Thus, my understanding of Benedict XVI's address at Regensburg is markedly different from the one spread about by the MSM--principally AP and Reuters.
The address was not terribly long, and the "Muslim" portion was only a few grafs within it. In general terms, the address was not about the Muslim faith. Rather, it was about the severance of faith and reason which became definitive through the work of Descartes.
The Pope had traced the faith/reason question from the time of the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint) through Scholasticism, making a short excursion into the Muslim question, and then through modern times.
It's really a brilliantly concise history of philosophy and theology.
By the way, the Pope slapped up the current Western division between faith and reason, and mentioned that one of the concerns of the Muslims with the West was precisely this bifurcation--which the Muslims regard as un-natural, as do thinking Catholics, as well as some 'fundamentalist' sects:
We will succeed in doing so only if reason and faith come together in a new way, if we overcome the self-imposed limitation of reason to the empirically verifiable, and if we once more disclose its vast horizons. In this sense theology rightly belongs in the university and within the wide-ranging dialogue of sciences, not merely as a historical discipline and one of the human sciences, but precisely as theology, as inquiry into the rationality of faith.
But that's not what the AP and Reuters reported, is it?
True to its nature, the western press has, in the last couple of days, stupidly and dangerously mischaracterized the Holy Father. They have, with a crudeness that surpasses credulity, tried to portray Benedict’s brilliant, recent lecture at Regensburg, to a group of scientists, as an attack on Islam. Clearly, the speech surpasses the intellectual ken of the typical journalist. It is one of the clearest, pithiest, most forceful expositions of the path that led to the separation of faith and reason in the West that I have ever read. For those who have not read it, here it is.
What was the AFP/Yahoo headline?
Pope enjoys private time after slamming Islam
From the article following the headline above, we get the following:
His address late Tuesday to academics at Regensburg University, in which he fleetingly criticised the Islamic concept of "Jihad" or holy war, hit the only political note of his six-day visit, during which his addresses have been almost entirely spiritual.
"Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul," said the pope, during a complex treatise on reason and faith.
At least the term "fleetingly" was correct. All the rest is utterly vapid and not even CLOSE to accurate.
Even my initial precis of the "Muslim/Christian differences" which DID focus on that portion of the speech gave a better sense of the context than does the above.
The NYTimes' story of today characterizes the speech accurately:
The speech was largely a scholarly address criticizing the West for submitting itself too much to reason, for walling belief in God out of science and philosophy.
...but the lead graf in the story is not quite accurate:
Pope Benedict XVI sought Sunday to extinguish days of anger and protest among Muslims by issuing an extraordinary personal apology for having caused offense with a speech last week that cited a reference to Islam as “evil and inhuman.”
What the Pope ACTUALLY said is in the second graf:“I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address,” the pope told pilgrims at the summer papal palace of Castel Gandolfo, “which were considered offensive.’’
It's clear that there is a reason for blogs. Keep reading them.