Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain gave as good a summary as any. When he was once asked where the soul goes when it leaves the body, he answered: “Well, when the watch stops working, it goes to the hands of the watchmaker. In the same way, our soul goes into the hands of God.”
He also said this: “When I see Christians cry because their fathers passed away, I am upset, for they neither believe nor understand that death is simply a journey to life of another kind.”
“I emphatically declare that today’s world, more than ever before, longs for just and righteous people with love for all humanity; and above all longs for the perfect righteous human being and the real savior who has been promised to all peoples and who will establish justice, peace and brotherhood on the planet.
“O, Almighty God, all men and women are your creatures and you have ordained their guidance and salvation. Bestow upon humanity that thirsts for justice, the perfect human being promised to all by you, and make us among his followers and among those who strive for his return and his cause.”
— The final act, a prayer, of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s dramatic address at the United Nations (for which he received an uproar of … applause).
Manners first developed in Florence during the Renaissance as a method of setting a person apart as a gentleman, and the fashion was later adopted in Britain. It was manners, according to Dr Colin Gill, a chartered psychologist, that allowed society to slowly begin to move away from behaving, on pure instinct, violently.
He said: “We value manners, not only because they promote good behaviour, but, most importantly, they curb bad behaviour. They are the oil that smoothes our path. People feel that society is more hostile and so may act in a more hostile manner. When someone asks a group to stop making such a noise, he gets stabbed or beaten.”
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The Vatican in recent years has tried to clear away some historical baggage, including a 2001 apology by Pope John Paul II for the medieval Crusades, which are widely seen by Muslims and Orthodox Christians as Western invasions. During a visit the same year to Syria, John Paul also became the first pope to visit a mosque.
Benedict’s speech found a sympathetic ear among many in the West. A German theologian, the Rev. Martin Schuck, said any backtrack by the pope would amount to “intellectual surrender” to radical Islam. But a professor of Islamic law at Qatar University, Muhammad Ayash al-Kubaisi, proposed another route: A debate with the pope on the history their faiths. His offer, posted last week on the Web site of the Al-Jazeera television network, contends Christians should study their own turbulent past.
Crusaders in 1099 captured Jerusalem and began wholesale attacks on its population, including Muslims and Jews, historians say. At the same time in other parts of the Muslim world, a golden age had its intellectual hub in Baghdad.
In the early 13th century, Crusaders sacked Constantinople, the ancient center of Greek-led Byzantium, in part to use the plunder to fund more forays into Muslim lands. The Byzantine Empire never fully recovered from the blow.