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Sunday hilarious surprise: Eric Metaxas and Canon Andrew White

Sunday, July 6th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- if religion is neither your cuppa tea nor your hookah mixture, you can safely ignore this post ]

Move over, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert — just this once?

Both Eric Metaxas — who “wrote the book” on Bonhoeffer – and Canon Andrew White — sometimes known as the “Vicar of Baghdad” — are simply hilarious in this interview, if you’re interested and potentially amused by the intricate varieties of religious experience within Christianity. I haven’t had this much fun watching two real people talking with one another in a long while.

And behind the delight, there’s more..


You know me, I love echoes, symmetries, fugal restatements of a theme. I thought Canon White’s bizarre and engaging dialectics, both spiritual and ethnic, was worth a DoubleQuote:

— but you really need to hear White’s deadpan delivery of those lines to fully appreciate the humor.


Pattern: There is no X without Y

Saturday, June 21st, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- a DoubleQuote in two YouTube videos ]

Today I’ll offer two YouTube videos that beg to be considered together — or at least, I think they do. Why? because they each suggest an “essential ingedient” in life, and that ingredient is very different in the two cases.

First, the bad news:

That’s quite a “call to arms” — and one possible response to it is a similar call made by Joel Richardson on his Joel’s Trumpet blog:

Dear fellow Christians, I would like you all to click here to watch the latest ISIS recruitment video, and tell me what modern Christian movement or expression matches the zeal and commitment of this Satanic movement? Its going to take something far greater than what we are doing right now. Its going to take a prayer and missions movement unlike anything we have seen to date. Its going to take a return to the early Church theology of the cross and martyrdom. Its going to take a genuine Global Jesus Revolution.

That same Joel Richardson, however, also brings some good news:

I explained to my host that unless a supernatural man bursts forth from the sky in glory, there is absolutely nothing that the world needs to worry about with regard to Christian end-time beliefs. Christians are called to passively await their defender. They are not attempting to usher in His return.

So at least from Joel’s perspective, violence is not within the ambit of his Global Jesus Revolution. Others may not concur.


Okay, now for the good news:

I suppose I not only enjoy the heck out of this video — I also wonder about it.

How similar, and how different, is the enthusiasm of the largely-Muslim Malinke tribespeople here from that of the ISIS recruits depicted in the video above? Both are of Muslim origin, one from the Sudi Marabout traditions of West Africa, and the other from brutal Zarqawist Salafi-jihadism…

Are they both joyful, or is one filled with fear and anger? And does the different in Islamic tradition explain the difference — between destruction and dance?


Awlaqi died before ISIS was born, yet…

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- an eerily prescient video? ]

The title of this recent video, Sheikh Anwar Awlaki Speaking about The Islamic State of Iraq and Al Sham ISIS, is anachronistic — yet al-Awlaqi‘s topic has strong relevance today:


In my view, Awlaqi overlooks the probable fragmentation of the ISIS alliance, the depth of eventual Iraqi resistance to ISIS’ puritan rule, and the powerful forces already arraying themselves against their fledgling “caliphate”.

Thanks to Chris Anzalone for the pointer.


Connecting dots: Luther learns découpage from Bowie

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- from a British TV cop via teh glitter-glam rocker & William Burroughs -- a helpful analytic technique and its pre-history ]

You take your learnings where you find them. DCI Luther (in the BBC cop show, series 1 episode 4) has a great many data points — in this case, photos and maps.

He arranges them in a circle around his chair, squats, studies them, rearranges them. DS Ripley comes in…

For your convenience, here’s the exchange:

DS Ripley: What’s all this?
DCI Luther: Découpage, a cut-up technique. Take a bit of text, cut it up, randomise it, make new text, see new patterns.
DS Ripley: Where’d you learn this?
DCI Luther: David Bowie — it’s how he wrote his lyrics.
DS Ripley: Are you a fan?
DCI Luther: Don’t I look like a fan?
DS Ripley: What, of songs about, like, aliens and that?
DCI Luther: Well, there’s a bit more to him than aliens. I’ll make you a tape.

Randomize, to see new patterns.

Once again, it’s a near-instinctive move, but one worth sharpening into a tool. Take it out of the zone of tacit knowledge and bring it into the explicit.


Novelist William Burroughs learned the cut-up technique from that jack-of-all-arts, Bryon Gysin.

Interviewer: How did you become interested in the cut-up technique?

Wm Burroughs: A friend, Brion Gysin, an American poet and painter, who has lived in Europe for thirty years, was, as far as I know, the first to create cut-ups. His cut-up poem, Minutes to Go, was broadcast by the BBC and later published in a pamphlet. I was in Paris in the summer of 1960; this was after the publication there of Naked Lunch. I became interested in the possibilities of this technique, and I began experimenting myself. Of course, when you think of it, The Waste Land was the first great cut-up collage, and Tristan Tzara had done a bit along the same lines. Dos Passos used the same idea in ‘The Camera Eye’ sequences in USA. I felt I had been working toward the same goal; thus it was a major revelation to me when I actually saw it being done.

Bowie borrowed the cut-up from Burroughs and Gysin — glitter from the avant garde:

Burroughs had a technique that would enable Bowie to renew his entire method of writing lyrics and making music. During the early 1960s, Burroughs and his colleague, the painter and writer Brion Gysin, had developed the cut-up as a method of visual and verbal reassembly that was equally applicable to painting, montaged artworks, calligraphy, tape manipulation and the word. It offered, in fact, a whole new way of seeing.

Having read Burroughs’ cut-up novel Nova Express to prepare for the interview, Bowie applied the technique to the words and sound of his next album, the darkly dystopian Diamond Dogs – a fusion of Burroughs and George Orwell. The cut-up, as he admitted later, perfectly suited his own fragmented consciousness, and also enabled him to cut through the tangle of expectation and image that threatened to slow him down. It sped everything up.

Here’s Bowie:

You take your learnings where you find them.

Randomize, to see new patterns.



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    The destruction of the Shrine of Uways in Raqqa, Syria

    Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron -- the destruction by ISIS of the shrine of a remarkable Muslim saint, to be followed by a glimpse of the man himself ]

    First, the destruction of the shrine of Uways in Raqqa:


    I am not sure when the picture was taken, but it was clearly before the next two…

    Immediately before:


    These are two shots from a four-shot sequence from an ISIS video, which Aaron Zelin tweeted on 15 May and which you can watch as an animated .gif also dated the 15th here.


    Perhaps the most devastating record of the aftermath is found in this video, posted on May 16th on a site titled Chechens in Syria:

    The video was accompanied by the following commentary:

    Russian-speaking jihadis linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and as-Sham have posted footage of a Shia mosque in Raqqa that was bombed by ISIS in March. Social media accounts run by the Chechen and Russian-speaking pro-ISIS group behind FiSyria, a website linked to Umar Shishani’s faction in ISIS, posted the three and a half minute video on Thursday.

    The video shows the ruins of the Ammar bin Yasir and Uwais al-Qarani Mosque in Raqqa, a Shia mosque which was all but destroyed when ISIS detonated bombs inside it on March 11. The mosque, a pilgrimage site for Shia Muslims, was built with support from Iran. The text accompanying the video says the mosque was a place of “shirk” (polytheism or idolatry).

    The video also shows footage of the area around the mosque, where pickup trucks with ISIS fighters are driving past.

    The date of the attack, then, was apparently March 11.

    Confusing the timeline somewhat, ARA News reported from Urfa, Turkey with a dateline May 16, 2014 :

    Al-Qaeda splinter group of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) bombed on Thursday the shrine of Uwais al-Qarni (a religious shrine of the Shiite Islamic sect) in Raqqa province, northeast Syria. Faisal Khalif, a resident of Raqqa, confirmed to ARA News that the ISIL militants destroyed a part of the shrine’s building on March 26, “and it was fully destroyed at seven o’clock this morning, after filling it with explosives”.

    And today, 19th May, the AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA) posted a report titled Foreign-backed Takfiri terrorists operating in Syria destroyed a Shia shrine in the northern province of Raqqa:

    Foreign-backed Takfiri terrorists operating in Syria destroyed a Shia shrine in the northern province of Raqqa. The armed insurgents attacked the shrine of Uwais al-Qarani in yet another vicious act that they have demonstrated since the beginning of the foreign-hatched conflict in Syria. Raqqa province has been under the control of a Takfiri group known as the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) recently. In March, militants from an al-Qaeda splinter group have bombed a large Shia Muslim shrine in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa. Photos of the mosque of Ammar bin Yasir and Uwais al-Qarani posted on the internet showed extensive damage to the exterior walls and roof of the site.


    In a follow-up post, I hope to indicate something of the fascinating man, Uways, whose tomb this was.


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