Peter Nixon has a posting below on the sin of smugness. I confess that I smugly pictured the legion of those who smugly intone "crusades" whenever the talk gets around to violence and religion.

All of us addicted to smuggery may be given pause by a new book by Christopher Tyerman, God's War: A New History of the Crusades. Eamon Duffy in the New York Review (unfortunately available only to subscribers) says:

Those searching Tyerman's book for direct clues about the present state of the Middle East or the confrontation of militant Islam and the West will, however, be disappointed. He shies away from "clear or sonorous summing up" and he is wary of exaggerated moral praise or blame. In the millennium year and subsequently on a controversial visit to Greece, Pope John Paul II included the Crusades, and especially the Fourth Crusade, among the historic "sins" perpetrated by members of the Catholic Church. Tyerman mentions these apologies without comment, but it is evident that he thinks them anachronistic. Extracting "the thread of the crusade from the weave of the middle ages," he thinks, distorts both.

Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is a longtime Commonweal contributor.

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