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Political candidates and religion

Monday, February 1st, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — responding properly to Tim Furnish ]
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Political candidates and religion is not quite the same as church and state — an issue on which, as a Brit living in the States, I am profoundly impressed both ways. However, religion in politics very much interests me, and in my news scan early this morning I noted this tweet:

To which I responded:

Tim Furnish picked up on this, and tweeted:

**

From my point of view, I think that’s both a fair question and a great DoubleQuotes opportunity, so I followed Tim’s lead to the NYT piece he was refering to, and the result, phrased in headlines, is as follows:

Cruz Clinton

Sources:

  • AP, Now deeply Christian, Cruz’s religion once wasn’t so obvious
  • NYT, Hillary Clinton Gets Personal on Christ and Her Faith
  • **

    For myself, I’m glad that Hillary Clinton “rarely talks about faith on the campaign trail” and that Ted Cruz‘s religion “once wasn’t so obvious”. Tithing as an obligation isn’t anything I worry about — the widow’s mite story gets to the heart of things, I think — and I’m a fan of reticence in matters of faith in any case:

    Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee

    pretty much puts the kybosh on publicity, methinks, as does:

    when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret..

    Similary, the second of MaimonidesEight levels of charity is this:

    to give to the poor without knowing to whom one gives, and without the recipient knowing from who he received. For this is performing a mitzvah solely for the sake of Heaven.

    And the Qur’an, Sura 76. 8-9, suggests:

    They give food, for the love of Him, to the needy, the orphan, the captive: “’We feed you only for the Face of God; we desire no recompense from you, no thankfulness..”

    I’m not dogmatically tied to these views, Tim, but I admire them greatly — IMO, there’s simply so much beauty in such advice!

    Juxtaposition: monks in Qur’an and in IS practice

    Sunday, January 24th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — I suppose you could call this a discrepancy between word and deed, talk and walk ]

    SPEC DQ monks

    No comment required, IMHO.

    Two-sided nuke-rattling against the ISIS third?

    Thursday, December 17th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — trying to catch up with posts here when working on book proposals ]
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    Consider these two statements made in recent days:

    SPEC DQ nukes ISIS

    How does a war game — or game theory, for that matter — deal with the differenes, similarities, or continuum between threats and exercises on the one hand, and the actions they threaten or game on the other?

    **

    I have eagerly forgotten what temperature a nuclear strike inflicts on its human victims, and just how quickly they arrive there from room temperature. A sahih (trustworthy) hadith found in Tirmidhi tells us that the Prophet reserved the burning of infidels for God in the hereafter, and rejected its use by his followers in carrying out a death sentence:

    That ‘Ali burnt some people who apostasized from Islam. This news reached Ibn ‘Abbas, so he said: “If it were me I would have killed them according to the statement of Messenger of Allah (saw). The Messenger of Allah (saw) said: ‘Whoever changes his religion then kill him.’ And I would not have burned them because the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: ‘Do not punish with the punishment of Allah.’ So this reached ‘Ali, and he said: “Ibn ‘Abbas has told the truth.”

    I lasck specific knowledge of contemporary commentary on this hadith, but it occurs to me that in the time of the early Muslim community’s war for survival, apostasy would be equivalent to desertion. The US sentence for desertion in time of war, to this day, is described thus in the US Manual for Courts-Martial:

    Any person found guilty of desertion or attempt to desert shall be punished, if the offense is committed in time of war, by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct,

    The death penalty for desertion in time of war was last administered by US authorities in 1945.

    **

    Don’t we have something pretty close to a taboo on the use of nuclear weaponry?

    What the PK Dickens?

    Thursday, November 26th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — conceptual echoes in a PK Dick bio-flick ]
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    PKD covers 600

    **

    I have just been watching Mark Steensland’s movie, The Gospel According to PK Dick, and a couple of fine parallelisms – echoes, really – struck me.

    I’m going to start with one quote from the Chuang Tzu which is so often quoted it has been dulled for me, like a few other very great very over-celebrated works, Beethoven’s Fifth, and Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor BWV 565, among them. Finding its echo in the words of Robert Anton Wilson in this film breathes new life into it, at least for me, for this moment.

    Chuang Tzu, then, from The Complete Works Of Chuang Tzu translated by Burton Watson:

    Once Chuang Chou dreamt he was a butterfly, a butterfly flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn’t know he was Chuang Chou. Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakable Chuang Chou. But he didn’t know if he was Chuang Chou who had dreamt he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he was Chuang Chou. Between Chuang Chou and a butterfly there must be some distinction! This is called the Transformation of Things.

    DoubleQuote that with Robert Anton Wilson in the movie:

    In 1994, I think it was, somebody put up on internet a report of my death, and no matter how much I’ve denied it, it seems most people accept that I’m still alive, but there’s a die hard minority who insists I’m dead and the CIA has replaced me with an android. And I’d be much happier if I’d never read Philip Dick, because I would just think, “Well, I know I’m not an android,” but having read Philip Dick I realized if I was an android who’s properly constructed, I’d think I am Robert Anton Wilson. So that leaves me perpetually in a predicament of not being sure that I’m Robert Anton Wilson or an android programmed to think it’s Rob– to think, talk, and write like Robert Anton Wilson. I guess I’m really grateful to Phil for that, it gives me a certain agnostic detachment, which I think is necessary for mental health.

    **

    The echo of Chuang Tzu in the words of Robert Anton Wilson occurs towards the beginning of the movie. Towards the end of the movie, we have Paul Williams, the “father of rock criticism” also talking about his friend PK Dick, who was also the subject of his celebrated 1974 Rolling Stone article:

    That particular, unique personality this is Philip K Dick arises, when you and I or the three of us, or any two or three readers of {Philip K Dick, or friends of his, or whatever, get together, then we have the opportunity, as in the ends of those stories, to actually experience his presence, and it’s uniquely him. And, uh, I appreciate that, and I appreciate that in that way, I still have him in my life. And that’s definitely quite a gift.

    DoubleQuote those words of Williams with these, from Matthew 18.20:

    For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

    **

    Gospel, indeed. and Tao, too.

    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

    **

    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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