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DoubleVision: two troubles with religions

Sunday, May 19th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — religious violence and sexual abuse scandals from a perspective grounded in comparative religion ]
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Two images from my feed a couple of days ago, similar enough that they make a (visual) DoubleQuote:


The Atlantic, Abolish the Priesthood


WaPo, Sri Lankan government blocks social media and imposes curfew following deadly blasts

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The first image above comes from an article in the Atlantic about child sexual abuse by members of the Catholic priesthood and accompanying cover-ups by the church hierarchy.

  • The Atlantic, Abolish the Priesthood
  • The abuses are horrific.They are horrific, horrific.

    My grouse here is that articles such as this focus on the Catholic Church, although Billy Graham’s grandson claims the situation is similar if not worse among Protestants; sexual abuse of spiritual authority and cover-ups are also found in so-called “sects” such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and in other religions altogether:

  • Vice, Billy Graham’s Grandson Says Protestants Abuse Kids Just Like Catholics
  • The Atlantic, A Secret Database of Child Abuse
  • Tricycle, a Buddhist magazine, Sex in the Sangha … Again
  • And if that’s not enough — consider this list of non-religiously specific sources of sexual abuse the Feeney Law Firm, LLC encounters in its practice:

  • Feeny Law Firm, Sexual Abuse and Assault Lawsuits
  • **

    The second image above is from a Washington Post piece of April 22nd, about “the aftermath of suicide attacks that killed hundreds of people” in churches and hotels across the island. The coordinated attacks were claimed by ISIS, but appear to have been locally planned and executed.

    Executed: what a word!

    My plea here is simple: that extremists should cease targeting followers of other religions in the names of their own various religions.

    As I’ve noted before, attacks here in the US and abroad have included:

  • The Gurdwara (Sikh temple), Oak Creek, WI, 2012
  • Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, NC, 2015
  • The Tree of Life and New Light synagogues in Pittsburgh, PA, 2018
  • The Al Noor and Linwood Mosques in Christchurch, NZ, 2019
  • and violent extremists can be found claiming affiliation to these religions:

  • Judaism
  • Christianity
  • Islam
  • Hinduism
  • Buddhism
  • **

    Violence in the name of religion — whether personal violence as in sexual abuse or political violence as in the case of terrorism — is both human and deeply abhorrent. Understanding how widespread the human urge to violence in fact is will tend to put our recriminations against any particular religion into a clearer perspective. Religions, too, can benefit greatly from acknowledging, and not hiding, the shameful skeletons in their various closets.

    As David Ronfeldt would say: Onwards!

    Halting Problem, P and NP to start with.. chyrons &c 33

    Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019

    { by Charles Cameron — including off and on security clearances, Biden and personal space, Trump and groping, kissing, Sovereign Citizens, a billion dollar swindle, and a cruise named Conspira-Sea — and on and on ]
    .

    So, Fox had a chyron gaffe —

    — it’s worth a chuckle — now move along..

    **

    Okay here’s enantiodromia:

    Trump will put $100 billion into a slush fund so he doesn’t have to deal with budget cuts:

    Republicans have spent a generation complaining about deficits, government spending and attacking a so-called “big government.” Yet, within just a few years the entire party has turned 180 degrees.

    and a nice paradox:

    If P gets things right then it lies in its tooth;
    and if it speaks falsely, it’s telling the truth!

    Where did I get that?

  • Geoffrey K. Pullum, an elementary proof of the undecidability of the halting problem
  • If it was Dr Seuss, I’m betting he’d have employed and enjoyed pee (male) and queue (female), which would have made youthful readers giggle and blush.

    That’s Epimenides territory btw, as in “all Cretans are liars”.

    **

    Getting back to news chyrons — I wasn’t awake to catch this when it showed up on Morning Joe, but a piece on RawStory pointed me to it:

    Joe Scarborough:

    Once again, we’re just looking through a glass darkly, and have no idea what Mueller

    Tom Nichols (professor, Naval War College):

    I would love to play poker with the president because he’s a walking bundle of tells.

    **

    CNN Situation Room 4/1/2019:

    Donald Trump: We’ll keep it closed for a long time. I’m not playing games.
    Kellyanne Conway: It is certainly not a bluff.

    **

    MTP 4/1/2019:

    Jeh Johnson:

    You don’t have to the the former Secretary of Homeland Security to know you can’t shut down a 1,900 mile border. It’s a little like decreeing that it should stop raining..

    [ cf King Knut ]

    [all of them Mexico?]

    Jeh Johnson:

    Cutting off aid is the exact wrong thing to do ..

    Note the lovely symmetry there, equivalent to projection

    **

    Ari Melber:

    Neil Katyal:

    You can’t be playing Ducks and Drakes and releasing selectively some quotes here and some quotes there..

    Is, incidentally, I’m thinking sports metaphors, whistle-blower a sports reference, referee?

    **

    Hardball:

    Rep Steve Cohen:

    This whole thing has been played out like a stall. Like when they used to play basketball without a 32 second, 30 second, 35 secondclock, a 35 second clock and they’re just holding the ball, and they’ve got the lead, they’ve got the lead and they’re holding the ball.

    Chris Matthews:

    That’s Dean Smith’s four corners offense, I know about it. Thanks for the basketball recap. .. This isn’t basketball at all, but there is a question of game-playing here ..*****

    This was re Barr timing the release of the Mueller report (after his redactions) to April 15, when Congress wld be away from town on a 3 week break..

    CM:

    A picture’s worth a thousand words everybody. Natasha, you take this: if we get a New York Times top of the fold picture >of a whole page blacked out .. There isn’t going to be much white left on that page ..

    Natasha Bertrand:

    Is Donald Trump considered a third party because he wasn’t charged?

    I just want to go back really quickly to the question of whether ethics and morals matter. If you’re a morally vacuous person, that makes you more susceptible to beinf blackmailed by a foreign country .. It’s a very big national security issue, and I think that that is the lens through which we have to view this ..

    Jay Inslee:

    Trump has been so inhumane to close the border to refugees, some of whom are climate refugees today, because of the drought..

    First mention I’ve seen of climate refugees***** as a term — cf my poem Mourning the lost Ka’aba

    **

    All In:

    Lachlan Markay:

    A state-sponsored Saudi information warfare apparatus ..

    a full spectrum of information warfare, essentially, against Jeff Bezos, the Washington Post and Amazon ..

    Chris Hayes:

    If it’s true, it’s as real and immediate a threat to free speech in the US as one can possinbbly imagine, if a foreign government that doesn’t like dissidents speaking out of turn so much that it murders themessentially attempts to blackmail and destroythe paper which covers is.

    LM:

    And not just the First Amendment, but we have to remember that Amazon right now is bidding on a ten billion dollar Pentagon cloud storage contract, here as well ..om there are tremendous national security implications

    Ah, and golf:

    There’s even a book about it —

    — a book-length sports metaphor***** for the current presidency?

    Author Rick Reilly describes the President as a “prolific cheater” ..

    **

    Andrea:

    **

    Okay.

    Two major pieces on forms of the extreme associated with the right:

    How Sovereign Citizens Helped Swindle $1 Billion From the Government They Disavow

    And from that article, an aptly named car:

    Mr. Morton’s sentencing was set for that June. But when the 11 a.m. hearing started, he didn’t show. Agents spotted him that afternoon outside a Domino’s in Hermosa Beach, a gray hood and sunglasses shrouding much of his face. He hopped in his white Ford Escape and headed south.

    and an aptly named cruise:

    Worth reading, and really worth knowing about the loosely-defined, quasi-religious Sovereign Citizens movement.

    Also:

    There are two forms of interest here — the vicious circle, a quintessential ouroboric concept, and the implied symmetry in “jihadists and the far-right not only reflect each other, but feed off each other”..

    But the CSM piece I really want to direct your attention to is one written by blog-friend Ann Scott Tyson and quoting blog-friend JM Berger– — who was also quoted in the NYT SovCit piece above:

    Christchurch brings global white supremacist threat into sharp relief

    “This is a much bigger global challenge than it is a challenge just in New Zealand or just in the U.K., with Britain First, or just in the U.S. with the [Ku Klux] Klan and a range of other neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups,” says Seth Jones, director of the Transnational Threats Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “There’s a broader collective concern here.”

    **

    This just in before I go.. another symmetry observed:

    The cruel irony of Hussle’s murder is that he was the victim of the type of urban violence he had long tried to remedy: The day after his death, he was scheduled to participate in an LAPD anti-street-violence meeting.

    Rabbi Yisrael Ariel ‘s vision of Jewish world dominion, plus respect

    Monday, March 11th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — in Judaism, J’lem, Sanhedrin, Temple, Noahide Commandments — in Christianity C Peter Wagner, Dominion eschatology — in Islam, Maududi — hatred springs from love far too narrowly constrained? ]
    .

    As someone who has noted the visions of world domination of Islamist extremists and those of their Christian counterparts, it seems only fair for me to note that some scripture-listeralist extremists within Judaism also foresee world domination for their faith — taking the form of Israel converting all nations to the seven Noahide commandments, if not to Judaism itself, by the sword if need be.

    Thus Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, founder of the Temple Institute and head of the reconstituted Sanhedrin, said:

    This is what the Torah commanded us: ‘When thou drawest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it’ [Deuteronomy 20:10].

    What is meant by ‘peace’? Maimonides says that they must agree to follow the seven Noahide laws … Meaning, you ask them, ‘Do you follow the seven laws? If so, we will allow you to live.’ If not, you kill all of their males, by sword. You only leave the women.

    How do you leave them? They must all agree to follow the seven laws. And that is how you impose the Seven Laws on that city. We will conquer Iraq, Turkey. We will get to Iran, too. We will impose the seven Noahide laws on all of these places.

    You say, ‘I call upon you in peace.’ If they raise the flag [of surrender] and say, ‘From now on there is no more Christianity, no more Islam,’ the mosques and the Christian spires and their crosses come down, ‘from now on we follow the seven Noahide laws.’

    .

    **

    I recently posted a piece titled Laughing at, and respecting, Sebastian Gorka in which I, yes, laughed at Seb Gorka, whose views on many topics I strongly disagree with, and whose speech at CPAC last week seemed frankly over the top, but also expressed respect for the narrative of his boyhood which was part of that speech — and which struck me as explaining something of the intensity of his feelings — at the age of seven or eight, he saw something that changed his life for ever: he saw deep white lines on his father’s wrists, and when he asked what had caused them, his father told him — without emotion —

    Son, that’s where the secret police bound my wrists together with wire behind my back so they could hang me from their ceiling of the torture chamber.

    Coming to the present day, and with that memory seared into him, he told the CPAC audience:

    Russia, we have to remember, is run by a former KGB colonel. That’s the sort of person who would be torturing freedom-fighters like my father in the basement of the Headquarters of the KGB. That’s the reality.

    That I respect.

    And in that spirit, too, I respect Rabbi Ariel‘s memories of the Six Day War and the retaking of the Temple Mount — sacred to both Islam and Judaism —

    We saw fire and smoke from all directions. Gunfire was heard. Suddenly the bad news began ton arrive: friends.. this one was killed, that one was killed.. I saw with my ownb eyes, to my great sorrow, some of the artillery struck fellow soldiers. I had to gather up legs, arms, to bring them to a proper burial. Then the shelling began on the Old City. Planes were streaking overhead, lots of fire and smoke.

    and then, this:

    From the place where I was standing, I could see the entire Temple Mount. After 2000 years this is happening before my very eyes. Within minutes I saw suddenly atop the Dome of the Rock the flag of Israel waving — truly the messianic age..

    .

    **

    I said above that I had noted “the visions of world domination of Islamist extremists and those of their Christian counterparts”. I’d like to quickly document those two claims to world dominion:

    C Peter Wagner, convener of the New Apostolic Reformation declared:

    My favorite term is “dominion eschatology.” Why? Because Jesus did not give His Great Commission in vain.

    The battle will be ferocious, and we will suffer some casualties along the way.However, we will continue to push Satan back and disciple whole nations.

    We are aggressively retaking dominion, and the rate at which this is happening will soon become exponential. The day will come when “‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever’” (Rev. 11:15, NKJV)!

    while Syed Abul A’la Maududi wrote:

    Islam is a revolutionary faith that comes to destroy any government made by man. The goal of Islam is to rule the entire world and submit all of mankind to the faith of Islam.Islam is not a normal religion like the other religions in the world, and Muslim nations are not like normal nations. Muslim nations are very special because they have a command from Allah to rule the entire world and to be over every nation in the world. Islam is a revolutionary faith that comes to destroy any government made by man. Islam doesn’t look for a nation to be in better condition than another nation. Islam doesn’t care about land or who owns the land. The goal of Islam is to rule the entire world and submit all of mankind to the faith of Islam. Any nation or power in this world that tries to get in the way of that goal Islam will fight and destroy. In order for Islam to fulfil that goal, Islam can use every power available every way it can be used to bring worldwide revolution. This is jihad.

    Okay?

    **

    And it was the prophet Isaiah, I think, who offered a more peaceable version or vision of the same global imagery:

    for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

    Next notables, metaphors and bright ideas included

    Sunday, December 9th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — next in the long series beginning with sports and game metaphors, and extending to include miscellaneous memorable items — nb, includes a Tibhirine section, Jim Gant pls note ]
    .

    Here’s a DoubleQuote in images of considerable interest, from David Metcalfe — with the esteemed William Dalrynple DoubleQuoting goddesses in Kerala:

    **

    Ancilliary to my interest in mapping complex realities..

    **

    First “siege warfare” metaphor:

    **

    Something to read alongside John Kiser‘s superb The Monks of Tibhirine: Faith, Love, and Terror in Algeria :

    I would be most happy to publish any comments John Kiser has on Kyle Orton‘s blog post, Algeria’s ‘Years of Blood’: Not Quite What They Seem on ZP should he or Jim Gant notice this somewhat obscure entry..

    **

    Good grief:

    Key comment:

    I will explain all in due course but for now all I want to say is be VERY careful when dabbling in spirituality, it’s not something to mess with.

    **

    And how’s this?

    Trump Channels the Worst of China to Beat China

    A double ouroboros, methinks: the Worst of China to Beat China, arguably, and self-defeating, axiomatically, no?

    **

    Venkatesh Rao, Quiver Doodles:

    I don’t know if this is still true, but I once read about exploited workers in the ship-breaking industry who were worked so hard, and paid so little, they could not even afford to buy enough calories to sustain themselves. They were slowly starving to death. I call this phenomenon entropic ruin, a generalization of the idea of gambler’s ruin to open-ended games that can be non-zero-sum and need not involve gambling. In this case, it’s a deterministic death march. If you systematically consume fewer calories than you expend long term, you will die a premature death.

    Via John Kellden

    **

    Did Venkatesh mention “the idea of gambler’s ruin“? How about nuns’ ruin as a subset?

    Two nuns allegedly stole $500,000 for trips to Las Vegas

    We do know that they had a pattern of going on trips, we do know they had a pattern of going to casinos, and the reality is, they used the account as their personal account,” Marge Graf, an attorney representing St. James, told a group of parents at a meeting last Monday night, according to the Beach Reporter.”

    **

    Mask dancers, Bhutan:

    21 Breathtaking Photos Of Isolated Tribes From All Around The World

    The dancers are gorgeous, but look to the left and see the monasteries perched on plateaus in a towering rock-face..

    I’m pretty sure “isolated tribes” are of particular interest about now because of the evangelical boundary-pusher killed (martyred? now there’s a koan) because he hoped to bring the gospel to Andaman tribal peoples whose isolation is protected by the Indian government.. see my tweet:

    **

    A whole lot more..

    This Nancy Pelosi chyron, for instance:

    Which brings me to #2 below:

    — with #3 also deserving a metaphor-mention..

    And we might as well go for the revolt chyron here:

    And that in turn allows for a splendid graphic with both metaphorical and real resonance..

    **

    That should be enough. I’ll collect further items of interest in the comments section.

    REVIEW: Commander of the Faithful by John Kiser

    Friday, March 30th, 2018

    [Mark Safranski / “zen‘]

    Commander of the Faithful: The Life and Times of Emir Abd el-Kader by John Kiser  

    A while back, I received a copy of Commander of the Faithful from friend of ZP, Major Jim Gant who had been impressed with the book and urged me to read it. My antilibrary pile of books is substantial and it took a while to work my way towards it. I knew a little about Algerian colonial history from reading about the French Third Republic, the Foreign Legion and counterinsurgency literature but the name of Abd el-Kader was obscure to me.  The author, John W. Kiser, had also written a book on the martyred Monks of Tibhirine, a topic that had previously caught the eye of Charles Cameron and made a significant impression. Therefore, I settled in to read a biography of a long forgotten desert Arab chieftain.

    What a marvelous book!

    Kiser’s fast-moving tale is of a man who attempted to forge from unwieldy tribes and two unwilling empires, a new nation grounded in an enlightened Islam that transcended tribal customs ad corrupt legacies of Ottoman misrule while resisting encroachments of French imperial power. A Sufi marabout who was the son of a marabout, el Kader was the scholar who picked up the sword and whose call to jihad eschewed cruelty and held that piety and modernity were compatible aspirations for the feuding tribes of the Mahgreb. There are a number of themes or conflicts in Commander of the Faithful that will interest ZP readers;

    el-Kader’s political effort to build a durable, modernizing, Islamic state and Mahgreb nation from feuding desert tribes and clans

    Abd el-Kader struggled to unify disparate Arab tribes and subtribes through piety, generosity and coercion while integrating Turco-Arabs and Algerian Jews who had a place under the old Ottoman regime into his new order. Jews like the diplomat Judas Ben Duran and Christian French former military officers and priests became  el-Kader’s trusted advisers and intermediaries alongside Arab chieftains and Sufi marabouts.

    el-Kader the insurgent strategist and battlefield tactician

    As a military leader, Abd el-Kader demonstrated both a natural talent for cavalry tactics as well as the organizational skill to build a small, but well-disciplined regular infantry with modern rifles on the European model. It is noteworthy, that while Abd el-Kader suffered the occasional reverse (the worst at the hands of a wily Arab warlord loyal to the French) the French generals fighting him all came to grudgingly respect his bravery, honor and skill. Never defeated, Abd el-Kader made peace with the French and surrendered voluntarily; all of his former enemies, Generals Lamoriciere, Damaus, Bugeaud and Changarnier interceded on al-Kader’s behalf to prod the French government to keep its promises to the Amir, who had become a celebrity POW in a series of French chateaus.

    el-Kader the Islamic modernizer and moral figure

    The 19th century was a time of intellectual ferment in the Islamic world from Morocco to British India with the prime question being the repeated failures of Islamic authorities in the face of European imperialism of the modern West. El-Kader found different answers than did the Deobandis of India, the Wahhabis of Arabia, the later Mahdists of the Sudan, the followers of al-Afghani or the Young Turks who began turning toward secularism. Educated in the Sufi tradition, el-Kader’s vision of Islam, while devout and at times strict, encompassed a benevolent tolerance and respect for “the People of the Book” and general humanitarianism far in advance of the times that is absent in modern jihadism.

    It was Abd el-Kader, in retirement in Damascus, who rallied his men to protect thousands of Christians from being massacred in a bloody pogrom (the 1860 Riots) organized by the Ottoman governor, Ahmed Pasha, using as his instrument two local Druze warlords who were angry about their conflict with the Maronite Christians of Mount Lebanon and Sunni Arabs and Kurds enraged about the Ottoman reforms that had ended the dhimmi status of the Maronite Christians. It was the Emir who faced down and chastised a howling mob as bad Muslims and evildoers and by his actions thousands of lives were spared. Already honored for his chivalrous treatment of prisoners and his banning of customary decapitation as barbarous, the 1860 Riots cemented Abd El-Kader’s reputation for humanitarianism and made him an international figure known from the cornfields of Iowa to the canals of St. Petersburg.

    Kiser, who it must be said keeps the story moving throughout, is at pains to emphasize the exemplary moral character of Abd el-Kader. As Emir, he “walked the walk” and understood the connection between his personal asceticism, probity and generosity to his enemies and the poor and his political authority as Emir. When some Arab tribes betrayed Abd El-Kader in a battle against the French, consequently they were deeply shamed and ended up begging the Emir to be allowed to return to his service. On the occasions when harsh punishments had to be dealt out, Abd el-Kader meted them not as examples of his cruelty to be feared but as examples of justice to deter unacceptable crimes that he would swiftly punish.  This is operating at what the late strategist John Boyd called “the moral level of war”, allowing Abd el-Kader to attract the uncommitted, win over observers, rally his people and demoralize his opponents. Even in defeat, realizing the hopelessness of his position against the might of an industrializing great imperial power that was France. el-Kader retained the initiative, ending the war while he was still undefeated and on honorable terms.

    In Commander of the Faithful, Kiser paints el-Kader in a romantic light, one that fits the mid 19th century when concepts of honor and chivalry still retained their currency on the battlefield and society, among the Europeans as much as the Emir’s doughty desert tribesmen (if there is any group that comes off poorly, it is the Turks, the dying Ottoman regime’s pashas and beys providing a corrupt and decadent contrast to el-Kader’s nascent Islamic state). The nobility of Abd el-Kader shines from Kiser’s text, both humble and heroic in a manner that rarely sees a 21st century analogue. It is both refreshing and at times, moving to read of men who could strive for the highest ethical standards while engaged in the hardest and most dangerous enterprise.

    Strongly recommended.

     


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