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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

**

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!

    Here’s magic!

    Friday, May 17th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — Krishna’s flute, evoked by a commercials videographer’s eye — brilliant! ]
    .

    Let me remind you again: real magic is simplicity itself:

    Especially if you are a Hindu with strong devotion to Lord Krishna, but even so if you are secular, or the holder of some other faith or practice — there’s magic in this simple hand-gesture, conjuring the flute with which Krishna lures the lovely Radha to his side:

    Photo: Jeremy Hunter

    Simplicity is the essence of elegance!

    **

    And since this is a series on advertising and magic — what, you might wish to know, is the advertising connection here?

    Well, “to borrow a leaf from his bio, photographer JEREMY HUNTER began his career in advertising — as a television creative, working for Young and Rubicam, Leo Burnett, Ogilvy and Bates, and winning a number of international awards in Cannes, Venice, New York and Los Angeles along the way.

    **

    Earlier in this series:

    :

  • Advertising series 01: Music
  • Eros, the Renaissance and advertising
  • Authentic, spiritual magic!
  • The magic of advertising or the commercialization of magic?
  • I’ve got about a dozen more posts to go, and already this is shaping up to be a terrific series — keep your eyes out for further installments!

    Authentic, spiritual magic!

    Thursday, May 9th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — from conjuring to gospel truth — third in a series ]
    .

    Kwakiutl winter ceremonial mask, closed and open

    |

    **

    Here’s magic, as in my best recollection, a Pacific Northwestern shaman explained it to an anthro friend..

    It’s my recollection that [Tlingit / Kwakiutl winter ceremonials] were both entertainment for the long winter nights and “schooling” for the young, and I have a vivid recall of reading somewhere a shaman’s admission to an anthro of the exact nature of the dramatic means by which the shaman’s capacity to defeat death was demonstrated.

    I read this in the early eighties, but searching on the web I’ve found something that comes close — Clellan Stearns Ford’s record of Charles James Nowell’s memories in _Smoke from their fires: the life of a Kwakiutl chief_. Around p 120, there are two stories, the first about a girl who “turned the wrong way” during a dance, the second about a girl who is put in a box and burned. In both cases, the nature of the trickery is described but in the version I read all those years ago, the two stories were one — the girl who was put in a box in the fire pit and “burned to death” escapes through a false bottom to the box along a tunnel into the adjoining room, and her voice then issues as if from her ashes, via a kelp tube that goes from the tunnel to the adjoining room where she’s now standing.

    She describes her descent into the sea realm, where she is chastened and eventually granted a boon to return to the tribe. A canoe sets out to fetch her, but by the time the audience sees it set out, she’s already secured by rope to the far side of the boat, and at a suitable distance is hauled aboard and brought back to shore, alive.

    A child seeing this would be mightily predisposed to believing the shaman had healing powers, and by the time the ruse was revealed, that underpinning of faith is already in place.

    In the Nowell version, even the adults, who “know” the deception involved, are deceived: “The fire burned and the box burned, and she was still singing inside, and then the box go up in flames, and they can see her burning there in her blue blanket, and all her relatives just cry and cry. Although they know it is not real, it looks so real they can’t help it. It was all a trick. There was a hole under the box with a tunnel leading out of the house, and the woman went out of the box and put a seal in her place wrapped in a blue blanket, and then someone sang into the fire through a kelp tube, her song. Oh, it looked real!”

    One source I found recently online:

    Tom McFeat, Indians of the North Pacific Coast: Studies in Selected Topics

    **

    I would like to suggest to you that magic, if you think of it as imagic, has to do with image, and is usefully considered as another term for or related to, imagination..

    There are a couple of other categoies I’d like to bring to your attention: (i) coincidences or synchronicities, which can border on (2) the miraculous, at its finest a sacred business, (3) poetry, at its most beautiful, true and good, (4) sacraments, defined as revelations of “an inward an spiritual grace” my means of an “outward and physical sign” — and (5) the Eucatastrophe as described by JRR Tolkien in his masterful essay, On Fairy-tales..

    The Gospels contain a fairy-story, or a story of a larger kind which embraces all the essence of fairy-stories. They contain many marvels — peculiarly artistic, beautiful, and moving: “mythical” in their perfect, selfcontained significance; and among the marvels is the greatest and most complete conceivable eucatastrophe. But this story has entered History and the primary world; the desire and aspiration of sub-creation has been raised to the fulfillment of Creation. The Birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe of Man’s history. The Resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of the Incarnation. This story begins and ends in joy. It has pre-eminently the “inner consistency of reality.” There is no tale ever told that men would rather find was true, and none which so many sceptical men have accepted as true on its own merits. For the Art of it has the supremely convincing tone of Primary Art, that is, of Creation. To reject it leads either to sadness or to wrath.

    **

    Magic: there’s more to it than advertising, but advertising may deploy it.

    Next up, a most miscellaneous miscellany

    Sunday, May 5th, 2019

    [ by Charles Camerom — no longer spending much time scanning for chyrons, but there’s still plenty of interest in my feed — note the great quote from A Man for All Seasons ]
    .

    Unbelievable!

    From Trump’s 2020 campaign manager:

    **

    Less bogus religion, more mundane reality:

    Stunning: Clint Watts offers an “life imitating art imitating life” (and I quote) instance on Meet the Press — a short, sharp overview of how Putin trolls the US electorate with malicious intent:

    That interview was shot a while back, but is worth revisiting today. Omn May 1st, Watts spoke of a “war game” and it was in searching (unsuccessfully) for that clip that I stumbled on this one.

    **

    Let’s follow that up with a tweet-repeated ouroboros chaser:

    **

    Somewhere I saw:

    The flase narrative got out of the gate long before the truth did ..A tic-tac-toe pin for all of the games played by Mnuchin, Barr and Trump ..
    impeachment is an explosive undertaking and can ricochet in all sorts of complicated directions ..
    Mehdi Hasan: The Democrats bring a knife tom a gun-fight, the Republicans bring a rocket-launcher ..
    Charlotte Alter: Buttegeig speaks Democratic with a Republican accent..
    Mike Barnickle (re Biden): It’s hideously early in the campaign. I mean, it’s not even spring training, forget the exhibition games that have yet toi be played. It’s very early, so he’s got a big bounce from name recogmnition ..
    Rick Wilson: It’s an interesting play (for Dems). I think if they camn draw the arc from nationalism to populism to statism to authoritarianism to Trumpism, they’ve got something there ..
    Flannery: We have a crime syndicate in the west wing ..
    I think they could have hammered him and sickled him to death ..*****

    **

    I’ll not bother to load the video clips themselves, but for the record, here’s Trump inviting Russia to hack Hillary’s emails, and Hillary inviting China to hack Trump’s tax returns — a DoubleQuote, albeit an obvious one — structurally equivalent to a cinematic flashback. But here’s another DQ, just a little less obvious perhaps:

    Chris Matthews, incidentally, is on a roll comparing William Barr‘s situation to that of Roper in A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt. Thomas More reproves Roper for his infidelity with the words:

    For Wales? Why Richard, it profit a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world. . . but for Wales!

    That’s the same Will Roper to whom More addresses his celebrated speech:

    nd when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!”

    **

    That William Safire-Barr business, from Cover-up Attorney General Bill Barr strikes again — one of those crucial rhymes:

    Back in 1992, the last time Bill Barr was U.S. attorney general, iconic New York Times writer William Safire referred to him as “Coverup-General Barr” because of his role in burying evidence of then-President George H.W. Bush’s involvement in “Iraqgate” and “Iron-Contra.”

    — and another Barr quote, from The Complicated Friendship of Robert Mueller and William Barr:

    Figliuzzi described the dynamic between Mueller and Barr as one of “a boy scout” (Mueller) versus “a street fighter” (Barr). … “Mueller is a guy who plays by the rules, and he was playing by the rules in this report,” Figliuzzi told me. “He kind of trusts that the system will take care of itself, and he kicks his report over across the street to DOJ. That’s where things go south.”

    **

    Another tweet:

    Certainly a striking formulation, that — “Love, in public, is justice..” I heard that too, and had to chew on it, which is why I googled and found this tweet: the one thing this isn’t is conflict-avoidant.

    **

    Okay, here’s a John Bolton triple:


    Dexter Filkin
    ‘s a must-read — but his current NYorker piece leads us back to two other striking Bolton headers:

    Bolton is hardly my favorite, but drawing the attention of Filkins, Gourevitch and Robin wright is surely a mark of honor of some kind.

    Sources:

  • Dexter Filkins, John Bolton on the Warpath
  • Philip Gourevitch, What Is John Bolton’s Bully-Pulpit Attack Really About?
  • Robin Wright, John (“Bomb Iran”) Bolton, the New Warmonger in the White House
  • Christian, Piano-playing, ISIS-sympathizing terror

    Friday, May 3rd, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — it’s a good and bad speckled universe ]
    .

    Christian terrorist?

    Both words, Christian and terrorist, need examining, but they’re not the wrong words, nor the right ones. Also, note (in big print) that this is the view from a Progressive, Secular, Humanist perspective — those three words are also worth pondering.

    Context, context, context, as the realtors would say if they were selling attention-space..

    **

    To give you some context, then, let’s consider these terrorist killings with religious targets:

  • 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 these religions with affiliated terrorists:

  • Jewish religious terrorism
  • Christian terrorism
  • Islamic terrorism<
  • Saffron terror
  • Morals:

  • You can be hated on account of your religion
  • You can hate on account of your religion
  • Your co-religionists may have reason to feel you are outsiders
  • The proportions of violent to other believers varies between times, religions
  • Religions & groups may differ on where injustice requires redress
  • Listening, which involves humility, is a necessary feature of compassion.
  • There’s plenty of room for nuance here — as fractal theorists would say, the world is self-similar at different scales — or at the poet GM Hopkins puts it, “dappled”.

    **

    Let’s peer a little closer:

    Half the equation? Presumably terrorist would be the other half?

    Uh-oh: piano-playing and nursing…

    That’s not at all what I was expecting..

    Sources:

  • Prog Sec Hum, Christian Terrorist John Earnest Issued Manifesto
  • GetReligion, Yes, John Earnest put ‘Christian’ label into play
  • Daily Beast, Synagogue Shooting Suspect, a Piano-Playing Nursing Student
  • **

    To repeat the point that it’s not just one religion that’s involved either in violence or as a target, let’s switch religions — these things are simultaneous rather than separate:

    Islamic Terrorist?

    Source:

  • Metro, US Army vet Mark Domingo ‘plotted Isis bomb attack
  • A US army vet turned ISIS-supporter attacking neo-Nazis? That’s just one more curious instance of how these hard-to-imagine cookies crumble..

    **

    To return to our Christian:

    Before he allegedly walked into a synagogue in Poway, Calif., and opened fire, John Earnest appears to have written a seven-page letter spelling out his core beliefs: that Jewish people, guilty in his view of faults ranging from killing Jesus to controlling the media, deserved to die. That his intention to kill Jews would glorify God.

    Days later, the Rev. Mika Edmondson read those words and was stunned. “It certainly calls for a good amount of soul-searching,” said Edmondson, a pastor in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, a small evangelical denomination founded to counter liberalism in mainline Presbyterianism. Earnest, 19, was a member of an OPC congregation. His father was an elder. He attended regularly. And in the manifesto, the writer spewed not only invective against Jews and racial minorities but also cogent Christian theology he heard in the pews.

    That’s WaPo‘s opinion, and we don’t know how strong WaPo‘s theological understanding is.

    This pastor, however seems to me to get it right:

    “When there’s an act of ‘radical Islamic terror’ — somebody claiming they’re motivated by their Islamic faith — if we’re going to call upon moderates in Muslim communities to condemn those things, we should do the same. I wholeheartedly, full stop, condemn white nationalism,” said Chad Woolf, an evangelical pastor in Fort Myers, Fla., who was one of the first to join in heated debate online about how the attack reflects on evangelicalism. “We should recognize that somebody could grow up in an evangelical church, whose father was a leader, and could somehow conflate the teachings of Christianity and white nationalism. We should be very concerned about that.”

    Okay, I have now read the complete manifesto, and if WaPo‘s headline writers think it contains theology, WaPo is paying less than ideal attention. The manifesto quotes scriptures — Matthew 27:24-25, John 8:37-45, 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16, Revelation 2:9, Revelation 3:9 and one other verse of which he says “I forget where in the Bible this verse comes from, but it’s definitely in there” — but quoting (cherry-picking) scripture isn’t theology, it’s quoting scripture. And there’s one paragraph that might serve as an intro paragraph in some moderately bright student paper on Protestantism:

    To my brothers in Christ of all races. Be strong. Although the Jew who is inspired by demons and Satan will attempt to corrupt your soul with the sin and perversion he spews—remember that you are secure in Christ. Turn away from your sin. Not because it is required for your salvation—for nobody save Christ can merit heaven based on his own works—but rather out of gratitude for the gift of salvation that your God has given you. Always remember that it is God that is keeping you alive and in faith. All sin stems from the arrogant belief that one does not need God. Satan was so prideful that he actually truly believed (that he, a created being) could overthrow the Ancient of Days—the Creator of all in existence. Satan inspired this rebellion among humanity. Christ alone is the only source of life. Know that you are saved in Christ and nothing—not death, nor torture, nor sin—can steal your soul away from God.

    All else is ugliness, and I won’t quote.

    What’s more lovely? By all accounts, the shooter’s father ..

    Sources:

  • WaPo, The alleged synagogue shooter was a churchgoer who talked Christian theology
  • Reddit, I knew John T. Earnest, the shooter of the Chabad synagogue

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