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The positively Abrahamic game of Chess

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — interfaith rivalry on the checkered board ]
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Many of you will be familiar with the Christian and Muslim playing chess in this illustration from El Libro de los Juegos or Book of Games of Alfonso X of Castile:

— but let’s not forget that Andalusia was also home to learned Jews, including the great Maimonides. In this illustration to the same work, we see a match-up between Muslim and Jew:

Divinely appointed killing in Gita and Summa

Saturday, August 20th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — two focal texts for Landmines in the Garden plus the matters of just war / peace ]
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Herewith two quotes, one (upper oanel) from the Bhagavad Gita, the other from the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas — each of which expemplifies the notion that someone, in the first case Arjuna, in the second, Abraham — has divine authorization to kill:

SPEC DQ Summa and Gita

It is noteworthy that Arjuna does in fact kill those he has been ordered to kill, and that in contrast Abraham is reprieved from the necessity of killing his son by the same divine authority which had first demanded that extraordinary sacrifice — but God (the Father) in the Christian narrative goes on to kill his own Son in what is both the perfection and completion of sacrifice..

And from the perspective of military chaplains blessing members of the armed forces on their way into battle in a just war, the same divine approval presumably holds.

But are wars ever just?

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Further Readings:

  • Foreign Policy, What Happens When You Replace a Just War With a Just Peace?
  • National Catholic Repoorter, Pope considering global peace as topic of next Synod of Bishops
  • Rome Conference, An Appeal to the Catholic Church to Re-Commit to the Centrality of Gospel Nonviolence
  • United States Institute of Peace, Abrahamic Alternatives to War
  • It is worth noting that a sometime commenter on this blog, William Benzon of New Savanna, has a new, small & handy book out:

  • Bill Benzon, We Need a Department of Peace: Everybody’s Business, Nobody’s Job
  • The saints of television

    Friday, August 12th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — on St Clare’s feast, two tales of miraculous television, and the fragmented memory of a third ]
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    Today, August 11th, is in the Catholic calendar the Feast of St Clare of Assisi, friend of St Francis and patron saint of television:

    SPEC DQ miracles of television

    In celebrating her day, I cannot but remember the Sufi al-Sha’rani, whose capacity #20 as recorded in Arberry‘s little book has long delighted me.

    I believe similar, more detailed stories are told of other Sufi saints, one of whom (if memory serves) saw and greeted from Spain a master in Damascus or Baghdad with whom he would subsequently meet.

    I should look into that..

    Profoundly human: body, speech and mind

    Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — observing a certain universality across traditions ]
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    Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche BSM
    Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche is a teacher in the Bon tradition,
    the native religion of Tibet

    Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, a high lama of the Tibetan Buddhist Karma Kagyu lineage, has this to say:

    The nature of all ritual is that symbolic devices are used to create a certain mental attitude. When we offer our body, speech, and mind, we do this though a system of gestures that create that particular meaning. But if the ritual is not based on an understanding of emptiness, then it lacks meaning, and the symbolic gestures could cause confusion.

    In Tibetan Buddhism, body, speech, and mind are known as the three vajras — variously translated as diamonds or lightning bolts. Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, another Karma Kagyu teacher, explained:

    Buddha-Nature is present just as the shining sun is present in the sky. It is indivisible from the Three Vajras [i.e. the Buddha’s Body, Speech and Mind] of the awakened state, which do not perish or change.

    **

    In Arab circles, there’s a formal greeting known as the Salaam, in which to quote Desmond Morris, Bodytalks: A World Guide to Gestures:

    Salaam

    The hand touches the chest, then the lips, then the centre of the forehead. The action ends with a forward flourish of the hand and is often accompanied by a bow of the head. [ .. ] This is the full version of the salaam, including all three elements. Its message is ‘I give you my heart, my soul and my head.

    **

    In the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, we are told to make a triple sign of the cross at Mass:

    At Mass when the reading of the Gospel begins, we place the sign of the Cross on our foreheads, lips, and hearts and pray, “May the Lord be in our minds, on our lips, and in our hearts.” Lips, minds, and hearts—these symbolize three kinds of prayer: vocal, meditative, and contemplative. These modes of prayer include formal and informal paths, personal and communal expressions, popular piety, and the liturgical prayer of the Church.

    **

    Oh, and Gandhi taught:

    Gandhi thought word deed4

    **

    There’s something profoundly human going on here.

    Dabiq issue 15, specific notes part 2, Trinity

    Friday, August 5th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — following on from Dabiq issue 15, specific notes part 1, Crucifixion ]
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    The second part of my two-parter for LapidoMedia on the 15th issue of the Islamic State magazine Dabiq focuses on the Islamic State’s reading of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity in light of the Islamic doctrine of Unity or Tawhid. The post is headlined:

    West’s foreign policy only a secondary reason for hatred

    That’s true and important — and you’ll find it in the tail end of my piece — but the main focus, as I said, is Tawhid and Trinity. Here are the opening paras:

    Whipping up hatred against the West for religious beliefs it has barely heeded for a century is not without irony.

    But in the latest issue of Dabiq magazine, it is clear that IS are doing a better job of reminding the West of its founding faith – while getting most of it wrong – than any amount of papal bulls or clerical press conferences.

    The fifteenth issue of the eighty-page glossy takes on the Trinity which classical Islam views as polytheism, and so in contradiction to tawhid, ‘the defining doctrine of Islam’ according to the Oxford Dictionary of Islam.

    Tawhid declares that God is one without a second. Shirk, the greatest of sins, is its polar opposite, and means associating anything, even thoughts but especially partners, with God.

    The Qur’an Sura 4 verse 171 exhorts Jews and Christians – known as the People of the Book: ‘Do not exaggerate in your religion, nor utter anything concerning God save the truth. Verily the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of God, and His Word, which He committed to Mary, and a Spirit from Him. So believe in God and His messengers, and say not, “Three.” Refrain! It is better for you, God is only one God.’

    This is possibly a reference to the tendency, still evident in remote Christian communities today, to identify the Trinity as Father, Son Jesus and Mother Mary, which is of course blasphemous.

    Read the rest on the Lapido site here.


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