Saturday, June 30, 2007

Ramon Llull, Lust, and Al Islam

Blessed Ramon Llull (1232 - 1316)
But Jesus Christ, of his great clemency, Five times upon the cross appeared to me, That I might think upon him lovingly, And cause his name proclaimed abroad to
be...

I'm trying to slide in under the wire here. As Liam has pointed out, this is the tail end of Blessed Ramon Llull week, and he has invited his various correspondents to offer up posts on Ramon Llull, the spelling and typing of whose name I find most vexing.

Not being a philospher by trade nor training, and being left mystified by the mystical manifestations of Kabbalah, I'll point out one of the more mundane aspects of Llull.

A pleasure seeker and a dillettante in his youth, Llull underwent a conversion at around the age of 30. Blatantly stealing from this article:

It is reported that Lull's conversion was precipitated by a shock. He tried to lure a beautiful woman into a few moments of pleasure in bed with him. With quiet dignity, the woman revealed her breast to him--cancer-eaten. In a flash, he saw the futility of his lusts, and later transferred his love to the eternal Christ.


Pope Benedict, in his speech at Regensburg, was attempting to entice the secular West and the Dar Al Islam to a scholarly debate about reason, with the firm belief that Christianity will not be contradicted by pure reason. In this aspect, he was very similar in his aims and goals to Ramon Llull, who set out in his proofs, as Liam pointed out, "to write the best book in the world."

He developed a passion to win Moslems to Christ and took up the challenge of the Grand Mufti of Bugia: "If you hold that the law of Christ is true and that of Mohammed false, you must prove it by necessary reasons,"--that is, by air-tight
logic.

Convinced that true reason could produce no results contradictory to true faith, Lull poured his intelligence into philosophy. The result was a philosophy of "combination" by which he thought all knowledge could be derived by combining every idea with every other idea. Although admired for centuries because it was clever, his Ars Magna ultimately proved to be a dead end. But Lull went beyond mere philosophy. His passion was too deep to stop with scholarly games.

The first crusades had failed. Lull crisscrossed Europe, urging kings, popes, and cardinals to develop mission schools and evangelize Islam. "Missionaries will convert the world by preaching, but also through the shedding of tears and blood and with great labor, and through a bitter death," he said. His three-point plan was simple. First, missionaries must obtain a comprehensive knowledge of Arabic and other mid-eastern languages. Then they must study Islamic literature until they could refute any Muslim argument. Finally they must give their lives in witness to Christ. He convinced the pope to allow Christian universities to teach the Jewish and Islamic
languages and literature.

Lull followed this plan himself. He established a missionary school and personally studied Islamic lore. Three times he sailed to Islamic countries to reason with Islamic scholars. The first time he was exported just when he had won several Imams (Moslem religious leaders) to request baptism. The second time he was imprisoned for six months. On this day August 14, 1314, when he was in his eighties, he sailed a third time for Islamic North Africa. For a year he preached Christ and the Trinity openly but then was brutally stoned. Christian merchants carried the broken man aboard their ship. Probably he died in sight of Majorca.

10 comments:

crystal said...

Good post, Jeff.! You did much better than me, although I did find out something about Llull that it seems no one else has discovered .... he never did die after all, but immortal, continues to survive and even has a blog :-)

Jeff said...

Wow. Some mystical powers... He's like a Jedi.

I was also intrigued to learn that there is a Ramon Llull University.

I preferred your post, in which you uncovered the fact that he was jumping ugly with my boy, John Duns Scotus... Although that was not as good as when you informed us that old St. Nick smacked Arius in the face once.

Liam said...

Thanks for participating, Jeff.

And Crystal, thanks for the blog information. I wonder if Ramon shares a flat in Mallorca with Elvis and Jim Morrison.

crystal said...

Jeff I think that was liam who spread that specious rumor about Nick.

Liam, hmmm - those three dead guys in an apartment - sounds like Sartre's recipe for hell :-)

cowboyangel said...

Everybody's doing the Llull-commotion, come on baby, do the Llull-commotion.

Good post, Jeff. I found it instructive. (Though not as sassy as Crystal's.)

The confusion over Llull/Lull's name comes from his being from Mallorca/Majorca, where the language is Catalan. The English spelling is usually Lull - but not always, which makes it confusing. It's related to the Castilla/Castile or Mallorca/Majorca thing. The double-L, you have to realize, is extraordinarily complex and far, far too difficult for people writing in English to master. :-)

To be honest, though, I once heard Liam pronounce Llull's name, and I doubt it can be replicated by ordinary human beings. You have to be a PhD in Medieval History, Catalan, or incredibly drunk to say it correctly. It's something between a clearing of the throat and up-chucking when you have dry heaves.

Or maybe Liam was up-chucking with the dry heaves and I only thought he had said "Llull."

BTW, I think Crystal's right - it was Liam who talked about the Santa Claus/Arius smackdown. You might be mistaking it for Crystal's claim that Ringo was one of the Disciples.

Jeff said...

William, Is that double-L pronounced with a 'Y', as with Llama?

If so, I think I can see why it sounds like Liam on St. Patrick's Day when he tries to pronounce it.

I'm pretty sure it was Liam who told us about Santa Claus being at the Council of Nicea. It was Crystal who told us how he went upside Arius' head.

cowboyangel said...

Ah, yes, now I vaguely remember.

But it was definitely Crystal who suggested that Ringo was one of the Disciples. That whole tomb of Jesus thing.

crystal said...

this? :-)

cowboyangel said...

Oh man, first Ringo, now Spock. My whole concept of the disciples has been radically altered in the last few months.

Great cartoon, Crystal.

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