FNC: Where a Muslim is Just a Muslim


One man. Two boys. Twelve kids.

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53 Responses

  1. Jaybird says:

    It’s good that he didn’t blow up at her.Report

  2. BlaiseP says:

    Lauren Green doesn’t seem to understand Muslims also treat Jesus as a prophet. They call him Isa and his mother Maryam. His name is always postpended with the honorific “peace be upon him” as the Muslims do with all their prophets, of which the Prophet Muhammad was only the last. Isa appears more often than the name Muhammad in the Qu’ran.Report

    • DRS in reply to BlaiseP says:

      And there are more references to Mary in the Koran than in the Bible. That ought to blow the God-Botherers’ minds.Report

      • BlaiseP in reply to DRS says:

        I swear, DRS, it’s positively embarrassing to be an American sometimes. We kinda expect this sort of ignorance from illiterate people in faraway places, swept up in rumours and lies. But Americans, with a college education? I heard this story and just cringed.Report

      • DRS in reply to DRS says:

        I think it’s this veneer of evangelism that overlays much of American religion – even those religions that are not evangelical. It doesn’t exist in most other parts of the world.

        The whole Rapture thing – that people are going to get sucked up to heaven just before the end of the world – that many Americans think is in the Bible. Or maybe it’s in the evangelical bibles and not in the mainstream ones. At any rate, it’s an evangelical myth rather than a biblical reference but it seems to have a great deal of power south of the 49th.Report

      • BlaiseP in reply to DRS says:

        That’s a simplistic view of the problem and most outsiders don’t really understand Evangelical Christianity any more than they understand Islam. Evangelical eschatology differs from church to church, from person to person.

        It’s not the veneer. There are always three sides to faith: what the doctrine states, what I believe, what you think I believe — I hasten to add I don’t include “you” in the literal second person. Most Christianity in the USA isn’t particularly Evangelical in nature. Most of it emerges from the rootstock of Cromwell’s era, when the Protestant theologians discarded most of the church hierarchy, believing the proposition could be reduced to a person, the Bible and God himself. Sola Fide. Sola Scriptura. Sola Gratia.

        Islam firmly believes in a Rapture. yawm ad-din, the Last Day. The 75th sura lays it out explicitly. Christianity believes in a Rapture but differs widely on how it’s to come to pass. Every religion has something of the sort, the Talmud is loaded with references to the Messiah. Call it a myth if you like, myths are just Important Stories. Humankind has always tried to see beyond the grave. In our grief, the hope of resurrection, however ludicrous it might seem to others, is more than a mere delusion. We hope some day the world will be set to rights, that we will be reunited with those we’ve lost, that this life is not all there is. Absurd? Perhaps. The universe will eventually die a Heat Death: the stars will cease to shine and when entropy has nothing to act upon, even time may come to a halt.

        I’d argue it’s that third viewpoint, what others think Christians believe, what others think Muslims believe, or what atheists believe — that’s where the trouble starts.Report

      • DRS in reply to DRS says:

        Evangelical eschatology differs from church to church, from person to person.

        Well, yeah. That’s my point. To me – a non-American Catholic – it all seems like one big game of Calvinball. Whoever has the ball right this minute gets to make a new rule. Very confusing.

        So people start thinking in terms of teams. To the Fox twit, obviously Aslan wasn’t on the right team to have an opinion on Jesus. Wrong jersey. Not the right logo.Report

      • DRS in reply to DRS says:

        Christianity believes in a Rapture but differs widely on how it’s to come to pass.

        If you mean “end of the world”, then yes. But I meant the “getting hoovered up to heaven while driving your car and leaving all the sinners behind just before the end of the world” version that seems so popular down there. And that is certainly not a Catholic doctrine and I’m willing to bet not an Anglican or Lutheran one either.Report

      • BlaiseP in reply to DRS says:

        Doctrine was always something of a theological crutch. The Catholics of my acquaintance are finally getting around to reading their Bibles, always a good thing in the progress of any Christian. Blind acceptance of doctrine leads to all sorts of Cargo Cult thinking.

        The differences between the Second and Third Viewpoint, what I believe and what you think I believe, can only be corrected by coming to terms with how I came to believe such things. I might point out how silly and stupid all the disputation between Catholics and Protestants has become over the years. Catholics are to be admired for perpetuating something ancient and honourable, carrying the message of Jesus Christ and the forgiveness of sins forward into these times — however imperfect the bearers, the message was greater than the messenger. Protestants might seem to be playing Calvinball but we know our Bibles far better than to accept any message without validation from the Sender of that Message — if that makes any sense.

        Islam is horribly misunderstood and much of the blame for that misunderstanding can be squarely laid at the feet of Islam’s leadership. It has not encouraged scholarship and science, though once it did, far more so than Christianity. The honest faithful are always doubting, always revisiting the sources of their original beliefs, testing and re-testing those axioms. When the door to doubt is slammed shut, when the Questioner is called a Heretic, any doctrine loses viability.Report

      • Alan Scott in reply to DRS says:

        it all seems like one big game of Calvinball.

        I see what you did there.Report

    • Mo in reply to BlaiseP says:

      Not only do they appear quite often in the texts, but they are both reveared. Mary is considered to be a perfect woman and some even consider her a female prophet.Report

    • Mo in reply to BlaiseP says:

      It’s a good thing Lauren Green pushes back like this on Christian commentators when they talk about what the Koran really means.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Mo says:


      • Reformed Republican in reply to Mo says:

        And who exactly would be able to speak objectively about Christ? Certainly not people who revere him as divine. Most people are not objective about the objects of their worship.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Mo says:

        I’m curious how much of the response is based on Dr. Aslan’s faith and how much is based on the conclusions he arrives at.Report

      • BlaiseP in reply to Mo says:

        It’s possible to consider the historical record and remain religious. Consider Middle Eastern archaeology. A host of fine scholars have gone in search of the Kingdom of Israel and all they seem to find for evidence was written by the enemies of Israel. No evidence for the Egyptian Captivity. Not one scrap of evidence for King David or Solomon. Trouble is, we don’t have any working evidence for Alexander the Great, either, beyond the stories.

        Joseph Campbell said myths are the armour truth must wear to survive the centuries. Look at the impact of the story of King Arthur on Britain or Roland on France or a hundred other mythical figures. More people have gone scurrying around Merrie Olde England in search of Arthur and not a one of them has found anything. Attempting to legitimise itself, the Tudor dynasty claimed it descended from Arthur.

        Belief, like gravity, may be a feeble force compared to the others but it operates over colossal distances. And we still don’t understand gravity, look at our search for the Higgs Boson: we’re pretty sure we’ve found it — but that only on the basis of what it left behind as it decayed.

        Sure, it’s hard to be objective about Jesus Christ based on the evidence. But how much truth was there in the stories of Alexander? Surely there was such a historical figure — there are plenty of accounts of his life — but are such stories objective truth where the Gospels are complete lies? Even the most cynical liar understands he must embed a hard nugget of truth into his lie if its is to be believed. Feel free to dispense with the miracles, leave those to the believers if you wish. Any serious student of the Bible will tell you the gospels don’t agree with each other. Case in point: how many angels were at the resurrection? How many women? Not all the gospels even have an account of the resurrection and Mark’s gospel seems to have ended short of the last six verses, which we know were tacked on, much later.

        It’s what I call the Bomb Crater Postulate: even though we didn’t see the bomb, we see the crater it left. People died for their beliefs in these things. How did they arrive at their conclusions? If they believed in lies, knowing them to be lies, they sure did cling tightly to those lies where any sensible person would have said “Hey, it’s just a story.” These people did change history and they left a multitude of evidence. In a very real sense, the historical record is irrelevant. Every stone between Tel Aviv and Tehran was once part of the wall of someone’s house. Sorting that out gets complicated.Report

  3. Fish says:

    I had previously seen Resa Aslan interviewed on The Daily Show, and I watched this interview last night. Reza’s reply to the tweet Green read toward the end of the interview had me laughing.Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to Fish says:

      I saw the on-air interview, in which Dr. Aslan was charming, affable, and obviously knowledgeable and passionate about his subject — it’s quite evident he has a tremendous respect and admiration for Jesus and Jon Oliver was falling all over himself to plug the book, which he had evidently enjoyed immensely.

      But I didn’t follow up on the web. I thought the FNC thing happened after he did the Daily Show. If it was the other way around, then it’s interesting that they didn’t run with that, since pointing out idiocy on FNC is pretty much morning duty over there. (OTOH, at some point it become piling-on.)Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Burt Likko says:

        The FNC bit was July 26. Looks like TDS was a week or two earlier.Report

      • Burt Likko in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Then I didn’t hear about the FNC thing until just this weekend. Because, you see, I don’t typically watch FNC other than the excerpts in which the Daily Show mocks it.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Having just watched TDS, I really like alot of Dr. Aslan’s points. One of the best courses I took in college (at a Jesuit institution) explored Jesus as a historical figure, philosopher, and political actor. We talked about how “Turn the other cheek” was not a call for passivity, but given the context, was actually a subversive call for resistance. IT really fascinated me. I should probably pick up this book. Jesus as philosopher and political actor intrigues. Jesus as Christ… not so much… especially given who my peers would be.Report

  4. Mike Schilling says:

    Reza Aslan, author of Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus Christ, pushes back against FNC’s Lauren Green’s assertions that it was somehow inappropriate for a Muslim to write a book about the founder of Christianity.

    He wrote a book about Paul of Tarsus too?Report

    • BlaiseP in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      Heh. I see what you’re driving at, but Reza Aslan points to the Apostle James as the primary force behind the formation of the cult of Jesus of Nazareth. Paul and James represented the two sides of fundamental debate which still exists within Christianity: the unpleasant fact that Jesus was a Jew and never intended to start up a new religion centred on himself.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      FWIW, “founder” was my word. That does come up in the interview but I can’t remember the specific wording and aren’t able to go back and re-watch it at this very moment.Report

  5. Tod Kelly says:

    Is it possible this in an Onion piece?Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Art Deco says:

      Excuse me if I’m a bit skeptical of the clowns at Jihad Watch.Report

      • Mark Thompson in reply to Kazzy says:

        In this case you don’t even need to be skeptical of Spencer to realize his complaints are ridiculous. They essentially boil down to complaints that Aslan is dishonest because (1) he doesn’t adequately acknowledge opposing viewpoints in his book, and (2) Aslan’s claims are dishonest because they are refuted by a handful of quotes from the Gospels.

        As for the first of these two complaints….talk about weak sauce. This complaint is essentially “I found Aslan’s book unpersuasive, therefore he’s dishonest.”

        As to the second….I’d think that one would need to consider the evidence Aslan puts forward in support of this claim before making an accusation of dishonesty, or even of him being wrong on the point. It’s rather unhinged to not only seek to rebut a claim that the Gospels were not meant to be taken literally by, uhh, taking them literally, but to outright use that literal interpretation as a basis for insisting that the claim is outright dishonest.Report

    • Art Deco in reply to Art Deco says:

      Among his complaints was that Aslan was misrepresenting his background and employment to the interviewer.Report

      • Chris in reply to Art Deco says:

        Wait, he says history of religion when his degree is actually in the sociology religion, which has a large overlap, in terms of scholarship, with the history of religion, therefore he’s a stinkin’ liar?Report

    • Kolohe in reply to Art Deco says:

      This meme that Rezla Aslan misrepresented himself as a expert in religious history is among the most asinine that has ever floated around the blogowebz.

      Right wing populism is supposed to be *against* credentialism – that’s one of its few redeeming qualities.Report

  6. Mike Schilling says:

    “That’s what I do for a living, actually.” He’s talking to her like she’s 10, which would be offensive if he weren’t actually aiming too high.Report

  7. not me says:

    Sorry, I doubt that a book written by a Christian (even one with a PhD) calling the dear prophet a zealot would be welcome by even the peaceful Muslims. Heck some Muslims might even riot or issue death threats. I also doubt the liberal intelligentsia would swoon over the book either.Report

    • Chris in reply to not me says:

      They should probably look up the word, then, as its use in this context wouldn’t make sense for someone from the Arabian peninsula in the 6th century.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to not me says:

      “Zealot” in first-century Palestine meant a member of the party whose solution to the Roman occupation was to expel the Romans. Aslan’s argument, as I understand it (from his interviews; I’ve not read the book) is that that was Jesus’s goal and that’s what he was crucified for.Report

    • DRS in reply to not me says:

      Are you saying Muslims have rioted over some of Bernard Lewis’ books? You got some proof of that? Or is this the usual tired trope? You need to update your talking points.Report

      • NotMe in reply to DRS says:


        Really, Salman Rushdie might disagree as he is still under a death sentence from some of those peaceful Muslims and don’t forget the violence when a danish newspaper published cartoon images of the prophet. Not to mention the threats against South Park after their episode involving the prophet. No trope, just facts.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to DRS says:


        Those aren’t exactly one in the same, are they? The Muslims who object to Rushdie, the cartoonists, and South Park do so because they believe that they are violating and disrespecting a tenet of their faith. That does not, for a second, justify violence or threats of violence, but it is understandable that people might object to others engaging in a practice expressly forbidden by their religion.

        No where in my Catholic education did I learn that it violated the faith for non-Christians to write about Jesus. My sense is that many Christians don’t like Dr. Aslan’s conclusions and rather than attack the merits of the argument, they simply go after him and his faith. It’s easier that way. Lazy, and wrong, but easier.Report

  8. Kazzy, I just got around to watching this… well the first two minutes or so… and, really, I just hate them both.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:

      I assume your dislike of him is rooted in him seeming smart-alecky and a bit too willing to list his bonafides? If so, I can see that, but given that this is likely not the first time his legitimacy has been called into question because of his faith, I don’t really object to him overcompensating.

      But I don’t think one needs to like Aslan to see how ridiculous the interview is, especially given that Green seemed dependent on Tweets and other critics instead of her own reading if the work.Report

    • Glyph in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:

      I did the same. I’ve always found Aslan kind of insufferably smug (he’s been a longtime frequent guest on Real Time with Bill Maher). Note: I fully admit the preceding is a personal dislike, entirely unrelated to his opinions, which at least in those past TV appearances I have found fairly moderate/unremarkable. Some people just rub you the wrong way, and he’d probably say the same of me (as they say, you respond negatively to characteristics in others that you yourself also manifest).

      I have no interest in discussing the substance of the controversy itself or Aslan’s new book, except to say that this was a Fox News webcast (not even broadcast) called “Spirited Debate” (which telegraphed to Aslan, I would assume, the likely-adversarial nature of the program he had signed onto).

      IOW, both Fox AND Aslan probably got what they wanted by this otherwise-completely piddling appearance going viral and drawing lots of outrage/attention to their respective commercial enterprises.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Glyph says:

        A fair critique. I had actually just seem him earlier in the day on RTwBM and saw some of the same smugness. That motivated me to click the link, which had been posted in another board I frequent. I knew nothing of Green or SD before.

        Semi-related, I should also note thatthe strain of backlash which is focusing on Green’s history as a beauty pageant contestant is also stupid.

        I’m not here to defend Aslan, though I will say his book intriques me because of the subject matter. But the extent to which Green’s angle is representative of others is upsetting.Report

  9. Mike Schilling says:

    How can anyone named Aslan be unqualified to talk about Jesus?Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      When I first read this, I read it as “How can anyone be unqualified to talk about Jesus?”

      And while there are ways to read that question that could lead someone to talk about such things as archeology and history and Aramaic and whatnot, there’s another way to read it that leads elsewhere.

      And that got me thinking about JZ Knight and Jeff Knight and Ramtha and

      then I reread the question.Report