zenpundit.com » europe

Archive for the ‘europe’ Category

Seventy Years Ago…..

Friday, June 6th, 2014

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers in arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened, he will fight savagely.

But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man to man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our home fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to victory!

I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory!

Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

– Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, June 6, 1944   

My fellow Americans: Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.
And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest-until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home – fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas – whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them – help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

Many people have urged that I call the Nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

Give us strength, too – strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

And, O Lord, give us Faith. Give us Faith in Thee; Faith in our sons; Faith in each other; Faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogancies. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister Nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God.

Amen.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, June 6, 1944 

The men who landed at Normandy seventy years ago when they were young saved the West from Nazi tyranny. They are now all very old and for the most part, frail and far fewer of them will be with us ten years hence to commemorate the eightieth anniversary of D-Day. They were not like the fabled generation of the Civil War, their only peers in American history, whose “hearts were touched by fire”. The GI Generation, unlike their great- grandfathers were not kindled by fire, they were summoned by duty; danger appeared of the greatest order and they shouldered the burden and defeated the enemy utterly.

Utterly. How many in all history can make that boast from the Walls of Troy to the villages of Paktia?

Furthermore, they were not conquerors with a bloody sword bearing chains for slaves, but liberators whose victory changed the course of world history for human freedom.

Even fewer can boast of that.

Share

Norway’s “cultural Christian” crusader revisited

Friday, May 30th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- a minor incongruity? -- Breivik and Wallander ]
.

**

This is a quick (I wish) note about something that caught my eye — a character in the British (Kenneth Branagh) version of Wallander is decribed as a “cultural Christian” when he’s in significants way about as far from what Anders Breivik meant when he called himself a “cultural Christian” as one can imagine.

The question this raises for me is whether the phrase has a single clear meaning — and the English Wallander series simply mangled it — or whether perhaps in Scandinavian society it has a wider meaning, and Breivik was limiting it for his own purposes. Let’s start with Wallander:

**

The novel Before the Frost, by Henning Mankell, opens with a Prologue about Jim Jones and his Peoples’ Church in Guyana where 909 people died in 1978 after “drinking the Kool-aid” — meaning both a cyanide laced drink with bullet chasers for any who were reluctant to participate, and the alternate and aberrant version of Christianity which Jim Jones preached — but no mention that I can see of Heaven’s Gate, the group led by Marshall Applewhite which suicided in 1977 to attain a “level of existence above human” in the trail of the comet Hale-Bopp.

.

.

No matter, there’s a Heaven’s Gate reference (see above) in the Kenneth Branagh version of Before the Frost, in Wallander, series 3 episode 3, which is the version that caught my eye, and gave rise to this post.

**

We thus have two clear historical “cult suicide” references, each adding a touch of realism to a narrative that begins with the burning of some swans, and in the TV version includes a Bible with the Book of Revelation heavily marked up, and at least one tract –

.

.

— about Leviticus 20.13, which reads:

If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

— a narrative which ends with a series of self-immolations by members of a wayward church, each one accompanied by a “confession” that the member in question is dying to atone for some specific sin committed by others, accompanied by such words as:

Two of them were burned alive in the fiery lake of burning sulphur, the rest of them were killed by the sword that came out of the rider on the horse. And all the birds gorged themselves on the flesh. I confess to murder. I am sacrificing myself for the sins of others. I am doing this in the name of Him who was dead and rose again.

Note that it wasn’t swans that were “burned alive in the fiery lake” in the original context. The King James Version gives Revelation 19 verses 20-21 as reading:

And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.

**

The group portrayed here as “culturally Christian” in this episode of the Wallander series is a group with a fixation on the inerrancy not only of the Biblical text but of their own particular and peculiar interpretation of it and their own aberrant and abhorrent way of expressing that interpretation.

How different that is from Anders Breivik‘s version of “cultural Christianity” in his Manifesto, prepared before the 2011 slaughter of 77 in Oslo and Utoya, Norway.

Section 3.139 of Breivik’s 2083 European Declaration of Independence, Distinguishing between cultural Christendom and religious Christendom – reforming our suicidal Church, reads:

A majority of so called agnostics and atheists in Europe are cultural conservative Christians without even knowing it. So what is the difference between cultural Christians and religious Christians?

If you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God then you are a religious Christian. Myself and many more like me do not necessarily have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God. We do however believe in Christianity as a cultural, social, identity and moral platform. This makes us Christian.

A majority of Christians, especially liberal, humanist Christians oppose the doctrines of self defence. I believe that self defence is a central part of Christianity as documented in another part of this book. The modern day pacifist Christianity is among other things a result of our current regimes and their deliberate influence of the Church. They castrated and made the Church impotent and irrelevant, we will rejuvenate it by implementing our own reforms. But pragmatism will be the basis for which direction we chose to go. A strong church (on certain areas) is essential for the unity of our European countries.

It is essential that we preserve and even strengthen the Church and European Christendom in general (by awarding it more political influence on certain areas), when it comes to the moral, cultural and social aspects of society. It should even be granted monopoly on certain areas to strengthen European cohesion/unity. This does not mean that we will continue allow the feminist-liberal, humanist faction of the Church to propagate its pacifist-humanist (suicidal) views/anti self defence doctrines. The Church must be anti-pacifist in the manner that it actively preaches self-defence and even support preemptive strikes as a mechanic to safeguard either Christian minorities in Muslim dominated areas or even Europe itself. We must ensure that a sustainable and traditional version of Christendom is propagated. This will involve that we take decisive steps to disallow the liberal leaders of the church to prevent them from committing suicide. We must ensure that the churches of Europe propagate an values that are sustainable and that will even contribute to safeguard Christian European values long term. European Christendom and the cross will be the symbol in which every cultural conservative can unite under in our common defence. It should serve as the uniting symbol for all Europeans whether they are agnostic or atheists.

The pacifist/suicidal Christians must never be allowed to dominate the church again which one of the reasons why I personally believe that the protestant Church in Europe should once again should reform to become Catholic (Nordic countries, the UK, Germany, Benelux etc). Re-introduction of cultural and Church aspects relating to honour should be the core of our objective when reforming the Church. My hope is that the future nationalist leadership in Western European countries will agree. At the very least, we must support the conservative, anti-pacifist cultural Christian leaders and ensure that they are able to influence the European churches. There must however be clear distinctions. The Church must not put any limits whatsoever on issues relating to science, research and development. Europe will continue to be the world’s center for research and development in all areas, strengthened by a predictable and “unchangeable” cultural framework. This again will considerably strengthen European and societal cohesion and therefore contribute to sustainable societies where harmony, progress, freedom and the furtherance of mankind are the primary civilisational pillars.

No Biblical inerrancy there — indeed, Breivik’s “cultural Christianity” is entirely compatible with a similar version of Hinduism, which he also endorses. It is Islam that he perceives as a threat, repulsed from Christendom once by Charles Martel at the Battle of Tours, and again at the Gates of Vienna — with Europe now exposed to a third wave of assault by its own fondness for muticuluralism and its resulting inability to perceive the very real threat that Islam in his view represents…

**

Breivik’s “The Church must not put any limits whatsoever on issues relating to science, research and development” is a far cry from Wallander’s sect, a member of which was booted out of the school where he taught, for attempting to present the creationist view in a biology class…

So. Breivik is Norwegian, and wrote his manifesto in English. Henning Mankell, the author of the Wallander novels, is Swedish, and his novels have been brought into Enlgish and transformed into dramatic scripts for the TV Series. I don’t believe the words “cultural Christian” are to be found in the English translation of the novel, Before the Frost. But I do think I’ll be checking closely to see what meaning of the phrase is intended, if I run across it again in my studies of new religious movements, terrorists and other outliers.

It appears to be somewhat more ambiguous than I’d thought at first.

Share

A Brief Comment on Ukraine vs. Russia

Friday, March 14th, 2014

[by Mark Safranski, a.k.a "zen"]

Russia, borrowing a tactic used by the Soviets with unruly satellites, has massed a fair amount of troops on the eastern border of Ukraine under the guise of “military exercises”

This has spurred much commentary and articles, hawkish and dovish, about what America or NATO can do or not do, as in the Carlo Davis article in The New Republic magazine or Condoleeza Rice writing in WaPo.

In my view, neither America or NATO or even Russia are not the crucial in this moment. The major variable here in deciding what the US should do or not do in terms of policy and strategy are the Ukrainians.

The overriding question is political: Are the Ukrainians willing to fight and kill Russians to preserve their national independence? That’s the key. Are the security services and Ukrainian military loyal, not just to the government but to the idea of an independent Ukraine? Arguably, the behavior of the chief of Ukraine’s Black Sea fleet makes this questionable – is he indicative of his generational cohort’s attitude or not? All the military and IC capacity in the world on paper matters little if the Ukrainian military and security agencies opt for “neutrality” between Moscow and Kiev. And if they are indeed loyal then Putin’s saber rattling will require a tenfold increase in troops to move into Eastern Ukraine and he can expect that his pipelines will be destroyed, buildings in Moscow and St. Petersburg blown up and his officials at risk for assassination as Ukrainian infiltrators are about as easy to distinguish from native Russians as Canadians are from Americans.

If Ukraine is serious about fighting then the US and its Western allies can have a rational planning session about what concrete measures will make their fighting capacity more effective and make Russia’s secondary costs high enough to give Putin pause without triggering a direct military clash between NATO and Russia (why we are surprised and chagrined that NATO is not a good for preventing problems which *by design* it was not created to prevent or solve escapes me).

The best options until we have some clarity on Ukraine’s real intentions are to strengthen Ukraine’s new government by helping it take measures that increase its stability and legitimacy in the eyes of wary eastern Ukrainians and the world community while making it clear through a united western front that Russia’s economy will suffer if it invades Ukraine – this means the EU and states like Britain and Germany will share in the pain and not off-load the crisis onto America alone while cutting lucrative side deals with Putin ( the Europeans initial preferred course of action and one doomed to be as fruitless as Putin leading the diplomatic charge to reverse an American seizure of Baja California from Mexico).

Europeans allegedly wanted Ukraine in the EU, now they need to roll up their sleeves and accept significant costs of engaging in counter-pressure. Rhetoric is not enough.

Share

More on the Black Madonna — Poland, Bibliography, Carl Jung

Sunday, March 9th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- some background and pointers, a glimpse of how Eastern-rite Christians feel about their icons, some Einstein, & some implications re my games ]
.

I have to admit I was startled by the sheer power — visual and musical — of the ritual depicted below, performed daily at 6am, of the unveiling of the statue of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa, Poland:
.


.

**

Here’s the commentary that accompanies that video on YouTube — scholarly accuracy not guaranteed:

The shrine of Czestochowa is found in the heart of Poland. A highlight of Marian devotion, it attracts four to five million pilgrims each year from 80 countries worldwide. The icon of the Black Madonna and Child goes back to medieval tradition. According to historians, the painting follows the model of Byzantine iconography: it is an “Odigitria” icon, that is to say, the image of “one that points out and guides all along the path”. A legend attributes the creation of this painting to St. Luke, who was a contemporary of Mary, and so could reproduce her true image.

In 1382 the icon was brought to the hill of Jasna Gora, which means “Bright Mountain” in Polish and overlooks Czestochowa. At Prince Wladyslaw of Opole’s initiative, a hilltop monastery was built for the Pauline monks. The Child’s face is turned towards the pilgrim. But Her gaze is elsewhere, as if looking into the distance, beyond time and space. Both the Mother and the Son seemed immersed in thought, yielding an aura of wisdom. The brown color of their skin contrasts with the bright surroundings. Mary shows the Child Jesus to the pilgrim, and the Christ Child holds a book in one hand, and with the other gives a simple yet noble gesture of blessing.

In every moment of difficulty of Poland, the population has huddled around the Black Madonna of Czestochowa and the child Jesus, this merely increases the influx of pilgrims. Even today, tens of thousands of people walk to the shrine each summer. The image is dark .. made even darker by the smoke of candles that continuously burn before the icon. Karol Wojtyla himself visited frequently as a pilgrimage to the shrine, especially in 1936, along with many other university students who pledged to build a new Poland with the help of the Virgin.

Prayer: “Our Lady of Czestochowa, Mother of God and our Mother, pray for us. Our Lady of Czestochowa, Mother of those who place their hope in Divine Providence, pray for us. Our Lady of Czestochowa, Mother of those who are deceived, pray for us. Our Lady of Czestochowa, Mother of those who are betrayed, pray for us. Our Lady of Czestochowa, Mother of those who are imprisoned, pray for us. Our Lady of Czestochowa, Mother of those who suffer from cold, pray for us. Our Lady of Czestochowa, Mother of those who are afraid, pray for us. Our Lady of Czestochowa, Poland Mother of the suffering, pray for us. Our Lady of Czestochowa, Poland Mother of the faithful, pray for us. Pray for us, Our Lady of Czestochowa, That we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.”

**

There are many examples of Black Madonna figures — Jungian analyst Ean Begg enumerated almost 500 of them across Europe in his book on the topic in 1985 (revised, 2006), and they have been of considerable interest (among others) to Begg and other analytical psychologists in the tradition of Carl Jung and James Hillman — and an extensive Annotated Bibliography for Books on Black Madonnas exists.

Jung made a speciality of the murky regions of the psyche where imagery and imagination prevail over verbalism and ratiocination — the region in which Coleridge located the “hooks and eyes of memory” and from which Einstein‘s thoughts originated, as he noted in his celebrated letter to Jacques Hadamard.

**

Might as well take Einstein seriously on this matter:

The words or the language, as they are written or spoken, do not seem to play any role in my mechanism of thought. The psychical entities which seem to serve as elements in thought are certain signs and more or less clear images which can be “voluntarily” reproduced and combined. There is, of course, a certain connection between those elements and relevant logical concepts. It is also clear that the desire to arrive finally at logically connected concepts is the emotional basis of this rather vague play with the above mentioned elements. But taken from a psychological viewpoint, this combinatory play seems to be the essential feature in productive thought – before there is any connection with logical construction in words or other kinds of sign, which can be communicated to others.

The above mentioned elements are, in my case, of visual and some of muscular type. Conventional words or other signs have to be sought for laboriously only in a secondary stage, when the mentioned associative play is sufficiently established and can be reproduced at will.

According to what has been said, the play with the mentioned elements is aimed to be analogous to certain logical connections one is searching for.

**

How many of our analysts are deeply versed in “this combinatory play” of images and kinesthetic experiences, below the threshold of conscious thought — and scholarship?

“Combinatory play” — “the essential feature in productive thought” — “analogous to certain logical connections one is searching for” — does any of that remind me of those games I was describing just yesterday, using graphs as game-boards [1, 2]?

**

Ritual, dream, music, myth, play — these are the places where we most richly encounter our own deepest insights and creative possibilities. Religion, at times, captures and holds these themes with a psychological intensity that it is unwise to overlook.

The Black Madonna — in Poland, in Ukraine, in legend and in the hearts of people — is one of those themes.

Share

New Article at War on the Rocks

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

I have a new op-ed up this morning on the Crimean crisis over at War on the Rocks:

Let’s Slow Roll Any Move Toward Crimean War II:

One of the more curious implicit assumptions about the crisis in Ukraine is that the subsequent occupation of the Crimea by Russia represents some kind of triumph for President Vladimir Putin and a defeat for the United States. It is a weird, strategic myopia that comes from an unrealistic belief that the United States should be expected to have a granular level of political control over and responsibility for events on the entire planet. We don’t and never can but this kind of political megalomania leads first to poor analysis and then worse policies.

Far from being entitled to do a victory lap, Putin’s mishandling of Ukraine has dealt Moscow a strategic defeat. With artful bullying and a $15 billion bribe, Putin had pulled off a diplomatic coup by getting President Victor Yanukovych to reverse Ukraine’s nearly finalized deal with the European Union and align itself vaguely with Russia and Putin’s shabby League of Eurasian Dictators. This would have been a tremendous strategic win for Russia to have Ukraine with its rich resources and key geographic location not only well-disposed to Moscow, but as a compliant satellite. Much like Belarus, Ukraine would have been isolated from the West and dependent upon Russia.

….While Russia’s occupation of Crimea merits condemnation and pressure from the world community, including the EU and the United States, the rush in some quarters to make this crisis into a military standoff between Russia and NATO instead of focusing on measures to quickly stabilize the new pro-Western government in Kiev is ill-advised and strategically unwise….

Read the rest here

Share

Switch to our mobile site