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Coronavirus meets religion #4

Saturday, March 21st, 2020

[ by Charles Cameron — this one’s fine, with popes, patriarchs, confessions, hindutva and all — but i’ll have something special for you in #5 ]
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I just ran across an Italian site, DIRESOM, that monitors matters of the virus, religion and law, and am going to drop in some of the more potent notices here.

Hindutva:

Around mid-February 2020, Chakrapani Maharaj, who is the President of the Indian fundamentalist party “All India Hindu Mahasabha”, asserted that “corona is not a virus, but an angry avatar [divine embodiment] who came into the world to punish those who eat meat and to protect poor people”

The thuing is, religion allied to nationalism all too easily turns into bigotry, persecution, torture, massacres, whatever..

**

Orthodoxy:

ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH ANNOUNCES HALT OF ALL ORTHODOX CHURCH SERVICES GLOBALLY DUE TO CORONAVIRUS
18 MARCH 2020

Brother Hierarchs and beloved children in the Lord,

From the Phanar, from the heart of the Queen of Cities, from the City of the Great Church and of Haghia Sophia, we are communicating with each and every one of you – women, men, and children – because of the unprecedented conditions and tribulation that we are facing as a human race as a result of the global threat posed by the pandemic of the new coronavirus, called Covid-19.

The voice of the Church, of the Mother Church, cannot be silent in such times. Our words, then, take the form we have learned through the ages: through the liturgy and through instruction, with encouragement and consolation.

Church of England:

Same thing in the UK..

As the challenge of the coronavirus grips the world, and as the Government asks every individual and every organisation to rethink its life, we are now asking the Church of England in all its parishes, chaplaincies and ministries to serve all people in a new way. Public worship will have to stop for a season. Our usual pattern of Sunday services and other mid-week gatherings must be put on hold. But this does not mean that the Church of England has shut up shop

**

Catholicism:

The issue of the sacrament of confession — traditionally a face-to-face practice (albeit often conducted through a grille or veil) — may, a Vatican authority on canon law argues, legitimately be conducted via telephone, in sufficiently urgent, exigent circumstances.

  • Note on the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the current pandemic situation, by the Vatican’s Grand Penitentiary, Cardinal Piacenza [Italian]
  • .

    **

    Pope Francis, pray for us

    Coronavirus meets religion #3

    Thursday, March 19th, 2020

    [ by Charles Cameron — third in a series — mostly about locusts ]
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    Eye-grabbing but not helpful:

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    The image comes from Prophecy News Watch, where it heads up today’s article, Is Coronavirus Connected To Bible Prophecy?. The answer:

    I believe what we are witnessing with COVID-19 is part of the birth pains Jesus talked about in the Olivet Discourse. In fact, I think it is a major birth pain; as is the locust plague that is ravaging Africa and the Mideast; as is the large number of social uprisings in countries around he world; as is the increase in earthquake activity; as were the record-breaking Australian wild fires; as is…you get the picture. Birth pains increase in frequency and intensity, and they only increase until the moment of delivery

    **

    Plague of locusts? From the Times of Israel, courtesy Richard Landes:

    Notice the subtitle: the locusts will ” skip Holy Land”. In the story of the Biblical plagues, the locusts were the eighth out of ten plagues of increasing severity meted out by the Lord against Pharaoh and his Egypt. There was worse to come, but the locust plague itself would be worse than any other locus plague before or since. As Moses prophesies to Pharaoh:

    Exodus 10. 3:Thus saith the Lord God of the Hebrews, How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before me? let my people go, that they may serve me.

    4 Else, if thou refuse to let my people go, behold, to morrow will I bring the locusts into thy coast:

    5 And they shall cover the face of the earth, that one cannot be able to see the earth: and they shall eat the residue of that which is escaped, which remaineth unto you from the hail, and shall eat every tree which groweth for you out of the field:

    6 And they shall fill thy houses, and the houses of all thy servants, and the houses of all the Egyptians; which neither thy fathers, nor thy fathers’ fathers have seen, since the day that they were upon the earth unto this day.

    It was the tenth and worst plague– the death of the firstborn — that afflicted the Egyptians and which “passed over” the Israelites — compare the eerie echo here of the plage that will “skip Holy Land”.

    Coronavirus meets religion #1

    Monday, March 16th, 2020

    [ by Charles Cameron — a quick miscellany ]
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    The Vatican:

    Starting fairly near home, depending on your flavor of the local religion, the Pope in Rome lives in the Vatican — an independent absolute monarchy wholly enclosed by Italy, and unable to escape the virus sweeping its host nation. The Vatican has now reported its first confirmed case of the coronavirus.

    The Pope, accordingly, has delivered his usual public Sunday Mass by video conference, and instructed the pries of the Catholic Church to attend to those affected by tea coronavirus.

    Islam:

    The Kaaba in Mecca, usually crammed with pilgrims, is almost completely empty.

    The Shiite regime in Tehran has declared that that medical work is jihad — struggle, typically “in the way of Allah. The Mullah Khamenei:

    I have already sincerely thanked physicians, nurses and medical teams, but I deem it necessary to thank all those dear ones once more. Certain phenomena were witnessed these days which are really and truly instructive for all of us and which indicate the sense of responsibility of our medical staff and their human and religious commitment in the country.

    India:

    Put face-masks on the gods / “idols”. This one’s Shiva, from the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi:

    **

    Sending my best wishes to all..

    Two very different pieces of possible interest

    Wednesday, January 29th, 2020

    [ by Charles Cameron — one for those who follow apocalyptic strands in RL and media, one for those who follow Vimalakirti, Heraclitus and the Glass Bead Game — recommended ]
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    Tim Furnish reviews the Netflix series, Messiah:

    An Iraqi Refugee Trained in Illusion Who Works Miracles — Christ or Anti? Masih or Dajjal? That’s the situation posed by the Netflix series, Messiah, and it’s presented with sufficient subtlety that the answer’s not as obvious as it may seem from that quick condensation — and indeed, at the end of the series, there’s still sufficient ambiguity to keep you guessing, and the producers in line for a renewed contract and second series..

    It’s not quite subtle enough to please our friend Tim Furnish, however, who gives a fine overview of the series, then takes the details of eschatological hadith and Biblical writings a step further into accuracy, and thus depth. His opening paragraphs:

    “One man’s messiah is another man’s heretic.” That’s the opening line of my first book on Islamic messianic figures. It’s also an apt summary of Netflix’s excellent new show Messiah. Its 10-episode first season was released on Jan. 1. Let’s hope it gets renewed. We need to know how this story of a charismatic Middle Eastern miracle worker, who not only attracts Christians, Muslims and Jews but sways the U.S. President, plays out. Here’s a brief (as possible) summary.

    A Modern-Day Messiah?

    A long-haired, thinly bearded man appears in Damascus and accurately predicts the destruction of besieging ISIS forces. Many Palestinians there follow him into the desert, believing him to be al-Masih, “The Messiah.” He leads them to the Israeli border. The movement gets on the CIA’s radar screen. The group reaches the Israeli border, and al-Masih crosses. He’s arrested and interrogated by a Shin Bet agent, about whom he knows personal details. He then disappears from prison (later we find out the prison guard let him go, believing him the Messiah) and reappears on the Temple Mount. In a confrontation near the Dome of the Rock, Israeli soldiers shoot a young boy — whom al-Masih heals. He then disappears again, showing up soon after in Dilley, Texas. He is caught on cell phone cameras stopping a tornado about to destroy the Baptist church. This goes viral and many flock to the town. The church pastor believes him to be Jesus returned and becomes his spokesman and handler.

    Well there’s plenty more, obviously, and I highly recommend Tim’s commentary — they should have hired him as a consultant.

    To read more, go to Netflix’s Messiah Reviewed: Who’s Your Messiah Now?

    **

    Very different indeed is JustKnecht‘s exquisite weaving of ideas around Basho, Vimalakirti and a whiff of Chick Corea in his Notes on a winter journey to the interior, subtitled (and subtled) “on a treadmill facing north” — the reference is to Basho‘s Narrow Road to the Deep North which you really ought to know already.

    And that’s a bit of a point. You really ought to know already: Basho and Vimalakirti, Heraclitus and Tamsin Lorraine, heaven and earth, and as it is in heaven, so it already and always is on earth, for as above, so below.

    For myself, I know each of these with glancing blows, while JustKnecht knows each in depths I cannot match. Reading the whole is, for me, a sustained flight in the Absolute as viewed through thr world’s cultures, with butterflies a particular point of reference — and a long-tailed bired in seven syllables that’s almost an angel — or an apsara?. — ah, peacocks, too.

    In any case, an education — and a delight.

    Late afternoon, cooling down after a hard run in the condo gym, Herbie Hancock’s Butterfly breezes onto my playlist. We breathe together deeply, and I don’t know whether it is I dreaming that I am the bass clarinet, or the bass clarinet dreaming that it is I.

    The music and the vision fades, and I’m sitting in my armchair doing mental exercise. From high school trombonists and collegiate level cello students to elite athletes and surgeons, cognitive rehearsal in the absence of physical movement has been shown to improve physical performance. In the same way, listening to one of my 5K run playlists gives me a perfectly good workout without the inconvenience of even moving a muscle.

    Reade more: Notes on a winter journey to the interior — ah yes, the interior!

    Thank you: I bow .

    Mecca, the 1979 Grand Mosque Siege

    Sunday, December 29th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — watch out for movements — of any belief — that arm themselves in preparation for an end times battle ]
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    This is simply to alert you to a fine BBC recounting of the events at the Grand Mosque in Mecca on the first day of the current Islamic century — when two or three hundred heavily armed militants following a Mahdist claimant and his proclaimer —

    BBC pull quote

    really, think the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and His John the Baptist, and you have some sense of the seriousness of the affair — took over the central mosque in all of Islam — think the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, or St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican perhaps — and held the place under siege, with considerable bloodshed, until finally four French commandos were allowed in to use gas and flush out the remaining followers of the Mahdi, himself now dead.

    **

    End times arousals of this sort are far from over: ISIS espoused an explicitly eschatological ideology, while AL Qaida used an end times hadith to rally to their black banners in Afghanistan, and a 2007 Shi’ite insurgency near Najaf around a Mahdist claim, Shi’i-style, was serious enough for the government of Iraq to call in American air strikes.

    Important stuff, therefore.

    **

    Recommended Readings:

  • BBC, Mecca 1979: The mosque siege that changed the course of Saudi history
  • Hegghammer & Lacroix, The Meccan Rebellion: The Story of Juhayman al-‘Utaybi Revisited
  • Hegghammer & Lacrois:


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