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Alchemies of church & bookstore, French Open court & gardens

Wednesday, June 5th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — two instances of somewhat unexpected balance ]
.

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:

**

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 ]
    .

    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!

    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 ]
    .

    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?”

    **

    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:

    **

    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
  • 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
  • Christchurch, NZ, The Great Replacement and a hail of bullets

    Monday, March 18th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — hold onto your Stetsons, New Zealand, massacre, tips from JM Berger and Clint Watts, sadness, anger, the 8chan ouroboros, more ]
    .

    On the left, the symbol which fronts the Christchurch mosques killer’s manifesto, The Great Replacement; note the black sun wheel in the center, and compare: on the right, the Nazi SS black sun or schwartze sonne. The SPLC’s Flags and Other Symbols Used By Far-Right Groups in Charlottesville page notes:

    Schwarze Sonne (Black Sun), sometimes called the sonnerad: symbol has become synonymous with myriad far-right groups who traffic in neo-Nazi and/or neo-Volkisch ideologies. The symbol is based on the ancient sun wheel artifacts that were made and used by Norse and Germanic tribes as symbol of their pagan beliefs. Those sun wheels, made centuries upon centuries ago, do not usually resemble the complexity of this particular version. The version above is inlayed into the marble floor of the Castle Wewelsburg, the castle that Himmler made the spiritual and literal home of the SS during the reign of the Third Reich, and has significance within the occult practices of the SS.

    Wikipedia’s page on the Great Replacement conspiracy theory notes:

    The great replacement (French: le grand remplacement) is a right-wing conspiracy theory, which states that the white Catholic French population, and white Christian European population at large, is being systematically replaced with non-European people, specifically Middle Eastern, North and Sub-Saharan African populations, through mass migration and demographic growth. It associates the presence of Muslims in France with potential danger and destruction of French culture and civilization. [ .. ]

    The theory has been popularized by Renaud Camus.

    **

    God I’m sorry.

    **

    News sources will have more details on the shootings, the shooter or shooters, the trial of Brenton Tarrant and so forth. My interest, posting here, will be in this act of cruel terrorism, in Tarrant‘s manifesto and its close relationship to Anders Breivik‘s manifesto, 2083, and whatever else emerges.

    Is Islamophobia the issue here? The ideology of Branton Tarrant‘s manifesto is white supremacist, but the attacks themselves, the massacres, take place not on immigration centers, hut on two mosques — clearly identifying the spear-tip of Tarrant‘s rage.

    Consider: Hatred, hatred, hatred, and prayer, prayer, prayer:

  • 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
  • There’s context there.

    **

    On this most recent occasion I feel a mix of emotions:

    The terrorist massacre of women, men and children in two places of Muslim worship on Friday, the Muslim day of prayer, is heartbreaking: my tears and prayers go out to the victims, their families and friends, and all in New Zealand, a small and notably peaceful country — my friend Walter Logeman, therapist and man of peace, lives in Christchurch, and my heart goes out to him this day, as it does to Marianne Elliott, known on Twitter as @zenpeacekeeper, and Leah Farrall, @allthingsct — see below.

    In this moment of rage and hate, it is good to remember and praise the lives of those who untiringly promote peace and love.

    So I feel sad, very sad, and grateful for my friends.

    **

    Meanwhile:

    This, I’m afraid, makes me angry.

    Australian Senator Blames Muslims for Terror Attack at New Zealand Mosque

    Australian Senator Fraser Anning released a statement blaming “the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place” as “the real cause of bloodshed” following Friday’s shootings.

    **

    Tarrant’s manifesto :

    The first thing to know about Tarrant‘s manifesto is that it is propaganda:

    JM: The manifesto is — We treat these often as confessional documents, which are supposed to educate us about the person — but what it really is is a work of propaganda. And this one more than most.

    We can tell from the manifesto that he’s a white supremacist, he’s anti-immigrant, he’s anti-Muslim, but when you try to drill down into the details,there’s not a lot of utility in the document. [ ..

    One court appearance is probably going to be more illuminating nthan the document itself.

    On the mix of immigration, racist and religionist issues:

    Immigration and race are closely linked issues. Anti-immigration views allow white supremacists and people who have general right-wing views to incorporate a lot of different forms of hatred under one umbrella. It’s anti-Muslim, obviously, he targeted Muslims. It’s also racist as he describes it. Immigration is a convenient umbrella or fig-leaf for underlying bigotries that are more complex.

    **

    Having said that, let’s dig into the weeds, and take a look at one particular item in Tarrant‘s agenda, and that of Breivik. I’ll use the example of Constantinople, but Jerusalem and Vienna would have been other candidates..

    Tarrant‘s manifesto includes a Q&A in which the imagined questioner asks:

    Did/do you have ties to any other partisans/freedom fighters/ethno soldiers?

    to which Tarrant responds:

    I support many of those that take a stand against ethnic and cultural genocide. Luca Traini, Anders Breivik, Dylan Roof, Anton Lundin Pettersson, Darren Osbourne etc.
    But I have only had brief contact with Knight Justiciar Breivik, receiving a blessing for my mission after contacting his brother knights.

    That’s of particular since it mentions actual contact of some sort with Breivik , and also suggests there are in fact, as Breivik suggested, more Knights Justiciar besides (the self-proclaimed) Breivik himself.

    We’ll return to that. The next question and response also mentions Breivik, and emphasizes his importance to Tarrant, whose 74-page manifesto was no boubt inspired by Breivik’s own manifesto of 1,515 pages:

    Were your beliefs influenced by any other attackers?

    I have read the writings of Dylan Roof and many others, but only really took true inspiration from Knight Justiciar Breivik.

    **

    Anders Breivik scans geopolitics and notes such things as Hindu nationalism in India as well as crusades and jihad, and one of his focuses within the latter pair of concerns is Anatolia, now known as Turkey — and within Turkey, Constantinople, now known, with the inclusion of largely residential areas on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, as Istanbul.

    Breivik quotes a hadith of the Prophet:

    Verily you shall conquer Constantinople. What a wonderful leader will he be, and what a wonderful army will that army be!

    He refers to Constantinople as a gem of the Christian world:

    Constantinople, the jewel of Eastern Christendom, finally fell in 1453 to the armies of Sultan Mahomet II.

    He also terms it “the greatest Christian city in the world” and nites that the First Crusade was called by Pope Urban II “in response to an urgent plea for help from the Byzantine emperor in Constantinople”

    Tarrant‘s manifesto is much shrter, though 77 pages is long enough to cram in a fair amount of detail, vitriol, and propaganda, including this section, in which he too writes of the Christian city of Constantinople:

    To turks

    You can live in peace in your own lands, and may no harm come to you.
    On the east side of the Bosphorus.
    But if you attempt to live in European lands, anywhere west of the Bosphorus. We will kill you and drive you roaches from our lands.
    We are coming for Constantinople and we will destroy every mosque and minaret in the city.
    The Hagia Sophia will be free of minarets and Constantinople will be rightfully christian owned once more.

    **

    Knights Justiciar?

    As we have seen, Tarrant suggests there is in fact a community of Templar Knights of the sort that Breivik also claimed:

    I have only had brief contact with Knight Justiciar Breivik, receiving a blessing for my mission after contacting his brother knights.

    Breivik himself in his manifesto offers an open invitation to all those Europeamns who self-identify as Knights Justiciar:

    Normally, any individual who decides he want to choose the road of the PCCTS (ie Knights Templar), a road of strength and honour, courage and martyrdom, should leave any other organisation for practical reasons (first and foremost in order to protect them). He will then spend a predefined time preparing himself mentally (this cannot be emphasised enough) as well as for planning the actual operation (planning, financing and eventually execution of the plan). This may take longer than 36 months depending on the nature of the assault.

    Breivik also stated that the Knights Templar had been reconstituted as an order in 2002, with founding members of the following nationalities and observances:

    English Protestant, English Christian atheist, French Catholic, German Christian atheist, Dutch Christian agnostic, Greek Orthodox, Russian Christian atheist, Norwegian Protestant, Serbian Orthodox, Swedish, Belgian, and European-American

    That white supremacism may be, as Breivik either knew or fantasized and hoped, an international movement is suggested by the breadth of Tarrant‘s travels, financed by his “profits from investing in the cryptocurrency Bitconnect, in such places as North Korea, Poland, Ukraine, Iceland, and Argentina [details].

    Breivik‘s own sense of Temoplar membership as he understands it is reported in his manifesto:

    varies from 15-80 Justiciar Knights in Western Europe (2008 estimate)

    And to the extent that he wishes his manifesto to foment other actions beyond his own assaults on Oslo and Utoya, Breivik has clearly been successful.

    Thus JM Berger notes:

    The Newtown shooter Adam Lanza reportedly collected news clippings on Breivik’s attack and other incidents of mass violence before he killed 20 children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. Other young men, such as the British college student Liam Lyburd, have been inspired to plan or carry out mass shootings based on their admiration for Breivik’s lethality, rather than his beliefs.

    More recently:

    U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant Christopher Hasson was charged with planning a mass-casualty attack modeled in significant part on Breivik’s strategy, and bearing the marks of his belief system.

    And now, courtesy of an Australian, New Zealand.

    **

    Clint Watts and cascading terrorism:


    .
    Clint: If you look at Al-Qaida or ISIS, it starts as this central body, this network, and then it expands out and then they inspire their followers.

    In the West, it happens in reverse. Inspired followers start to network online, which build into this infrastructure.

    We know this is getting more serious because the frequency and pace are picking up. When the pace picks up, that means that the network is tighter [ .. ] They’re citing each other ideologically, they’re playing to reach others’ attacks — and so this often does what I call cascading terrorism. It inspires others to begin acting.

    **

    Brenton Tarrant: Suspected New Zealand attacker ‘met extreme right-wing groups’ during Europe visit, according to security

    **

    Online presence:

    Talk about the significance of the ouroboros!

    Urban Dictionary: 8chan

    Like a deeper layer of Hell, 8chan is an image board for anyone who is too much of an edgelord for 4chan. Created during the Gamergate fiasco when even the brass of 4chan decided that situation was getting out of hand and became a base of operations of sorts for the GG crowd.

    Should 8chan Be Wiped From The Web?

    **

    Let us not forget President Donald Trump:

    You know, the left plays a tougher game, it?s very funny. I actually think that the people on the right are tougher, but they don?t play it tougher. OK? I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump ? I have the tough people, but they don?t play it tough ? until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad. But the left plays it cuter and tougher. Like with all the nonsense that they do in Congress ? with all this invest[igations]?that?s all they want to do is ?you know, they do things that are nasty. Republicans never played this.

    **

    Okay, horrors:

    For myself as a poet, one of the great but largely unremarked horros of Brenton Tarrant‘s manifesto is its epigrap=h, spelled out in full immediately after the title, Dylan Thomas‘ great poem Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night — with emphasis on the final line:

    Rage, rage against the dying of the light..

    .
    Listen to Dylan Thomas himself voice this, his final, trembling plea to his dying father:

    God, that’s a breth of fresh air amidst all this hatred.

    The poem is one of the finest in the English language: to see it thus dragged through the mire is shocking and saddening in the extreme.

    **

    Readings:

  • South China Morning Post, New Zealand shooting: 49 killed, more than 20 wounded
  • Guardian, 49 shot dead in attack on two Christchurch mosques
  • Guardian, Far-right ideology detailed in Christchurch shooting ‘manifesto’
  • Bellingcat, Shitposting, Inspirational Terrorism, and the Christchurch Mosque Massacre
  • Wikipedia, The Great Replacement conspiracy theory
  • SPLC, Flags and Other Symbols Used By Far-Right Groups
  • NYT, Massacre Suspect Traveled the World but Lived on the Internet
  • JM Berger, The Dangerous Spread of Extremist Manifestos
  • Vice, how Facebook, Twitter and Youtube failed to keep gruesome video from going viral
  • ProPublica, White Supremacist and Neo-Nazi Videos Take Stubborn Root on YouTube
  • Breitbart, Trump Is ‘Encouraging’ Supporters to Assault People, Behave in a Dangerous Way

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