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Christianity, culture, compassion, camels — and their shadows too

Saturday, August 22nd, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — by way of TS Eliot, Mario Vargas Llosa and others, and leading to a post on camels and their shadows ]
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limits of compassion

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In the year I was born, 1943, TS Eliot published a series of essays titled Notes Toward the Definition of Culture in the New English Weekly. Mario Vargas Llosa supposedly references Eliot’s essays in his own Notes on the Death of Culture: Essays on Spectacle and Society — which Joshua Cohen then distills into this paragraph:

Eliot defines culture as existing in, and through, three different spheres: that of the individual, the group or class, and the entire rest of society. Individuals’ sensibilities affiliate them with a group or class, which doesn’t have to be the one they’re born into. That group or class proceeds to exercise its idea of culture on society as a whole, with the elites — the educated and artists, in Eliot’s ideal arrangement — ­leveraging their access to the media and academia to influence the tastes of the average citizen, and of the next ­generation too. As for what forms the individual, it’s the family, and the family, in turn, is formed by the church: “It is in Christianity that our arts have developed,” Eliot writes; “it is in Christianity that the laws of Europe have — until recently — been rooted.”

I’m not sure of the bibliographic details here, but you’ll note the similarity of Eliot’s claim in quote marks above to certain claims made concerning America in recent years — and indeed, to others in Anders Breivik‘s Manifesto.

It’s the concept of culture as comprised of the sensibilities of individuals, groups and society that first and most interests me here, though — and the significance of family, and I’m hoping Michael Lotus will have something to say about that.

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Here’s more from Eliot:

It is in Christianity that our arts have developed; it is in Christianity that the laws of Europe — until recently — have been rooted. It is against a background of Christianity that all of our thought has significance. An individual European may not believe that the Christian faith is true, and yet what he says, and makes, and does will all spring out of his heritage of Christian culture and depend upon that culture for its meaning .. I do not believe that culture of Europe could survive the complete disappearance of the Christian faith. And I am convinced of that, not merely because I am a Christian myself, but as a student of social biology. If Christianity goes, the whole culture goes.

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Now take a cool sip of water to cleanse the palate..

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This may nor may not seem to resonate with Eliot’s ideas:

Slovakia prefers its desperate refugees to be Christians, please

Slovakia would prefer to accept Christian refugees under a European plan to resettle people who have fled from wars and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, the Interior Ministry said on Thursday.

The Central European country will take 100 people from refugee camps in Turkey and 100 people from Italy, preferably Christians, a ministry spokesman said.

“We want to choose people who really want to start a new life in Slovakia. Slovakia as a Christian country can really help Christians from Syria to find new home in Slovakia,” spokesman Ivan Netik said.

“For most migrants we are only a transit country. In Slovakia we have really tiny community of Muslims. We even dont have mosques.”

If Muslim asylum-seekers chose Slovakia, they would not be discriminated against, he said. But Slovakia would not take in refugees who did not want to stay in the country but intended to move on.

“We do not discriminate against any religion, but it would be a false, insincere solidarity if we took people .. who dont want to live in Slovakia,” he said.

That. btw, is the most nuanced version of the Slovakian response to the refugees I’ve seen.

Comnpassion? A conceptual radius of compassion?

Are there, should there be, limits to compassion?

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In an upcoming post on the shadows of camels, I’ll explain my overall intent in posting such items as this one — and it is not to suggest that Breivik is the same as Slovakia, or Eliot the same as Breivik, or Christianity across Europe equivalent to camels or the shadows of camels across the desert.. nor that compassion should or should not have a radius, conceptual or otherwise.

Easily the best

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — for sheer quality, informed conversation between bright people on topics of interest is hard to beat ]
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Daveed Gartenstein-Ross:

Chautauqua have indicated that they expect to host Daveed’s discussion with Husain Haqqani on their YouTube channel. Haqqani told me he would “indeed” be discussing the Ghazwa e-Hind at Chautauqua. I can’t wait to see this!

JM Berger:

In August, Perspectives on Terrorism launched a special all-ISIS issue edited by Thomas Hegghammer. The issue was derived from a research conference in Oslo earlier this year, which I was fortunate enough to attend. It was easily the most interesting conference I’ve ever been to, and every panel had something important to share. The resulting papers are among the most serious research on the Islamic State to date, and I highly recommend the issue. The individual articles are listed below, and the whole issue can be found here.

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My own preference, naturally enough, is for the conference Richard Landes organized on Apocalyptic Hopes, Millennial Dreams and Global Jihad. JM Berger was among the speakers. The entire set of conference videos can be found on Richard’s Augean Stables blog.

Temple Mount / Noble Sanctuary: an explosive situation

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — “the most contested piece of real-estate on earth” ]
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On the one hand:

On the other..

End-Time Battle for the Temple Mount

As Jews fasted on Tisha B’Av (Av 9) mourning the destruction of the First and Second Temples, hundreds of Jewish visitors made pilgrimage to the Temple site.

In preparation for Jews visiting the Mount on the annual fast, armed Muslim youth barricaded themselves in the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Several dozen Arab masked rioters attacked Israeli police, hurling rocks and setting off fireworks into the crowd of responders, wounding several officers.

After defusing the situation and arresting three to six participants, Israeli police found a trove of makeshift weapons in the Al-Aqsa Mosque — Molotov cocktails, firecrackers, concrete blocks, stones, and planks, with which they planned to attack Jewish mourners. [ .. ]

One of those mourners was Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, who has in the past emphasized that there is a “need to build a real Temple on the Temple Mount.”

scripturally..

Isaiah 2:2–3:

In the last days, the mountain of the Lord’s Temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the Temple of the God of Jacob.”

and / or..

Qur’an 17.1:

Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from al-Masjid al-haram to al-Masjid al-Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing.

and in not unrelated news:

Israel Detains Meir Kahane’s Grandson, a Scion of Jewish Militancy

He has the pedigree: Meir Ettinger is a grandson and the namesake of Meir Kahane, the slain American-Israeli rabbi considered the father of far-right Jewish militancy. [ .. ]

He also has the ideology: In a series of Bible-quoting blog posts that amount to a manifesto, Mr. Ettinger calls for the “dispossession of gentiles” who inhabit the Holy Land and the replacement of the modern Israeli state with a new “kingdom of Israel” ruled by the laws of the Torah.

“The key is not to seek to delay the explosion,” he wrote on July 22, “but to try to bring it on as soon as possible and on our own initiative.”

A very bright future

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — an Ahmadinejad revival, and if so a reference to note? ]
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It could be no more than an artifact of translation, but there’s a phrase in this account of a possible Mahmoud Ahmadinejad comeback that catches my attention:

“God willing, victory and a very bright future awaits us. However, there will be bumps and satanic obstacles in our path,” the diminutive former leader, sporting his trademark close-cropped beard and sports coat, told some 400 supporters in Tehran. “One should not forget that the U.S. is our enemy.”

It’s those two words, bright future, that caught my attention.

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I’m reminded of the Bright Future Institute in Qom:

The Bright Future Institute was established in early 2004 by a number of scholars and masters of Islamic seminaries in the holy city of Qom with a view to develop the culture of Intizaror Awaiting Imam Mahdi a.s and to increase the knowledge about him both in iranand abroad by supporting research and cultural works of other scholars. this institute is a non-profit making, independent research centre which promotes efforts to reject wrong ideas about imam Mahdi by holding discussion sessions and also by preparing scientific answers to respond to superstitions surrounding him.

Scott Peterson, in his book Let the Swords Encircle Me: Iran, A Journey Behind the Headlines, explains (p. 307):

Launched in 2004, the Bright Future Institute in Qom was the eighth of its kind in Iran designed to study and even speed the Mahdi’s return. It quickly became the largest and most influential. “People are anxious to know: When and how will he rise? And what must they do in order to receive this worldwide salvation?” explained Ali Lari, a keen-eyed cleric at the Bright Future Institute. “The timing is not clear, but the conditions are more specific. There is a saying: ‘Whenever the students are ready, the teacher will come.’”

A Mahdist think tank! This is the outfit that Tim Furnish visited for one of their earler Mahdism conferences.

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Back to the possible Ahmadinejad revival. I don’t know that it will amount to anything, and my guess would not be worth much in any case — but if the ex-President does in fact manage a revival, and if that translated phrase wasn’t in fact just an artifact of translation, then “God willing, victory and a very bright future awaits us” is a Mahdist reference, and wpould be quite clearly such to Ahmadinejad’s supporters.

Not too surprising, but worth this brief note, I think.

Two new collections from Tim Furnish, plus two

Friday, July 31st, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — a chance to have Tim Furnish’s recent writings in book form, plus a couple of recent apocalyptic issues bcoz apocalypse hasn’t gone away, oh no ]
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Friend, blog friend and colleague Dr Tim Furnish recently tweeted:

I hope to review these two volumes of Tim’s essays here on Zenpundit.

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Plus Two:

While we’re on the topic of apocalypse..

Sara A. Carter of the American Media Institute posted on the 28th on USA Today:

Islamic State recruitment document seeks to provoke ‘end of the world’

An apparent Islamic State recruitment document found in Pakistan’s lawless tribal lands reveals that the extremist group has grand ambitions of building a new terrorist army in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and triggering a war in India to provoke an Armageddon-like “end of the world.”

The 32-page Urdu-language document obtained by American Media Institute (AMI) and reviewed by USA TODAY details a plot to attack U.S. soldiers as they withdraw from Afghanistan and target American diplomats and Pakistani officials.

AMI obtained the document from a Pakistani citizen with connections inside the Pakistani Taliban and had it independently translated from Urdu by Harvard researcher and translator Mustafa Samdani. The Pakistani’s identity was shared with USA TODAY, which has agreed not to identify him publicly because of concerns for his safety.
The document was reviewed by three U.S. intelligence officials, who said they believe the document is authentic based on its unique markings and the fact that language used to describe leaders, the writing style and religious wording match other documents from the Islamic State, also known as ISIL and ISIS. They asked to remain anonymous because they are not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

The undated document, titled “A Brief History of the Islamic State Caliphate (ISC), The Caliphate According to the Prophet,” seeks to unite dozens of factions of the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban into a single army of terror. It includes a never-before-seen history of the Islamic State, details chilling future battle plans, urges al-Qaeda to join the group and says the Islamic State’s leader should be recognized as the sole ruler of the world’s 1 billion Muslims under a religious empire called a “caliphate.”

“Accept the fact that this caliphate will survive and prosper until it takes over the entire world and beheads every last person that rebels against Allah,” it proclaims. “This is the bitter truth, swallow it.”

Retired Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who also reviewed the document, said it “represents the Islamic State’s campaign plan and is something, as an intelligence officer, I would not only want to capture, but fully exploit. It lays out their intent, their goals and objectives, a red flag to which we must pay attention.”

That. friends, is the Ghazwa e-Hind, which we’ve been discussing on occasion here on Zenpundit for several years:

  • http://zenpundit.com/?p=4462
  • http://zenpundit.com/?p=12683
  • http://zenpundit.com/?p=12756
  • http://zenpundit.com/?p=20592
  • http://zenpundit.com/?p=31402
  • http://zenpundit.com/?p=44267
  • Look for Tim Furnish to have more to say about this document and its implications

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    And…

    from a Jewish source quoted and discussed in the Times of israel on March 11 this year — yes, I’m playing catch up here — comes an apocalyptic call for two nuclear attacks — with a specific reference to the coming of the Messiah in the final paragraph:

    Op-ed calls on Israel to nuke Germany, Iran<

    Right-wing media outlet Israel National News published an opinion piece Tuesday calling on Israel to launch nuclear bombs at Iran and Germany, only days after the outlet came under fire for publishing a piece accusing a war widow of killing her husband over her pro-peace views.

    In the opinion article published Tuesday, the author claims that only through nuclear annihilation of Iran and Germany, with 20 or 30 nuclear bombs each, can Israelis prevent the state’s destruction.

    “If Israel does not walk in the ways of God’s Bible,” author Chen Ben-Eliyahu wrote in Hebrew, “it will receive a heavy punishment of near complete destruction and doom and only a few will be saved.”

    One of Israel’s missions is to remember the crimes of Amalek, a tribe representative of pure evil in the Bible, whom Jews are commanded to obliterate. Among those descended from the band, the author writes, are Iranian leaders Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and current President Hassan Rouhani.

    “They don’t miss an opportunity to discuss the need for the annihilation of Israel,” he wrote.

    To combat this Israel must respond in kind, Ben-Eliyahu declared. “To an existential threat we must respond with an existential threat,” he wrote, “not with speeches in Congress. We must make it clear to the Iranians that Israel will wipe out their nuclear program and Tehran and Isfahan as well.”

    “If [an enemy] rises up to destroy you, rise earlier to destroy him: twenty, thirty nuclear bombs will do to assure the job gets done,” he continued.

    He also called on the Jewish people to remember its near destruction at the hands of the Nazis and exact revenge on Germany, now a staunch ally of Israel.

    When the Messiah comes, Ben-Eliyahu wrote, Israel will reverse the Final Solution. “Twenty, thirty atomic bombs on Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Nuremberg, Cologne, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Dresden, Dortmund and so on to assure the job gets done. And the land will be quiet for a thousand years,” he wrote.

    Of note here: The phrase rendered here “If [an enemy] rises up to destroy you, rise earlier to destroy him” is not a remark of Ben-Eliyahu — he is quoting the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 72a:

    Im ba l’hargekha, hashkem l’hargo

    variously translated “If he come to slay thee, forestall by slaying him<" in the Soncino edition and more colloquially "If someone comes to kill you, rise up and kill him (first)" on the AJC site.


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