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Religion meets the coronavirus #13

May 24th, 2020

[ by Charles Cameron — this last weekend was Eid al-Fitr for Muslims, Memorial Day Weekend for those of us in the USA, we have CDC’s suggestions for places of worship, an Indian Muslim reading of the Gazwa e-Hind, and much more — enjoy! ]
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The other day, I overheard a Joel Osteen sermon, which included the following:

Have you ever tried something and got the results you wanted and then tried the same thing again and got different results? This happened to Moses in the Bible. They needed water and God told Moses to strike the rock. He struck the rock and water flowed out freely. Another time they needed water again, and God told Moses, “Speak to the rock.” Do you know what Moses did? He went over and struck the rock. He thought, “Hey, it worked last time. It’ll work this time.” But it didn’t. God had a different plan.

The point is that we have to stay open and make adjustments to stay in tune with God’s plan. You can do the same thing the same way you did last time and get different results. It may not be something major, but like Moses, maybe it’s just something small. Sometimes a small tweak, a small adjustment can make a major difference in the outcome.

Joel was suggesting the coronavirus may be a “downtime” while God is installing new software in us, requiring a reboot — and Moses trying the old, successful way when God had installed new software in him was the reason why he failed on the second occasion. Osteen again:

Today, make sure you aren’t doing things just because it’s the way you always did it before. Instead, listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit of God inside. Follow His leading and stay in sync with the wonderful plan He has for you!

**

Still on Christianity, here’s a fascinating excerpt from a longer piece:

  • Ng Zhi-wen, Novel Coronavirus: Lessons on radical charity from the early Church
  • The Antonine Plague (c 165 – 180)

    In the Ancient History Encyclopaedia, John Horgan, an assistant professor of History at Concordia University-Wisconsin, noted: “The effect of the illness was not confined to the military and economy. Marcus Aurelius launched persecutions against Christians who refused to pay homage to the gods which, the emperor believed, in turn angered the gods whose wrath made itself known in the form of a devastating epidemic.

    “Ironically the anti-Christian attacks produced the opposite effect amongst the general population.

    “Unlike adherents to the Roman polytheistic system, Christians believed in an obligation to assist others in a time of need, including illness. Christians were willing to provide the most basic needs, food and water, for those too ill to fend for themselves.

    “This simple level of nursing care produced good feelings between Christians and their pagan neighbours. Christians often stayed to provide assistance while pagans fled. Furthermore, Christianity provided meaning to life and death in times of crisis.”

    Self-sacrificing love isn’t limited to Christians — but today as in the time of Marcus Aurelius, we should stand in awe of its heroic beauty. – I’d say the whole of this essay is very well worth your attention.

    **

    Turning to Islam:

    I posted this in Coronavirus meets extremism, but it belongs here as well.. the clear Islamic rhetoric..

  • Brad Hunter, ISIS, al-Qaida commandeer COVID-19 as a ‘soldier of Allah’
  • ISIS and al-Qaida claim that the virus and ensuing global pandemic are retribution on the wicked West, courtesy of God.

    In typical, flowery al-Qaida style, the death cult released a statement.

    “Allah, the Creator, has revealed the brittleness and vulnerability of your material strength,” reads the maniacal missive. “It is now clear for all to see that it was but a deception that could not stand the test of the smallest soldier of God on the face of the Earth.”

    **

    On a hopefully positive note: Taliban & Kashmir: The taliban reaffirm their interests extending only to the boundaries of the present state of Afghanistan, and their acceptance of India’s claim to Kashmir:

  • WION, Taliban acknowledges Kashmir internal matter of India after fake tweets

    After fake tweets emerged attributing to the Taliban, the group has clarified that it Kashmir is India’s internal matter and they don’t support any Pakistani style “Ghazwa-E-Hind” or Holy war against India.

  • **

    Ghazwa-e-Hind??

    I wrote several posts about the Ghazwa a while back, noting that the relevant hadith explicitly proposed an army with black banners sweeping victoriously from Khorasan {roughly, Afghanistan] down to Jerusalem, accompanied by a second thrust, the Ghazwa, sweeping from Khorasan again, down into India. Some examples::

  • One hadith, one plan, one video, and two warnings
  • So many browser tabs, so little time
  • Pakistan’s Strategic Mummery
  • Khorasan to al-Quds and the Ghazwa-e-Hind
  • Current discussions elsewhere, including that of the Jamiat {see below], seem to take the term more literally as meaning “raid” and thus more general in application than the Khorasan hadith.

    **

    Islamic Theology, the Jamiat version thereof:

  • The Print, Everyone misinterprets Ghazwa-e-Hind, but a Jamiat scholar explains what it really means
  • From Pakistan’s JeM to Veena Malik, from Times Now to Tarek Fateh, everyone has been invoking Ghazwa-e-Hind recently.

    There’s a phrase that Pakistani militant leaders have used against India for decades – Ghazwa-e-Hind or a holy raid of India. Ghazwa in Arabic implies a war that is guided by faith rather than materialistic or territorial gains and is widely attributed to an Islamic concept derived from the hadiths — a set of sayings by Prophet Mohammad. The phrase is used refer to Muslim warriors conquering the Indian subcontinent. [ .. ]
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    Now, ‘Ghazwa-e-Hind’ has made a noisy return among scholars, security analysts and rabble-rousers, especially after the Narendra Modi government’s action on Article 370 and Pakistan’s isolation in the international theatre. [ .. ]
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    But what has gone largely unnoticed is that the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, a leading body of Muslims in India, has already called out the error in this popular interpretation. The group has supported the government’s decision on Kashmir.
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    Maulana Mufti Salman Mansoorpuri, a Jamiat scholar, insisted late last year that Pakistan has been erroneously and mischievously linking the term to their rift with India.

    The Maulana, remember, is speaking from within an Indian context: this no doubt influences his interpretation of the situation.

    **

    China vs India:

    When I say I study religions, I mean I study the intersection of cultural anthropology, comparative religion, & depth psychology — areas where depth drivers for surface events are visible — hence my interest in Michael Vlahos‘ work in general and today:

    M Vlahos, How China Can Beat The U.S. Without Firing A Shot

    **

    Islam in India, it was Eid al-Fitr over the weekend, and that means feeding the poor:

  • New Indian Exporess, World’s largest Eid feast: Michelin-star chef Vikas Khanna to feed 1.75 lakh people in Mumbai
  • That’s 175,000 people fed, a lakh being a hundred thousand. And it’s to be done ” while adhering to all guidelines of social distancing”.

    **

    There’s the cleaning of the Ganges that’s resulting from a drop in the number of cremations In Varanasi:

  • Deccan Chronicle, Coronavirus caused lockdown is healing the holy Ganga
  • **

    And finally, dated Saturday 23rd, this from the Centers for Disease Control:

  • CDC< Interim Guidance for Communities of Faith
  • Enough: I’m exhausted.

    Coronavirus meets QAnon – conspiracy, terror threat, new religion!

    May 21st, 2020

    [ by Charles Cameron — the Phoenix Field Office of the FBI has already suggested QAnon should be considered a terror threat — now two writers in quick succession suggest it qualifies as, or indeed contains, a new religious movement ]
    .

    I’d like to draw the attention of my New Religious Movement (NRM) friends and those working on extremism to three recent posts concerning the QAnon conspiracy as a new religious movement:

  • Adrienne LaFrance, The Prophecies of Q
  • Marc-André Argentino, The Church of QAnon: Will conspiracy theories form the basis of a new religious movement?
  • Marc-André Argentino, There’s a lot that I couldn’t include so I will supplement with a thread
  • **

    The Atlantic article, by Adrienne LaFrance, is the most wide-angle of the three. Let’s start with her rough description of QAnon, pitched to its political side:

    Nine years later, as reports of a fearsome new virus suddenly emerged, and with Trump now president, a series of ideas began burbling in the QAnon community: that the coronavirus might not be real; that if it was, it had been created by the “deep state,” the star chamber of government officials and other elite figures who secretly run the world; that the hysteria surrounding the pandemic was part of a plot to hurt Trump’s reelection chances; and that media elites were cheering the death toll. Some of these ideas would make their way onto Fox News and into the president’s public utterances. As of late last year, according to The New York Times, Trump had retweeted accounts often focused on conspiracy theories, including those of QAnon, on at least 145 occasions.

    What’s interesting about this article, and will be missed by many analysts and other readers because they are blind to religion, is the religious emphasis present from the title, The Prophecies of Q, through the italicized intro, with its subhead “Genesis”, its talk of “adherents” and a “clash between good and evil” and “Great Awakening” that is coming — shades of the “Great Awakening” that Jonathan Edwards was associated with! Indeed, the eschatological (end times) content is even more explicit:

    QAnon carries on a tradition of apocalyptic thinking that has spanned thousands of years. It offers a polemic to empower those who feel adrift.

    and:

    “There are QAnon followers out there,” Shelly said, “who suggest that what we’re going through now, in this crazy political realm we’re in now, with all of the things that are happening worldwide, is very biblical, and that this is Armageddon.”

    Too, there’s the suggestion that QAnon effectively comprises a system of belief, enshrined in the closing, one line paragraph:

    You know all this because you believe in Q.

    And the next day, the Atlantic took things a declarative stage further, heading a note:

    QAnon Is a New American Religion

    **

    Okay, QAnon Is [according to the Atlantic] a New American Religion. But Marc-André Argentino‘s approach is more tight-focused: he actually attends “ekklesia” [roughly, here, “house church”] services with strong QAnon content over a period of a couple of years, and reports back:

    What I’ve witnessed is an existing model of neo-charismatic home churches — the neo-charismatic movement is an offshoot of evangelical Protestant Christianity and is made up of thousands of independent organizations — where QAnon conspiracy theories are reinterpreted through the Bible. In turn, QAnon conspiracy theories serve as a lens to interpret the Bible itself.

    Here are a couple of samples:

    At a service held on April 26, Wagner and Bushey spoke about a QAnon theory, called Project Looking Glass, that the U.S. military has secretly developed a form of time-travel technology. Wagner suggested to e-congregants that time travel can be explained by certain passages in the Bible.

    On May 3, the theme of the QAnon portion of the service was about COVID-19. Bushey spoke about a popular QAnon theory that the pandemic was planned. (There is no evidence of this.) And when an anti-vax conspiracy theory documentary called “Plandemic” went viral , the video was shared on the HCW websites as a way for e-congregants to consume the latest in a series of false theories about the coronavirus.

    **

    The QAnon ekklesia Marc-André Argentino attended is called the Omega Kingdom Ministry, and quotes Q:

    It’s going to be Biblical

    — where Biblical is intended both literally and metaphorically — enormous!!

    This is emphasized in large letters on a greenboard reproduced in Argentino’s subsequent twitter thread, which is also used for four panels explaining the parallels between the Biblical Passover and “Passover II” associated with QAnon, of which I’m reproducing on here:

    The rhetoric here, “For as Benjamin Netanyahu is to Israel, so shall this man be” is nicely reminiscent of Romans 8:14, James 2:26, and [forgive me] I Corinthians 11:12, “For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman>”

    **

    Whether or not the entire QAnon movement as a whole can be considered a NRM [New Religious Movement], there certainly exists within it an ekklesia and ministry.

    NRM scholars, as well as FBI agents and other terrorism analysts, should keep their eyes on the QAnon phenomenon.

    Coronavirus meets the limits of logic

    May 20th, 2020

    [ by Charles Cameron — this one’s strictly for fun ]
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    We have my friend the bead game designer JustKnecht to thank fo passing along this gem:

    That’s a screen-grab, it has to be — and it’s pretty astonishing to find the chyron to a screen-grab referencing Bertie Russell, let alone Russell’s paradox. I must have grabbed dozens of chyrons a few months back, when I was looking for game and sports metaphors for warfare — I never saw anything like this!

    Kudos!

    BTW, it’s an ouroboros paradox too, isn’t it?

    Coronavirus meets extremism

    May 19th, 2020

    [ by Charles Cameron — juggling far too many balls, here’s white supremacist and Islamist extremism, closing with an Aaron Zelin tweet and a happy — I hope — note on the Taliban & Kashmir ]
    .

    Extremism in general:

  • CBS, Extremists are using the coronavirus to radicalize and spread conspiracies online
  • As cities and countries around the world take drastic steps to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus, extremist groups are trying to use the pandemic to radicalize people online.

    According to a report released by the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, “Supporters of domestic and international extremist groups have encouraged followers to conduct attacks during the COVID-19 pandemic to incite panic, target minorities and immigrants, and celebrate the deaths of their enemies.”

    Note that: “domestic and international extremist groups” — we need to be on the watch for both domestic and foreign extremist groups.

    Likewise:

  • CTP, Tech & Terrorism: Extremist Groups Leverage Coronavirus Pandemic Online
  • **

    White Supremacism, Militias, and Alt-Right, &c:

  • NYT, The Coronavirus Becomes a Battle Cry for U.S. Extremists
  • April is typically a busy month for white supremacists. There is Hitler’s birthday, which they contort into a celebration. There is the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, the domestic attack 25 years ago that killed 168 people and still serves as a rallying call for new extremist recruits.

    But this April, something else overshadowed those chilling milestones. It was the coronavirus, and the disruption it wreaked on society, that became the extremists’ battle cry.

    Embellishing Covid-19 developments to fit their usual agenda, extremists spread disinformation on the transmission of the virus and disparage stay-at-home orders as “medical martial law” — the long-anticipated advent of a totalitarian state.

  • Politico, DHS warns of increase in violent extremism amid coronavirus lockdowns
  • Those arrested in the last month include an “anti-government extremist” who threatened to kill New Mexico’s governor over the coronavirus restrictions, and another individual who was arrested late last month for allegedly threatening to blow up the Orlando Police Department’s headquarters — hours after a countywide stay-at-home order was put into effect — because people are being “put … out of work” because of the pandemic.

  • Charles Bethea, A Coronavirus Turf War in Klickitat County
  • Betty Barnes, the mayor of Bingen, just to the east of White Salmon, agreed. “I haven’t been lynched yet, but I know some of the guidelines we’re supporting aren’t popular with some people, especially in Goldendale,” she said. “And they’re the ones with the biggest outbreak in our county, so that’s not really understandable to me.”

  • Sara Burnett, Michigan militia puts armed protest in the spotlight
  • The “American Patriot Rally” started on the statehouse steps, where members of the Michigan Liberty Militia stood guard with weapons and tactical gear, their faces partially covered. They later moved inside the Capitol along with several hundred protesters, who demanded to be let onto the House floor, which is prohibited. Some protesters with guns — which are allowed in the statehouse — went to the Senate gallery, where a senator said some armed men shouted at her, and some senators wore bulletproof vests.

  • Craig Mauger, Senator: Threats are ‘about spreading blood’ on Michigan Capitol lawn
  • Heated speeches at the end of the Michigan Senate session Tuesday featured Democratic lawmakers demanding action to limit guns in the Capitol and the Republican leader denouncing threats against the Democratic governor.

    The speeches came less than two weeks after dozens of protesters openly carried firearms inside the Capitol building as they demonstrated against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order, which is meant to stem the spread of COVID-19.

  • CEP, Extremist Content Online: White Supremacists Urge Followers On Telegram To Exploit COVID-19
  • This week, white supremacist and neo-Nazi accelerationist Telegram channels continued calling for the exploitation of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, British neo-Nazi group Sonnenkrieg Division (SKD) launched a Telegram channel challenging a membership ban that the British government implemented last month. Also, chan imageboard and Telegram chat users praise Christchurch shooter Brenton Tarrant following his guilty plea.

    **

    Jihadists, AQ and ISIS &c:

    The clearest religious rhetoric is found in this piece:

  • Brad Hunter, ISIS, al-Qaida commandeer COVID-19 as a ‘soldier of Allah’
  • ISIS and al-Qaida claim that the virus and ensuing global pandemic are retribution on the wicked West courtesy of God.

    In typical, flowery al-Qaida style, the death cult released a statement.

    “Allah, the Creator, has revealed the brittleness and vulnerability of your material strength,” reads the maniacal missive. “It is now clear for all to see that it was but a deception that could not stand the test of the smallest soldier of God on the face of the Earth.”

    The next two headlines speak for themselves:

  • HS Today, ISIS: Cities Distracted by Coronavirus Should be Hit with Attacks Like Paris, London, Brussels
  • HS Today, ISIS Magazine Calls for Attacks on ‘Easy Target’ Military, Police During Coronavirus Chaos
  • Then there’s this, from the esteemed Aaron Zelin:

    **

    I’d like to close on what is, or might be, a positive note:

    Taliban & Kashmir:

    Taliban acknowledges Kashmir internal matter of India after fake tweets

    The Taliban reaffirm their interests extending only to the boundaries of the present state of Afghanistan, and their acceptance of India’s claim to Kashmir –with a detail I explore in Religion meets the coronavirus #13.

    Very proud of my nephew — Sunday surprise

    May 17th, 2020

    [ by Charles Cameron — as some of you may know, my nephew Daniel Harding is a celebrated orchestral conductor — but did you know he was also a qualified commercial pilot? — he’s been planning on taking a year’s vacation to pilot for Air France ]
    .

    I’m very fond of ‘air conducting” music I’m listening to — but that’s just my mode of “dancing while sitting down” as one of my teachers called it. Much more wonderful, IMO, is the work of my nephew, the conductor Daniel Harding. Today I ran across his performance, some years ago, of three Beethoven symphonies with the orchestra he loved and worked with for years, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra.

    I’ll share them — Beethoven, Symphonies ## 5, 6, and 7— such bodily enthusiasm, so fresh the well-worn music:

    **

    Here, more recently, is Daniel‘s Beethoven #3, the Eroica, with the London Symphony Orchestra:

    **

    And how could I not offer you Daniel conducting Beethoven #9:

    **

    Daniel, who holds a commercial pilot’s license, was going to take a year’s sabbatical from music to work as an Air France pilot, but .. coronavirus. If I get any news, I’ll pass it along.


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