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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!

    Think and think again

    Sunday, December 27th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — the world is not always built to our expectations, eh? ]
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    Here are a couple of “unexpected consequences” — unexpected in this case because the local context in which they arose isn’t the context that the wider-angle, borader-brush view to which we are habituated might suggest. The first shows Israeli Jews rejoicing at the death by burning of a Palestinian baby:

    At a wedding, Right-Wing West Bank Jewish settler yeshiva students celebrate the arson-murder, allegedly carried out by right-wing Jewish settler youths, of an 18-month-old Palestinian baby and his parents in the West Bank Palestinian village of Douma (Duma) in July 2015. Aired by Israel’s Channel 10 News on 12-23-2015

    The seond shows Moroccan Jews celebrating national unity with cries of Allahu Akbar:

    Jews saying Allahu Akbar while they sing Sawt al Hassan Ynadi. They also sing Layouune 3iniya. This is Morocco, where unity and patriotism brings all people together as one! This is the face of coexistence and peace. This is the face of Morocco from Tangier to Lagouira!

    **

    And for a touch of authentic Christmas spirit..

    A group of Muslims are being hailed for a heroic act in Kenya. After Al-Shabaab militants ambushed their bus, they shielded the Christian passengers and kept them from being singled out. CNN’s David McKenzie reports.

    Reminders, and other signs

    Sunday, November 22nd, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — the camps, theirs and ours, and nuking Mecca, with a pinch of Lynch ]
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    Here are the reminders..

    SPEC DQ reminders

    **

    These DoubleQuotes arose in the context of comments by Georgetown Syria specialist Marc Lynch, better known on the web as the blogger Abu Aardvark, on a recent On the Media podcast:

    The kinds of ideas that you are seeing espoused by presidential candidates right now are the sorts of things that you would have seen on obscure right-wing blogs twelve years ago, and now they’re being taken seriously on the op-ed pages. The idea that you would have a religious test for Syrian refugees to let Christians but not Muslims in, or that you would create a national registry to track Muslims, or to shut down mosques – I mean, these are radical fringe ideas, and yet they’ve insinuated themselves into the mainstream.

    **

    Here’s the evolution of an idea, from 2005 to the present. You’ll note that the rhetoric has gained intensity (the qualification “if they nuke us” has been dropped), but in this case the earlier source (Fox) was more mainstream, and the current one (WND) way deeper into the fringe..

    SPEC DQ nuke mecca

    **

    Sources:

  • Raw Story, Trump crosses the Nazi line: Maybe Muslims should wear special ID badges
  • Raw Story, Rhode Island Republican wants Syrian refugees held in ‘centralized’ camps

  • Fox News, Tancredo: If They Nuke Us, Bomb Mecca
  • World NetDaily, Bomb Mecca off the face of the earth

  • On the Media, Lessons Unlearned
  • The “refugee” koan

    Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — considering both sides, while tilting one way or the other ]
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    I call it a koan because you can flip it — there are two sides to it, and very possibly a serrated edge that it can balance on, foiling your best efforts to come up with a yes-no answer:

    On the one side, Tsarnaev:

    Not a Christian, BTW..

    **

    Okay, before the second shoe drops…

    Consider this, from Benjamin Wittes, In Defense of Refugees today on Lawfare:

    It is worth reflecting at least briefly on the security risks of turning our backs on hundreds of thousands of helpless people fleeing some combination of ISIS and Assad. Imagine teeming refugee camps in which everyone knows that America has abandoned them. Imagine the conspiracy theories that will be rife in those camps. Imagine the terrorist groups that will recruit from them and the righteous case they will make about how, for all its talk, the United States left Syria to burn and Syrians to live in squalor in wretched camps in neighboring countries. I don’t know if this situation is more dangerous, less dangerous, or about as dangerous as the situation in which we admit a goodly number of refugees, help resettle others, and run some risk—which we endeavor to mitigate — that we might admit some bad guys. But this is not a situation in which all of the risk is stacked on the side of doing good, while turning away is the safe option. There is risk whatever we do or don’t do.

    Most profoundly, there is risk associated with saying loudly and unapologetically that we don’t care what happens to hundreds of thousands of innocent people — or that we care if they’re Christian but not if they’re Muslim, or that we care but we’ll keep them out anyway if there’s even a fraction of a percent chance they are not what they claim to be. They hear us when we say these things. And they will see what we do. And those things too have security consequences.

    And, from a very different area of the political spectrum, this:

    There’s a reason that hospitality is actually a religious virtue and not just a thing that nice people do: it is sacrificial. Real hospitality involves risk, an opening of the door to the unknown other. There is a reason it is so important in the Biblical narratives, which were an ancient people’s attempt to work out what they thought God required of them in order to be the people of God. Hospitality isn’t just vacuuming and putting out appetizers and a smile — it’s about saying, “Oh holy Lord, I hope these people don’t kill me or rape my daughters, but our human society relies on these acts of feeding and sheltering each other, so I must be brave and unlock the door.” Scary stuff. Big stuff. Ancient and timeless stuff. “You shall welcome the stranger.”

    Now: is that wisdom, or foolishness?

    **

    Aha, the second shoe..

    Besides Tsarnaev, who else do we know who came here as a refugee?

    albert einstein non christian refugee

    Einstein, no less.

    And Einstein was not a Christian either, FWIW.

    Two wrongs make a right or wrong — in theory?

    Sunday, November 15th, 2015

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

    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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