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Reverse psychology, sort of — with an apocalyptic vengeance

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — negative hope in light of an eventual (hoped for) positive outcome ]
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The particulars here have to do with the SCOTUS ruling on same-sex marriage, but what interests me is the combination of eschatological expectation and the wish for the world to “slide from bad to worse” morally speaking..

Baptist pastor Clint Arthur:

It isn’t easy for Christians to identify a silver lining to Friday’s ruling that is worth celebration; unless you’re a premillennialist.

Whereas postmillennialism believes that Christ will return to earth when the gospel has triumphed over unbelief and conquered the globe, premillennialists aren’t holding their breath. Premills teach that the world will slide from bad to worse until it is so irrecoverably bad that only Jesus can fix it. That will be his cue to return and establish a rule of peace, righteousness, and sanity in the courts.

So, it is on days like this that I read with relish passages that others may dismiss as pessimistic. I prefer to see regress in society as a welcome sign that the Bible is accurate, and that Jesus is coming soon.

From both “rhetorical pattern” and “eschatological studies” points of view, that’s quite something to ponder.

Michael Cook Books — two for digestion and future review

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — my mind is enriched by the mere possession of these two works ]
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There are other books on my desk which I should read before either of these, books I am committed to reviewing or simply wish to review, but I can’t help casting the odd sneaky glance at these two books by Michael Cook — works of vast and impressive scholarship, each of them:

m cook

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  • Ancient Religions, Modern Politics: The Islamic Case in Comparative Perspective. 568 pages.
     
    From the blurb:

    Michael Cook takes an in-depth, comparative look at political identity, social values, attitudes to warfare, views about the role of religion in various cultural domains, and conceptions of the polity. In all these fields he finds that the Islamic heritage offers richer resources for those engaged in current politics than either the Hindu or the Christian heritages. He uses this finding to explain the fact that, despite the existence of Hindu and Christian counterparts to some aspects of Islamism, the phenomenon as a whole is unique in the world today. The book also shows that fundamentalism–in the sense of a determination to return to the original sources of the religion–is politically more adaptive for Muslims than it is for Hindus or Christians.

    From Martin Marty‘s review:

    This is a work of enormous erudition and considerable subtlety. Cook’s learning is vast, his insight profound, his treatment of sources fair. Ancient Religions, Modern Politics is a most impressive achievement.

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  • Commanding Right and Forbidding Wrong in Islamic Thought. 724 pages.
     
    From the blurb:

    What kind of duty do we have to try to stop others doing wrong? The question is intelligible in almost any culture, but few seek to answer it in a rigorous fashion. The most striking exception is found in the Islamic tradition where ‘commanding right and forbidding wrong’ is a central moral tenet. Michael Cook’s comprehensive and compelling analysis represents the first sustained attempt to map the history of Islamic reflection on this obligation and to explain its relevance for politics and ideology in the contemporary Islamic world.

    From Robert Irwin‘s review:

    [Cook’s] account of how injustice and immorality have been confronted by Muslim thinkers provides an unusual and fascinating perspective on the social history of Islam. It also furnishes an essential basis for understanding the roots of modern Islamic rigorism. This is one of the most important scholarly works dealing with Islam to have been produced in the western world in the last one hundred years.

    At 200 pages, Cook’s Forbidding Wrong in Islam: An Introduction is the “short” version

  • More recent words from the Forgiveness Chronicles

    Sunday, June 21st, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — a follow-on to my earlier piece about Coptic Christians and their forgiveness of IS butchery ]
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    From the courtroom in the Dylann Roof matter in Charleston:

    Lest we forget, from Copts in the wake of the mass martyrdom in Lebanon:

    I am in awe.

    Browsing in bin Laden’s library II

    Thursday, May 21st, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — following up on Browsing in bin Laden’s library ]
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    Marcy Wheeler at Salon reports of the ODNI’s Bin Laden’s Bookshelf (expanded form, .pdf) that “the categorization imposed by ODNI” consists “largely of overlapping categories of English-language materials worthy of a Jorge Luis Borges short story.

    Categories include:

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    The Borges “short story” referenced here isn’t in fact a short story but an essay, The Analytical Language of John Wilkins, which includes a classification system “which doctor Franz Kuhn attributes to a certain Chinese encyclopaedia entitled ‘Celestial Empire of benevolent Knowledge'”. Borges’ spurious taxonomy divides the animal kingdom into the following categories:

    (a) belonging to the emperor,
    (b) embalmed,
    (c) tame,
    (d) sucking pigs,
    (e) sirens,
    (f) fabulous,
    (g) stray dogs,
    (h) included in the present classification,
    (i) frenzied,
    (j) innumerable,
    (k) drawn with a very fine camelhair brush,
    (l) et cetera,
    (m) having just broken the water pitcher,
    (n) that from a long way off look like flies.

    Nicely observed, Marcy.

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    Of particular personal note considering my interest in games:

    Under the heading “Documents Probably Used by Other Compound Residents” we find listed:

  • Delta Force Extreme 2 Videogame Guide
  • Game Spot Videogame Guide
  • One wonders (idly) whether ODNI cannot believe OBL would play such games, or whether that classification was arrived at on the basis of the location in the compound where these materials were found.

    And given my interest in religion:

    Under the heading “Think Tank & Other Studies”:

  • Program for the Study of International Organizations (PSIO), “Hizb ut-Tahrir: The Next Al-Qaeda, Really?” by Jean-Francois Mayer (2004)
  • And under the heading “Other religious documents”:

    a treatise on Christianity by one Monqith Ben Mahmoud Assaqar PhD, titled Was Jesus crucified for our atonement? — which opens with the following (presumably post-doctoral) statement of scholarship-to-date:

    Praise to Allah (S.W) , the cherisher and sustainer of the worlds, and may peace and blessings be upon all of His messengers. In our previous parts of this series “True guidance and light series”, we have concluded and confirmed a plain truth, which is that the Holy Bible, as we have seen, is man work, and not the word of Allah (S.W) in any way. Thus, Christians cannot present it as evidence for any of their creeds or events, including the crucifixion and the Atonement.

    FWIW, reading this treatise will likely not have helped OBL in his quest for interfaith understanding.

    Role reversal — well, not quite

    Sunday, May 10th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — an astute PR move, i think — but still a slaughter of captives ]
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    It’s usually the men in balack (IS) who execute the men in orange (Copts) — upper panel, below — but this time there has been a reversal of the color code, with the men in orange (Jaysh a-Islam) executing the men in black (IS) — lower panel.

    SPEC DQ role reversal

    I think the Jaysh’s choice of orange jumpsuits on this occasion was likely in deliberate and ironic commentary on the IS images, as indeed the IS choice was a deliberate choice echoing the jumpsuits of Guantanamo.

    Note, though, that those executed in the upper panel were Christians, while the Jaysh is a Muslim outfit giving IS a taste of its own medicine. The Coptic Christians, by contrast, have been remarkably forgiving, treating the e=xecution of their own as a cause for gratitude at the faithfuoness of their martyrs.


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