COWEN: Speaking of Islam, what is it that’s
especially beautiful in Islam? WOLPE: Well, first of all, I think that in
a lot of ways, Islam shares more with Judaism than Christianity does.
[applause] WOLPE: First of all, it’s a religion of
the transcendence of God. It’s a religion of law and commentary. And I have a theory
for why that is, and Christianity isn’t; why Judaism and Islam are, if you want to
hear the theory. COWEN: Sure. Let’s hear the theory.
WOLPE: OK. Here’s my theory. My theory is that it’s because Christianity grew up in
the Roman Empire, so the laws were taken care of. But Moses and Muhammad had to create a
people in the desert. So you needed civil law as well as criminal law.
And the other thing I think that is beautiful about Islam, although today in some ways very
scary about Islam, is the enormous power that it has for large populations, who one day
know very little about it and yet the next day feel tremendous devotion to it, something
that can — some belief system that can do that — that’s worth paying attention
to on its own terms, not just from the outside.