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The key to the Bastille, Peter’s keys of binding and loosing..

Friday, July 14th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — and the two Muslim families who guard the keys to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for Christianity ]
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As President Trump visits France for Bastille Day, a Foreign Policy headline reads Bastille Day Is a Military Holiday Out of Donald Trump’s Fantasies — and the sub-head “France and America are seeking rapprochement at an annual pageant that’s always been less about liberty, equality, and solidarity than tanks, drones, and guns.”

The key to an earthly hell:

A fitting symbol of Franco-American amity on Bastille Day, July 14 (Quatorze Juillet) then, would be the key to the Bastille (upper panel above), presented by the Marquis de Lafayette to George Washington in 1790, and now at Mount Vernon.

Think on it:

The so-called civilized world today is horrified by scenes of heads lopped off by angry Muslims, forgetting the savagery of its own blood-soaked forbears. France’s messy and incomplete march toward Liberty, Equality and Fraternity also needed heads — that of King Louis XVI to start, and then of anonymous thousands collected in baskets like so many fallen apples, the fruit of modern, mechanized decapitation. The picture of France desecrating churches, massacring priests and monarchist sympathizers, producing civil war, terror, chaos and confusion were indelible events stamped for decades into Europe’s collective memory, incubated in a devil’s broth of war, fear, hunger, hatred, sabotage, fantastic hopes and wild idealism.

John Kiser, Commander of the Faithful

The Keys to the Kingdom:

By way of contrast with the physical keys of the Bastille, I have set the spiritual “Keys of the Kingdom” (lower panel, above), which Christ passed to Peter and the Church:

And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Matthew 16.19

These keys, commanding heaven — unlike the key to the Bastille — are nowadays being turned to peaceable ends. This is from Pope Francis‘ message for the 50th World Day of Peace, December 2016, titled Nonviolence: a Style of Politics for Peace:

At the beginning of this New Year, I offer heartfelt wishes of peace to the world’s peoples and nations, to heads of state and government, and to religious, civic and community leaders. I wish peace to every man, woman and child, and I pray that the image and likeness of God in each person will enable us to acknowledge one another as sacred gifts endowed with immense dignity. Especially in situations of conflict, let us respect this, our “deepest dignity”, and make active nonviolence our way of life.

This is the fiftieth Message for the World Day of Peace. In the first, Blessed Pope Paul VI addressed all peoples, not simply Catholics, with utter clarity. “Peace is the only true direction of human progress – and not the tensions caused by ambitious nationalisms, nor conquests by violence, nor repressions which serve as mainstay for a false civil order”. He warned of “the danger of believing that international controversies cannot be resolved by the ways of reason, that is, by negotiations founded on law, justice, and equity, but only by means of deterrent and murderous forces.” Instead, citing the encyclical Pacem in Terris of his predecessor Saint John XXIII, he extolled “the sense and love of peace founded upon truth, justice, freedom and love”. In the intervening fifty years, these words have lost none of their significance or urgency.

On this occasion, I would like to reflect on nonviolence as a style of politics for peace. I ask God to help all of us to cultivate nonviolence in our most personal thoughts and values. May charity and nonviolence govern how we treat each other as individuals, within society and in international life. When victims of violence are able to resist the temptation to retaliate, they become the most credible promotors of nonviolent peacemaking. In the most local and ordinary situations and in the international order, may nonviolence become the hallmark of our decisions, our relationships and our actions, and indeed of political life in all its forms.

I note here that the eminently public figure of Francis, successor of Peter as Bishop of Rome focuses first on the most private and intimate form of peace — the peace-making mind of the human individual:

I ask God to help all of us to cultivate nonviolence in our most personal thoughts and values.

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The key to the Holy Sepulchre:

In the spirit of peace, it is notable that two Muslim families have for centuries been the custodians of the keys to Christianity’s greatest shrine, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre:

Two Muslim families entrusted with care of holy Christian site for centuries

Adeeb Joudeh holds the keys to Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

This task fell to Joudeh’s ancestors as a way of maintaining a neutral guardian of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, since the church is split between multiple Christian denominations, including Armenian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Franciscans, and more. He learned the obligations and responsibilities of guarding the key from his father, just as he will pass it on to his son.

“What we pass to the next generations is not only the key, but also the way you respect other religions.”

This agreement between Joudeh’s Muslim ancestors and the Christians has helped build cooperation between the religions, Joudeh says.

“For me, the source of coexistence for Islamic and Christian religions is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and that was when Umar ibn Khattab took the keys of Jerusalem from Patriarch Sophronius and gave security and safety to Christians in the region. We coexist and pass peace and love, which is the real Islamic religion.” He references history from 1,400 years ago, when Umar ibn Khattab, a Muslim, made an agreement with Sophronius, a Christian, to grant the Christians right of free worship in Jerusalem. To Joudeh, this history is still alive today, and it is his obligation to carry it on.Joudeh does not carry this obligation alone. Although he is in charge of protecting and holding the key, another Muslim family is in charge of opening the door and allowing the faithful to enter the church. That responsibility now falls to Wajeeh Nuseibeh.

When Nuseibeh arrives at the church early in the morning, he takes the key from Joudeh, and climbs a small wooden ladder to unlock the top lock. Then he steps off the ladder to unlock the lower lock. He swings the church doors ajar, and the church is open to visitors. The entire process is repeated each evening, when the church is locked.

The two Muslim families have shared this responsibility for centuries, protecting the holy site and keeping it open to the Christian faithful. It is a model of coexistence in a city filled with tension, leading the way in interfaith cooperation, as it has been for hundreds of years.

and:

And How Muslims Hold the Key to Christ:

If doors are emblems of ownership, keys are symbols of custodianship. “Since 1187 till today, we hold the keys,” Joudeh says. “My whole family stands with me at this door. This is home, my second home.” [ .. ]

The two Muslim families got to keep the keys and the door because of quarrels within the Church. “Like brothers, we sometimes fight,” confesses the Very Reverend Father Samuel Aghoyan, Armenian Superior of the Holy Sepulchre. “The Churches wouldn’t go along with each other, so the key was taken away from the dominant Church and entrusted to a neutral monotheistic faith that embraces the Christ as a prophet – Islam.”

This is Christianity’s most sacred site, where Jesus was believed to have been resurrected – for many pilgrims, their most important destination. The belief is that the Church was erected on the Golgotha, the place of the crucifixion, and on the grotto where he was interred.

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Happy Bastille Day!

Peace!

Will Trump ever drain the Sinkhole?

Saturday, May 27th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — if hell exists — and we’re easily persuaded it does — best believe in paradise, too ]
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Bryan Alexander of Infocult headed his report, Earth opens campaign against Trump. Bryan has been following sinkholes around the globe for some time now, and has also been keeping a wary eye on Donald Trump, so the correlation wouldn’t surprise him, and he leaped to causation, with or without good reason.

Let’s take a look, first, at the hole itself:

It’s black, as though part of the world had been redacted for security reasons.

Sinkoles are not uncommon in Florida, and frequently feast on human habitations:

The City of Palm Beech is calm and carries on:

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It takes the Washington Post to put the event in truly cross-disiplinary perspective, titling its article on the topic brilliantly:

Indeed they did. Oliver Willis had the best reading of the Sign:

The orb in question is the Saudi counterterrorism orb:

Bothing to do with Saruman, I assure you. But take a look at those eyes..

And FWIW, tthe orb’s direct impact on the pavement in Palm Beach is confirmed by Chad Fondiller:

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Some, like Conchita Leeflang, read the Sign more mundanely in terms of Trump‘s own rhetoric:

That’s clever, but it doesn’t really explain this photo of the sinkhole alt-event now, does it?

What does that orb have to do with counterterrorism, BTW?

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This post is brought you by the folks who also brought you:

Significance of the Kiswah in Riyadh

Sunday, May 21st, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — oh, but it’s just a backdrop ]
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When ABC News describes the room in which President Trump addressed King Salman of Saudi Arabia and the leaders of 50 Muslim nations in Riyadh this morning, they mentioned that it was “an ornate room that featured 11 chandeliers and six giant video screens.” Okay, but to my eye the scene was dominated by a great black and gold panel of the Kiswah [above], the ornate cloth, renewed once yearly, which covers the Kaaba in Mecca, the point in this turning world to which all Muslims turn in prayer, and around which they revolve in pilgrimage.

I spent some time searching for a decent press photograph or media mention of this Kiswah panel, without success — the chandeliers are clearly more important to media sensibilities than the veil of Islam’s most central shrine, to which all mosques are oriented.

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I am reminded of Tim Furnish‘s comment yesterday, pointing out that the Time magazine cover showing the Kremlin (below) had airbrushed out the crosses atop the onion domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral —

— domes which Time referred to, in a further display of ignorance, as minarets.

Why are we so appallingly oblivious to religious symbolism, when it plays so major a role in communicating meaning? What tells us more about a cathedral than the cross which surmounts it? Which more completely dominates that conference chamber in Riyadh — the colorful array of flags, or the great panel of the Kiswah mounted above them?

Why do we so consistently airbrush religion out of the picture?

Are flags additive?

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

[ by Charles Camerondelicate matters here, please discuss with civility — not civil war ]
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Are flags, as symbolic statements, additive?

I ask this because of three flags whose valences seem to differ considerably, depending on who is viewing them.


The
Gadsden flag flies over every post at ChicagoBoyz, where myself, Zen. Lex and other ZP friends sometimes post, and I don’t believe the ChicagoBoyz approve of racism, so though it may connote a right-leaning position on small government, it’s meaning if carried beyond that would seem to be up for individual grabs.

Consider this New Yorker piece entitled The Shifting Symbolism of the Gadsden Flag:

In recent years, the Gadsden flag has become a favorite among Tea Party enthusiasts, Second Amendment zealots—really anyone who gets riled up by the idea of government overreach. It’s also been appropriated to promote U.S. Soccer and streetwear brands. And this reflects a deeper question, one that’s actually pretty compelling: How do we decide what the Gadsden flag, or indeed any symbol, really means?

One answer involves history. The Gadsden flag is one of at least three kinds of flags created by independence-minded colonists in the run-up to the Revolutionary War, according to the writer and historian Marc Leepson, the author of “Flag: An American Biography.” Liberty flags featured that word on a variety of backdrops; the Pine Tree flag floated the slogan “An Appeal To Heaven” over a depiction of a pine tree. Neither endured like the design of Christopher Gadsden, a Charleston-born brigadier general in the Continental Army. His was by far the coolest, with its menacing rattler and provocative slogan.

and:

“The origins of ‘Don’t Tread On Me,’ “ Leepson summarizes, “were completely, one hundred percent anti-British, and pro-revolution.” Indeed, that E.E.O.C. directive agrees, “It is clear that the Gadsden Flag originated in the Revolutionary War in a non-racial context.”

Good. I’m a Brit, but I can handle an anti-British flag, even if I’m nursing the wounds of loss of Empire.

Volokh picks up the tale:

After a thorough review of the record, it is clear that the Gadsden Flag originated in the Revolutionary War in a non-racial context. Moreover, it is clear that the flag and its slogan have been used to express various non-racial sentiments, such as when it is used in the modern Tea Party political movement, guns rights activism, patriotic displays, and by the military.

However, whatever the historic origins and meaning of the symbol, it also has since been sometimes interpreted to convey racially-tinged messages in some contexts.

Hey, the New Yorker is right — the Gadsden flag does indeed have “Shifting Symbolism”.

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What about this one?

One version of the Confederate flag draws a clear and significant distinction — once again showing that “flag meanings” may vary:

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As someone who is interested in symbolism, and also in what Bakhtin terms heteroglossia, and what I think of (assuming we’re after roughly the same beast) as the counterpoint of ideas, I’m fascinated when these two flags are brought together in a third. I saw this one illustrated in a report in thre Daily Mail titled:

Crews wearing masks, bulletproof vests and helmets remove statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis from New Orleans

Here’s a better image of the flag itself:

Are the two flags additive? I’d be interested to see a fuzzy-logic Venn diagram of the overlap of meanings between Gadsden and Confederate flags.

Is there a single correct interpretation of any of the three flags (Gadsden, Confederate, & Gadsden-Confederate) that are my topic here?

How would we even decide?

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I’m aware that this is a delicate topic, and would request civil responses from both sides of the aisle, both sides of the police barrier, you know what I mean. As a Brit, again, I can benefit from exposure to views of different (stars and) stripes.

Pistol, crucifix, condom

Friday, May 12th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — covering all bases? — an astonishing display of symbols ]
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Lists of three — sex, drugs and rock’n’roll for example, or wine, women and song, as we used to say — sex, lies and videotape — can usefully itemize / totemize the whole of life as it is lived — a jug of wine, a loaf of bread and thou beside me — at the individual, general, universal or transcendent level — when two or three are gathered in my name

But this image, from a Ukrainian law enforcement advisor’s Instagram account beats all!

Hat tip: Christopher Miller

Pistol, crucifix, condom
— I was wondering whether one could play scissors, paper, rock with those symbols, but..

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Coleridge characterizes symbols thus:

A symbol is characterized… above all by the translucence of the Eternal through and in the Temporal. It always partakes of the Reality which it Renders Intelligible; and while it enunciates the whole, abides itself as a living part in that Unity of which it is representative.

At night, to be honest, a pistol, a condom an a crucifix might each be placed on the bedside table of someone in law enforcement as a matter of convenience, with no great symbolic import attached. But they are each nonetheless highly symbolic items. And the greater the degree to which these three items, when considered as symbols, are “translucent” to the individual resder here, the more astonishing their juztaposition in this image will appear.


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