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What you say on Twitter, stays on Twitter

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — plus a quick followup to my post on Political candidates and religion ]
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Also of interest:

to which Sarah Posner responded:

Politics as a cabinet of curiosities

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — see for yourselves — with a theological chaser, for what it’s worth ]
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I’ve been amused, educated, annoyed and entertained by political videos this week. Samples of what’s out there:

Ted Cruz endorsed by a Wild Man:

How Donald Trump talks, #1 — edited for emphasis:

How Trump talks, #2 — analyzed for (Fascinatingly efficient) technique:

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And perhaps most bizarre of all, Ted Cruz critiqued by Kathleen Parker:

Cruz had said:

If we awaken and energize the body of Christ– if Christians and people of faith come out and vote our values– we will win and we will turn the country around.

Parker comments:

One observation. I don’t know… this seems to have slipped through the cracks a little bit but Ted Cruz said something that I found rather astonishing. He said, you know, “It’s time for the body of Christ to rise up and support me.” I don’t know anyone who takes their religion seriously who would think that Jesus should rise from the grave and resurrect himself to serve Ted Cruz. I know so many people who were offended by that comment. And you know if you want to talk about grandiosity and messianic self-imagery I think he makes Ted Cruz makes Donald Trump look rather sort of like a gentle little lamb.

For the record, Paul makes it explicit in I Corinthians 12. 27 that the members of the Christian community have become the “body of Christ”:

Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

Parker exposes an ignorance of basic Christian doctrine, and in her lack of cultural awareness betrays the weak point of a journalism that lacks religious insight — a topic near and dear to me.

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It is clear that the Christ of the gospels anticipated the breaking of his body and spilling of his blood at the crucifixion, breaking bread which he termed “my body” and sharing a cup of wine at the Last Supper, inviting his disciples to eat and drink and thus partake of him, with a poetic precision that entailed their corporately digesting him and incorporating himself and his mission, body and mind, in themselves.

Yet while this is the record given in the three Synoptic gospels at Matt. 26. 26-29, Mark 14. 22-25 and Luke 22. 17-20, and indeed the foundation of the Eucharist, John’s gospel makes no mention of it. In its place, John offers the great prayer of union — this is my personal reading: I can’t speak for others, and I’m a poet first and foremost — which says in high poetry (John 17. 21-24) what the synoptics have expressed in metaphor:

That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

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. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.

Thus as Alan Watts puts it:

When there is dismemberment in the beginning there is remembrance at the end — that the fulfillment or consummation of the cosmic game is the discovery of what was covered and the recollection of what was scattered.

Thus the body is broken, blood spilled — but not before body and blood have been shared, ingested, digested — and where his single physical body was, the church — body of the bodies of his followers — remains, to perpetuate his task.

Oh, and did I mention the apocalypse / terror connection?

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — Robert Dear, a crazed? apocalyptic? Christian? terorist? — & what of William Blake? ]
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John Horgan commenting on Robert Dear:

Horgan on Dear

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Apocalyptic? Here’s Richard Faussett, For Robert Dear, Religion and Rage Before Planned Parenthood Attack, in the NYT today

In a sworn affidavit as part of her divorce case, Ms. Micheau described Mr. Dear as a serial philanderer and a problem gambler, a man who kicked her, beat her head against the floor and fathered two children with other women while they were together. He found excuses for his transgressions, she said, in his idiosyncratic views on Christian eschatology and the nature of salvation.

“He claims to be a Christian and is extremely evangelistic, but does not follow the Bible in his actions,” Ms. Micheau said in the court document. “He says that as long as he believes he will be saved, he can do whatever he pleases. He is obsessed with the world coming to an end.”

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Was William Blake crazy?

Beatrice Addressing Dante from the Car 1824-7 William Blake 1757-1827

In this month’s Literary Review, Nicholas Roe reviews Leo Damrosch, Eternity’s Sunrise: The Imaginative World of William Blake, and offers an anecdote about David Erdman, the editor of The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake and his psychologist wife:

I recall a conference twenty-five years ago at which the great scholar David Erdman was lecturing brilliantly on Blake’s poetry; in the audience his wife, Virginia, a distinguished clinical psychologist, leaned across to the person sitting next to her and observed, ‘I’ve never been able to convince David that Blake was completely mad.’

Terrorist?

The closest Blake came to terrorism was this, as reported in his Poetry Foundation bio:

Before Blake could leave Felpham and return to London, an incident occurred that was very disturbing to him and possibly even dangerous. Without Blake’s knowledge, his gardener had invited a soldier by the name of John Scofield into his garden to help with the work. Blake seeing the soldier and thinking he had no business being there promptly tossed him out. In a letter to Butts, Blake recalled the incident in detail:

I desired him, as politely as possible, to go out of the Garden; he made me an impertinent answer. I insisted on his leaving the Garden; he refused. I still persisted in desiring his departure; he then threaten’d to knock out my Eyes, with many abominable imprecations & with some contempt for my Person; it affronted my foolish Pride. I therefore took him by the Elbows & pushed him before me till I had got him out; there I intended to leave him, but he, turning about, put himself into a Posture of Defiance, threatening & swearing at me. I, perhaps foolishly & perhaps not, stepped out at the Gate, & putting aside his blows, took him again by the Elbows, &, keeping his back to me, pushed him forwards down the road about fifty yards–he all the while endeavouring to turn round & strike me, & raging & cursing, which drew out several neighbours….

What made this almost comic incident so serious was that the soldier swore before a magistrate that Blake had said “Damn the King” and had uttered seditious words. Blake denied the charge, but he was forced to post bail and appear in court.

Christian?

Theologian Thomas Altizer writes of Blake that “From the beginning, he rebelled against God, or against the God then present in Christendom” — perhaps thinking of Blake’s own words in The Everlasting Gospel:

THe vision of Christ that thou dost see
Is my vision’s greatest enemy.
Thine has a great hook nose like thine;
Mine has a snub nose like to mine.
Thine is the Friend of all Mankind;
Mine speaks in parables to the blind.
Thine loves the same world that mine hates;
Thy heaven doors are my hell gates.
Socrates taught what Meletus
Loath’d as a nation’s bitterest curse,
And Caiaphas was in his own mind
A benefactor to mankind.
Both read the Bible day and night,
But thou read’st black where I read white.

— and then calls him “the most radical of all modern Christian visionaries”, explaining that “no poet or seer before him had so profoundly sensed the cataclysmic collapse of the cosmos created by Western man” —

So yes, apocalyptic, too.

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Terrorist? Christian? Muslim? Artist? Mystic? Poet? Blasphemer?

Words strain, TS Eliot wrote, Crack and sometimes break, under the burden / Under the tension, slip, slide, perish, / Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place, / Will not stay still.

Early notes on McCants’ The ISIS Apocalypse

Sunday, November 29th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — a couple of grace-notes while I’m working on my review of Will McCants‘ book, The ISIS Apocalypse ]
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One:

My first note concerns the elegant way in which McCants‘ view of the changing state of IS eschatology as it has developed in practice conforms to Max Weber‘s theory of the routinization of charisma:

SPEC DQ Weber McCants

Toth, Toward a Theory of the Routinizationnof Charisma
McCants, p 147

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Two:

There are four sentences that fall in series in Will McCants’s Conclusion — three of a kind followed by one with a different quality to it. Each one ends a section, and the last ends the Conclusion as a whole:

  • This is not Bin Laden’s apocalypse.
  • This is not Bin Laden’s insurgency.
  • This is not Bin Laden’s caliphate.

  • This may not be Bin Laden’s jihad, but it’s a formula future jihadists will find hard to resist.
  • The relevant pages respectively are pp. 147, 151, 153, and 159.

    Two wrongs make a right or wrong — in theory?

    Sunday, November 15th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — on the (Pythagorean) arithmetic of morals ]
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    Extermination_of_Evil_Sendan_Kendatsuba 600

    Sendan Kendatsuba, one of the guardians of Buddhist law, banishing evil, Tokyo National Museum

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    What’s right is generally supposed to be positive, while what’s wrong is seen as negative — and as they saying goes, two wrongs don’t make a right.

    In effect, that’s saying two negatives don’t make a positive. And if you add them, that’s correct.

    But if you multiply two negatives, you get a positive — hunh?

    So two wrongs can indeed make a right — that’s the mathematics of vengeance — multiplicative:

    And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

    — Deuteronomy 19.13

    And it is also true that two wrongs don’t make a right — that’s a mathematics that denies vengeance — additive.

    And then there’s the mathematics of forgiveness :

    Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

    — Romans 12.21

    Patient men, desirous of the Face of their Lord, who perform the prayer, and expend of that We have provided them, secretly and in public, and who avert evil with good — theirs shall be the Ultimate Abode

    — Qur’an 13.22

    And what’s most interesting to me in all this, is that the mathematical formulations, additive and multiplicative alike, don’t make a feature of time — where as their moral equivalents tend to introduce time into the equation / situation — in each case, it’s the response to evil, real or potential, that is considered.


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