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Trump — King or Queen? A Biblical DoubleQuote

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — a gender-bender for our times, and a caution against messianic projections on all too fallible humans }
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Either way, Donald Trump:

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To be frank, I don’t think Trump is either one — but Biblical excuses made by or on behalf of those Evangelicals who favor Trump‘s policies, and particularly his choices for the bench, are worth considering on their own merits.

King David notoriously slept with Bathsheba after sending his friend, her husband, off to die on the front lines, and yet G*d seems to have favored and used him. Similarly, Cyrus wasn’t even one of the Chosen People, yet he seems to have been one of the people chosen.

An aside — while I’m not sure if he originated the idea, it’s interesting that David Koresh, the leader of the Branch Davidians, named himself “Koresh” — “Cyrus” in Hebrew — and gave himself the title “sinful Messiah” because he felt both convinced / convicted of his sinfulness and called to a salvific, nay messianic, purpose. Esther? She was Jewish herself and beautiful, and protected the Jews from a holocaust back in the day.

David exemplifies the leader with a shady, nay adulterous and murderous, past.

Cyrus is the unbeliever in a G*d who uses him for his own purposes. And Esther is a ruler who preserves the Jewish people in a time of trouble.

Each analogy in turn has its merits — yet as regular readers here know, while I’m an enthusiast for thinking via analogies, I’m also concerned to bring critical appraisal to them. I have to admit I don’t see a Cyrus, David, or Esther here, and tend to think the long history of messianic projections by enthusiastic crowds, and messianic pretenders who came and went, should be a caution for us.

Trump looks to me like a man, is all. I wouldn’t trust him, and I don’t even trust myself.

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Sources:

  • CBN (2016), Chaos Candidate: Is Trump a Modern-Day King Cyrus?
  • WaPo (2019), Holy Moses. Mike Pompeo thinks Trump is Queen Esther
  • Too good to miss, recent miscellanea

    Thursday, August 29th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — i don’t know about you, but wondrous strange stuff passes before my eyes daily, as in a dream — here’s a sampler ]
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    First off, two graphics too good to miss:

    From my friend Rabbi Lobel:

    and via David Metcalfe:

    I should probably stop there — the two of them are so stunning. But I need someplace to park some other recent items that caught my attention..

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    Then, a chyron ouroboros so brief as to be stunning:

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    And here are a couple of other tweeted ouroboroi

    And this one with the added distinction of coming from a Q-source:

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    Best game as metaphor for politics meme:

    Best folk religion image — Holy Child, Patron Saint of Gas Thieves

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    BTW, does QAnon get it’s Q from Quelle, German for source and popularly abbreviated Q in New Testament studies, where it is the “hypothetical written collection of primarily Jesus’ sayings” (Wiki) on which Matthew and Luke draw for materials not found in Mark?

    Or as I suggested to Ali Minai a day or two ago:

    the letter Q is what you get when you try to construct a Moebius strip on a plane surface.

    Don’t get me started on Borromean rings..

    And is there a Q in that initial snake graphic, at the head of this post? Thus I bite my own tail..

    Alchemies of church & bookstore, French Open court & gardens

    Wednesday, June 5th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — two instances of somewhat unexpected balance ]
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    Here, first, something you’ve already seen — the Maastricht bookstore in a restored church, arguably an instance of word being made flesh:

    and the gardens now surrounding the clay court on which the French Open is played:

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    Sources:

  • Marcus Fairs, A shop in a church by Merkx + Girod Architecten
  • Gerald Marzorati, How the French Turned a Tennis Court Into a Garden
  • **

    I say alchemy because marriages of hard and soft, above and below, word and flesh, have it in common that they bridge significant metaphysical divides — like the fall of the Berlin wall, to take a political equivalent within living memory — and thus perform a healing work.

    Tikkun olam.

    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!

    Sunday surprise, what can happen to music

    Monday, May 13th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — Aretha to rabbinic wisdom via N’Orleans — five versions of the one great song — with a Mother’s Day greeting to all Marthas and all Marys ]
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    Consider this song as sung by the awesome Aretha Franklin:

    Here’s the story of Mary and Martha, as John’s Gospel tells it [John 40: 38-42]:

    Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

    You might say that Martha is the mother of service, and Mary the mother of devotion: they are equally celebrated in the church, yet Mary has the better part.

    Wonderful, then, to encounter the same song as played and sung by N’Orleans’ own Theresa Andersson:

    That’s the extraordinary creative re-creation I was wanting to share with you.

    **

    The Parting of the Waters [Exodus 14: 21-29]:

    And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.

    And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the Lord looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians, And took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the Lord fighteth for them against the Egyptians.

    And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen. And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.

    And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them. But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.

    Wait: there’s a curious — and beautiful — counterpoint to this story in rabbinic lore:

    The Talmud teaches us that on the night that the Egyptian army drowned in the Red Sea, the first true moment of freedom for the Jews fleeing Egypt, God refused to hear the angels sing their prayers, and said “my creations are drowning in the sea, and you will sing songs?”

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    Appendix:

    We could also take — if you have time to join me — another path through that song.

    The Fisk Jubilee Singers:

    Mary’s there, but no Martha. That’s the earliest recording of the song that survives.

    Then there’s The Swan Silvertones:

    Mary don’t you weep — Martha don’t have to moan — it’s been decided that Mary of the song — who might be the sister of Moses — is, or is also, Mary the sister of Martha..

    And let’s close with Take-6:

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    Sources:

  • Jerry Zolten, “Oh Mary Don’t You Weep”–The Swan Silvertones (1959)
  • Wikipedia, Mary Don’t You Weep
  • Art & Theology, “Oh Mary, Don’t You Weep”: Death, Resurrection, and the New Exodus

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