Hasishyan, whose founder – known as the Sheikh al-Gebel, the Old Man of the Mountain – gave an extreme interpretation of the doctrine of the Jihad (in a way that in recent times was renewed by Aytollah Ruhollah Khomeini).
So, instead to look at difference, it seems to be better and more interesting looking for common interest, because the enemy is the unknown and, when knowing and with respect, this distance can be transformed in philosophic friendship. Already in the Middle Age, this was the way which lead Francesco D’Assisi to talk with Sultan Kamil (especially about the similarity between Christian and Dervish mysticism), and this is the same way which lead Frederick Hohenstaufen and Sultan Kamil to sign the treaty of Nazareth and closing the Crusade without war (and importing in Europe the Arabic numbers and several texts of astronomy and natural magic).
This is the focus point of the reflection: that knowledge is the way which leads from conflict to understanding, and that Knight’s Tradition is the form through by the understanding was hold throughout the centuries. In fact, it’s common that Knight’s Orders always had a role in health and charity (nevertheless history needed that they were warriors), linking eastern to western tradition (as the Rosicrucian Manifesto’s states).
Especially the Knights of Malta are linked to the tradition of health, help and aid (in add to their inner heritage, which is ritual and philophic). So, here history can find the mix of practical activity, philosophic conception and traditional doctrine which could be able to produce an extremely interesting way to analyse spiritual waves common to East and West in a structured way which is proper of European tradition in its rapports with the Mediterranean cultures.
Rethinking about the Knight’s doctrine can be an useful instrument – especially throughout the methodology of theatre anthropology and integrated relational tourism – to work on common values in European and Mediterranean tradition.
Tony Blayr’s leap of faith, by Michael Elliott, Time, June 9, 2008, p. 25-29;
Prisma – Strategic Marketing Plan for integrated tourism between Sicily and Malta – Arces, Interreg IIIC, 2008
The monks of war – the military religious orders, Desmond Seward, Penguin books, 1995.
The Rosicrucian Manuscripts, The Invisible College press, LLC 2002.