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Sunday surprise the second — the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God

Sunday, July 3rd, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — wishing you all blessings on the Fourth ]
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My eye was caught today by yet another disaster — which in turn reminded me of tomorrow, the Fourth of July. It’s just one example among many:

— but it brings up again the question of whether we think in terms of “acts of God” or “laws of Nature” or — somehow — both. And that’s where thw roding of the Constitution comes in, with the phrase “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God”:

Nature and Nature's God DQ

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If I used that phrasing — “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” — today, I might well be attempting to please or at least placate readers who variously:

  • believe in a God separate from and superior to Nature, and author of Nature’s laws
  • believe in a God essentially indistinguishable from Nature, wholly immanent, &
  • disbelieve in any kind of God, but recognize Nature as a catchall term for the Whole System.
  • I don’t suppose that would necessarily be the case in 1776, though, and wonder whether the phrase should be read as:

    the Laws — of Nature and of Nature’s God

    or:

    the Laws of Nature — and of Nature’s God

    and if the second, whether the and marks a distinction between Nature and nature’s God, or also covers the possibility of their being one and the same.

    And once we’ve cleared that up, and bearing in mind that John Donne could write “At the round earth’s imagin’d corners” — thus conflating the old, imaginative, square earth with the new, scientific, spherical one — how feasible do you think it is to hold simultaneously the idea that a given earthquake, hurricane, tsunami or volcanic eruption is an act of God and a natural disaster?

    A worldview paradox?

    **
    Sources:

  • July 4, 1776, The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
  • November 18, 2013, Room for Debate: Natural Disasters or ‘Acts of God’?
  • From the Forgiveness Chronicles: Rwanda

    Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — a reminder from 2014 — for those who preach love, for those who preach mercy ]
    .

    Rwanda detail
    Dominique Ndahimana, Perpetrator (left); Cansilde Munganyinka, Survivor

    **

    Dominique Ndahimana:

    The day I thought of asking pardon, I felt unburdened and relieved. I had lost my humanity because of the crime I committed, but now I am like any human being.

    Cansilde Munganyinka:

    After I was chased from my village and Dominique and others looted it, I became homeless and insane. Later, when he asked my pardon, I said: ‘I have nothing to feed my children. Are you going to help raise my children? Are you going to build a house for them?’ The next week, Dominique came with some survivors and former prisoners who perpetrated genocide. There were more than 50 of them, and they built my family a house. Ever since then, I have started to feel better. I was like a dry stick; now I feel peaceful in my heart, and I share this peace with my neighbors.

    **

    Rwanda

    **

    Another perpetrator / survivor pair:

    François Ntambara

    Because of the genocide perpetrated in 1994, I participated in the killing of the son of this woman. We are now members of the same group of unity and reconciliation. We share in everything; if she needs some water to drink, I fetch some for her. There is no suspicion between us, whether under sunlight or during the night. I used to have nightmares recalling the sad events I have been through, but now I can sleep peacefully. And when we are together, we are like brother and sister, no suspicion between us.

    Epiphanie Mukamusoni:

    He killed my child, then he came to ask me pardon. I immediately granted it to him because he did not do it by himself — he was haunted by the devil. I was pleased by the way he testified to the crime instead of keeping it in hiding, because it hurts if someone keeps hiding a crime he committed against you. Before, when I had not yet granted him pardon, he could not come close to me. I treated him like my enemy. But now, I would rather treat him like my own child.

    **

    Source:

  • Pieter Hugo, Portraits of Reconciliation: 20 years after the genocide in Rwanda
  • photos by Susan Dominus
  • Orlando Tweets Two

    Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — on a variety of other perspectives ]
    .

    Once again, my point is that there’s a whole lot of going on going on, and it’s worth getting a wide-angle view.. which means multiple perspectives, including those not your own:

    **

    Politicking:

    Joshua Green, Trump seems to regard Omar Mateen as “Afghan” in the same way Judge Curiel was “Mexican”: foreign/un-American, even though both born in US
    Charlene Deveraturda, The Atlantic’s ISIS Expert Graeme Wood Slams Trump For “Hurt[ing] The Fight Against ISIS” With Anti-Muslim Rhetoric

    Both Al-Jazeera‘s and Joshua Green‘s tweets offer us examples of DoubleQuotes thinking.

    **

    Guns:

    Program on extremism, ‘Orlando Shooter Legally Bought Guns Despite Previous Flags by FBI’
    Rob Crilly, Orlando shows arc again. Hate-filled young man with access to guns picks his victims and then selects poisonous ideology to add “meaning”
    Bill Maher, #Orlando Conservatives:”Don’t say it has anything to do with guns!” Liberals:”Don’t say it has anything to do with Islam!”
    Maajid Nawaz, Saying this has nothing to do with Islam (libs) is as ignorant as saying this has nothing to do with guns (cons).Both need reform
    Piers Morgan, Obama’s about to make the same speech he’s made about guns 20 times in his presidency. Just more pointless rhetoric, sadly.
    Steven Crowder, Orlando timeline: Anti-Gay Muslim commits mass terrorism. American gun-owners condemn it. Liberals try to take their guns

    **

    Islamic responses:

    Shadi Hamid, Muslim organizations in the United States unequivocally condemned the Orlando assault
    Usama Hasan, Does #Islam condemn #gays to death?

    and in ISIS perspective:

    Cole Bunzel, ISIS’s A’maq news agency claims Florida attack was “carried out by a soldier of the Islamic State”
    Will McCants, ISIS uses term “fighter” for Orlando attacker rather than “soldier” (Paris/Brussels) or “supporter” (San Bernardino) for whatever it’s worth

    **

    And finally, barely mentioned in the welter of opinions about Orlando — the other shoe:

    JM Berger, We may have narrowly escaped having two very similar massacres on the same day, apparently unconnected
    JM Berger, The fact that one was prevented and one was not is largely a trick of fate. We need robust reporting on LA incident as well

    Philanthropic? I guess the bombs were sent pro bono?

    Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — the horror! the incongruity! ]
    .

    Tablet DQ Philanthropic

    **

    To be fair, the Chronicle of Philanthropy carried this report because what happens to a MSF hospital in wartime is of appropriate interest to philanthropists.

    The juxtaposition of journal title and topic, however, remains jarring — click on the link below and take a look at their page as it originally appeared, to see what I mean.

    Sources:

  • Chronicle of Philanthropy, Report Examines Afghan Forces’ Role in Hospital Bombing
  • New York Times Magazine, Doctors With Enemies: Did AfghanForces Target the M.S.F. Hospital?
  • The Colossal Rhodes

    Friday, May 6th, 2016

    [by Mark Safranski / a.k.a. “zen“]

    This is absolutely amazing.

    Quite possibly the most damning thing I have ever read about the Obama national security inner circle. This NYT profile far exceeds any wild polemic by an overventilating right-wing pundit. Ben Rhodes, whose complete lack of any FP/Defense/Mil/IC qualifications would have relegated him to getting coffee for bigwigs in any other NSC in history, is a Deputy National Security Adviser with Oval Office walk-in access. He gloats about his yes-man relationship with the POTUS, disparages Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates, boasts of lying to reporters and mocks the servility of Beltway celebrity journalists who faithfully retweet the administration talking points he gives them. It reminds me of the tone of that Rolling Stone article that sank Stanley McChrystal.

    The Aspiring Novelist who Became Obama’s Foreign Policy Guru

    ….He is the master shaper and retailer of Obama’s foreign-policy narratives, at a time when the killer wave of social media has washed away the sand castles of the traditional press. His ability to navigate and shape this new environment makes him a more effective and powerful extension of the president’s will than any number of policy advisers or diplomats or spies. His lack of conventional real-world experience of the kind that normally precedes responsibility for the fate of nations — like military or diplomatic service, or even a master’s degree in international relations, rather than creative writing — is still startling.

    Part of what accounts for Rhodes’s influence is his “mind meld” with the president. Nearly everyone I spoke to about Rhodes used the phrase “mind meld” verbatim, some with casual assurance and others in the hushed tones that are usually reserved for special insights. He doesn’t think for the president, but he knows what the president is thinking, which is a source of tremendous power. One day, when Rhodes and I were sitting in his boiler-room office, he confessed, with a touch of bafflement, “I don’t know anymore where I begin and Obama ends.”

    I think we know where we can find your head, Ben.

    ….One result of this experience was that when Rhodes joined the Obama campaign in 2007, he arguably knew more about the Iraq war than the candidate himself, or any of his advisers. He had also developed a healthy contempt for the American foreign-policy establishment, including editors and reporters at The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker and elsewhere, who at first applauded the Iraq war and then sought to pin all the blame on Bush and his merry band of neocons when it quickly turned sour. If anything, that anger has grown fiercer during Rhodes’s time in the White House. He referred to the American foreign-policy establishment as the Blob. According to Rhodes, the Blob includes Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates and other Iraq-war promoters from both parties who now whine incessantly about the collapse of the American security order in Europe and the Middle East.

    Boost thinks very highly of me. My notes are so impressive that they have taken on the form of ideas, he feels. I capture other people’s words in a manner that not only organizes them, but inserts a clarity and purpose that was not present in the original idea. Connections are made between two opposing ideas that were not apparent in the meeting. I have gotten at not only the representation of things, but the way that the mind actually works.

    Is this for real? Who thinks of themselves like this?

    ….Obama relies on Rhodes for “an unvarnished take,” in part, she says, because “Ben just has no poker face,” and so it’s easy to see when he is feeling uncomfortable. “The president will be like, ‘Ben, something on your mind?’ And then Ben will have this incredibly precise lay-down of why the previous half-hour has been an utter waste of time, because there’s a structural flaw to the entire direction of the conversation.”

    The literary character that Rhodes most closely resembles, Power volunteers, is Holden Caulfield. “He hates the idea of being phony, and he’s impetuous, and he has very strong views.”

    Somewhere, someplace, J.D. Salinger is throwing up next to a dry-heaving George Kennan.

    There are White Houses in the past where an article of this kind would have gotten the staffer in question fired on the spot. That however was a more serious time.


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