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Climate change & its impacts, rippling out across all our futures, 1

Thursday, August 29th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — part 1 of this two-part post deals with the impact of climate change on pilgrimages, and on the Hajj in particular ]
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The Hajj, Mecca

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Since I posted my poem Mourning the lost Kaaba here in late November 2017 — though not, I imagine, because of my poem — a report on the likely impact of climate change on the annual Hajj pilgrimage has come out from scientists at MIT and Loyola Marymount:

  • Kang, Pal, & Eltahir, Future Heat Stress During Muslim Pilgrimage (Hajj) Projected to Exceed “Extreme Danger” Levels
  • Here’s the abstract:

    The Muslim pilgrimage or Hajj, which is one of the five pillars of Muslim faith, takes place outdoors in and surrounding Mecca in the Saudi Arabian desert. The U.S. National Weather Service defines an extreme danger heat stress threshold which is approximately equivalent to a wet?bulb temperature of about 29.1 °C—a combined measure of temperature and humidity. Here, based on results of simulations using an ensemble of coupled atmosphere/ocean global climate models, we project that future climate change with and without mitigation will elevate heat stress to levels that exceed this extreme danger threshold through 2020 and during the periods of 2047 to 2052 and 2079 to 2086, with increasing frequency and intensity as the century progresses. If climate change proceeds on the current trajectory or even on a trajectory with considerable mitigation, aggressive adaptation measures will be required during years of high heat stress risk.

    That’s the science — and while Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman..

    told the G20 in June that the Saudis are committed to “reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the negative effects of climate change,” beliefs concerning the Prophet’s institution of the Hajj in 632 CE following on earlier Abrahamic practice may well clash with scientific claims that the Hajj may become impossible for future devout Muslims to observe.

    What happens, then, when this divine command intersects with increasing temperatures that eventually render Mecca uninhabitable? How do the climate change scientists fare when they sit across the table from the ulema, the scholar-clergy of Islam?

    From a Muslim point of view, we’d better climate-correct, and do so fast:

  • Shahin Ashraf, We must stop climate change before it makes Hajj impossible
  • **

    Other readings:

  • New Scientist, Global warming could make Hajj impossible later this century
  • IslamiCity, Mecca: Climate Change to Bring ‘Extreme’ Heat
  • MIT News, Study: Climate change could pose danger for Muslim pilgrimage
  • **

    The issue I’ve raised above is tightly focused on one sanctuary, one religion, one pilgrimage. Below are some other major pilgrimage sites to consider in light of climate change:

    I would be interested in the cross-disciplinary exploration of the impact of climate change as understood by the scientific consensus, global migration patterns now and as expected in the coming years, and the devotional rituals and ceremonials of the various religions involved.

    Large pilgrimages and religious ceremonials

    This list draws text from Wikipedia and other online information sites.

    Kumbh Mela:

    Allahabad, India, 120 million devotees, every 12 years. The Prayag Kumbh Mela is a mela held every 12 years at Allahabad, India. The fair involves ritual bathing at Triveni Sangam, the meeting points of three rivers: the Ganga, the Yamuna and the mythical Sarasvati. The Kumbh Mela in 2013 became the largest religious gathering in the world with almost 120 million visitors.

    Arba’een:

    Karbala, Iraq, 30 million pilgrims annually. The Arba’een Pilgrimage is the world’s largest annual public gathering, held every year in Karbala, Iraq at the end of the 40-day mourning period following Ashura, the religious ritual for the commemoration of martyrdom of the grandson of Prophet Mohammad and the third Shia Imam, Husayn ibn Ali’s in 680. Anticipating Arba’een, or the fortieth day of the martyrdom, the pilgrims make their journey to Karbala on foot,where Husayn and his companions were martyred and beheaded by the army of Yazid I in the Battle of Karbala. The number of participants in the annual pilgrimage reached 30 million or more by 2016.

    Papal Mass

    Philippines, 7 million adherents, occasional. Pope Francis’ apostolic and state visit to the Philippines garnered a record breaking crowd of 7 million people. The mass conducted by the pope was the largest gathering in papal history.

    Makara Jyothi

    India, 5 million pilgrims annually. This pilgrim center and temple is located amidst a dense forest in the southern region of India. It was visited by over 5 million pilgrims in 2007 for a festival known as ‘Makara Jyothi,’ occurring annually on the 14 of January. Although the Sabarimala Temple, site of the Makara Jyothi celebration) draws a crowd of 50 million visitors annually, the specific day of the miraculous celestial lighting observation gathered 5 million pilgrims in 2007.

    Bishwa Ijtema:

    Near Dhaka, Bangladesh, 5 million pilgrims annually. The Bishwa Ijtema, meaning Global Congregation, is an annual gathering of Muslims in Tongi, by the banks of the River Turag, in the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh. It is one of the largest peaceful gatherings in the world. The Ijtema is a prayer meeting spread over three days, during which attending devotees perform daily prayers while listening to scholars reciting and explaining verses from the Quran. It culminates in the Akheri Munajat, or the Final Prayer, in which millions of devotees raise their hands in front of Allah (God) and pray for world peace.The Ijtema is non-political and therefore it draws people of all persuasion. It is attended by devotees from 150 countries. Bishwa Ijtema is now the second largest Islamic gatherings with 5 million adherents

    [ this is where the Hajj, with 2.3 million pilgrims annually, fits in ]

    Umrah:

    Mecca, size unknown, year round. The ?Umrah is an Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Hijaz, Saudi Arabia, performed by Muslims that can be undertaken at any time of the year, in contrast to the ?ajj which has specific dates according to the Islamic lunar calendar. It is sometimes called the ‘minor pilgrimage’ or ‘lesser pilgrimage’, the Hajj being the ‘major’ pilgrimage which is compulsory for every Muslim who can afford it. The Umrah is not compulsory but highly recommended.

    Kalachakra,:

    Various locations, 500,000 participants, variously. The Kalachakra is a term used in Vajrayana Buddhism that means “wheel(s) of time”. “K?lacakra” is one of many tantric teachings and esoteric practices in Tibetan Buddhism. It is an active Vajrayana tradition, and has been offered to large public audiences. The tradition combines myth and history, whereby actual historical events become an allegory for the spiritual drama within a person, drawing symbolic or allegorical lessons for inner transformation towards realizing buddha-nature. The Dalai Lama’s 33rd Kalachakra ceremony was held in Leh, Jammu and Kashmir, India from July 3 to July 12, 2014. About 150,000 devotees and 350,000 tourists were expected to participate in the festival. The Kalachakra has also been performed, eg, by Grand Master Lu Sheng-yen of the True Buddhs School, a Chinese Vajrayana group>

    **

    The impacts of climate change will need to be studied as they apply not only to these sites of pilgrimage, but also to holy sites in general, notably including Jerusalem, Varanasi, and Kyoto.

    In the second part of this post, I will consider the “wider ripples” by which climate change intersects and overlaps with other concerns, chief among them the issue of sovereignty and the nation state.

    The Ideal and the Practical — the Practice

    Wednesday, June 19th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — cross-posted from BrownPundits in response to a friend’s comment there ]
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    I’d written a response to @AnAn and included a quote from the Chuang Tzu’s chapter on Lord Wen-hui and what he learned from his Cook Ting, and wanted to throw in the following DoubleQuote — but graphics seem to be discouraged in the Comment sections here, so I’ve opened this post for the purpose:

    The thing is, Lao Tzu offers us the ideal statement, formulated in terms of an impenetrable absence of space, and an absence of substance to the point of non-existence — while Chuang Tzu, peering over Lord Wen-hui’s shoulder right there in Cook Ting’s kitchen, offers us the same insight, couched in terms of there being “spaces between the joints” and his knife having “really no thickness” — Chuang Tzu’s measureless insight penetrates Lao Tzu’s impenetrable absolutes to show us there’s room for play there — “room — more than enough for the blade to play about in”.

    If we bear these two versions of the same idea — formulated ideally and in practical terms by the two principle philosopher-poets of the Taoist school — in mind when our thoughts run up against the impracticality of an ideal, we may find, like Cook Ting, that we too have room enough room to play in.

    The Magic in Advertising series — rhyming, twinning, pattern recognition

    Tuesday, May 28th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — the ability to recognize similarities across wide conceptual or memory distances is what Cindy Storer calls “magic” in analytic practice — here we examine it in terms of advertising ]
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    You could almost learn how to write poetry by watching the commercials on TV — or learn a bit more about how the ads themselves work.. come have some fun.

    Consider rhyme for a moment. There’s a rhyme between the car that’s too small for comfort and the shoe that’s too tight to fit in this ad, and there’s an analogy between the larger, more comfortable — luxurious, even — car and the wide and comfortable — “like a luxury ride for my feet” — Skechers wide fit shoes that the ad is all about:

    The rhyme here between today’s American fisherman and his Irish fisherman ancestor is stunning — and plausible. This, after all, is genetics, which is often said to rhyme from one generation to another:

    And even when the analogy between an image and the product it’s supposed to resemble (“rhyme with”) is weak, making a successful rhyme between two such images is a delight in itself, and makes the weak rhyme seem plausible. Here, a two-thirds shaved dog rhymes with a two-thirds mowed lawn:

    Allstate piles the rhymes on — drawing on powerful similarities between widely different parts of the country — in its brilliant Park Road / Street / Avenue commercial:

    Here’s a beautiful rhyme between cement and sand — it’s not so great to find you’ve stepped unexpectedly in wet cement — but what a delight to feel sand on the beach between your toes!

    Look, Exxon wants to make it’s industrial plants more closely resemble living, breathing, green plants: it’s not a bad idea, laudable really — but the rhyme is a bit of a stretch, eh?

    **

    One form of rhyme that’s worth noting falls under the heading of Opposites:

    In this case, the equation would be something like blue plus red equals unbiased. I haven’t checked the product, but the math is clean, and the divide the ad bridges is very real and quite perilous for democracy:

    So opposites can be powerful. But it’s worth considering, too, the mind-numbing effect of seeing opposing commercials:

    That’s not the kind of opposition you want if you’re Roundup, but exactly the kind of opposition you seek if you’re the legal opposition!

    **

    Rhyming — twinning — as it’s dreamed up in the creative agencies of Madison Avenue, and no doubt Madison Wisconsin too, requires horizontal, associative thinking — thinking based on pattern recognition, thinking that makes creative leaps where similarities can be found in the midst of difference. Metaphors and analogies are woven of the same kind of thinking, rhyme in poetry, graphic match or match cut in enema, canon and fugue in music — and it’s the type of thinking my HipBone Games are designed to teach and practice, until they’re strong reflexes in your intellectual arsenal.

    When readers or movie-goers, or just people watching commercials on TV, recognize patterns or rhymes — shaving a dog, then mowing a lawn, okay — it may elicit a chuckle the first time you see the ad, but you’re not sitting there to learn about dogs or lawns, or even Flonase unless you happen to need that kind of medicine. No, you’re there to see the next installment of the movie you’re watching, the next entertainment — which was almost certainly put together with less cash and care per minute or per frame than the commercials that slip into your mind almost subcutaneously.

    And analogy — this type of analogical thinking — works. Analogy is the very heart of magic:

    **

    Do you have time for another example?

    Here we have analogy across time, as we did in the case of the Donegal fisherman, but this time woven into the telling of a very simple short story: he wants a Heineken, looks in the fridge, no luck, goes out onto the street, flags down a cab, takes a short ride, steps down from his Hackney Carriage about a century earlier, and gets the Heineken he was looking for. Plus ça change!

    The Heineken’s the same — the six-pack at the end is the essence of difference!

    **

    Previous episodes in the same series:

    Advertising series 01: Music
    Eros, the Renaissance and advertising
    Authentic, spiritual magic!
    The magic of advertising or the commercialization of magic?
    Here’s magic!
    The magic of miniatures

    I imagine there will eventually be about twenty posts in the series..

    Some end in ashes, some wind up in stained glass

    Sunday, May 12th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — and some, high lamas, emanations of Avalokiteshvara, become poets of the erotic.. ]
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    You know my early mentor Fr Trevor Huddleston CR? I posted three photos of him here, one with Louis Armstrong and a trumpet, one with Nelson Mandela, and one exactly as I knew and now remember and honor him:

    Well, today I saw for the first time an image of the stained glass window dedicated to him in Lancing College chapel:

    For more on Fr Trevor, see The Life of Trevor Huddleston, Makhalipile (the Dauntless One)

    Mandela said of him:

    Father Huddleston was a pillar of wisdom, humility and sacrifice to the legions of freedom fighters in the darkest moments of the struggle against apartheid.

    His fearlessness won him the support of everyone. No one, neither gangster, tsotsi nor pickpocket would touch him. Their respect for him was such that they would have tried – and if they did it could have cost them their lives. His enormous courage gave him a quality that commanded the respect of the place

    and:

    No white person has done more for South Africa than Trevor Huddleston.

    He was a giant.

    **

    All of which got me thinking about stained glass as an alternative destination to ashes..

    Desmond Tutu was another whose life was decisively influenced by Fr Trevor — and he too can be found in stained glass:

    MaryAnn Randolph writes:

    This, in St. Mark’s, Minneapolis, is what is called the Peacemaker’s Window. In this magnificent stained glass you will find: Mother Theresa of Calcutta, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Archbishop Tutu, Mahatma Gandhi, the Dalai Lama and many others.

    Giants, all — and inspirations, inviting us to join them!

    **

    Ah, Gandhi-ji and the Dalai Lama — it delights me to see stained glass extending to peacemakers regardless of their religious affiliations!

    I’ll leave you with an image of Green Tara, female Buddha to whom the “Great Fifth” Dalai Lama — who unified Tibet, established Lhasa as its capital, and worked to bring together the various lineages of Tibetan Buddhism together with the earlier shamanic Bon tradition — was devoted:

    The Dalai Lama himself, in each of his incarnations, is considered an emanation of the Buddha of Compassion, Avalokiteshvara.

    **

    It was the Sixth, beloved successor of the Great Fifth, who was the rascal poet, writer of such gently erotic verses as:

    This white bow in its cloth cover,
    On whom shall I bestow it?
    I will place it gently inside
    My lover’s tiger-skin quiver.

    Ah, but he’d be hard to capture in stained glass —

    I’ll leave you with him and his compassion, and with the Love Songs of the Sixth Dalai Lama.

    Enjoy! Delight!

    Word-crumble

    Sunday, May 5th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — btw, it would make sense for language to be half the world topic, since it is — or we attempt to make it — half the world ]
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    Danny Cevallos, a legal analyst for MSNBC:

    What happens when Congress wants to hold someone in the Executive branch in criminal contempt? Well, a rift opens in the space-time continuum, because that same Executive branch you want to hold in criminal contempt is the Executive branch that has to prosecute that contempt. There’s no other way to do it.

    A rift in the space-time continuum? Really? That’s the best instance***** of exaggeration I’ve seen so far, and yes, there’s an implicit ouroboros therein.

    **

    And now I feel obliged to find a literary equivalent to that New Yorker header, to remove the taste of politics from our mouths with a pleasant DoubleQuote..

    Here we go — TS Eliot, no less:

                                                Words strain,
    Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,
    Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,
    Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place,
    Will not stay still.


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