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Forget religion, it’s all politics!

December 16th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — Ukraine-Russia tensions reach Greece’s holy Mount Athos ]
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Holy Athos

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Forget religion, it’s all politics!

Thee title of the Guardian piece, which came to me via my admired scholar friend Michael Robinson, is Ukraine-Russia tensions reach Greece’s holy Mount Athos. Michael pointed it my way because “holy Mount Athos” — not because “Ukraine-Russia tensions”.

Nevertheless, forget religion, it’s all politics! (a popular refrain in our secular-dominant world)..

“Ukraine is an independent country and deserves its own church,” Makarios told the visiting Belarusians, who nodded dubiously. His view is not shared by all: a Ukrainian monk based at Makarios’s cell, Father Agafon, had a different opinion, calling those Ukrainians in favour of an independent church “splitters and heretics” and saying the Ukrainian church should remain under the control of Moscow.

and:

Although most of the monks on Athos are Greek, for many Russians, as well as Ukrainians and Belarusians, a pilgrimage to Mount Athos has become almost like an Orthodox version of the Islamic hajj, seen as a spiritual must for any true believer. Oligarchs and government elites particularly like the peninsula, with its difficult-to-obtain permits and air of a VIP club. In the weeks prior to the Guardian’s visit, Makarios said he had hosted a Belarusian army general, a number of Ukrainian MPs and several rich Russians at his austere cell.

Makarios’ austere breakfast, btw, is coffee and nuts — for the visiting generals, MPS and rich folk, too..

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Forget religion, it’s all violence and strategy!

With a meeting in Kiev on Saturday set to formally proclaim the church’s independence, some are predicting violence if Kiev tries to seize church property from the Moscow patriarchy.

Subtitle of the piece:

Orthodox church’s decision to make Ukrainian branch independent of Russia causes schism and predictions of violence

and:

M:alofeev blamed the Americans for the turmoil, claiming that “Pyatt is trying to stir up the same things he did in Ukraine” in Greece. He also claimed Bartholomew’s entourage was “infiltrated with CIA agents” and said the decision to grant independence to the Ukrainian church could lead to violence in Ukraine and Athos to split with the ecumenical patriarch.

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Forget religion, it’s all money!

One Russian who has been particularly active on Athos is Konstantin Malofeev, a businessman known as the “Orthodox oligarch”, who is currently on EU and US sanctions lists for his alleged role in funding the separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine.

and:

He insisted that most of Athos was united in its loyalty to the ecumenical patriarch, but conceded that the feeling was not unanimous. “There are some monks who just love Russian money,” he said with a sigh.

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Forget religion, it’s quintessentially religion..

For centuries, Orthodox men have come to Mount Athos, a closed peninsula in northern Greece, to sequester themselves away from the everyday concerns of the outside world. The only entrance is by boat, and women are strictly forbidden to set foot on the territory. Male pilgrims, after receiving a special permit, can visit to confess and seek counsel from the 2,000 monks at the 20 monasteries and smaller “cells” dotted along the hilly shoreline. It is one of the holiest sites of Orthodoxy, the eastern form of Christianity that split with Catholicism in the 11th century.

Monks enter Athos “to sequester themselves away from the everyday concerns of the outside world,” okay?

Athos runs on Byzantine time, an archaic system in which the clocks are reset each day at sunset, and it uses the Julian calendar, rendering Athos 13 days behind the rest of the western world. At sunset the monasteries shut their gates and a stillness settles on the peninsula until the bells ring for morning liturgy.

“People come here to try to be saints, and leave the difficulties of the world behind,” said Father Porfirius, a 27-year-old Greek monk. “The hardest part is to kill your will. We try to destroy it, to get to the level of obedience of Jesus Christ.”

Patriarch vs Patriarch (with Putin Plus):

All is not well in Orthodoxy currently, with a split linked to Russia’s war in Ukraine causing a schism and dark talk of violence among the various Orthodox churches. Bartholomew of Constantinople, known as the ecumenical patriarch and the “first among equals” of the Orthodox patriarchs, agreed in October to give autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox church, essentially making it an independent church. Patriarch Kirill of the Russian church, which regards Ukraine as its domain, responded furiously and announced a split from the ecumenical patriarch.

and:

Kirill has banned Russians from taking holy communion in the churches of Athos, calling any priests who bless the ecumenical patriarch schismatics, leading to a dilemma for those Russians who want to visit.

Schism is about as bad as it gets within Christianity. The Pope and the Patriarch are currently trying, with some little success, to heal a schism between Catholics and Orthodox which began as a dispute over a clause in the major credal statement — the filioque clause in the Nicene Creed — which broke the two major branches of the Church, east and west, apart in 1054. That’s more than a millennium of strife between brothers whose savior prayed at the end of his life [John 17.22-23]:

And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

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Okay, kudos to Guardian writer Shaun Walker for knowing the importance of rrligious reporting of issues that also hav financial, strategic and political aspects!

And let’s conclude with a link tom this related Orthodox prayer page:

:Concerning the Orthodox Prayers for the Union of All and the Prayer in St. John 17
Excerpts from Ecumenism: A Movement for Union or a Syncretistic Heresy?
by Bishop Angelos of Avlona

Oh, we are so aWoke to our emotions!

December 15th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — with an ee cummings verse and question re the internet of things ]
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Quickly, since I’m just back from a (successful) surgery:

I’m not entirely convinced that ee cummings is right, but I do sympathize with his emphasis

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And the cummings quote?

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you

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And as the coders are coding for the internet of things, are they paying attention to feeling aspects of their coding syntax?

Next notables, metaphors and bright ideas included

December 9th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — next in the long series beginning with sports and game metaphors, and extending to include miscellaneous memorable items — nb, includes a Tibhirine section, Jim Gant pls note ]
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Here’s a DoubleQuote in images of considerable interest, from David Metcalfe — with the esteemed William Dalrynple DoubleQuoting goddesses in Kerala:

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Ancilliary to my interest in mapping complex realities..

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First “siege warfare” metaphor:

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Something to read alongside John Kiser‘s superb The Monks of Tibhirine: Faith, Love, and Terror in Algeria :

I would be most happy to publish any comments John Kiser has on Kyle Orton‘s blog post, Algeria’s ‘Years of Blood’: Not Quite What They Seem on ZP should he or Jim Gant notice this somewhat obscure entry..

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Good grief:

Key comment:

I will explain all in due course but for now all I want to say is be VERY careful when dabbling in spirituality, it’s not something to mess with.

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And how’s this?

Trump Channels the Worst of China to Beat China

A double ouroboros, methinks: the Worst of China to Beat China, arguably, and self-defeating, axiomatically, no?

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Venkatesh Rao, Quiver Doodles:

I don’t know if this is still true, but I once read about exploited workers in the ship-breaking industry who were worked so hard, and paid so little, they could not even afford to buy enough calories to sustain themselves. They were slowly starving to death. I call this phenomenon entropic ruin, a generalization of the idea of gambler’s ruin to open-ended games that can be non-zero-sum and need not involve gambling. In this case, it’s a deterministic death march. If you systematically consume fewer calories than you expend long term, you will die a premature death.

Via John Kellden

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Did Venkatesh mention “the idea of gambler’s ruin“? How about nuns’ ruin as a subset?

Two nuns allegedly stole $500,000 for trips to Las Vegas

We do know that they had a pattern of going on trips, we do know they had a pattern of going to casinos, and the reality is, they used the account as their personal account,” Marge Graf, an attorney representing St. James, told a group of parents at a meeting last Monday night, according to the Beach Reporter.”

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Mask dancers, Bhutan:

21 Breathtaking Photos Of Isolated Tribes From All Around The World

The dancers are gorgeous, but look to the left and see the monasteries perched on plateaus in a towering rock-face..

I’m pretty sure “isolated tribes” are of particular interest about now because of the evangelical boundary-pusher killed (martyred? now there’s a koan) because he hoped to bring the gospel to Andaman tribal peoples whose isolation is protected by the Indian government.. see my tweet:

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A whole lot more..

This Nancy Pelosi chyron, for instance:

Which brings me to #2 below:

— with #3 also deserving a metaphor-mention..

And we might as well go for the revolt chyron here:

And that in turn allows for a splendid graphic with both metaphorical and real resonance..

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That should be enough. I’ll collect further items of interest in the comments section.

Start of the Christian Church Year

December 9th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — the chief benefit of observing a liturgical calendar is found in the subtle modulations in rhythm across the year it affords the observant faithful ]
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In terms of the Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran Churches — but not yet, I think, the Orthodox — this is the first Sunday in the season of Advent, a period of expectation of the coming of the Christ Child, and of his Second Coming at the end of days, and marks the start of the liturgical Year in their calendars.

Here’s JS Bach, bringing us a Cantata for the First Sunday in Advent, and thus a fitting opening to the season:

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Zenpundit wishes its Christian readers a Happy New Year!

Sunday surprise, Joni I — frostbite and sunstroke

December 9th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — a study in dualities in songs of the wondrous joni m ]
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Okay, let’s start with the source of that supremely compressed universe, frostbite and sunstroke:

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I say, “compressed universe” because those two words represent the two poles of the entire universe from one angle, and wherever two such poles are present, they transcend:

  • breath, death
  • alpha, omega
  • womb, tomb
  • etc
  • Wikipedia:

    The unity of opposites is the central category of dialectics, said to be related to the notion of non-duality in a deep sense

    Heraclitus:

    The road up and the road down are the same

    Nicolas of Cusa [in Joseph Kelly, The Problem of Evil in the Western Tradition:

    God is the principle of unity, of identity, bringing together in himself all opposites and then transcending them. He is the opposite of the opposites. He negates the contradictions of the world.

    He is the opposite of the opposites!

    And Wikipedia again:

    Mircea Eliade, a 20th-century historian of religion, used the term extensively in his essays about myth and ritual, describing the coincidentia oppositorum as “the mythical pattern”. Psychiatrist Carl Jung, the philosopher and Islamic Studies professor Henry Corbin as well as Jewish philosophers Gershom Scholem and Abraham Joshua Heschel also used the term.

    That’s pretty much my reading list for eternity, plus or minus Plotinus, Shakespeare and the Upanishads..

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    So, Joni. Singer-writer in a long tradition.. Vic Garbarini, Joni Mitchell is a Nervy Broad:

    For Mitchell, ordinary life is a semioticist’s paradise, a place where coincidence and synchronicity can be the catalysts that reveal glimpses of a deeper pattern, a unity that underlies and ultimately resolves what appear on the surface to be irreconcilable opposites. In Mitchell’s tales of incredible coincidences on steamy streets or chance encounters with affable drunks in hotel lobbies, vital pieces of the puzzle drop into place, and the whole is glimpsed.

    Oh yes, Joni sees both sides now:


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