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Mindblowing WWJD from GOP Teens

Monday, April 17th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — a very basic blogpost on religious violence — specifically in authentic and weird, early and late Christianity — and sheer insanity ]
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On the Monday after The Defeat of Death, a bizarre scriptural exchange among followers of the GOP Teen twitter account at the intersection of christianity and violence, snd a sober examination of the same topic from one of the early Fathers of the Church, Saint John Chrysostom aka GoldenMouth John [below].

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Take a deep breath as we enter choppy waters:

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St. John Chrysostom‘s Homily 84 on Matthew 26. 51-54.

And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched forth his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear.

Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again your sword unto his place, for all they that take the sword, shall perish by the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot pray to the Father, and He shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? How then should the Scriptures be fulfilled that thus it must be?

Who was this one, who cut off the ear? John says that it was Peter. [John 18:10] For the act was of his fervor.

But this other point is worth inquiry, wherefore they were bearing swords? For that they bore them is evident not hence only, but from their saying when asked, “here are two”. But wherefore did Christ even permit them to have swords? For Luke affirms this too, that He said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye anything? And when they said, Nothing, He said unto them, But now, he that has a purse, let him take it, and a scrip, and he that has no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. And when they said, Here are two swords, He said unto them, It is enough.

Wherefore then did He suffer them to have them? To assure them that He was to be betrayed. Therefore He says unto them, Let him buy a sword, not that they should arm themselves, far from it; but by this, indicating His being betrayed.

And wherefore does He mention a scrip also? He was teaching them henceforth to be sober, and wakeful, and to use much diligence on their own part. For at the beginning He cherished them (as being inexperienced) with much putting forth of His power but afterwards bringing them forth as young birds out of the nest, He commands them to use their own wings. Then, that they might not suppose that it was for weakness He is letting them alone, in commanding them also to work their part, He reminds them of the former things, saying, When I sent you without purse, lacked ye anything? that by both they might learn His power, both wherein He protected them, and wherein He now leaves them to themselves by degrees.

But whence were the swords there? They had come forth from the supper, and from the table. It was likely also there should be swords because of the lamb, and that the disciples, hearing that certain were coming forth against Him, took them for defense, as meaning to fight in behalf of their Master, which was of their thought only. Wherefore also Peter is rebuked for using it, and with a severe threat. For he was resisting the servant who came, warmly indeed, yet not defending himself, but doing this in behalf of his Master.

Christ however suffered not any harm to ensue. For He healed him, and showed forth a great miracle, enough to indicate at once both His forbearance and His power, and the affection and meekness of His disciple. For then he acted from affection, now with dutifulness. For when he heard, Put up your sword into its sheath, [John 18:11] he obeyed straightway, and afterwards nowhere does this.

But another says, that they moreover asked, Shall we smite? [Luke 22:49] but that He forbad it, and healed the man, and rebuked His disciple, and threatened, that He might move him to obedience. For all they that take the sword, He said, shall die with the sword.

And he adds a reason, saying, Think ye that I cannot pray to my Father, and He shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But that the Scriptures might be fulfilled. [Matthew 26:53-54] By these words He quenched their anger, indicating that to the Scriptures also, this seemed good. Wherefore there too He prayed, that they might take meekly what befell Him, when they had learned that this again is done according to God’s will.

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What think you?

Brutal Times 01

Friday, September 30th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — “You’re not haunted by the war, Dr Watson. You miss it.” Yes, this will be a series. ]
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brutal-times-dq

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Part of what’s interesting about the upper image above, the one of a woman (presumably) wearing a burqa and holding a gun, is the number of times it has been used by the Daily Mirror — in articles on such topics as:

ISIS bans the BURKA after ‘veiled female assassin’ kills two terrorist commanders in Iraq
Desperate ISIS commanders now sending female fighters to die in combat
See US army taunt ISIS with special message in footage of coalition airstrike
Hundreds of ISIS brides sent for COMBAT TRAINING in Libya after being ‘promoted’ from role as wives

The legend under that last one reads “ISIS is using hundreds of women on the frontline in Libya” — which might lead one to believe the photo was taken there, in Libya. Why, then, would it also be applicable to two pieces about ISIS in Iraq?

That image is a glorious stimulus for hatred, though, which seems to mean it bears frequent repetition. And guess what, it might have been shot with a model, a male model for that matter, in Brixton, not Libya or Afghanistan (where blue burqas are common) or Iraq…

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Um Hanadi (the cook, whom you’ll notice, lower image above, does not wear a burqa) is on Facebook, CNN reports:

After listing all the attacks against her, and all the loved ones lost to ISIS, Um Hanadi said: “I fought them. I beheaded them. I cooked their heads, I burned their bodies.”

She made no excuses, nor attempted to rationalize this. It was delivered as a boast, not a confession.

“This is all documented,” she said. “You can see it on my Facebook page.”

So we checked. Among many pictures of her with her dead husbands, fighters and generals, there was a photo of her in the same black combat fatigues and headscarf holding what appeared to be a freshly severed head. Another showed two severed heads in a cooking pot. In a third photograph, she is standing among partially-burned corpses. It’s impossible to verify whether the photos are authentic or Photoshopped, but we got the point.

Two questions for moralists / ethicists:

  • Is a woman killing ISIS militants morally or ethically any different from a man doing so?
  • Is a woman who cooks the heads of her and our deceased enemies a desirable ally?
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    Hey, that Express piece about the “veiled female assassin” who killed two ISIS militants even gets to offer you this tasty view, with the accomnpanying legend “A woman wears a veil, which is now being banned in parts of northern Iraq”:

    muslim-woman-wearing-black-veil

    Now, is that hot, or what?

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    Sources:

  • Iraqi News, Veiled woman kills 2 ISIS militants in Mosul
  • CNN, The Iraqi housewife who ‘cooked the heads’ of ISIS fighters
  • Sunday surprise: peering digitally around corners 2: Blade Runner

    Sunday, July 31st, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — moving from a consideration of Holbein’s Ambassadors to a celebrated scene in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner — and thence, wide-angle, to Kumbh Mela ]
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    Here’s the Bladerunner scene:

    What Ridley Scott depicts is a camera with the ability to see around corners — a fantastic piece of science fictional cinematography, demonstrating a sufficiently advanced technology with a skill amounting to wizardry.

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    How close, though, can state-of-the-art cameras come to seeing around corners? Here’s what Nature has to say:

    Andreas Velten, Thomas Willwacher, Otkrist Gupta, Ashok Veeraraghavan, Moungi G. Bawendi & Ramesh Raskar, Recovering three-dimensional shape around a corner using ultrafast time-of-flight imaging:

    Abstract:

    The recovery of objects obscured by scattering is an important goal in imaging and has been approached by exploiting, for example, coherence properties, ballistic photons or penetrating wavelengths. Common methods use scattered light transmitted through an occluding material, although these fail if the occluder is opaque. Light is scattered not only by transmission through objects, but also by multiple reflection from diffuse surfaces in a scene. This reflected light contains information about the scene that becomes mixed by the diffuse reflections before reaching the image sensor. This mixing is difficult to decode using traditional cameras. Here we report the combination of a time-of-flight technique and computational reconstruction algorithms to untangle image information mixed by diffuse reflection. We demonstrate a three-dimensional range camera able to look around a corner using diffusely reflected light that achieves sub-millimetre depth precision and centimetre lateral precision over 40 cm×40 cm×40 cm of hidden space.

    Here’s another illustrative video:

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    Okay, seeing is simple, but we’re Zenpundit, so there’s gotta be a military angle we can see around, no?

    Here are two possibilities — the first is called CornerShot:

    while the second is called ShotView:

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    We’re still pretty far from Ridley’s Blade Runner, but the idea of seeing / shooting around corners has clearly caught the imagination of others.

    Okay, those last two videos are for those interested in matters martial.

    Kumbh Mela

    For my own sake, and for the possible interest of blog-friend Pundita, let’s take a look at a video of Ramesh Raskar, head of MIT Media Lab’s Camera Culture research group and one of the authors of the Nature paper quoted above.

    Here Dr Raskar is talking about that most fascinating of Hindu festivals — and largest of human gatherings? — the Kumbh Mela

    Talk about wicked problems — and crowd-sourcing solutions — and genius — and the manifold intersections of the secular and the sacred!

    Echoing Ginsberg?

    Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — the Holland Tunnel arrest and the beat poet’s Howl — a note on semiotics ]
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    160621-holland-tunnel-truck-embed
    A Dodge SUV registered to Higher Ground Tactical sits in the Port Authority impound yard near the Holland Tunnel in Jersey City on June 21, 2016. Photo: Chad Rachman/New York Post

    The SUV is somewhat eye-catching, to be sure, and the photo presumably good for clicks — but is using the image also a sort of dog-whistle, for or against those who decorate such vehicles, train with such guns, etc? I certainly posted it here to add color to the page.. and to raise such questions.

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    So there was an arrest outside the Holland Tunnel, and reports variously claimed Group Caught With Weapons In Holland Tunnel Claimed To Be On Vigilante Mission and No link to terrorism is suspected, also Man Stopped in Gun-Laden Truck Was on ‘Mission to Help Other Families’ After Daughter’s Drug Death, Friend Says. Different strokes for different folks?

    Here’s a brief rundown:

    Heavily armed and angry about the heroin epidemic, the owner of an Upper Milford gun range who said he was on his way to rescue a teenage girl in New York City was stopped by police Tuesday at the Holland Tunnel.

    John Cramsey, 50, of Zionsville was one of three people in a truck decorated with anti-drug dealer and pro-gun logos and banners from his business, Higher Ground Tactical.

    Around 7:40 a.m., Port Authority police stopped Cramsey’s truck on the New Jersey side of the tunnel after spotting a cracked windshield.

    Police found weapons in the vehicle — five pistols, an AR-15 rifle and a 12-gauge shotgun — as well as marijuana and a marijuana pipe, according to a news release from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Authorities also found body armor and knives.

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    Here’s what caught my attention, and what it reminded me of:

    John Cramsey DQ Ginsberg Howl

    Ginsberg and an anti-drug crusader?

    These details are of interest to those who track and analyze “signs” — likewise the two place names, Emmaus and Zionsville, both of them Biblical, likewise the name Higher Ground Tactical, with “higher ground” having both metaphorical (moral) and military meanings — and likewise the vivid imagery of the SUV itself, with its decals & detailing.

    We speak with our gestures and the imagery we use, not just with the plain literal sense of our words.

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    DoubleQuote Sources:

  • The Morning Call, Emmaus area gun range owner stopped at Holland Tunnel
  • Allen Ginsberg, Howl
  • Don’t hide your money in a hortus conclusus

    Monday, June 20th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — a criminal twist in Argentinian politics amid lofty considerations of convents, the Virgin Mary, and unicorns ]
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    The King James Version of the Bible, Song of Solomon 4:12, reads:

    A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.

    In the Latin Vulgate, the phrase “a garden enclosed” is rendered “hortus conclusus” — and as the context makes clear, it refers both to a garden, literally, and metaphorically to a woman. In the Christian Middle Ages, the phrase was often used to indicate the Virgin Mary, often enclosed within a literal garden, as in this Hortus Conclusus from Cologne, ca 1430:

    600 Hortus Conclusus from Cologne, 1430

    Parhaps unsurprisingly, the hortus conclusus is also the place where the unicorn — only ever tamed by a pure virgin — ends up, as in this example from the Cloisters Unicorn Tapestries:

    600 Unicorn in Captivity

    So much art history, so much beauty, so much virginity — and all so that I can make a couple of points about Jose Lopez, an Argentinean MP who was arrested earlier in the week.

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    The unfortunate Lopez made the error of tossing some bags of money, or moneybags as they are sometimes called, over a hedge into a convent garden…

    A convent, as we’ll easily understand, is a terrific example of the hortus conclusus — and since nuns are typically sworn to poverty as well as chastity and obedience, it is altogether contrary to the intended purpose of a convent’s hortus conclusus to use it as a stash for ill-gotten gains, especially of a monetary kind — to the estimated tune of US$5-8 million.

    So that’s my point number one: that Lopez was acting in direct opposition to the contemplative and unworldly intent of the convent garden. Worse, indeed, he was also carrying some form of Sig Sauer rifle along with his “160 bundles of cash, 108 of dollars, and some of them still thermo-sealed with the stamps from China’s central bank.”

    Ouch.

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    But what I like best from the report is the sting in the end of this first paragraph:

    The ex-Kirchnerite official, considered the right/hand man of ex Federal Planning minister Julio De Vido was caught by the police after neighbors and a nun of the Fatima monastery warned authorities about the presence of a man throwing bags over a dividing line of bushes.

    It’s that bit about “throwing bags over a dividing line” that gets me.

    I’ve discussed the concept of liminality before, both lightheartedly, as in Liminality I: the kitsch part [note: NSFW], and more seriously, in Liminality II: the serious part — where I discussed the behavior of the USS Topeka at the Equator as the Second Millennium CE turned in to the Third, and the curious tale of the demonic king Hiranyakasipu and his death at the hands of Narasimha, an avatar of Vishnu.

    A limen or threshold is always a “special place” set apart, and thus sacred and powerful in its own right — and the limen around a convent’s perimeter even more so. We’ve seen the extraordinary effort ISIS made very early on in their campaign to erase the limen between Iraq and Syria established no less determinedly by Sykes-Picot. And we know, too, that the central rite-of-passage by which a woman becomes a nun is a liminal rite (van Gennep, Victor Turner).

    Beware, be very aware of the liminal! Enjoy the security a hortus conclusus provides the pure in heart — but don’t abuse it!

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    Sources:

  • Wikipedia, hortus conclusus
  • Wikipedia, Narasimha
  • MercoPress, An Argentine ex-Kirchnerite official caught red-handed trying to hide bags of cash in a monastery

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